How to use up what's in your liquor cabinet
Don't pour out those orphaned spirits! They can be put to a higher use in creative drinks or baking. We've got the apps to make it happen.
Wed, Dec 05 2012 at 11:53 AM
Chances are, if you've lived in the same place for more than a couple of years and have ever thrown a party, you’ve ended up with some random bottles alongside your go-to drink mixers like gin and vodka. We all have them. My cabinet inexplicably includes butterscotch schnapps and crème de menthe, neither of which I purchased. (In fact I’m not even sure who gave them to me.) These random liquors gather dust over the years because you figure you'll find a use for them some day.
Well, thanks to the Internet and some smart apps, that day has arrived. Now you can use up your perfectly good liquor and also look pretty smart when you break out a new and creative cocktail next time you have friends over — and what better time of year for that than now? Or maybe you have just enough left in the bottle for a drink for one. The depths of winter are a great time to try something new post-work one evening. Either way, waste not, want not, right?
The Webtender site is genius; it provides a selection list of every kind of weird liquor you can think of, not to mention some common mixers many of us have sitting around. You choose what you have on hand from each list, choose how strict you want your search results to be (you can choose whether one, two or all your selected ingredients must be used), and it will give you a list of recipes that fit your parameters. I mean, where else would you find a recipe for a Kilted Black Leprechaun just because you have some Malibu rum and Drambuie lying around? And just in case you need it, there’s also advice about some of the drinks: while the Peppermint Beach (which drains your peppermint schnapps and rum) might sound like a wacky coupling, the mixing instructions suggest otherwise. According to Webtender, “Our studies show this drink to taste quite foul at the beginning of the evening but rather refreshing after several other drinks have been consumed.” (I feel more secure knowing the drinks I’m mixing up have been "studied," don’t you?)
If all you have is your smartphone handy, fear not. Apps like Mixologist allow you to search its database by ingredient (so you can input whatever it is you want to get rid of), or by drink (in case you are looking for inspiration). The app, which costs $.99, will also help you find nearby liquor stores (in case you take a liking to that orphaned liquor you thought you hated) and bars (in case you throw in the towel on this experiment), as well as a notepad to record your favorite drinks. You can also see what other folks have rated as the best cocktail recipes. And there are additional databases for purchase, including a low-calorie drink menu. (This app can be downloaded by those 17 and over.)
Similarly, the $.99 iBartender app lets you search by liquor or other ingredient (so if you have other random nonalcoholic ingredients, like coconut cream, taking up space in your pantry, you can search for drinks that will use that stuff up too). And each drink recipe includes a small image of what the finished product should look like, including suggested glassware. iBartender also has a fun "shake" feature, which lets you shake your phone like a cocktail and then see a random drink recipe pop up. (This app can be downloaded by those 17 and over.)
Drinkspiration is one of the few free apps and that’s because it comes from Absolut vodka, so this one is (not surprisingly) tilted toward vodka drinks. Depending on what you have left over in your liquor cabinet, this app may or may not be useful (many random liquors mix well with vodka, after all), but if you have the memory space on your phone, it might be worth adding to your drink recipe arsenal. (This app can be downloaded only if you are 21 and over.)
There’s also the last refuge of liquor you don’t want to drink; no, it's not the drain, it's food. When heated, most of the alcohol from whatever you are pouring will burn off, but flavors will be left behind. My butterscotch schnapps, in the end, might taste best in a cake, for example. You don’t need an app for that: Just type in your leftover liquor, along with key words like “cookies recipe” or “cake recipe” (some alcohol even works with meat dishes, especially brandies). I found a delicious-sounding one for Chocolate Butterscotch Schnapps Cake that calls for 1/2 cup of schnapps, which looks to be about exactly how much I have left in my bottle.
Feel intimidated? Need inspiration? When in doubt, one of the drinks listed below will make a serious dent in whatever alcohol collection you have going. (And hey, you can always experiment!)
From DrinksMixer (another great site that will teach you everything you don't know about mixing alcohols, glassware and more), the classic Long Island Iced Tea has ranked among the top five most popular drinks for years:
Long Island Iced Tea
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 5 minutes
- 1 part vodka
- 1 part tequila
- 1 part rum
- 1 part gin
- 1 part triple sec
- 1 1/2 parts sweet and sour mix
- 1 splash cola
- Mix ingredients together over ice in a glass.
- Pour into a shaker and give one brisk shake.
- Pour back into the glass and make sure there is a touch of fizz at the top. Garnish with lemon.
And a great recipe to use up two oft-left-behind liquors, the 8th Birthday Cocktail would be perfect at the end of a holiday dinner party and comes across as refined and dessert-like when you serve it in a martini glass with a mint leaf garnish.
8th Birthday Cocktail
Prep time: 3 minutes
Total time: 3 minutes
- 3/4 ounce Chambord raspberry liquor
- 1 ounce dark créme de cacao
- 1 ounce vodka
- 1 ounce milk
- Add all ingredients to an ice-filled cocktail shaker, and pour into a martini glass.
Related alcohol stories on MNN:
- Abstaining from alcohol significantly shortens life
- 9 yummy drink recipes for fall and winter
- Is responsible tailgating an oxymoron?