Thank goodness for stiff drinks. Every time these lockdowns tighten, we head to the drinks cabinet to pour out a generous measure of something spirited — the ideal antidote the sobering truths of self-isolation. But, with our enthusiasm waning and the novelty home-mixing wearing increasingly thin, our eagerness to experiment is drying up quicker than a good Martini.
And so, in an effort to bring back the invigorating, intoxicating excitement to the art of cocktail-making, we’ve rounded up five of the finest drinks to mix during lockdown (unless you’re attempting Dry January). From a simple serve for those dragged-out days to a hard-to-perfect project to sink your tastebuds into, these are the drinks we’ve been raising our quarantined glasses to…
For an incredibly simple cocktail, The Gibson
What is it? The Martini’s shy, more savoury cousin. No-one knows exactly when the first Gibson was mixed, but it’s a glamorous, golden-age drink — with that pickled onion garnish adding a hint of piquant, vinegary mystery.
How do you make it? Other than that odd onion? Simple — it’s one measure of the driest vermouth you can find, topped up with six measures of gin. We’d opt for a gin without floral or citrus notes, such as Plymouth or Sipsmith.
Why will it save lockdown? Because it’s easy! Two ingredients (if you hold the onion). After one of those long, long lockdown days, it’s a nice, easy option to slump down in front of Netflix with. Coincidentally, Gibson upon Gibson crop in the streaming service’s latest masterpiece, The Queen’s Gambit.
For a time-killing, trial-and-error cocktail, The Manhattan
What is it? One of the six widely-acknowledged ‘basic’ cocktails. Although nothing could be further from the truth. With so many brands, spins on and varieties of the three main ingredients, The Manhattan can take years to perfect.
How do you make it? With an elusive blend of whiskey, sweet vermouth and bitters. The Whisky Exchange currently lists 278 whiskeys, 348 vermouths and 197 different bitters in stock — so it may take some time to stumble upon the perfect combination.
Why will it save lockdown? For that very reason. Some people try to coax out their novel during lockdown. Others bake, or paint, or whittle. You can embark on a different time-killing project; mixing the quintessential Manhattan. A Manhattan Project, if you will (although you probably shouldn’t).
For a reliable, re-workable recipe, The Mule
What is it? A form of ‘buck’ cocktail; a drink mixed with a spirit, ginger ale or beer, and some form of citrus juice. The Moscow Mule is, of course, the most famous — but there are many, many more Mules to try.
How do you make it? If you’ve got ginger beer, you’ll likely be able to cobble together a Mule. Some variations include a Kentucky Mule (bourbon), a Jamaican Mule (spiced rum), a Glasgow Mule (blended Scotch), a Bohemian Mule (absinthe) and a Tuscan Mule (Tuaca liqueur).
Why will it save lockdown? Because, as the name suggests, it does some real heavy lifting; lugging the contents of your drinks cabinet to new, palatable heights. During lockdown — and thanks to the Mule being a real mixology mixer-upper — you can make literally tens of different drinks using practically the same recipe. Learn how to Mule, and you’ll never look back…
For an all-consuming, time-consuming cocktail, The Bloody Mary
What is it? You should know the answer to that. One of the most famous cocktails in the world, the ubiquitous Bloody Mary is a blend of savoury ingredients, garnished with a jolly good glug of filtered vodka.
How do you make it? Getting the Bloody Mary mix right is key. It’s usually a blend of tomato juice, lime juice, jalapeño, vinegar, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish and salt. It takes time to make, ferment, age and perfect — but is absolutely worth the effort.
Why will it save lockdown? Because, like those people cultivating sourdough starters, it’ll give you something to prepare, maintain and look forward to. This isn’t a spur-of-the-moment cocktail. Thankfully, once you do have your mix mixed, you can drink it at any time of these blurred-together days. Thank God for brunch, eh?
For a master of disguise, The Godfather
What is it? A cocktail as sneaky as its name suggests. The Godfather — allegedly named because one of the drink’s primary ingredients, Amaretto, was a favourite of Marlon Brando — is good-looking, better tasting and, above all, simple to mix.
How do you make it? Half Scotch whisky. Half Amaretto. In a glass. Over ice (if you want). Easy.
Why will it save lockdown? Here’s the trick; on a Zoom call, the exceedingly easy-to-make Godfather could pass as almost any other golden-orange cocktail in a rocks glass. So, to seem interesting/cultured/adventurous on your next digital drinks/quiz/catch-up, simply throw one together and pretend it’s something much harder to mix. An Old Fashioned, perhaps. Or a Negroni. A Boulevardier, an American or a Sazerac. Maybe even a Vieux Carré — whatever that is…