Do you have a house cocktail? You know, that one drink that you both love making for friends and also happen to be able to put together exceedingly brilliantly? That one drink that you almost always start a dinner party off with or hand to guests as they walk in the door when dropping by?
Something that is also just a tad special, i.e. more than just a martini or a G&T, because no matter how good a well-made martini or G&T are (and good ones are fabulous), they aren’t unique enough for your friends to start associating said drinks with you. Part of your goal in coming up with the perfect house cocktail is in choosing something that your friends start to identify with you. And even if they try to order one in a bar, they’ll take to calling it “[your name here]’s drink” (or more realistically, “you know, that drink [your name] always serves us”) and, more often than not, call you or text you to get the recipe.
Maybe you have more than one favourite? I happen to have three right now. Which I find particularly useful. Not all friends have the same tastes. And it’s good to be able offer options.
Further, I didn’t come up with recipes for two of them. One comes from Esquire. The other, from the PDT Cocktail Book. But that doesn’t matter. Your friends won’t care if you made the recipe up yourself, borrowed it from your favourite bartender, or copied out of a century old mixology manual. Ultimately, what matters is that you’re able to make the drinks perfectly, using the best possible ingredients and serving them in really nice glassware.
Those two latter items–ingredients and glassware–are key when mixing and serving your house cocktail. Your home is not a bar. It’s not a commercial enterprise; there’s no P&L to watch out for. And since I’m assuming you’re only inviting people that actually mean something to you into your home, why stint? Use the very best booze and produce you can find. Similarly, invest in some nice glasses. Trust me, every female friend will notice and appreciate it when you hand her a drink enveloped in Baccarat crystal.
Your house cocktail also has be something you can make pretty quickly. So it cannot be too complex. The worst thing a host can do is abandon his guests for too long.
Two of the three house cocktails I favour right now are very much summer drinks. But I live on the equator so starting an evening off with something refreshing makes sense for me. The third is a bit heavier, but something that works well for friends who like their drinks with a little more power.
Two of the three drinks are rum based. I use Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva, which is also lovely straight or on the rocks (like I said before, serve only the best.). The third calls for bourbon, but right now I am using an amazing Nikka 12 year old “Fruity & Rich” single malt scotch that was aged in bourbon barrels and which I purchased from the Nikka distillery in Sendai earlier this year.
One drink is sweet and light, perfect for cocktail-newbies and friends who don’t want to start off with anything too strong. Another is refreshing but slightly bitter and sour–the kind of thing you give that friend that likes Negronis and Americanos. The third is dark and rich, good for real boozehounds and bourbon fans.
As stated in the title, two of these (the two invented by others) are already named. I have yet to name the third one, but I am sure something will come to me one of these days. (Or better yet, if you guys make it, please let me know what I should call it.) The recipes are below. I hope they work for you. More importantly, I hope they inspire you to come up with your very own house cocktail. Or two. Or three.
The yet-to-be-named drink
1½ oz Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva
1 teaspoon cream
egg white from 1 egg
¾ oz sugar syrup
¾ oz fresh lime juice (ideally kaffir lime)
Shake with ice in a cocktail shaker for at least 3 minutes in order to properly froth up the egg white. Strain into a highball glass with a few ice cubes.
Adapted from recipe originally published in Esquire and created by Tom Schlesinger-Guidelli
1½ oz Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva
¾ oz fresh lemon juice
¾ oz Aperol
1 dash of your favourite bitters (I like Bitter Truth Orange Bitters)
Mount in a mixing glass, add ice, shake, and strain into a coupe glass. No garnish.
From The PDT Cocktail Book
2oz your favourite bourbon
1oz honey syrup*
¾ oz lemon juice
Shake with ice and strain over a large ice cube into a chilled rocks glass
* To make honey syrup in bulk, simmer 32 oz of clover honey and 16 fl oz of water over medium heat, stirring until all the honey dissolves. Let cool and then bottle.