As restaurants and bars around the world close in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, more people are creating at-home diversions to substitute for some of their sidelined daily activities. Hilton is here to ensure that a favorite way to close out the day is not lost during these uncertain times: Happy Hour.
More time at home means more time to practice your mixology skills, and making your favorite cocktails and mocktails at home is easier than you think. We reached out to our partners at Proprietors LLC, the training arm of renowned bar chain Death & Co. and also the team that trains Canopy by Hilton bar staff at each of the brand’s hotels, to gather a few tips and tricks for creating signature cocktails with everyday ingredients that can be found at home. So, gather everyone in the house, head to the (breakfast) bar and grab a drink.
Tips & Tricks
You don’t have to be a professional to whip up a great cocktail. Often, it’s as simple as knowing the fundamentals of drink-making, practicing and experimenting, according to Devon Tarby, Partner, Proprietors LLC. “Take this time to perfect something you’ve been wanting to master – whether that’s an infusion, syrup or cocktail recipe. Now is the time to use the scientific method to refine your skills,” says Tarby.
Below are some key tips and tricks that he says at-home drink-makers of every level should know:
- Less is more. Three or four ingredients are all you really need to make a well-balanced, delicious cocktail at home with minimal effort.
- Fresh is best. Cocktails don’t have to be complicated, but the details count. Fresh whole citrus will last for multiple weeks, if kept refrigerated and dry, so picking up a few extra is a great idea, not to mention more cost effective in the long run. Never, ever use bottled citrus juice
- If you’re in a pinch and that’s all you have, you’re better off making yourself a simple highball with club soda.
- Use what you’ve got. A lot of cocktail traditions are rooted in preserving seasonal ingredients, so cocktails are a great way to repurpose ingredients that you already have at home.
- Plain white sugar is an everyday cocktail staple as it provides a great, neutral backbone for making a variety of flavored syrups. To make a base simple syrup, all you need to do is combine 1 cup white sugar with 1 cup boiling water and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
- Dried spices can be a powerful cocktail ingredient: Try infusing vodka with black peppercorns for Bloody Marys or whole cloves with whiskey for a more flavorful Old Fashioned.
- Tea is another amazing fusion ingredient: Alcohol acts much like boiling water does when combined with tea, extracting flavor in a relatively short period of time. Simply follow the instructions on the tea package for steeping, substituting the boiling water with alcohol. Chamomile and tequila are a personal favorite for an herbaceous Margarita riff.
- You don’t need to buy new gear. Swap out tools from traditional bar kits with materials found at home.
- Anything that holds liquid and seals can become a cocktail shaker if you put your mind to it. Some examples that come to mind are protein shake “blender bottles,” a glass jar with a lid, or a blender with a few cubes of ice tossed in.
- In place of a jigger, consider using a tablespoon (0.5 oz.) for most cocktail measurements.
- If you don’t have a bar spoon, try using a chopstick or a hard, reusable straw (disposable plastic is not quite sturdy enough).
Now that you know the fundamentals of cocktail making, here are four signature Hilton drink recipes to try out:
Zero-proof cocktail alternatives are the perfect tasty substitute that the entire family can enjoy, which is ideal as many of our “Happy Hours” have become an at-home family affair. Below are some non-alcoholic drinks that were created as part of Hilton Hotels and Resorts’ January off-menu cocktails that the entire family can be enjoy any time of year, not just Dry January.
Paloma Undercover is a zero-proof variation on the classic cocktail. Brown sugar and grapefruit pair perfectly to give this drink a bitter/sweet balance, and the added effervescence makes it that much more refreshing.
Paloma Undercover Recipe:
- 2 oz. seedlip spice 94
- 1 oz. grapefruit juice
- ½ oz. lime juice
- ½ oz. brown sugar syrup (Homemade: 2-parts brown sugar / 1-part water)
- 1-2 oz. soda water
Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker and shake with ice. Strain the drink into coupe glasses.
***If you’re feeling fancy: Garnish with a grapefruit twist
The Tamed Tiki is a tiki style zero-proof cocktail. This drink transports you to somewhere tropical and warm right from the first sip, perfect for those dreaming of travel.
Tamed Tiki Recipe:
- 2 oz. coconut water
- ½ oz. lime juice
- 1 oz. orange juice
- ½ oz. maple syrup (Homemade: 2-parts maple syrup / 1-part water)
- 2 oz. ginger beer
Combine all ingredients, except for the ginger beer, into a cocktail shaker and shake with ice. Strain the drink into a snifter or hurricane glass (or any glass you have on hand) with crushed ice and add ginger beer. Top with additional crushed ice to fill the glass.
***If you’re feeling fancy: Garnish with a sprig of mint and lime wheel
As the weather changes, wanderlust and feelings of FOMO (fear of missing out) are expected to be at an all-time high. Although many of us have cancelled vacation plans due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, these cocktails will remind you of past trips and holidays spent soaking up the sun and hopefully provide some inspiration for future travel.
In honor of Cherry Blossom season, Hilton Garden Inn’s Garden Grille & Bar’s perfectly pink, refreshing, tangy cocktail concoction brings a similar freshness and beauty right to you.
Cherry Blossom Recipe:
- 1 ¼ oz. 80 proof tequila
- 1 oz. lime juice
- 1 oz. grapefruit juice
- ¼ oz. grenadine
- Sugar as needed
Pour all ingredients into shaker and shake well. Strain into lime juice and sugar-rimmed martini glass or serve over ice.
***If you’re feeling fancy: Garnish with a cherry or slice of grapefruit
Judy’s Garden Gin
Award-winning actress, director, author and America’s best friend, Judy Greer, has been the star of Hilton Garden Inn’s ad campaign since 2017. She recently partnered with the brand to create her own specialty cocktail, Judy’s Garden Gin, perfect for at-home mixologists.
This fun twist on the classic Daisy is handcrafted with Tanqueray, Chambord raspberry liqueur, simple syrup and lemon juice.
Judy’s Garden Gin Recipe:
- 2 oz. Tanqueray gin
- 1 oz. fresh lemon juice
- ½ oz. Chambord raspberry liqueur
- ½ oz. simple syrup
- 2 oz. soda water (optional)
Measure and pour all liquid ingredients besides soda water into shaker. Add ice to shaker (optional). Shake and strain into a coupe glass. Top with soda water (optional). Enjoy up or on the rocks!
***If you’re feeling fancy: Garnish with a lemon wheel