Now that most of us are spending more time at home, we've all likely been doing a lot more of a couple things: namely, eating and drinking. Definitely the drinking part.
In my home state of Ohio, there was a 23.7% increase in alcohol sales during the month of March 2020. The week before the whole state went on lockdown (when bars and restaurants were closed), Ohioans purchased a record 437,507 gallons of liquor.
Not that I'm condoning work-from-home drinks, or encouraging everyone to just be drunk all the time while in isolation, but we can't ignore that a few (okay, several) more glasses of wine and spirits are being consumed right now.
My husband and I are guilty, too; Elliot came home with a $120 haul from our local shop that week before lockdown.
But we decided to turn our increase in cocktail consumption into something fun – and travel-related!
Drinking Around the World Around the House
We did a fun weeklong drinks series over on Instagram Stories in the beginning of April. The premise was simple: to make 7 different drinks connected to 7 different continents in 7 different rooms in our house.
I actually don't drink a whole lot of alcohol, but I did have a lot of fun with this series. Elliot was in charge of coming up with cocktail options that would tie in to different continents (and mixing them all), and I was in charge of learning the history of each drink and filming/photographing everything.
Because this was so popular over on Instagram, I decided to turn it into a blog post, too. This way, you can also go Drinking Around the World Around the House if you want!
Below you can find recipes for each of the cocktails we made, along with a brief history of each (along with our reasoning for the rooms of our house we decided to make each one in).
We purposely chose cocktails that don't have a ton of hard-to-find ingredients, meaning you should be able to make many of these yourself!
1. North America cocktail: Old Fashioned
The word “cocktail” isn't actually a very old one; it came into use sometime in the early 1800s – in fact, it was first seen in print in 1806 to describe a mix of spirit, water, sugar and bitters.
Today, that mixture basically describes an Old Fashioned, which is the drink we decided to make to represent North America. There's some disagreement on where the Old Fashioned was officially “invented,” with several US cities like New York, Chicago, and Louisville all claiming to have invented the now-classic cocktail.
Louisville, Kentucky, claims that the Old Fashioned was invented at the Pendennis Club in the 1880s, and the city named it as its official cocktail in 2015. This makes sense, since the classic Old Fashioned is made using bourbon, and a lot of bourbon is made in Kentucky.
Here's the recipe for you:
- 1 bar spoon sugar/water, or 1 bar spoon simple syrup
- 2 dashes Bitters
- 2 oz Bourbon
- Orange rind or maraschino cherry
- Mix simple syrup with bitters.
- Add Bourbon (or Rye if you prefer). Stir.
- Add ice as preferred.
- Garnish with orange rind and/or cherry.
We like to use 1 giant ice cube as opposed to several smaller ones. Elliot also often likes to dissolve his own sugar in water for a more "traditional" version of the drink, but using simple syrup works the same way.
The Old Fashioned went out of fashion for quite some time in the US, but the popularity of the show Mad Men (on which Don Draper's favorite drink was the Old Fashioned) is said to have led to a resurgence in the cocktail on many bar menus.
2. South America cocktail: Pisco Sour
Since our living room is connected to our kitchen, we decided to designate the kitchen as South America for our second drink. (Plus, this one requires egg whites, and it's always a good idea to handle eggs in the kitchen!)
We chose the Pisco Sour as our South American drink, as it's the national drink of both Peru and Chile. The countries have a bit of a rivalry over who makes the “real” Pisco Sour, but it's generally believed that the drink was invented in a bar in Lima, Peru, in the 1920s.
The main ingredient of a Pisco Sour is the Pisco, a brandy made from grapes the wine-producing regions of Chile and Peru.
The “sour” part of a Pisco Sour comes from adding citrus to the alcohol; in this case, it's lime juice. The Peruvian version of the drink calls for an egg white and Angostura bitters, which is the version we ended up making (though we could only get our hands on Chilean Pisco).
Here's how to make a Peruvian Pisco Sour:
- 2 oz Pisco
- 1 oz lime juice
- 0.5 oz simple syrup
- 1 egg white
- Angostura Bitters
- Add Pisco, lime juice, simple syrup, and egg white to shaker with ice.
- Shake vigorously, then strain into glass.
- Garnish foam top with bitters. Gently stir with thin stirrer to spread bitters.
This is the Peruvian version of a Pisco Sour; the Chilean version is a bit different!
3. Europe cocktail: Aperol Spritz
We headed to Europe next; and what better location to day-drink in Europe than an outdoor patio?
We decided to go with an Aperol Spritz for our European drink. This drink has only become popular in the US in the last few years, but it's been around in Italy for decades.
The “spritz” is a drink that's been around for hundreds of years; in the early days, it was just watered-down wine. By the early 1900s, it was wine and soda water to give it an extra fizz.
