You know that bottle. It’s been at the back of your bar cabinet for years. Maybe it’s the banana liqueur you needed for a dinner party dessert. Maybe it’s the third bottle of spiced rum you’ve been gifted – and you don’t really like rum, spiced or otherwise.
Food writer Gwendolyn Richards is here to help.
Through her “Lockdown Libations” project, Richards is working her way through an overflowing bar collection, from unusual spirits to the long-neglected last bits of a bottle.
“The idea behind the project was simply to start using up stuff in my massive collection,” Richard said from Calgary.
“Both as a way to try something new and cut back on the hoarding problem I have going on in my liquor cabinet.”
Here are some ways you can do it too:
Have rye? How about anything else brown?
It helps to know which ingredients can be substituted for one another.
“This project is about using what you have, not acquiring new stuff.”
For a demonstration on Global Edmonton’s News at Noon, Richards whipped up a Whisky Daisy.
“This is a whiskey-based or a rye-based cocktail. You could use bourbon – basically any sort of American whiskey will work – which is one of the reasons why I like it. I have a lot of brown liquor in my cabinet – and I’m very grateful for that.”
Know when not to compromise
Some ingredients, though, must be the real deal.
“Though I encourage you to use what you have, when it comes to citrus juice I want you to be using fresh stuff only.”
On this, Richards is a bonafide expert. She authored the cookbook Pucker, full of recipes staring citrus, including several cocktails.
“Please don’t ever buy those plastic ones,” she says of lemon juice. “The taste is just not the same at all.”
Rules of imbibing
With friendly neighbourhood bartenders out of reach right now, you can be your own mixologist. But some starting advice will help you avoid sipping on something truly terrible.
Here are some of Richards’ tips:
- “Start with a spirit that you really love, because chances are good you will like the end result.” For example, of the Whisky Daisy, she adds, “I love brown liquor, so that’s why I was drawn to this one.”
- “Think about flavours that play well together. Gin is obviously going to go well with sort of herbaceous-type notes or other similar liquors. Vodka is so flexible because it has almost no flavour.”
- And begin with the end in mind: “Start with the liquor and search ‘recipe’ and you would be amazed at what comes up.”