Tag Archive | "Cocktail recipes"

Feel Like Drowning Your Sorrows?

The news last week that the author of “To Kill a Mockingbird,”  Harper Lee, had died was sad to all of us who loved her book as well as her iconic characters, including Scout, Atticus, Dill and Bo Radley. I first read the novel in freshman English class many years ago, and just to remind myself of its brilliance, I re-read it a few years ago, marveling once again at her storytelling abilities.

tequilaBut I was also reminded of another book — and I don’t mean Lee’s other novel, “Go Tell a Watchman.” The book I was thinking of was a slender volume from 2013 bearing the punderful name “Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist” (Running Press, $15) by Tim Federle.

Yes, your favorite volumes of literature (and a few you may have hated, too) have provided the basis for some fantastic drinks. Romance lovers will lap up the liquid tale of Romeo and Julep or the Austen-inspired Rye and Prejudice. Fans of magical realism can always soak up Love in the Time of Kahlua, while a few too many Malted Falcons will give you a noir to forget.

These are not simply classic drinks with a classic title twisted to suit the occasion. Well, not all. Are You There, God, It’s Me, Margarita? does offer a fine, traditional mix of tequila, triple sec and lime without any sugary additions. The Lord of the Mai-Tais, though, starts with rum and a slice of pineapple as a garnish, but the drink also includes a winning combination of cranberry juice, orange juice, coconut rum and grenadine. Gin Eyre is an original mix of gin with mint, lemon juice, sugar and orange bitters for a refreshing summertime treat. And who would not be crazy for a drink called The Rye in the Catcher with its blend of rye, pineapple and lemon juices, and ginger beer?

tequila mockingbirdFederle has taken his gift for puns on to other fields and has produced two more cocktail books, “Hickory Daiquiri Dock: Cocktails with a Nursery Rhyme Twist” and “Gone with the Gin: Cocktails with a Hollywood Twist.” As if that’s not enough, he’s also a YA novelist who’s working on a musical version of “Tuck Everlasting.”

But back to “Tequila Mockingbird.” In writing about the original novel, Federle offers this explanation for the inspiration of his drink: “After a conclusion that leaves you both hopeful and haunted, toast to a sometimes sour justice system with a tequila shot that’s guilty of packing a dill pickle punch.” Raise a toast to Harper Lee while you’re at it. and enjoy.

Tequila Mockingbird

1 1/2 ounces tequila
2 drops hot sauce
1 dill pickle

Pour the tequila into a shot glass, add the hot sauce, and slam that bad boy back before chasing with a big chomp of pickle. No tears allowed here: If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the South.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From “Tequila Mockingbird” by Tim Federle


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Lone Star Spirit: Deep Eddy Lemon Vodka

The following is part of a series on Texas spirits, including wines, beers and liquors.

Deep Eddy Vodka, distilled in Dripping Springs, has given us several distinctive flavors, including sweet tea and ruby red grapefruit. Now comes Deep Eddy Lemon, a perfect antidote to the summer heat.

Deep Eddy Shandy

Deep Eddy Shandy

It’s made with natural lemon flavors as well as Texas water for a smooth, clean vodka that can be sipped by itself though I preferred tasting it in cocktails, such as those listed below, or simply mixed with Perrier Lime and ice.

You can find Deep Eddy Lemon at area liquor stores. A 750 milliliter bottle is price in the neighborhood of $16.

Lemon Splash

2 ounces Deep Eddy Lemon
Sparkling water
Slice of lemon

Add vodka to an ice-filled glass. Stir. Top with sparkling water. Garnish with a slice of lemon.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Deep Eddy

Deep Shandy

12 ounces wheat beer, your choice
1 ounce Deep Eddy Lemon

Stir vodka into a glass of wheat beer. Serve with a heel of lemon, if desired.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Deep Eddy

Lemon Basil Martini

2 basil leaves
1/4 ounce simple syrup
2 ounces Deep Eddy Lemon

Muddle basil in simple syrup. Add ice. Add vodka. Shake and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with an additional basil leaf, if desired.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Deep Eddy

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Shake Up Some Valentine’s Love with a Tequila Cocktail

If you’re looking for a way to shake up some fun this Valentine’s Day, try one of these cocktail recipes, which the folks at Q Kitchen | Bar in the Downtown Hyatt, 123 Losoya St., are serving.

