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Suggest the perfect cocktail for my in-laws(and me)

Last year I got recipes and advice from Chowhound on making Brandy Old Fashioned Sweets for my in-laws for their week-long summertime visit. It's pretty much all they ever order when they go out.

This year, i'd like to add a little variety because: well, you know, it's the spice of life, PLUS I can't drink that crap. And i'll need a drink, trust me ;-)

So what would....

Appeal to a couple from Wisconsin in their 70's who apparently like sweet cocktails, but order their tea unsweetened (horrifying to a Southern girl)
Be something meaningful, or new and trendy, or that they would at least have HEARD of...
maybe some classic cocktail from their era?
Use some sort of alcohol not as cheap and nasty as Korbel brandy
Work in an old fashioned glass or a martini glass (all I have except wine glasses)
Not be terribly powerful...they're old and I'm a lightweight
Possibly use some of the bitters I bought for their old fashioneds
Maybe even be easily adaptable to a virgin concoction for their son who is strangely
uninterested in booze.
Not be a frozen blender thing
BTW, I also hate Bourbon, which is unfortunate since I own pewter julep cups and have mint growing in the backyard.

OK, thinking caps on....GO (thanks)

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  1. Are they only to be allowed one cocktail suggestion for the entire week?
    What about just stocking the bar up a bit with a little variety of the common liquors and mixers and perhaps a small bar manual (what *was* that little book that used to be available everywhere..Bartenders Friend, a recipe book??)
    Summer drinks to me scream Gin and Tonic (very classic) or Mojitos. When I'm having house guests and I don't know what they're going to drink, I just buy a vodka, gin, bourbon, whiskey, small scotch and assorted mixers.
    You could have fun (and perhaps a conversation starter!) by going through the bartenders recipe book and pick one out to try each day. Something new, or perhaps something they recall from their younger days?

    1. How about a "sidecar"

      You could possibly use brandy instead of cognac and triple sec instead of Cointreau.

      Or, you could go for the Cosmo's. I like Cosmo's it's one of my favorite cocktails.

      2 Replies
      1. re: theginguy

        Sidecar was my first instinct as well.

        Or a Tom Collins is both summery and old school, and can be easily adjusted for strength and sweetness to suit individual tastes.

        1. re: roundfigure

          Tom Collins are the perfect summer drink in my mind. As roundfigure pointed out you can easily adjust the amount of gin, sweetness and sourness for each person.

      2. I saw this recipe in Savuer Magazine and have adapted it for my own...although it may be difficult to cover all your requirements, this popped into my head as -perhaps- an 85% winner (and also backs up theginguy's suggestion)!!

        Pomegranate Sidecar

        Grand Marnier
        Fresh Sweet n Sour (prefer fresh lemon juice/simple syrup mix)
        Pomegranate Juice (POM prefer)
        Dash of bitters (recipe calls for orange bitters, but I think any interesting bitters will add a twist to this drink)

        Cheers, and good luck!!

        3 Replies
        1. re: cocktailqueen77

          So, Sidecar has the most votes so far...and apparently I can put it in a martini glass, and it certainly sounds old school. But...I'm unsure about cognac. I see you have specified a brand...would you suspect this will be much more palatable to me? My only cognac to date is something cheap I bought for Coq au Vin. Thanks!

          And in answer to Goomba above... I really don't drink anything but wine, so I don't want to stock a bar...plus I think my in-laws would not see "make your own" as a fun thing...they would think I was too lazy to make them a drink. Although I DO like the idea of going through a bartender's manual looking for nostalgia...conversation starters are a good thing!

          1. re: danna

            The only Cognac I like to drink is the real old stuff that is way out of my price range.

            I drink my sidecars with Bourbon. I don't like Cognac, but you have stated that you don't drink Bourbon. So I'm not sure what to say. I would hate for you to go out and buy a bottle of Cognac only to find out that you don't like it.

