Cordials

Time to be cordial (with our cocktails)

Use high-quality natural ingredients to make your own cordials. Matthew Benevoli photos

Cordials are often referred to as liqueurs or flavoured liquors; however, today we will be making the UK style of cordial, which is more akin to a concentrated syrup.

I’m sure we’ve all noticed and maybe even reached for that bottle of neon green lime cordial at the grocery store. Sure, it works “fine” in drinks like a classic Gimlet (which is simply gin and lime cordial, shaken and served in a chilled cocktail glass), but the artificial lime flavour can take away from the beautiful spirits we love. 

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Spiced rum

Give this DIY winter warmer a West Coast twist

Homemade spiced rum makes a good gift, especially for yourself. Matthew Benevoli photos

As the days get shorter and colder, we trade our Hawaiian shirts for sweaters and our light spirits for dark. Spiced rum is a wonderful way to warm up your cocktails during the autumn and winter. But what is spiced rum? In short, it’s (usually) an aged rum that’s been flavoured.

Modern versions of rum have been around since the 17th century, with accounts of “secret blend rums” in Jamaica flavoured with fruit, herbs and spices being served in Port Royal taverns. When spirits age in oak barrels, the wood commonly imparts rich flavours of vanilla and caramel, but beyond this you’ll find spice notes of allspice, nutmeg and clove, among others. Depending how the barrels are treated, you may also find toasted nut and stone fruit notes atop the woody oak blanket. “Spicing” with these components seems a natural evolution to further enhance the flavours that rum already presents us with.

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La Joya

La Joya. Matthew Benevoli photo

Matthew Benevoli’s La Joya uses his homemade ginger bug.

• 1.25 oz blanco tequila

• 0.5 oz elderflower liqueur

• 0.75 oz ginger bug

• 1 oz orange juice (preferably fresh-pressed)

• 0.25 oz lemon juice

• Garnish: lemon twist, orange slice or vibrant flower

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Ginger Bug Penicillin

Ginger Bug Penicillin. Matthew Benevoli photo

Matthew Benevoli’s Ginger Bug Penicillin uses his homemade ginger bug.

• 1.5 oz blended scotch whisky

• 0.75 oz fresh lemon juice

• 0.75 oz ginger bug

• 0.5 oz honey syrup (see note)

• 0.25 oz peated Islay scotch

• Garnish: piece of candied ginger or a lemon twist

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Ginger Bug

Fizzy and spicy, it’s the best base for summer’s most refreshing patio cocktails

To make the ginger bug, you will need ginger root, sugar and filtered water, as well as Mason jars, paper coffee filters or cheesecloth, and measuring tools. Matthew Benevoli photos

With the longer days and hotter weather just around the corner, let’s get a helping hand from nature. We’ll be creating something with some heat, a little bit sweet and bright as the summer: a ginger bug!

A ginger bug isn’t really a bug at all, but a naturally fermented ginger mixture with some sugar, water and a little time and care. For generations, naturally fermented soft drinks have been used as health tonics and as refreshments for everyone from laymen to royalty. Traditional ginger beer and ale used to be produced with the help of a ginger bug, and contained natural medicinal properties to ease cold symptoms and nausea (I’m sure we’ve all heard someone swear by sipping ginger ale for an upset stomach.)

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5 drinks every home bartender should know how to make

Our editor’s essential cocktails

An Old Fashioned is a classic cocktail every home bartender should know how to make. Getty images photo

Now that we’re all spending so much more time at home, this is a good opportunity to brush up on our home-bartending skills. That means learning at least a few recipes to serve to the people in your bubble and, eventually, all the many friends you’re making on Zoom.

The most important drink you should know how to make is the one you like best. That’s also the best advice for stocking your liquor cabinet, though for your sake I hope it’s something simple, like a highball, rather than, say, a Ramos Gin Fizz, which requires egg whites, orange blossom water and a seltzer bottle, among other things.

After that, it’s best to start with classics. They are, after all, classics for a reason—they taste good, and they work—but they are also a good place to start experimenting if you want to get creative. Here are five drinks every home bartender should have in their repertoire.

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The new home bar

Getty Images photo

Even before we found ourselves hunkering down at home trying to flatten the curve of a global pandemic, home bartending was already a growing trend. Once COVID-19 hit, though, we were all living in a world of cocktail kits and mixology livestreams and tutorials on how to arrange your bar cart.

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