While we physically distance, we’re pining for the bars and restaurants that excited our palates and fueled conversations that meandered into early morning. To bridge the gap, we checked in with award-winning mixologists to see how they’re weathering the storm, and asked them to share their favorite cocktail recipes for sheltering in place.
Bartender and Co-Owner, Tayēr + Elementary (London)
Staying at home in a small South East London flat has been a striking change from Monica Berg’s days and nights at Tayēr + Elementary, the vibrant East London bar she runs alongside partner Alex Kratena.
Being physically distanced has reinforced for Berg that a bar is about much more than a good cocktail. While we may be sipping spirits at home, what we’re missing is each other. "The social impact of bars is often undervalued," she says. "We miss being in service, and having our team and regulars around us."
Berg’s home bar mainstays are: gin (Berg prefers Hepple from Northumberland, UK), aquavit ("Preferably a Norwegian one, and if I had to choose only one, it would be Gammel Opland Madeira") and last, but not least, tequila ("Preferably Tapatio or Calle 23—although most of the bottles on our shelf are mezcal, which we love!").
Berg shares one secret with us: "The most underestimated ‘ingredient’ is ice. Always use ice generously—and if you, like us, like large-format ice cubes, you can buy silicone molds online and make them at home!"
Monica Berg’s At-Home Cocktail: Dry Martini
"A good martini is all about ratios and temperature," says Berg. "If you want to have a great martini at home with less work, you can batch it up and pop it in the freezer. One important thing to remember is that since you are not stirring the drink on ice, you have to make up for that dilution when you batch; otherwise the drink will come out unbalanced and too strong. You can experiment with the right ratios for you, but we like our martinis on the wet side, and with 18% dilution," which you’ll find in the recipe below.
475 mL Hepple gin
142.5 mL Noilly Prat dry vermouth
111 mL filtered water
Pop it in the freezer, and leave it for a few hours, and it will be ready to drink. When you are ready to serve, simply pour into a frozen martini glass, and zest a lemon peel over the drink.
Charles Joly—global bartending champion and James Beard Award–winning beverage designer—and his rescue pup are sheltering in his early-20th century Logan Square two-flat. Joly demolished and rehabilitated the building, specifically designing an open floor plan so the living room, dining room, kitchen and bar flow seamlessly. "[The bar] doubles as my lab," he says. "It’s mostly reclaimed wood; lots of my antiques and vintage books are at hand and organized (most of the time) as a real bar would be."
Seated atop one of Joly’s barstools, one would see a backbar well stocked with what he describes as "whiskey-drinker rums, an under-appreciated category that is coming up quickly" alongside tequila and mezcal—and for something low-proof, amaro and vermouth.
For those of us at home with less experience than the masters, Joly recommends we "experiment and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Keep a little cocktail journal and note any adjustments you make along the way. Use a jigger to make sure you’re making the same cocktail every time. Don’t let that produce over-ripen or go to waste—convert it into flavored syrups, ice cubes, infused sugars."
Charles Joly’s At-Home Cocktail: Done Right Daiquiri
Joly’s Daiquiri is not the pink slushie of tropical vacations past. "Few cocktails have gotten more of a bad wrap than the daiquiri," he laments, "a victim of countless slushie machines and fake fruit flavors. The classic, though, is perfection in simplicity. Just three main ingredients—the holy trinity of rum, lime, and sugar—but offering endless opportunity to personalize. Done right, the daiquiri is the perfect porch sipper, Zoom companion, or fit for your free hand while vacuuming."
"I like to blend two or three rums to build the base: something aged four to eight years as the foundation in the Spanish style, something with a bit more depth and richness, and a kiss of funk from Jamaican pot-stilled or even rhum agricole. Then add fresh lime, simple syrup, and a dash of complementing bitters—Angostura is lovely, or get creative with something like Bittered Sling’s Moondog.
As with any cocktail, make it your own. Only have white rum? Great, toss it in there. Play with the balance to make it right for you (or whomever you’re making it for)—cocktails aren’t baking, you can play with proportions to customize."
Done Right Daiquiri
1 oz Ron Zacapa Centenario rum
¾ oz Plantation Barbados 5-Year rum
¼ oz Plantation Xaymaca rum
1 oz lime juice
¾ oz simple syrup (1:1 ratio)
Dash Angostura bitters or Bittered Sling Moondog bitters
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with lime twist or wheel.
Ryan Chetiyawardana, aka Mr Lyan
Ryan Chetiyawardana, aka Mr Lyan, has been playing with different techniques and flavor profiles in his London home. For him, taking a step back, slowing down, and being open to fresh ideas has led to fun discoveries.
Chetiyawardana has found himself leaning into highballs and aperitifs and delving deeper into unexpected flavors. His exploration has spanned from pickling experiments to incorporations of tea and sherry into his cocktails.
