With a nod to spring breaks gone by, Im revisiting the glory of my youth with these grown-up takes on college favorites.
Along with nicer weather and the start of baseball season, it’s the time of year when our best and brightest put down their books, pack up their dorm rooms and hit the open road to blow off some steam. I know most of my own springtime exploits of years gone by consisted mainly of overindulgence, with little focus on quality (and if I had to guess, not much has changed.)
Nowadays, I’d rather enjoy my drinks from a glass—not a funnel. But just because we’re all grown up now doesn’t mean we can’t revisit some of the spirited flavors of our youth— that’s assuming, of course, that we remember them. So, as a tribute to this annual collegiate bacchanal, I’ve put together a few spring break favorites, re-imagined for grown-up tastes. Whip one up and sip on it while telling the youngsters how it was back in the old days.
Many drinks guzzled during spring break revelry tend to be overly sweet and in the form of a shot, the purpose being to deliver alcohol to the system as quickly and painlessly as possible. Taste? An afterthought, if indeed thought of at all. Case in point: the B-52. Named after the famous military aircraft, it usually consists of equal parts Kahlúa, Baileys and Grand Marnier, and it does pack a bit of a wallop, as the name suggests. The ingredients are decent, but they’re not utilized particularly well in this application. For a more subtle take on this (ahem) “classic,” try the Jet Blue.
4 oz | hot coffee
1 oz | Baileys Irish Cream
1 oz | Grand Marnier
2 oz | heavy cream
Pour Baileys in an Irish coffee mug and slowly add coffee. In a shaker, combine Grand Marnier and cream. Dry-shake (no ice) to combine, then pour over the top of the drink.
THE ALABAMA SLAMMER
An oddball drink to be sure because, to paraphrase “Cocktails: The Bartender’s Bible” by Simon Difford, it’s too big to slam, and it more than likely didn’t originate in the home of Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Crimson Tide. I’ve seen plenty of different recipes for this cocktail that include everything from vodka to sloe gin. The one constant, though, is Southern Comfort, that candied amalgam of whiskey, fruit and spice. Due to an unfortunate run-in with this spirit during my own college years, I’m unable to indulge in SoCo myself: too many “memories”—which is just as well, since the Slammer is way too sweet for my middle-aged palate. This grown-up version, Stars Over Alabama, made in the style of an old fashioned, incorporates some of the same flavors without the sugar rush.
Stars Over Alabama
1.5 oz | Elijah Craig 12-year Bourbon
.5 oz | Rothman &
Winter Orchard Peach Liqueur
.5 oz | Amaro Nonino
.5 oz | Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao
2 Dashes | Regan’s Orange Bitters
1 | Orange and Lemon PeeL
Stir all ingredients with ice. Strain into an iced rocks glass. Garnish with an orange twist.
Change the proportions and this venerable shot, consisting of vodka, triple sec and lime juice, is only an ingredient or two away from classics like the margarita and the Tom Collins. Instead of gulping this tangy tipple down shooter-style, it begs to be lengthened into a slow-sipper best enjoyed on the patio, not the party bus. Try a cocktail-style variant, Tokyo Afternoon, on the veranda for a more grown-up version.
2 oz | Vodka
.75 oz | Cointreau
.5 oz | lime juice
.25 oz | grenadine
Splash | Club soda
Shake first three ingredients with ice. Strain into a Collins glass filled with crushed ice. Top with club soda and grenadine. Garnish with a lime wheel.
illustration by Noah MacMillan
Photo credit: Illustration by Noah MacMillan