There are a number of ways to stock a bar: you can go out and buy one of everything (not really recommended), you can go out and buy what you need for your one or two favorite cocktails (better), or you can wait and hope that a well stocked bar magically appears in your living room (and actually end up just drinking whatever is left over from your housewarming party six months ago). If you've tended toward the last method, your bar might be looking a little bleak. But if you've got just one bottle, you can make drinks.
Today, we'll focus on the cocktails you can make with a bottle of gin. You don't need liqueurs, vermouth, or any other spirits. The rest of the ingredients can be gathered at your local grocery store or farmers' market—this list should be handy as warm-weather produce starts appearing again, but there's plenty to get you started even if you can still see snow out your window.
Some of these cocktails call for a specific type of gin—the cucumbery, floral Hendrick's, for example, or robustly juniper-flavored London Dry—and those gins will make delicious versions of these drinks. But the world won't end if you swap 'em for whatever you have on hand.
Let's get to drinking! We've left out the gin and tonic—you guys can figure out how to make that one, right?
You might be a frequent G&T sipper, but it's easy to forget about that highball's cousin, the Gin Rickey. This refreshing drink which was invented to combat a brutal heatwave in Washington D.C. is made with gin, fresh lime juice, and chilled club soda instead of tonic.
This is one of my all-time favorite gin drinks, and it's only slightly more complicated than the rickey above. Here, gin is mixed with lime and lemon juice, and shaken with mint leaves for super-fresh flavor. It gets just a little club soda on top, so it's a bit more full-flavored, like a gin-spiked lemonade with a blast of mint.
Pomelo and Basil Cocktail
There's more than just lemon, lime, and grapefruit when it comes to citrus for cocktails. Gin is especially friendly to the whole range, as demonstrated in this simple drink made with gin and pomelo juice. (Not sure how to recognize pomelos? They look a bit like monster grapefruits, and have a super-thick pity rind and sweet-tart juice that's quite fragrant and a bit less bitter than grapefruit.) Basil adds a bit of extra flavor to the simple syrup that sweetens this drink.
The Hot and Cold
This rosy-colored hot toddy gets its hue from an easy syrup made by cooking cranberries with sugar and water. Fresh mint adds aroma and lemon brings it all together. If you've never tried a gin hot toddy, we highly recommend you get on it before the weather gets too balmy.
Just because there's honey in this one doesn't mean it's sweet: tart lemon and pungent gin make for a serious cocktail, despite the cute name. This easy drink dates back to the Prohibition days, but you can make a great version if you don't use gin made in your bathtub.
This simple fizzy drink invented by Pegu Club owner Audrey Saunders gets its spicy kick from ginger beer—we like Blenheim, Reed's Premium, and Fentimans, though you can pick up whatever your local store has and adjust the recipe a bit depending on the soda's sweetness. Beyond that, you should pick up a lime and some fresh mint and make sure you have sugar on hand.
Cucumbers and gin are lovely together; the cool vegetable extending the delicate herbal side of the spirit. Here, they're mixed with lime and piney rosemary to complete a drink that's reminiscent of the spa, but spiked.
If you like your drinks on the tart side, you might want to trade in your mimosa for a grapefruit-based brunch drink like this variation on a Salty Dog. We make it with gin and a bit of tart lime for extra brightness. A pinch of Maldon salt gives pops of flavor throughout the drink.
Buttermilk Maple Gin Flip
Anyone who bakes is likely to end up with leftover buttermilk in the fridge. And you can use it to keep baking, but when the day is done, it's handy to know that you can also put that carton of buttermilk to work in a frothy cocktail made with gin and sweetened with rich, dark maple syrup.
Passionfruit Mint Cocktail
If you find yourself drawn to exotic fruit, but you're not really sure what to do with it once you've brought home a bag full, you're not alone. Here's an easy use for passionfruit that brings out its musky-tart flavor. A little honey sweetens things up.
Sour Cherry Gin Cocktail
Sour cherry season is sadly short, so you'll want to pack in all the cherries you can handle: in pies, in tarts, in jam, sorbet, and cake. But put this easy cocktail on your list, too: it's a wonderful sweet-tart mix of piquant cherries and lemon, rounded out with the botanicals from the gin.
Herbs come in handy when you're mixing single-bottle drinks—when you can't call on absinthe or Green Chartreuse, the anisey flavor of tarragon is a lovely fresh substitute. Here it works well to bring out the botanical side of gin and the sweet flavor of a muddled kiwi.
The Hot Pink
If you're feeling bored with your go-to gin drinks, consider venturing over to the savory side. This cocktail requires a little prep, but still just one bottle of booze. It's made with vinegar, just like the shrubs of the colonial era. Celery, beets, and horseradish flavor a tangy, earthy syrup that's wonderful with herbal gin and a splash of seltzer.
It's a little tricky to get raw rhubarb's flavor into a cocktail, but you can capture the season by cooking up a quick rhubarb syrup. It's great in seltzer or even mixed with beer, but if you want to make a gin drink, follow these guidelines for a cocktail that perfectly balances tart, sweet, and boozy.
Got a bottle of bubbly? Great! Then you can also make this:
Ok, ok, this one takes two bottles, but if have some Cava sitting around, this is a classic cocktail you should definitely try. It's herbal, tart, fresh, and festive, easy to make and delicious to drink. As long as you have bubbly, gin, a lemon, and sugar, you're good to go.
Gin samples provided for recipe testing.