With my recent mixology education, it’s pretty easy for me to look beyond the simple concoctions. After all, I have been reading recipes from established bartenders who use creative blends of liquors, liqueurs, non-traditional mixers, fruits, vegetables, seasonings, herbs and other ingredients to bring their cocktails to life.
Most people my age grew up going to bars that cranked out fairly basic cocktails, and so that was what we became accustomed to. There is nothing especially exciting about a rum and coke or vodka and soda. Sometimes those work. I’ve just reached a point where I want to try something a bit more sophisticated than a gin and tonic (despite being my go-to mixed drink for a stretch, a gin and tonic is something I can’t imagine ever having again because gin just doesn’t do it for me anymore). People drink what they become accustomed to; Martinis and Manhattans were what our parents or grandparents drank.
Having said all of that, the simple drinks are still good and certainly have their place. And it’s hard to beat a vodka and Fresca. It’s clean and refreshing every time. Unfortunately, I’ve yet to come across a bar that serves Fresca. But vodka and Fresca make a winning combination. I occasionally like to add a splash of Midori melon, Ty-Ku citrus or X-Rated orange liqueur for a change of pace, but simple vodka and Fresca never fails.
Another way to change up a soda-mixed cocktail is to add a couple shakes of bitters. Bourbon and 7-Up or Ginger Ale take on new flavors with bitters, a quality maraschino cherry and a little cherry juice.
It’s worth trying a few simple additions to find what works for you. Before you know it, you’ll be adding any number of fruits, herbs, spices, or liqueurs to your simple cocktails and discover your inner mixologist.