Q cocktails

It’s tequila for Valentine’s Day at Q Kitchen | Bar. Front: Migos-Manhattan. Back, from left: Casa Bella, Casa Amore and the Sweet Amigo.

All are made using various types of Casamigos Tequila in a series of bold combinations.

The Sweet Amigo

2 slices muddled serrano chiles
1 ½ ounces Casamigos Blanco Tequila
1/2 ounce lemon juice
1/2 ounce fresh orange juice
1/2 ounce cranberry juice

Muddle two slices of serrano chiles in a cocktail shaker. Add ice, blanco tequila, lemon juice, orange juice and cranberry juice. Strain into a chilled martini glass rimmed with chile sugar. (To make chile sugar, mix equal parts chile powder of your choice and sugar. Wet the rim of the glass with a slice of lime, then run the rim through the chile sugar.)

Makes 1 cocktail.

Adapted from Casamigos Tequila

Casa Bella

1 ounce Casamigos Blanco Tequila
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2 ounce agave nectar
4 ounces Champagne
Lime twist for garnish

Combine blanco tequila, lime juice and agave nectar in an ice-filled shaker. Strain into a champagne flute. Top with Champagne. Garnish with a lime twist.

Makes 1 cocktail.

Adapted from Casamigos Tequila

Casa Amore

Cinnamon sugar
Orange wedge
1 1/2 ounces Casamigos Reposado Tequila
1/2 ounce lemon juice
1/4 ounce agave nectar
Pinch of cinnamon

Combine equal parts cinnamon and sugar on a plate and lightly wet the outside of the rim of the flute with an orange wedge, lightly press outside of rim of flute into mixture, tap glass to remove loose fragments of mixture. In an ice-filled shaker, combine reposado tequila, lemon juice, agave nectar and a pinch of cinnamon. Shake. Strain into a chilled flute. Top with Champagne. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Makes 1 cocktail.

Adapted from Casamigos Tequila


2 ounces Casamigos Reposado Tequila
3/4 ounce Carpano Antica Formula, a rosso or red vermouth
Bar spoon of creme de cacao
1 dash mole bitters
1 dash orange bitters

In an ice-filled rocks glass, add tequila, vermouth, creme de cacao and both bitters. Stir. Garnish with a touch of orange oil and peel.

Makes 1 cocktail.

Adapted from Casamigos Tequila

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Let’s Raise a Toast to National Repeal Day

National Repeal Day, the day Prohibition ended, is celebrated each year on Dec. 5. It may not be as widely known as Christmas, but it’s worth raising a glass or two in recognition of our liquid freedom.

A Boulevardier at Biga on the Banks.

A Boulevardier at Biga on the Banks.

This year, I’ll be drinking a Boulevardier.

Never heard of it? Don’t worry. Not too many bartenders in San Antonio have either, even at a couple of our tonier watering holes.

But it’s a simple recipe because it’s the bourbon version of my summertime favorite, the Negroni. You simply stir bourbon, sweet vermouth and Campari with some ice. Garnish with lemon or orange peel. Drink. Repeat — if you have a designated driver.

Don’t have any fresh vermouth or Campari on hand? Or you simply don’t want to bother making one yourself? Head to the Brooklynite, 516 Brooklyn Ave., where the bartenders know exactly what a Boulevardier is and how to make one that’ll cause your toes to curl in delight. I also had an excellent version at Biga on the Banks, 203 S. St. Mary’s St., recently.

I know that not everyone’s a Campari fan, so here are a couple of other bourbon drinks to keep you warm this National Repeal Day and all winter long.

