Nine bartenders from around the world share international cocktail recipes to quench your thirst for travel this fall.
Now approximately 174,053,975 months into the coronavirus pandemic, the days are getting shorter, the nights persistently chillier, and our wanderlust ever stronger. With the exception of short summer road trips (during which we stayed bemasked and socially distanced), our travel plans have laid low—and with far-flung travel still on hold, we’re settling in for a long fall and winter at home. While we wait out the cold months, we asked nine bartenders around the world to share the libations they’re making at home to evoke a favorite place or dreamed-of destination—cocktails to shake or stir when you’re looking for some instant metaphorical travel.
1. Black Is Gold
Denaya Jones, Owner and Lead Mixologist at DEEStilled in Washington, D.C.
“I have a deep love and appreciation for Europe. I spent three years living in Germany as a child and have had the pleasure of spending time in some of its most beautiful cities as an adult, from Barcelona and Rome to Monaco (one of my favorites). One particular memory I hold close to my heart is of my time living in Bamberg, Germany. My friends and I would pick plums from a tree in our neighborhood and lose all sense of time just laughing, playing, and eating our freshly-picked fruits. We were able to just be, which is a feeling I’ve rarely felt in the U.S.
My Black Is Gold cocktail pays homage to Europe. From the plum-honey compote that reminds me of my time in Germany to Nocino (traditionally an Italian liqueur) to the delicious Irish single malt that ties all of the flavors together, I purposely kept the ingredients simple. Knappogue Castle’s 12 Year is versatile in its ability to pair well with different flavors. For this cocktail, the plum, honey, and chocolatey notes are tied together well by the whiskey’s black pepper spice and stone fruit characteristics.”
How to Make A Black Is Gold
- 2 oz Knappogue Castle 12-Year-Old Single Malt Irish Whiskey
- .25 oz barrel aged Nocino walnut liqueur
- .75 oz plum-honey compote*
- 1 egg white
- Angostura bitters
- Gold flakes
*For the plum-honey compote: Thinly slice 2 ripe plums and add to a small pan over medium heat. Add 2 tbsp honey and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and let reduce for approx. five minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool.
Prepare by popping a coupe glass into the freezer to chill, then brush compote onto half of the rim and gently roll in gold flakes to garnish. Combine ingredients in a shaker. Dry shake (shake without ice), then wet shake (shake with ice). Double strain into coupe glass. Top froth with an Angostura Bitters crown.
2. Sparkling Mangga at Pinya
Chris Wirth, President at Volley in Charleston, SC
“Between launching a business and having a baby, these past few months have been very busy for me and my wife, Camila. Although we’ve been running at 100 miles per hour and enjoying every minute, we have been thinking about our holiday plans and, like everyone, wishing the world was back to ‘normal.’
Camila is from the Philippines, and we were hoping to bring our son there for Christmas this year. Unfortunately, that doesn’t look likely, so we’ve been thinking of the Filipino Christmas spirit—which, funny enough, begins in September. Manila’s streets are lit with the bright lights of parols, palm trees are dressed with Christmas lights, and the cheer is evident on so many smiling faces. We dream of the pristine beaches, crystal clear waters, and the oh-so-delicious Philippine mangoes. This inspired the Sparkling Mangga at Pinya, made with our Volley Tropical Mango, an extra touch of tequila (because why not?), and some fresh, organic pineapple juice for an added tropical flare.”
How to Make A Sparkling Mangga at Pinya
- 1.5 oz 100% blue agave tequila
- 1.5 oz fresh pineapple juice
- Top off with Volley Tropical Mango Spiked Seltzer (2.5 oz)
- Fresh mint sprig (optional)
*Note: Only use 100% blue agave tequila and fresh organic pineapple juice. Read why here.
Pour the pineapple juice and tequila into a shaker with ice, shake well until a little foam forms, and pour into a clean Collins glass. Next, fill a glass with fresh ice. Gently flip the can to mix ingredients (real juice settles!) and top off the drink with Volley Tropical Mango to fill the glass. Stir lightly and enjoy. If you like, garnish with a fresh mint sprig.
