I love cocktails. They are a fun way to conduct experiments without the risk (as with cooking or baking) of ending up with a gallon of inedible trash. And I find that cocktails can be tailored to moods and feelings in fun ways. Of course, I try to drink responsibly (as should you) and in moderation. The first list (which will expand as I go…with new cocktails added at the bottom) is recipes that I commonly use at home. The second are requests I’ve made to bartenders at Pêché and other craft cocktail bars, where they can build a drink based on a mood, a description, or a series of adjectives. Seriously, try it sometime.


Brandy Sidecar // 1-1-1 Brandy, Triple Sec, lemon juice…Shake w/ ice & serve in chilled glass…Sugared rim. // A classy drink for classy folks.

Southwest Sidecar // 1-1-1 silver Tequila, Triple Sec, lemon (and/or) lime juice // Shake with ice & serve in chilled glass…Salted rim. // How much do you want to pucker? Silver tequila perks up the citrus, rather than smoothing it out.

Ingrid & Kenzie’s Perfect Ritas // 9 limes / 3 lemons / 1 Valencia orange / 2 tbsp. sugar / 1/4 cup water / Tequila (we use Milagro silver, but it’s your choice…a gold will give it less bite) // Juice all lemons and limes into pitcher. Juice orange into a separate dish. Add sugar and water to the orange juice. Stir. Microwave mixture until sugar is completely dissolved. Let cool. Once cooled, add to lemon/lime juice…Add as much tequila as you have juice. Stir vigorously…Serve over ice with salted rim…Serves about 2 sizeable glasses, probs about 4-6 party-sized servings. // This is the margarita for those who think the mix is too sweet.

Atomic Sunrise // 1 bottle Jarritos in Naranja flavor / 2 jiggers gold Tequila / grenadine // Mix Jarritos and tequila thoroughly. Add grenadine to taste. It’s like a Shirley Temple on steroids. Or a tequila sunrise with a sugar rush.

Easter Sangria // 1 kiwi / 3 strawberries / Your favorite white wine (I use Barefoot Moscato, but you should adjust for sweetness) / Sprite // Fill cocktail glass 1/4 full with kiwi and strawberry slices. Mash them just a little to release flavor. Add white wine to halfway mark. Fill rest of glass with ice and Sprite. // This is the perfect finish for a poolside feast, but it also prefers shade to sun.

Aunt Debbie’s Lemon Drop // 1 pt. Ketel One / 1 pt. Triple Sec / 1 lemon / 1 tbsp. sugar / 1/4 cup water // In microwave, dissolve sugar in water. Add Ketel One, Triple Sec, lemon, and microwaved simple to shaker with ice. Shake thoroughly & serve in martini glass…Sugared rim. // My great aunt was a wonderful woman and an amazing cook, and that extended to drinks. This was one she taught me on one of our Thanksgiving trips.

Juju’s Easy Shot // 1-1 Tequila and Triple Sec served in shot glass…Salt before, lime after. // I love a schmancy shot with a fun name as much as the next person, but if I’m going for hardcore, I like a nice big one of these.

The Jociebelle // Fill cocktail glass with ice. Add half Sprite, half Peach Schnapps…Serve with straw (you’ll need one to take in that kind of sweetness). // This is one of the only things we can do at home that Joce will drink. I actually sent her a bottle of the peach and instructed her to celebrate every baby saved (in Africa) with one of these.

Summer in Houston // 1 cup powdered raspberry lemonade, prepared / 4 oz. Sour Apple Pucker / 2-4 oz. Vodka // This one will leave you unable to remember how it was prepared or what the proportions were. Just add lots of ice, and don’t have too many. // This was my staple during my first legal summer. I came home at 1pm on Wednesdays and mixed up one of these, didn’t stop until we finished dinner. Ah, college.

Cleaning Day // 1/2 part Chambord / 1/2 part Triple Sec / 1 part Brandy / Champagne / orange juice // Shake chambord and triple sec with ice, and strain into a cocktail glass. Fill with champagne and OJ, as desired. // Megan got champagne one night, and we played with whatever else was in the cabinet.

Sad Face Fizz // 1 part Gin / 1 part Absinthe / 1/2 part St. Germaine // In a cocktail glass, over ice, fill 1/2 to 2/3 full with Gin, Absinthe, and St. Germaine. Raise to top with ginger ale…Garnish with a lemon wedge. // I made this up yesterday, and it captured exactly how I was feeling. I was a little angsty, and I wanted to be happy. Absinthe captured the former, while the sweet fizzy pushed me toward the latter.

The October // 2 parts Brandy / 1 part Luxardo / 2 dashes Orange Bitters / 2 dashes Angostura Bitters // Mix and serve neat. // I left off the Angostura at first, and it was far too sweet.  This combination altogether, however, had the perfect depth and introspection for a Fall night on the porch.

Abstract Orders

“Rich. Dreamy. Luxurious. Brandy.” The bartender mixed me something with brandy and a thin veil of foam.

“I want it to taste like The Great Gatsby. Not like the movie, which I saw yesterday, but the book. Like dreams and orange clouds and pink pearls and sin and a valley of ashes.” It was light and refreshing on the front end, but the absinthe rinse hit me on the back end and turned to ash in my mouth.

“Something that tastes like a David Lynch movie. Like watching someone get killed, but from far away, like, down the street. Like sitting in a circle doing acid and talking about philosophy.” It was some sort of whiskey and bitters thing, that tasted flat and a little disturbing.

{AUTHOR’S NOTE: I’m pretty stuck on brands, which I indicate for most of these. I am a hard liquor drinker, and I’m really in to boozy cocktails, so these are my preferences: / Gin–anything but Beefeater / Brandy–Christian Bros. (I’ve tried another one, and it really sucked.) / Tequila–Cuervo (gold), Milagro (silver), 1800 (sweet) / Vodka–Grey Goose / Peach Schnapps–De Kuyper’s / Rum–Bacardi (light), Captain Morgan (dark) /…}


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