Have you heard about the latest cocktail, the Quarantini? It’s a regular martini, except you drink it alone.
Drinking in quarantine sounds awful, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, it’s a great time to try some new drinks.
A wine enthusiast in Germany 500 years ago wrote a treatise called The Art of Drinking. The author, Vincent Obsopoeus, offers to teach us his total system—his special tricks, hacks, and algorithms—for enjoying alcoholic drinks sustainably and with discrimination.
And suitably enough for our times, his very first piece of advice is that drinking at home is best. It beats going out to bars or clubs or pubs because it’s a great chance to reconnect with your significant other. He hammers that point home repeatedly.
In that spirit, here are six delicious cocktails I got to know well while researching Obsopoeus’ Art of Drinking as How to Drink.
An ancient Roman proverb holds that “Everyone should practice the art that they know best” (Quam quisque norit artem, in hac se exerceat).
In that spirit, I’ve tapped a few family recipes from my hometown of New Orleans, where my research really began. In this time of social distancing, it’s a great time to try or get reacquainted with them all.
An Old Fashioned never goes out of style, and I’ll always take one of those. But given a choice, I’m a big fan of this variant, the official cocktail of New Orleans (and, some say, the first American cocktail of all). Here’s what you’ll need, according to the IBA manual:
50 ml Cognac
10 ml Absinthe
1 Sugar Cube
2 Dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
Rinse a chilled old-fashioned glass with the absinthe, add crushed ice and set it aside. Stir the remaining ingredients over ice in a mixing glass. Discard the ice and any excess absinthe from the prepared glass, strain the mixed drink into the glass. Garnish with lemon zest.
Local lore—it could be true—credits New Orleans with this one, too. A fantastic brunchtime drink, it’s delicious but it takes a bit of work, so it pays to make more than one at a time. Be forewarned that it includes raw egg. (It’s also fattening as hell, but isn’t everything that tastes good?)
- 1½ ounces gin
- 1½ ounce lime juice
- ½ ounce lemon juice
- 1¼ ounces simple syrup
- 2 ounces cream
- 1 small egg white
- 2 dashes fleurs d’orange (orange flower water)
- 1 ounce club soda (more or less to taste)
Steps to Make It
Gather the ingredients.
- In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, pour the gin, lemon and lime juices, simple syrup, cream, egg white, and fleurs d’orange.
- Dry shake without ice.
- Fill the shaker with ice. Shake vigorously again (more than normal to ensure the egg and cream are well mixed and the drink is silky).
- Strain into a chilled highball glass.
- Top with club soda.
- Serve and enjoy!
3. Pimm’s Cup
This one’s another huge favorite in NOLA, where it’s always hot and muggy. It’s a delicious gin-based apertif mixed with lemonade, akin to a Mint Julep, and it takes the edge right off the day. It’ll be perfect if we’re all still stuck indoors when the weather warms where you live, too. The popular place to get one in New Orleans is the Napoleon House. In the meantime, here’s their recipe:
- Fill a tall 12 oz glass with ice and add 1¼ oz. Pimm’s #1 and 3 oz lemonade.
- Then top off with 7up.
- Garnish with cucumber.
4. Boom Boom
This one’s a family recipe passed down by the Cajun matriarchs of my clan, and a perennial winner at Mardi Gras parties. It’s an icy treat you eat with a spoon. The official instructions read as follows:
In a giant bowl add the following, stir, and freeze for about 24 hours:
- 1 small can of frozen orange juice thawed
- two liter bottle of Sprite or Mountain Dew (or something like that—lemon lime)
- 1 large can of pineapple juice
- 1–2 cups of vodka (the cheaper the vodka, the better)
5. Tropical Isle Hand Grenade (in Latin, elixir deorum)
If you’ve ever been to Bourbon Street, you’ve seen partygoers clutching neon green hand-grenade shaped flasks. The shape is appropriate, since this one’s thermonuclear. The Hand Grenade is locally hailed as New Orleans’ Most Powerful Drink, and it’s hard to disagree. Somehow, though, the sweet melon flavoring masks all the alcohol. The recipe’s a closely guarded secret, so you’ll need to mail order the mix and cups here to get it—and proceed with caution.
6. Milk Punch
A hangover (in Latin, crapula) is no fun. I’ve never been a hair-of-the-dog type, but those who are swear that milk punch is the perfect cure to chase one away. The iconic Brennan’s restaurant makes a delicious version. To make yours the way Brennan’s does, you’ll need:
- 2 oz. milk
- 2 oz. cream
- 1½ oz. bourbon whiskey or brandy
- 1½ oz. vanilla bean-infused simple syrup
- Freshly ground nutmeg, for garnish
Combine first four ingredients over ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a coupe or wine glass with no ice. Garnish with nutmeg. Yields 1 cocktail.