• Almost at peak jungle on the Harlem Terrace. The shiso is overflowing, I can’t keep up with the ground cherries dropping to the ground, and the currant tomatoes are WILD. .
Tonight I’m going to make some garlicky gazpacho with some of the overflowing tomatoes... and some hot sauce with the purple peppers. :) 🌶🌶🌶
#gardencocktails #cocktailgarden #urbangarden #urbangardener  #nycgarden #nycgardens #gardenlife #harlemgarden #gardensofinsta #gardendesign #citygardening #citygardens #garden_styles
  • #ad “I've got too much mint." <-- A statement I've never, ever said. :)
This summer, my 4 varieties of mint are growing like scraggly weeds out of their pots and I need to contain the madness with some mint cocktails. Recently I partnered with @MakersMark to make a few bourbon cocktails as a part of their really cool #cocktailsforcleanups campaign. In this campaign,  the folks at @MakersMark are committing to removing over 75,000 pounds of trash from the world's oceans and waterways... Because you can't make bourbon without clean water. I thought there was no better spirit than bourbon to pair the recent explosion of mint. .
To make this drink as minty as possible, I added *generous* handfuls of mint from the garden, muddled the mint and bourbon, and let it set for a few hours to absorb the flavor. I highly recommend this drink, it tasted almost as minty as the fresh mint tea we drank in Morocco. :)
🌱Maker’s Summer Mint Cooler🌱
🔸2 parts @MakersMark
🔸1 part simple syrup
🔸1 part fresh lemon juice
🔸Soda water
🔸Generous handful of mint sprigs
Combine first three ingredients and shake with ice. Strain over fresh ice and top with soda water. Garnish with mint sprig. (Or 10, haha)
  • This book is the queen of my cocktail library this summer. From milkweed, to lamb's quarters, to mugwort, to elderberries, to sumac, I've learned so much this summer from @blackforager and @66squarefeet. I feel like every time I open this book to make a recipe, I discover another plant or another technique for eating (drinking) the botanical things. <3
I took inspiration from Marie's "Migration" cocktail and added a bit of sumac water. Definitely a do-over. :)
🌱Migration (With Sumac!)🌱
▫️2oz bourbon ▫️.75oz sweet vermouth
▫️.75oz fermented Common Milkweed cordial
▫️.75oz sumac water
To make sumac water, you need to add 2 cups of sumac drupes stripped from their stalks with 5 cups of water. Let it sit for 24-48 hours until it gets bright red. Strain through cheesecloth.
For the cocktail, add all ingredients to a shaker with ice. Strain into a coupe and serve. Garnish with a little floral arrangement from the garden. :)
#gardencocktails #foragedcocktails #urbangardener #cocktails #cocktailrecipes #forager #bourbon #bourboncocktails #homebartender #bourboncocktail #summercocktails #summerdrinks #drinks #booze #liquor #liqpic #liquorgram #imbibe #imbibegram #drinkstagram #cocktailsofinstagram #mixology #craftcocktails #happyhour  #cocktailblogger #libations  #cocktailgram #instacocktails #cocktailoftheday #bartender
  • "The only cocktails I don't like are ones with umbrellas." --My father-in-law
Last weekend we had some family in town and I broke out the handmade tiki mugs (and the umbrellas) for some drinks on the Harlem terrace. I think I've still got some convincing to do before my father-in-law appreciates the art of tiki drinks, but I'll keep working on it. :P 📸: @kateruthphoto .
To check out how to make tiki mugs out of clay, check the link in my bio!
🍑Harlem Tiki 🍑
▫️1oz white rum
▫️1oz dark rum
▫️1oz lime juice
▫️.5oz Velvet Falernum
▫️.5oz Allspice Dram
▫️Splash of Sumac Essence (Sumac = forageable now! See @66squarefeet's feed! :D)
Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice. Shake, strain, and serve in a tiki mug full of cubed ice!
#rum #rumcocktail #tikicocktail #summercocktail #CraftSpirits #tiki #Spirits #tikimuglife #Imbibe #harlem #abmhappyhour #cocktail #cocktails #homebartender #ttcocktails #mixology #bartender #cocktailbar #liquor #pottery #ceramics #huffposttaste #fwx #tikitiki #tikimuglife #drinkpunch #flashesofdelight #pursuepretty
  • I raised a butterfly!! 🐛🦋
In some of my common milkweed foraging this summer, I discovered a teeny monarch caterpillar on some of the milkweed I was turning into syrups. I kept this little fellow in a habitat in my apartment and gave him lots of milkweed (leaves) to eat. I now understand the trope of the hungry hungry caterpillar. (These things eat and poop A LOT.)
