How to Make a Agave Margarita, or keeping that New Year’s resolution with a “fit” cocktail!

The Agave Margarita CocktailDid you, like millions of others, make a resolution to get fit this year?  Or are you already a person who monitors what they eat?  Well lucky for you, just because you are being health conscious doesn’t mean there aren’t great cocktails for you – cocktails that are every bit as good or even better than their original simple syrup laden versions.  Today we are going to focus on Agave syrup and use it to make a fantastic margarita.

The Agave Margarita
  • 2 ounces Tequila Blanco
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1 ounce 1:2 agave syrup
  • garnish with lime and (optional) rim with salt

Begin by mixing the agave syrup.  To get the same amount of sweetness as you would with granulated sugar, you will actually use quite a bit less.  Combine 2 teaspoons of agave nectar with 4 teaspoons of water to reach the same sweetness and volume as standard 1:1 simple syrup.  Now the that the agave syrup has been mixed, add it along with the tequila and fresh lime juice to a shaker with a generous portion of ice.  Shake until the cocktail has been thoroughly chilled. If you want to have a salt rim on your rock glass, now is the time.  Pour some salt out onto a tray or plate, and run a lime around the rim of your glass (one of the limes you squeezed for juice will work just fine).  Once the rim has been wet, gently dip the rim of the glass in the salt, then place back upright.  I happened to have coarse rock salt laying around, so that is what I used – the additional minerals in rock salt add a touch more flavor, but any salt will work.  Carefully add fresh ice and pour in the chilled agave margarita.  Garnish with a lime wheel (I prefer to use half wheels for rock glasses) and you are ready to start the party.

For a good cheap tequila blanco,  I highly recommend San Matias Legado.  It is by far the smoothest tequila I have found under $20/fifth and it only costs around $12!  If you want to go a bit more upscale, Espolón is a fantastic tequila in the $20-25/fifth range.  Both of these tequilas are 100% blue agave – the mark of any spirit worthy of being called tequila.  But wait, did I just say AGAVE?!  That’s right, the spirit that you love to hate is distilled from the agave plant, the same plant whose sap is used to make agave nectar.   So not only can agave nectar be healthier than cane sugar but it also naturally pairs well with tequila. Agave nectar packs around 60 calories per tablespoon, and although the same amount of sugar only contains 40 calories, agave syrup is so much sweeter that only 1/3 the amount is required.  It is also low on the glycemic index and the resulting sugar surge will be considerably less than with granulated sugar.  So get yourself some agave nectar and start experimenting!  There are a world of new cocktails that this sweetener will be a part of.

Total cost per drink? ~$0.99

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Posted in Dollar Drinks, Tequila

How to Make the Airmail Cocktail, or celebrating the state of US-Cuba relations

The Airmail CocktailThe news of improved relations between the USA and Cuba was one of the best and most unexpected presents I got this holiday season.  As a fan of both rum and cigars, the idea that getting Cuban products in the states would soon be legally possible was cause indeed for celebration.  And what better way to celebrate than with a signature cocktail from when Bacardi was a great rum?  Back when it was Cuban!

The Airmail
  • 2 ounces Gold (Cuban) Rum
  • 5 ounces Sparkling Wine
  • 1 ounce 1:1 honey syrup
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
  • garnish with a lime wedge

Begin by shaking the gold rum, honey syrup, and lime juice with ice until the shaker is frosty.  Choose your glass (a collins glass is recommended) and pour the mixture unstrained into the glass.  Then top off with 5 ounces of your favorite sparkling wine and garnish with a lime wedge.  It’s that simple, you’ve got Airmail!  Far faster than the postal service has ever delivered any letter.  For the gold rum, still not being able use Cuban rum legally, I have found that both Bacardi 8 Años and Appleton Estate work quite well.  At a lower price point, Castillo or Cruzan gold rum will also do the trick, albeit with a bit less flavor and flourish.  The honey you choose is of paramount importance – too strong and that is all you will taste in the cocktail, too light and you might as well not add it at all.  I would recommend going with a floral honey to compliment and counterbalance the citrus.  As for the sparkling wine, Chandon Brut Classic is an excellent choice, as are many proseccos and cavas.  Save the true champagne and its hefty price tag for toasts – in most cases you are going to be paying a premium just for the label and when not, the flavors are best experienced standing on their own.

