Use up the end of a jar of jam and make Spring Yields. Photo by Angie Bryan

By now you are probably familiar with the term “quarantini” – a cocktail you drink alone at home. But what goes into a quarantini, and where do you start if you’re better at ordering drinks than making them?

At-home mixology can be intimidating. You research recipes, only to discover that fancy cocktail drinks entail a lot of elements. You don’t want to purchase a bunch of obscure ingredients, especially when you’re limiting errands.

Never fear! You can still whip up a surprising number of cocktails without having to put on your fancy pants. Or any pants.

For starters, learn to make a simple syrup. Combine equal parts sugar and hot water and stir until the sugar is dissolved. They don’t call it “simple” syrup for nothing. It lasts a long time in the refrigerator, so go ahead and make some now so that you can start chilling it – it’s not nearly as useful if you pour it into your cocktail shaker while still hot.

While your simple syrup is chilling, we’ll turn to the folks at Wiggly Bridge Distillery ( in York who designed some cocktail recipes for at-home bartenders without fully-stocked bars. I haven’t been to Wiggly Bridge (or even York) yet, but it’s a family-owned-and-operated small craft distillery that produces small-barrel bourbon, bottled-in-bond bourbon, gin, vodka, two different Caribbean-style rums and a trio of agave spirits, all distilled in hand-built copper stills.

I don’t know about y’all, but I’m thirsty! Let’s start with an easy formula for a quarantini called Seltzer in Place. Using a tall glass (it isn’t spelled “quaranteeny”) filled with ice, start with 1.5 ounces of vodka or gin. Add a splash of your favorite fruit juice – orange, grapefruit, pineapple, cranberry, pomegranate, etc. – and then fill the remainder of the glass with seltzer water (aka club soda). If the result isn’t sweet enough, add a bit of simple syrup.

Wiggly Bridge’s quarantini, Cabin Fever Photo by Quinn Kolmar

Next, Wiggly Bridge proposes the Cabin Fever, a quarantini designed to make you feel like you’re on a not-closed beach catching some rays without having to worry about your mask leaving a tan line. One ounce dark (not spiced) rum, one ounce white rum, 2.5 ounces pineapple juice, 1.25 ounces orange juice, and ¾ ounce coconut cream. If homeschooling your kids has made you recoil at fractions, don’t panic – this isn’t the Great British Baking Show. Mixology is far more forgiving. You can always add a bit more of an ingredient to balance the flavors, so taste as you go and adjust as desired.  If you don’t have coconut cream, use coconut milk with a bit of simple syrup. Shake well over ice and top with grated nutmeg.

The third recipe, the Spring Yields, uses up some of those random jam containers from your fridge.  Two ounces white rum, two tablespoons jam, ¼ ounce simple syrup and ¾ ounce lime juice. Don’t have a way to measure ¼ of an ounce? Take a shot glass and fill it ¾ of the way with lime juice and then fill the rest with simple syrup. Don’t have fresh limes?  Use ReaLime. More of a bourbon drinker? Use marmalade instead of jam. Is the drink too sweet and needs a little salt to balance it? Just cry directly into the cocktail shaker.

Angie Bryan is a former diplomat who is enjoying getting acquainted with her new home in Portland, one cocktail at a time.

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