Now that you've eased into the practice of virtual cocktail parties/happy hour via Zoom or FaceTime to connect with those you can't share libations with in person, it's time to take your mixology skills to the next level. At the beginning of social distancing, it was all about grabbing whatever sprits you had around (or were still available on the shelves), but if you're now sincerely enjoying this newfound form of socialization, perhaps it's time to switch things up. And you don't need much to make it happen: Plenty of three-ingredient-or-less cocktails feel just as fancy as ones you'd get at the bar, and your friends will love learning a new concoction as well.
Many people have been using this quarantine period to perfect their culinary craft, including baking bread or trying out new and healthy recipes. So why shouldn't you do the same with your home bartending? Of course you already know the basics when it comes to simple cocktails: vodka soda, the requisite spritz, or rum and coke. But with the same amount of effort, you can add a whole new drink to your repertoire. And during these times, such little pleasures really matter.
Enough talk — it's time to start mixing. Whether you're looking for something that uses ingredients you've already got lying around, or you're open to something that includes a new product to add to your bar cart, the eight cocktails ahead are minimal in effort, but majorly enjoyable (including a boozy take on the whipped coffee trend). Try them all while you're safely sheltering at home or long after.
Simple Cocktail To Make At Home: Spiked Whipped Coffee
“The Dalgona coffee is everywhere right now," says Carol Pak, founder of Makku, a Korean rice beer. "Since it originated in Korea, we naturally came up with a makgeolli-infused version. Now you can unwind while also getting a pick-me-up!” To make it, whisk together 1 tablespoon of instant coffee, 1 tablespoon of hot water, and 1 tablespoon sugar until you achieve creamy soft peaks. Pour the rice beer in the glass — where you'd normally add your milk — then top with the whipped coffee.
Simple Cocktail To Make At Home: Champagne 2.0
Got a bottle of bubbly laying around? “Instead of just drinking champagne, liven up your night in by adding just some simple ingredients you probably already have in your pantry or bar cart," says bartender Gabe Briseno of Los Angeles-based bar Employees Only. For this concoction, start by topping a sugar cube (or a little simple syrup) with two dashes of bitters in your glass. Then add your Prosecco or Champagne and garnish with lemon twist.
Simple Cocktail To Make At Home: Caipiroska
Briseno recommends stocking up on citrus when you can, since it can add a ton of flavor to any cocktail, and a perfect example is this sweet but stiff drink that only requires 2 ounces vodka, six pieces of lime, and .75 simple syrup or 2 brown sugar cubes. Add a splash of soda water if you desire.
Simple Cocktail To Make At Home: "Eat Your Veggies" Martini
The use of flavored bitters is an easy way to make any drink more exciting, says Lauren Trickett, brand ambassador for wine brand Lillet. "Bitters are an incredibly flavorful and cost-effective way to completely change up your go-to at home cocktail (not to mention they are also shelf stable so you'll have zero waste)." Her favorite creative use is a twist on a dirty martini, using the flavor of celery in lieu of olive. Mix 1.5oz Lillet Blanc, 1.5 ounces gin, and three dashes celery bitters, then serve up or on the rocks — bonus points if you're able to garnish with a little celery stalk or leaf.
Simple Cocktail To Make At Home: Rosso Dolce Spritz
Sweet red wine lovers, this one's for you. Vipra dreamed up this cocktail that combines Rosso Dolce, sparkling wine, and a splash of sweet vermouth. The latter of these gives the drink balance and complexity, and it's a nice departure from your usual Aperol spritz.
Simple Cocktail To Make At Home: Lambrusco Shandy
Wine brand Riunite created this take on the standard beer-plus-lemonade drink that's a summer favorite. But in this case, you'll replace the brew with Lambrusco, a dry, sparkling red wine.
Simple Cocktail To Make At Home: Boozy Popsicle
This boozy frozen treat looks and tastes impressive, but it's actually incredibly simple to make. “Just blend any type of milk, spirit, and fruit that you have in your kitchen and pour into popsicle molds for the freezer," says Jeremy Allen, General Manager and Head Bartender at MiniBar in Los Angeles. "There’s no set recipe, but a rough ratio is 2 parts milk, 1 part booze, and 1 part fruit. One of my favorite combos is Vanilla Rice Milk (sweetened is good here), Cachaca, and Raspberries.”
Simple Cocktail To Make At Home: Spa Blah Blah
A boozy version of spa water? Yes please. Suzanne Perry, Co-Owner of Florida's Datz suggests this cocktail that's so beloved, the restaurants have been offering make-at-home-kits for customers in quarantine. “The Datz kit comes with a bottle of Hendrick’s gin, four bottles of Mr. Q Cumber Soda, and fresh cucumber slices. But, if you’re not here in the Tampa/St. Pete area, grab any bottle of gin you can find, some Mr. Q via your local Whole Foods or Instacart, and a cucumber and you can mix up some fun on your own!”