The Boulevardier

1 1/2 parts bourbon
1 part sweet vermouth
1 part Campari
Orange or lemon peel for garnish

In an ice-filled rocks glass, add bourbon, vermouth and Campari. Stir vigorously until drink is cold. Twist an orange or lemon peel over the top. Stir once more. Garnish with peel.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From John Griffin

Kentucky Corpse Reviver

This cocktail, meant to tame the hair of the dog on the morning after, is another variation on a gin classic. And that’s OK with us.

1 1/2 tablespoons bourbon
1 1/2 tablespoons Cointreau
1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons Lillet Blanc
Thinly sliced lemon for garnish

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the bourbon, Cointreau, lemon juice and Lillet Blanc.

Shake until your cocktail forms a nice frost on the exterior.

Strain the mixture into a chilled coupe or wine glass. Top with the lemon and enjoy.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From “The Cocktail Club” by Maureen Christian-Petrosky


This cocktail is a favorite in the West Indies, according to “The Savoy Cocktail Book,” a bible among cocktail aficionados. It’s also as easy to make for 20 as it is for one.

2 parts bourbon
2 parts dry vermouth
2 parts sweet vermouth

Pour into a shaker half full of cracked ice. Shake well and serve.

Adapted from “The Savoy Cocktail Book”

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Give Your Julep a Twist

With the Kentucky Derby around the corner, it’s time to mix up a mint julep and relax. Here are two variations of the classic drink that use fresh fruit to give your cocktail an extra jolt of flavor. So, when the horses are ready to leave the gate or whenever you feel like a libation with some added flavor, try either of these.

Of course, the classic julep is a classic for a reason. And if that’s what you’re looking for, click here.

Basil Hayden's Jockey's Julep

Basil Hayden’s Jockey’s Julep

Basil Hayden’s Jockey’s Julep

8-10 mint leaves
8 blueberries
2 parts bourbon, such as Basil Hayden’s Bourbon
1 part fresh lime juice
3/4 parts simple syrup

Muddle mint leaves and blueberries in a mixing glass.

Add remaining ingredients and shake over ice.

Fine strain into a rocks glass with crushed ice.

Garnish with blueberries and a sprig of mint.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Rob Floyd/Basil Hayden’s Bourbon


Knob Creek Storyville Julep

Knob Creek Storyville Julep

Knob Creek Storyville Julep

1 ½ parts fresh pressed pineapple juice
½ part thin honey syrup (3 parts honey, 2 parts water)
6 fresh mint leaves
1 ½ parts bourbon, such as Knob Creek Bourbon
Club soda

Muddle pineapple juice, honey syrup and mint leaves in a tall highball glass.

Fill with ice, add bourbon and stir top with club soda.

Garnish with a pineapple clip and mint top.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Bobby “G” Gleason, Beam Master Mixologist/Knob Creek  Bourbon


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SACC Starts at Majestic with a Splash (or Two)

The throngs on the first floor of the Majestic Thursday.

The throngs on the first floor of the Majestic Thursday.

By John Griffin & Bonnie Walker

Here’s a great way to ring in the new year (in case you didn’t do it quite right a couple of weeks back.)

Dress up, go downtown, then join several hundred other people at a historic theater, wander from cocktail table to bar to a balcony to catch some fresh air.

Then, go back inside and do it again.

That was the scene Thursday night at the Majestic during the opener for the third annual San Antonio Cocktail Conference.

Hundreds of people wandered through the four floors of the theater, sampling everything from rum punches and French 75s while sampling bites from Feast, The Friendly Spot, the Monterey, GauchoGourmet, TasteElevated and Restaurant Gwendolyn. Jason Dady offered a sneak peak of his new restaurant, Umai Mi, by offering tamarind-glazed brisket with spicy peanuts and pickles. It’s supposed to open next week, Crystal Dady said.

Meanwhile, people were enjoying a host of cocktails, some elaborate and some simply delicious.

The Cointreau Rickey (recipe below) would be a perfect refresher on a hot summer’s day, and all you had to do to make one was mix the orange liqueur with fresh squeezed lime juice and soda. You could muddle your own additions to the drink, including cucumber, mint, raspberries, strawberries and basil leaves.

