Over the past month, everyday life has been completely flipped on its head. The new normal is that 92 percent of the US population has stay at home orders. So most of us aren’t leaving our homes unless we need to go to the grocery store or to pick up a prescription. Some of us are relying on services like Instacart and Postmates and not leaving our homes at all. We’ve been working from home, napping more than we feel comfortable with, and spending a lot of time drinking (but not too much).
As we head toward week six of the shutdown, we’ve found ourselves growing tired of beer and wine and we’re looking for a respite from drinking our favorite spirits neat. So we asked some of our favorite bartenders for recipes to the eight simple cocktails everyone needs to know to make quarantine just a little bit easier. And boozier.
Weston Lou, head bartender at Hakkasan in New York City
- 1.5 ounces white rum
- .5 ounce simple syrup
- 1-ounce lime juice
- Pour each ingredient into a shaker. Shake thoroughly and strain into a chilled coupe glass (or any glass you have on hand)
For me, the daiquiri is the one classic you absolutely have to know. In the modern cocktail world, bartenders are focused and can often get lost in executing complex drinks with a multiple array of exotic ingredients. The daiquiri, however, at its simplest form, is a rum sour composed of three basic ingredients.
In order to make a good daiquiri, you are forced to focus on all the minute details — such as the quality of your citrus, the type of rum, sweetener, and even glassware being used. It also provides a great foundation for understanding how to balance flavors in drinks, which will help as you branch off into making other cocktails.
Erick Castro, co-owner of Polite Provisions in San Diego
- 2 ounces rye whiskey
- .75 ounce sweet vermouth
- Dash Angostura bitters
- Maraschino cherry
- Stir in ice-filled glass. Strain into a chilled rocks glass. Add a maraschino cherry garnish.
Since it’s been experiencing a resurgence for a while now, and for good reason, I think every cocktail enthusiast should know how to make a proper Manhattan. Being able to maneuver your way through the most elegant and sophisticated of classics is a must and learning to balance the fundamentals of booze, bitters, and vermouth is one of the most important bar skills that anyone can learn.
Gin & Tonic
Camilo Tavera, head bartender at Hakkasan in Miami
- 1 part gin
- 3 parts tonic
- 1 lime wedge
- Fill a glass with ice. Add gin and tonic. Garnish with a lime wedge.
The gin and tonic is a quintessential beverage for any drinker. Bright aromas and spices from your gin of preference along with a superior tonic create a light and accessible drink. Adding fresh fruit, like lemon, or lime really amps it up.
Ilan Chartor, spiritual advisor at KYU in Miami
- 1-ounce gin
- 1 ounce Campari
- 1-ounce sweet red vermouth
- 1 orange peel
- Fill a glass with ice. Stir in each ingredient. Garnish with an orange peel.
If you’re going to be drinking cocktails the one drink you should know how to make is probably a negroni. The recipe is easy as 1,2,3 (literally). This cocktail staple is sipped from every corner of the earth — for good reason.
Phil Testa, beverage manager at The Rickey in New York City
- 1-ounce Campari
- 1-ounce bourbon
- 1-ounce sweet red vermouth
- 1 orange peel
- Stir in an ice-filled glass. Garnish with orange peel.
Every cocktail drinker should know how to make a boulevardier. It goes without saying, but other than a martini, it’s the easiest drink to mess up. I think any great bartender should know how to make a well-balanced boulevardier that alters its recipe by the whiskey (bourbon, rye, or whatever you choose) you use. Same thing goes with martinis. They should adjust based on gin or vodka and you should know how to showcase the flavors. So go ahead and start practicing.
Victoria Levin, director of project management at Blau + Associates in Las Vegas
- 3 ounces gin (or vodka)
- .5 ounces dry vermouth
- 1 olive
- Fill a glass with ice. Pour all ingredients into glass. Stir and strain into chilled martini glass. Add an olive as garnish.
The martini. Although technically simple, there is an art to it. You have to know what to ask – vodka or gin, vermouth amount, garnish, etc. You have to know to stir or shake, you need bar tools, ideally, you want good ice… It takes pride and a little bit of love. It’s sexy but simple. Plus, whether you’re drinking it yourself or serving someone else, you know you’re getting the night started on an excellent note.
Sarah Mengoni, bartender at Double Take in Los Angeles
- 2 ounces bourbon
- .25 ounces simple syrup
- 1 sugar cube
- 1 dash Angostura bitters
- 1 dash water
- 1 maraschino cherry
- Put the sugar cube (or simple syrup) in a rocks glass. Add a dash of bitters to the cube. Add a dash of water.
Muddle the sugar until it melts away. Fill the glass with ice cubes. Add bourbon. Garnish with a maraschino cherry.
An Old Fashioned. It’s a simple recipe that can be used as a versatile template to create other cocktails using the ingredients found at one’s home bar. 2 ounces whiskey, .25 ounces simple syrup or one sugar cube, 1 dash Angostura Bitters. The whiskey can be replaced with another spirit, like tequila. The sugar can be replaced with a sweet liqueur, like Ancho Reyes. The Angostura Bitters can be replaced with another bitter ingredient, like Campari. The options are endless.
Salvatore Tafuri, bar director at The Times Square EDITION in New York City
- 1-ounce fresh lemon juice
- .5 ounce Gomme syrup
- 1 egg white
- 1.5 ounces bourbon
- Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry or orange rind.
Every drinker should know how to make a whiskey sour, as that’s the key to so many different cocktails. Having that down opens many doors.