I have shared a Manhattan recipe before, and it’s a great recipe. But it is also a few years old, and as I’ve aged, my tastes and understanding of cocktails have changed. In general, I now tend to prefer cocktails that are less sweet. The “perfect” Manhattan reflects that. The perfect Manhattan replaces half of the sweet vermouth with dry vermouth. It’s a simple substitution, but it makes the difference between a cocktail that coats your mouth, and one that’s easy to sip without feeling icky.
Perfect Manhattan (makes 2)
This recipe is so easy to scale. It’s essentially 2 parts whiskey, .5 parts each sweet and dry vermouth, and a couple dashes of bitters, plus some cherries.
This is a cocktail that I stumbled upon creating sometime last summer. Having bought a fancy cocktail book for a friend’s birthday and subsequently thumbing through it, I happened upon a recipe for a cocktail featuring gin, St Germain (an expensive but delicious elderflower liqueur), and grapefruit zest. We made it, and the cocktail was incredible. But ooh-wee, it is a potent assembly, and while the flavors scream for summer, the sippability of it combined with its predilection to warm up quickly on a hot summer day drove me to adjust, tweak, and tone down/amp up this cocktail to a more accessible format. I have found that in most recipes calling for St Germain, other types of elderflower syrups can be used. I have gotten a fancy Italian one at the food importer downtown Seattle, and then happened upon elderflower syrup at none other than Ikea. And it was only $4.99 instead of $35 plus the relevant local taxes. So for all purposes, I stick with elderflower syrup instead of elderflower liqueur. But this cocktail is also incredible with the St Germain, so by all means if that’s your jam (also easier to find at any liquor store vs a trip to Ikea or a fancy food importer), go with the St Germain. Also, this cocktail is pretty easy to mix up and prep ahead of time and then just assemble as people ask for them.
The Fortune Teller (makes 1)
This is the first cocktail that I’ve come up with to utilize some of the 2 cups of rhubarb infused gin that I recently made. It’s simple, easy to put together, pretty (who doesn’t love a pink cocktail) and most importantly, delicious.
3 oz rhubarb infused gin
.25 oz maraschino liqueur
.5 oz simple syrup
Juice of 1 lemon
A few weeks ago, while I was trying to clear out extraneous leftover pie fillings from my freezer, I came across a bag of frozen rhubarb. And in my love of infusing liquors (especially gin – I find that with the right botanicals, gin can really sing), I decided that infusion was going to be the fate of the frozen rhubarb (all of the fresh stuff is nearly ready to harvest in my garden) and the remains of the 1.75 liter bottle of beefeater that’s been in the pantry waiting for summer cocktail season.
1 bag frozen rhubarb
~2 cups beefeater gin
These are delicious! After a making a bunch of pies for a friend’s wedding, I learned that I overbought most of the ingredients. One of the leftovers was a bag of dark tart cherries. Neither Craig nor I are great lovers of cherry pie, cobbler, crisp, etc. Coming up with a use for these wasn’t as easy as tossing them with some sugar, tapioca, almond extract, and topping them with a doughy crust. One thing that Craig and I do love is cocktails! And what better to do with these cherries than turn them into a cocktail garnish!? Luxardo cherries are the “classic” of fancy cocktail garnish cherries. But they’re crazy expensive, so I decided to make my own. There is a visual difference between ours. Theirs are super high in sugar and are dyed, so the color is darker. I assume if you were into adding artificial color to your cherries, you could make them look similar to the Luxardo ones. Anyway, this was all experimental, but after 2 weeks of “marinating,” we tasted them. And they’re delicious. Boozy, but delicious.
Bourbon Cherries (makes about 3 cups)
1/3 cup sugar
3 cups frozen, pitted tart cherries (mine came from Costco)
Bourbon, enough to fill the remainder of the jar
I don’t know much about daiquiris, other than one of the contenders for my favorite Baskin Robbins ice cream flavor was Daiquiri Ice. I suppose I should have known by then that we were fated to be together. A classic daiquiri is a combination of white rum, lime juice and sugar. That’s all well and good, but the Hemingway daiquiri is special. It’s less sweet (apparently Ernest Hemingway’s father had diabetes, so he wasn’t one to add sugar to things), uses grapefruit juice as a large volume, and swaps out the sugar in favor of just a drizzle of maraschino liqueur.
Papa Doble (Makes 2)
4oz Fresh Grapefruit Juice
4 oz White Rum
.5oz Fresh Lime Juice
Tiny Drizzle Maraschino Liqueur
These are delicious! Dangerously so. Despite my somewhat proud food snobbery, I have a soft spot in my heart for unapologetically fake-vanilla flavored snacks/beverages. They are just so…nummy. So when I happened upon a recipe for a cocktail claiming to be key lime pie flavored, I was intrigued. Turns out their recipe’s ingredients sounded gross, but all I needed was the idea, and I went from there. I spent a week mulling over the idea of this cocktail before I actually made a point of mixing it. That day came after a particularly brutal week of work where my coworker was gone and I struggled to keep my head above water on both of our jobs. I knew that I wanted to come home and have something to drink that would make me feel a little guilty. So I got to work.
Ingredients are fairly simple. Especially if you’re recently made 4 key lime pies and have a cup or two of extra crust material kicking around the pantry. Full disclosure, my graham cracker crumbs were mixed with butter and as such, a little clumpy. They’d have looked appreciably more attractive if they had been butter free. It wasn’t going to happen though, so.. whatever. I used whipped cream vodka for this, because I had it in the pantry. Other totally acceptable options include vanilla, cake, and potentially marshmallow, but I’ve never had that flavor, so proceed with caution. Juice from real limes is a must-do for this cocktail. Don’t use bottled juice, it will taste extra fake, and in a bad way this time. Also, key limes are not necessary. Persian limes are totally fine. I used heavy cream in this recipe. If you don’t have heavy cream around, but you do have half & half, I’m sure that would be fine too, but you may want to double the quantity. The cocktail isn’t particularly sweet, in fact, I wasn’t counting on adding any simple syrup, but then after a taste of it without, realized that at least some was necessary. If you don’t love that twinge in your jaw that you get from eating sour things, add some extra SS. The glass isn’t important. I tend to avoid martini glasses because I am clumsy and they spill easily, but they look cute. A coupe or just a juice or old-fashioned glass would be fine here.
crushed graham cracker crumbs
3oz vanilla vodka
2oz fresh squeezed lime juice
.5oz heavy cream
.5oz simple syrup
3-4 ice cubes