Mixology for You and Me.
Sipping a made-just-for-you drink is the perfect punctuation to a busy week. These days many of us are missing the colorful creations of talented mixologists and settling for mediocre or downright boring end of day drinks. Well, just like the sourdough you’ve perfected over the last few weeks, now’s the time to master the art of handcrafted cocktails.
Cocktails are just like cooking or baking: For best results, use fresh ingredients for a flavorful base. The end goal is a full-on sensory experience. Over the next couple of pages we’ll walk you through our cocktail cornerstones and finish with a few recipes. We encourage you to mix and match along the way! All of the herbs, spices, salts and sugars referenced in this post are available for purchase at SKORDO.com and many of them are in our cocktail inspired ingredient set: It's Five O'Clock Somewhere.
Simple, but far from basic.
Flavored simple syrups are quick to make, last for weeks and versatile. Once you’ve built the syrups, you’re free to experiment with flavor pairings across cocktails. Here are a few favorites:
- Cardamom Infused
- 1 Cup Water
- ¼ Cup Sugar
- 6 Green Cardamom Pods
- Candied Ginger
- 1 Cup Water
- ¼ Cup Sugar
- 2 large Candied Ginger chunks, sliced
- Honey Lavender
- 1 Cup Water
- ¼ Cup Pure & Raw Honey
- ½ tsp Lavender
- Star Anise and Hibiscus
- 1 Cup Water
- ½ Cup Sugar
- 2 TBSP Hibiscus Petals
- 5 Whole Star Anise
Mix the sugar (or honey) and water in a small saucepan and turn the burner to medium high heat. Add your preferred ingredient, stirring as you go. Bring the mixture to a low boil, making sure the sugar has fully dissolved. Remove from heat and once cooled, transfer to a glass container with a tight seal. The longer the ingredients remain in the simple syrup, the richer the flavor. Be sure to label your simple syrup containers. The syrup will last for weeks in a cool, dry spot out of direct sunlight.
Starting with an infused alcohol allows for layered flavors without added sugar. Vodka, gin and tequila are ideal starting bases for home mixologists. Try pairing alcohols with complimentary ingredients. A few recommendations:
Vodka: Makrut Lime Leaves, Rose, Green Cardamom, Candied Ginger, Cinnamon Sticks
Tequila: Makrut Lime Leaves, Black Cardamom, Aleppo Pepper Flakes, Star Anise, Allspice
Gin: Juniper Berries, Rosemary, Lavender, Green Cardamom, Fennel
To start, you’ll need infusion jars (clean, glass containers with a tight seal), ½ cup of alcohol and your preferred ingredient. Add 1-2 teaspoons of your ingredient to the alcohol in the infusion jar and let sit for 15 minutes to an hour. The flavor will build as the ingredient rests in the alcohol. Just like the syrups, the longer you wait the richer the flavors. Once you’re happy with the infusion strain the alcohol and label the container. Infused alcohol will last for months in a sealed container.
Mixers are key.
Stepping towards fresh ingredients and away from pre-mixed sodas and seltzers allows you to determine the destiny of your drink. You decide how sweet it’ll be! You determine the color and consistency of a cocktail!
Citrus: Try using fresh squeezed juice in drinks. Not only is the flavor better, fresh squeezed is additive free and juicing as you go is fun and makes you feel like you’ve earned the drink. Grapefruit, oranges, lemons and limes are favorites.
Frozen fruit: Freezing homegrown peaches, raspberries and blueberries is a great way to capture the flavor of summer. Alternatively, buying frozen tropical fruits is the cheapest way to take a beach vacation. Frozen passion fruit, mango, bananas, and pineapple are bursting with flavor and color.
Bubbles: Alcohol and mixers provide the taste and look of a drink, but the bubbles bring the sound and feel. They are the effervescence – the drama! I’m a fan of the aforementioned SodaStream, but Club Soda or flavored seltzer will also get the job done. If you have a bottle of prosecco or sparkling wine on hand, go for it!
Garnish aka Dress-up.
My grandmother likes to say a drink is a cocktail waiting for its hat. To this day she only drinks scotch on the rocks so I’m not sure how qualified she is to deal out cocktail wisdom, but I like the idea of a full glass eagerly awaiting the social elevation of a headpiece. Dressing up a drink does seem to up the overall experience. I like to garnish with salty-sweet rims, fresh herbs, fruit twists, and vegetables (and I’ll never say no to a paper straw and mini-umbrella).
Make it Salty. Keep it Sweet. Margaritas require a salty rim. This is not up for debate. I like to use Smoked Cherrywood Sea Salt on margaritas and blend smoked salt and Habanero Sugar for spicy, salty and sweet Bloody Mary rims. Infused sugars make excellent rims on tart drinks. The contrast really wakes up the taste buds. Try Blueberry Sugar on an extra limy Mojito.
Fresh Herbs: Mint, basil, oregano, lemon thyme, rosemary and lavender are beautiful garnishes and aromatic additions to cocktails. If you grow your own herbs, keep an eye out for blooms. These little flowers smell great and are worthy additions to any summer drink. Chive, Basil, oregano, mint, and thyme blossoms are a few favorites.
Fruit: A citrus twist or olives are classics for a reason, but have you tried making bourbon cherries or blending and freezing blueberries into cubes? Not all garnishes live on a toothpick. Experiment with fruity ice and boozy berries for professional looking cocktails made in minutes.
Vegetables: Carrots, trimmed down to a point with their greens on are a fun addition to a gingery drink. Blended and frozen beet cubes are a colorful and savory addition to vodka sodas. And, cucumbers! Cucumber and rosemary skewers are the extra touch every gin and tonic deserve.
Roundup and Recipes.
There you have it, cocktail inspiration for your at home enjoyment. Here are a few recipes using a few of the ingredients referenced above. Let us know what you think. We love to hear feedback and ask you to please drink responsibly!
Bourbon and Candied Ginger
4 tsp Candied Ginger Simple Syrup
1 Jigger Bourbon
Juice of ½ Grapefruit
Ice Block preferred, but cubes work in a pinch
Splash of seltzer
Dash of bitters
Vodka and Kaffir Lime Leaves
1 Jigger Kaffir Lime Leaf Infused Vodka
Soda or Tonic Water
Dark Rum and Star Anise
3 tsp Star Anise and Hibiscus Simple Syrup
1 Jigger Dark Rum
1/3 cup frozen Passion fruit
Juice of ½ Orange
White Rum and Lavender
1 - 2 TBSP Honey Lavender Simple Syrup
1/4 Cucumber and 2 Sprigs Mint Muddled
Juice of 1 Lemon
1 Jigger White Rum
Try the Perfect Margaritas Two Ways or the Juniper & Lime Leaf Gin and Tonic.