Home-crafted Cocktails

Looking for a simple and delicious way to celebrate spring? Try a fresh, herbaceous cocktail while sitting on the patio next to fragrant pots of herbs and cocktail-worthy vegetables. Making your own cocktails at home can be surprisingly easy—especially with just a little guidance.

Jay and Leah Hall are the creative geniuses behind the online presence that is Gastronom Libations and Spirited Travel. Originally designed as a food blog, the content focused heavily on spirits after a recipe for Brandied Cherries found popularity. Self-professed spirit guides, the couple said, “Our primary goal is to help people elevate their home cocktail experience.”

In the spring, the Halls’ favorite place to enjoy a cocktail is their own home. A few years ago, they remodeled an unused formal sitting room, sourcing reclaimed northeastern Nebraska cedar to craft a gorgeous bar and stocked it with interesting spirits, several from local distillers.

Wary of taking the plunge at home? “You can make something taste fancy without a lot of effort,” said Leah. “There is a reason the classics are classic.” A well-balanced cocktail appeals to the senses, and most follow a general 2:1:1 ratio of spirit, sweet, and sour. One of their secret ingredients? Vinegar. It sounds odd but is a perfect addition to both food and drink for acidic balance.

For those who do not yet have a cocktail-loving palate, the Halls recommend sours, which are excellent entry-level libations. Recently, the couple served a well-balanced sour at Omaha Whiskey Fest using local Brickway Single-Malt Whiskey infused with cherries and vanilla.

If you prefer to stretch your cocktail palate further, try visiting a spot during an off night and sit at the bar. A good bartender will listen to your likes and dislikes and deliver a delicious drink. Consider planting a cocktail garden of fresh herbs and produce with an eye toward unique creations. If gardening is not your thing, browse the Farmer’s Market for inspiration. Consider what’s in season and layer from there.

Gastronom offers cocktail classes, signature cocktail development, food photography, and a wealth of inspirational pictures and accompanying, well-tested recipes
to try at home.

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