Built Cocktail Nov 18, 2019


Champagne-based cocktails date all the way back to the mid-1800s. One of our favorite members of this family is the mimosa, invented in the 1920s at the Ritz in Paris. For our take on this festive, bubbly, brunch-friendly cocktail, we banished even the thought of fruit juice from a bottle or carton and instead began with equal parts freshly squeezed OJ and, initially, champagne.

Tasters loved the fresh citrus—so much so that they wanted more of it, but they also wanted more sparkling-wine flavor. How to do both? A little orange liqueur boosted the orange flavor and added some complexity. We also increased the amount of sparkling wine, which helped ensure a more wine-forward beverage. And we switched to prosecco (or cava) from the far more expensive champagne, with no loss in the quality of the cocktail. We also liked to garnish our Mimosa with an orange slice or twist. The Bellini is a delicious sibling, created in the 1940s in Venice at the legendary Harry’s Bar.

The original recipe calls for fresh peach puree, but tasters found Bellinis made this way to be too pulpy. Next, we tried peach nectar, but it was too sweet. Peach juice proved the ideal route to our favorite Bellini. A little peach schnapps intensified the stone fruit flavor. Our Royal Berry, a riff on the Kir Royale, is more of a cousin than a sibling, in that it involves adding liqueur rather than fruit juice to sparkling wine. We used our mixed-berry Fruits of the Forest Liqueur; however, a store-bought berry liqueur (such as Chambord) will work.

makes 1 cocktail

2½ ounces orange juice, plus orange twist for garnishing
¼ ounce orange liqueur
3 ounces dry sparkling wine, such as prosecco or cava, chilled

Add orange juice and liqueur to a chilled wine glass or flute glass and stir to combine using a bar spoon. Add wine and, using a spoon, gently lift juice mixture from the bottom of the glass to top to combine. Garnish with an orange twist and serve.

Make a BELLINI by substituting peach juice for orange juice, and peach schnapps for orange liqueur. Omit orange twist and garnish with a fresh peach slice, if desired.
Make a ROYAL BERRY by adding 1 blackberry, raspberry, or halved strawberry to the bottom of flute glass. Substitute 1½ ounces Fruits of the Forest Liqueur for orange juice and orange liqueur. Increase wine to 4 ounces. Omit orange twist.

The Food Network Recipes MIMOSA



With its citrus and herbal flavors, this simple but sophisticated and not-too-sweet nonalcoholic cocktail is just as much at home on a wintry holiday table as it is at an outdoor summer get-together. The three ingredients add up to far more than just the sum of their parts.

We started with 4 ounces of freshly squeezed grapefruit juice and the same amount of seltzer. To temper some of the grapefruit’s tartness and enhance the savory backbone of this spirit-free cocktail, we enlisted help from our piney rosemary-infused syrup. Garnish the spritzer with a rosemary sprig in addition to the grapefruit twist, if you like. To create a simple flavor twist on this spritzer, we replaced the grapefruit juice with freshly squeezed orange juice for a sweeter citrus-forward profile and paired the OJ with an earthy thyme syrup for the depth of herbal flavor. (And yes, we’ve also given you a tip on how to turn either version into an alcoholic cocktail.)

We prefer to use fresh juice for this spritzer (yellow, pink, or red grapefruit, as you prefer); however, you can substitute unsweetened store-bought juice, if you like.

1 nonalcoholic cocktail

4 ounces grapefruit juice, plus a strip of grapefruit peel for garnishing
½ ounce Herb Syrup with rosemary
4 ounces seltzer, chilled

Fill chilled collins glass halfway with ice. Add grapefruit juice and herb syrup and stir to combine using bar spoon. Add seltzer and, using a spoon, gently lift grapefruit mixture from the bottom of the glass to top to combine. Top with additional ice. Pinch grapefruit peel over the drink and rub the outer edge of the glass with peel, then garnish with grapefruit peel and serve.


Make an ORANGE-THYME SPRITZER by substituting orange juice for grapefruit juice and Herb Syrup with thyme (this page) for rosemary syrup. Substitute orange peel for grapefruit peel.
Create a traditional cocktail by adding 1-ounce Blanco tequila, vodka, or London dry gin to glass with juice.




To create a spirit-free beverage that would be equally elegant and festive to serve at either a holiday gathering or a summer beach party, we turned to our Cranberry Shrub Syrup. Shrubs are acidulated fruit syrups that evolved from the fruit-and-vinegar preserves made by settlers in colonial America. (The term shrub actually refers to both the syrup and the drink made from syrup.)

Sweet-tart cranberries are a perfect fruit to receive this sweet-tart shrub treatment. The luscious flavor of the cranberry really shines when mixed with seltzer and a bit of lime juice, resulting in a mocktail that’s far more complex and flavorful than the lackluster cranberry-lime combos that make their way into many a glass. (Though we have to admit that we were inspired by the Cape Codder, a venerable old-school cocktail made simply of vodka mixed with cranberry juice and lime, which was invented by Ocean Spray to help market the company’s Cranberry Juice Cocktail beverage.)

