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random cocktails: about

What does this site do?

The generator "invents" cocktails by choosing, somewhat at random, ingredients from a list, then combines them according to some basic ratios.

The drink names are generated using the Wikipedia "Random Article" feature; click on the name to see it's Wikipedia page. You should be aware if you're about to name a drink after a war criminal or intestinal parasite.

Why should I use this site?

Randomization is an excellent tool for inspiration. What is creativity, anyway, but one part of the brain firing thousands of random ideas through the filter of another part of the brain?

There's no sanctity of an idea's origin. A good idea is a good idea, even one from a cat picture on the internet.

Are these drinks going to taste any good?

There is a very good chance they will be at least drinkable, if not downright tasty. The drinks are created using tried-and-true spirit-sour-sweet ratios, so all that's left to chance is the combination of flavors. Heh.

Some tips for improving your odds:

  • Avoid categories you don't like. For example, if you don't like Old Fashioneds, you probably won't like other drinks in that category.
  • Don't follow recipes that use ingredients you don't like.
  • Leave out ingredients that sound like they wouldn't go well with the other ingredients.
  • Substitute ingredients you don't have or can't get.

Keep in mind that combinations that sound bizarre may actually be delicious. For example, Alembic serves a phenomenal cocktail called the 'Vice Grip': beer, wine, and coffee liqueur. I've tasted another excellent oddity, made by Bourbon and Branch, that combined basil, hot chiles, and coffee grounds.

For a given ingredient, there may be many brands and types to choose from. There are also an unlimited number of, spices, herbs, infusions, tinctures, bitters, flavored syrups etc., that you can buy or make. I opted against specifying spirit brands and including (too) obscure ingredients so that the recipes would be more accessible and easier to follow.

Where can I get some of the more obscure ingredients?

Try farmers markets or ethnic or specialty stores. If you can't get an ingredient, either skip it or find a reasonable substitute.

Here are some recipes for orgeat, falernum, and grenadine.

Why don't you model any drinks after the martini?

The martini shouldn't be messed with. (For more on the martini, read this.)

What brands of alcohol should I use?

Due mostly to ignorance, I'll take a pass on giving brand advice. If you can find a bartender that takes his or her drinks seriously, ask them for recommendations. Most are eager to share their opinions and knowledge. Check out some books on cocktail making as well.

Other resources:

Beverage Tasting Institute
Cyrus Restaurant Bar Menu
San Francisco Spirits Competition
Esquire article on cheap booze
Cask Spirits (if they carry it, it's probably worth having)

What are some basics of cocktail mixing?

  • There is no acceptable substitute for fresh lime and lemon juice.
  • Get some decent tools: a shaker, muddler, clean and large ice, mesh hand strainer, measuring tools (jiggers or mini-cups).
  • Do things in this order:
    • Chill your serving glasses, either by putting them in the freezer or by filling them with ice water.
    • Muddle anything that needs muddling, with sugar if called for. Do NOT pulverize soft herbs like mint, shiso, basil, or tarragon--gently press them or just give them a hard spank or gentle crumple. Hard herbs, like rosemary or kaffir lime leaf, should be muddled.
    • Add all other ingredients except for garnishes (including grated elements) and bubbly stuff (soda, champagne, etc)
    • If the drink contains egg whites, shake it for 15 seconds before the next step.
    • Add lots of ice to your shaker, enough so there is a little (or a lot) poking up above the surface.
    • If your drink is composed of only spirits, stir for forty seconds. Otherwise, shake vigorously for 20 seconds.
    • If you want to rim the glass with salt/sugar/whatever, now is the time.
    • Pour the drink into the serving glass though a coarse strainer (such as a hawthorne) AND a fine mesh hand strainer.
    • Add bubbly ingredients.
    • Add garnishes.
  • There are many, many ways to add accents to a drink. Foams, rims, sliced fruit, mists, etc. Check out Scott Beattie's artisanal cocktails for some excellent techniques and recipes. Also watch Jamie Boudreau's videos at smallscreennetwork.com.
For more on basics and recipes, see the "cocktails at home" section at the Death and Company website.

How can I contact you?

Email me at tyler@randomcocktails.com.

Can I write a guest post for the blog?

Probably! Please contact me for more details at tyler@randomcocktails.com