How to make it work with what you got.


Feel like a drink? Yeah, so do we. But as we all “shelter in place,” this obviously isn’t the time to check out a new bar. Instead, let’s just check out your fridge: There’s something in there we can make a cocktail with.

Carey Jones

Jams, citrus, herbs, and pantry staples like honey and sugar: These are all the building blocks of great cocktails. And as long as you’ve got at least one bottle of liquor and a little ingenuity, it’s still possible to make a fabulous drink. Try these three formulas to work with whatever you’ve got on hand.

If You’ve Got: Herbs and Citrus

Carey Jones

It doesn’t matter what spirits you have, as long as you’ve got some kind of bottle: If you have citrus and fresh herbs kicking around, you’ve got the makings of a refreshing cocktail. Here’s our formula: Herbs, citrus, booze, sugar (in the form of simple syrup), and something bubbly, like club soda or tonic.

(Simple syrup is just granulated sugar dissolved in hot water, 1:1. But you can use another sweetener, too: Honey, Sugar in the Raw, agave nectar, take your pick.)

Let’s say you’ve got gin, basil, lime, simple syrup, and soda: That’s a basil rickey. (Try with vodka, or white rum, or even tequila.) For a little more complexity, omit the simple and swap out soda for tonic.

Carey Jones

White rum, mint, lime, simple, soda: That’s just a classic mojito. (It’ll work with gin or vodka, too.) Bourbon, basil, lemon, simple, and ginger beer would be delicious; so would bourbon with mint, grapefruit, simple, and soda. Rye, rosemary, lemon, simple, and ginger beer, too—or a drier version with soda rather than ginger beer. And vodka, lemon, rosemary, simple, and soda will taste like a fresh, herbal lemonade.

Whatever your ingredients, here’s the method: In the bottom of a cocktail shaker, muddle 5 basil leaves or 1 rosemary sprig. (Or if you’re using mint, drop in 8 mint leaves and press gently with a muddler.) Add an ounce and a half of spirit, an ounce of fresh citrus juice, and half an ounce of simple syrup. Add ice and shake until well-chilled. Strain into a tall glass with fresh ice. Top with two ounces of something bubbly. Garnish with more citrus or herbs.

If You’ve Got: Booze and Bitters

Carey Jones

An Old Fashioned is, of course, a venerable cocktail, but it’s also one that’s infinitely adaptable. In an ideal world, we’ll take ours with a great 100-proof rye like Rittenhouse. But we’ll also drink an Old Fashioned with any kind of bourbon. Or Jack Daniel’s, for that matter. Or an añejo tequila, or dark rum, or Cognac… Even gin. Why not?

Here’s what you do need: Spirit. Bitters. Ice. A sweetener. And citrus to garnish.

Be creative: Bourbon, maple syrup, and Angostura bitters. Dark rum, raw sugar syrup, and orange bitters. Gin, honey syrup, and rhubarb bitters, with a lemon twist. Sky’s the limit.

Method: In a mixing glass with ice, combine two ounces of booze, ¼ ounce simple syrup, and two dashes of bitters. Stir until very well-chilled, then strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice. Garnish with a thick twist of orange, or lemon, or both.

If You’ve Got: Jam and a Lemon

Carey Jones

If you’re limiting grocery runs at the moment, fresh fruit might be at a premium. But do you have a bottle of jam kicking around the back of your fridge? Maybe a lemon, too? You’re in business.

A tablespoon of jam adds rich fruit flavor to a cocktail, and almost never goes bad. As for the spirit, something light works for sure: Vodka, white rum, gin, even an unaged brandy like pisco. Whiskey would work great with an orange marmalade or berry jam. And if you’d like to use tequila or mezcal, and swap the lemon for lime, you’ve got something like a fruity margarita.

Other than sticky-sweet, PB&J-style grape jelly, almost anything would work here: Raspberry jam, orange marmalade, mango-ginger compote, blueberry or blackberry preserves…

Method: In a cocktail shaker with ice, combine two ounces of spirit, an ounce of fresh lemon juice, half an ounce of simple syrup (knock down to a quarter-ounce if your jam is very sweet), and a tablespoon of jam. Shake hard, to break up all those jammy bits, then strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice. Garnish with whatever citrus or herbs you have (or don’t).