Mind-Bending Mixology

In the Magazine
Libi Pedder/Camera Press/Redux

Alie Ward and Georgia Hardstark, inventors of the McNuggetini, know a thing or two about mixing things up. The two Angelinos met in 2006 outside the Cha Cha Lounge, a tragically hip dive bar in Los Angeles. From there, they became regular drinking buddies. One night, in the middle of one too many cocktails, they concocted a cocktail abomination called the McNuggetini (it’s savory and sweet). A viral how-to video followed, which led to two Web series on CookingChannelTV.com: Drinks With Alie & Georgia and Classy Ladies, where they created weird and innovative cocktails and cracked bad jokes. Their new Cooking Channel show, Tripping Out With Alie & Georgia, follows the BFFs as they travel the country looking for action, adventure, and a snack. From beef jerky to chai tea, Alie and Georgia suggest ingredients to infuse your classic cocktails with a kick. All recipes serve two, of course.

The Beefy Tomato

Spice up your Bloody Mary by using a whole tomato and infusing tequila with ... wait for it ... spicy beef jerky. You’ll scoff at bottled tomato juice and ready-made mixes once you get a sip of this revision.

Active prep: 10 minutes
Total prep: 2 hours 10 minutes (includes infusing)

— 1 whole heirloom tomato
— 1 lemon, juiced
— 1 teaspoon horseradish
— 4 ounces tequila (infused for 2 to 3 hours with a medium piece of hot-and-spicy beef jerky)
— 1 piece beef jerky, used as a swizzle stick
— Ice

In a blender, add the tomato, lemon juice, horseradish, and strained jerky-infused tequila. Blend until smooth. Pour the purée into a highball glass over ice. Garnish with a tall strip of jerky. Toast to meaty, salty, beefy, tomatoey booziness.

Umami, Up

Of the five defined tastes, umami (the others being sweet, salty, sour, and bitter) is our favorite by far. Its earthy, savory quality—think mushrooms and soy sauce—is renowned for deepening the flavor of other ingredients. This cocktail is for those who tire of overly sweet drinks—and who have an affinity for garlic.

Active prep: 5 minutes
Total prep: 12 hours 5 minutes (includes infusing)

— Dash of dry vermouth
— 4 ounces gin (infused overnight with 2 or 3 garlic cloves)
— 4 to 6 drops black truffle oil
— Filleted anchovies, for garnish
— Ice

Add a small dash of vermouth to two chilled glasses and set aside. Into a shaker filled with ice, add the garlic-infused gin and black truffle oil. Shake vigorously and pour into the chilled glasses. Garnish with an anchovy fillet rolled into a rosette and speared with a cocktail pick. Keep a mint on hand if you’re planning to make out with anyone later.

Celery, Ginger, Gin, Oh My!

Rescue celery from its sad relegation as a throwaway garnish by mixing it with ginger, gin, and lime juice. The tart flavors of this refreshing sipper will have you “stalking” celery in your crisper.

Active prep: 5 minutes
Total prep: 5 minutes

— 2 stalks coarsely chopped celery, plus celery leaf for garnish
— 2½-inch-thick ginger coins, peeled and coarsely chopped
— 3 ounces gin
— 1½ ounces ginger liqueur
— 1½ ounces fresh lime juice
— Ice

At the bottom of a shaker, muddle one stalk of celery with a ½-inch ginger coin into a coarse pulp (for this drink, make each serving separately, so the ginger doesn’t overwhelm). Add 1½ ounces gin, ¾ ounces ginger liqueur, ¾ ounces lime juice, and ice. Shake, then strain over a mesh strainer into a martini glass. Garnish with a small celery leaf. FYI: you’re drinking celery, and you like it.

Chai One On

Tea infusions are a great way to add flavor to a perhaps too-familiar spirit. Chai-tea-infused rum and savory spices deepen the flavor of and add heat to an already complex tea. You won’t see tea as your grandmother’s drink ever again.

Active prep: 10 minutes
Total prep: 40 minutes (includes steeping)

Spiced Rum:
— 2 cups spiced rum, room temperature
— 4 chai tea bags

Garam Masala Simple Syrup:
— 1 cup sugar
— 2 tablespoons garam masala spices
— 1 cup water

Chai One On:
— 3 ounces cream or half-and-half
— Dash of cinnamon
— Dash of fresh black pepper
— Dash of cayenne pepper
— Ice

Spiced rum: Add the spiced rum to a jar with the chai tea bags and let steep for 30 minutes. Remove the tea bags and set aside the rum.

Garam masala simple syrup: Heat the water on medium in a saucepan. Add the sugar and garam masala spices. When both have dissolved, set the simple syrup aside and let cool. Stir before using.

To a shaker filled with ice, add 3 ounces of the spiced rum, the cream, 1½ ounces of the simple syrup, and a dash each of cinnamon, fresh black pepper, and cayenne (or more, depending on the level of heat you prefer). Shake and pour into a cup filled with ice. Garnish with another crack of fresh black pepper and a pinch of cayenne. Goodbye, mimosas; hello, mildly caffeinated, exotic, spicy-sweet sipping beverage.

Scotch-Bonnet Marmalade

Jam in cocktails is our jam. It gives a drink a velvety texture, sweetness, and tartness. This one takes the complexity a step further by adding an almost felonious amount of fire in the form of a Scotch-bonnet-pepper-infused Scotch. Already smoky, the Scotch takes on a sharp heat that is then cooled by the citrusy and bitter preserved orange rind. Hold on to your bonnets: this isn’t for fire-phobes.

Active prep: 10 minutes
Total prep: 25 minutes (includes infusing)

Infused Scotch:
— 16 ounces Scotch
— 2 Scotch-bonnet or habanero peppers

Scotch-Bonnet Marmalade:
— 1½ ounces fresh lemon juice
— 1 ounce orange marmalade
— Dash of orange bitters

To infuse the Scotch: Cut a Scotch-bonnet pepper in half and add it to a jar of Scotch, infusing for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the pepper (don’t touch your eyes when handling the peppers, lest you end up like us, typing with one eye swollen, on fire with pepper oil). Trust us, this gets hot.

In a shaker with ice, add 4 ounces of the infused Scotch, the fresh lemon juice, the marmalade, and the bitters and shake vigorously. Strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a thin slice of pepper. Sip slowly and keep a fire extinguisher on hand.

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