A little over a week ago my caterpillar transformed and made his chrysalis. I always liked bugs and insects as a kid but I never remember seeing a monarch chrysalis.
This small strange bug charm hanging off the leaf had me texting photos to my family and friends. The sea foam color perfectly matched the undersides of the milkweed leaves and the gold dots look like they were added by a jeweler.
This Sunday I woke up to a butterfly hanging in the habitat. I let his wings dry and then set him free into the cocktail garden where he hung out for a bit and then flew on his way.
This little butterfly has made the common milkweed syrups and cordials even more of an obsession for me. (See previous posts! 😊) Now every time I walk by milkweed of any variety, I’ll do a search for some caterpillars. 🐛 ❤️❤️❤️
#monarchbutterfly #milkweed #milkweedformonarchs #monarchcaterpillar #monarchs #gardencocktails #bhgflowers #urbangardener #nycgarden #nycgardening #butterflygarden
  • The cocktail garden is exploding!! 🐛🌱🌿🌾🌺🌼🌻🌞 The flowers, herbs, and veggies are all loving this heat and south sun from the Harlem terrace. I don’t have a tomato just yet but I’ve had some epic floral and botanical garnishes in cocktails lately. After a crazy week of work @barkbox where we threw a holiday press preview with 40 pugs dressed as sugarpug fairies, I’m excited to do a little foraging walk tonight with my friend @blackforager to find some sumac! ☘️🌱🌸🌞🌻🌛
#bhgflowers #bhghome #urbangarden #urbangardener #nycgarden #nycgardens #harlemgarden #cocktailgarden #gardenlife #gardeners #gardencocktails #plantsofinstagram #apartmentherapy #apartmentgardening #apartmentgarden #apartmentgardener #gardeninspiration #gardens #gardensofinstagram
  • When I first moved to New York City from Indiana, one of the first exploratory trips I took out of the city was to Montauk. To a landlocked Midwesterner like me, Montauk felt like it popped out of a magical story about sea captains and sailboats. So when the folks at @Montaukdistillingco_ reached out to see if I'd be interested in making a cocktail with one of their spirits and they told me the backstory of how it was the love of beaches and love of the water that led to the idea of Montauk Distilling Co... I totally got it. Who wouldn't want to live and start a family business in that magical storybook place? (#AD #21+)
The Montauk Distilling Co. Black Sail Rum is aged longer than light rum in heavily charred barrels, which gives it a much stronger flavor. I wanted to play with a strong but perfect-for-summer flavor to pair with the aged rum. Since I've been pretty obsessed with rhubarb this season, it felt like the perfect experiment. Using my Flavor Thesaurus book, I also read that nutmeg goes really well with rhubarb. (And I love that nutmeg feels like this open-sea Caribbean pirate flavor when you put it in summer dishes and drinks!) After some tinkering, I came up with the recipe below! .
🎀The Rumbarbara 🎀
🔸2oz @Montaukdistillingco_ Black Sail Rum
🔸.75oz 1:1 Rhubarb simple syrup
🔸1oz fresh lemon juice
🔸Sprinkle of (fresh) grated nutmeg
Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice. Shake, strain, and serve in a rocks glass with ice. Garnish with rhubarb ribbons and some flowers! (Rhubarb ribbons are easy to make with a vegetable peeler or a mandoline!)
🎀 Rhubarb Simple Syrup🎀
🔸1 cup sugar
🔸1 cup water
🔸~2 stalks fresh rhubarb, roughly chopped
Directions: Add the sugar, water, and chopped rhubarb to a saucepan on low heat. Simmer the syrup until the rhubarb gets soft and the syrup turns pink, about 20 minutes. (If you want it to be extra pink, feel free to add a pinch of hibiscus tea!) Chill and store up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.
 #montaukdistillingco #rum #rumcocktails #summercocktails #rhubarb #abmhappyhour #cocktails #craftcocktails #craftcocktail #mixology  #imbibegram #instadrinks #thefeedfeed #feedfeed #f52grams  #huffposttaste
  • Up in Katonah, NY for the weekend with cocktails full of daylilies and milkweed. We’ve got a big crew of 11 staying in an old house so I’ve been making cocktails in batches. @maggiejhoffman’s new book, “Batch Cocktails,” has been super helpful. Just like her “One Bottle Cocktails” book, there are some really creative crowd-pleasing drinks! This punch has been the favorite of the weekend so far. ❤️