3. The Ragnarok
Jessica Gonzalez, Co-Beverage Director at Wonderbar in Beacon, New York
“One of my regulars, whom I now call a friend, asked me to bartend for his 50th birthday party in Copenhagen some years ago. It’s rare that I get to visit a place and have locals show me all the best restaurants and bars. It was an unforgettable trip filled with great people, lots of flæskesteg (crispy pork rind), and impressive cocktails from Ruby and my absolute favorite, 1656. The city had so many places for the eye to explore, especially as a spirits enthusiast. I already had an affinity for aquavit—a Scandanavian distilled spirit—so I was pleased that my time in Copenhagen allowed me to explore different brands and styles that aren’t available in the U.S. I think I created at least three new aquavit cocktails after that trip. I was obsessed. I’m still obsessed, so I incorporate it at Wonderbar whenever I can. One taste of the Ragnarok cocktail brings me right back to København.”
How to Make the Ragnarok
- 1.5 oz Ahus Aquavit
- 0.5 oz Pierre Ferrand 1840 cognac
- 0.5 oz black pepper-infused Cocchi Americano
- 0.75 oz Dolin Dry vermouth
Stir all ingredients with ice, then strain into a stemmed glass. Add a garnish of brandied cherry for a finishing touch.
4. Kid Curry
Steve Walton, Beverage Director, High West Distillery in Park City, UT
“During the late fall months I usually like to get away to somewhere warm, sit on a beach, and relax before the busy ski season hits Park City. I have been trying to incorporate curry flavors into a drink for some time now, and I saw this period of limited travel as a great opportunity to bring the flavors of India to the High West. Visiting Goa has been on my bucket list for some time now and I wanted to create a cocktail that could transport me there. I began by making a simple syrup using garam masala powder. Using this as the base, I added High West’s American Prairie Bourbon to bring a layer of earthy sweetness in addition to the bittering components of the Aperol and Cynar. Even though I could not be on the beaches of Goa this fall, when I sip on this drink, I feel I get one step closer.”
How to Make A Kid Curry
- 1.5 oz American Prairie Bourbon
- 0.5 oz Aperol
- 0.25 oz Cynar
- 0.5 oz lemon juice
- 0.25 oz sudachi juice
- 0.5 oz garam masala syrup
- 1 dash saline solution (1:5)
- 4 watermelon cubes
- Fresh curry leaves
Muddle watermelon in a shaker tin, then add remaining ingredients. Shake with ice then double strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a fresh curry leaf.
Shane McClean, Resident Mixologist, Sweetfield Manor in Bridgefield, Barbados
“I’ve been fortunate enough to travel the world as a mixologist and create cocktails for people as I go. No matter where I wander, I always think back to the Caribbean and to Barbados, where I’m from. I created this cocktail to conjure the allure of Caribbean summer that leaves a lasting impression on anyone who visits. As a rum specialist, rum is, of course, my spirit of choice. For this cocktail, I married it to mango—a true Caribbean staple—and accented it with cinnamon sugar cane sweetness and aromatic spice notes.”
How to Make A Tantalize
- 30 ml mango nectar
- 25 ml cinnamon syrup
- 25 ml fresh lime juice
- 45 ml 12-year aged rum
- 3 dashes of angostura bitters
- Dash nutmeg
Add all ingredients but nutmeg to a mixing glass with one scoop of ice. Shake vigorously and pour into a rock glass. Add a dash of nutmeg to garnish
6. Flame of Love
Gareth Evans, Global Brand Ambassador, Absolut Elyx in London, England
“One of the best feelings in the world is flying 13 hours, landing in a place on the other side of the earth, and yet somehow feeling like you’re at home on your own doorstep. I feel that way about Hong Kong, a place where I’ve worked and lived and have lifelong friends. Now that I can’t travel there casually, I miss it desperately. It’s a completely different way of life compared to anywhere else. Whenever I would land, I would head straight out—partly to fend off the jet lag and partly because I just like the sounds and smells of the city.
