Easy cocktails for sheltering in place

After a few weeks of sheltering in place, you’ve perhaps realized that making fancy cocktails is a real pain. Sure, Pisco Sours are great, but much like tempura, ordering them out, rather than making them in, is a far easier way to go. Since ordering them out is not really an option, and social distancing limits us mostly to what we already have on hand. I thought I would offer some simple cocktail recipes sure to lift your spirits (pun intended). In the words of George Thorogood: “When I drink alone, I prefer to be by myself.” And in these times, that might be the best medical advice possible.

The Quarantini

2 ounces gin (or vodka, or light rum)

1 splash orange bitters (less than a 1/8 teaspoon)

1 citrus zest

Combine gin and bitters in a shaker glass with ice. Shake until ice cold, then strain into a chilled serving glass. Squeeze zest and run around rim of glass, then drop in.

Not the most original of names, but certainly one of the best! A classic martini usually contains dry vermouth. But I find most dry vermouth to be too oxidized (a quality in wine that would be considered spoiled). For bitter and bright with no oxidation, orange bitters fits the bill nicely. And a little goes a long way.

Vermouth is a still wine flavored with herbs and it will spoil in a few days if left unrefrigerated. It might last a week or two if refrigerated. Most people treat it as a liquor, which it is not, much to their detriment.

 This recipe is adapted from one at the Savoy in London. There it came in a Baccarat crystal glass and was $90. I’m guessing it tastes just as good out of a coffee cup.

Zombie Apocalypse

2 ounces dark rum (or light rum, or flavored rum, or a combination)

1 ounce orange juice

1 ounce pineapple juice

1/2 teaspoon berry jam (any flavor jam can work, but berry is the best)

Citrus wheel of any kind

Combine rum and jam in the bottom of mixing glass. Stir to combine. Add ice and fruit juices and stir or shake. Pour into serving glass and garnish with citrus.

Two rums and two juices, with a sweetener is how I was taught to make tropical drinks: Mai Tai’s, Zombies, Scorpions, it didn’t matter, they were all basically the same with one or two minor differences. Sometimes it was different juice: guava, mango, passionfruit etc. And sometimes it was different sweetener: grenadine (pomegranate), orgeat (sweet almond), falernum (ginger). Since most people don’t have those last three sitting around, I suggest using some berry jam instead. The zombies will thank you. 

 Omega Man Old Fashioned

2 ounces bourbon, rye, blended, Irish, Scotch, Canadian or Japanese whiskey (or brandy, aged rum, anejo tequila, Armagnac, anything aged)

2 dashes bitters (any bitters will work, so will Fernet, Averna or any other kind of amaro)

1 teaspoon simple syrup (50/50 dissolved mixture of sugar and water)

1 citrus zest

Combine first three ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir. Pour into serving glass and garnish with zest.

Old fashioneds are remarkably easy to make, despite what you might read online, at least the original old fashioned is. First called a bittered sling, it was just three ingredients. It doesn’t get easier than that.

What’s in the Liquor Cabinet Daiquiri

2 ounces of any 80 proof or higher liquor (not liqueurs*): dark, light, aged, unaged, whatever

2 ounces lemon or lime juice

1 ounce simple syrup

1 citrus wheel

Combine first three ingredients in a mixing glass and shake until ice cold. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with citrus wheel.

Sweet and sour citrus cocktails are some the easiest to make and depending upon the base spirit, account for many of the most famous cocktails that we know of, from the lemon drop to the margarita to the whiskey sour to the sidecar. All are variations on a basic theme.

*Some liqueurs will also work: amaretto, Midori, Chambord, fruit brandies, etc. Even Amaros like Fernet or Jägermeister make for interesting takes on this cocktail.

Herbal Hermitage Mojito*

2 ounces white rum or vodka (flavored ones work well too)

1 ounce lemon or lime juice

1 ounce simple syrup

1 ounce fresh herb (mint, cilantro, basil, thyme, rosemary)

1 lemon or lime wheel

1 reserved sprig of the herb used

Gently tear herbs into shreds and place in the bottom of a mixing glass. Add ice and then the three liquid ingredients. Shake gently to combine (one or two hard shakes or more if using gentle shakes). Strain into a cocktail glass and float wheel on top, placing sprig of fresh herb on top. Alternately pour entire mixture into 12-ounce glass and top with soda.

*Mojito means little softening sauce in Spanish. Whether that refers to the herbs or the imbiber is open to interpretation.