This cocktail became famous from its appearance in early pamphlets advertising Bacardi and at its heart is a classed up version of a daiquiri, subbing in honey syrup for simple syrup and adding sparkling wine for a bit of fizz.  The exact origin of the cocktail is a mystery as it may have been invented by Bacardi for their advertising campaign or have been a special cocktail produced at one of Havanas many fine bars.  Either way, it is a delicious drink for any season and the sparkling wine will make you feel like celebrating!


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Posted in Rum, Sparkling Wine

How to Make the Set the New Year on Fire Cocktail, or getting this blog rolling with pyrotechnics!

The Set the New Year on Fire CocktailIt’s been a while since this blog has been active and with new years and it’s resolutions set, it is time to change that.  I stumbled across this great cocktail a couple days ago on, and it seems like a great way to get back to crafting cocktails.  Afterall, what is more exciting than mixing booze with fire?  Especially when it adds a great flavor to your drink!

Set the New Year on Fire
  • 2 ounces Scotch
  • 1/2 ounce Campari
  • 3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce 1:1 demerara simple syrup
  • 6 mint leaves
  • garnish with a flaming lime

Begin by gently muddling the mint with the fresh lime juice (set the squeezed lime halves aside) and demerara simple syrup.  You don’t want to muddle too much, just enough to agitate the mint and get it to release it’s flavor while still leaving the leaves largely intact.  This cocktail uses a collins glass, but depending on the dimensions, you may have to muddle your mint in a mixing glass.  Once muddling has been completed, add the mixture (mint leaves and all) to the collins glass and pour in 2 ounces of Scotch.  Then add a generous portion of crushed ice and float half an ounce of Campari.  Top of the glass with a bit more crushed ice.  Now comes the fun part.  Remember that half a squeezed lime you set aside?  It is time to put it to use!  Gently place the lime atop the cocktail so that it makes a little bowl.  In this bowl, you are going to place a single sugar cube.  Gently drip Bacardi 151, or some other high proof rum or alcohol, on to the sugar until it is saturated.  Now strike a match and carefully light the garnish on fire!  Let it burn for a bit while you admire your creation and the flavors of the burning lime seep down into the drink.  Just don’t forget to blow out the garnish before you attempt to sip your cocktail.

The toughest part of making any cocktail that uses scotch as its base is finding a scotch with good flavor and a decent price tag.  There are plenty of good scotches on the market these days and even more cheap scotches, but there is very little overlap between these two groups.  Scotches can be very subjective in their tastes – when drinking a scotch neat I favor the strong smokey peat of Islays, but many find them to be off-putting and they certainly overpower the flavors of other ingredients in a cocktail.  For a mixed scotch drink, you generally want to use something milder, with at most a touch of smoke, like a single malt Speyside.  If you want to make it even more affordable, consider using a blended scotch in cocktails.  Even young blended scotches can be quite smooth and offer the “scotch” flavor profile at a much lower price.  For this cocktail I used a very cheap blended scotch called Black & White.  It could be improved upon with a better scotch, but at under $25/handle, it is hard to beat the price tag.  Black & White offers that distinct “scotch” profile that you want for a mixing scotch without the grainy aftertaste so many other cheap scotches are accompanied by.  Feel free to comment with your favorite affordable scotches and enjoy this pyrotechnic cocktail!

Total cost per drink? ~$1.79


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Posted in Aperitif, Cheap Cocktails, Scotch

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge starring Patrick Stewart and Chivas Regal

The ALS ice bucket challenge has blown up on social media this summer and every day celebrities and us common folk have been posting thousands of videos taking up the challenge.  In a recent entry, Patrick Stewart has set the standard in perhaps the classiest ice bucket challenge to date.  Yes there is an ice bucket, yes there is a donation to ALS, but in place of drenching himself with freezing water, Stewart has chosen to salute the cause with a generous pour of Chivas Regal.

