Here you can find delicious recipes that I’ve adapted from various sources and my own mixing and testing. Some may be a little over the top! This is a work in progress and I’m adding my recipes as I have time. I am also adding ingredients so you can see what I prefer to use. Everything in the recipes is covered.
I highly recommend Beluga Export Vodka or our local Texas favorite, Tito’s Handmade Vodka. These are both very pure and nearly flavorless, they taste like ethanol and water. I personally stay away from off-flavored vodkas with fusel oil flavor such as Ketel One, Belvedere, etc… for most cocktails.
A completely flavorless vodka, essentially just ethanol and water, is best for a refreshing tasting cocktail. If you’re looking for a boozy flavor you could use one of those other vodkas, especially Ketel One which has a pronounced spice. I really enjoy Ketel One with soda water and lime, because it gives a boozy punch to a drink that is otherwise very bland.
Quick History: Going by the book a fusel flavor profile is considered a flaw for vodka, while being totally acceptable for whiskey, bourbon, rum, and many others. Historically fusel flavor came from poorly filtered moonshine that was not modern vodka. This moonshine would have had a mix of oily fusel alcohols from improperly removed tails of the distillation run and as a result of poor filtering. Methanol or isopropanol, two toxic alcohols, could also be found in contaminated moonshine due to error or inexperience.
Modern commercial vodka is meant to be totally filtered and neutral in flavor. Brands however like to stand out and add some of those flavors back in to have a unique taste. You can rest assured that all reputable brands purchased from reputable vendors are adding non-toxic fusel alcohols for flavor. These are not a result of poor filtering or errors in process.
This is how brands get you to go “oh that tastes like Ketel One” vs. “this just tastes like any other ethanol and water”. The funny part is that now there aren’t that many brands that taste just like ethanol and water, becoming a unique flavor of its own.
I could talk about my thoughts on cognac for a whole separate article. There is so much to discuss. However, for the purpose of mixology we can keep it dead simple. Hennessy V.S is what you buy for a cocktail. There is simply no reason to use anything else as far as I am concerned.
The V.S to me a benchmark of a good cognac. It is priced reasonably well and has all the qualities you look for without completely breaking the bank. There are certainly better cognacs for more money and cheaper more interesting cognacs, but for mixology this is what you buy.
I’m not a huge drinker of tequila. I’ve enjoyed sipping some high end añejo tequilas that are similar to whiskeys that I enjoy very much. However, we’re talking about cocktails, which means we have to talk about margaritas. This staple of Tex-Mex joints calls for a tequila and personally I enjoy a fancy margarita, often known as a cadillac or millionaire margarita.
For a fancy margarita Hornitos Black Barrel Tequila, an añejo that brings out flavor, makes the experience more special than a frozen basic rita with a cheap tequila. It really pairs well with a high end cognac based orange liqueur. The flavor of an añejo which comes from whiskey-style barrel aging that a basic tequila doesn’t get.
I’ll just preface this with the fact that I dislike Gin. I rarely enjoy it and only in certain cocktails. So I am not a huge aficionado and my advice should be taken with a grain of salt. My go to gin is Bombay Sapphire Dry Gin. I think you can’t really go wrong with this one.
For a limoncello I recommend Lazzaroni Limoncello. Their product is lighter and more refreshing. It is not very thick like other liqueurs tend to be and not overwhelmingly sweet.
This is an interesting category as there are two main product types. There is curaçao originally from Curaçao and triple sec originally from France. The difference is that curaçao is brandy or cognac based while triple sec is more dry and lacks the barrel aged flavor.
Sometimes people refer to all orange liqueur as triple sec. Furthermore, in a bar setting triple sec often denotes a generic/house orange liqueur rather than a famous brand of curaçao or triple sec.
Personally I really love Grand Marnier, which is essentially a hybrid of curaçao and triple sec. It is cognac based like a curaçao and sweeter than a traditional triple sec.
