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Looking for suggestions for cocktails from available ingredients!


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33 replies to this topic

#1 Yuri Asx

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 09:37 AM

Hi everyone,

I am new to the forum, and apologies if I was meant to ask this in one of the similar threads.
Looking to try some interesting drinks that you can suggest.
My modest bar includes the following spirits and liqueurs:

Spirits:
  • Smirnoff vodka
  • Bacardi white rum
  • Blackfriars dry gin
  • Jose Cuervo tequila (silver)
  • Hennessy VSOP cognac

Liqueurs:
  • Bols blue curacao
  • De Kuyper triple sec
  • Archers peach schnapps
  • Joseph Cartron creme de fraise de bois
  • Cactus Jack's apple schnapps
  • Riga Black Balsam (bitter herbal liqueur 45%)
  • Pimms
  • Malibu
I also have grenadine, and can purchase any required juices/fruit.
Please suggest something nice! Thank you in advance.

#2 ChrisTaylor

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 02:39 PM

You could make a Daiquiri using the white rum, lime juice and some simple syrup. You could use the curacao or triple sec in a Sidecar (with the cognac, obviously). You could also make Margaritas. A few variations on the Collins, too. And, with some mint leaves, a Mojito. With some tomato juice you could make a Bloody Mary--vodka based or maybe using one of those other spirits (tequila, perhaps) in one of the many variations on the format that exist. Did you buy the various schnapps because you like sweet fruity things or just because they sounded interesting? I ask for a couple reasons: I can't think of any use for those, altho' your selection of base spirits isn't a bad start at all. If you added some cheap rye and maybe a bottle of Angostura bitters to the collection you could open up a few more options. And secondly because I guess we need a definition of 'something nice'. When I saw the spirits I instantly thought of the big classics that use those ingredients but don't require any vermouth or bitters (with vermouth and bitters you'd be able to make things like Manhattans and Martinis, plus variations on the Old Fashioned). But maybe that's not you at all. If you prefer sweet, fruity things you might not enjoy any of my suggestions. Give us an idea of what you like. Any cocktails you've especially enjoyed at a bar or restaurant or friend's place? General preferences re: sweet, sour, bitter, boozy (i.e. would a cocktail that's basically just booze, like a Sazerac [not that you could make one of those at the moment], be enjoyable or would you prefer something that disguises the booze or lessens its impact with a lot of fruit juice and soda water)?

EDIT

I've never had that bitter herbal liqueur or, I admit, even heard of it. Anyone familiar with it? If some vermouth was added to the collection could it make a workable sub for Campari in Negronis and Americanos?

Too, if you've never really had cocktails before--I hadn't had anything other than a Black Russian, of all goddamn things, before I dove into this world--then maybe go to a bar that has a reputation for making nice cocktails. If you lived in Melbourne I could direct you to a few places but I suspect you don't. Order a few things off the menu. Try a variety: something brown and stirred, something tiki-ish, something in the sour family, etc. Get a feel for what you like. As much as cocktails in a bar can be expensive, I figure it's a cheaper way to find out what you like before rushing off to buy more stuff, as let's face it, bottle shops are never short of options for spending money on stuff that turns out to not be very nice.

Edited by ChrisTaylor, 10 January 2013 - 02:47 PM.

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#3 EvergreenDan

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Posted 10 January 2013 - 05:48 PM

Riga Black Balsams is awesome. Bitter, dark (almost black), herbal, peppery, high in alcohol, and low in sugar (relatively). Made in Latvia. Lovers consider it best after its aged in the bottle for at least a year. My "Midnight Ruby" uses it to very good effect.

Pimm's and the Black Balsams stick out. Both are acquired tastes -- rather the opposite of the other bottles.

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#4 Yuri Asx

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 02:07 PM

Thank you for suggestions Chris and EvergreenDan.

Well, i tried some of the popular cocktails like long island, side car, blue lagoon, screwdriver, woowoo, fuzzy shark, mojito etc.
However, I didn't quite find the one I like a lot, probably the one with orange juice, blue curacao and peach schnapps was the best.

