Simple Cocktails? Favorite Drinks?

So, I’m trying to expand my drinking palate some. I actually posted the beer post on here that was super popular, more than I thought, maybe I’ll get lucky again.

I’m a liquor newb. I’m also kinda on a budget, and I’ve tried looking through some sites, asking ABC workers (lol) and it’s a total fail in all categories.

I started out with mixed (girly) drinks and bland beers, as ever college guy does I think. Imperial russian stouts are by far my favorite beer so far, 6 years later… but I’m still stuck on the old rum and coke, capn n coke at home.

I like rum and vodka, and with some searching I’ve found some ok things to try. Titos is a great vodka for a good price, and my girl loves it, too. I still buy Captain Morgen when I am lazily searching the ABC store. Maybe something flavored if I want friends over, 3 Olives has been a party pleaser.

I used to only like whiskeys for cooking, inspired no doubt by J.D. BBQ sauce from restaurants (to be honest I still don’t know the difference off the top of my head what classifies a bourbon, from whiskey, and all the others, etc.) but I’m stuck on Old Fashions as of lately, after I decided on a whim to buy stuff 2 weeks ago, and I really like Bushmills. Went to a wedding and had Makers Mark, and I prefer the Bushmills over that, surprisingly.

So anyway. What are your favorite cocktails? Brands of liquor? Browsed a site that was simple, that actually had shit normal people have heard of? (browsed Savuer.com’s top cocktail blogs, and I quit after seeing complicated shit)
Also, keep in mind the price range. I simply won’t drink if I can only afford bottom shelf shit, but I’ll pay for generic shit, I think they all top out at $25-$30/handle?

Thanks fellahs

If you want to move into brown liquor cocktails, you can’t go wrong with Manhattans/Old Fashioneds/Whiskey Sours, from least sweet to sweetest. You can sweeten up a Manhattan by using SoCo as well.

I’m a pretty big cocktail drinker.

A couple years back someone gave me this book as a Christmas gift: http://www.amazon.com/The-New-Old-Bar-Cocktails/dp/1572841397

It’s a good book and I have made a lot of the drinks in it. It requires a pretty expansive liquor cabinet, and the drinks can take 15 mins to make if you use fresh fruit and make simple syrup from scratch. They advocate certain labels in some recipes, but if you’re on a budget you can easily just substitute bottom shelf stuff. It has all sorts of cocktail recipes from simple to medium to hard. Some of the recipes need a bit of tweaking or even swapping of some ingredients.

My favorite drink: Manhattan. Simple, tasty, gets you boozed up fast.

Don’t fuck around with foofy drinks. Here are acceptable examples to choose from:

Bombay Saphire Martini / Dry (or Chopin if you prefer vodka)

Margarita w/only Hurradura Anejo & Grand Marnier / twist of lime

Scotch/Whiskey Neat (preferably Lagavulin)

When it’s hot out, gin and tonic is my drink of choice. I also like whiskey and soda water.

In winter I like brandy neat (just brandy)… If I want to get drunk quick, brandy and cherry coke (it’s sweet, but smooth, kinda like B and B).

A gin gimlet is hard to mess up.

A tequila sunrise is fun for novelty and pretty easy to make.

If you’re new to hard stuff, shots are more fun. Ice cold rumplemints, something spicy, or add a splash of bitters to basically anything.

I’m not too particular about brands.

[quote]1 Man Island wrote:

If you’re new to hard stuff, shots are more fun.[/quote]

I’m going to say that’s a bad idea due to the fact you might not realize exactly how much you’ve consumed until it’s too late.

Follow these two simple rules and you’ll be fine:

No drink should have more than two ingredients.
Ice is an ingredient.

[quote]johnnytang24 wrote:
Follow these two simple rules and you’ll be fine:

No drink should have more than two ingredients.
Ice is an ingredient.[/quote]

Pretty much this.

[quote]Dr. Pangloss wrote:
If you want to move into brown liquor cocktails, you can’t go wrong with Manhattans/Old Fashioneds/Whiskey Sours, from least sweet to sweetest. You can sweeten up a Manhattan by using SoCo as well.

[/quote]

+1 on old fashioned and Manhattans. Simple to make and wonderful on a summer night as you’re grilling a steak. Cigars are optional.

Don’t put straight liquor on ice and especially not Scotch. Shots are for frat boys and girls. Gentlemen sip their alcohol if taken neet. You want to enjoy the taste not simply get drunk. A decent quality liquor is worth tasting and tasting means sipping.

james

Personally, my favorite cocktail right now is the Aviation.

But as far as easy to make stuff that’s relatively inexpensive, gin, sprite, and fresh lime juice is an easy refreshing summer drink. Or to take it up a notch, gin, lime juice (or lemon), simple syrup and club soda. It’s a Collins with the lemon; don’t remember what it is with lime.

