Tuxedo cocktail, consisting of Old Tom Gin, dry vermouth, maraschino liqueur, absinthe and orange bitters, garnished with a maraschino cherry and a lemon twist

If you’re like me, you spend a great deal of time thinking about the important things in life: Steampunk, and cocktails.  If you’re a LOT like me, you spend as much time as possible combining the two.

What are some ways to make a truly great Steampunk cocktail?  Here are a few pointers that I’ve picked up over the years.

First off, if you’re thinking of something sweet, did you know that it is entirely possible to get tiny edible top hats?  It is!  I’ll admit a secret: I have always wanted to purchase some of them and place them atop a cocktail, but I haven’t yet.  I’m giving this secret away to you in case you want to try it first.  Please let me know how it turns out!

For sweet drinks, consider this simple combination of flavor and color: take dark rum, pour it halfway into the glass, and add some grenadine.  You’ll get a splash of deep red which looks a little like a heart, and it will give you bit of a candied flavor.  Then be extra Steampunk and go overboard by putting in some actual candy!  (You can even make your own Steampunk candy molds, if you want to.)

In general, if you want to theme your drink, you could use bourbon for something with a Wild Wild West Steampunk; Gin for something British; and Absinthe for something that will make you see airships and possibly travel through time.  (Do NOT try combining all three into one drink.  Trust me on this one.  I’ve heard it can be done, but I believe it involves some sort of dark magic.)

That being said, combining gin and green absinthe will give you something with a lovely light green tinge, and a powerful kick, as well.  Absinthes vary tremendously, of course; but choosing something with a strong anise flavour will give you a nice bite, which will compliment the kick of the gin.  And you can always add to the verdant look with another sweet alcohol – Midori.  Midori doesn’t have a Steampunk tradition, but I find it quite tasty.

(You can get the same color possibilities with vodka, but vodka has a bit less Steampunk history; also, vodka is best consumed neat, preferably while standing atop a snow-covered Russian steppe while grimly awaiting the approach of Napoleon’s army).

I could – and likely will – write whole articles on Absinthe.  But if we’re looking for a sweet cocktail with bourbon, let me give this simple advice: bitters!  As you might know, despite their name, these drink spices come in a variety of flavors.  I’d recommend picking one which really suits your own tastes – this, of course, has the added bonus which comes with all cocktail experimentation: It means you get to try out lots of lovely beverages while you’re figuring out what you like best!

-Jeff Mach

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