Matthew Kelly / Supercall

Entertaining
10 Expert-Level Cocktail Recipes for Pros

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Cocktail experts are always looking to prove their abilities, whether that’s by filling their bars with the latest specialty spirit, studying every historic cocktail book, or creating the most difficult drinks they can find. For these total pros, we gathered some of our most challenging recipes—ones that require days of preparation, sub-recipes for syrups and infusions, and extravagant displays of garnish and grandeur. Set aside a whole weekend to take on these 10 expert-level drinks.

Matthew Kelly / Supercall

Nearly every classic tiki recipe requires rums from all over the Caribbean, a produce section’s worth of fresh juice, and several esoteric syrups you’ll likely have to make yourself. But only the Cobra’s Fang includes an ingredient that no longer exists—fassionola syrup, which has a flavor akin to childhood favorite Hawaiian Punch. Recreated recipes do exist, though we imagine tiki nerds will debate the exact formula until Donn Beach rises from the grave. Luckily, we’ve come up with a recipe of our own (which requires 11 ingredients) so the true tiki maniac can try to concoct this complicated tipple at home.

The Essentials

Rum
Falernum
Juices
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Dragon fruit just looks intimidating. While the mellow flavor resembles a kiwi (and is absolutely worth investigating if you’ve never tried one), carefully carving out the extraterrestrial looking fruit without damaging the beautiful exterior is a serious task. Should you succeed, you’ll have made yourself a most remarkable drinking vessel. Dump the extracted innards into a blender with vodka, raspberries, coconut water, a little homemade agave syrup and lime juice, pour the blend back into the fruit, and add a long straw.

The Essentials

Vodka
Dragon Fruit
coconut water
Matthew Kelly / Supercall

If you thought making a layered shot was a good challenge, wait until you see this cake-sized layered jello extravaganza. Made from three individual layers of boozy jello—all featuring their own spirit and mixers—the full recipe requires batching out each layer in order, with chilling time in the fridge in-between. Give yourself half a day on July 3 or the first Sunday of September to prep this showpiece before your next patriotic shindig.

The Essentials

Red, white and blue Jello
Metallic sugar
Sparklers
Matthew Kelly / Supercall

This take on a Rum Flip is based on an obscure 17th century spirit called batavia arrack, which was once a crucial ingredient in early punch recipes but has since made its way onto some geekier back bars. After you source the booze, you’ll have to head to a Filipino market to pick up fresh calamansi, a citrus that sits somewhere between a sour orange and a sweet lime. While you’re there, grab some palm syrup. Finally, whip up a quick saline solution. Once all that’s done, the actual making of the drink is pretty simple: Just dry shake with some egg white, re-shake with ice and strain.

The Essentials

Batavia Arrack
calamansi
palm syrup
Marisa Chafetz / Supercall

Even tiki connoisseurs who are well versed in tropical challenges will be thrown off by this unassuming Zombie riff. The spritzy Highball calls for not only the usual falernum, but also a DIY lime cordial (a 24-hour process in itself) and toasted fennel syrup to replace absinthe. Like the intense amount of way too drinkable booze that goes into the drink, none of your guests will know exactly how much work the plain looking cocktail required. It’s up to you to inform them of both.  

The Essentials

All The Rums
Fennel Syrup
Pineapple Juice
Matthew Kelly / Supercall
Another patriotic holiday, another red, white and blue cocktail to celebrate. While not quite as difficult as the layered jello stunner, this ‘Merica appropriate blended drink does require multiple trips between the blender and freezer to complete. Inspired by the classic Bomb Pop popsicle of melty, sloppy childhood afternoons, the drink is sure to inspire childlike wonder.

The Essentials

White rum
Blue Curaçao
Strawberries
Matthew Kelly / Supercall

Even the nerdiest of cocktail nerds likely hasn’t ventured into the candy-making realm, so we created a candy recipe that’s perfect for a bored home bartender looking for a kitchen challenge. These Old Fashioned-flavored lollipops are anything but outdated, but they do require that you use some old-fashioned candy making skills: boiling together ingredients at a precise 300 degrees, mixing and dolloping the hot mess into molds at a breakneck pace, and wrapping them up nicely in candy wrappers. The only part of this recipe that will seem familiar is the swirling of bitters into the pops as they cool.

The Essentials

whiskey
sugar
Angostura bitters
Matthew Kelly / Supercall

Leave it to Trader Vic to put tons of effort into an ice garnish. The ice cone that sits on top of a Navy Grog requires a little DIY ingenuity by refreezing crushed ice into a cone mold, burrowing a hole through the middle, and then chopping it so it rests easily in a cocktail. All that added effort is just so you can slip a straw through the cone to sip up an extra chilled concoction of three rums, grapefruit juice, honey syrup and seltzer. It’s a ridiculous garnish but one that true cocktail savants will appreciate.

The Essentials

Rum
Grapefruit juice
honey syrup
Matthew kelly / Supercall

Halloween is the perfect holiday for over-the-top treats (though you can make these creepy jello worms any spooky night of the year). Making a Rum and Coke look and feel like a squishy worm doesn’t require any special equipment; it just takes bendy straws and an immense amount of patience. After batching the boozy jello mixture and cooling it in bendy straws, you’ll have to extricate each creepy crawler from each straw individually. If you start to tire during this process, simply imagine the screams of horror and delight that your guests will unleash when they spy the bowl of worm shots.

The Essentials

Rum
Coca-Cola
unflavored gelatin
Matthew Kelly / Supercall

Matt Piacentini of The Up & Up in New York used a bit of boozy alchemy to transform the creamy bourbon and rum-rich Milk Punch into a light and refreshing summer beverage. To do the same, you’ll need to clarify your milk by curdling the dairy with heat, citrus and booze before straining out the solids. It’s a labor-intensive process, but the end result is totally unlike anything you’ve had before. We’re not sure which is harder: the recipe itself or putting the drink down once you taste it.

The Essentials

gin
Aperol
milk

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