Cocktails bring a sense of excitement and decadence, which makes them a perfect way to bring the fun of a night out into your home.
As shopping and the ability to acquire ingredients are limited, here are some drinks that can be made with very little. The recipes are flexible enough that they can be adapted to use whatever you have available. You don’t even need a measure and shaker – measurements don’t matter as long as the ratio between ingredients is stuck to, and you can stir drinks with ice instead of shaking. You could even be rather hipster and shake in a jar, or old bottle.
The featured recipes here are all based on a few ingredients: white rum, whiskey, lime juice, sugar syrup. They can all be altered easily to create other drinks. Nearly all white spirits (vodka, white rum, gin etc.) can be swapped for each other, and most dark spirits (brandy, dark rum, whisky etc.) are similarly interchangeable.
Some things like sugar syrup seem cocktail specific, but any sugar dissolved in equal parts water will make it. If you have no sugar, you can also use honey, or golden syrup etc. Darker sugars and ingredients like honey will bring more flavour, so you might have to tweak other parts of the recipe.
Bitters are very useful but if you don’t have any, a small dash of a strongly herbal liqueur works – if you have it, absinthe works beautifully with brandy to make a Sazerac. You could also infuse the water you use with spices first – clove infused water gives a medicinal hit rather like Peychaud’s.
One of the simplest drinks, but with the sophisticated summer flavours that invariably lift spirits.
Shake with ice, 50ml white rum, 25ml lime juice, 25ml sugar syrup. Serve in a coupe or Martini glass with a twist of lime (take the peel from the lime before juicing).
The basic ratio of this drink can be used to make a whole family of drinks. Replace the rum with any spirit and use whatever citrus juice you prefer/have. You can also play around with the sweetener. For instance if you use 50ml gin, 25ml lemon juice, and 25ml honey it makes a Bee’s Knees.
This is less of a recipe than a guide that can be tweaked to your taste, and for what is available. The basics are: 1 part sour, 2 parts sweet, 3 parts strong, and 4 parts weak. The sour is traditionally lime juice, but any citrus should work. It is the perfect drink to mix a jug of and share with those living with you.
For my punch, I used lime juice as the sour, sugar syrup as the sweet, white rum as the strong, and cold tea as the weak. These were all mixed with ice, and for an added bit flavour I topped each glass with freshly grated nutmeg.
This recipe is endlessly variable and can incorporate any fruit juices, lemonade and so on. If you don’t have any spirits, you can use a liqueur for the strong and temper down the sweet, or replace part of the weak with lager or cider.
The earliest cocktail with a simplicity to match.
To a tumbler with ice, add a teaspoon of sugar and a dash of water and stir. Once the sugar is dissolved, add 50ml whiskey, and then a dash of bitters.
Historically, nearly all spirits were used (although whiskey is most popular for good reason I think), but brandy and dark rum make nearly as good drinks – and, with the right twists, sometimes better. If using a white spirit, leave out the sugar and make it more like a pink gin (add a dash of bitters to gin and add cold water to taste).
– Ed Bedford