👑 Reina Punch 👑 ▫️2.5 cups blanco tequila ▫️1.25 cups Pinot Noir
▫️1.25 cups hibiscus bell pepper syrup
▫️2/3 cup of water
▫️1.25 cups fresh lime juice ▫️flowers from the garden for garnish (The book recommends rosemary. :))
Swipe right to see the full instructions and hibiscus bell pepper syrup recipe! .
#punchbowlsocial #margarita #summercocktails #tequilacocktails #abmhappyhour #cocktails #craftcocktails #craftcocktail #mixology #tequila #imbibegram #instadrinks #thefeedfeed #feedfeed #f52grams  #punch #huffposttaste #eattheworld #forager #foodandwine #abmlifeiscolorful #thatsdarling #flashesofdelight #pursuepretty#livecolorfully #thehappynow #petitejoys#craftcocktails #cocktailsofinstagram
  • IT'S MILKWEED SEASON! I have a lot of favorite cocktails, but I think this is my favorite flavor of all. It's so fun to find patches of milkweed, make the cordials & syrups, and ferment + save them for a whole year. I made this drink as a simple riff on a caipirinha or a daiquiri. I also included a few of my favorite milkweed recipes from @66squarefeet's amazing "Forage Harvest Feast" book and @EllenZachos's book, Foraged Cocktails! (Definitely recommend buying both books, there are more recipes where these came from!)
(Also, if you love foraging stuff, please check out my friend Alexis' new account -- @blackforager! She's taught me a ton about foraged foods and posts great lessons all the time. :))
🌱Milkweed Caipirinha🌱
▫️2oz Cachaça
▫️1oz fresh lime juice
▫️.75oz milkweed syrup (Swipe right for the recipe)
#forage #foragedcocktails #forager #foraged #foragedfood #wildcocktails  #milkweed #milkweedflowers #daylily #gardencocktails #foragedfoods #caipirinha #summercocktails #cachacacocktails #abmhappyhour #cocktails #craftcocktails #craftcocktail #mixology  #imbibegram #instadrinks #thefeedfeed #feedfeed #f52grams  #eattheworld  #foodandwine #abmlifeiscolorful #flashesofdelight #livecolorfully
  • Happy Negroni Week! While there seems to be a special day for every cocktail and spirit on earth, Negroni week is something a bit special. Started in 2013 by Imbibe Magazine, Negroni week raises money for charities from the Arbor Day Foundation to PAWS. I’ve partnered with the folks at @unclevals to create a Negroni variation in celebration! :) #ad
In looking for inspiration for my own Negroni variation, I came upon this melon salad recipe using Campari. It sounded fresh and perfect for this time of year so I tinkered with making a cocktail version using @unclevals Restorative Gin! I used cantaloupe, but I'm excited to try this with honeydew, watermelon, and a medley!
. 🍈Melongroni 🍈
▫️1.5oz cantaloupe-blended @unclevals Restorative Gin
▫️1oz dry vermouth
▫️1oz Campari
Add @unclevals gin and a handful of cantaloupe (and any other melons you’d like!) to a blender and blend. Using a fine mesh strainer, strain out all the solids of the melon. Combine strained @unclevals, dry vermouth, and Campari to a glass with ice. Strain into a lowball with ice and garnish with mint or edible flowers.
#campari #camparicocktails #imbibegram #thirsty #liqpic #saveurmag #tasttingtable #ttcocktails #craftcocktails #cocktailhour #drinkstagram #cocktailtime #feedfeed @thefeedfeed @thefeedfeed.cocktails #negroni #f52grams #bonappetit #foodandwine #flashesofdelight #abmhappyhour #driiiiinks #negroni #negroniweek #campari #cocteles #bhgcelebrate
  • I took some photos for the folks at @josecuervotequila a month or so ago and had some fun experimenting with cinemagraphs. (The app Loopsie is amazing! Much easier than Photoshop.) 😊
This drink is a riff on a Paloma, served in these lovely pink glasses from a Mexico City flea market. ❤️
🌱Sage Advice🌱
▫️1.5 oz Jose Cuervo Tradicional Silver Tequila ▫️2oz grapefruit juice
▫️.5oz 1:1 simple syrup
▫️.25oz lime juice
▫️Sage for muddling
▫️Soda water to top
▫️Edible flower for garnish
Muddle sage with tequila. Add grapefruit juice, simple syrup, and lime juice to a shaker with ice. Shake, strain, and serve over ice. Top with soda water and garnish with an edible flower.
#paloma #margarita #tequilacocktail #tequilacocktails #abmhappyhour #cocktails #craftcocktails #craftcocktail #mixology #tequila #imbibegram #instadrinks #thefeedfeed #feedfeed #f52grams  #avocadococktail #huffposttaste #eattheworld #summercocktail #foodandwine #abmlifeiscolorful #thatsdarling #flashesofdelight #pursuepretty#livecolorfully #thehappynow #petitejoys#craftcocktails #cocktails #grapefruitcocktail

