Wow, what a whirlwind 2020 has been so far. These are indeed some troubling times in which we’re currently living. Almost all of us Americans are being told to shelter-in-place at home to stay healthy and safe. I don’t know about you, but staying at home is both a blessing and a curse. Yes, I’m avoiding being outside and not putting myself at risk, however, staying inside is making me go a bit stir-crazy.

The past few days I’ve been thinking about how much I miss going to a bar or restaurant and relaxing with a cocktail. I then realized that I have a lot of ingredients that will work just fine for making some classic favorites right here at home. I’m sure that many of you have the same or similar items that would work well for some of your favorites as well. Here are a few simple recipes that most of you could easily replicate using typical household items and tools.

Old Fashioned

This cocktail is one of my favorites to make and drink at home, as it takes a short amount of time to prepare and doesn’t require fancy tools. It’s straight-forward and boozy, perfect for the end of an evening after a stressful day.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 sugar cube, or ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 3-5 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 2 ounces (4 TBSP or ¼ cup) whiskey of choice
  • Ice
  • Old-fashioned glass or anything similarly shaped
  • Orange and/or lemon peels for garnish

In a double-old fashioned glass or any similarly shaped glass add the sugar. Then add 3-5 dashes of Angostura bitters and muddle to incorporate. Add your choice in whiskey. Buffalo Trace Bourbon is almost always in my home bar, it’s great as a sipping whiskey, but also mixes extremely well. Fill the glass with ice and stir for 10-15 seconds depending on how chilled and diluted you like your cocktail. Garnish with an orange and/or lemon peel by expressing the oils over the top of the glass and then place the peel(s) inside the glass to let the oils combine with the cocktail.


This classic recipe only has three ingredients, sugar, lime, and rum. Shaking it one cocktail at a time is the “old-school” way of doing it, but if you want to scale the recipe up and blend it for your quarantine mates, that will work too.

What you’ll need:

  • .75 ounces (about 5 teaspoons or 1.5 TBSP) simple syrup
    • Simple syrup is a 1:1 ratio of granulated sugar to water whisked until dissolved
  • 1 ounce (2 TBSP or 1/8 cup) fresh lime juice
  • 2 ounces (4 TBSP or ¼ cup) of white rum
  • Shaking tin or anything that will hold a seal such as Tupperware
  • Ice
  • Coupe glass or anything similarly shaped
  • Lime wheel for garnish

In your shaking apparatus of choice, add the simple syrup and fresh lime juice. Then add the white rum. I really like using Flor de Cana 4yr seco rum, it has a great dryness that makes for an outstanding daiquiri. Add ice and shake really hard for about 12 seconds. Strain into a chilled coupe glass or any similarly shaped glass. Garnish with a lime wheel propped on the edge.


The Paloma is one of those overlooked cocktails that is a delicious option from the oft-selected Margarita. The touch of grapefruit and effervescence in this recipe makes for a refreshing concoction that leaves you wanting sip after sip.

What you’ll need:

  • .75 ounces (about 5 teaspoons or 1.5 TBSP) agave nectar
    • If you don’t have agave nectar, simple syrup will do the trick
  • .25 ounce (about ½ TBSP) fresh lime juice
  • .5 ounce (1 TBSP) fresh grapefruit juice
  • 2 ounces (4 TBSP or ¼ cup) 100% de agave Tequila
  • Shaking tin or anything that will hold a seal such as Tupperware
  • Ice
  • Collins glass or anything similarly shaped
  • Salt for the rim of the glass
  • Grapefruit soda or carbonated water
  • Grapefruit peel for garnish

In your shaking apparatus of choice, add the agave nectar. If you don’t have agave nectar, simple syrup will work in a pinch. Then add the fresh lime juice and fresh grapefruit juice. Lastly, add your favorite 100% de agave Tequila. One of my favorites is Lunazul reposado, it has a nice roasted agave flavor that works great in cocktails. Shake very hard with ice for 10-12 seconds. Strain over fresh ice in a tall, salt-rimmed Collins shaped glass and top with grapefruit soda or carbonated water. I recommend Topo Chico if you can find it, the carbonation adds some great big bubbles. Garnish with a long peel of grapefruit curled down inside the glass.


About the Author

Willem Van Leuven is a Craft & Luxury Spirits Specialist for Young’s Market Company in San Diego, California. His passion for craft spirits stems from over 18 years of hospitality experience working in bars and restaurants throughout Southern California. He was previously the president of the San Diego chapter of the United States Bartender’s Guild and continues to be active in the San Diego cocktail community. When he’s not talking about libations, you can find him enjoying them both stateside and abroad, often in Mexico.