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Cocktail Recipes that Surprised You

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I recently got really into a cocktail I found on cocktaildb.com called the desert dream.

3/4 oz. Gin
3/4 oz. Sweet Vermouth
3/4 oz. Creme De Cacao
1/2 oz. Egg White

The good combo of gin and sweet vermouth notwithstanding, this sounded really strange to me (so much creme de cacao? so little gin?). But after trying it, it really blew me away how nicely all the flavors were balanced, especially for when I want a drink on the sweeter side (I'm a rye manhattan guy normally). It's a really good companion for that cupcake you've been eyeing.

Has anyone been compelled to try a recipe that didn't sound right to them that turned out to work perfectly?

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  1. For me, it's the Blood And Sand, named after the 1940s bullfighting movie:

    3/4 oz Scotch
    3/4 oz sweet vermouth
    3/4 oz Cherry Heering
    3/4 oz orange juice

    Shake well with ice and serve on the rocks. It looks like the drink is going to be an absolute mess, but it just works perfectly.

    1. I have not had this, but my friend in NY loves gin, basil (muddled), and lemon juice. ? He said it was tasty.

      2 Replies
      1. re: stellamystar

        I'm intrigued, sort of the Joy of Cooking's variation on the Julep w/o the sugar.

        1. re: hill food

          I guess it would be. I will re-inquire with my friend and update. It was served to him at a bar.

      2. Bourbon with pineapple juice. Sounds awful - no? But it is pretty good. I think it's called a Kentucky cocktail.

        1 Reply
        1. re: lupaglupa

          actually, it's not too far off from one of my favorite drinks, the algonquin.

          2 rye
          1 dry vermouth
          1 pineapple juice


        2. I have two favorites that may seem bizarre but are wonderful:

          Last Word (from drinkboy.com)
          3/4 oz gin
          3/4 oz Green Chartreuse
          3/4 Maraschino
          3/4 oz lime juice
          Shake, strain.
          The intense flavors of the liquers somehow balance each other out and the lime juice cuts the sweetness. Very complex yet light and refreshing.

          Rosebud (from cocktailchronicles.com)
          1.5 oz reposado tequila
          0.5 oz Carpano Antica Formula sweet vermouth
          dash Campari
          dash rosewater
          orange peel
          Rinse a chilled cocktail glass with rosewater, toss out excess (glass must be frozen to help the rosewater cling). Stir the tequila and vermouth with ice, then strain into glass. Flame the orange peel over the surface, releasing oils. Layer a dash of Campari into the drink.
          This drink is fantastically aromatic, smooth and elegant. Really showcases fine tequila the way a great Martini showcases good gin.

          2 Replies
          1. re: kenito799

            I'll second the Last Word - It's one of my favorites. It's taking longer than I thought it would, but I'm still insistant that it's going to be this year's Aviation.

            1. re: kenito799

              Interesting that you specifically think the lime juice helps to keep it from being too sweet; I always felt like the Last Word needed a little more sweetness to be nicely balanced. I added 1/4 oz of simple syrup to my last one and it made a big difference.

              I often feel like drinks with lime juice need a tiny bit more sweetness, though. For some reason I don't have this issue with lemon juice (e.g., Aviations).

            2. The fine folks at St. George Spirits made me a drink the other day. Single malt whiskey, Qi white tea liqueur and Absinthe. I did not love it, but it was very interesting how the flavors played off of each other.

              2 Replies
              1. re: oaktowngirl

                are any of these tea liqueurs worth trying? I have seen them all but they look more like a trend than a line of great products...

                1. re: bza

                  The dark, orginal Qi is flavored with lapsang souchong tea which gives it a smokey flavor like some mezcals - good if you like that sort of drink. I think the White Qi is more approachable, and is like a more orange-y, but much less sweet Contrieau or Grand Marnier. Can you go to Hanger One for a full tasting? If not, they are marketing some smaller bottles, so keep an eye out for those.

              2. I will add another that I found on cocktaildb.com, searching for a way to use up red vermouth and limes (I am moving and I want to drink up my vermouths so I don't have to pack them). I did some more research and this is the recipe I like:

                2 oz gin
                1 oz red vermouth
                1/2 oz lime juice
                1/2 oz Maraschino

                I realized that this is very similar to the Last Word, but with vermouth instead of Chartreuse. Maraschino and lime just go really well together. This is a refreshing yet complex and aromatic drink.

                1. It took me a while to work up the courage to try a Maple Leaf, but it turned out to blend perfectly.

                  1 1/2 oz whiskey
                  1/2 oz lemon juice
                  1/2 oz maple syrup

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: dfan

                    Sounds similar to the Back Forty from last November's NY Times:

                    4 teaspoons maple syrup
                    2 ounces bourbon
                    1 ounce lemon juice
                    3 to 5 dashes orange bitters

                    Lime wedge for garnish.

                    In a cocktail shaker, mix syrup with 2 teaspoons hot water. Add bourbon, lemon juice and bitters. Add ice and shake. Strain drink over ice in glass. Garnish.

                    Yield: 1 drink.

                    Personally, I think these are very tasty.

                  2. More of a "beer highball" (or perhaps a shandy?) than a proper cocktail, but the Black Velvet surprised me: 1/2 Champagne, 1/2 Guinness. Sounds terrible, is actually lovely, a nice Sunday brunch eye-opener.

                    The Ramos Fizz is another one whose parts didn't add up for me at all on paper, but in properly skilled hands is fantastic: another fine, gentle brunch drink or summer afternoon cooler (recipe from DrinkBoy.com):

                    * 1 1/2 ounces dry gin
                    * 1/2 ounce lemon juice
                    * 1/2 ounce lime juice
                    * 2 Tbs. cream
                    * 1 fresh egg white
                    * 1/4 ounce seltzer
                    * 1 Tbs. powdered sugar
                    * 3 to 4 dashes orange flower water

                    Shake all ingredients with ice for at least one minute. This should result in a fairly foamy consistancy. Strain into a wine glass and top with seltzer.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                      a Ramos Gin Fizz made by John Gertsen at no.9 park is probably the best cocktail I have ever had.

                    2. I don't have the full recipe, but I ordered a drink called a Sweet 100, made with muddled cherry tomatoes, lemon, Sky 90 and Veloce, and was expecting something along the lines of the Fog City Diner's Bloody Mary (which is served up, very cold, with a pronounced lemon flavor, but still a Mary), and what I got looked and tasted more like a Cosmo made with blood orange juice instead of cranberry. No complaints, though!

                      1. I was very surprised the first time I had a Mint Julep. It's quite refreshing. I thought somehow that it would be heavier.