Treaty Oak Rum out of Austin mixed up a daiquiri, while Magellan’s Last Word was a voyage of sweet and tangy with its mix of Magellan’s Gin, Maraschino, lime juice and Chartreuse.

SACC 2014 Cigarmaker

Cigar-maker draws a crowd.

Out on the balcony a cigar-maker was flattening and cutting leaves of tobacco and fashioning smokes, trying to keep up with the audience of interested onlookers.

While munching on a cocktail cupcake from Gigi’s Cupcakes or snacks from the Art Institute, you could sip a Cutty Side Scuttle created by Benji Pocta of Chino Chinatown in Dallas. The winning drink featured Cutty Sark, lemon juice, simple syrup, ginger beer, Sandeman Port and Angostura Bitters.

Next to him, Ryan Sumner of Driftwood in Dallas was mixing up Judy Is a Punch cocktails complete with umbrellas and skewers of mint, lime and a marinated cherry. The drink featured Brugal Extra Dry Rum, lime, grenadine, Demerara, Allspice Dram and Herbsaint.

Of course, all of the fun was for a good cause. The San Antonio Cocktail Conference is a fundraiser for two children’s charities, HeartGift and ChildSafe San Antonio. Plenty of events remain from today through Sunday. For more information on the conference, click here.

For a Cointreau Rickey, use a siphon or club soda.

For a Cointreau Rickey, use a siphon or club soda.

Cointreau Rickey

2 ounces Cointreau
1 ounce fresh lime juice (about 1 lime)
4 ounces club soda

Simply pour Cointreau and fresh lime juice into glass and fill with ice. Top off with club soda and stir.

Variation: For a Cucumber Mint Rickey, muddle 3 slices cucumber and 5 mint leaves in the bottom of your glass. Add the ingredients above .Garnish with a sprig of mint.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Cointreau

Judy Is a Punch

Judy Is a Punch


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Learn the Art of Mixing Craft Cocktails from One of the City’s Top Mixologists

Jeret Peña

Jeret Peña

It’s a scary situation, one you’ll likely find in a Roy Lichtenstein cartoon. One evening, you’re making cocktails for your friends. Suddenly feelings of angst flood your system. Cue the theremin music. You stop, raise a hand to your chin and ponder: Should I shake or should I stir?

You’ll never have to face another cocktail conundrum again, if you learn from one of the city’s master mixologists. And Jeret Peña, owner of the Brooklynite, is ready to teach you.

He’ll be offering a technique and recipe seminar at his popular bar, 516 Brooklyn Ave., from 7:30 to 9 p.m. July 27.

So many possibilities. .

So many possibilities. .

In the 90-minute session, you’ll be greeted with a welcome cocktail, followed by the class itself in which you’ll get Peña’s recipes for seven craft cocktails. You’ll get three craft cocktail samples and some small bites to enjoy during the class. At the end, a closing cocktail will be served, and you’ll receive some take-home cocktail mix (just add liquor).

The cost of the seminar, cocktails, samples and recipes is $50.

Call the Brooklynite at (210) 444-0707 to reserve your spot. And call a cab if you stick around to enjoy a cocktail or two more after class.


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These Cocktails and Punch Pack Extra Sparkle

Watermelon Cucumber Cooler

Watermelon Cucumber Cooler

Looking for some fun to shake up for the Fourth of July or any time you need a tasty, cool and refreshing cocktail? Here are some kicky cocktails and punches made with gin, vodka and whiskey. So, take your pick. Have some fun. And remember: Handling cocktails and handling fireworks don’t mix.

For a taste of some frozen “pop-tails,” click here.