I highly suggest you pick up a small bottle of Angostura bitters. For many drinks, it’s kind of like adding salt to meat/veggies. Just a small amount of it and it enhances the flavors of most drinks. Angostura is the staple, followed by Peychauds, then orange bitters, and then there’s a million others, including stuff like Campari and Fernet (which has become popular recently for some reason). Angostura is a good start.

Liquor + (optional citrus) + (optional sugar) + (optional bitters) gives you a ton of drinks, just playing with those combinations.

You have your 5 basic liquors: whiskey, vodka, gin, tequila, rum. And brandies.
And then you have your various liqueurs: orange, orange, orange, orange and amaretto. (Grand Marnier, Cointreau, [generic] orange curacao, [generic] triple sec). Ok, there’s more than that obviously.
And your citrus (and similar) ingredients: lemon juice, lime juice, orange juice, grapefruit juice, cranberry juice, pineapple juice. I suppose you could include sweetend stuff like Rose’s Lime Juice and Grenadine here too.
And your bitters.
And you’ve got milk/cream/coffee. Some people don’t like “rich” cocktails. Some do.

There’s subsets and variations within all of those. Lots of whiskeys, lots of vodkas, lots of gins, etc.

For most mixing, I like: Jim Beam whiskey, Smirnoff vodka, Gordon’s gin, 1800 Gold tequila, Bacardi rum (white), Meyers rum (dark), Captains or Sailor Jerry’s (spiced), E&J VSOP brandy

If I’m drinking straight liquor, I prefer better stuff, but for mixing, that’s decent. That’ll set you back $150 or so, but give you the base for making most drinks. I’d then add your cordials as the drinks you want to try require. Stuff like creme de violette or Pernod doesn’t get used nearly as often as your base liquors.

But there’s a whole world of cocktails out there, some of which is quite surprising. For instance, there’s a drink called “Italian Valium” which is just Tanqueray gin with a touch of amaretto, and most people who don’t like gin actually like that drink.

Enjoy.

(Oh, and if you don’t already have one… get a decent shaker, jigger and juicer.)

if you want something different and can find it try some Firefly Vodka or Bourbon. a few recipes from Firefly
Firefly Cider
2.5 oz Firefly Sweet Tea Flavored Vodka
2.5 oz Fireball Cinnamon Whisky
1 oz Apple liqueur
Splash of soda
Mix over ice in a highball glass
Grand Fly
1.5 oz Firefly Sweet Tea Flavored Vodka
1.5 oz Gran Gala Orange Liqueur
3 oz Lemonade
One lemon slice
Pour in a highball glass over ice and top with lemonade and lemon slice
Parrot in Flames
3 oz Firefly Sweet Tea Flavored Vodka
3 oz Coconut Flavored Rum
Hint of lemon
Mix over ice in a highball glass
“Long Island” Sweet Tea
3 oz Firefly Sweet Tea Flavored Vodka
1.5 oz Whiskey
1.5 oz Tequila
.75 oz lemon juice
1.5 oz Cola
Mix over ice in highball glass
The Firefly Manhattan
3 oz Firefly Sweet Tea Flavored Bourbon
1.5 oz sweet vermouth
Peychaud’s Bitters
Maraschino Cherry
Shake Firefly, vermouth and 2 dashes of Peychaud’s Bitters with ice and strain into Old Fashioned glass. Top with maraschino cherry

FWIW I’m going to try a bourbon from Costo. Kirkland premium small batch. it’s a 7yr and I think rye. as I understand it’s either Clear Springs Distilling which is owned by Buffalo Trace or Kentucky Springs which is Knob Creek. so it could be either Beam, Buffalo Trace, Baker’s, Booker, Hayden’s, or Knob Creek. might be decent or might suck but small batch means change batch to batch. at @$20/liter worth a shot.

[quote]atypical1 wrote:

Don’t put straight liquor on ice and especially not Scotch. Shots are for frat boys and girls. Gentlemen sip their alcohol if taken neet. You want to enjoy the taste not simply get drunk. A decent quality liquor is worth tasting and tasting means sipping.

james
[/quote]

James got it right. Most mixers are like mustard, which is designed to cover up the taste of shitty meat like a hotdog. You don’t put mustard on a great or even a good steak. If you can afford good booze, spend the money on it and then sip it and enjoy it. Just don’t ruin good booze with with sugary shit like coca cola.

I agree with James on Scotch or Whiskey and ice, but gin and vodka can and should be chilled with ice to make a great martini.