When asked about his mixology discoveries, he explains, "I was surprised by how far I could push the savory element. I’ve used plenty of savory elements over the years, but have stuck pretty close to a standard balance. There’s been a couple of almost dashi-esque experiments that have been a little odd at first, but have been enjoyable and suited to blurring into dinner!"
It’s fitting, then, that Chetiyawardana’s secret ingredient is often salt: "I’ve been saying this for 15 years after learning it from my mum, who was a pastry chef, but it’s something people are still wary of throwing into their drinks. That, and absinthe—but less is more with both."
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Ryan Chetiyawardana’s At-Home Cocktail: Shelter Spritz
Chetiyawardana has been enjoying a vermouth/sherry and kombucha spritz, aptly named after this time. As he describes it, the cocktail has "the effervescence and length of a highball, but with a softer profile" that he recommends especially as the weather starts to warm.
60 mL Aecorn non-alcoholic aperitif, sherry, or vermouth
100 mL kombucha
2 slices fruit, or 1 sprig of herb
Build over ice in a wine glass, stir gently, add more ice, then garnish.
Nesting into his cozy Parisian apartment with his girlfriend and cat, Rory Shepherd finds himself working his way through bottles gifted to him while traveling the globe during online aperitif sessions with friends and family.
Shepherd keeps Baldoria, a vermouth made by him and his team, at hand, and it has been "involved in pretty much every home cocktail I’ve made." With a newfound interest in dirty martinis and time to play with pickling, Shepherd envisions house pickles and brine joining his menu in the future.
Rory Shepherd’s At-Home Cocktail: A Bellini-Inspired Drink
As the weather warms, Shepherd finds himself reaching for highballs and light, sparkling drinks. He has been making what he calls "bellini-ish structure drinks" with a fruit puree that is then topped up with bubbles. Shepherd enjoys it by his window "in the evening sun eating olives and saucisson. A proper aperitif!"
Shepherd’s Bellini-Inspired Drink:
Granny Smith apple puree
Topped with a natural sparkling wine
Head mixologist at Apotheke LA (Los Angeles)
Surrounded by gardens, Nicolas O’Connor’s Echo Park bungalow doesn’t have nearly all of the bartending tools that Apotheke LA has at hand, so he finds himself exploring new territory.
"For the first time in nearly a decade, I haven’t had access to high-quality, reverse osmosis–filtered ice," says O’Connor. "My fridge makes less-than-desirable ice chips, and I have been having some dilution issues as a result. This led me to employ a technique I had only occasionally attempted and associated as lower-brow: mixing cocktails in a blender. Over the last month, I’ve been experimenting with blending complex formulas and look forward to implementing some of my discoveries into the Apotheke mixology program soon."
In addition to his blended beverages, O’Connor has "been enjoying experimenting with low ABV spirits: amaros, aperitivos, digestives, liqueurs, and wines—which all have such a diverse range of flavors and blend well with fresh, plant-based ingredients. Plus, I can have a couple more cocktails than if I were drinking full-proof."
For those mixing drinks at home, O’Connor recommends using fresh citrus to liven things up. "I’ve been using fresh lemon, lime, grapefruit, and blood oranges in everything lately," he says, "not only for the bright, bold energy they provide, but also as a balancing agent for some of my more creative concoctions. Ninety percent of the cocktails I make at home are shaken, not stirred. When shaking a cocktail, the molecules expand and oxidize, allowing ingredients to pop and flow together more seamlessly. Citrus helps with balancing the imperfections of alcohol while adding a vibrancy that captures the taste buds, enhances other flavors, and brings you back wanting another taste."
Nicolas O’Connor’s At-Home Cocktail: Kale in Comparison
The Kale in Comparison packs not only a punch of big and bold flavor, but sneaks in some nutrition, too: "Kale, pineapple, and ginger help with digestion, and are all loaded with vitamins and antioxidants—making for an all-around nutritious cocktail."
"When making a Kale in Comparison, be sure to taste every ingredient separately and make small adjustments to taste," he advises. "No two ingredients are ever exactly the same. A lime from California you use today might be sweeter than a lime from Mexico you buy tomorrow. The recipe is a formula to be used as a guide. Feel free to alter and adjust the measurements. Enjoy the process. You never know what could happen!"
Kale in Comparison
2 oz Fair Quinoa vodka
1 oz kale pineapple puree*
.75 oz lime juice
.5 oz simple syrup
.25 oz ginger water
Anise & sea salt rim
Kale leaf garnish
For the kale pineapple puree, use:
1 whole pineapple, cubed
4 oz kale juice
1 oz lime juice
1 oz simple syrup
Place all ingredients into a blender. Blend until there’s a smooth viscosity. Place in a container and keep refrigerated.
Measure all ingredients into a shaker tin and add ice. Shake vigorously. Cut a piece of citrus (preferably a blood orange) in half, and rub the entire rim of a coupe glass against the middle, coating the rim. Dip a coupe glass in the anise sea salt, creating an even line of salt around the rim. Strain contents of the shaker into your coupe glass. Garnish with fresh kale.
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