Covid Cocktails 6

posted on 15 May 2021 | Cocktails

Well, it's been a 4 month hiatus from cocktails, seems like a good time to start mixing new drinks again. I've picked up a stack of new ingredients, so this is fairly exciting.

Covid cocktails 6 collage

14 Days of Cocktails

Day 1

I want you to imagine drinking a sweet and bitter syrup made of orange rinds and sugar. Then, about 3.5 seconds later, somebody punches you in the face.

That's right, Covid Cocktails 6, day 1: I bought some Campari and made myself a Negroni.

I bought better red vermouth too.

  • 1 oz Campari
  • 1 oz red vermouth (Dolin)
  • 1 oz dry gin (Collective Arts)

mix with ice, pour to glass with ice, serve with an orange twist.


This is a shockingly complex drink, and hard to approach. Unlike the off raisin-y Dillon's red vermouth I used before, the Dolin is indescribably weird. The bitter aftertaste of the Campari is overwhelming even in only 1/3 of the drink.

Conversely, I completely see its appeal as an aperitif. To break up sips of this twisted concoction, I made myself a tray of oranges and cheese and crackers and everything tastes amazing when you're eating it between sips of the evil fluid.

I've a 750ml bottle of the Campari, and the Dolin is now open in my fridge, so I'm going to acquire this acquired taste if it kills me.

Day 2

Covid Cocktails 6, Day 2: I like bourbon. It's sweet and caramelly and easy for mixing. But the bourbon-making southern states like Kentucky have been implementing a raft of anti-trans laws. So I bought Crown Royal Blender's Select instead.

C.R. Blender's Select isn't a bourbon - legally it can't be. But it's a 90-proof Canadian whiskey with both that Canadian rye flavor and a strong bourbon-style caramel-corn flavor. Basically it straddles the border. Pricey, though.

In typical CR style, it's too darned sweet.

So, I made a whiskey sour to try the not-bourbon. And to change it up from previous whiskey sours, I made it vegan.

  • 2 oz CR Blender's Select
  • 1 oz lemon
  • 0.25 oz simple syrup (note that it's less than usual)
  • 1 oz evil-smelling slime from the chickpea can

Shake vigorously without ice. Then shake vigorously with ice, double-strain to glass.

Vegan Whiskey Sour

Sooo good. Wife turned up her nose at the thought of aquafaba in a drink, but egg-whites don't sound better to her. For what it's worth, you can't taste the chickpea. What you can taste is balanced tangy butterscotch rye-y creamy goodness. Very easy to drink.

Day 3

Covid cocktails 6, day 3. I bring out the cassis again for a Cassis Bramble, which is basically a gin sour with berry liqueur.

  • 2 oz Collective Arts rhubarb hibiscus gin
  • 1 oz lemon
  • O.25 oz simple

Shake, pour over crushed ice,


  • 0.75 oz crème de cassis

Garnish with a lemon wedge & a cherry (supposed to be a blackberry but just ran out).

Cassis Bramble

It was okay... I think the crème de cassis just isn't sweet enough to fill this role. Too dry for a berry drink, mostly tasted gin and lemon. Canonically bramble's supposed to call for crème de mure (blackberry liqueur) but you can't get that here - this is apparently a common substitution, but black currants sure aren't blackberries.

Day 4

Covid cocktails 6, day 4: Another attempt with the Campari, this time a little more gently, with an Americano.

Simple 3-ingredient cocktail, build in a glass over ice:

  • 1.5 oz Campari
  • 1.5 oz sweet vermouth

Top with club soda, mix gently.


Okay, the Campari is growing on me. I still don't love it, but in this milder context it was definitely drinkable. The vermouth brings a sweetness makes it a little soda-y, and there's a hint of grapefruit/orange citrus coming from the Campari, but also lots of bitterness and earthiness.

I can work with this. I when I started getting lower into the glass I had to mix in more soda to dilute away the shocking bitterness, but I can work with it.

So yeah, this might be a good way to get used to Campari and the weird earthy vermouth gradually.

Day 5

Covid Cocktails 6, day 5: This is a mash-up of a few different recipes I googled. Blueberry Gin and Tonic, using Dixon's Wicked Blueberry Gin.

