Last night, Emily and I hosted a very small cocktail party with a very specific theme. The size of the party and the theme were interrelated: I wanted to create a custom cocktail recipe in honor of each guest. Hence, not so many guests as to be overwhelming. Four friends, all from a common social circle, came over to try out my series of concoctions. I included my wife amongst the cocktail dedications.
Prior to the party, I sent each guest a short survey asking them their favorite liquor, whether they wanted their drink in a cocktail glass or on the rocks, and for some sort of inspiring flavor or color.
Since most of the guests elected to have a drink over rocks, most of the recipes feature some sort of house-made soda. This involves taking the relevant ingredients and cooking them into a simple syrup (equal parts water and sugar), then adding soda water (we own a seltzer machine, but sparkling water from any supermarket would work just as well).
Here are the drinks:
The Emily Elizabeth
Vodka, house-made spiced soda (brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves), brandied cherries, served over ice.
Vodka, dry vermouth, lovage syrup, peychaud’s bitters, garnished with a cherry and served up.
Gin, house-made basil-lime soda, fresh basil and cucumber, garnished with lime and served over ice.
The Muay Thai Mule (a play on the Moscow Mule)
"Galangale" (the real uncola: soda of galangal, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and dried red chili), rye whiskey, lime, fresh kaffir lime leaves, served over ice.
Vodka, pineapple juice, and frozen jewels of blue curaçao and apricot brandy, served over ice.
As for myself, I spent the evening drinking Manhattans in which I used the brandied cherries instead of maraschino cherries. The brandied cherries were easy to make — I pitted them with a wooden skewer, and cooked them with brandy, sugar, water, and various spices and refrigerated them for 24 hours before the party. Hat tip to @spenbald for the brandied cherry recipe.
It was very entertaining to come up with the drinks and I’d be happy to repeat the party theme with another set of friends — or another set of drinks for the same friends!