If you are an aspiring mixologist who is getting a bit tired of simple syrup, standard bitters and lime wedges, we totally feel you. Thankfully, there are literally dozens of unusual cocktail ingredients to fit every type of alcohol and every set of taste buds. Here are 15 of our favorite unique cocktails ingredients, from vinegars to squid ink:
If you want to branch out into using vegetable juices in cocktails, but beet juice is a little too out there for you, carrot juice might be a good introductory step. Carrot juice has a milder but still fresh flavor and lends a fun orange color to any cocktails you mix it into. It makes a great addition to a wide range of cocktails such as margarites, bloody marys and more.
Matcha has been in the culinary spotlight in the past few years, and we are not mad about it. While the powder is traditionally served as a non-alcoholic tea, it can also be a fun addition to alcoholic drinks such as mint juleps and white russians. It adds a mellow grassy flavor and a fun green color to drinks, all without added dyes or food coloring.
If you want a refreshing summer cocktail, look no further than a drink made with flavored vinegars. Lighter options such as champagne vinegar are perfect for cocktails, and you can even make more robust options such as balsamic vinegar work as long as you pair them with the right liquor.
If you have ever had a frothy cocktail that seemed slightly thicker than usual, that was almost certainly due to egg whites. Egg whites are a must-have ingredient in sours but they can also feature in other cocktails as well. Usually, you will not taste the egg white (which has much less flavor than the yolk) but you will notice the difference in texture.
Xanthan gum is a vegan alternative to egg whites that serves basically the same purpose in cocktails — it adds frothiness and thickens the drink slightly. If you want to try it for yourself at home, you can usually find it in the baking aisle because it is used to provide elasticity and stiffness to the dough in gluten-free recipes.
Eucalyptus has a sharp, slightly medicinal taste that is almost instantly identifiable, even when mixed into a cocktail. Most people do not use the eucalyptus plant directly in their drinks, but rather transform it into a simple syrup first. The sugar helps tone down the edge and keep it from overwhelming the drink.
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If you want to create a ruby red cocktail without resorting to dyes, beet juice is the answer you have been looking for. Beet juice has a sweet, earthy taste that belies its jewel-tone coloring. It is definitely not for everyone, but if you want a unique cocktail ingredient that will surprise guests, then it will definitely fit the bill.
Nope, you will not be mixing kale leaves directly into your drink. You will need kale juice for this instead. If you do not own a juicer, kale juice has become popular enough that you can usually find it bottled in health foods stores and other specialty retailers. Kale pairs well with ginger beer and with clear liquors such as white rum, tequila and vodka (including certain fruit-flavored vodkas).
Sugar snap peas do not just make a springy cocktail garnish, although that is also true. Peas also make a refreshing and unusual cocktail ingredient for those looking to expand their palates. The peas are usually pureed first to make the texture as fine as possible before they are shaken or stirred into the drink.
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Chia seeds are not only confined to your morning smoothie or yogurt. They are now making appearances at cocktail bars after hours, too. Since the chia seeds will eventually sink, most drink recipes call for either shaking the seeds into the drink to promote even mixing or layering a spoonful on top of an extra large ice cube.
If you want to add a kick to your cocktails, then peppercorns will definitely deliver. Spicy, numbing peppercorns make for an easy garnish, and they can also be turned into a tincture if you want to mix the flavor through the drink more evenly. Just do not bite down on one unless you are prepared for the kick!
We are in the era of bacon everything (did we need bacon soap? probably not) so it is no surprise that bacon has made its way into cocktails. Mixologists are not just using bacon as a garnish, but they are also using it to make simple syrup and even to infuse vodka. If you are a huge fan of meats, you will definitely want to give a bacon cocktail a try.
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Butterfly pea flowers
You may have seen a viral video of butterfly pea flowers, which cause any liquid they are steeped in to cycle through a host of neon colors, depending on the acidity. The drinks may be pink, purple or blue depending on the pH of the ingredients — or they form a gorgeous gradient all in one drink if you layer your ingredients correctly!
You have heard of squid ink pasta. Now, get ready for squid ink cocktails! Squid ink will turn any drink it is added to jet black, no food dye required. It will also add a salt-like taste to the drink, which can be a real benefit to certain drinks. Use it very sparingly to keep from accidentally overwhelming the drink.
Pine needles are not just for Christmas trees. They are edible, and they make a fun garnish for a winter cocktail as long as you wash them properly first. If you are feeling adventurous, you can even use them to make a pine needle-infused simple syrup to mix together a bourbon or whiskey cocktail that will warm you right up.