Aperol – a bitter liqueur made from rhubarb, gentian, and other florals – was invented in 1919 in Padua, Italy. By the 1950s, mixing Aperol with prosecco became a popular way to make a spritz in Venice. By the 1990s (thanks largely to a push by Aperol in Europe), it became THE way to enjoy a spritz.
This is also a pretty easy drink to make:
- 3 oz dry Prosecco
- 2 oz Aperol
- 1 oz soda water
- Garnish: Orange wheel
- Fill wine glass with ice.
- Add Aperol, Prosecco, and soda water.
- Garnish with orange wheel.
This is the 3-2-1 recipe for an Aperol Spritz, though many prefer a 2-2-1 recipe with equal parts Aperol and Prosecco instead. It all depends on how much Aperol flavor you prefer. (Elliot and I made a 2-2-1 version.)
A spritz is typically a drink to enjoy as an aperitif, or pre-dinner drink in Italy. But you'll find them also very popular to pair with cicchetti (small snacks) throughout the afternoon, especially in Venice. In fact, if you order a “spritz” in Venice today, it will almost always be an Aperol Spritz.
4. Asia cocktail: Singapore Sling
Guest room / Office
We moved next to our office/guest room, which we designated as Asia for our drinks series. The drink we chose was the Singapore Sling, which is said to have been invented at the bar at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore in the early 1900s. Our guest room is the closest thing we have to a hotel room, so we figured we'd make this drink there.
The Singapore sling is a gin-based drink (in fact, it was originally just called a “gin sling”), but interestingly nobody knows what the original recipe was. The drink that was served at the Raffles Hotel in the 1910s and '20s was never put down on paper.
This is partly why there are a LOT of different recipes for a Singapore Sling today. The Raffles Hotel keeps its current recipe to itself, and the joke goes that you'll get an entirely different drink depending on where in the world you order this cocktail.
Some Singapore Slings use fruit juices like pineapple and orange; others use grenadine to make the drink a bright red color. We went with a simpler recipe, mostly driven by the tastes we prefer (less sweet) and the ingredients we had on hand.
The common denominator for all Singapore Sling recipes is the gin, and the fact that it's mixed with something sweet and served chilled (which makes it a sling).
Here's the drink we made:
- 1 oz Gin
- 1.5 oz Cherry Liqueur (or cherry brandy)
- 0.5 oz lemon juice
- 6 oz soda water
- Garnish: lemon slice or cherry
- Add all ingredients to shaker filled with ice and shake well for 30 seconds.
- Strain into glass (highball or tumbler).
- Add 1-2 ice cubes if preferred.
- Garnish with lemon slice and/or cherry.
To get the gradient-like look, leave the cherry liqueur out of the shaker. After you've strained your drink into your glass, pour in the cherry liqueur over the back of a spoon.
5. Africa cocktails: African Sunrise and Dawa
We decided we wanted to make a brunch drink in our bedroom, and found a recipe for a coffee-based cocktail called an African Sunrise. Hence, our bedroom was designated Africa one Sunday morning.
The African Sunrise is a coffee and vodka-based drink with a splash of citrus, meaning there's not really anything that ties it to Africa other than its name and the fact that it calls for African coffee. (Did you know that several countries on the African continent are known for their coffee beans? Places like Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, and Tanzania all produce great coffee!)
The African Sunrise wasn't a complete hit, but I think it's mostly because Elliot doesn't like coffee, and I'm picky about my iced coffee.
I think this recipe might be fun for others to play around with, though, so here you go:
- 4-5 oz Kenyan or Ethiopian coffee (hot)
- 2 oz citrus vodka
- 1 oz soda water
- 0.5 oz simple syrup
- Ice cubes
- Brew the coffee; let cool slightly.
- Mix vodka, soda water and simple syrup in a glass.
- Add warm coffee to mix.
- Add ice cubes as preferred.
Use more soda water if you prefer a more bubbly drink, or if you like weaker coffee.
And yes, we totally wore onesies while sipping this one in bed. #SorryNotSorry
If you want a hot coffee-based drink that I enjoy more (and that is also still tied to Africa), I suggest an Amarula coffee. This is just coffee mixed with Amarula, a cream liqueur made in South Africa from the fruit of the marula tree.
Top it with whipped cream and maybe some marshmallows, and you have an easy boozy coffee drink.
In our search for African cocktails, we came across another easy cocktail that we decided to make. This one can be found all across Kenya (and some other East African countries), and is said to have been invented at a restaurant called Carnivore in Nairobi.
The cocktail is called a Dawa, with “dawa” meaning “medicine” in Kenyan Swahili. This drink won't necessarily cure anything that ails you, but it IS a refreshing drink.
Here's the recipe for this one:
- 1 tsp sugar
- 2 oz vodka
- 1 lime quarter
- Dawa stick (stick to transfer honey/muddle lime)
- Lime wheel for garnish
- Add sugar and lime to drinkware.
- Gently mash lime with sugar.
- Add ice and vodka.
- Twist dawa stick in honey. Insert into drink.
