A few traditional cocktails with non-traditional ingredients

February 7, 2012

Playing around with liquors today I discovered some traditional cocktails and deepened them with the use of non-traditional ingredients. 

This year, February 22nd is National Margarita Day.  I chose to twist up the classic Tequila based Margarita in a whole new way. 

The Classic Margarita, woven from Tequila, lime and orange liquor just calls out to my cocktail whispering ways. 

First I substitute Tuaca for the orange liquor.  Tuaca is Madagascar Vanilla and Orange with spices and herbs.  Tropical in nature, this liquor hails from Mexico like the other more traditional ingredients in the Margarita. 

The first cocktail I call the Suggestion Box Margarita.  It makes a frosty pitcher of nearly mind erasing power so it is  quite a nice excuse to invite  friends over for a few hours

Why the suggestion box?  Because you will want to suggest what to call this cocktail, but soon will forget how.

P.S. No humans were harmed while testing this concoction!


2 Shots Tenneyson Absinthe

2 Shots Reposado-style Tequila

1 Shot Tuaca Liqueur

4 Shots of freshly squeezed lime juice

2 Shots Atlantico Reserva Dominican Rum

Bitter End Mexican Mole' Bitters

Royal Rose 3 Chilies Simple Syrup (about 6 Tablespoons)

Sea salt

Crushed ice


Add all the liqueurs to a cocktail shaker and a bit of ice, you will have to make this in batches

Add the lime juice and shake to combine

Pour into an ice-filled pitcher and drip 2 medicine droppers of the Mexican Mole' Bitters over the top and stir

Garnish with fresh lime chunks and sea salt over the top, you can put in a bit of Perrier lime if desired to give this drink a lift


Vanilla Express Cocktail

The story behind this cocktail started with a generous gift of a bottle of Conjure Cognac.  I first tasted this barrel aged Cognac at home and knew immediately that the haunting notes of the fermented grapes - the barrel aging gives an almost rum-like finish.  It needed to be combined with the liquor named Tuaca and shaken with a bit of Rum to give depth.  Rum, Tuaca and Cognac?  All together?  Yes.  Certainly.  These flavors call out to each other.  In addition, a liberal application of the sumptuous Autumn Plum simple syrup from Royal Rose in Brooklyn pushes the envelope to a fever pitch. Then of course there is the Lucid Absinthe wash.

  I could have called this cocktail a runaway train.  But it really is the Vanilla Express. Makes several small cocktails.  You might even want to make this cocktail into shots!  Be careful!


2 Shots Conjure Cognac

2 Shots Tuaca

1 Shot Atlantico Reserva Rum

1 Shot  Royal Rose Autumn Plum Simple Syrup

1/4 shot Lucid Absinthe wash (wash out the cocktail glasses with the Lucid Absinthe)

Freshly squeezed Blood Orange Juice (about 6 ounces)


Add the Liquors to a cocktail shaker with some ice, you may have to batch this cocktail

Add the Royal Rose Simple Syrup of Autumn Plum

Add the Blood Orange juice

Shake and strain into shot glasses and shoot with lime on the side


The final drink is another take on the Margarita with Tuaca and Mezcal instead of Tequila and lime juice. 

I call it a Rio Grande Stand-off

The ingredients are very simple. 

Mezcal, Tuaca, Mexican Mole' Bitters and crushed coconut water ice


To a cocktail shaker filled 1/4 with regular ice add 2 Shots of Mezcal, 1 Shot of Tuaca, and several drops of the Mexican Mole' Bitters from Bitter End

Shake and strain into a tall glass filled with crushed coconut water ice.

*use unsweetened coconut water in an ice cube tray overnight*

Shave some bittersweet chocolate over the top.


Sip to the Rio Grande!


Cheers!  wb


Photography: Warren Bobrow (Leica M8, Summicron F2 50mm)