One of the things I appreciate most about cocktails is you often will taste things you never expect to taste in a drink.
Obviously there are unique beers and wines out there, but more often than not – they still taste like beer or wine.
With cocktails, I often taste flavors in drinks that I’d never imagine I would taste in liquid form. Whether it be a crazy peanut butter cognac and sherry eggnog from Danico in Paris, a BBQ sauce drink at Nottingham Forest in Milan, or a milk punch with cinnamon toast crunch and pandan from Deadshot in Portland – the sky’s the limit when it comes to flavors.
But let’s face it, most of us aren’t going to be doing crazy infusions or pushing the boundaries that much when we’re making drinks at home.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t combine some interesting ingredients to create a unique cocktail that surprises and delights the senses.
5 Unique Cocktails Using Ingredients You Wouldn’t Expect
In this post I’m going to share 5 unique cocktails that combine 2 ingredients that you wouldn’t expect to work well. The result is some absolutely delicious cocktails that you can actually make at home.
1) Gin and Champagne Vinegar
The idea of having vinegar in a cocktail will probably make most people turn up their nose, but a small amount of acidic champagne vinegar can elevate a gin cocktail in a way that you might not expect. Add in a little citrus, and you’ve got something truly special.
My favorite example of this is the Atlas Martini from Atlas Bar in Singapore. It forgoes the olives you often see with martinis in favor of expressed lemon. And when you combine the gin and vinegar with orange bitters and blanco vermouth? You’re left with a unique martini that will leave you wanting seconds.
Check out the Atlas Martini Recipe here.
2) Red Wine and Citrus
For most of us, the thought of putting red wine in a cocktail seems downright ballsy.
If you don’t really know what you’re doing, this can spell disaster.
I mean you wouldn’t ever add in a bunch of lime juice to your cabernet would you?
But if you think about the wine a different way, citrus juice and red wine can make for a great unlikely pairing when combined with the right other ingredients.
The common example of doing this would be a New York Sour.
It starts off as a simple sour cocktail with 2 oz of bourbon, and an ounce each of lemon and simple syrup.
But after you shake it? Pour a float of red wine over the top of it.
Not only does it look cool, but it adds an earthy element that places well with the lemon.
You could also get really crazy and make a Bankers Punch, which among other things features port wine, Irish whiskey, and a blend of 3 different rums with lime juice. It’s one of my favorite drinks of all time, and it’s worth the effort.
I’ll do a full review of this drink soon, but in the meantime you can check out the Bankers Punch here.
3) Cynar and Jamaican Rum
What happens when you take one really bold spirit, and combine it with another really bold spirit?
In the case of the artichoke amaro Cynar and the butterscotchy, funky Smith and Cross overproof rum?
I love pairing these two things together. Either one of these can very easily overpower any drink you put them in, if you don’t do so carefully.
But when you put them together? The bold flavors explode into a bitter, funky, delicious libation.
My favorite way to combine these is in a rum negroni. If someone is coming over and they want something strong and bold to end the night? This is my go to.
In the recipe on the site, I use Doctor Bird rum which is slightly less intense than Smith and Cross – but both work great depending on your mood.
Check out our Rum Negroni Recipe called “The Artsy Bird”
4) Banana and Mezcal
This one may seem weird to you, or it may not. For me at first the idea of using a banana liqueur with mezcal, just seemed….odd.
I wasn’t totally opposed, but I wasn’t sold either.
Hot tip: The banana liqueur Banane du Brasil, is like a secret weapon. You can add it to just about anything and it will make it taste amazing.
I like using it in place of simple syrup to keep a drink spirit forward and adding a sweetness without it getting too sugary.
My go to recipe for combining these spirits is a drink called the Smoking Banana. It’s built like a negroni, but drinks closer to an old fashioned. It’s smoky, sweet, and funky in all the right ways.
Check out The Smoking Banana: a Mezcal Old Fashioned Here.
5) Mint and Green Chartreuse
The idea of mint and chartreuse to me sounds kind of disgusting. With green chartreuse being so strong and herbal, I was afraid adding mint to the mix would just make any drink including them a bit of a medicinal tasting mess.
Recently, I was proved very wrong when I made a drink from the Cocktail Codex book called The Smoke Screen.
What. A. Drink.
You muddle the simple syrup with mint leaves, and then combine two types of scotch, with just enough green chartreuse to bring out some herbal characteristics, without smacking you in the face.
What you’re left with is one of the best cocktails I’ve had this year. Smoky, sweet, and fresh all at the same time.
It makes me wonder if the mint works here, what would happen if you used a little fernet with chartreuse as well? I can’t say it sounds good to me, but I bet someone more competent than myself could do something special.
Check out the recipe for the Smoke Screen cocktail.
What Unique Cocktail Ingredients Do You Combine?
There you have it, there are 5 of my favorite unique cocktails with ingredients you wouldn’t necessarily expect to go together.
I’ve love to hear about other unique drinks you love? Drop a comment below and let me know.
Looking for more great cocktail recipes? <— Don’t worry, we got you 🙂
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