With life feeling a little claustrophobic right now, I thought it might be nice to add a cocktail recipe to everyone’s list.

Aside from writing and music, playing around behind the bar is a major hobby of mine. A few months back, I stumbled across this strange concoction and to be honest, it’s one of the best I’ve ever created. I call it the Mutineer’s Bounty.

The storm rages outside. The captain is tied to the main mast and you’ve led the crew to a successful take over of the chip. Everyone is below decks eating heartily in celebration but not you. No, you’re in the captain’s quarters, you’ve raided his liquor chest, and your feet are up on the table. The experience is warm and rich. So much better than you’re used to, swinging in a hammock in the damp underbelly of the ship. Here, your senses are a blaze. You know theres leather and wood notes but are you smelling them or tasting them. The sweetness mellows everything out but your drink is still lively and bright. You’re not sure what you’re tasting but you’re damn sure you’re enjoying time collecting your bounty.

The ingredients in The Mutineer’s Bounty absolutely do not sound as it they belong together. A rag tag crew thrown together for a daunting mission. This drink starts off with of all things, a mezcal base. I really like Mezcal Unión Uno and highly recommend it. Along side the smoky yet fresh taste of the mezcal , amaretto mellows out the bite, like the godfather cocktail but south of the boarder. Then Kahlúa steps in to bring its own sweet bitterness to the mix. Finally, white creme de cacao (not white chocolate liqueur) smooths and blends the disparate flavors together. This is a drink that tastes like none of its parts but wouldn’t be nearly as good without this mishmash of ingredients. Here’s the recipe and I hope you enjoy.

The Mutineer’s Bounty

  • 2oz Mezcal (Mezcal Unión Uno)
  • 0.5oz Amaretto
  • 0.75oz Kahúla
  • 0.75oz White Creme de Cacao (not white chocolate liqueur)

Add ingredients to a mixing glass filled with ice and stir until thoroughly chilled. Pour into coupe or cocktail glass and garnish with a brandied or maraschino cherry. Enjoy.

The Negroni is possibly the perfect cocktail. Easy, classic, customizable, and complex. It’s as at home on the beach as it is in the snow, but its potent character isn’t for everyone. With a little experimentation however, it can be.

Like a lot of cocktails, the Negroni’s originator is much disputed but its place of origin is less controversial. The north of Italy is famous for amaro liqueurs, bitter, herbal concoctions used as aperitifs and digestifs. Among their ranks is the incomparable Campari, the one ingredient that’s an absolute must for making a proper Negroni. Its bright red color and bitter bite help give the cocktail its signature flavors.

Aside from the inclusion of Campari, one other aspect of this drink is paramount: the ratio. A Negroni always follows a 1:1:1 ratio of Campari, gin, and sweet/red vermouth. That simple math is what makes this drink so easy. Adjusting for size is a breeze when its just 1:1:1.

So we know we need Campari and we know our ratio, now it’s time to customize. The wide variety found within the worlds of gin and vermouth make tailoring the Negroni for your own tastes a journey worth taking. Like things dry and less sweet? Opt for Beefeater Gin and good old Martini and Rossi. Maybe you prefer your drinks on the mellow and sweeter side? Hendricks Gin and Dolin Rouge is a good bet. The options are endless and finding the right gin and vermouth combo will leave you with a recipe you can trust for life.

I like my Negronis spicy and sweet. Here’s my go-to recipe:

1 part The Botanist Gin
1 part Punt e Mes Vermouth
1 part Campari.

Just add the ingredients to a glass of ice and stir. Now you have about 90% of a proper Negroni. It’s more than drinkable at this point but not yet perfect. For that you need fire!

Garnishes are often overlooked when making cocktails at home. In my opinion the Negroni just isn’t complete without its garnish: the flamed orange peel.

Once you’ve built the drink in the glass and it’s properly chilled, peel a decently sized slice of orange rind and and strike a match or lighter. Now, hold the flame over the glass and squeeze the peel, sending the orange oil through the flame and onto the surface of your drink. This is more for your nose than your tongue but the toasted oil makes all the difference for this drink and really makes it shine. Just whatever you do, do not stir the cocktail further. DO NOT STIR IT! Leave that smokey orange oil on top. Its scent in your nose and the taste of the drink on your tongue is such an amazing combination. Don’t skip the orange peel. Who doesn’t have a little pyromaniac in them? Let that fire starter have some fun.

This is one of my all time favorite drinks and it’s too easy to make and the ingredients are too easy to find not to give it a whirl. Enjoy!

The manhattan. It’s a classic. It’s delicious. It’s my favorite.

For the uninitiated, a manhattan is, at it’s essence, a whiskey martini. The main difference being that a manhattan is full of flavor and a martini is more bite than taste.

Like a martini, a manhattan has two main ingredients, a spirit and a vermouth. Additionally, the manhattan needs a few dashes of bitters.

Most agree that rye whiskey is the original spirit used in the manhattan. Bourbon followed soon after so both will do fine in this drink. Technically, any whiskey (other than scotch, that makes a Rob Roy) will work. Please, learn from my mistakes. Stick to Bourbon and Rye.

Manhattans call for sweet/red vermouth (a strong red wine fortified with herbs and spices) in a 1:2 ration with whiskey. The problem with that ratio is that it doesn’t take into account the sweetness and strength of the vermouth itself nor that of the whiskey. It’s hard to go wrong with a 1:2 ratio but understanding your ingredients and how to use them will bring the cocktail from good to great.

If a manhattan is anything, it’s spicy and sweet, in that order. Most mediocre manhattans suffer from being too sweet. A sweet bourbon mixed with an overly sweet vermouth can get cloying. I drank bourbon manhattans for years before making the jump to rye to help solve this problem. I find that a strong rye mixed with a sweet, heavy vermouth makes for a wonderful drink.

After years of experimentation, I’ve come up with a manhattan that I’m truly proud of. It’s a 1:3 ratio of vermouth and whiskey that’s slightly larger than average and very spice forward while retaining much of the sweetness from the vermouth.

My Manhattan

  • 3oz, Bulleit Rye  (Stong, spicy, reasonably priced)
  • 1oz, Martini Riserva Speciale Rubino Vermouth (Rich, sweet, spicy)
  • 4-5 dashes of Angostura Bitters

Pour all ingredients into a mixing glass full of ice. Stir until well chilled. Pour into a cocktail glass (I prefer coupes) and garnish with a brandied cherry.