Often, when I try to explain the idea behind ManMade or what I do for a living, someone who doesn't quite get it will inevitably say to me, "You mean like MacGyver?" Um...I guess?
For the record, I don't think making stuff out of ordinary materials – what we do on ManMade – is anything like MacGyver. But I do like the approach of understanding how things work, and then applying standard techniques to whatever materials sit in front of you. Especially when those materials are bottles of spirits, and the techniques result in something like delicious cocktails.
'Cause here's the thing: when you become known amongst your peers as a guy who knows something about tasty cocktails, you become the guy who everyone turns to to make a tasty cocktail, whatever the occasion. And that's a good thing. It's a solid skill to have, and it's even more impressive if you don't have to look a recipe up on your phone before you start shaking and stirring.
So, with that in mind, here are seven standard recipes, ratios, and approaches to cocktail making that you can tuck in the back of your mind to whip up a tasty option, whatever you find in front of you. (Oh, and if you need bottle recommendations, here are our picks for stocking your home bar without spending a ton of money.)
It's a new year, and for the next twelve months, I'm committed to trying to make every object in my life something of true value. Call it a Kondo-inspired "sparking joy" if you like , but this year, I want to cut out the garbage and keep only what's quality. I want everything I touch and use in my life to be beautiful, lasting, and made with integrity. This starts with my morning routine, from the my coffee routine and the mug I drink it in, and goes all day through the book I read during the last few minutes before bed.
I've been trying to up my host game lately, especially in the drinks department. Solid glassware, proper bar tools, and better presentation go a long way towards concocting a quality experience. That's why I was excited to come up with a great gift project for those that want to ditch the cheap plastic in their classy mixed drinks. These simple straws are hefty enough to really stand out as a stocking stuffer, or on their own as a solid holiday gift.
I have gone on record, in this publication and elsewhere, about why the hot toddy is the perfect cocktail to be sipping in December. It's warm. It's spiced. And at least according to folk wisdom, it's good for your health, and can help to heal a nasty wintertime sore throat. But, to be honest, until last Tuesday evening, I didn't actually like a hot toddy.
They were fine, but not delicious, and not really an improvement over a simple glass of neat whiskey. (You could make a hot toddy with rum, brandy, or tequila, but why would you?)
Hot toddys (toddies?) always disappointed: never quite hot enough to truly enjoy, and somewhat ... harsh. There was something I never liked about adding acidic lemon juice to a healthy glug of bourbon, then heating the whole thing up. It seemed to bring out all the rough, grain-y flavors, and hide the tastier warm and spicy barrel-aged notes that make whiskey, well, whiskey.
Friends, it's time to step up your home cocktail game. But it's not about procuring a special bottle of small batch spirits, or some crafty house-made infusion, or even an obscure, esoteric bitter liqueur made by monks in the mountains of Europe. In fact, it's not about the ingredients of the drink at all. It's about texture.
Carbonating cocktails adds effervescence, tingling the tongue and bringing out new flavors and drinking experiences. Club soda is traditional, and it works, but waters down the drink, and often just floats on top, never fully integrating with the heavier alcohol.
Looking to add a little of the "roasting on open fire" flavor to some of your seasonal libations? Check out this cool technique for making smoked cocktail garnishes to add some toasty, earthy notes to your drinks.
I'll admit it: when I was 24, and thinking about hosting friends for Thanksgiving for the very first time, I probably wouldn't have used a guide like this. For one thing, I was stubborn and willful, and liked to think I could figure everything out on my own (wrong!). For another, that was 2006, and the internet was a much newer, smaller place then: this type of guide probably wasn't out there.
But you, my friends! You youngsters with your illogical catch phrases and shrug emojis and your ability to understand how to use Snapchat! You can be better! You can do what few young men before you have ever done! You can host an awesome Thanksgiving meal at your house, and it can look amazing, and you can even have fun doing it. C'mon, it's not going to be hard ...
Look, we love a solid cocktail bar. It's an awesome experience to meet up with some co-workers for happy hour, or connect with a friend or date over something shaken or stirred and served in a quality glass. But there's something to be said for sipping at home. Most importantly, it's much less expensive. Bar and restaurants try to keep their food and liquor costs to 20-25%, which means that $12 martini is actually made up of only $3.00 of ingredients. But we also can't argue with the value of staying home, whipping something up for your partner or friends on the fly in the warm, quite confines of your own living room. (Pajama pants optional).
