With this post, we’re happy to introduce a new column at PEOPLE.com: the Tiny Test Kitchen. We see a lot of beautiful, helpful and inspiring cookbooks come across our desks every week — and we often test recipes featured in those books. Here, we can share those cooking “experiments” with you. Why Tiny Test Kitchen? Because we’ll be whipping up these recipes in our own (very tiny) New York City kitchens to show you just how easy or difficult, tasty or terrible the recipes turn out.
To kick things off, I whipped up a few cocktails from the new Death & Co: Modern Classic Cocktails from the New York City bar of the same name. Whether shaken or stirred the guys (and gals) from Death & Co. make a mean cocktail.
The book includes more than 500 cocktail recipes, along with recommendations about technique, tools, and stocking a home bar. One of my favorite parts was the fact that they highlighted their regular customers (and their signature drinks) in the book. Not that I need another reason to become a regular there, but I wouldn’t say no to having my favorite cocktail in their next book.
I enlisted a couple of friends, and we each chose a cocktail to try. We looked for classics that didn’t require a lot of additional ingredients. First up: The Boulevardier!
I’ve never been much of a Campari fan. (Yes, I know that is an unpopular opinion right now.) But I love a Boulevardier.
There’s something about the combination of bourbon and sweet vermouth that cuts the bitterness of the Campari, making it my kind of drink. This one is a classic, and the Death & Co. recipe doesn’t disappoint.
1½ ounces Elijah Craig 12-year bourbon
¾ ounce house sweet vermouth
¾ ounce Campari
1 lemon twist, for garnish
1. Stir all the ingredients over ice, then strain into a coupe. Garnish with the lemon twist.
Next up, another classic — The Fitzgerald. My two cocktail tasters agreed, that this was by far our favorite. In fact, it might become the new signature cocktail at my apartment.
Given that most of the ingredients were clear or pale yellow (the lemon juice), it was kind of a surprise to see just how much color came from the two dashes of Angostura bitters. You probably have all the ingredients for this one at home. Shake it up tonight — you won’t regret it.
2 ounces Beefeater London Dry Gin
¾ ounce lemon juice
1 ounce simple syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 lemon wedge, for garnish
1. Shake all the ingredients with ice then strain into a double rocks glass. Garnish with the lemon wedge.
The final cocktail we tried is a Death & Co. original. It’s a take on a margarita but it uses agave syrup instead of simple syrup and has orange marmalade mixed in, which is why you definitely have to shake it.
I can imagine adding a little bit of spice to this cocktail as well. Maybe a homemade spicy marmalade to give it a little heat? It was such a fresh take on the margarita.
Flor De Jalisco
In the 1980s, Julio Bermejo, an owner of Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant in San Francisco, popularized a margarita sweetened with agave syrup. We’ve used his spec for some fun spin-offs, including this version with lemon juice and orange marmalade.
2 ounces Siembra Azul Blanco Tequila
¾ ounce lemon juice
¼ ounce agave nectar
1 tsp. orange marmalade
1. Shake all the ingredients with ice, then strain them into a coupe. No garnish.
We definitely chose some of the simplest cocktails from the book. If you want to go all out, there are plenty with lots of ingredients to make you feel like a true mix master. But there are also tons of simple drinks that you can master and add to your repertoire.