            I do like Sidecars though. they are pretty good and they'll mask the liquor pretty well. The Sidecar is an old cocktail with some history. The other thing, is that no one ever really orders sidecars anymore, so when I go to the bar, I get interesting looks from the bar tenders. :)

            1. re: theginguy

              Well if it is bourbon, it is not a Sidecar then. But I digress...

              Landy's Brandy is perfectly acceptable and tasty in a Sidecar. I do 2 parts brandy, one part lemon juice and one part Cointreau. You can play with the lemon and Cointreau proportions for your taste.

              cocktailqueen, do you just dump those ingredients indiscriminately into a shaker, or do you follow a recipe at all?

        2. I've made a lot of mojitos over the years. My new use for mint is the Gin Gin Mule. I think if it as a gin-and-gingered mojito.

          1. Sorry to hear you don't like boubon, because Lynchburg lemonade is a great summertime cocktail, and very easy to mix. I'll second the G&T recommendation, also gimlets are great in the summer (gin or vodka). I've been drinking a dark n' stormy or two lately, so if they have a taste for ginger, it's a +1.

            Anyway, if you hate bourbon, please send your julep cups on to those of us who can really put them to good use :)

            1. With the mint in your backyard, you should definitely look into Mojitos. You can also make them on the strong or weak side. Mojitos would be served in the old fashioned glass, or a tall glass.

              Sidecars are more fall-ish in my opinion, but the sugar rimmed glasses would appeal to your inlaws. It's fine to make them with brandy.

              Seventh Heaven is on my list to try for summer, and you could try that as well:
              Seventh Heaven

              * 1 3/4 ounce gin
              * 1/4 ounce fresh grapefruit juice
              * 1/2 ounce maraschino liqueur
              * fresh mint sprig

              Shake with cracked ice and strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a mint leaf.

              1. If you don't like bourbon -- a shame -- maybe you should try the classic British cocktail, the gimlet. Served cold in a cocktail glass (ie, your martini glass) with a twist of lime, it's a great throw back drink that only involves two ingredients (plus the twist of lime).

                2 oz. gin (Plymouth, Hendrick's, Junipero)
                1/2 oz. Rose's Lime Water (available in most liquor stores and grocery stores)
                Twist of lime for garnish

                Combine the gin and Rose's in shaker with ice, stir and strain into the glass. You can serve it on the rocks, but it's best straight up, or neat.

                1. Thanks all! I'm still reading this with excitement...keep 'em coming!

                  I like G&T, but their other son and wife are G&T sponges...so that's not what i'm looking for.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: danna

                    How about Sazeracs?

                    For the lightweights, you can serve them on the rocks for sipping and let the ice melt to water things down. A purist, like myself, would prefer them up.

                    Rye whiskey
                    Herbsaint, Pernod, etc.
                    Simple syrup
                    Bitters - Must be Peychaud's but CAN add Angustura in SMALL increments
                    Lemon twist


                    I have converted quite a few Cheeseheads (I'm in Madison, Wisc.) to this concoction.

                    1. re: Monch

                      I'm such a newb at this. What is Herbsaint, Pernod, etc.? Is it something that would be useful in cooking later? How does Peychaud differ from Angustura and is it readily available? at the liquor store? Does rye taste different from bourbon?

                      They are indeed from Madison (why they visit SC in summer rather than winter is a mystery to me.)

                      1. re: danna

                        No worries, Danna.

                        The Herbsaint is not easy to find, but Pernod is easy to get. It's an anise flavored liquer. Being in SC might make finding the Herbsaint easier.

                        Peychaud's is a very specific bitters and it's not a Saz without the Peychaud's....fact not opinion. Sorry.

                        I would think that you could use the Pernod later...Mine's strictly for Sazs!

                        The Peychaud's is available at a good liquor store (if you can make up a good story, ask your inlaw's to stop by Steve's Liquor on University Ave. They stock it.)

                        To my palate, rye is a wonderfully sweet whiskey as compared to bourbon.

                        All that being said, I use the Sazerac recipe at: www.gumbopages.com

                        To my way of thinking, the Old-Fashioned is just a knock-off of the wonderful Saz...And I've muddled my fair share of "real" Old-Fashioneds!