Watermelon Cucumber Cooler

3 (1-inch) chunks watermelon
2 slices cucumber chunks, plus an extra slice for garnish
1 1/2 ounces Aviation American Gin
1/2 ounce simple syrup
3/4 ounce freshly pressed lime juice
Pinch of salt
1 ½ ounces soda water

Muddle watermelon and reserve 1 ½ ounces of the juice. Place cucumber in mixing glass and muddle. Add reserved watermelon juice, gin, syrup, lime juice and a pinch of salt. Shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Fine strain into a highball glass filled with ice. Top with soda water. Garnish with a cucumber slice on rim.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Aviation American Gin

Strange Brew

Strange Brew

Strange Brew

1 ½ ounces Aviation American Gin
1 ½ ounces freshly pressed pineapple juice
½ ounce St-Germain elderflower liqueur
½ ounce freshly pressed lemon juice
1 ½ ounces Widmer Hefeweizen
Mint, for garnish

In a mixing glass, add gin, pineapple juice, St-Germain and lemon juice. Shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Fine strain into a pilsner glass filled with crushed ice. Top with beer. Garnish with a mint sprig.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Aviation American Gin

Cele-Berry Punch  

24 blackberries
8 strawberries
24 blueberries
12 ounces Aviation American Gin
4 ounces Cointreau
4 ounces simple syrup
6 ounces freshly pressed lemon juice
16 ounces soda water

In a mixing bowl, muddle berries. Add gin, Cointreau, syrup and lemon juice. Mix. Fine strain into a punch bowl. Cover and cool until ready to serve. When ready, add a block of ice and soda water. Mix. Garnish with mixed berries and mint.

Makes 8 servings.

From Aviation American Gin

Old Glory Punch

1 1/2 ounces Belvedere Lemon Tea Vodka
½ ounce almond syrup
¾ ounces lemon juice
3 ounces green tea
Lemon wedge, for garnish

To serve as a cocktail: Pour vodka, syrup, juice and tea over ice. Stir. Garnish with a lemon wedge.

To serve as a punch:

375 milliliters Belvedere Lemon Tea Vodka
100 milliliters almond syrup
175 milliliters lemon juice
700 milliliters green tea
Lemon slices, for garnish
Blueberries, for garnish

Add all ingredients to a pitcher or punch bowl over ice. Garnish with lemon slices and blueberries.

From Belvedere Vodka

Patriot Punch

Patriot Punch

Patriot Punch

2 parts Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey
1 part DeKuyper Apricot Brandy
1 part Cranberry Juice
2 parts Champagne
Lemon slices, for garnish

To serve as a cocktail: Pour all ingredients over ice in a stemless red wine glass. Stir. Garnish with a lemon slice.

To serve as a punch: Double the recipe and multiply by the number of guests you plan to serve. Add Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey, DeKuyper Apricot Brandy and cranberry juice to a punch bowl, stir and refrigerate. When guests arrive, add Champagne and lemon wheels. Serve over ice in stemless red wine glasses.

From Kilbeggan Irish Whiskey


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Syrup Doesn’t Have to Be Simple

You don't need fancy containers to store your simple syrup (left) and flavored syrup, such as Liberty Bar's hoja santa syrup (right).

You don’t need fancy containers to store your simple syrup (left) and flavored syrup, such as Liberty Bar’s hoja santa syrup (right).

The bartender at the opening of the San Antonio Cocktail Conference handed me an icy mixed drink and began to rattle off the ingredients. “Drambuie, pisco, lemon juice, Earl Grey simple syrup …”

Wait a minute there, I said. Earl Grey simple syrup. What’s that? Sweat tea?

Sort of, she laughed. Then she explained that it was a simple syrup flavored with Earl Grey tea, known for its bergamot flavor. She didn’t have an exact recipe for how to make this at home, since her container appeared to contain more than three gallons.

But she did suggest trying 4 or 5 tea bags added to your basic recipe for syrup.

Simple syrup is a liquid sweetener in which the sugar has been dissolved already, so you don’t get that gritty sediment at the bottom of your glass that happens when you add sugar to cold tea. The recipe is simplicity itself: Dissolve 1 cup of sugar in 1 cup of water over heat until the sugar crystals disappear. Cool. And use in your favorite cocktails.

With the Earl Grey, you’d steep those tea bags in simmering water for a few minutes before stirring in the sugar.

Of course, syrups have been a part of cocktail culture for a long time, from adding a splash of grenadine to finish off a Tequila Sunrise to stirring some ginger syrup (see recipe below) into a Moscow Mule for an extra kick. Back home in Kentucky, we add mint to simple syrup before making mint juleps for the derby.