- Muddle limes to taste with dawa stick.
- Garnish with lime wheel.
In Kenya, you can actually purchase special dawa sticks just for this drink. Any kind of stick will do, though, to transfer some honey into your drink and act as a stirrer; I think using small honey dippers would be cute!
The Dawa is based on the caipirinha, the national drink of Brazil. But it uses vodka (more easily accessible) and adds honey, which is another Kenyan specialty.
6. Australia cocktails: Dark ‘n' Stormy and Aussie Mule
Running out of rooms in our house, we headed into our (newly renovated) bathroom to make our Australia drinks. Elliot joked that Australia is known for having toilets that flush “backwards” (even though that's not true; thanks Simpsons), hence there's our room tie.
Australia doesn't really claim many cocktails of its own, so the ingredient we used to make our connection was Bundaberg, a non-alcoholic ginger beer made in Australia.
Bundaberg was established as a family business in the town of Bundaberg, Australia, in 1960. The company began exporting their ginger beer internationally in 1987, and it's now available world-wide. In 2004, the brand even began growing its own ginger crop!
We decided to make two different drinks using our Bundaberg ginger beer as a base.
Dark ‘n' Stormy
The first drink is for Elliot since he likes rum and I don't. This super easy cocktail just mixes rum and ginger beer (and some lime). It was invented after WWI in Bermuda, and calls for Gosling's Rum (more specifically, their Black Seal rum).
Gosling's holds a trademark on the cocktail name “Dark ‘n' Stormy,” so if you don't use Gosling's rum to make this drink, then you can't call it a Dark ‘n' Stormy.
Not that you really need a recipe for this one, but here it is anyway:
- 2 oz Gosling's Black Seal Rum
- 3 oz ginger beer (we like Bundaberg)
- 0.5 oz lime juice (optional)
- Lime wedge for garnish
- Fill tall glass with ice.
- Add rum.
- Add ginger beer.
- Add lime juice (if preferred).
- Garnish with lime.
The cocktail name "Dark 'n' Stormy" is actually trademarked by Gosling's Rum. If you're not using Gosling's, you legally can't call it a Dark 'n' Stormy!
Another easy drink to make with ginger beer is a Moscow Mule (or, in this case, an Aussie Mule since we're using Australian ginger beer).
The origin story of the Moscow Mule is one of my favorites. It was invented in 1941 at the Cock ‘n' Bull, a pub in Los Angeles. It was the brainchild of a bartender (Jack Morgan), the man who owned the rights to Smirnoff Vodka (John G. Martin), and a woman (Sophie Berezinski) who happened to have a large number of copper mugs that she was looking to get rid of.
At the time, vodka was not a popular spirit in the US, but the Moscow Mule soon changed that and the drink became an American favorite.
The drink is traditionally served in a copper mug, which both looks cool and helps keep the drink cold.
Here's the easy recipe for an Aussie Mule:
- 2 oz vodka
- 3-4 oz ginger beer (to make it Aussie, use Bundaberg)
- 0.5 oz freshly-squeezed lime juice
- Lime wheel or wedge to garnish
- Fill copper mug with crushed ice.
- Add vodka.
- Add ginger beer to fill.
- Add lime juice.
- Garnish with lime.
For an extra ginger kick, you could also add some fresh ginger to your Mule!
7. Antarctica cocktail: Drunk slushie
For the last drink in our Drinking Around the World Around the House series, we had to get a little creative. The last continent we needed to represent was Antarctica – but as an uninhabited ice continent that is an international scientific preserve that doesn't belong to any one country, it's not like the place has a rich cocktail history.
We headed down to the basement (the coldest room in our house) for this last drink, and decided to just make something using lots of ice.
What did we make? A drunk slushie!
This drink is the only one on our list that includes a more sophisticated mixing tool – in this case, a blender. It also calls for a clear spirit (Elliot used gin in his, and we put vodka in mine), some club soda, and coloring/flavoring – we went with blue raspberry Mio to fit with the ice theme.
Here's the full recipe:
- 2 cups ice
- 2 oz vodka (or gin)
- 2-4 oz club soda
- Crystal Light / Mio / Flavoring of choice
- Add 2 cups ice to Blender (we used a NutriBullet).
- Add alcohol and flavoring of choice.
- Add between 2-4 oz club soda.
- Pulse blend a few seconds at a time until it reaches slushie consistency.
Be careful not to overblend, as this will add heat and liquefy the drink.
Fun fact: Did you know that slushies were invented by accident in the 1950s? The story goes that a soda fountain broke, and the manager put all his cola in the freezer. The soda became a bit slush-like, and he decided to sell it that way as a new drink. Hence, the slushie was born!
So there you have it! Nine different cocktail recipes to help you plan your own Drinking Around the World Around the House series.
As always with alcohol, please drink responsibly – we made all these drinks over the course of a week!
Which of these world cocktails will you try first?
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