And while we have no problem dropping some serious change on a truly elegant whiskey or craft spirit, the truth is: most mixed drinks don't actually require the highest end of spirits. So, if you're looking to experiment with crafting your own drinks, but don't want to invest mega bucks in a full fleet of top-shelf spirits, it's time to learn how to stock your home bar or bar cart on a budget.
And it came to pass that the season for sandals and gin subsided, leaving in its place jackets and layers, autumnal aromas, and whiskey season.
So, this is a collection not for the kind of guy who finds a label he likes and sticks with it. Cause, those sort of fellows already know what they're enjoying this season. Instead, these are the best-bang-for-your-buck bottles, those that have a great relationship between their price and their flavor.
And by that, we don't mean these are value whiskeys that are simply tolerable or "good for the price." Instead, they're solid, investment whiskeys; some of our favorites that will make you
One of my favorite cocktail mixers is the spicy ginger beer, used for the summer favorite "Moscow Mule", or evening sipper, the "Dark and Stormy." But I've had enough of the spendy, over-sweetened bottles from the supermarket, so I figured: it's time to make our own. Here are three ways to make an extremely tasty version happen at home.
Around here, we've moved past the short glass - the whiskey in a tumbler, the shaken 3 oz. cocktails of spring -and opting for the long and tall. With sunshine comes all-day drinks: those mixed with plenty of ice and fresh ingredients to keep you cool.
Of course, it's ice that keeps 'em cool, and when your glass sits around in the heat...well, ice melts. So, this summer, make that a good thing. We're sharing our technique and recipes to allow the ice to actually contribute to the flavor of a drink or cocktail, not just its temperature or dilution. Check it out!
No one's gonna argue against either the sheer joy or the benefits of a cooling, delicious popsicle during these blazing summer months. But though tasty, the straightforward punch of frozen juice and, most likely, lots and lots of sugar, can be a little one note, certainly to the adult palette. So this summer, up the flavor and complexity (and age of consumption) by making your own boozy popsicles, with any alcohol or spirit you like.
Some guys have their go-to libation: no matter the time, no matter the place, they want this beer or that drink, and the matter really isn't up for discussion. Others are constantly switching up their poisons, perusing the menu for familiar flavors, taking the advice of the bartender, or simply having what everyone else at the table ordered.
The southeast has a lot of great things about it -- beaches, mountains, iced tea, southern hospitality -- but it isn’t necessarily considered a hotbed of the craft beer world. There are great craft beer cities, sure, but it doesn’t have the respect of a Michigan, Oregon, or upstate New York. The past decade has seen an explosion of breweries in the southeast, though, and these folks have mastered brewing for summertime. These breweries don’t just know heat. They live it, and they make beer that suits it. With that in mind, here are ten favorites to help you beat the heat next time you’re having friends or family over this summer.
Keeping the home bar stocked with the recommended staples takes a bit of planning, but even the best stocked cabinet is useless without the tools to make them right. Here’s our list of 10 essentials to outfit your bar with everything you need to make those drinks right.
The quest for the sought-after hangover cure certainly began the morning after humanity discovered the fun of fermented liquids. And after thousands of years, different regions of the world have arrived at different conclusions on how to treat one, even coming up with different cures for each symptom.
Last time we talked tequila, we showed you how to make a Pasado de Moda, an orange-and-tequila infused take on the Old Fashioned. Today, it's time to celebrate Cinco de Mayo with a fresh and crazy flavorful cocktail, made with Olmeca Altos Reposado.
Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican Army's 1862 victory over the French in the Battle of Puebla. It is not, as people often think, the Mexican Independence Day (that's Diez y Seiz de Septiembre). The holiday isn't really acknowledged in Mexico anyway, but any time there's an excuse to enjoy some tequila, we are most certainly a bordo.
But cross cultural mashups don't need a reason to exist
Oh, Summertime. The best time of year for delicious drinks made with fresh ingredients. In doing my research for this piece, I had a hard time not wanting to just make up a drink for each herb!
It's an interesting contrast. Vodka is among the most simple and pure of spirits, distilled many times to show off the basic essence of its grain (or potatoes) and water source. But perhaps there's no other bottle that carries with it such a variety of contexts in which its imbibed. Because of its straight-forward, back-to-basics presentation, you can drink vodka like, say, a college student who wants to mask the taste. Or a James Bond-inspired martini drinker who hasn't learned about gin yet. Or for its, um, less-hangover-y nature and overall lower impact to your systems the next morning. And countless other ways.
Or, you could drink vodka like those people who invented it - those from Northeastern Europe, where long, cold winters mean grapes won't really grow, and the best source of sugar to ferment and distill are hardy cereal grains.