In a shaker add

  • 3 mint leaves
  • 1 oz fresh blueberries
  • Juice from half a lime
  • 2 oz blueberry gin

Muddle the mint and blueberries

Slosh lightly (no need for a full shake) then double-strain to an ice-filled glass and top with tonic to taste.

Stir a little, then garnish with a twist of lime, a few blueberries, and a sprig of mint (slap the mint to release it's nose).

Blueberry gin-and-tonic

It's bright and fruity and minty without being sweet, and the gin and tonic bring a bitter undertone. My wife loved it, and says she wants me to make it again on a hot summer day.

Day 6

It's May! That means the Kentucky Derby! Which is apparently a horse race thing? But also involves mint juleps!

Covid Cocktails 6, day 6: The Mint Julep.

In a metal cup, add:

  • A dozen leaves mint,
  • 3oz (!) Bourbon (or CR Blender's Select Not-Bourbon)
  • 0.5 oz simple syrup
  • 2 dashes angostura bitters

Muddle, let steep for a few minutes.

Then fill half full of crushed ice, swizzle, and fill the rest of the way with crushed ice. Add a small dash of Jamaican rum, slap a bouquet of mint to release its nose and use it for garnish, and add a straw. Let it sit for a few more minutes to build up frost.

Mint Julep

okay, let it sit for more than a few minutes. First sip was straight sweetened bourbon with a touch of mint. Let it melt and the bourbon softens and the mint expresses and it's icy and minty. In the end, it just tastes like sweet mint, ice, and whiskey, but that's pretty good.

Relevant How To Drink Video on Mint Juleps

Day 7

For Covid cocktails 6, day 7, here comes the story of the Hurricane.

Yeah, it's a nice passionfruit thing.

  • 1 oz white rum
  • 1 oz dark rum
  • 1 oz orange juice
  • 1 oz lime juice
  • 2 oz passionfruit juice
  • 2 barspoons grenadine

Shake, with ice, pour over ice, garnish with lime & cherry

I had to make some substitutions - couldn't get proper passion fruit puree or syrup, much less the traditional tropical fruit mix that's supposed to be used, so I used passionfruit juice cocktail and doubled the amount. But it still had a strong passionfruit flavor. Also, I'm using Dillon's Niagara grenadine (mixed local fruit, no pom).


This is an incredibly tasty and easy to drink cocktail. I made some substitutions so I don't know how authentic it is, but it's definitely a drink that could get somebody in a lot of trouble on the streets of New Orleans.

Day 8

Covid cocktails 6, day 8: We return to Campari for the Garibaldi, a simple low-alcohol 2-ingredient cocktail.

Prepare 4 oz of foamed orange juice.

1.5 oz Campari in a glass, add 2 oz of foamed OJ and some ice, mix, then pour the rest of the foamed OJ in.


This is nice. Mild, sweet and bitter... like sweet fluffy grapefruit with a strange earthy undertone.

I used a milk foamer to foam the OJ, but a blender or whisk or even a dry shake should do it. Should've strained the pulp first - cleaning pulp of milk foamer sucked.

Apparently the ideal OJ for this is fresh-pressed blood orange, but I used regular concentrate cans and it was good this way too.

Day 9

Covid Cocktails 6, day 9: To mark Star Wars day... I did nothing topical 'cause it's also my kid's birthday and I'm busy enough, thanks.

I made another Manhattan. This time it was actually good.

In a mixing glass, combine with ice:

  • 1 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1.75 oz bourbon
  • 2 dashes angostura bitters
  • 1 dash orange bitters

mix, strain to a chilled glass,

garnish with a brandied cherry


I really liked it... the cherry nose and mix of complex flavours from the bitters and the vermouth combine wonderfully and the sweetness keeps any of the bittering parts from being overpowering. It was just plain nice. The detailed flavors are... kind of indescribable.

Relevant How To Drink Video on Manhattans

This is the "Manhattan Matrix" episode of HTD where he breaks down various vermouths and whiskeys... but he tries so many combinations thereof he gets himself alcohol poisoning. So it's simultaneously educational, entertaining, and an important cautionary tale.

Day 10

Covid cocktails 6, day 10. I've got no tequila, so no Cinco de Mayo theme. Instead, I made a Painkiller, which is like a more cocktail-y piña colada.

In a shaker:

  • 4 oz pineapple juice
  • 1 oz cream of coconut
  • 1 oz white rum
  • 1 oz dark rum
  • 1 oz OJ

Shake with ice, open pour to glass.

