Evening Cocktails – The Essentials

I’m-Not-My-Father’s-Daughter Cocktail

Growing up in my family meant time out for a cocktail at the end of the day. I knew Dad was home from work when I heard the clink of the glass rod against the wall of the cocktail pitcher. He was definitely a stir-don’t-shake kind of guy when it came to his evening Manhattan (although the shaker was always on hand when needed).

When Dad’s Manhattan mix was ready, it was time for everyone to gather round. He would pour one drink for himself, one each for Mom and my Grandfather and, as my sister and I moved into teenage years, a short one for us as well. While this is likely considered shocking by modern-day standards, a bit of alcohol at home in the evening always seemed to be a pleasant and harmless routine to me. In winter, we would snug into the living room, and in summer we would settle outdoors on our simple but lushly-green back-yard patio – family dog in tow.

Taking a breather after a busy day with a cocktail in hand is a sweet luxury that I continue with my family. It used to be the time that my husband and I would compare notes about busy work days and now, in retirement, ia time to catch up on the day in general.

But, like so much in cooking, there is no need to be a slave to a recipe. Creating your own cocktail traditions is fun. And if you’re lucky, perhaps your family will look back on your signature cocktail with fond memories – as I do now. To this day, I don’t think I can drink a Manhattan without a rush of warm memories about my Dad.


COOKING FUNDAMENTALS:  CREATING CUSTOM COCKTAILS.  

What are the requirements for a cocktail?  While there are no “must haves”, here are my basic flavor elements:

    • Base Alcohol
    • Sweetness. This could be non alcholic like simple syrup or agave or a sweet liquor like Triple Sec.
    • Sour/tangy. My favorite here is citrus.
    • Add-ins for flavor complexicity.  These could be bitters, herbs, spices, etc. 
    • Top-ups for “tall” cocktails.  This could be as simple as sparkling water, or it may include additions to the flavor palate

These flavors don’t need to come from separate ingredients, and you don’t need to include all of them, but the ones you do include must be balanced. A classic cocktail that balances these elements beautifully is a Cosmopolitan: vodka (base alcohol), Cointreau or Triple Sec (sweetness), lime or lemon juice (sour) and cranberry juice (flavor complexity).

To mix your own creation, just pick a few flavor elements that you like and experiment with the proportions. You’ll know when you get it right.


I must admit that Manhattans are not my favorite cocktail – although, made correctly, they have a great flavor palate. My favorite drinks are a bit lighter than a Manhattan and lean toward the tangy/sour/citrus side of the spectrum. Here are two that I regularly ask my bartender/husband to whip up. The first, I’m-Not-My-Father’s-Daughter (at least when it comes to beverages), includes one of the best Asian flavor pairings: lime and ginger. The second, my version of a Lemon Drop Martini, was inspired by my golfing friend, Sue.

Ginger Liquor

 

I'm-Not-My-Father's-Daughter Cocktail

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
aglobalgarnish.com

Ingredients


2 ounces rye whiskey
1 ounce Domaine Canton Ginger Liqueur
1 ounce lime juice
dash lime bitters
lime for garnish

 


Directions


Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake, pour and garnish with a twist or slice of lime.

 

Lemon Drop Martini

Lemon Drop Martini

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
aglobalgarnish.com

Ingredients

2 1/2 ounces vodka
3/4 ounce lime liquor
1 ounce lemon juice
lime or lemon for garnish

Directions

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Stir, pour and garnish with lime or lemon.

 

Patron Lime Liqueur

“Hope Chest” Root Vegetable Baskets — Celebrating 20 Successful Years!!

The Hope Chest

The Hope Chest, LaGrange, IL, USA

A group of busy women were looking for efficient ways to raise money for our favorite charity:  the Constance Morris House, a Chicago area shelter for victims of domestic violence.  We had tired of exhausting raffles and holiday events.  But what else could we do??   “Perhaps a second-hand clothing shop?,”  someone suggested — “something sustainable rather than multiple whirlwind events?”  We thought it was a fabulous idea! Continue reading

Easy Outdoor Party with Seasonal Produce (Part 3 of 3)

Summer Berries

Summer Berries

What could be a better finish to our seasonal party than a shortcake with peak-of-season local berries?   Since our party was in June, strawberries were just the ticket. It is August now and, at least here in Michigan, local strawberries have moved over to make room for our luscious blueberries and blackberries.  No worries.  You can use any seasonal berry or mix of berries in this easy dessert.

There are a number of reasons why this dessert is so easy for a party menu: Continue reading

Easy Outdoor Party with Seasonal Produce (Part 2 of 3)

Sangrias at the Drinks Table

Sangrias at the Drinks Table

This summer party was a group effort – a beautiful backyard provided by our hosts, menu by A Global Garnish and food/drink contributions from all attendees.  Don’t confuse this group effort with a potluck, which has the emphasis on luck.  If you’re lucky, a potluck party will have a good distribution of appetizers, main dishes and desserts as well as a mix of ingredients/flavors.  But why leave all this to chance??  If you give out menu assignments, you KNOW the final meal will all come together.  Further, you save your guests the trouble of wondering:  “what should I make?”. Continue reading

Easy Outdoor Party With Seasonal Produce (Part 1 of 3)

Israeli Couscous with Sweet Red Peppers and Asparagus

Israeli Couscous with Sweet Red Peppers and Asparagus

Summer solstice – time to enjoy the glorious evening daylight, the early summer climate, lush gardens and early seasonal produce. Could there be a better time for an outdoor party?  My clever friends thought not. Continue reading

A Kosher Cooking Lesson and Vegetable Brown Stock

Rosemary Rescued from the Snow

Rosemary Rescued from the Snow

Cooking lessons are so much fun. I still dust off some of my old lessons when asked or, occasionally, as donations to charity. So, when a friend asked to sell one of my lessons at a live charity auction, I was delighted.  The lesson, “Stocks and the Five Mother Sauces”, was from my repertoire of tried and true lessons.  I could teach it in my sleep.  Piece of cake.  Sure, I would be happy to donate the lesson.

Then came the surprise from the buyer: Continue reading