So far in 2021, our social lives have looked a lot like they did in 2020, and that means many of us are channeling our pent-up creative energies into hobbies like home bartending. Though the VinePair team loves making our tried-and-true favorites such as Negronis and Margaritas, we’ve recently been taking breaks after our end of day Zoom meeting to craft our own unique cocktail recipes (some more successful than others).
Looking to mix up something a little different from your usual vodka-plus-anything-in-the-fridge? Read on for a list of the drinks that VinePair’s thirsty staff members are conjuring up at home this year — including a failed Old Fashioned riff, and a throwback to everyone’s favorite (forgotten) garnisher, Salt Bae.
“Lately, I’ve been riffing on the Hot Toddy by spiking my last cup of Sleepytime tea. Anything with skullcap works, but I’ve found Triple Leaf Relaxing Tea plays especially well with Kasama Rum. Otherwise, if I’m day drinking, it’s ginger beer with a splash of vodka and fresh cucumber for me.” —Emma Cranson, assistant editor
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“I’ve been really embracing Sumo orange season this year — meaning that I’m not only eating them as a snack, but also using them as a cocktail ingredient. My go-to cocktail lately has been a combination of Sumo orange juice (you can use regular oranges, too), the juice of half a lemon and lime, and a shot of tequila, topped with sparkling water. It’s refreshing and super easy to make.” —Katie Brown, associate editor
“I’ve been really into lychees lately and created a cocktail with lychee juice, mango puree, sake and shochu. I had something similar at an Asian fusion restaurant a few months ago and wanted to recreate it. I’m excited for the warmer weather because I think it’s the perfect drink to sip by the pool or on a rooftop with friends.” —Danielle Grinberg, art director
“I recently mixed up a version of a rum maple Old Fashioned, only with lemon bitters and a lemon twist (because we didn’t have an orange). It took a few tries to get the proportions right and ended up being just… fine. Definitely wouldn’t ‘craft’ this one again.” —Joanna Sciarrino, executive editor
“I felt this was the perfect platform to finally share ‘The McKirdy’ with the world. Beloved by a literal handful of individuals, the drink sees a shot glass filled with equal parts Fernet Branca and Campari, then seasoned with a generous pinch of fancy flaked sea salt. Some reading this may be thinking this is just a ripoff of the Ferrari, a popular industry shot or ‘bartender’s handshake.’ You are quite mistaken. While the inclusion of salt is not entirely unique, it is the manner in which that seasoning is applied that renders a genuine McKirdy shot. Don your whitest T-shirt, slick back your hair, and put on your darkest pair of shades. Grab a large pinch of the bougiest salt you can find and proceed to sprinkle (from height) down an extended forearm and into the awaiting shot glasses — otherwise known as the Classic Salt Bae technique. Given that we’re all still drinking at home, alone, only your dog will judge you.” —Tim McKirdy, staff writer
“Prior to the pandemic, one of my favorite bars was The Rockwell Place, owned by Toby Cecchini. I live in Fort Greene, so am pretty close, and it was a place I frequented often as I think the cocktails are some of the best in New York City. One such cocktail was the bar’s Rare Citrus Margarita, a drink so delicious I found myself craving it. Sadly, unlike Cecchini’s other bar, The Long Island Bar, Rockwell Place did not open for outdoor-only seating at any time during the past year, so I took matters into my own hands and tried to recreate the drink. I am sure this is not the recipe Cecchini uses — his is definitely better — but I have found my version delicious enough to tide me over until The Rockwell Place reopens: 3 ounces blanco tequila, 1 ounce fresh cara cara orange juice, .25 ounce fresh lime juice, .25 ounce fresh lemon juice, .75 ounce agave nectar. Combine all ingredients in a shaker, add ice, and shake until the outside of the shaker starts to frost. Double strain, and serve up in a chilled coupe glass garnished with an orange peel.” —Adam Teeter, CEO and co-founder
“I’m a major frozen drink fan no matter the temperature outside, so I wanted to craft my own frozen Margs at home. I used ice (lots of it), frozen strawberries, tequila, Triple Sec, and lime juice. Blended it up in my Magic Bullet, and garnished with a lime in a Margarita glass.” —Ally Burton, brand partnerships intern
“Between sipping wine all day and typing up reviews, the only mixed drink I’ve been messing with is a latte. Maybe next time I’ll make it an Americano and dollop a swig of whiskey in there.” —Keith Beavers, tastings director
“I love lemonade — and for the record, boozy lemonade was cool in my house before the largest alcohol producers on the planet were making hard seltzer with it — so, anyway, I’ve been testing out shandy cocktail recipes. Here is the recipe I’ve landed on so far: Combine equal parts Aperol and OJ. Shake with ice and strain into an ice-filled tulip glass. Add Angostura bitters (I pop out that rubber thingy and pour a bit directly from the bottleneck, because who has time for dashes?), give it a stir, and top with a lemon shandy. I’ve been experimenting with samples of Goose Island’s 312 Lemonade Shandy, filling the glass about 3/4 of the way to leave room for foam. Pause to admire the fluffy pink cloud atop that summer sunset-colored drink in your glass, and sip away.” —Cat Wolinski, senior editor
“I created a riff on the cocktail ‘Seoulful Sour’ — inspired by Korean cuisines, this cocktail uses sesame oil! This is my re-creation, using some of my pantry staples and a great gin: Coat the cocktail glass rim with a chili lime salt/seasoning blend; then in a shaker, pour in gin, a dash of pineapple juice, a bit of honey, 3 drops of toasted sesame oil, and a squeeze of freeze lemon juice; shake and serve ice cold!” —Jenny Riddell, director of brand partnerships & events
“I’ve been throwing together a drink my friend turned me on to: Hendrick’s gin, a bit of elderflower tonic water, some freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice, and a tiny splash of vanilla extract. She garnishes it with rose petals!” —Kelly Tesoriero, editorial intern