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Cocktail Recipes by John deBary ’05

Try these cocktail recipes excerpted from Drink What You Want: The Subjective Guide to Making Objectively Delicious Cocktails by John deBary ’05 (Clarkson Potter, $25), featured in our story “Be Your Own Bartender.” deBary especially loves a Singapore Sling!


Singapore Sling

Sarah Tanat-Jones © 2020

Singapore Sling

In the canon of reasonably well-known classic cocktails, the Singapore Sling gets the least amount of play. It’s never been the subject of a breathless trend piece, and that’s a damn shame. This drink is awesome. It’s got something for everyone—it’s fruity, intriguing and slightly bitter, and surprisingly strong.* Allegedly the drink was created in Singapore at the Raffles Hotel’s Long Bar, and it would be appropriate for such a refreshing drink to originate in a place that clocks in at 90°F and 65% humidity, 365 days per year. But if you actually look into history, the story starts to fall apart. Honestly, who cares.

There seems to be no standard recipe for the drink. Case in point: I went to Raffles Hotel in 2013 and was served, in immediate succession, the best and then the worst Singapore Slings I’ve ever had in my life. This is the recipe that I find to be the most delicious. It’s strong, complex, and extremely refreshing—perfect on a hot and steamy summer evening.

Makes 1 drink

1½ ounces navy-strength gin, such as Plymouth
1½ ounces pineapple juice
½ ounce Cherry Heering
½ ounce Grenadine (recipe follows)
¼ ounce Cointreau
¼ ounce Bénédictine
​¼ ounce fresh lime juice
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Garnishes:
Pineapple wedge and Luxardo cherry


In a shaker, combine the drink ingredients. Add ice and shake for 15 seconds. Strain into an ice-filled Collins or water glass. Garnish with the pineapple wedge and a cherry speared on a pick. Serve with a straw.

NOTE: I find that using a high-proof, or navy-strength, gin makes the juniper notes pop, giving the drink the best aromatic balance, but you can use regular gin if you prefer.

* Like me.

GRENADINE
Makes about 1 cup

8 ounces / 1 cup 100% pomegranate juice
1 cup granulated sugar

In a blender, combine the juice and sugar and blend on high speed for about 1 minute, until the sugar has dissolved. Allow the air bubbles to settle before using it. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer for up to 6 months.


Black Pineapple Elixir

Sarah Tanat-Jones © 2020

Black Pineapple Elixir

Consider this drink something of an alcohol-free gin and tonic substitute―a fairly simple cocktail that offers a great deal of complexity. The bitter tonic and sweet, fruity pineapple balance each other out, while the black pepper syrup supplies that spicy kick that’s too often missing from alcohol-free cocktails.

Makes 1 drink

2 ounces pineapple juice
½ ounce Black Pepper Syrup (recipe follows)
4 ounces / ½ cup tonic water, such as Fever-Tree or Whole Foods 365 brand
Optional Garnish:
Wedge of pineapple

Pour the pineapple juice, black pepper syrup, and 2 ounces of the tonic water into an ice-filled Collins or water glass, and stir to combine. Top up with the remaining 2 ounces tonic water, and garnish with a pineapple wedge if you like.

BLACK PEPPER SYRUP
Makes about 6 ounces / ¾ cup

¼ cup freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces / 1 cup filtered water
1 cup granulated sugar

In a blender, combine all the ingredients and blend on high speed for 2 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved completely. Strain through a gold coffee filter into an airtight container, discarding the solids. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer for up to 6 months.


Corpse Reviver Number Blue

Sarah Tanat-Jones © 2020

Corpse Reviver Number Blue

I’m a blue drinks guy. Ever since I put The Shark on the menu at PDT in 2013, I’ve had a bit of a reputation as someone who helped make blue drinks acceptable to the snooty craft cocktail scene. Pioneered by blue-drinks evangelist Jacob Briars, the Corpse Reviver Number Blue is a take on the classic Corpse Reviver Number Two, but with a simple substitution of blue curaçao for regular orange curaçao or Triple Sec. If you were blindfolded, this drink would taste exactly the same, but here, the addition of blue coloring has a significant impact on the overall sensory experience. It’s fun to drink an electric blue drink every once and a while.

I specifically like Plymouth gin here because it has a soft juniper profile that doesn’t overpower everything else, but you can use whatever you have on hand. Lillet blanc is a French aromatized wine somewhat similar to dry vermouth.

Makes 1 drink

Absinthe, for rinsing
¾ ounce Plymouth gin
¾ ounce Lillet blanc
¾ ounce blue curaçao
¾ ounce fresh lemon juice

Rinse a chilled coupe with absinthe. In a shaker, combine all the remaining ingredients. Add ice and shake for 15 seconds. Strain into the prepared coupe.

NOTE

Once you open the bottle of Lillet, keep it in the fridge and be sure to drink it within a few weeks. If it gets any older than that, it won’t be undrinkable, but it won’t be awesome.


Reprinted with permission from Drink What You Want: The Subjective Guide to Making Objectively Delicious Cocktails by John deBary, copyright © 2020. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House.