Getting Started: Experimentation March 27 2015
We’re nearly at the end of the Getting Started Guide. You’ve gotten all the supplies you need to mix your own craft cocktails. You’ve tried the standard Rejigger recipes, like margaritas, gimlets, and whiskey sours. You might rightly be wondering what could possibly come next.
Luckily, for you, what comes next is the fun part! The part where you start inventing your very own cocktails.
Like many of the steps in the Rejigger process, this isn’t nearly as hard as it seems. You probably already have ingredients lying around the house that can transform a go-to cocktail into something new or different. Or a lesser-known liqueur that’s just begging to be mixed with a new base spirit. Read on to find out how you can use your Getting Started materials—plus your Rejigger—to make concoctions that are as original as they are delicious.
START WITH SOURS
Sours combine a base spirit with fruit juice (usually lemon or lime) and simple syrup. This category includes many of the most familiar cocktails—whiskey sours, of course, but also gimlets, daiquiris, and Tom Collinses. It is also one of the easiest formats to experiment with when your liquor cabinet is running low. Here are three ways to rejigger a Rejigger sour:
- Switch up your fruit juice. Out of lemons and limes? Try making your whiskey sour with that grapefruit juice in the back of the fridge instead. Or, shake up a cosmopolitan with pomegranate juice instead of cranberry.
- Flavor your syrup. If you have leftover raspberries, blueberries, or strawberries, throw them into your next batch of simple syrup. They’ll add a subtle new taste—and color—to your cocktail creations.
- Muddling is another technique you can use to add new flavors, especially with herbs like mint or basil. Simply add the new ingredient to the pint glass and mash it up with a muddler or wooden spoon before adding in the liquor. This is a great way to use up herbs left over from cooking (or making other cocktails).
THEN, SWAP OUT SPIRITS
Cocktails that use specialized ingredients, like aromatic wines, spirits, and liqueurs, can be a little more difficult to experiment with. It’s harder to tell how the flavors will blend, and more to lose when they don’t blend well. But that shouldn’t keep you from trying new things when your liquor cabinet’s running low. The key is to keep in mind how different liquors are alike, and what their function is in the cocktail.
Take a negroni, for instance. If you’re out of Campari, you can make a similar drink from almost any aromatic, slightly bitter liquor on hand, like orange-y Aperol or artichoke-infused Cynar. Out of vermouth for your manhattan? Try another fortified wine, like sherry, instead.
You can also change the base spirit. This sort of substitution is so common that many of them already have names: a negroni with rum instead of gin is a Kingston negroni, for instance. If you swap in vodka or gin for the rum in a daiquiri, you get a Gimlet. And so on—the possibilities are nearly endless (and delicious).
Happy experimenting! And if you should happen on an interesting original recipe, shoot us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to feature your cocktail inventions on our blog!