But the most I enjoy really is just pure cognac, maybe cocktails aren't for me? :)
The reason why I have the schnapps and other random liqueurs was to make some cosmos and strawberry daiquiries for my girlfriend, which she likes a lot, but I find them too sweet.

I had a bottle of Campari before, and don't remember what I made, but I think I like bitter taste in general, maybe I should get another bottle and try something with that. So probably if you could advice something rather strong or bitter.

Long island was nice too, but so many different variations, maybe someone can suggest a nice one?
Many thanks guys

#5 Hassouni

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 05:08 PM

If you like Campari, get some sweet vermouth, add gin, and you have a truly classic (and much loved here) drink, the Negroni

#6 ChrisTaylor

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 05:21 PM

If you like Campari opens up wonderful drinks like Negronis and Americanos and, further down the line, can go into lots of wonderful things like a Bitter Mai Tai. You want sweet and dry vermouth. You'll want a rye and, at the very least, some Angostura bitters. They'll open up so many possibilities.

I came into cocktails a big fan of neat whisk(e)y and cognac, too. Why not go out to a nice bar, one you can trust to do this sort of thing right, and try a Sazerac? An old school Saz: bassed on cognac. Or DeGroff's 'New York' variant, which uses equal parts of rye and cognac for the base spirit. If you like cognac stirred then perhaps 'brown and stirred' is a good starting point.

Also, you're the bartender. A drink is as sweet (or sour or bitter or etc) as you make it. Obviously with something like peach schnapps you're working yourself into a corner but a lot of popular cocktail recipes are easily customised to the drinker's preference. Take the mojito, for instance. If you add, I don't know, a full ounce of simple to the two ounces of rum then it's probably going to be too sweet for me. I go easy on the sugar in Mai Tais, too. I might follow the recipe I saw on CocktailDB or in the PDT book or wherever when I make a cocktail for my partner but when I'm mixing my own I'll put maybe half an ounce, if that, of simple. A cocktail is balanced if you're pleased with the sweet:bitter:sour:etc ratio. It's also easier to make a cocktail that's a bit too dry and then jack it with a little extra simple than it is to dial back the sweetness once the damage is done.

Furthermore, once you get more experienced you'll gradually realise that different sources of recipes (whether it's a Gary Regan book or the brilliant Kindred Cocktails) all reflect, on some level, the author's bias. Some authors, you'll find, prefer drier cocktails. Others prefer sweeter things. Once you're familiar with their preferences (just like a wine reviewer or anything else of that sort, right?) you'll know whether you need to adjust their recipes or can just follow the steps verbatim.

Edited by ChrisTaylor, 11 January 2013 - 05:27 PM.

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#7 EvergreenDan

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 06:58 PM

[big breath] Okay. You like Campari , enjoy cognac neat, and have a bottle of Black Balsams. [creaky door opens] Welcome to the club. We're your friends and we're going to give it to you straight.

Dump all that sweet / low-end crap in your bar and start over. Glug. Glug Glug. Faux "schnapps" goes down the drain.

Buy good quality spirits. Start by making one great cocktail and learn to make it well. Listen to Chris. Resist buying more things for your bar until you tire with what you have. Fear fruit liqueurs. Except for high quality orange liqueur, there aren't really any "must be able to make" cocktails that require fruit liqueurs. And really good fruit liqueurs are expensive, hard to find, and often have a short shelf life (e.g. good cassis).

Learn to use citrus and dry vermouth to balance sweetness. Mix with fresh ingredients, not soda. Make a Negroni. Then a Perfect Negroni (split the sweet vermouth with an equal amount of dry). Then try one with more gin. Or try Punt e Mes (a wild bitter version of sweet vermouth). Or try Bourbon (Ssssssh. I's a Boulevardier if you use the right proportions. Don't tell anyone who isn't in the club.)

