Four Oscar-worthy cocktail recipes from Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street
Fun twists on classic drinks make for a festive evening.
These recipes are part of a new partnership between Christopher Kimball and the cooks at Milk Street and the Globe Magazine’s Cooking column.
At Milk Street, we like our cocktails the way we like our food — built from ingredients that add layers of flavor yet remain light and bright. And we’re always looking for simple ways to get better-tasting drinks without a lot of effort. So we use a touch of saltwater to sharpen the flavors of the classic French 75. We deploy rich simple syrup to keep a vivid pool of red wine afloat on our version of a New York sour. We reach for reposado tequila to add gentle smokiness to a Negroni. And we build bold flavor into Scandinavian mulled wine by infusing it with cardamom pods, whole cloves, and black peppercorns.
Makes 1 cocktail
A half-teaspoon of a saltwater solution — and Angostura bitters — give exceptional balance to this slight tweak on the classic French 75. We liked the clean flavors that resulted from almost-equal proportions of gin and sparkling wine. Making the saline was simple: Mix a generous ½ tablespoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt and 6 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon water until the salt dissolves.
¾ ounce lemon juice
¾ ounce simple syrup
½ teaspoon saltwater solution
1½ ounces gin
2 dashes Angostura bitters
2 ounces sparkling wine
In a cocktail shaker, combine the lemon juice, simple syrup, saltwater solution, gin, and bitters. Fill the shaker with ice, then shake vigorously for 15 seconds. Pour into a coupe or flute glass and top with the sparkling wine.
NEW YORK SOUR
Makes 1 cocktail
Using rich simple syrup — two parts sugar dissolved in one part water — to make the whiskey sour base for this classic cocktail yields a fairly foolproof float, thanks to the high viscosity of the syrup. Maple syrup and agave are good substitutes in a pinch. Fruity red wines such as malbec and grenache worked well, but whatever you have on hand would be fine. A small cup with a spout makes floating the wine easiest.
½ ounce orange juice
1 ounce lemon juice
½ ounce rich simple syrup
2 ounces rye whiskey
¼ to ½ ounce red wine
In a cocktail shaker, combine both juices, the syrup, and the rye. Fill the shaker with ice, then shake well for 15 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass.
Pour the red wine into a jigger or small cup. Balance a small spoon, domed side up, over the cocktail, then slowly pour the wine onto the back of the spoon so it settles over the rest of the cocktail.
Makes 1 cocktail
Sid Datta, formerly of Cunard Tavern in East Boston, turned us on to this subtly smoky, slightly fruity version of the classic Negroni, which replaces the gin with tequila. Reposado tequila has been aged up to a year, which gives it more nuance and less bite than a typical blanco. Anejo tequila — aged for more than a year — would be too robust.
1½ ounces reposado tequila
¾ ounce Campari
1 ounce sweet vermouth
Strip of orange zest, to garnish
Combine the first three ingredients in a cocktail mixing glass. Add 1 cup ice, then stir for 20 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice; garnish with the zest.
SWEDISH SPICED WINE (GLÖGG)
Makes 10 cocktails
Hot mulled wine is a holiday staple across Europe. We’re particularly fond of the Scandinavian variety, known as glögg. Often bolstered by brandy, rum, or aquavit — a caraway-flavored spirit — the warm beverage can be tooth-achingly sweet. We wanted to capture the complexity of mulling spices while curbing glögg’s sweetness. Our solution was to create a concentrate made from heavily spiced syrup and brandy. The sugar and alcohol preserved it for weeks, meaning we could make a batch or two and enjoy it throughout the season. The concentrate also allowed us to make the drink by the glass and tailor the sweetness of each serving. To prepare an individual serving, mix 3 tablespoons of concentrate for every ½ cup of wine and heat gently. We like to drop a few brandied raisins into each glass, but that’s optional.
Don’t use a heavily oaked or highly tannic wine. A dry, slightly fruity, medium-bodied red wine made the best glögg. Our top pick was a Côtes du Rhône, but Beaujolais also worked, as did grenache and syrah-based blends.
For the concentrate:
1½ cups brandy
1 cup raisins
1¼ cups packed light brown sugar
12 3-inch strips orange zest (from 2 oranges)
8 3½-inch cinnamon sticks, broken into rough pieces
1 3-inch piece fresh ginger, cut into 6 pieces and smashed
5 dried black Mission figs
1 tablespoon cardamom pods, lightly crushed
1 tablespoon whole cloves
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 teaspoons Angostura bitters
For the glögg:
2 750-milliliter bottles dry red wine
Slivered almonds, to serve (optional)
In a 2-cup liquid measuring cup, combine the brandy and raisins. Microwave until steaming but not bubbling, about 1½ minutes. Let sit for at least 1 hour. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan over medium-high, combine 1½ cups water, the sugar, zest, cinnamon sticks, ginger, figs, cardamom, cloves, and peppercorns; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes. Cover, remove from heat, and let sit 30 to 60 minutes.
Using a fine-mesh strainer, strain the brandy into the pan, reserving the raisins for serving. Strain the brandy-spiced syrup mixture into a bowl, discarding the solids. Stir in the lemon juice and bitters. Use immediately or transfer to a jar and refrigerate for up to 1 month.
To serve the glögg, in a large pot over medium heat, combine the wine and concentrate and heat gently until bubbles just begin to form around the edges — do not boil. Ladle into cups and serve garnished with brandied raisins and slivered almonds, if desired.