Theme your evening by creating your own cocktail
Sitting at the bar in the Langham Hotel, Chicago
What’s it called?
A French 75
Where does the name come from?
A French 75 was a field gun used in WW1. It took 2 people to load and fire the artillery.
It doesn’t look explosive. Maybe it’s subtle, hits you later…
What did you order?
A night in Guadalajara.
I find the name of cocktails so intriguing. I start to ponder… don’t you want to know what happened? In Guadalajara? In that one night? The names of cocktails are like titles of a book. You taste it in order to open it up and read the story.
A good cocktail transcends ordinary life into special. It puts the cozy in a relaxing evening at home, welcomes friends onto the patio, adds fancy to your seat at the hotel bar, or reminds you of the ocean breeze or the start of that wonderful 5 star dinner. You remember good cocktails, where you were and who made them.
For home entertaining, designing a specialty cocktail is a creative playground for the person who likes to host. The fun thing about hosting with specialty cocktails is it can be named anything you want. A well named cocktail helps set the mood for your evening. Thinking up a back story for your special drink may lead to a good story of its own.
The Over Boards
After researching family heritage on Ancestry.com we decided to create a specialty drink for Thanksgiving. Inspired by an ancestor who heroically made it back on the Mayflower after being washed off during a storm, the Over Board was born. An easy drink to assemble in a crowded kitchen next to the pumpkin pie, The Over Boards made the Thanksgiving play very enjoyable.
Recipe for 4 cocktails
2 1/2 oz gold rum
3 oz simple syrup (1 cup sugar and ½ cup water boiled ‘til sugar dissolves, cool to room temp)
4 oz passion juice
1 oz lemon juice freshly squeezed
1 oz lime juice freshly squeezed
Pour all ingredients into a pitcher. Add a handful of ice. Stir about 20 times with a slotted spoon. Add ice to 4 lowball glasses and pour equal amounts into each glass.
The Greg Allmans
When Greg Allman died, we wanted to create a drink in his honor. Naturally, we started with peaches and bourbon. Listening to his bluesy voice sing Melissa in the backyard, we swirled the cocktail stick and nibbled the peaches, time stamping a summer evening with other boomers.
Recipe for 1 cocktail
2 oz peach juice
1 oz premium bourbon
Cocktail Stick, peach slice, spring of mint, and thyme for garnish
Measure and pour the peach juice, rum, and ice into a cocktail shaker. (For additional flavor muddle a few peach slices in the bottom of the shaker.) Shake the ingredients together and strain into a glass. Add new ice. Put a small wedge of peach and sprig of mint on a cocktail stick and place over or inside of the drink. Add a sprig of thyme.
The High Gloss Finish
We concluded a family reunion with a drink called, The High Gloss Finish. Basically, a Tequila Sunrise with a Mezcal float. They put a smile on everyone’s face but made the good bye’s a little harder.
Recipe for 1 cocktail
A dash of grenadine
½ oz lemon juice
2 oz tequila
3 ½ oz orange juice
A Tbs of mezcal
Pour Grenadine into a heavy bottomed lowball glass. Add lemon juice and tequila and slowly add the orange juice. Stir gently to create the sunrise effect. Add ice. Make it a High Gloss by gently skimming the top with a Tbs. of mezcal.
Ina Garten’s Dark Rum Southsides
From her book, Cooking for Jeffrey
Unless someone wants to bartend, you’ll never regret making a pitcher of drinks ahead of time. Ina Garten’s Dark Rum Southsides are the perfect summer cocktail on the patio for 8 to 10 people. Rum, simple syrup, and mulled mint, go down quickly. Actually, double the batch, I haven’t met anyone who stops with one.
Recipe for 4 drinks
12 large mint leaves plus 4 large sprigs
1 lime, cut into 8 wedges
½ cup freshly squeezed lime juice (4 limes)
½ cup simple syrup (1 cup sugar and ½ cup water boiled ‘til sugar dissolves, cool to room temp)
1 cup dark rum, such as Mount Gay
1 cup ice, plus extra for serving
1 ½ cups sparkling water chilled
Muddle 2 lime wedges and mint leaves in a cocktail shaker with a long-handled wooden spoon. Add the lime juice, simple syrup, rum, and ice and stir 40 times with a long-handled swiveling cocktail spoon. Add the sparkling water and salt and stir well.
For each drink, fill a low cocktail glass half full with ice, add a mint sprig and a wedge of lime, and pour over the cocktail mixture. Stir and serve cold.
The Basics to a Good Cocktail
There are some basics to cocktail making. The first is key ingredients, fresh citrus or botanic mulled together with good quality liquor, and a little simple syrup. The simpler the better. Skip the cinnamon sticks, vanilla beans, and bacon. The second is presentation. Always use glass never plastic unless your next to the pool. Simple elegance. It’s the difference between looking at a vase of 3 white peonies or a dozen blue dyed carnations. The beauty of a specialty cocktail is being able to see the drink through clear glass. Pour it into a martini glass or a bottom heavy 6 ounce lowball with a globe of ice and garnish with a twist of citrus or cherry. If you really like Tiki drinks get the cute painted ceramic mugs that look like Thor. Dress the mug with an umbrella and colorful straw and you’re ready to write the story of a special night.