Make a great Margarita (or maybe Sidecar since you like cognac). Vary the proportions and see how the drink changes. Don't fear a bracingly tart drink; not every drink has to be "balanced".

Ditto for a Daiquiri, but use good rum. Rum is cheap. Even good rum is cheap (compared to other spirits).

Yup. Welcome to the club. And make good drinks for your girlfriend and eventually she'll stop wanting sweet craptails.

Edited by EvergreenDan, 11 January 2013 - 07:00 PM.

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#8 Zachary

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 07:35 PM

Yuri,

Listen to what Dan and Chris say. Where in the world are you? I'm sure someone could point out a craft bar nearby (if you're in the US). Sweet, artificial flavored liqueurs are designed to mask the flavor of alcohol, and if you're already liking Cognac and Black Balsams, you don't need them. Personally, I'd start with an Old Fashioned:

3 oz Cognac
2 teaspoons Black Balsams
1/2 oz water
1 small sugar cube.
Lemon or orange peel

In a double old fashioned glass, add the sugar cube and the Black Balsams, and crush the sugar cube (a muddler if you have one, the back of a wooden spoon if you don't). Once it's a slurry, add the water, and stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the Cognac and stir to combine, then add a few ice cubes. Garnish with the peel.

This is a variation on a classic drink, it uses what you have, and it really tastes good. Once you get the hang of this, you can exchange the Black Balsams for another bitters (like Angostura).

After you figure out the way you like this drink, Go make a couple of Negronis, perhaps using Dolin Rouge, Cocchi Sweet Vermouth, or Punt e Mes from Carpano. Vermouth lets you make a ton of drinks. Buy small bottles, keep them in the refrigerator. They oxidize like wine, but a bit more slowly. Then the Martini, Sazerac and Boulevardier, and after that, the world's your oyster.

Thanks,

Zachary

Edited by Zachary, 11 January 2013 - 07:35 PM.


#9 Hassouni

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 07:51 PM

Three previous posts seconded, as well as a strong second to the advice to ditch most of those liqueurs - give em to your nearest college freshman! (ditto the Bacardi. Get Flor de Caña or Brugal or El Dorado white rums instead, they will be the same or cheaper than Bacardi and infinitely better).

Edited by Hassouni, 11 January 2013 - 07:54 PM.


#10 Hassouni

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Posted 11 January 2013 - 07:53 PM

Oh also, Dan's website is a fantastic resource for cocktail knowledge!

#11 weinoo

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Posted 12 January 2013 - 06:34 AM

Since you're a fan of cognac, nothing wrong with a Sidecar...
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#12 Hassouni

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Posted 12 January 2013 - 08:36 AM

Indeed not, but a sidecar deserves real Cointreau. That said, Cointreau should be one of the first things you buy as it's an indispensable ingredient for countless classic and modern cocktails.

#13 cschweda

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 03:49 PM

I highly suggest the recent Esquire cocktail formula as a starting point -- especially given your list of ingredients.

See:

http://www.esquire.c...il-formula-1110

Essentially:

1.5 oz spirit (Whiskey, Rum, Gin, Tequila, even Aquavit)
0.5 oz Aperol (easy to find)
0.5 oz liqueur (from your list)
0.5 lemon/lime/grapefruit

It doesn't guarantee a great cocktail (although I just made a Old Overholt / St. Germain / Aperol / Lemon -- and it was quite tasty) -- but it's a great starting point for tweaking.

I've been going through my entire liquor cabinet with this formula -- experimenting with every spirit and liqueur I have -- and I must say that everything I've made is interesting. Nothing awful. Some more successful -- and complex -- than others. Whiskey (Rye especially) works well with this -- but I tried a Tequila/Aperol/Lime/King's Ginger -- and it was a shocker. Delicious and crisp -- one of the best I've tried. Ditto for Gin / Aperol / Chambord / Lemon.

Aperol (or Campari in a slightly smaller amount) adds the bitterness that the strong/sweet/sour (standard 3:2:1 ratio) lacks. It (as the article points out) really fills out the cracks and smooths everything over. I've tried this with Campari, as I say, with slightly less (maybe .25 to .35 oz) -- still works very well.

