Four years ago, I shared an introduction to making smoked cocktails on ManMade, exploring the techniques and ingredients that would allow you to create woodsy, rich drinks at home. I offered several ways to create and capture smoke, but admitted that I preferred a specialized, $100 tool designed for doing just that. Ever since then, at least once or twice a month, I've received an email asking me how to pull this off without buying any specialty gear.
To which I say: challenge accepted! I totally get not wanting to spend a large sum of money to make something you're not sure you're even going to like. I wouldn't either. So, let's break down the process and see what we can do to make some seriously tasty smoked cocktails using things you already have.
Unlike some other spirits, tequila is inextricably linked to one particular cocktail: the margarita. And, to be fair, with good reason. The margarita is a great drink, especially when it's made right, with quality ingredients. But sometimes you want to enjoy your amazing agave flavor in a variety of contexts. So we teamed up Olmeca Altos to share five delicious tequila cocktails you can make for Cinco de Mayo (or any celebration!) that aren't margaritas. I think you're going to love these. Just don't drink all five at once.
A few weekends ago, my wife and I went out for a special dinner to celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary. (Hi sweetheart!) We opted to enjoy a few beers with our meal, but the table next to us had ordered cocktails. They each showed up with the glass half full of color - slanted, and with the liquid on the top. Initially, I thought it was simply a triangular shaped glass, where the bottom angle was simply solid, but as I looked closer, I realized, in fact, it was a frozen wedge of solid ice, attached to the glass so it maintained the effect.
I asked the server how it was done, and she told me the bartender had a bunch of little rubber molds that fit the glass, and the whole thing goes into the freezer. She said they were cool, but only fit the certain glass they came with; so only a certain number of cocktail recipes are served in them, and they run out each night.
A few days later, I looked it up to see if I could pick up one or two. I found the product - it's a glass with a custom silicone insert that freezes the ice at a perfect 45° angle, cutting right down the center. They cost about $20 each, and are kinda cool.
But - they're also unnecessary. Because you can achieve the same effect without spending a dime, using any rocks glass you already have. Here's how to do it.
Any time of year, gin is a favorite spirit. It mixes well while retaining its character, and its aromatics complement a great range of flavors. But there's something so special, so obvious, about gin and springtime. If flavors had colors, gin's would be green, and it's a perfect chance to start putting ice back in our cocktails because the external temperatures are finally bearable.
During spring time, pine, fir, and other evergreen trees grow by producing new tips at the end of each branch. The new growth is a lighter, vibrant green, and you can (and should) eat it. The tips have a wonderful citrus-y, woodsy flavor that tastes awesome in all kinds of sautes, seafood, and roasted dishes. But the easiest way to preserve their flavor is steep them gently in a syrup, which will last in your fridge for weeks.
Two fun facts: 1) unlike most styles, the cream ale is original to North American, born in the US in the mid 1800s; 2) the cream is, of course, an ale, but it is inspired by German lagers and "drinks" like a lager — it's light, crisp, and goes down easy. Okay, so that's what I do know; here's what I don't: what is a cream ale? And is there actually cream in it?
Spoiler alert: no, there isn't. Cream ales are simply light American ales that have an additional fermentable sugar sources like corn or rice to lighten the body. This makes the beer ferment faster, and therefore more economically; their overall lightness makes them easier
Frustrated with unnecessarily high prices for unnecessarily flimsy discount store kitchen carts, Andrew decided to get creative and whipped up an industrial-styled bar cart.
Do me a favor this St. Patrick's Day: skip the green beer. Please. But, while you're not drinking that silliness, do try some Irish Whiskey. Often overlook by bourbon and Scotch drinkers, the Irish whiskey tradition is as old as it is varied. In fact, they kinda invented it.
Perhaps you've heard this piece of advice: never let a cold beer warm up and then become cold again. Practically, this means if you buy a refrigerated beer from the case, then you must keep it refrigerated until it's time to drink it. And it should never sit out at room temperature on the counter, in the pantry, etc. The threat is: the bizarre, off flavors of a beer that's been "skunked" usually described as tasting like wet newspaper, rubber, or if you ask me, the way the pet store smells.
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!