Patrick Stewart_ALS Challenge_Chivas Regal


An excellent choice for such a cause, Chivas Regal is a blended 12 year old scotch that we can all afford to enjoy.  At $25 per fifth, I have found Chivas Regal always fits the bill when I want to sip on a simple smooth scotch.  It may not have the peaty complexity of Laphroaig 18, but I can enjoy it considerably more often given its price tag and smooth character.  I salute you Patrick Stewart and raise my own glass in support of a worthy cause!

Original Video:

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Posted in Scotch

How to Make the Cantaloupe Basil Cooler, or celebrating National Tequila Day with style

How to Make the Cantaloupe Basil Cooler tequilaHappy National Tequila Day!  Today I wanted to bring you something a little bit different to celebrate.  You won’t find this drink anywhere else – it is a Broke and Thirsty original.  I was sipping on some tequila and eating some cantaloupe with dinner and it seemed like the two pair surprisingly well together.  So a little bit of experimentation later and this delicate summer cocktail is the result.  Without further ado, the Cantaloupe Basil Cooler.

The Cantaloupe Basil Cooler
  • 2 ounces Reposado Tequila
  • 3 ounces cantaloupe juice
  • 3 thai basil leaves
  • fill with club soda
  • garnish with a sprig of thai basil

To begin, you are going to have to make some cantaloupe juice.  Although you can find cantaloupe juice pre-bottled, in the summer when the melon is fresh, it is far better to juice it yourself.  It is as simple as taking a citrus juicer, adding a couple of chunks of cantaloupe, and squeezing.  It’ll take between an eighth and a quarter of the cantaloupe to get 3 ounces of juice. Pour the cantaloupe juice and tequila into an empty shaker.  Add the thai basil leaves and muddle.  Once you are satisfied with your muddling, add ice and shake.  Pour into an old fashioned glass on the rocks, top off with club soda, and garnish with a sprig of thai basil.


Total cost per drink? ~$1.46


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Posted in Cheap Cocktails, Tequila

How to Make the Scorpion, or a tiki cocktail with a helluva sting

How to Make the Scorpion Tiki CocktailOkay, I get it.  Normally strong cocktails have a bite, not a sting.  But this one is called the scorpion, so did you really expect me to pass that up?  The scorpion is a veteran heavyweight of the tiki world (with almost two standard drinks of alcohol!) and its history is legendary.  But before we get to the complicated discussion of origin stories, let’s learn how to make a simple version of the cocktail.

The Scorpion
  • 0.75 ounces Dark Rum
  • 0.75 ounces Light Rum
  • 0.75 ounces Brandy
  • 0.25 ounces Orange Liqueur (such as Triple Sec)
  • 1.5 ounces of orange juice
  • 0.5 ounces of lime juice
  • garnish with a citrus wedge

Start by adding ice to your shaker and squeezing in the juice of the lime and orange.  The fresh citrus really make this cocktail pop but if you don’t have any fresh citrus ready, bottled lime and orange juice will do the trick.  Once the citrus juices have been added, continue to add in the spirits.  Then shake shake shake.  Once you have the cocktail all mixed up, pour it into a highball glass filled with ice.  Garnish with a citrus wedge and it is as simple as that. You’ve got yourself a wonderful scorpion.

Now for the history.  There are more “authentic” versions of the scorpion than any other tiki cocktail – a feat that is impressive as many tiki cocktails have at least half a dozen variants.  What is known of the scorpion’s origins is that it was first created in the 1930s in Honolulu, Hawaii at a bar called The Hut.  An unknown bartender mixed rums, citrus juice, orgeat syrup and brandy over ice and after garnishing with an orange, presented it as the “Scorpion” to his almost certainly inebriated guests.  From there, tiki legend Victor “Trader Vic” Bergeron picked up the drink, dubbed it the “Scorpion Bowl” and elevated to the status of a great tiki cocktail along with the likes of the Mai Tai and Fog Cutter.  Trader Vic himself published three different variants of the Scorpion Bowl, which was served to groups of eager drinkers in an ornate vessel with legs that looked like topless Tahitian women and a gardenia floating serenely on top.  The drink was then shared through the use of several straws.