Make your own flavored syrups for cocktails.

Make your own flavored syrups for cocktails.

More and more syrups are being incorporated into the world of handcrafted cocktails these days as a means of adding dimension as well as balance to drinks. And as with any cooking, the limits of what syrups you create are strictly those of your imagination.

They are also cost-effective, says Jeret Peña, owner of the Brooklynite, 516 Brooklyn Ave.

“Flavored simple syrups are the best way to add flavor to a drink without spending an arm and a leg at a liquor store,” he says. “Why buy a framboise when you can buy organic raspberries and muddle them into a bowl filled with simple syrup? Leave for a few days and — boom! — you have a traditional raspberry syrup.”

Not every flavor is so easy and not every ingredient is readily available, Peña says, citing several obscure items, such as “an elderflower, hops or certain spices.”

Why use a simple syrup instead of infusing an alcohol?

“Here is another way to look at infusions,” Peña says “I have a peanut-washed bourbon on menu. I can’t imagine it working with gin or tequila, so there is no reason to replicate it in anything other than the bourbon. The opposite to this theory is the use of certain items that can easily be used with multiple items. In this case, I love making hopped syrups because it can work with a multitude of spirits, such as gin, tequila and even Irish whiskey.”

The market is full of a number of infused vodkas, but you won’t find that otherwise flavorless liquor getting too much respect from makers of hand-crafted cocktails.

As Peña says, “Vodka seems to be far removed from my craft, and the thought of infusing it seems even further. I always tell people if they want a flavored vodka, try gin.”

Liberty Bar's Santa Pepin (left) and Ruby Menta.

Liberty Bar’s Santa Pepin (left) and Ruby Menta.

A friend of mine, Glenn Drown, has made a blackberry syrup for cocktails using a recipe that’s almost the same as making jelly, only you don’t cook it long enough to let it jell. He likes it mixed with vodka and lemon juice. He also said he’d like to use a bit of syrup to help rim glasses with either sugar or salt for cocktails.

To get started, think of flavors that you like in your cocktails.

Want something tart? Try a pomegranate syrup, which can be made several ways. One involves dissolving pomegranate molasses in a little boiling water, not to dilute the flavor but to dissolve any sugar crystals and to make it more liquid and easier to mix in a cocktail. Another involves using pomegranate juice, sugar and boiling water. These variations are different from many commercial grenadines, which can be made from any number of dark fruits nowadays, including black currants, or have unwelcome ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup added. So, if you’re a stickler for handcrafted cocktails, make your own pomegranate syrup the next time you make a pair of Fresh Pears (see recipe below) at home.

Almond syrup involves water, sugar and almond extract. A coconut variation would be made with, you guessed it, coconut extract. I could see myself going through my spice cabinet and hauling out everything from peppermint extract to jackfruit, and playing around with the resulting syrups. They don’t have to be sweet or fruit flavors either. Think of syrups infused with vanilla, basil or saffron.

Or think of the hoja santa syrup that Liberty Bar, 1111 S. Alamo St., uses in its Santa Pepin cocktail. “We dry fresh hoja santa leaves from the bush by the elevator,” says Katie McKee. “It is my understanding that dried hoja santa can be found, but we like using the fresh.”

If you make your own berry syrups, especially with the likes of seedy blackberries or raspberries, make sure you double strain the final product. You don’t want your guests to be picking their teeth because of your cocktail.

Of course, there’s chocolate syrup out there, which is used for Black Russians among other sweet favorites. If you are buying a prefab syrup, such as Hershey’s, read the label first and give it a taste. Be alert for chemical finishes and off-putting additives or flavor flaws that could be magnified when shaken into your cocktail.

Or, if you prefer, you could make your own chocolate syrup (see recipe below). It not only tastes better and the quality is not only higher, whether you’re using it in a cocktail or on ice cream (or both), it’s also less expensive. And that’s something not to overlooked when you consider the cost of a good bottle of tequila or bourbon these days.

Liberty Bar photos by Phillip Kent.

