9 Cocktail Recipes to Clear the Liquor Cabinet

Three NYC mixologists give you every reason to clear out your liquor cabinet this summer.


It’s finally here: margarita weather. After a seemingly endless season of stouts and burlier spirits — bourbon, Scotch, and so on — your drinking habits can take after your attitude, and lighten up.

However, let’s not get too loose. While no one will blame you for the occasional piña colada (they’re delicious, and anyone who says otherwise is compensating for something), there’s also no denying that a man who can work a shaker carries way more authority than a schlub pushing buttons on a blender. And with your calves on full display from now till August, you’ll need as much help as you can get in the authority department. That’s why we tapped three expert mixologists for top-tier recipes involving top-shelf spirits. So instead of stocking up on flavored Bacardi, take stock of what’s left in your liquor cabinet: It’s all fair game this summer, so start practicing.


Rick Hickman has served as Beverage Director at Cleaver Co.’s The Green Table, a small eatery serving sustainable meals and cocktails in New York City’s busy Chelsea Market, for five years, and he’s worked with founder Mary Cleaver for 20. Hickman’s cocktails echo the eatery’s farm-to-table ethos with ingredients often sourced from the local greenmarket; he is a regular contributor to workshops on sustainably sourced ingredients in the city and in 2010 contributed one of three recipes in Patron’s “Art of the Drink” line of signature seasonal cocktails.



The Brooklyn Basil Smash
1. In cocktail mixing glass (no ice), add:
1 ounce simple syrup or agave syrup
1 ounce lime juice
3 to 5 basil Leaves
Muddle well
2. Add:
2 ounces Greenhook Ginsmiths Gin, Ice
Shake well
3. Double strain into glass full of ice and garnish with basil leaf.
Glass: Small rocks glass or double Old Fashioned



The Old-Fashioned Kiss
1. In cocktail mixing glass (no ice), add:
2 ounces Breckenridge bourbon
1 ounce strawberry puree
1 ounce maple simple syrup
0.5 ounces lemon juice
Shake well
2. Strain into glass full of ice.
3. Garnish with fresh strawberry or lemon twist.
Glass: Old Fashioned rocks glass

Simple Syrup, Simplified
You see them when you visit the bar: those anonymous little glass bottles sitting with their labels turned away from you, like a wizened apothecary’s secret tonics. But making simple syrup is — well — simple; no moon cycles or incantations necessary. Just heat equal parts water and sweetener (whatever the recipe calls for, whether that’s organic sugar, agave, or honey) in a sauce pan until boiling, at which point the sugar will dissolve. To flavor the syrup (with basil, ginger, jalapeño or anything else), just tear or dice whatever it is you’re adding and let sit for about 5 hours. Leaves like basil and mint can be pureed in a blender, while jalapeños should be removed. If blending, be sure to strain with a cheesecloth.


Chris Cardone tends bar at White Street, a newly opened restaurant in Tribeca headed by Executive Chef Floyd Cardoz. The restaurant is a New York Magazine Critic’s Pick, and The Huffington Post calls it “a unique restaurant in the city, and sure to be copied by lesser hands.” But don’t shy from trying your hand at Cardone’s recipes, which focus on seasonal ingredients and flavors. This summer, that means a delicate balance of sweet and spicy.



1. In a cocktail mixing glass, add:
1.5 ounces Cabeza tequila
0.5 ounces Barrows Intense ginger liqueur (Alternative: muddled ginger)
0.75 ounces lime juice
0.5 ounces habanero-infused agave syrup
0.75 ounces rhubarb juice
Shake and strain into an ice-filled glass.
2. Garnish with a rhubarb ribbon.
Glass: Collins glass



1. In a cocktail mixing glass, add:
1.5 ounces Vida mezcal
0.5 ounces Ancho Reyes liqueur
0.75 ounces lime juice
0.75 ounce mango simple syrup
2. Shake and strain into a coupe glass.
3. Garnish with cayenne and cilantro leaf.
Glass: Champagne coupe



1. In a rocks glass, muddle:
0.5 ounces blackberry/sage shrub
3 lime wedges
2. Add:
1.5 ounces jalapeño-infused Leblon cachaça
0.5 ounces St. Germain
Pour into shaker, shake, and pour back into glass.
3. Garnish with sage and blackberry
Glass: Rocks glass

Boozin’ Infusion
Perfecting your infusion methods is the perfect way to cope with those damning April showers. The word is intimidating, but the process itself is anything but. Simply fill a mason jar with your intended fruit, matching cup for cup the amount of alcohol you intend to use (i.e. one cup of orange slices per cup of vodka), then let sit for 3 to 5 days, making sure to shake the jar once a day. A couple caveats: when peeling citrus you intend to use for infusion, you’ll want to remove as much of the pith as possible, as it will impart a bitterness to your final product. Simply chop the stem and bottom end of the fruit off so that you can see the pith clearly and cut accordingly. Lastly, act according to personal taste when infusing alcohol with a spicy veggie such as jalapeños. Try infusing multiple small batches of alcohol with different amounts of the spicy stuff to see what works for you.


Kenneth McCoy is the founder of The Rum House and Ward III in Times Square and Tribeca, respectively. Before he won us over with his expert taste in rum, he won the praise of New York Magazine (who named both his establishments Critic’s Picks), The Village Voice and Serious Eats, not to mention immortalization by a certain Oscar-winning 2014 film. And like any good cocktail, the buzz complements what’s inside. The cocktails below were crafted by Matt Tripoli, Ken Gray and Abdul Tabini at both Ward III and The Rum House.



Hotel Diplomático
1. In a cocktail mixing glass, add:
2 ounces Diplomático Añejo rum
0.5 ounces apricot liqueur or schnapps
1 slice pineapple, diced
1 half lime (squeeze)
0.25 ounces simple syrup
2. Double strain into champagne coupe.
3. Garnish with pineapple slice.
Glass: Champagne coupe

Rye Whiskey


Rye Not?
1. In a cocktail mixing glass, add:
2 ounces Old Overholt Rye
1 ounce lime juice
1 bar spoon raspberry
1 ounce mint syrup
2 dashes cardamom tincture or crushed cardamom
2. Strain into cordial glass — no ice.
3. Garnish with mint leaf
Glass: Cordial



The Moroccan
1. In a cocktail mixing glass, add:
2 ounces orange-infused vodka
1 ounce lime juice
0.75 ounces simple syrup
1 splash orange juice
5 to 6 mint leaves

2. Strain into cordial glass — no ice, no garnish.
Glass: Cordial


The People’s Republic of China lends us an ancient secret — dating all the way back to the shrouded, mythic year of 2008, when Forbes first reported on the booming popularity of a certain mixed drink on the streets of Hong Kong: Scotch and green tea. If that’s sacrilege to you, then do as the Buddhists do and let go of your attachments. That bottle of Dewar’s that’s been pulling you through the winter. It deserves to let loose just as much as you do.



The Chairman
1. In a glass, pour three parts chilled green tea per one part Dewar’s.
2. Stir and enjoy.
Glass: Highball

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