The scorpion quickly grew popular and as it spread many bartenders put their own spin on the cocktail.  The variant in this post is the simplest and cheapest to make and although it lacks the orgeat syrup than many would say is required to make this cocktail “authentic” serves quite well to get the right flavor profile.  We will dabble in other variants of the scorpion later, once we have explored some of the other great tiki cocktails.  Until next time on Tiki Monday, sit back, relax, and enjoy the power of the scorpion and remember that the week is just getting started.

Total cost per drink? ~$1.12

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Posted in Brandy, Cheap Cocktails, Rum, Tiki Mondays

How to Make Ice Cream Shooters, or getting into the National Ice Cream Day spirit!

Bourbon Ice Cream ShooterHappy National Ice Cream Day!  National Ice Cream Day has been the third Sunday in July (National Ice Cream Month) since it was proposed in Joint Resolution 298, which was sponsored by Senator Walter Dee Huddleston of Kentucky on May 17, 1984.  It was signed into existence by President Reagan, in perhaps the least controversial decision he ever made.  Conservative or liberal, everyone loves ice cream!  To celebrate this day and honor the state of Kentucky which Senator Huddleston represented, here is a simple recipe to turn your favorite ice cream into a shooter, with a little help from our good friend bourbon.

Bourbon & Ice Cream Shooters
  • 1 ounce Bourbon
  • 2 ounces of your ice cream of choice
  • garnish with chocolate chips or sprinkles
  • Tools: a whisk & a generous portion of elbow grease

Place both the bourbon and ice cream in a bowl.  Now it is time to whisk them together.  To make this process a bit easier, you may want to mash the ice cream with a fork or even cut it into smaller pieces with a knife before whisking.  Once fully combined, you will have a very thick milky syrup.  Pour this into a shot glass and stick it back into the freezer to cool and solidify.  Due to the high alcohol content (~20%) the mixture will not completely freeze but rather reach a consistency somewhere between a milkshake and a slushie – this should take about one hour.  Once thick enough, remove the shooter from the freezer, garnish with chocolate chips or sprinkles and enjoy!

I recommend using either vanilla or dark chocolate ice cream, but feel free to be as creative as you want.  Vanilla brings out the vanilla notes already present from aging the bourbon in oak barrels, whereas the dark chocolate with its deep rich flavor will balance out some of the bourbon’s sweetness.  If you have caramel ice cream, that could also lead to a great combo if you use a bourbon with a high wheat mashbill such Makers Mark (the most famous), Weller (the best quality), or Rebel Yell (the cheapest).  Wheaters are known for their caramel forward taste and overall smoother “soft” flavors.  For a nice summery twist, try peach or mint ice cream.

Flaming Ice Cream ShooterNot a bourbon fan?  Well lucky you, your liquor cabinet is the limit when making this simple shooter.  Other great spirits to try would be spiced rums, brandy, flavored vodkas, fruity liqueurs, or even a nice strong scotch.  Want to increase the shock and awe factor?  Make it fire and ice cream by floating a little everclear or 151 on top, then light with a match! Have fun experimenting and feel free to comment with your favorite flavors!

If you want to get a bit fancier and take this shooter to the next level, check out this great recipe by Cheeky Kitchen – ice cream cone shot glasses?!  what’s not to love?


Total cost per drink?  ~$0.44

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Posted in Bourbon, Brandy, Dollar Drinks, Liqueur, Port, Rum, Scotch, Spirits, Tequila, Vodka

How to Make the Frozen Mudslide, or getting tipsy off a milkshake!

