Shaken, Not Stirred
Making these summertime cocktails at home can provide a refreshing taste of the familiar.
by Bill Donahue

“I miss hearing the words, ‘Would you like to start a tab?’” “I just want to walk into a restaurant and enjoy a nice glass of wine or a good cocktail with food that was made by someone other than me.” “That sounds like a conversation we’ll have to have at a bar once all this is behind us.” 

A sense of normalcy seems to be what people miss most about the COVID-19 lockdown. For many, as the above sentences plucked from conversations with friends, co-workers, and loved ones suggest, this includes the ability to walk into a bar or restaurant and enjoy an adult beverage in the company of those closest to us.

While those benchmarks may still be a little farther off than most people would like, we can still enjoy an ersatz bar experience—say, a house-made cocktail shared with friends during a weekly Zoom call.

To help, we’ve enlisted the support of three distillers with local ties: Boardroom Spirits, which is based in Lansdale; Caledonia Spiritswhich is headquartered in Montpelier, Vt., but has representation on the back bars of restaurants and taverns throughout the Greater Philadelphia Area; and Five Saints Distilling, which is based in Norristown. All three provided some of their favorite recipes for summertime cocktails featuring their fine spirits. 

Blood Orange Mojito
1 oz. Five Saints Slow Distilled Vodka
1 oz. Five Saints Blood Orange Liqueur
6 mint leaves
0.75 oz. lime juice
2 oz. simple syrup

Shake with a scoop of ice, add to glass and top with soda water.

Recipe courtesy of Five Saints Distilling 

The Bee’s Knees
2 oz. Barr Hill Gin
0.75 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
0.75 oz. Raw Honey Syrup (2:1)
Lemon twist garnish

Combine ingredients in a mixing tin, add ice, shake, then double strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Add garnish.

Recipe courtesy of Caledonia Spirits

White Negroni
1.5 oz. Barr Hill Gin
0.75 oz. blanc vermouth
0.75 oz. Suze (French bitters)
Lemon garnish

Combine gin, blanc vermouth, and bitters in a mixing glass, and add ice. Stir until well chilled. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Add garnish.  

Recipe courtesy of Caledonia Spirits

Jungle Cat
1.5 oz. Tom Cat Gin
0.75 oz. Campari
1.5 oz. fresh pineapple juice
0.5 oz. fresh lime juice
0.5 oz. Vermont Grade A dark, robust maple syrup

Combine ingredients in a mixing tin, add ice, shake, and strain over crushed ice in a tiki mug, if available. Garnish liberally with a Campari-soaked pineapple, cherries, or pineapple leaves. 

Recipe courtesy of Caledonia Spirits

Cucumber Gin and Tonic 
1.5 oz. Boardroom Gin 
7.5 oz. cucumber-infused tonic 

Top with club soda. Garnish with juniper and thinly sliced cucumber. 

Recipe courtesy of Boardroom Spirits

Editor’s note: If you have the wherewithal and can do so in a safe manner, buy a gift card for future use or purchase a take-home meal from an independently owned restaurant nearby. Doing so may help the restaurant’s owner—and everyone the restaurant employs—a great deal during a terribly uncertain time. 

Photograph courtesy of Caledonia Spirits

Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Life magazine, May 2020.