We’re at the end of the alphabet! We have reached the letter Z! And boy, did we go out on a bang. Today’s drink is not IBA-official, but it is still a well known and incredibly strong tiki drink called the Zombie. The recipe:

  • 1 oz. Pineapple Juice
  • 1 oz. Orange Juice
  • 1 oz. Lime Juice
  • 1 tsp. Sugar
  • 2 oz. White Rum
  • 1 oz. Dark Rum
  • 1/2 oz. Apricot Brandy
  • 1/2 oz. 151 Proof Rum

Shake all the ingredients except the 151-proof rum together with ice. Strain out into a highball glass. Float the 151-proof rum on top. Garnish with an orange slice, a maraschino cherry, and a sprig of mint.

For this recipe, we used Appleton white rum, Gosling’s Black Seal dark rum, Bacardi 151-proof rum, and Bols Apricot Brandy.

This is unquestionably the strongest drink we’ve mixed thus far. The taste reflects its strength: you can certainly taste the alcohol, but it is tempered by the tropical blend of fruit juices. The combination of ingredients was not overpowering, but it was unmistakably the flavor of rum. And does it ever pack a punch!

This was the last drink on our A-Z adventure, but don’t fret! We plan to continue mixing more drinks and discovering the best cocktails, old and new. So stay tuned: there’s plenty more to come!

The penultimate drink in our first A-Z cocktail adventure is a drink known as the Yellow Bird. It was one of only a handful of rum-based drinks we’ve done thus far.

The recipe:

  • 1 oz. White Rum
  • 1/2 oz. Galliano
  • 1/2 oz. Triple Sec
  • 1/2 oz. Lime Juice

Pour ingredients into a shaker filled with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

In addition to the Galliano, we used Appleton white rum and Cointreau triple sec for this recipe.

This was an interesting drink. It combined a certain sweet smoothness, presumably from the Galliano, with several strong citrus notes from the lime juice and triple sec. The result tasted distinctly like a classic citrus cocktail got mixed up with a bit of a creamy, sweet dessert cocktail. We both wanted to like this cocktail, but the ingredients seemed imbalanced, leading to several distinct disparate flavors rather than one complex blend.

This cocktail was drinkable, but it’s hard to enjoy a cocktail whose flavors just don’t want to mix.

We’re almost to the end of the alphabet! Today is our X cocktail, and it’s a creamy dessert cocktail called the Xaviera. While it’s not an official IBA drink, it still sounded like it could have some promise, so we decided to try it out.

The recipe:

  • 3/4 oz. Triple Sec
  • 3/4 oz. Kahlúa Coffee Liqueur
  • 1/2 oz. Amaretto Almond Liqueur
  • 1 oz. Whipping Cream

Pour all the ingredients into a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange slice and a maraschino cherry.

In addition to the Kahlúa, we used Cointreau Triple Sec and Disaronno Amaretto for this recipe.

The drink is sweet, and reminiscent of a creamy liquor-filled chocolate, even though no chocolate went into it. But the ingredients blended together nicely to form a texture that was creamy and a taste that was quite pleasant and not overpowering in any way.

If creamy dessert cocktails are your thing, it’d be hard to go wrong with the Xaviera.

We’re up to W, and for this one we went with a classic bourbon recipe, the ever-popular Whiskey Sour. The recipe is simple:

  • 1 1/2 oz. Bourbon Whiskey
  • 1 oz. Fresh-Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 oz. Sugar Syrup

Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake and strain into a double old-fashioned glass filled with ice. Garnish with a slice of orange and a maraschino cherry.

For our bourbon, we used Bulleit.

The Whiskey Sour turned out to be an enjoyable cocktail: smooth, but with a strong sour overtone from the lemon juice. There was no burning; this drink goes down easily.

This is an incredibly simple drink to make and is strong to boot. If you’re looking for a new drink to try in a bar or at home, you ought to give this one a try.

Today’s cocktail was popularized by one of Britain’s most popular fictional icons, the British spy known as James Bond. In Ian Fleming’s 1953 Casino Royale, Bond asks for a very specific cocktail - one using a combination of gin, vodka, and the French wine blend called Kina Lillet. In the book, Bond names the cocktail the Vesper. This recipe:

  • 2 oz. Gin
  • 1/2 oz. Vodka
  • 1/4 oz. Lillet Blonde

Shake the ingredients with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Add a lemon twist as garnish.

We used 209 Gin and Chopin Vodka. Note that in the book, Bond orders asking for Kina Lillet, which is no longer available, and its replacement, Lillet Blanc, is fruitier and less bitter. There are alternative liquors that are closer to the original Kina Lillet, such as Cocchi Americano, but at least for this experiment, we stayed with the official IBA recipe. 

As you can probably surmise from looking at the recipe, this is an incredibly boozy drink. The taste of the gin was strong, almost even overpowering. However, the Lillet Blanc provided a balance, leaving a slightly sweeter aftertaste.

This is definitely a contender for the strongest drink we’ve made thus far. In most cases, one round will do you just fine. If you don’t mind that and enjoy the taste of gin, find yourself a bottle of Lillet (or Cocchi Americano) and give it a try.

It was fairly difficult to find a cocktail that starts with the letter U. This isn’t the first time we had that particular issue, and as we did in previous cases, we just did some research and found a drink online that seemed to have some promise. Today’s cocktail is called the Urban Violence.