This is a relatively new category of liqueurs. The biggest brand is St-Germain Elderflower Liqueur which was launched in 2007. Since coming on the scene this liqueur finds itself in recipes of trendy bars. I would personally recommend sticking with St-Germain although a few competitors are coming on the scene.
I think a good ginger beer must taste natural, have a spicy kick and I like a little pulpy sediment. I think Fever Tree and Q Ginger Beer are some of the best out there at this time.
I firmly believe the best juices are fresh squeezed. There are some concentrates that are acceptable, but they must not have added sugar or other added ingredients. As a rule squeezing limes and lemons is very easy, and the difference in flavor is huge.
This couldn’t be simpler, it’s just sugar and water. Somehow this cocktail staple eludes people, but it is just sugar and water mixed 50/50. Just add sugar to hot water and mix into a thick syrup.
Sometimes called a “sweet and sour mix”, this staple can be a dirty word in the world of mixology. These two words often draw ire from those that correlate it to bars using vaguely citrus flavored overly sweet concentrates in cheap cocktails. However, sour mix doesn’t have to come from a can. In fact like a good margarita, it is best made from scratch.
Sour mix is a staple of many busy bars that make a variety of cocktails from scratch on the fly. It can helps keep proportions easy in recipes without getting into difficult to measure fractions. Best of all it is real easy to make:
- 2-1/2 oz – Lemon Juice
- 2-1/2 oz – Lime Juice
- 5 oz – Simple Syrup
This makes 10 ounces of sour mix that you can now use in common recipes. Store it in the fridge, it lasts for a while. Most importantly don’t waste money on something this simple and tasty!
Some bartenders prefer to just keep simple syrup on hand, and instead mix in lemon, lime and even orange juices as needed. However, when working with high volume of individual drinks in recipes that call for the same mix, it will bog you down to keep measuring three to four extra ingredients.
Dmitry’s Ultimate Moscow Mule
This is a fancy mule with extra ingredients that are not normally used in a classic mule. When making a fancy mule it’s worth using a good vodka.
- 5 oz – of Ginger Beer
- 2-1/2 oz – Vodka
- 1 oz – Lime Juice
- 1/4 oz – Limoncello
- 1/4 oz – Lemon Juice
- Dash – Agave Nectar
This makes for a 9 ounce drink which you should stir, not shake. Serve on ice in a 16 ounce copper mug.
Dmitry’s Cadillac Margarita
This is my most fancy margarita recipe. I would only serve this on ice, never frozen. I’m not a snob or purist and enjoy both frozen and rocks margaritas. Rather I believe frozen margaritas are an entirely different beast and will address them on this page in the future.
- 3 oz – Añejo Tequila
- 1-1/2 oz – Orange Liqueur
- 1-1/2 oz – Lime Juice
- 1/2 oz – Lemon Juice
- 1/2 oz – Limoncello
- 1/4 oz – Agave Nectar
The resulting drink can be cut in half and split between a couple or served as a double in a large glass. Take it easy with the doubles, this is a very strong drink with 5 ounces of alcohol and a total volume of 7-1/4 ounces.
I didn’t mix this one up myself, this is a recipe I was taught to make by a bartender. I don’t normally like gin, but in this drink it is delicious. This refreshing drink is going to really hit the spot if you like citrus.
- 1-1/2 oz – Dry Gin
- 1-1/2 oz – Grapefruit Juice
- 1 oz – Elderflower Liqueur
- 3/4 oz – Lemon Juice
- 1/2 oz – Simple Syrup
Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass to serve cold, but without ice. This makes a single serving at 5-1/4 ounces.
Another cocktail that I picked up from a bartender. This is a new twist on a classic with its origins dating all the way back to the 1920s. While this isn’t the cheapest drink to make the flavor profile is really interesting and the drink is quite strong.
- 2 oz – Cognac
- 1 oz – Orange Liqueur
- 3/4 oz – Limoncello
- 3/4 oz – Sour Mix
- 1/2 oz – Lime Juice
Shake well, but not too long as to avoid over dilution. Strain and serve in a cocktail glass. This make a single serving of 5 ounces.