The Frozen MudslideIt has been a long week and now that the weekend is here with all the heat of summer, you deserve a cool refreshing treat.  While many cocktails may fit the bill for cool and refreshing, few reach the decadence of of a frozen mudslide.  It is basically an alcohol based milkshake!  And the best part is they aren’t hard to make at home, here’s how you do it.

The Frozen Mudslide
  • 1 oz Vodka
  • 1 oz Kahlua
  • 1 oz Irish Cream
  • 1 oz milk or cream or even ice cream (optional)
  • 1 cup Ice
  • garnish with chocolate syrup or even whipped cream

Like most frozen cocktails, the frozen mudslide requires the use of a blender.  Pour all ingredients into the blender and blend on high for about 30 seconds.  Some recipes for the frozen mudslide call for milk/cream, others don’t.  I personally like stronger drinks, so I usually leave it out, but if you want a smoother even more milkshake like cocktail, go ahead and add the dairy.  Once fully mixed, pour the contents of the blender into a hurricane glass or other tall glass such as a pilsner glass. Or if you want to look a bit classier as you drink your alcoholic milkshake, pour into a martini glass.  Garnish with chocolate syrup (you can either pour a bit around the glass before you add the cocktail or just pour some one top once it is in the glass).  You can also top the frozen mudslide off with some whipped cream if you want to take this cocktail to the next level.  No judgments, it’s the weekend – enjoy yourself!  Now get out your blender and start mixing!

Want a visual tutorial on how to make a variant of the frozen mudslide?  You are in luck!  Here is a great simple video on how to make the frozen mudslide:

Total cost per drink? ~$$1.23


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Posted in Cheap Cocktails, Liqueur, Vodka

How to Make the Painkiller, or tiki’s answer to the hangover.

How to Make the PainkillerHave you ever woken up after a night of drinking and felt like you never wanted to have another cocktail again?  Well this drink is one to quickly get you back on the horse.  Hailing from the land of tiki-dom, the Painkiller is a sweet and creamy concoction of fruit juice and potent rum, garnished with a pungent kick of nutmeg.  Perfect at any time of day, the Painkiller is a cocktail you need to add to your repertoire.

The Painkiller
  • 2 oz Navy or Dark Rum.
  • 4 oz Pineapple juice
  • 1 oz Orange juice
  • 1 oz Cream of coconut
  • Orange wedge or cherry, and nutmeg for garnish

This is one of those drinks that you get to build in the glass and as such, the type of glass you use really matters.  Like many tiki cocktails, the Painkiller is usually served in a hurricane glass.  If you don’t happen to have a hurricane glass handy or want to switch things up a bit, a snifter is also a great option.  Load the glass up with ice, and then carefully add all the ingredients.  If you want a stronger drink, only use 2 oz of pineapple juice as the cocktail is made both ways.  Once all the ingredients have been added, stir until the cocktail is chilled and mixed.  Then garnish with an orange wedge or a cherry, and some nutmeg.  Optimally the nutmeg should be freshly grated, but if you don’t have any, a dash or two of ground nutmeg easily takes its place.

Navy rum is quite popular in tiki cocktails, but it unfortunately no longer is available for as cheap as it was in the 1700s.  This type of rum was developed when the British Royal Navy patrolled the Caribbean Islands and each sailor was allowed a daily ration of rum.  As the ships sailed between islands, they picked up the different local rums and blended them into the rum on board the ship – hence the origin of navy rum.  Today the most popular navy rum in the US is Prussers, but at $20 per fifth, this isn’t going to be an everyday option.  Luckily you can sub in a dark rum if you don’t have any navy rum and although you might lose a bit of complexity from the palate, the Painkiller is still a great cocktail that is infinitely drinkable no matter what type of day you are having.

Total cost per drink? ~$1.34

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Posted in Cheap Cocktails, Rum, Tiki Mondays
Nick McAfee
Nick McAfee is a student of Princeton University and is passionate about mixology. As a student with a low monthly income, he has developed ways to create simple cocktails with complex flavors from inexpensive ingredients. Learn more about Nick and Broke & Thirsty.
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