by Jonathan Vatner | April 01, 2011
Kitchen Cocktails lead in


When devising a signature cocktail for your event, the trend is to find inspiration in the kitchen, says Junior Merino, The Liquid Chef (646-667-2866). Herbs, vegetables and other ingredients used in cooking add complexity to drinks without making them too sweet. Merino, who designs cocktails and hosts mixology workshops for corporate events, recommends the following libations.

The Horchatini Offered at Casa Mezcal in New York City, this is made from the traditional Mexican beverage Horchata, itself made of rice and cinnamon, plus juices from lemon and jicama.

1½ oz Horchata (rice milk can be substituted)
½ oz gomme syrup* (simple syrup can be substituted)
½ oz lemon juice
1 oz jicama juice
2 oz Mezcal Blanco
½ oz Combier Liqueur D'Orange

Directions: Add all ingredients into a mixing glass, add ice and shake. Strain contents into a cocktail glass rimmed with Dainzu Pasilla* and cinnamon salt. (A sprinkle of cinnamon could be substituted for the rim on the glass.)


Absinthe Cocktail This creation of Merino's, offered at Rayuela in New York City, calls for celery and apple.

3 slices of celery
1/5 Granny Smith apple
1/2 oz agave nectar*
3/4 oz fresh lime juice
1 oz cachaça (Merino recommends Leblon brand)
1 oz absinthe (Merino recommends Le Tourment Vert brand)

Directions: Muddle the celery, apple and agave nectar in a mixing glass. Add the rest of the ingredients, ice and shake. Strain into a rocks glass over crushed ice.


Hawaiian Lava This libation, offered at the Molecular Bar by Junior Merino on Celebrity Cruises' Solstice Class, mixes the juices of grilled grapefruit and lime with bourbon and vanilla liqueur.
1 1/2 oz fig-infused bourbon (Merino recommends Woodford Reserve brand)
1/2 oz vanilla liqueur (Merino recommends Navan brand)
3/4 oz grilled grapefruit juice
1/2 oz agave nectar*
1/2 oz lime juice
3 dashes orange bitters

Pour all the ingredients into a mixing glass, add ice and shake. Strain into a rocks glass half-rimmed with Dainzu Hawaiian Lava Salt* and saffron.

*Available at