Do you love a well-constructed cocktail? Here at Key Ingredient we certainly do! If you're looking to up your mixology game, here are a few cocktails that are impressive but easy to make at home. We've got a mix of sweet, sour, spicy, and sparkling in this list of cocktails we love, plus product recommendations that make mixology quick and easy.
The sidecar is an underappreciated cocktail made of cognac, orange liqueur, and lemon juice. This recipe adds seltzer water and a sugar rim to help cut the tartness and make this drink a bit more of a crowd-pleaser. If you're a fan of all things tart, you won't need the seltzer, but try it anyway; the carbonation is lovely! Speaking of tartness, for this recipe you'll need...
The Secret Weapon: A Citrus Juicer
Fresh lemons are indispensible when making a good sidecar, but juicing lemons by hand can be tedious, messy, and difficult. A citrus juice like this one is perfect when you want to transfer all of the juice and none of the seeds directly to the cocktail shaker without getting any of it on your hands. We prefer this type of juicer because it's quick, easy, and fits perfectly into a glass or cocktail mixer.
For having such an intimidating name, the dark and stormy is a suprisingly easy-drinking cocktail made with dark rum, ginger beer, and lime juice. All that ginger can actually help soothe the stomach as well, so it's not a bad choice for those times when you're drinking immoderately...not that you would do that of course. Besides the fresh ginger, what makes this recipe really special is...
The Secret Weapon: Ginger Syrup
Ginger syrup is an amazing combination of sweet and spicy, and it's the perfect thing to kick your dark & stormy up a notch. Or two. You can easily make a delicious cocktail without it, but you'd be missing out on that next level of ginger flavor.
Featuring tequila, strawberry, fresh basil, jalapeño, and lime juice, the blazing sombrero is not messing around. It's got an oddly perfect combination of fruity, spicy, and herbaceous flavors that could never bore your tastebuds. Plus it's absolutely gorgeous to behold. If you're serious about this one, you're going to want...
The Secret Weapon: A Muddler
Muddling is a method of mashing ingredients in the bottom of a cocktail glass or mixer to help release juices, oils, and ultimately flavors from the ingredients you're using. It's particularly common in cocktails that use herbs or fruits, and this cocktail has both. Having a good muddler is going to really help enhance the strawberry, jalepeño, and basil flavors in this cocktail, so we recommend you don't skip out on it.
Cider is oddly underused in cocktails, but it's wonderfully refreshing and flavorful. Mulled cider is something else entirely—it's still refreshing, but it also has an amazing depth of spice flavors. Paired with pineapple juice, this cocktail is a complex yet light and fresh cocktail that's perfect at any time of year. To make this cocktail the best it can be, you'll need...
The Secret Weapon: Whole Star Anise
Many people don't keep whole star anise on hand, but its licorice-like sweet, herbal, and slightly bitter flavors pair amazingly with the tartness of apple cider and pineapple juice. Along with whole cinnamon sticks, it's the star anise in this recipe that really lends complexity to this cocktail and makes it special. For even more spice, try using spiced rum instead of white rum in this recipe.
Where we're based in Texas, pecans are popular all year round and the pecan pie is a staple dessert. This cocktail takes the amazing nuttiness, butteriness, and of course sweetness of the pecan pie and distills it down into an amazingly rich and boozy dessert cocktail. For a drink that really mimics that pecan pie taste, you're going to want...
The Secret Weapon: A Glass Rimmer
This recipe calls for a martini glass to be rimmed with chocolate syrup then dipped in brown sugar and crushed pecans, in a fashion similar to the margarita's classic salt rim. Sounds delicious, right? It can be a bit of a mess, though, without the right tools. filling a glass rimmer like this one with the necessary ingredients makes the process much easier, especially if you're planning to make multiple cocktails.
If it's a cold-weather cocktail you're after, this one is perfect. With cranberries, orange juice, champagne, and fresh sage leaves, this fruity, bubbly, and slightly herbaceous drink is perfect for christmas brunch or New Years Eve. We recommend making this recipe for a crowd, though it can be adapted for a single or double serving. Either way, you're probably going to want...
The Secret Weapon: A Wine Saver
A wine saver is great for keeping red and white wines fresh and tasty, but they're even more important when you need to keep all the bubbles from escaping your champagne. While most wine corks can be reinserted into the bottle to create a passable seal, champagne corks will never fit back in the bottle no matter how hard you may try. And letting good champagne go to waste is simply unacceptable.
If you took one look at that pecan pie cocktail and asked, "But how could I make that sweeter?" then this is the cocktail for you. This recipe takes the best Girl Scout cookie (and you can fight us on that) and turns it into this decadent chocolate, caramel, coconut concoction you see before you. What do you need to make this piece of art a reality? How about...
The Secret Weapon: A Cocktail Shaker
Yes, having a good cocktail shaker is important for most cocktails, but you might be surprised to learn that it's all you really need for this impressive-looking drink. Since you want the chocolate syrup and coconut flakes to run down the glass a bit, you don't really need a glass rimmer like the one pictured above. Aside from a few fancy garnishes, all you really need is a good shake to combine the coconut rum, caramel vodka, chocolate liqueur, and half-and-half into this sweet, cool, velvety cocktail.
This beautiful raspberry cocktail is sweet without being overpoweringly so. It combines fresh fruit and heavy cream, and it's especially perfect for Valentine's day or the 4th of July. If you want this drink to be the smooth, vibrant cocktail you see here, you're going to want...
The Secret Weapon: A Fine Mesh Cocktail Strainer
Nothing ruins a raspberry cocktail more easily than a mouthful of raspberry seeds. With a cocktail strainer, you don't have to worry about straining out the seeds before shaking with ice; you can simply strain the cocktail directly into the glass—simple.
Now for something a little more sophisticated and understated. This floral, relaxing chamomile cocktail is amazing for hot summer evenings or springtime brunch. You can also make a creamier version by adding an egg white and shaking it with the other ingredients immediately before adding them to the pitcher. Either way, if you want to garnish with that bright yellow lemon peel, you'll need...
The Secret Weapon: A Channel Knife
A channel knife is one of those things most people don't have in their kitchens unless they're really into mixology, but this cheap little tool is a plating powerhouse, and it's crucial if you want those twisty twirly citrus rinds you see in so many craft cocktails. It's also great when making cake decorations and meal garnishes that will make you look like a practiced chef.
What's your favorite cocktail? Any essential mixology tools we missed? Let us know in the comments, and happy drinking!