Not Your Average Cocktail Guide

We’ve all fallen victim to the fallacies of at-home drink making. Maybe you buy whatever liquor is cheapest or could be the most universal for different cocktails, and you’re probably topping yourself off with a little extra something-something to take the weekday edge off. And, well, there’s a reason it doesn’t taste as good whipped up in your kitchen as it does at the bar. 

A good cocktail is all about balance. The chemistry of the ingredients working together in blissful harmony is what bartenders like Matthew Allan and Gwen Knight of Le Grand Bistro Américain in Kirkland — the 2019 Best Bartender winners of our reader-voted Best of 425 contest — have spent years experimenting with. Unfortunately, we can’t take Allan and Knight home with us, so we tapped their creativity to bring you some high-brow cocktail recipes that are shockingly easy to make. 

Before we get started though, they have some tips: Buy high-quality ingredients. and don’t be afraid to try something new at the liquor store; it just might become your new favorite ingredient. 

All right: get your shakers ready. 

Peachy Farmer

A little spicy and a little sweet

Peachy Farmer Cocktail

2 ounces Maker’s Mark

1.5 ounces peach-cinnamon syrup*

0.25 ounce chili-infused apple
cider vinegar*

Peach-Cinnamon Syrup

3 ripe peaches (diced into
1-inch cubes)

1 cup sugar

1.5 cups water

3 cinnamon sticks (broken)

Bring all ingredients to a boil. Let simmer (covered) for 15 minutes. Strain and cool. You can serve once at room temperature or let sit in the fridge overnight. 

For the chili-Infused ACV, use 1 teaspoon red chili flakes shaken for 1 minute with 1/2 cup ACV, then strain and store in a glass bottle.

For the cocktail

Combine all ingredients in a glass with ice. Stir and strain into a martini glass. Serve it up with a dried pepper floating on top as a garnish.

Matcha Batida

Satisfies piña colada cravings, without extra effort


Matcha Batida

2 ounces Novo Fogo Chameleon Cachaca (alcohol made from
cane sugar)

1 ounce matcha-infused coconut milk*

.5 ounce simple syrup

.5 ounce lime juice

*Matcha-infused coconut milk

Heat a 14-oounce can of coconut milk on the stove. When it begins to bubble, remove from heat and whisk in 1 tablespoon of matcha powder. Let steep for 20 minutes, then cool.

Shake all ingredients, and strain over crushed ice.

Harvest Sour

The creamier, moodier version of your typical whiskey sour

Harvest Sour

1.5 ounces Calvados (brandy made from apples)

.5 ounce Ramazzotti Amaro

.5 ounce lemon juice 

.5 apple cordial*

1 egg white

Ground cinnamon for garnish

*Apple cordial  

1 Granny Smith and 1 Braeburn apple, roughly chopped, skin and all

2 cups sugar

2.5 cups water

1 cinnamon stick

3 whole cloves

6 whole allspice berries

*For the apple cordial, place all ingredients in a pot on the stove and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer until the apples begin to break down (roughly 30 minutes). Let cool, then strain through a sieve.

Put all ingredients into shaker, and dry shake (shake without ice) for about 60 seconds to activate the proteins from the egg white and create a thick foam. Add ice and shake again, then strain into coupe glass. Finish with a dusting of ground cinnamon.

Jungle Bird

A vacation in a glass with a hint of bitterness 

Jungle Bird

1 ounce Plantation Pineapple Dark Rum

1 ounce St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram*

.75 ounce Campari

1.5 ounces fresh pineapple juice

.5 oz fresh lime juice

*Le Grand makes its dram in-house, but St. Elizabeth is a great commercial option.

Shake all ingredients in a shaker with ice, and pour over fresh ice into a double rocks glass. Want to add a little extra flair? Garnish with dried pineapple flowers, made from thin-sliced and dehydrated pineapple. 

Tuxedo #2

The martini’s sexier cousin

Tuxedo #2

Absinthe to rinse

2 ounces Citadelle gin

.5 ounce Dolin Blanc vermouth

.25 ounce Luxardo
maraschino liqueur

2 dashes orange bitters

1 lemon

1 brandied cherry

Pour a small amount of absinthe in a martini glass, swish around, and discard. The absinthe adds a layer of aromatics that elevates the overall experience of this cocktail. Stir the remaining ingredients on ice in a cocktail shaker, and strain into the martini glass. Finish with a lemon peel twist spritzed in and around the glass (and then discarded) and a brandied cherry.

Roasted Fig, Pink-Peppercorn Thyme Soda

The most alluring homemade soda you’ve ever had

Roasted Fig, Pink-Peppercorn Thyme Soda

16 figs, halved

2 cups sugar

2.5 cups water

1 small bunch thyme (with extra
for garnish)

2 teaspoons pink peppercorns

Sparkling water

For the fig syrup, preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Combine all ingredients — except the sparkling water — in a large, shallow skillet. Roast the figs until they’ve just started to blacken (45-55 minutes). Let cool completely, then strain out solids. Now that you have your fig syrup, mix 1.5 ounces of the syrup with 4.5 ounces of soda. Garnish with fresh thyme and some of those beautiful, caramelized figs.

is an assistant editor at 425 magazine. Email her.
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