We tested versions of our spirit-free cocktail with additional flavors—ginger, spices, and herbs—but tasters agreed that the bright, fruity flavors of the cranberry syrup were most satisfying when balanced with just the splash of tangy lime juice. The shrub syrup was also sweet enough that we did not need to add any additional sweetener.

In a shout-out to our Southern compatriots, we developed a delicious variation using our Peach Shrub Syrup and lemon juice. And yes, you can make either into an alcoholic cocktail by adding—what else?—vodka.

makes 1 nonalcoholic cocktail

2 ounces Cranberry Shrub Syrup
¼ ounce lime juice, plus lime twist for garnishing
6 ounces seltzer, chilled

Fill chilled collins glass halfway with ice. Add shrub syrup and lime juice and stir to combine using bar spoon. Add seltzer and, using a spoon, gently lift shrub mixture from the bottom of the glass to top to combine. Top with additional ice and garnish with a lime twist. Serve.

Make a SOUTHERNER by substituting Peach Shrub Syrup for Cranberry Shrub Syrup and lemon juice for lime juice. Omit lime twist and garnish with a fresh peach slice, if desired.
Create a traditional cocktail by adding 1-ounce vodka to glass with shrub syrup.

The Food Network Recipes NEW ENGLANDER



Maybe it’s the convivial Irish spirit, or maybe it’s because ultimately this is an alcoholic coffee drink decadently topped with whipped cream, but Irish coffee has a tendency to veer toward excess. With many of the versions we sampled, either the ratio of whiskey to coffee was so skewed that you wouldn’t be blamed if you forgot there was any coffee to begin with, or they were so sweet you could have ordered them off a dessert menu.

Like most great cocktails, the best Irish coffees have balanced flavors, in this case, a combination of coffee, Irish whiskey, and sugar. We started by comparing ratios of coffee to whiskey, from 2:1 to 4:1. Surprisingly, the tasters agreed that a 4:1 ratio offered the best balance of rich coffee to heady whiskey.

Tasters also appreciated a moderate hand when it came to sweetness. The simple syrup was the best choice because of how easily it blended into the coffee mixture. We tested versions made with granulated, brown, and Demerara sugar but found little difference in taste and so stuck with our classic Simple Syrup.

The best versions of this drink we tasted featured cream that was whipped enough to float over the drink, but not so stiff that it failed to easily incorporate into the coffee mixture while being enjoyed. Whipping the cream by hand-worked better and also provided the best control of thickness.

Irish whiskey is traditional here, but rye and Tennessee whiskey also work well. Or take your spiked coffee in a Caribbean or Italian direction by trying one of our twists. We prefer to serve this in a glass mug to highlight the layers of whipped cream and coffee.

makes 1 cocktail

2 ounces heavy cream
¾ ounce Simple Syrup, divided
4 ounces brewed hot coffee
1-ounce Irish whiskey

1 Whisk cream and ¼ ounce simple syrup in a chilled bowl until soft peaks just begin to form, about 30 seconds; set aside.

2 Add coffee, whiskey, and remaining ½ ounce syrup to warmed mug and stir to combine. Dollop whipped cream over top. Serve.


Make a CARIBBEAN COFFEE by substituting Orgeat Syrup for Simple Syrup, and aged rum for whiskey.
Make an Italian COFFEE by substituting Citrus Syrup with lemon for Simple Syrup, and an amaro, such as Averna, for whiskey.

The Food Network Recipes IRISH COFFEE



Toddies have been hailed as a cure-for-what-ails-you for hundreds of years. Arguably the king of hot drinks, the toddy essentially comprises a spirit, hot water, sometimes citrus or spices, and a sweetener (often honey, or maple syrup in Canada, or, in its original form in British-controlled India, fermented palm sap).

We don’t think a hot toddy should be reserved as only a cold or cough remedy (though many of us in the test kitchen swear by it for that purpose). Made well, it is a delicious cup of comfort to be enjoyed all winter long. And, like many old-school types of drinks, the hot toddy is being seen more and more often, in different iterations, on upscale cocktail menus.

Most versions we found varied only slightly between a combination of whiskey or brandy, honey, lemon juice, and hot water. Some versions contained herbal tea, but we preferred to keep our toddy pure and simple. Tasters preferred toddies made with brandy (though bourbon and Tennessee whiskey also worked) and a modest hand when it came to the ratio of brandy to water.

As for the lemon juice and honey, we opted for a balanced approach and used an equal amount of each. Don’t look for any fancy mixing methods here; just stir everything together, wrap your hands around the steaming cup, and enjoy. Be sure to measure the water after boiling it, since even in the short amount of time it takes to boil, you will lose some to evaporation. In addition to the lemon slice, garnish your toddy with a cinnamon stick, if desired.

makes 1 cocktail

5 ounces boiling water
1½ ounces brandy
½ ounce lemon juice, plus lemon slice for garnishing
1 tablespoon honey

Using bar spoon, stir all ingredients together in a warmed mug until combined and honey has dissolved. Garnish with a lemon slice and serve.


Make a SCOTCH HOT TODDY by substituting brewed hot black tea for water and Scotch for brandy.
Experiment with the style of this cocktail by substituting bourbon or Tennesee whiskey for the brandy.

The Food Network Recipes HOT TODDY


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