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Entertaining
The 10 Best Reinvented Classic Cocktails

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Classic cocktails become classic for one simple reason: They’re darn near perfect. These tried and true recipes have stood the test of time and remain reliable go-tos no matter the occasion. But sometimes we want something a little different—and luckily for us, classics provide wonderful bases for experimentation. By adding or subtracting a couple of ingredients, you can get a drink that’s familiar, but also new and exciting. When you’re looking to switch things up and take your favorite cocktail to the next level, try one of these 10 reinvented classics that taste just as good as the OGs.

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Martini: There are a lot of ways to prepare a Martini—dry, dirty, with vodka instead of gin—so naturally there are countless possible variations. One we’re currently obsessed with is this rich and briny twist on a Dirty Martini from Ky Belk of El Five in Denver, CO. Made with Spanish olive oil-washed gin, nutty Manzanilla sherry in place of vermouth, and an herb-infused olive brine, this salty cocktail is just begging to be paired with a plate of charcuterie.

The Essentials

Gin
Sherry
Olive Brine
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Old Fashioned: When it comes to switching up the Old Fashioned, simplicity is key. You don’t want to go too crazy with syrups, infusions and garnishes—at some point it does stop being an Old Fashioned. This cocktail from Johnny Swet of The Skylark makes a single substitution by using Nocello black walnut liqueur instead of sugar. The liqueur combines with the bourbon and Angostura bitters to create a roasted, nutty flavor that highlights the malt and woodiness of the bourbon. The swap is compelling enough to pique the interest of any Old Fashioned purist.

The Essentials

bourbon
Nocello Walnut Liqueur
Angostura Bitters
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Margarita: The best part of a well-made Margarita is its perfect balance of sweet and tart. This garden fresh variation achieves that flavor profile with a twist fit for springtime sipping. Homemade rhubarb and rosemary syrup tastes beautifully tart and herbaceous, especially when mixed with vegetal tequila and floral St-Germain elderflower liqueur. The rhubarb syrup also gives the drink an alluring, rosy hue, for a seasonal pink drink that’s not at all too sweet.

The Essentials

blanco tequila
St-Germain
rhubarb and rosemary syrup
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Cosmopolitan: No one knew how to knock back Cosmo after Cosmo quite like the ladies of Sex and the City, and none of them more so than our favorite party girl, Samantha Jones. Created by Rael Petit of Delilah in New York, The Samantha Cosmopolitan embraces the character’s edgy lifestyle by trading vodka for tequila, and triple sec for spicy Ancho Chile liqueur. Meyer lemon juice gives the drink some zest, while coconut sugar syrup adds extra sweetness. The result is a potent, intriguing cocktail that will fuel any night out.

The Essentials

Tequila
Ancho Reyes
Cranberry Juice
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Manhattan: The basic blend of whiskey and sweet vermouth may be dependable, but it’s sweet, sultry flavor invites experimentation. Instead of the typical rye whiskey, this cocktail from Jeff Zillman of Anvill in Houston opts for bourbon infused with black mission figs for another layer of rich, earthy sweetness. An addition of Cynar, an artichoke-flavored amaro, plays on those earthy notes, while cinnamon syrup and tiki bitters bring some depth to the glass.

The Essentials

Fig-Infused Bourbon
Cynar
Punt e Mes Vermouth
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Negroni: Here us out, Negroni enthusiasts: We know the equal parts combination of gin, Campari and sweet vermouth is precious, but trust us when we say this variation from Brian Hawthorne at New York’s The Wayland deserves a place in your heart. Bitter Campari is replaced by the lightly bittersweet amaro Aperol, which gives the cocktail an orange-forward flavor and lowers the ABV for easy day drinking. A couple dashes of coffee bitters add a little extra bitterness to the mix. Be sure to keep this lighter recipe in mind for when you’re craving an Italian aperitivo before noon.

The Essentials

Gin
Aperol
Punt e Mes
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Moscow Mule: Fans of the ginger beer-topped Moscow Mule have proven that they’re the perfect vehicle for a spicy punch of flavor, which makes this particularly piquant take on the classic perfect for the spice-addicted. Smoky mezcal replaces vodka as the base spirit, and the recipes adds a touch of Ancho Reyes Verde Poblano liqueur for a hit of peppery flavor. Bubbly ginger beer brings it all together in a copper mug, because what’s even the point of drinking a Mule without one?

The Essentials

Mezcal
Ancho Reyes Verde
Ginger Beer
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Daiquiri: The last thing you’d associate with the bright, citrusy Daiquiri is the color black, but this macabre twist is every bit as delicious as the original. In addition to the standard dark rum and fresh lime juice, this cocktail from Michael Nemcik of Terra Cotta in Los Angeles utilizes black sesame syrup for an intense roasted nut, vanilla and sesame flavor. Pair this Daiquiri with dinner in the cooler months, when frozen Strawberry Daiquiris are perhaps a bit out of place.

The Essentials

black sesame syrup
dark rum
lime juice
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Mojito: The Mojito has the power to instantly revive drinkers with the taste of ultra-refreshing mint—but it’s also is a pain to mix, requiring meticulous muddling. This upgraded take on the Mojito from Kamal Kouiri at Molyvos in New York, however, requires no muddling. Instead, it gets its mintiness from a honey-mint syrup. In place of rum, Greek retsina wine adds flavors of eucalyptus and pine for a Mojito that tastes like it just got back from vacation in Santorini.

The Essentials

Retsina
Finest Roots
Mint
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Piña Colada: How do you make the tropical Piña Colada even better? Easy: Add more booze. The insanely potent twist on the summertime classic amps up the ABV, thanks to a heavy pour of dark rum, amaretto and a touch of 151-proof rum that’s poured directly into the straw. The unofficial beverage of New York’s Fire Island, Rocket Fuel can either keep you cool and relaxed or get you fired up and ready to party all night long.

The Essentials

dark rum
Amaretto
pineapple juice

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