The recipe:

  • 1 1/2 oz. Coconut Rum
  • 1 1/2 oz. Vodka
  • 1 1/8 oz. Blue Curaçao
  • 3 oz. Orange Juice

Fill a large glass with ice. Pour in the rum, vodka, and curaçao. Top off with the orange juice. Stir and serve.

For this drink, we used Malibu Coconut Rum, Chopin Vodka, and Hiram Walker Blue Curaçao.

Though we were both initially skeptical of a little-known recipe posted online, it turned out that this cocktail was actually quite delicious.  The coconut rum, combined with the orange juice resulted in a flavor that was smooth and sweet, and fairly mellow.

Additionally, this drink gets big bonus points for the fact that it looks great, is easy to make, and happens to be quite potent. Chances are good that you’ll have the ingredients to make this, and if you do, it’s definitely worth giving it a try.

Today marks the first tequila-based drink, named appropriately enough, the Tequila Sunrise. It is also one of our prettiest drinks thus far.

The recipe:

  • 1 1/2 oz. Tequila
  • 3 oz. Orange Juice
  • 1/2 oz. Grenadine

Pour the tequila and orange juice into an ice-filled highball glass. Top off with the grenadine, which will create a nice chromatic effect. Do not stir.

For our tequila, we used El Tesoro Platinum.

What surprised us most about this cocktail was how central to the taste the tequila was, while the flavoring of the orange juice provided a backdrop. That being said, while the taste of the tequila was strong, it was not overpowering, and created a pleasant flavor with no burning or strong aftertaste.

This, combined with the fact that it’s a very nice looking, and very easy to make cocktail, makes this a good choice any time you get the urge to enjoy some tequila.

Today’s drink is an after-dinner cocktail known as the Sazerac. It’s a classic American cocktail from New Orleans that dates to the pre-Civil War era. Though there have been variations on the ingredients used, we tried to keep it as authentic as possible.

The recipe:

  • 1 2/3 oz. Cognac
  • 1/3 oz. Absinthe
  • 1 Sugar Cube
  • 2 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters

Rinse a chilled old-fashioned glass with absinthe, add crushed ice to the glass and set aside. In a separate mixing glass, stir the cognac, sugar cube and bitters until the sugar is dissolved. Discard the excess absinthe and crushed ice from your old fashioned glass. Strain your cognac mixture into that glass. Add a lemon peel and serve.

We used Kübler Absinthe and Rémy Martin VSOP Cognac for this recipe.

The Sazerac turned out to be a delicious cocktail. The taste of the cognac is strong, but with the sugar and bitters, it becomes incredibly smooth and pleasant to drink without sacrificing strength, much like the Old Fashioned.

This is another classic you must try if you’re serious about cocktails.

Today’s cocktail is another dessert-like cocktail in the same vein as the Golden Dream. It’s a creamy carbonated drink with citrus and is known as the Ramos Fizz.

The recipe:

  • 1 1/2 oz. Gin
  • 1/2 oz. Lime Juice
  • 1/2 oz. Lemon Juice
  • 1 oz. Sugar Syrup
  • 2 oz. Cream
  • 1 Egg White
  • 3 dashes Orange Flower Water
  • 2 drops Vanilla Extract
  • Soda Water

Pour all the ingredients except the soda water into a shaker. Shake without ice (a dry shake) for two minutes. Add ice to the shaker and then shake for another minute. Strain the drink into a highball glass, and then top with the soda water.

As you might expect having read the recipe, this is a fairly labor intensive drink to make, combining nine separate ingredients and three minutes of shaking.

But if you’re willing to go through that, this is a pleasantly sweet drink that reminded us both of the frozen dessert treat known as the Creamsicle. This was a fairly creamy cocktail, and with the additional flavoring, particularly that of vanilla, it is the kind of cocktail that would make an excellent post-dinner dessert drink.

Be warned though: if you’re stuck making this drink for all your friends, you won’t ever get out of the kitchen!

It turns out to be very, very difficult to find a well-known cocktail that starts with the letter Q. In fact, we ended up having to go international to find a Q-cocktail. And so today’s drink is the Brazilian drink known as the Quentão.

The Quentão, whose name is translated as “hot one” is a cider-like drink that is often served during a Brazilian festivity known as Festa Junina. (Thanks Wikipedia!) It uses Cachaça, a rum-like liquor produced primarily in Brazil.

The recipe we used can be found here:

  • 1/4 cup White Sugar
  • 3/4 cup Water
  • 3 Tbsp. Cubed Fresh Ginger Root
  • 1/2 Lime, Sliced
  • 1 Cinnamon Stick, Broken in Half
  • 6 1/3 oz. cachaça

Pour sugar into a saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook while stirring gently until the sugar caramelizes and is golden brown, which will take a few minutes.

Carefully add the water to the caramelized sugar, stirring until the caramel is dissolved. Add ginger, lime, and cinnamon, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, then let simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add the cachaça and cook until hot, about five minutes. Strain, the serve. (Fox mugs are optional, but are encouraged!)

Our first thought while making this drink is that it smelled like Christmas, with a hint of lime. Before we finally got to tasting it, we were not sure what quite to expect.

The initial taste is pleasantly, sugary sweet. However, this flavor quickly fades into a citrusy sour from the lime. The aftertaste is surprisingly bitter, and lingers for some time.

Though the Quentão was unlike our previous drinks thus far, we ended up learning about a liquor new to both of us. Not only that, but we discovered a warm, surprisingly potent drink that would warm us on a cold rainy night.