Liberty Bar's Ruby Menta

Liberty Bar’s Ruby Menta

Liberty Bar’s Ruby Menta

1 1/4 ounces Ilegal Mezcal Jovan (skanky mezcal will not do)
1 ounce fresh squeezed Texas Ruby Red grapefruit juice
Juice from 1/2 fresh squeezed lime
1/4 ounce simple syrup
Fresh mint leaves (3 big or 5 little)

Muddle mezcal, grapefruit juice, lime juice, syrup and mint well. Shake, strain and pour over ice or serve up in a martini glass.

Garnish with a fresh lime twist.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Nate Cassie/Liberty Bar

Liberty Bar’s Santa Pepin

1 cup dry hoja santa leaves, crumbled
1 quart simple syrup
Ancho chile powder
Freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lemon
3 slices English cucumber
2 ounces Don Julio Blanco tequila
Cucumber slice, for garnish

Place the crumbled dry hoja santa leaves and the simple syrup in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, allow to simmer for 5-10 minutes then remove from heat. Let it cool, then fine strain the mixture. It can be used immediately or refrigerated for later use.

Rim glass with ancho chile powder. Again, this specific touch makes a huge difference

Combine lemon juice, English cucumber slices, 1 ounce of hoja santa simple syrup and ice into a shaker cup. Muddle. Add Don Julio Blanco tequila, shake well and strain into ancho chile-rimmed glass. Garnish with a cucumber slice.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Katie McKee/Liberty Bar

Chocolate Syrup

1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup cocoa powder
1 dash salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine the water, sugar, cocoa powder and salt together in a saucepan over low heat; whisk constantly until the mixture thickens and begins to simmer. Remove from heat and stir the vanilla into the sauce. Serve warm or cover and refrigerate until serving.

Makes 1 pint.


Ginger Syrup

1 cup unpeeled, washed fresh ginger, roughly chopped
1 cups sugar
3 cups water

Process ginger chunks in a food processor or blender until finely chopped. Place in a large stock pot. Add sugar and water to the pot and stir. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer over medium-low heat and cook for one hour until a rich syrup is created. Strain the syrup twice through cheese cloth or a sieve into a large jar or bottle. Refrigerate.

Makes about 4 pints.

Adapted from Betty Fraser and Denise DeCarlo, Grub, Hollywood, Calif./Imbibe

Fresh Pear

1 medium Bosc pear
2 tablespoons citrus-infused vodka
1 tablespoon pomegranate juice
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoons pomegranate syrup
3 tablespoons hard apple cider
Pear slices

Shred pear; place pulp on several layers of cheesecloth. Gather edge of cheesecloth together; squeeze over a glass measuring cup to yield 1/3 cup juice. Discard solids. Combine pear juice, vodka, pomegranate juice, lime juice, and promegranate syrup in a martini shaker with ice; shake. Strain about 3 tablespoons vodka mixture into each of 2 martini glasses. Top each serving with 1 1/2 tablespoons hard apple cider. Garnish with pear slices.

Makes 2 cocktails.

Adapted from


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Give Your Cocktails a Pomegranate Kick

Cucumber Ruby

Pomegranates have started appearing in the markets — and in cocktails, too. The ruby in this gem is PAMA, a pomegranate-flavored liqueur. It adds a tart edge to complement the sweetness of the elderflower liqueur  and the refreshing coolness of the cucumber-flavored vodka.

The recipe is featured at Swig Martini Bar, 111 W. Crockett St., which recently redid its cocktail list to include a whole series of drinks as fresh and fun as this Cucumber Ruby.

Cucumber Ruby

Chili powder
1 ounce Pearl Cucumber Vodka
1/2 ounce PAMA Liqueur
1/2 ounce St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
Dash of simple syrup
Dash of lime juice
Cucumber wedge, garnish

Rim a chilled martini glass with salt and chili powder. In a shaker, combine vodka, liqueurs, lime juice and simple syrup. Add ice and shake vigorously. Strain into glass and garnish with a cucumber wedge.

Makes 1 cocktail.

From Swig Martini Bar


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