This Month’s Mixology Monday is hosted by Chris Amirault at the eGullet forums. Chris has suggested for the theme, “Like That? You’ll Love This!” Here’s how he describes it:

Here’s the story. At the bar where I now work, I regularly receive requests for the bar staples of the late 20th century, espresso martinis, appletinis, and other things that end inappropriately in -tini. Though these are standard-issue drinks at most bars, Cook & Brown Public House aims for a classic approach that eschews the pucker line, flavored vodkas, and bottled sour mix.

I’ve been talking with other bartenders and they, too, want to find a balance between customer service and stocking products that they can’t or won’t back. In addition, a well-made tweak of someone’s favorite can be just the ticket through the gate to the sort of quality cocktails you want to serve guests at home or at work. Hence this MxMo, devoted to sharing gateway drinks that allow you to say, “If you like that, you’ll love this!”

With that in mind, lets get to work. Currently I am not employed at a bar, and most of the people that come to my home bar know what kind of drinks I make. However, when I have someone new over and ask them what they would like, I often get answered by blank stares. Knowing that many of these people are used to sweeter, sugary drinks, I will ask them what they usually get. A Lemon Drop is by far the most common answer, and I think the easiest gateway cocktail to work with. Almost every bar makes at least an approximation of one, and it’s really not that bad of a cocktail. Being of the sour family, it’s formulation is about the same as a classic Daiquiri, or a Whiskey Sour, or a Sidecar. All of which I would consider great cocktails. So with that in mind, some simple tweaks of said Lemon Drop can be a great way to educate someone, and get them deeper into the world of cocktails.

We’ll take our basic sour formula of 2-1-1, and mix up our Lemon Drop.

Lemon Drop
2 oz Citrus Vodka
1 oz Simple Syrup
1 oz Lemon Juice

Now we have a couple of choices for our next iteration. We could replace the vodka with gin, we could replace the simple syrup with an orange liqueur, we could add bitters, or we could do all three. I usually will do maybe two of the three, with the goal of slowly working in other ingredients slowly. So lets do that and see how it works.

Improved Lemon Drop
2 oz Citrus Vodka
1 oz Cointreau
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
2 dashes Lemon or Orange Bitters


Gin Sour
2 oz Gin
1 oz Simple Syrup
1 oz Lemon Juice
2 Dashes Lemon Bitters

With these drinks we have taken a simple vodka sour and made it more interesting by substitution and/or addition. Neither drink is a bold departure from the original as to not scare the person away, but both are still more complex (in taste, not execution) than the original. From here we can continue down the white spirits list and introduce the Collins, French 75, Daiquiri, or we can introduce some dark spirits in the form of a Sidecar, Whiskey Sour, etc. Choosing a basic cocktail and slowly expanding it is a great way to get someone to expand their drinking sights. And when they have been to the good side, I don’t think most will want to go back. Cheers, and thanks again to Chris for hosting. Be sure to check out the eGullet Forums for the roundup!