If you’ve read my New Years Resolution post, you already know that 2016 was an emotional rollercoaster of a year – in a love/hate kind of way. I married the love of my life with the most perfect elopement, he moved to America not long after and we spent our first six months as newlyweds living apart. After leaving my job and moving to Chicago, times were still challenging as we navigated our new life. This period of adjustment (that I’m still in) made me realize the importance of finding balance in 2017 – whether it’s in my relationship with food/fitness, my mental health or how I choose to perceive my body each day.
Part of this balance is embracing the things I love – and not punishing myself if it’s not always the healthiest option (see: pizza, wine and Netflix marathons). Whether we’re celebrating a life event, meeting up with friends or having a date night, J and I both love cocktails. For Christmas, I gifted him bar tools and we finally overhauled our bar cart to no longer be a catch-all for knickknacks and mail. Last weekend we went out to purchase a few bar essentials in preparation for our two friends visiting next week. Living in Chicago, a city that still boasts a heavy speakeasy vibe, the cocktails here are unlike any we’ve had before. On New Years Eve we went to our favourite speakeasy/whiskey lounge for dinner and drinks, and left inspired.
After mixing up a couple of old fashioned’s and cozying up on the couch for a date night at home a couple weeks ago, we discovered the How To Drink YouTube channel – and before we knew it, we were several videos deep, watching Greg concoct everything from classic whiskey sours to a smoked rosemary G&T. Inspired by his laid back approach to at-home cocktails, we decided to try our own take on his Improved Whiskey Cocktail, and in an attempt to find balance in work/play, I have decided to do monthly cocktail features that talk about whatever is tickling our fancy at the moment.
Full disclosure: when I say “we,” I have to admit that my husband is the cocktail mastermind. While I provide lots of input by way of “I’d like to try a champagne or gin cocktail next,” I am not the mixologist who is inspired to concoct these delicious libations. And for the sake of full transparency I will admit that due to natural light disappearing earlier in the Midwest this time of year, we made, photographed and drank these delicious cocktails at 2 o’clock in the afternoon on a Sunday (in the name of photography).
Greg’s Improved Whiskey Cocktail calls for:
- 2 oz rye
- .25 oz maraschino
- .25 oz simple syrup
- 2 dashes of bitters
- 1 dash absinthe
- lemon peel garnish
We adjusted this recipe slightly:
- 2 oz whiskey
- .25 oz maraschino syrup
- 1 sugar cube (+ dash of water)
- 2 dashes bitters
- 1/2 bar spoon absinthe
- orange peel garnish
- Drop sugar cube, dash of water and two dashes of bitters in the base of a cocktail shaker, muddle until it has a syrup/paste consistency (add more water if necessary).
- Toss in ice (we use the large cube ones).
- Pour 2 oz of whiskey, .25 oz of maraschino syrup, two dashes of bitters and 1/2 bar spoon of absinthe over ice.
- Stir with your bar spoon until liquids mix, roughly 30 seconds.
- Once it is stirred, grab your strainer and pour into a tumbler or collins glass (or any glass you prefer, really!). Add a cherry and a twist of orange garnish (pro tip: twist the orange zest into the glass beforehand, then drop into the drink for a boost of flavour).
While our concoction wasn’t quite the same as Greg’s, I feel he’d appreciate our creativity at the cart because it was still delicious. Now we can’t wait for our guests to arrive so we can share this little treat with them!