Excerpted from Death & Co: Modern Classic Cocktails, available here.
An easy way to create new drinks is to transform a simple, standard (aka naked) cocktail by adding an extra layer of complexity. One of our favorite ways to do this is by infusing additional flavors into base spirits or modifiers. With this approach, you can transform the flavor profile of the drink without altering the other ingredients. A great example of this is the Chamomile Julep, in which rye infused with chamomile tea turns the boozy Derby-day favorite into something more elegant. And we love jalapeño-infused blanco tequila and use it often to add an invigorating kick to popular tequila drinks.
Flavored syrups, which are basically sweet infusions, are also fair game for enhancing naked drinks. In his Boukman Daiquiri, Alex Day swaps cinnamon bark syrup for simple syrup in a daiquiri variation, making a traditionally warm-weather cocktail ready for wintertime drinking.
We also add small amounts of intensely flavored modifiers to increase the depth and complexity of otherwise simple classics. Phil’s Bitter French turns the classic French 75 into an aperitif with the addition of a small amount of Campari. The daiquiri is particularly well suited to the technique, as seen in the Jovencourt Daiquiri, in which just ¼ ounce of mezcal turns an otherwise standard daiquiri into something smoky and beguiling. Another good example is the D.W.B., a daiquiri made extra funky with the addition of Batavia arrack.
To take this idea a step further, we often combine an infusion with an extra modifier, as in the Short Rib, a margarita made with jalapeño-infused tequila and a small splash of syrupy pomegranate molasses.
By Phil Ward, 2008
“When Death & Co opened, our kitchen served a dish of braised short ribs topped with jalapeño peppers and pomegranate molasses. I liked this combination, so I made it into a drink.” Phil Ward
2 ounces jalapeño-infused El Pintor Blanco Tequila
¾ ounce lime juice
1 ounce simple syrup
¾ teaspoon pomegranate molasses
Shake all the ingredients with ice, then strain into a coupe. No garnish.