The closest I can compare this to -- in nearly every cocktail I've tried with this formula -- is essentially an IPA. The Aperol/Campari addition (more so than vermouth, for example) is the match for hops (in the beer world) that really ties together the malt in a strong but not overly powerful way in the best IPAs. This hoppy bitterness rides above the sweet malt layer and really makes it a drinkable beer. Ditto for the Aperol/Campari layer in the cocktail formula.

Edited by cschweda, 15 January 2013 - 04:02 PM.


#14 Adam George

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Posted 15 January 2013 - 04:48 PM

Thanks very much for that link and ratio, I will be using that when spring hits.

Further more, if we are talking about fool proof ratios for newcomers, Boudreau's ratio works







Also, dare I ask; dafuq is a Fuzzy Shark?

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#15 Adam George

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 02:45 PM

Well, I was incredibly bored at work during lunch today and couldn't resist trying the above formula with both Pikesville Rye and Plymouth Gin, Aperol and St Germain.
I must say, the Rye was pretty good. Nice summery Whisky sour.
I might try a stronger liqueur if I go back to gin, or try Tanqueray or something more juniper.
I think I will be returning to this formula again!

In semi related news, Bacardi just bought St Germain.
https://www.google.c...n&client=safari

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#16 mkayahara

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 02:53 PM

Further more, if we are talking about fool proof ratios for newcomers, Boudreau's ratio works


Yes, Boudreau's ratio is great! There's an earlier thread on "no-fail" ratios.
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#17 Adam George

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 05:52 PM

I'm not sure I will reply over there on "golden ratios" as I don't want to bump an old thread needlessly, but I do think tried and true ratios are a great starting point when developing your own drinks.

As long as you're not going out of your way to find flavours that might clash and you tweak the drink objectively when experimenting you can make some fun drinks.

Not to start writing my memoirs, but when I was experimenting for our winter menu, I wanted to do something with cherry and chocolate, I approached Boudreaus's ratio and did
50 ml Builleit
25ml Dubbonet
5ml Cherry Marnier
2 dashes of Mozart Chocolate Bitters.

Twas a good start, but it was far too chocolatey bitter and the whisky was bit much, so I shaved 10ml off the whisky and made sure only to do one solid dash of bitters. It needs more of a stir than I even give my Old Fashioneds, but when it's right, the flavours pop from the glass.

The result, garnished with an orange twist and some Amarena cherries on a pick has been pretty popular amongst the whisky cocktail drinking guests - of which there are precious few.
Overlapping from the "Creating" Thread - I will note that it might not be a modern classic in the making, but it serves its purpose at my bar: It's a medium-complex, yet approachable, whisky drink that is inspired by a bitter chocolate tart. My punters are not hardened, bitters crazy hipsters so a load of drinks with Amaros and Fernet are not going to cut it at my bar and if I tried forcing those drinks on everyone, I'd be out of a job.

Sorry to meander, off. The moral of the story is that these ratios that we experiment with are a great starting when creating your own drinks.In more of a direct answer to the original question, I would recomend watching lots of videos online from reliable sources.
Small Screen Network
Liquor.com
Diffordsguide
are all great places to learn some great recipes and techniques that will hopefully inspire. There are probably more that escape me right now.

The internet is amazing, in that now I can see the staff that work at bars around the world and pick up on techniques and recipes they are using without even leaving my desk!

Onto drinks,I would personally leave the Long Island Iced Tea and its variations well alone. It's a pretty silly disco drink in which three out of five spirits serve no real purpose besides proof.

If you're hankering for a coke drink to start you off, this version of the Cuba Libre is pretty decent and balanced enough. And I don't even like coke.
You could start with half a teaspoon of your Amaro in here, but really, getting yourself a big bottle of Angostura Bitters is about the first thing any budding home cocktologist should do. It will last you years - even longer if and when you start buying even more varieties of bitters!



