Often, trying out a fancy new cocktail requires dropping fifty or sixty dollars at the liquor store on vermouths, liqueurs, bitters, and other esoteric ingredients that are probably going to collect dust on the top shelf for the next ten years. Or maybe you shy away from restaurant-caliber drinks because you don’t need a ten-bottle amaro library in the den. Wouldn’t you rather buy your cocktail ingredients at the grocery store with your milk and eggs—in only the quantities you need, and without the expensive side trip?
That’s the premise of The One-Bottle Cocktail, from author Maggie Hoffman, who’s seen all sides of the cocktail revolution as a longtime correspondent for the likes of Serious Eats, Wine Enthusiast, and Punch. Her new book is a collection of more than eighty recipes, sourced from bartenders all over the country, for those everyday bottles of vodka, gin, tequila, mescal, rum, brandy, and whiskey already sitting on your home bar.
Just add wholesome ingredients like green tomatoes and basil, apricot jam and lemon juice, or carrots, oranges, and paprika, a sunset-colored trio that make a sweet-and-smoky mescal drink. You could mix up any one of them tonight, after a quick run to the supermarket. To start, try this cognac-based riff on the julep that owes its indulgent flavor to store-bought fig preserves and honey.