Girls With Glasses: Let Me Upgrade You

Instead of shelling out ten bucks for something you could pour into a solo cup at party, invest in cocktails that take skill and a well-stocked bar to make.

Photo by Kirsten Samanich, @kir_andloathinginlasvegas

Photo by Kirsten Samanich, @kir_andloathinginlasvegas

If you’re like most twenty-somethings, you’ve spent at least one evening evening at a bar (or a restaurant with a bar). Whether you’re hitting the pub every other night or once in a blue moon, ordering your evening’s drink can sometimes be a source of frustration. You’ve come to hang with friends and soak up the atmosphere, but an overpriced, underwhelming drink adds a pang of annoyance to your evening. This is especially true with well drinks.

Well drinks—combinations of liquor and soda—are simple but surprisingly finicky with unreliable proportions and bottom–shelf alcohol, so their prices are often hard to justify. Instead of shelling out ten bucks for something you could pour into a solo cup at party, invest in cocktails that take skill and a well-stocked bar to make.

Some refreshing drink alternatives for popular soda/juice combos:

Gin & Tonic → Martinez

This drink is as refreshing as the classic G&T but with a maraschino liqueur and Bocker’s bitters to make it unique. Refreshing and slightly sweet, the Martinez is a cousin to the gin Martini but always made with a lemon twist.

Rum ‘n Coke → Manhattan

The complex flavors from sweet vermouth are a grown-up substitution for Coke. Straight up or on the rocks, this rye whisky cocktail has similar flavors as a rum and Coke, just without the fizz. Don’t like whisky? Substitute dark rum. The bartender might grimace—but you won’t.

Whiskey Ginger → The Old Fashioned

Not for the faint of heart, this granddaddy of cocktails made popular again by Mad Men is one of the oldest drinks out there, and for good reason. The Angostura bitters, citrus, and sugar mirror the sweetness of the soda, but play up the flavors of the rye whiskey much more.

Cranberry Vodka → Cosmopolitan

This is another drink that was popularized and eventually cliched by a TV show (Thank you, Sex and the City). While some may snicker at this elegant pink drink, it hits the same sour tones as a vodka cranberry—they are made with the same base ingredients after all. But as opposed to CranVo, the addition of orange liquor, lime juice, and a lemon zest gives the Cosmopolitan an edge.

Scotch ‘n Soda → The Rusty Nail

If scotch is your game, then the Rusty Nail is for you. This is a very simple drink as well since it only has two ingredients: Drambuie—a liqueur made from scotch whisky, honey, herbs, and spices—and scotch whisky (preferably Dewars White Label). But since most of us don’t have Drambuie lying around the house, it’s more a special treat than an at-home staple.  

Bonus:

Pint of Beer → Black ‘n Blue

If you like quality draft beer, by all means go for a traditional pour. But if you don’t mind the blasphemy that is mixing lagers and stout beers, this is a break from the ordinary. Similar to the Black & Tan, it’s a combination of Guinness and Blue Moon, poured to float on top of each other like an 8th grade science experiment. The Blue Moon’s citrus undertones add lightness to the rich Guinness. As you drink up, the two mix to make a unique flavor combination. Trust me, it’s delicious.