We’re taking a slightly different tact with this edition of Rotgut Ingenuity. Our intrepid reporter Max Wastler recently moved halfway across the country. Prior to doing so, he gathered his friends and loved ones in his backyard for a going away party and cleared out his liquor cabinet by improvising on a number of cocktails. From the sound of things, Max spent the entire party feverishly throwing anything he could find in his shaker tins. Here are the greatest hits from those experiments.
A Plethora of Piñatas
Typical tourist, I brought back a hard-to-find bottle of mezcal from a trip to Mexico. Thinking I would save it for a special occasion, it sat unconsumed for well over a year. When my friend asked for a cocktail made with mezcal, I picked up my wiffle bat and swung for the fences with this little mouth party. In your cocktail tin, combine two ounces of your favorite mezcal, one ounce of Morris Kitchen’s Lemon Syrup, and a teaspoon of hot sauce to taste (I like Valentina, but when that ran out Cholula made for a fine pinch hitter). Add three healthy dashes of Scrappy’s Chocolate Bitters. Shake. Serve over ice. Rim a section of your cup with Sal de Gusano. Enjoy it while quoting your favorite lines from The Three Amigos. I’ll start, “Oh great! Real bullets. You’re in a lot of trouble, mister.”
The Five Gingers
The King’s Ginger has become one of my favorite bar mainstays. The bracing ginger flavor fills in a gin and tonic with the right hint of sweetness. This is as gingery a drink as I have ever had and the most delicious: add one ounce of bourbon, one ounce of The King’s Ginger Liqueur, a half ounce of Pok Pok’s Ginger Som and a half ounce of Morris Kitchen’s Ginger Syrup to your shaker tin. Shake well, serve over ice. Garnish with a thin, nickel-sized slice of ginger. Top with your favorite ginger beer. It’s the perfect way to pucker up an evening.
Big Apple Cinnamon
The secret ingredient to my favorite drinks is the pride of New Jersey, a delightful combination of apple brandy and neutral grain spirits called Laird’s Applejack. With summer winding down, my thoughts turn to the fall, when the nights get a little cooler and the markets fill with giant, ripe, juicy apples and I find myself humming “Autumn in New York.” This is a simple take on a Manhattan that will keep you warm and ready to face the season’s change. Combine one ounce of rye, one ounce of Laird’s Applejack, a half ounce of Morris Kitchen’s Spiced Apple Syrup, and a half of ounce Carpano Antica Formula. Shake vigorously and serve neat. Lightly rim the glass with a combination of brown sugar and cinnamon. Garnish with a brandied cherry.