Drinks

Candelabro

Candelabro

Serves 1

Pisco is a grape brandy, generally unaged, that is claimed by both Chile and Peru as their national spirit. Although best known as the base ingredient for the Pisco Sour cocktail, pisco is a versatile spirit that can be used in all manner of drinks. The name for this cocktail was not inspired by the flamboyant pianist Liberace, who was rarely without his candelabra; rather, by El Candelabro, an ancient petroglyph in the Peruvian Andes. You may need to adjust the amount of syrup depending on how sweet your cantaloupe is.

  • 1 1/2 ounces pisco
  • 1 1/2 ounces fresh pressed cantaloupe juice (or muddle 1/2 cup diced fresh cantaloupe in the glass before shaking)
  • 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Scant 1/2 ounce simple syrup
  • 1/2 ounce Cointreau or Paula’s Texas Orange
  • Absinthe, for rinsing the glass
  • Cucumber wheel, for garnish

Combine the pisco, cantaloupe juice, lime juice, simple syrup, and Cointreau in a mixing glass with ice and shake vigorously to chill. Rinse a chilled cocktail glass with absinthe; strain the cocktail into the seasoned glass, and garnish with the cucumber wheel.

Photo and recipe from Tipsy Texan by David Alan; photo by Aimee Wenske
 
Fig Daiquiri

Fig Daiquiri

Serves 1

There is a sexiness to figs that borders on the obscene; no wonder their leaves were used by censors of ancient art to cover, ahem, objectionable parts. Figs grow especially well in central Texas, if you can keep them away from the squirrels and other critters long enough to let them ripen for picking. The taste of fresh figs when you eat them raw is not just fruity, but also earthy, vegetal, and primordial. When used in cocktails, their sweetness comes forward—any number of classic cocktails can benefit from the addition of a few ripe figs.
4 small or 2 large ripe figs, stems removed, cut in half, plus 1 whole fig for garnish

  • 3/4 ounce simple syrup
  • 2 ounces white rum
  • 1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice

In the bottom of a mixing glass, muddle the halved figs and simple syrup. Add the rum and lime juice and shake vigorously with ice to chill. Adjust the amount of syrup to taste. Fine-strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the whole fig.

Photo and recipe from Tipsy Texan by David Alan; photo by Aimee Wenske
 
Maple Syrup Toddy

Maple Syrup Toddy

Serves 1

Perhaps the earliest form of a cocktail, toddies were created as a way to chase away the chill and offer relief from colds and flu. A couple hundred years later, we’re still drinking them for the same reasons, though bartenders like John Ginnetti are upping the ante with premium spirits and creative combinations, making drinks you definitely want to sip while you’re hale and hearty. For this New England–inspired version, the owner of 116 Crown in Connecticut reaches for Laird’s applejack, which has been made in nearby New Jersey since the 1700s. Then he sweetens the mix with pure maple syrup, one of the state’s biggest crops. Instead of adding traditional spices, he uses sweet vermouth and Averna, an Italian amaro, to give the drink aromatic complexity.

  • 2 ounces applejack
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 1 ounce Averna
  • 1 teaspoon grade B maple syrup
  • 3 ounces hot water

Combine the applejack, vermouth, Averna, and maple syrup in a mug and stir until blended.
Add the hot water and stir again. Garnish with the lemon peel, twisting it over the drink to release the oils.

Tip: Maple syrup produced in the United States is usually labeled as grade A or grade B. Grade A syrup comes from maple trees tapped in early spring and is lighter in color and milder in flavor. This drink is best when made with darker more robustly flavored grade B syrup, which comes from trees tapped later in the season.

Recipe from The American Cocktail by the editors of Imbibe Magazine; photo by Sheri Giblin
 
Bitter Branch

Bitter Branch

Serves 1

Minnesotans, who have an abundance of walnut trees in their state, know that green walnuts are best used for making nocino, an Italian bittersweet walnut liqueur that is versatile and decadent in cocktails. Created by Pip Hanson of Café Maude in Minneapolis, this simple yet flavorful cocktail makes a great digestif to cap off a heavy dinner on a cold Midwestern night. The spicy rye whiskey is a perfect counterpart to the nuttiness of the nocino, and the chocolaty character of the Cynar blends beautifully with the final surprising addition of sea salt water.

  • 3 to 4 drops of sea salt water
  • 3 ounces rye whiskey
  • 1 ounce Cynar
  • 1/2 ounce nocino or nocello
  • Ice cubes

Combine the sea salt water, whiskey, Cynar, and nocino in an ice-filled mixing glass and stir until chilled. Strain into an Old Fashioned glass and garnish with the orange twist and candied walnut. Garnish with an orange zest and serve.

Note: To make the sea salt water, in a mug, stir 2 tablespoons of sea salt into 1/2 cup of boiling water, stirring until dissolved. Chill well before use.

Recipe from The American Cocktail by the editors of Imbibe Magazine; photo by Sheri Giblin
 
Sazerac

Sazerac

Serves 1

One of the earliest recorded cocktails, the Sazerac came into this world some time in the 1850s. It was originally made with brandy, but (as I’m sure you’ll agree) there’s nothing quite like a good rye whiskey.

  • 2 ounces rye whiskey
  • 2 barspoons sugar syrup*
  • 2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
  • 2 barspoons absinthe, to rinse the glass
  • A thin lemon zest, to garnish

Stir all the ingredients, except the absinthe, in a mixing glass filled with ice. Rinse a chilled rocks glass with the absinthe. Strain the contents of the mixing glass into the rocks glass and garnish with a thin zest of lemon.

*1 barspoon is about 1 teaspoon
 

Recipe and photo From Gatsby Cocktails: Classic Cocktails from the Jazz Age by Ben Reed; photo by William Lingwood
 

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