Follow Me!

Cocktail Recipes Features Fresh Ingredients Gardening

How To Invent Cocktails

how to invent cockails

The first cocktail I ever “invented” was in college when I was living with my friends in our sorority. One of the rules of living in a sorority is that you’re not allowed to keep alcohol in the house. Of course as 21 and 22-year-old students we did not follow that rule and had sneaky (and dinky) little bars stashed in our closets for the weekends. Our cocktail of choice was called a “Kappa Collins” and used cheap gin, grapefruit juice that was always stocked in the communal fridge, a neon maraschino cherry, and a splash of soda or sprite. We drank these out of pretty little glassware that we’d find on our weekend thrifting trips.

pink on pink cocktails

My cocktail staple in college.

Looking back, that first cocktail is a bit like a bubbly greyhound. If I made it again today I’d make some fresh substitutions but it wasn’t the worst initiation into the world of bon vivants and cocktailiers.

When I moved to NYC five years ago, my interest in making cocktails took a hockey stick turn. While there is a fascinating depth of creativity happening all over the US when it comes to drinking, NYC is still one of the concentrated cocktail meccas. From Jerry Thomas to David Wondrich to Julie Reiner, the founders + modern bartenders of cocktail culture all established roots here.

These days, I still get a kick out of following a cocktail recipe, but it feels a lot more fun to make up recipes. At first it felt intimidating and out of my league to attempt recipe invention because I’m not a bartender and I’m definitely not a chef. But after I started experimenting a bit, I realized that cocktail inventing is not that different from writing or sewing or photography or gardening- the things that I’ve loved all my life. You need to learn some of the basic building blocks, but after you learn those you can start to improvise and tinker with new ideas.

Basic Cocktail Creation Guidelines:

Read and collect cocktail books.
To learn the principles of creating a delicious cocktail, you need to absorb a baseline of knowledge on how cocktail flavors interact with each other, the history of particular drinks, and an instinct for balancing ingredients. I started learning these things by hitting the books.

These days, one of my favorite things to read is cookbooks and cocktail books. There’s something so intimate and familial about recipe headnotes, and the cocktail/cookbooks of our era have some of the most beautiful photography and styling in all of publishing. Some of my favorite books include: Julie Reiner’s Craft Cocktail Party, Smuggler’s Cove, Shake, Liquid Intelligence, The Wildcrafted Cocktail, and the books I list below. I have (and love) many, many books but for me, the building blocks of cocktail flavor pairings predominantly came in the form of these three books.

Book #1: The Flavor Bible

The first is a book called The Flavor Bible. It’s a bit like a thesaurus in the way that you can look up a single ingredient and find a big list of other flavors and ingredients that pair well with your first ingredient.

Flavor Bible Book

It’s so fun to be able to create one of those flavor combos that become a third flavor- a flavor that is only possible when you combine two ingredients together.

