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COCKTAILS FOR TWO: How to play with drink recipes on a night in

Experiment with drink recipes at home. 1 / 2
Pina Colada. 2 / 2

On Fridays we drink — but not like we used to.

Back in the day, quantity superseded quality. Nights ended with a medicinal dose of a gas station burrito called The Bomb.

These days, he labors over a single drink for both of us. As he shakes, strains and pours, he tells me the drink’s origin. I arrange hors d’oeuvres on a plate and Instagram the final result.

We call this “Cocktails for Two” and hashtag it #cocktails42.

We spend more time at home than we used to.

We were trending that direction even before there was a baby sleeping upstairs. There is something about coming home from work at the end of the week, closing the front door and having all your favorite people trapped in the same 1,200 square feet of space.

The cocktail hobby started simply: I just wanted a margarita and he knew where he could find some tequila.

After that we began brainstorming drinks we had heard of, but never tried — like a Mai Tai, and drinks I was afraid of, like a Dirty Martini.

Drinks begat other drinks.

When he bought the Galliano to make a Harvey Wallbanger, the cashier said “We used to use that to make Golden Cadillacs.”

The Galliano ended up under our sink, the only space tall enough for the long, lean bottle. The Golden Cadillac landed on our list. 

Sometimes there are failures: The Club Soda balance was off on the Tom Collins. The El Presidente, a rum-based drink, could’ve burnt the nail polish off my thumbs.

He starts plotting next week’s experiment even as we’re sipping this week’s pick.

He searches for popular drinks from specific decades. He reads the back story. He considers the accessibility of ingredients.

I find a complementary appetizer, something with cheese or artichokes or bread and orange-infused olive oil.

Truth: we make a pretty big freaking deal over what will ultimately be one drink. But that’s the fun of it.

We’ve been at this for more than three months, and the experiment has introduced us to drinks that are seemingly flammable or layered and complex. He’s been up to his elbows in coconut cream, and I’ve learned how a raw egg can really grease the gullet.

Meanwhile, our liquor cabinet has gotten really exciting.

Here is some of the best that we’ve tried. No pre-made mixes allowed.

(BTW: Tonight we’re drinking Grasshoppers).

 Commodore No. 2

This is a complex drink that tastes different with each sip: first lemon, then chocolate.

Either way, it’s a flavorful treat.

We had this with Torino Panino, a cheese log rolled with salami, sundried tomatoes, arugula and gorgonzola. (I bought it at Gannucci’s Italian Market).

Of course, this one is best paired with “Easy” by Commodores.

This, our resident mix-master has declared, is his favorite. So far.

1 1/2 ounces bourbon

1 ounce white crème de cacao

1/2 ounce lemon juice

2 dashes Angostura bitters

Dash of grenadine

Shake ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker.

 Golden Cadillac

So the legend goes, this after-dinner drink was created in the early 1950s at Poor Red’s Bar-B-Q, a joint in El Dorado.

A young couple stopped by the bar — in a golden Cadillac — to celebrate their engagement and wanted to have a cocktail created in their honor.

The result: This creamy dessert drink.

This would play well with some Rosemary Clooney, which would pay homage to the drink’s DOB.

1 ounce Galliano

1 ounce White Crème de Cacao

1 ounce cream

Dark chocolate shavings

Shake ingredients with ice and double strain into chilled cocktail glass. Top with shaved chocolate.

 Harvey Wallbanger

This one seems to have been born of a surfer during the Gidget era and had its heyday during the reign of “The Love Boat.”

It’s believed to be the drink that tried to kill the old school cocktail. Harvey Wallbanger was part of the sweet drink movement that led to self-contained drink mixes and fern bars (bars known for fern plant decor, ie: TGIFridays) that stole the spotlight from, say, a dirty martini.

This orange juice drink is mixed then topped with a layer of Galliano, a liqueur that gives each sip an extra shot of vanilla-licorice flavor.

Harvey Wallbanger tops my cocktail list. After I retire, I plan to trade out my morning oatmeal in favor of this perfectly capable breakfast drink.

We drank to the sweet sounds of Juice Newton and, caught without a specific snack, raided a Frito-Lay variety pack for Sun Chips, pretzels and baked Cheetos.

1 1/2 ounce vodka

1/2  ounce Galliano

Orange juice

Pour vodka and OJ over ice into a chilled glass. Float Galliano on top.

 Pina Colada

A few years ago, I made a vegan chocolate cake that relied heavily on avocados for its smooth, chocolate texture.

It was good-ish.

I’d been up to my elbows in avocados during prep, so I couldn’t get the taste of avocados out of my head as I ate.

The mix-master experienced something similar, re: canned coconut cream. The congealed top gave way to a sticky and thick under layer and that ruined the drink for him.

Not me, man.

This is some sweet, essence-of-pineapple summer fare.

We enjoyed it with hard white cheddar and crackers. Skip the Jimmy Buffet, that’s overkill.

2 ounce light rum

2 ounce pineapple juice

1 1/2 ounce of coconut cream

Pineapple wedge and cherry garnish

Pour ingredients into cocktail shaker with ice, shake, strain into chilled glass. Garnish with fruits.  

 Whiskey Sour

The hardest part about this one, oddly enough, was finding pasteurized eggs.

The what?


This sour-sour drink has a touch of “Rocky” silently coexisting with the other more conventional drink ingredients.

The egg white gives the drink a really smooth flow, but it’s an ingredient that can be ditched out for those wary of raw eggs.

We added a Merlot & Cheddar cheese spread.

2 ounce whiskey

1 ounce lemon juice

1 ounce simple syrup

1 egg white

Cherry for garnish

Pour ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass.