If there’s one thing the home bartender needs, it’s great cocktail recipes that don’t call for too many ingredients. The New York Times article, Summer Cocktails Made Simpler, celebrates such drinks. Robert Willey writes, “No matter how refreshing the payoff, there’s a point where assembling a drink overtakes your ability to enjoy it, such that you’re left contemplating a counter strewn with oddball spirits and sticky dribbles of heirloom citrus juice, inhaling wispy fumes of the lavender-snakeroot bitters you spent three weeks infusing, pondering a cocktail that’s fading rapidly, wondering, ‘Was all this worth it?'”
And sometimes it is. But other times, you want something simple, but new. I like the looks of the Live Basil Gimlet, a recipe from Scott Beattie, Spoonbar, Healdsburg, California:
5 large basil leaves
.75oz fresh lime juice
.5oz simple syrup
Gently muddle four basil leaves in a cocktail shaker. Add the gin, lime juice and simple syrup. Fill with ice, shake vigorously and strain into a chilled coupe or other small glass. Garnish with the remaining basil leaf.
I wonder what it might be like substituting cilantro for the basil. I’m also intrigued by the Spellbinder, adapted from one created by Lydia Reissmueller, of Central in Portland, Oregon. It’s hard to find recipes for cocktails that use Strega, a wonderful Italian liqueur, and this one looks good:
.5oz dry vermouth
1 lemon peel strip, for garnish
1 cucumber strip, for garnish
Stir gin, vermouth and Strega in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into a chilled coupe, add the lemon and cucumber and serve.
Strega was created in Italy 150 years ago. It’s a bright yellow (from saffron) 40-proof herbal digestive usually intended for after dinner. A bottle will cost about $36.
Finally, this one called Take 3 from Zachary Gelnaw-Rubin of Dutch Kills in Queens is interesting because of the odd mixture of Cynar, the Italian amaro, and St. Germain, the French elderflower liqueur:
.75oz St. Germain
.75oz lemon juice
Orange wedge, for garnish
Shake Cynar, St. Germain and lemon juice with ice in a cocktail shaker. Strain into a highball glass over fresh ice. Top with seltzer and garnish with the orange wedge.
This is also a good time to talk about classic cocktail ratios: they provide a base that one can use for tons of different ingredients. Scott Beattie, the creator of the Lime Basil Gimlet above, told the Times that he uses the sour recipe formula: 1.5oz of liquor, .75oz of lime juice and .5oz of a sweetener. That basic trio, strong/sour/sweet, is the foundation for so many cocktails, and that ratio, 3:2:1, is very helpful when trying to create something new. You may have to mess with it, but it’s a starting point.
Thanks to Barney Bishop at Fragrant Moments for telling me about this article.