Bad Times,
Better Cocktails
SUNDAY, APRIL 5, 2020 -- In times such as these, women and men may be inclined to take strong drink.

But if you are bored with your usual Scotch and soda, gin and tonic or vodka Martini, try one of these cocktails on for size. You probably have the ingredients in your liquor cabinet. Even if you don't, liquor outlets have been described as an "essential" business in most state lockdown orders. And shops on the Internet continue to deliver.

Go ahead and use all this free time to experiment and up the condition of your cocktail condition.

One of the great aperitivi of all time, this sublime Italian elixir of equal parts gin, Campari and sweet (red) vermouth hits all the right notes: strong, bitter and sweet. Serve it on the rocks or mixed over ice and strained into a Martini glass with a slim slice of orange if you have it.

Similar to a Negroni, but made with whiskey instead of gin. (I prefer rye, but bourbon is not wrong.) I like it with a twist of orange rind, but you could also pop in a cherry. This one's great mixed ahead in batches, for you and anyone exempt from your social-distancing regimen.

Another of the group of famous 1:1:1 cocktails, this one is made with equal parts rye, Campari, and dry vermouth. It's best served on the rocks. The garnish is lemon peel.

Equal parts of sweet and dry vermouth, served on the rocks or stirred over ice and strained. It makes a compellingly simple and flavorful low-alcohol restorative.

Fans of umami will love this Bloody Mary variation with the addition of savory beef broth. Deploy your favorite mix, purchased or homemade, and add beef broth to taste. (Store-bought broth is fine, by the way.) The usual ratio is two parts tomato juice to one part broth. Vodka, gin or tequila can provide the kick. Celery, olive, lime wedge ... you get the garnish drift.

The related Bullshot is some great hair of the dog: It's basically a Bloody Bull without the blood. It consists of broth and vodka, seasoned with Worcestershire, pepper or hot sauce, lemon or lime juice, salt, celery salt and whatever else you might like to spice things up. You can also serve this baby hot.

While we're on the subject of Bloody Mary variations, this Mexican refresher substitutes a good glug of lager beer for booze. Tecate or Corona is the traditional brew, but you've probably already cut corners today, so don't sweat if you've only got PBR. Want to get fancy? Pour salt (seasoned or otherwise) onto a plate. Wet the top of the glass (with a lime or lemon wedge or even water), and twist it into the plated salt to "rim" your cerveza preparada.

Forget about a margarita. This grapefruit refresher is really Mexico's favorite cocktail. To make it, rim a tall glass (see above) with salt, preferably kosher, fill with ice, add your favorite tequila and a half-ounce of fresh lime juice. (You had limes for the gin and tonic, right?) Then top with grapefruit juice and club soda. Okay, okay, in normal times you'd use grapefruit soda, but now you have an easy hack.

Also known as a Scotch Manhattan, this one's an easy build of two parts Scotch whisky to one part sweet vermouth. Add a dash of bitters, stir over ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Then pop in a cherry. This one's so simple that the good stuff won't be put to waste, whether a premium blend or a favored Speyside single malt.

This one's even easier: In a tall glass filled with crushed ice, add Jamaican rum and top with lemonade. (Use whatever you bought for the kids.) You're welcome.

Watch it, drink it. Take 1.5 ounces of blended Scotch whisky and a half-ounce of amaretto and pour over ice. Switch out Scotch for vodka and it's a Godmother. Leave the gun, take the cannoli. -- Joan Lang

Joan Lang is a food writer living in Maine. That's her crafting a Negroni in the test kitchen of the vast, worldwide headquarters of Joe Sent Me.