Hong Kong has a relatively new cocktail scene, but there are some amazing bars to be found—and my favorite to start the night was this place attached to a fancy dim sum restaurant called Duddell’s. I would sit in their courtyard surrounded by towering skyscrapers and order a martini, which would always be served so fast, I am surprised they even had time to make it. One time the bartender made me something different from an old cocktail book he had found: the Flame Of Love, essentially a martini with a splash of sherry with flamed orange zest. To this day, it still might be the best drink I’ve ever had. I can’t wait to go back.”
How to Make A Flame of Love
- 50 ml Absolut Elyx
- 10 ml Manzanilla Sherry
- 3 long orange zest strips
Chill a cocktail glass, then express the oils from two of the zests through a lit match onto the inside of the glass. Stir the drink over cubed ice until very cold then strain into the glass, then flame the other zest over the top and serve.
7. Arno Ardente
Stacey Swenson, Creative Drink Specialist & Logistics, Simple Serve in Brooklyn, New York
“On my last trip to Italy, I was sitting in a cafe in Florence and ordered a Negroni (that’s where it was invented, after all). I’m not big on cookies and desserts, but something compelled me to order these little Susumelle cookies, which are essentially chocolate-covered gingerbread cookies. This one was laced with Calabrian chili and sprinkled with sea salt. That, paired with my Negroni, was a thing of beauty. The combination of chocolate, spice, salt, and the bitter orange from the Campari was idyllic. I sat there and thought to myself, There is no place in the world I’d rather be than here, right now, doing this.”
How to Make An Arno Ardente
- 1 oz Campari
- 1 oz Calabrian chili-infused gin*
- 1 oz sweet vermouth (I used Vermouth di Torino Rosso)
- 0.5 oz creme de cacao
- 0.75 oz fresh lemon juice
- Pinch of sea salt
*In advance, infuse 12 small dried Calabrian chilis in 12 oz of dry gin.
Add all ingredients to a shaker and shake well. Strain into coupe glass and garnish with an orange peel.
8. A Day at the (Crawfish) Races
“We are surrounded by increasingly complicated food and cocktails in restaurants and bars, but in times like these, favorites like boiled crawfish—downright sacred to us New Orleanians—mint juleps, and brambles always satisfy us most. This cocktail is inspired by derby season and the julep, but named for the only race I’m going to be able to attend for a while: the crawfish race, a little tradition of picking a few live crawfish out of the sack and seeing who is fastest! (And it washes down hot and spicy crawfish pretty well, too.) While I’d rather be serving this by the pitcher to loads of friends huddled around a table piled high with seafood, I can still enjoy one as a treat by myself.”
How to Make A Day at the (Crawfish) Races
- 2 oz mint tea-infused Jägermeister*
- 0.25 oz fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon of blackberry jam
- Mint and/or fresh fruit for garnish
*For the infusion, use one teabag per 250ml of Jägermeister. Steep in a sealed container for 4-6 hours. Time can be reduced to an hour or so (always to taste) if you have the means to warm it while it’s infusing. (For example, by putting it in a hot water bath in your kitchen sink, or bagging and bathing it in an immersion circulator set to 160°.)
Combine ingredients in a tin, “whip-shake” with one ice cube for ten seconds, double strain to a double old fashioned glass filled with roughly crushed ice. (Use a meat tenderizer or rolling pin if you don’t have a bar kit!) Garnish with mint.
Jomarie Davila, Bartender, Azalea Latin Asia in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico
“There is nothing that gives relief from the relentless tropical weather in Puerto Rico quite like a refreshing drink, and usually visitors arrive craving something classic like a piña colada or mojito. I like to give them something a bit more complex and unique but that still evokes the flavors of the Caribbean. And so the Bòhé cocktail was born, a drink that marries those classic drinks to the signature Asian flavor of a Nigori sake and notes lemongrass and creamy coconut. To me this drink is a glass of hope for when we’ll be able to travel again.”
How to Make A Bòhé
- 0.75 oz mint syrup
- 3-4 lime wedges
- 1.5 oz white rum
- 0.75 oz coconut lemongrass sake
- Club soda
In a 12 oz glass, add 3-4 lime wedges, mint syrup, coconut lemongrass sake, and white rum. Use a cocktail muddler to gently muddle all the ingredients. Add ice to the glass and shake. Top with club soda. Garnish with lots of fresh mint and lime.