Book #2: Death and Co. Modern Classic Cocktails
The second book I use for cocktail creating is by the folks who run the Death & Co. bar here in the East Village of NYC. This book has the best structure I’ve encountered in all my cocktail book exploration. Each section of the book is divided by base spirits and the types of cocktails associated with them so that you can search the book by Gin (Shaken), Gin (Stirred), Tequila (Shaken), Tequila (Stirred), and so on.

In the Death & Co. book, there is an incredible section called “Tasting and Evaluating Cocktails” that provides these helpful pie charts to help a beginner cocktelier get a sense of basic drink ratios. The book coaches you through what it means for a cocktail to taste balanced by instructing you to make unbalanced cocktails before creating the real deal.

There is a pie chart of a typical Sour cocktail with strong (liquor), sour (citrus), and sweet (sugar of some sort) elements…
Sour Cocktail Ratios from Death and Co Cocktail Book

There is a pie chart of Old-Fashioned-Style cocktail ratios…
Old-Fashioned-Style Cocktail Ratio Pie Chart from Death and Co Cocktail Book

And there’s also a pie chart of Manhattan- and Martini-style cocktails.
Manhattan and Martini-style cocktail ratio pie chart from Death and Co Cocktail Book

It’s a great start for instructions on how to deconstruct classic cocktails so that you can reconstruct them with your own experimental ingredients. And this deconstruction is a perfect segue into my next book.

Book #3: The NYTimes Cocktail Book
The third book I use often to create cocktails is The NY Times cocktail book. Here is where I can find a larger variety of baselines for cocktail ingredient ratios.

My Favorite Cocktail Books

For example, say I want to make up a new cocktail with tequila. I’ll look for classic cocktail recipes in the NYTimes Cocktail book or Death & Co. and evaluate the ratios of the types of ingredients in the cocktail. Here’s the margarita from the NY Times book:

5 from 1 vote



  • 2 oz blanco tequila
  • 1 whole lime, juiced
  • .5 oz triple sec, preferably Cointreau
  • Salt for rim, (optional)
  • 1 lime wedge for garnish

Since this margarita recipe is pretty simple, I’d also consider adding additional fresh ingredients to the drink. If I’m in the Flavor Bible and it tells me lime pairs well with cantaloupe and basil, I can add some fresh cantaloupe and mint to see how it changes the drink. (I did try this, it is delicious. :))

The Flavor Bible Book

Unless a fruit is extremely sweet, acidic, or powerful, I do not adjust the original ratios of the classic cocktail ingredients when I’m developing a cocktail with this system. For example, if I’m adding a kiwi to the cocktail I might decrease the amount of lime juice because kiwis are very acidic. But if I’m adding melon to a cocktail, I wouldn’t change much of the original ratio. (Maybe decrease the sweet additions, ie: less triple sec in the margarita example.)

One other thing to play with when you’re inventing cocktails is the ability to substitute different sweets, acids, or spirits. For sweet ingredients you can use flavored syrups, honey, agave, liqueurs, and sugary fruits/juices. For acids you can swap citruses or even use vinegars and shrubs. And for spirits, sometimes swapping tequila for gin in a drink is delicious!

As your confidence in playing with flavors grow, you’ll be able to experiment more with flavors from scratch instead of using the classic cocktail ratio method. When making cocktails from scratch, your goal is to add different flavors that pair well together to create a balance.

A cocktail tastes balanced when there is not a distinct flavor that overpowers any of the other flavors.

beer cocktail

Making cocktails is not rocket science but it can be fun to treat it with the same intensity. There is a baseline of rules, a science, a pattern that is nice to know as a foundation, but the rest is playful alchemy. Having a bit of fun and creating something *you* like is really the only rule. 🙂

  • Reply
    August 27, 2017 at 9:07 pm

    We love you Stacie

  • Reply
    October 13, 2017 at 5:11 pm

    Ha! Everyone definitely had that “staple cocktail” while in College. Mine was a Gin and Tonic (it’s still my go-to when I’m feeling lazy). One of the best things to come out of the bigger high-end cocktail push is a more broad understanding of how much time and effort goes into crafting the perfect drink. Our Calgary cocktail bar strives to always find innovative new ingredients, mixes, and spirits to use. This is a great post, thanks!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.