... when open-pouring I still had to grab my big ice and keep it out or it would've overfilled the glass. This is a bigger drink.

Top with some fresh grated nutmeg.

For the "cream of coconut" I can't find anybody who carries Coco Lopez sweetened cream of coconut, so I made my own by heating half a can of coconut cream and adding 3/4 cup of sugar. Avoid boiling, just heat until clarified then jar it. Apparently real stuff has stronger coconut taste.


This is shockingly easy to drink. Sweet and fruity and the nutmeg adds a nice nose. The coconut, pineapple, and orange blend really well. The alcohol is basically invisible, with only a bare hint of the funk coming from the dark rum.

This is nice, because I spent the last few days trying and failing to get a proper piña colada right using a mix of pineapple juice and frozen pineapples, and the texture just wasn't coming out right. I kinda needed the win.

Day 11

Covid Cocktails 6 day 11: A Hanky Panky.

In a mixing glass, combine with ice:

  • 1.5 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1.5 oz London dry gin
  • 2 bar spoons Fernet Branca

Stir, strain to a chilled glass.

Hanky Panky

It's cough syrup. Really nice cough syrup with a nice fruity tinge from the vermouth. The herbal flavors from the gin and vermouth and Fernet make it pretty medicinal... but it definitely has its charms.

But still cough syrup.

Day 12

Covid cocktails 6, day 12: let's do more cough syrup! A boulevardier.

In a mixing glass, with ice:

  • 1.5 oz bourbon
  • 1 oz Campari
  • 1 oz red vermouth

Stir, strain to a glass with ice.


I think I'm now acclimatized to Campari. At first the bitter aftertaste was ruining a nice orangey Manhattan, but as I got further into the glass I really got to like it. I gave my wife a sip. She puckered so hard I thought her face might implode.

Day 13

Covid Cocktails 6, day 13: I made some cinnamon simple syrup, and used that to make a Cinnamon Old-Fashioned.

To make cinnamon simple syrup: simmer 4 sticks of cinnamon in 1 cup of water, covered, for 10 minutes, then add 1.5 cups of sugar. Cool in fridge covered for 6 hours, then strain and jar.

The cinnamon old fashioned is just

  • 2 oz of rye
  • 0.5 oz of cinnamon
  • a couple of dashes of angostura

Build in a glass, stir with a sphere of ice, garnish with another cinnamon stick.

Cinnamon Old-Fashioned

Nice, easy drink. The spices of the angostura and the natural baking-spice flavor of the rye blend quite well with the cinnamon. It has a charming, Christmas-y flavor. If you like cinnamon this is an easy drink to make. This'd make a good hot toddy too.

Day 14

Covid cocktails 6, day 14. For my finale this might be a bit on the nose but: a Quarantine Order.

In a shaker, combine

  • 3 oz Jamaican rum
  • 1 oz lime juice
  • 1 oz grapefruit juice
  • 1.5 oz passionfruit juice
  • 0.5 oz cinnamon syrup
  • 5 dashes angostura

Shake for 30s, free pour to glass,

Garnish with mint, cherry, and lime.


I couldn't taste the cinnamon at all, even after adding more. Then tried with a straw and quickly realized that all the cinnamon syrup went straight to the bottom.

Nice fruity cinnamon drink but I think I used too much ice.

Final Thoughts

This particular round was an education on the subject of ingredients and quality. I watched through the "How To Drink" video on manhattans and picked a vermouth that he recommended (before going to the hospital to get his stomach pumped from alcohol poisoning - stay safe out there, kids). Sadly the best sweet Italian vermouths aren't available at the LCBO - Punt e Mes and Antica Formula are pretty consistently top of the list... but the Dolin sweet vermouth made all the difference from my previous attempts with it.

Likewise, switching from traditional Canadian whiskeys to a bourbon (well, bourbon-like Canadian whiskey) really helped the drinks that demanded a sweeter, less rye-heavy base spirit.

And Campari is definitely... interesting to work with. If you like the shocking bitterness of grapefruit I'd say you should give it a try.

Favorites this time through were the vegan whiskey sour, the blueberry G&T (my wife's favorite) and the painkiller. Honorable mention go to the Garibaldi, the Americano, and the boulevardier for warming me up to the Campari.

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