Happy Hour: Creating Classic Cocktails At Home

During challenging times, no doubt, determined entrepreneurs devise brilliant ways to maintain and grow their business even while the world has ceased all activity.   For small businesses, Covid-19’s impact will be felt for years, yet opportunities can be fruitful for those who decide to step and drive their activity in such a way to continue to fulfill consumers’ needs.     Fortunately for bars, liquor shops, and restaurants with liquor licenses have been able to take advantage of reaching out to their clients with a little ingenuity and determination.     

I have a number of friends in who live in metropolitan hubs, including New York and while touching base last week, one passed on to me how she has become a huge fan of ordering alcohol kits from a neighborhood restaurant and bar giving her the tools to recreate favorite cocktails while sheltering at home.     Intrigued by this concept, I spent time uncovering more about how the alcohol and spirits industry found solutions in revamping sales strategies to find new revenue sources since traffic dried up over the last several months.    It has been impressive to learn how resourceful liquor establishments have become in serving their customers’ desires to explore and recreate cocktails at home.

Craft distilleries have tackled this opportunity in several ways:

1)      Did a 180 degree shift with their business model by retooling their manufacturing facility from distilling alcohol to producing hand sanitizer for sale to large organizations such as hospitals or some sell to the public.    

2)      Distilleries have updated or overhauled their e-commerce platform strategies to refocus selling direct to consumer offering either shipping and delivery services

3)      Distilleries have taken advantage of employing their digital platforms to deepen relationships with their customers by hosting online live demonstrations or educational seminars to discuss products and do it yourself cocktails. 

4)      Use their web presence to spearhead raising much-needed funds for their surrounding community.

As of the date of this blog posting, alcohol establishments in Michigan were petitioning our governor to give permission in allowing liquor to be sold as takeout, so that bars and licensed restaurants are able to sell their wares including do-it-yourself cocktail kits. 

In celebrating this phenomenon of “ happy hour at home”,   let’s look at a couple of classics in the category of cocktails from top U.S. barkeeps who make a living of creating cocktails that we love to drink.  In a nutshell, a cocktail is a mixture of a base made of a distilled liquor mixed with other choice ingredients and garnishments. 

The Manhattan

This time-honored cocktail’s origins began in the late 19th century at the famous New York City’s Manhattan Club.  The Manhattan has earned its place in being a mainstay among the classic cocktails.  It  has three main elements

1.       The liquor itself which depends on an individual’s taste can either be whiskey, Rye, Canadian or Tennessee whiskey, bourbon, and or a blended whiskey

2.       The  vermouth:  which is a wine infused with botanicals

3.       And lastly, the bitters (created with a mixture of alcoholic spirits infused with herbs, roots, fruit, and leaves which develops a range of tastes from spicy to a fruity sweet.

Recipe from Liquor.com

–          2 ounces bourbon or rye

–          1 oz sweet vermouth

–          2 dashes Angostura bitters

–          1 dash orange bitters

–          A brandied cherry for garnishment

1.       Add all the ingredients into a mixing glass with ice, and stir until well chilled.

2.       Strain into a chilled coupe glass

3.       Garnish with a brandied cherry

As the months get warmer, tastes will turn to more lighter liquors and tropical cocktails that will remind us of sand, water, and no worries.  Whether you lean towards a dry Martini, or more fruitier Mojitos, Daiquiris, Coladas or Margaritas, what better time to try out new cocktails recipes.

Giving homage to a Distillery in my neck of the woods:

Detroit Mule Recipe

Detroit Mule – created by Vökin Vodka in Plymouth, Michigan.  Only if you grew up in Michigan, this recipe will be nostalgic due to one of the ingredients that is truly loved by Detroiters and the citizens of the State of Michigan.  This recipe uses Vernors, which is a Detroit ale, yet sweeter and more potent than Canadian Dry.  As a matter of fact, this soda is so strong that many a home remedy Mothers have used it for hot toddies for ill children to drink with a little splash  of whatever alcohol was in the house. 

– 2 oz Vokin Vodka

– 4 oz Vernors

– Juice from a ½ of lime

– Ice

– Lime slice for garnish


Pour Vokin Vodka and Vernors over ice.  Squeeze the juice of 1/2 a lime into cup and stir.  Garnish with a lime slice.  Best served in a copper mug.   -AJ

Share your favorite cocktail in the comment section below or on Twitter.

Thank you to the following sites for content sources:



(1) Liquor.com  – distilleries innovate during crisis

HatTip to the following photographers that shot these beautiful cocktail pictures

Stokpic – Pina Colada

Ambernambrose – stunning cocktails

Social Butterfly – Mojito

Semaka – Manhattan

Mauro – Irish Coffee


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