It didn’t take long for five o’clock to assume a quasi-religious significance. Over seven weeks of layoff, stay-at-home, and various shades of quarantine and social distance, it became a welcome ritual. The clink of ice cubes, the pop of a shaker, something to mark the day and time.
With no bars to frequent and the job of mixing left to our own feeble talents, we combed through the Growler archives in search of our very best cocktail recipes. We were looking for drinks that aren’t too complicated, ones that use maybe three or four ingredients that are easy to find and prepare. The drinks that are so down-the-middle delicious you wouldn’t dare have just one.
In 78 issues, we’ve published a litany of great drink ideas, and more than a few questionable ones (like that one with fish in it) and we hope they’ve made your home happy hours a little more happy. Cheers to these nine, our all-time favorites.
House Martini at Marvel Bar
This is quite simply a perfect martini from a team of bartenders who spent a lot of time thinking about martinis. Sad for Marvel’s closure, but excited for its ripple effects in the bartending community.
65 milliliters Beefeater gin
25 milliliters Dolin Dry vermouth
1 milliliter orange bitters (combination of Bittercube and Regan’s No. 6)
Stir with ice and strain into a coupe glass. Express a lemon coin over the drink and garnish.
Aviation at Red Rabbit
The most elegant gin sour. We added a floral syrup variation if you can’t (or don’t want to) find the expensive Tempus Fugit. You can find violets or lavender for the drink’s signature purple, or any other dried blossom for a more personal hue.
2 ounces gin
2/3 ounce lemon juice
1/3 ounce simple syrup
1/3 ounce Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
1 teaspoon Tempus Fugit Liqueur de Violettes•
Shake all ingredients with ice, strain into a coupe glass. No garnish.
Floral syrup variation: Steep 1 cup of dried violet blossoms in 1 cup of water for a few hours. Strain out the flowers and add 1 cup of sugar over medium heat, whisking until dissolved, and then cool. For the cocktail, use ½ ounce violet syrup in place of the plain simple syrup. Omit the liqueur de violettes.
Mountain Meadow Martini, by Zach Sapato
This drink is memorable for the way it shows off a gorgeous vermouth. Otto’s tastes like roses and herbs and with a sturdy gin like Loon Liquors’, it tastes like a refreshment for a scorching day on Mykonos.
2 ounces Otto’s Athens Vermouth
1 ounce Loon Liquors Metropoligin
2 droppers Dashfire Mission Fig Fennel Bitters
Stir with ice, and strain into a lowball glass with one large ice cube.
Escargot, My Car Go at Lolo American Kitchen
This one is a cannonball of dark booze straight to your gullet. But it’s a strangely smooth one—like cherries that were soaked in brandy and dipped in dark chocolate. Stir it well, better too much than not enough, and settle into a comfortable chair.
1½ ounces Torres 10-year brandy
1 heavy ounce sweet vermouth (Cocchi di Torino)
1 ounce 100-proof rye whiskey (Rittenhouse)
¾ ounce Angostura Amaro
a few dashes Angostura bitters
Stir all ingredients vigorously with ice. Strain into a lowball glass with no ice. Express the oils from a wide swath of orange zest over the drink, and wipe the rims of the glass with it as well.
Wilde at Bar Brigade
This one’s a stunner. Fresh and hazy, the anise flavor of Pernod is tampered into the background by a jolt of vibrant cucumber and lemon. Right when your cucumbers are ready to harvest, deep in the summer swelter, this drink will taste perfect.
1 ounce Pernod (or other pastis)
1 ounce lemon juice
½ ounce St-Germain elderflower liqueur
½ ounce cucumber simple syrup
Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into a coupe glass. Spritz a lime wedge over the top, wipe it around the rim of the glass, discard the lime, and serve.
Cucumber simple syrup: Puree some peeled, seeded cucumbers and drain the puree through a fine-mesh sieve. Make a rich simple syrup (2 sugar : 1 water). Measure your cucumber juice, add to it an equal amount of rich syrup, shake well and refrigerate.
Late Tea Time at Revival St. Paul
2 ounces Earl Grey-infused gin• (Citadelle)
½ ounce Cocchi di Torino
½ ounce Cocchi Americano
½ ounce Angostura Amaro
2 eyedroppers Dashfire Lemon Bitters
Stir all ingredients briefly with ice and strain into a Collins glass with fresh ice. Top with club soda.
Earl Grey gin: Steep 1 tablespoon of loose leaf Earl Grey in 750 milliliters of gin for about 10 minutes, tasting frequently so it doesn’t turn bitter, and strain immediately.
The Cedar at i.e., Italian Eatery
It’s basically an old-fashioned. But to balance the Solerno, a sweeter blood orange liqueur, we need some extra base notes in the bourbon. It takes some forethought, but an extra-charred whiskey is a nice mixer to have on hand. It gives your drink a kiss of smoky flavor without having to do the whole blowtorch-and-overturned-glass routine.
2 ounces cedar-infused bourbon•
½ ounce Solerno
dash Angostura bitters
dash Fee Bros. Old Fashioned bitters
Stir all ingredients with ice and strain into a lowball glass with one large ice cube. Garnish with a swath of lemon peel.
Cedar whiskey: Take a food-grade cedar plank and break or saw it down so the pieces fit in a large jar. Use the burners on your stovetop, or a creme brulee torch, to get the pieces golden-brown and toasted all over (making sure to stop before they turn a deep charcoal-black.) While they’re still warm, drop the pieces in a large jar with a bottle of bourbon (something mellow, no high-ryes, try Elijah Craig.) Shake daily for one week, and strain.
Negroni Puebla at Saint Dinette
The Negroni is an ultra-pliable formula. It welcomes adjustments and substitutions, like here, in which tequila lends a greater heft than a gin (and a nice mezcal or sotol would lend the drink even more distinction.) Not a huge Campari fan? Invert the quantities of vermouth and Campari, or substitute Aperol.
1½ ounces reposado tequila (Cazadores)
1 ounce Campari
½ ounce sweet vermouth (Carpano Antica)
Stir well with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a wide strip of lime zest.
Fender Bender at Hi-Lo Diner
If you’re a bourbon drinker, you need Cynar in your cabinet. The artichoke liqueur is a foolproof mixer with the brown stuff—a simple 2:1 whiskey to Cynar on the rocks is magnificent. Here, the vermouth and maple add body and sweetness.
2 ounces bourbon (Rebel Yell)
¾ ounce Cynar
½ ounce good sweet vermouth (Carpano Antica)
¼ ounce simple maple syrup
Stir well with ice and strain into a lowball glass with one large ice cube. Garnish with a black cherry (Hi-Lo uses Filthy Foods cocktail cherries.)
Simple maple syrup: Bring equal parts pure maple syrup and water to a simmer until combined.