.

black russian: vodka + kahlua
if its too sweet, use less kahlua

[quote]jjackkrash wrote:
I agree with James on Scotch or Whiskey and ice, but gin and vodka can and should be chilled with ice to make a great martini. [/quote]

A cocktail shaker works really well to cool off gin and vodka without having to leave it in the ice. Ice melts and waters down your drink which really sucks.

james

A good old fashioned is amazing.

I make 'em with:

Half tsp grenadine
1tbsp simple syrup
two dashes angostura bitters
two-three oz bourbon
Drop a ‘big rock’ (big ass ice cube) in there
orange rind to garnish

It seems like a lot, but as long as you’ve got the stuff on hand, they take about 90 seconds to make and are fucking delicious.

Years ago, a buddy of mine who was a bartender made me a ‘key lime martini.’

It’s the exact same thing as a margarita, but with vanilla vodka. (and served chilled in a martini glass). I made it recently for a party and it was a hit.

[quote]Aggv wrote:

[quote]1 Man Island wrote:

If you’re new to hard stuff, shots are more fun.[/quote]

I’m going to say that’s a bad idea due to the fact you might not realize exactly how much you’ve consumed until it’s too late. [/quote]

Shots are the fast-track to knock your dick into your watch pocket. I haven’t done shots in years for just that reason, really tough to gauge how much alcohol you’ve consumed.

I mostly stick to beer, I’m most likely to get bloated before I get to the gumby state. For mixed drinks, I keep it simple. Absolutely no whiskey, bourbon or scotch. Gin & tonics agree with me, so do bloody marys. The rest is just not for me.

Rob

[quote]jjackkrash wrote:

[quote]atypical1 wrote:

Don’t put straight liquor on ice and especially not Scotch. Shots are for frat boys and girls. Gentlemen sip their alcohol if taken neet. You want to enjoy the taste not simply get drunk. A decent quality liquor is worth tasting and tasting means sipping.

james
[/quote]

James got it right. Most mixers are like mustard, which is designed to cover up the taste of shitty meat like a hotdog. You don’t put mustard on a great or even a good steak. If you can afford good booze, spend the money on it and then sip it and enjoy it. Just don’t ruin good booze with with sugary shit like coca cola.

I agree with James on Scotch or Whiskey and ice, but gin and vodka can and should be chilled with ice to make a great martini. [/quote]

I’m in the same general camp, with one important exception.

If you have access to a talented bartender it is worthwhile to note that they can often do great things with good booze. The local French restaurant, which is the best restaurant in town, happens to be the location of the best bar in town which, not coincidentally, is staffed by best bartender in town.

She is a sorcerer of the sauce and specializes in old-time traditional cocktails with local and modern twists. Her take on the Sazerac (which, as per Maine regulations, requires real maple syrup) is my favorite.

If you find yourself at a meat market facing a man named Chip behind the bar with spiked hair and bad tats, you should follow the above advice I quoted. Or just get a beer.

[quote]Facepalm_Death wrote:
black russian: vodka + kahlua
if its too sweet, use less kahlua[/quote]

X2

I love coffee.

Also, has anyone tried ‘Cox and Row’ vodka? It’s a relatively new American vodka from an independent producer. SHIT IT WAY GOOD. I like skyy and it is noticeably smoother than skyy.

[quote]Brett620 wrote:

[quote]johnnytang24 wrote:
Follow these two simple rules and you’ll be fine:

No drink should have more than two ingredients.
Ice is an ingredient.[/quote]

Pretty much this.[/quote]

X3

I used to tend bar so I know how to make all of the girly cocktails and what not. But it’s kinda funny to me when men order them. When they did, I used to bust their ball as stick out my hand. When they got that confused face, I said, “your man card. Give it up”. As a bartender, I found that busting the customer’s balls led to the most tips ( at least the way I did it LOL ). But I digress.

If you must venture beyond the two ingredient rule, try some classic cocktails or variations of them. For example:

Old Fashioned is always a good choice, but try a Sazerac or Mint Julep
Absolute Citron Gimlet
Grand Marnier Sidecar
Negroni
Harvey Wallbanger
Salty Dog
Gin Fizz

For summer afternoons, a margarita, Mojito or Caipirinha can be very refreshing as well. Stick to the classic versions and not all of the girly flavors.

For Martini variations try the Bronx Cocktail, the Parisian, the Aviation Cocktail (I think someone mentioned it already, but it’s a good one that’s worth repeating) or the Jack Rose.

Keep in mind, you don’t want to order this at a busy club - most of these drinks take time to make. Go to a well stocked bar with a bartender that isn’t super busy. Many bartenders won’t know these drinks off the top of their head, so have the recipe handy and help them out. Or buy the ingredients and make it yourself at home.

Mixing spirits can be fun! I used to throw a “classic cocktail party” every so often and it was always a big hit with my friends. Each person/couple would bring a bottle, so it didn’t break my bank.