Back in my college days, when “cocktail hour” consisted mostly of Hunch Punch and warm keg beer, I used to go up and down my dormitory halls, raiding my neighbors’ mini-fridges for anything I could use as a mixer. I would cobble together whatever liquor I could find, begging charity from the folks with good enough IDs to get them through the checkout at the package store, and I’d set up shop.
With my dresser pushed into the doorway of my room, I’d charge my friends and hall-mates a few bucks apiece to pour them whatever concoctions I’d come up with using my makeshift bar stock. I was a one-man collegiate speakeasy serving what I came to affectionately call Kitchen Sink Cocktails.
These days, my refrigerator and pantry at home are provisioned a heckuva lot better, but sometimes I still find myself short of a few ingredients to make my standard sippers. Rather than deprive myself, I’ve come to find that common household groceries and produce can make delicious, if not wholly surprising, ingredients in mixed drinks. Stuff you have just hanging out in your kitchen can be easily transformed into sophisticated and fun cocktails.
Check out the slideshow for tips on how to turn everything from vinegar and spices to bacon, hot sauce, and even mustard, into amazing and inventive mixers. This slideshow is packed with cocktail recipes to help you begin your journey into the world of Kitchen Sink Cocktail making.
Simply put, a shrub is a vinegar-infused fruit syrup, an old-time mixer for sparkly summer drinks. Tart, sweet, and acidic, a basic shrub uses one part fruit, one part sugar, and one part vinegar, but the possibilities for experimentation are endless. Try this Strawberry Balsamic Shrub cocktail. It’s like drinking summer.
If you’re like me, you’ve indulged in your share of mojitos, but mint is only one herb you can take your muddler to. Basil and sage are both fantastic in cocktails, but don’t be afraid to get adventurous. Anything you grow in your herb garden — like thyme, rosemary, or tarragon — can find a home inside a cocktail shaker. Click for a killer Basil Cucumber Gin Gimlet recipe.