Cocktail Overhaul

Taking drinks from the Dark Ages of cocktails and revamping them, with delicious results.

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Cocktail Overhaul: Mind Eraser

Despite this drink's name, the combination of vodka, coffee liqueur, and soda was actually relatively low in alcohol. It probably didn't erase any memories unless you downed more than a few. But it's time to upgrade the Mind Eraser to give it more flavor—and a knockout punch. More

Cocktail Overhaul: Lemon Drop

The Lemon Drop was one of the most popular cocktails in the US in the later part of the 20th century. It should follow a simple formula of spirit, lemon, and sweetener, but sadly, in many bars the drink disintegrated into a candied mess. It's time to give the Lemon Drop the glory it deserves. More

Cocktail Overhaul: Prairie Fire

Shots! Shots! Shots! These are often the words that get the party started...and lead to countless bad decisions and lost memories. The trouble is that not all shots are created equal. Some go down as easy as pie while others burn and burn. The Prairie Fire shot is one of those dangerous shots, commonly constructed with cheap tequila enlivened by Tabasco sauce. But despite its fiery reputation, the Prairie Fire can be corralled into a balanced—and delicious—craft cocktail. Here's how. More

Cocktail Overhaul: Cosmopolitan

The Cosmo is arguably one of the most influential cocktails of the past twenty-five years. Its popularity skyrocketed in the 90's and was on the menu off every bar from NY to Timbuktu. It already saw one upgrade later in its life and now its time for a new one. More

Cocktail Overhaul: Surfer on Acid

The Surfer on Acid is most often consumed in a shot and conjures up hilarious images of a surfer trying to stand up on his surfer board while tripping on drugs. The original concoction is an equal-parts mix of coconut flavored rum, Jagermeister, and pineapple juice—a simple mix of alcohol that trends toward the intense-and-sweet side. But what would this drink look like as a long drink? My revamped Surfer on Acid moves away from the shot format with a light and refreshing—but still remarkably flavorful—result. More

Cocktail Overhaul: Lynchburg Lemonade

The Lynchburg Lemonade was the subject of a fierce legal battle between creator Tony Mason and the Jack Daniels distillery. Was it a drink worth fighting for? Not in its original form, I'd say. The classic Lynchburg Lemonade is equal parts Jack Daniels, triple sec, sour mix, 7-Up. The whiskey is buried under sour mix and sweet orange liqueur, plus the sweet soda on top. More

Cocktail Overhaul: The Appletini

The Appletini was pretty much synonymous with everything that was wrong about drinking in the eighties and nineties: those neon colored, artificially flavored, cavity-inducing sweet cocktails featured nothing a bartender from earlier generations would recognize as belonging in a cocktail. More

Cocktail Overhaul: Harvey Wallbanger

The Harvey Wallbanger is not a terrible drink, but it lacks complexity, and the nuances of the Galliano are totally drowned out by the OJ. I wanted my updated version to highlight the Galliano and make it stand out the same way its obnoxiously tall bottle stands out on a back bar shelf. More

Cocktail Overhaul: Mudslide

The original Mudslide was allegedly invented during the 1950s at the Wreck Bar in the Cayman Islands. In its heyday the frozen drink was often made with a mix that came in a plastic bottle. Classy, right? It's time to elevate the Mudslide to the level of respectability and craftsmanship that it deserves. More

Cocktail Overhaul: Long Island Iced Tea

The Long Island Iced Tea is the perfect delivery system for a large volume of booze, a Trojan Horse, if ever there was one. Four ounces of spirits are delivered under a veil of secrecy by chemical sour mix and a splash of Coke. Despite being sweet and seductive, she is a fickle beast that will turn on you in an instant—every time you order a LIIT, you are one sip away from a bad decision. Could this potent punch be tamed and yet still retain its delicious bite? More

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