You'll have to excuse the waffle and rubbish. I can't say I'm a fan this particular show and format, but it's a free resource and I got this recipe from it, so I got my money's worth.

Edited by Adam George, 16 January 2013 - 06:04 PM.

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#18 mkayahara

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 06:17 PM

Just for kicks, I tried the Esquire formula this evening with a couple of off-beat ingredients in my bar:
1.5 oz Zwack barack palinka
0.5 oz Crème de prunelle
0.5 oz Aperol
0.5 oz lime juice

It was definitely very drinkable! Not complex, though; it reminded me somehow of a Cosmopolitan.
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#19 Adam George

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Posted 16 January 2013 - 09:12 PM

Is that "Creme de 'Prune'"?

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#20 mkayahara

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 06:23 AM

No, though apparently it's not a crème at all. It's "Védrenne prunelle de Bourgogne - liqueur".
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#21 Adam George

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 08:18 AM

I the resting. Odd. Cool.

Anyway, we should not be discussing this here, but thinking about newbie cocktails for Yuri.

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#22 Yuri Asx

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 11:24 AM

Thanks for all the suggestions guys, it's all very good read and information.

I quite liked the Old Fashioned, thanks Zachary, however I tried a bit different Side Car a bit (2 oz cognac, 1 oz triple sec and 0.5 oz lemon juice), and have been enjoying that a lot lately. It's probably my favorite now.

I guess it's soon time to get a bottle of Campari and Vermouth.

#23 Hassouni

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 11:41 AM

If you like old fashioned you're off to a good start!

#24 Zachary

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Posted 17 January 2013 - 02:58 PM

Yuri,

Glad you liked the Old Fashioned. Changing out your Triple Sec for Cointreau will be a significant upgrade.

Thanks,

Zachary

#25 cschweda

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 12:59 PM

Just tried the Esquire formula with a Bulleit Bourbon / Galliano (!) / Aperol / Lemon combination. It was an interesting mix -- especially since I didn't plan on using my old(ish) bottle of Galliano for anything other than a Wallbanger (which didn't really impress me when I finally purchased the Galliano).

The result of the whiskey/galliano mix was peppery and spicy (I assume at least part of this comes from the rye in the Bulleit mashbill). Complex and eminently drinkable -- a great surprise.

#26 Iheartnegronis

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Posted 19 January 2013 - 01:15 PM

Well if you don't want to buy any new spirit you could make a house margarita?

This is my favorite recipe I've come up with for one.

2 oz tequila
1 oz orange juice
1 oz lime juice
1/2 oz lemon juice
1 oz simple syrup
1/2 triple sec (if it's cheap triple sec...use it sparingly since it can ruin a good margarita)

#27 Yuri Asx

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 09:08 AM

Ok guys, I have some new bottles:

Campari and Martini for me
Frangelico and Meletti Limoncello for girlfriend, to make lemon meringue.

What should I start with?

#28 Adam George

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 09:58 AM

Martini Rosso, or dry?

If Rosso, put an ounce each of gin, Campari and Rosso in a glass full of ice and garnish with an orange slice.

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#29 Adam George

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 09:59 AM

Just tried the Esquire formula with a Bulleit Bourbon / Galliano (!) / Aperol / Lemon combination. It was an interesting mix -- especially since I didn't plan on using my old(ish) bottle of Galliano for anything other than a Wallbanger (which didn't really impress me when I finally purchased the Galliano).

The result of the whiskey/galliano mix was peppery and spicy (I assume at least part of this comes from the rye in the Bulleit mashbill). Complex and eminently drinkable -- a great surprise.


I did Tanqueray, Strega, Aperol, lemon yesterday

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#30 Hassouni

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 10:00 AM

by Martini you mean Martini & Rossi? Sweet or dry? If the former, DEFINITELY make a Negroni or an Americano. The first is equal parts gin, campari, and sweet vermouth, the second subs the gin for sparkling water.