                        1. re: danna

                          Pernod or Herbsaint will both be useful for cooking, especially with fish dishes or soups. I have a bottle of Herbsaint for sazeracs, and at the rate I use it, I think it will outlive me, so sometimes I put a shot of it into a soup or stew. It is a potent flavor, though, so use sparingly.

                          1. re: ed1066

                            I've made a lovely mussel soup w/ Pernod.

                            1. re: MMRuth


                              Since I replaced my Pernod with the "real deal" Herbsaint, on a trip to Chicago, my Pernod has been lonely.

                              I'll introduce it, sparingly at first, to seafood!

                              I can already envision the pairing of flavors....and I approve!

                              1. re: Monch

                                If you want the recipe, I'll paraphrase it for you on the Home Cooking board - it's from Simon Hopkinson's Roast Chicken & Other Stories.

                    2. How about an old fashion. Can be as sweet as you would like, mulled fruit, sugar to taste, spash of bitters and rye, should be in a small rocks glass.

                      1. How about an AVIATION ?

                        2 ounces gin.
                        1/2 ounce maraschino liqueur.
                        1/4 ounce fresh lemon juice.

                        Shake with ice (10-15 seconds) and strain into a cocktail glass.
                        Garnish with a cherry.

                        Yummy, and doesn't really taste like gin....

                        8 Replies
                          1. re: jspear

                            Love 'em, and I am not a gin fan. I use Luxardo Maraschino and it is not too sweet.

                            1. re: dockhl

                              think you could substitute chambord?

                              1. re: jspear

                                I don't think so. The luxardo is a clear, non-sweet maraschino spirit, not at all like Chambord. But if you did, I think it would still be yummy, just very different !

                                1. re: dockhl

                                  Bought a bottle of Luxardo on the way home last night.

                                  Made an Aviation with Hendrick's and fresh lemon juice.

                                  I was impressed.

                                  Flavors I'm not used to in the Luxardo. Nice change from my Hendrick's martini.

                                  Thanks for the tip, doc.

                                  1. re: dockhl

                                    picking up the marashino on the way home for cocktails tonight

                                    1. re: jspear

                                      monch liked it ! I'll be interested to hear what you think ;)

                                      1. re: dockhl

                                        tried it, liked it, will be a nice substitute for my usual martini.....

                          2. My current taste treat: The Raspberry Mojito:

                            Macerate fresh mint with sugar
                            add fresh lime juice
                            add some raspberry puree (I use frozen)
                            Flor de CaƱa 7 year (or other decent golden rum)
                            a splash of club soda
                            serve over crushed ice with a mint.garnish

                            1. Possibly an Americano? Sweet and bitter and iced and attractive in a wine glass. I've seen various equal part recipes but I liked one part Campari to two parts Italian vermouth over ice with a splash of soda. Garnish with a half slice of orange if you have. Not too strong.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Up With Olives

                                My take on the New Fashioned from Primo in Orlando. Muddle several pitted cherries with thin slices of lemon, add ice then the next 3 ingrediants I eyeball, but you can adjsut to your on preference, good bourbon, I use Knob Creek, lemoncello & club soda. I prefer more knob, a little lemoncello & a splash of soda, Primo uses Processco instead of soda.

                                1. re: beteez

                                  Sounds good.

                                  Too bad the OP mentioned hated bourbon. Doesn't really work here.

                              2. In case you're interested...

                                I went with the mojitos. Or at least I pretended they were mojitos....I actually bought cachaca(because i was so excited to actually find it), so maybe they were caipirhinas w/ mint and club soda.

                                The Sazeracs got nixed because I couldn't find Peychauds and the Aviation was impossible because I couldn't find marachino liquer. I noticed in this weekend's Wall Street Journal that both of those were mentioned as classics enjoying a resurgence.

                                Thanks again for everyone's input, sorry I couldn't do them all.

                                1. Gotta have a Brandy Manhatten! Brandy with vermouth and a cupla good green olives. Classic Wisconsin Supper club choice.