If you’ve come this far, you’re a bona fide cocktail hobbyist. You appreciate the hand-crafted, nuanced concoctions you’ve had at the country’s best bars, and want to replicate these drinks at home. We’re not talking margaritas anymore, but rather Red Chile–Guava Margaritas with Chile-Infused Tequila and cayenne-spiked salt edging.
In Level 3, the ultimate pimped bar, we give you suggestions for more unusual liquors and mixers that top bar chefs around the country are using right now. You’ll be able to make cutting-edge drinks and obscure favorites. You’ll also get instructions for creating your own pickled vegetables and dried fruit for garnishes, homemade infused liquors and simple syrups, and fancier bar snacks.
Anise-flavored liqueur, such as Herbsaint, pastis, or Pernod Ricard
Apéritif, such as Amer Picon, Dubonnet, Lillet, or Torani Amer
Fortified dessert wines like port, Madeira, muscat, or Sauternes
Homemade infused alcohols (see below)
Unusual bitters, such as Fee Brothers, Peychaud’s, or Regan’s Orange Bitters
Special ingredients and unusual alcohols: Bénédictine for Artillery Punch, Cachaça for Caipirinha, Galliano for Harvey Wallbanger, Gosling’s Black Seal rum for Dark ’n’ Stormy, Luxardo maraschino liqueur for Aviation Cocktail, Milk vodka for the Quaker Shaker, orange flower water for Ramos Gin Fizz, Pimm’s No.1 for Pimm’s Cup, Velvet Falernum for Full Moon Punch, Licor Cuarenta y Tres, Mezcal, Nocino, Pisco, Unicum, Zubrowka
Homemade pickled garnishes: Pickled Jalapeños
Home-dehydrated fruit. Try a slice of dried strawberry in a glass of Champagne.
Infusing alcohol with herbs, fruit, and spices is an easy way to gain major points with your guests. Here are a few of our favorites:Bourbon infused with a vanilla bean to make a vanilla Mint Julep
Ginger-Infused Vodka to go in our Clear Ginger
Spicy Chile-Infused Tequila for our Red Chile–Guava Margarita
Oat and Honey Vodka
If you want to go all out, try these recipes for some great snacks—courtesy of our favorite watering holes.
Here are more recipes, adapted from some of our favorite chefs:
Wok-Charred Edamame with Spicy Miso and Ginger, by chef Chris Santos from The Stanton Social
To make the sauce, combine 1 cup each miso and sake with 1 teaspoon each fish sauce, five-spice powder, and hoisin sauce. Whisk to combine. Then add 1 tablespoon Sriracha and 3 teaspoons ginger juice. Season to taste with soy sauce and add a little sambal for spiciness if desired. Pour some grapeseed oil into an extremely hot wok or sauté pan. Add 1 cup of shell-on edamame per person and cook until lightly charred. Add 2 tablespoons water to help steam and cook the edamame. Once the water has evaporated, add enough sauce to coat the edamame. Cook until slightly reduced. (The final product will be saucy.)
Chorizo-Stuffed Dates, by chef Joshua Perkins from The Globe
Buy some high-quality fresh chorizo and some medjool dates. Remove the pits from the dates and fill them with chorizo. Wrap each date with smoked bacon, and sear the bacon-wrapped dates on all sides in a hot skillet until crisp, about 15 minutes, and serve.
Piquillo Peppers with Avocado Goat Cheese, from CiudadIn a food processor, pulse together 4 ounces of soft goat cheese with the flesh of 4 ripe avocados, the juice of a lemon or lime, a few dashes of Tabasco, and some salt and pepper. Drain a jar of piquillo peppers and pat dry with paper towels. Place the goat cheese mixture into a piping bag or Ziploc bag with one corner cut off. Stuff the peppers by filling each with the goat cheese–avocado mixture and serve.
Clear Ginger Cosmopolitan
Extra-Spicy Bloody Maria
Hillary Wallbanger (good use of Galliano)
Ginger Bloody Mary