10 Unique Cocktails for the Adventurous Drinker

Unusual Flavor Combinations That Actually Work in Drinks

The majority of cocktails use ingredients and pair flavors that are common and known to be great for drinks. I wouldn't necessarily call those drinks ordinary (many are extraordinary), but often our experiences allow us to taste a drink just by reading the ingredients and get a general sense of whether we will like it or not.

This list does not include those drinks, instead we are going for the cocktails that make you do a double take and try to imagine how and if they will work. Many will...MORE surprise you.

My list is not going to be filled with completely outlandish drinks - no salmon vodkas, cough syrup, or burgers dripping grease into a Bloody Mary - you can find those elsewhere on the web and try them if you dare.

What I'm going for here is the truly unique cocktail that is well-crafted so you can actually drink and enjoy it and, depending on your taste, a couple may even become new favorites. Most of these include one key ingredient that is not ordinarily found in drinks, while others include a fascinating combination that is nothing short of an experience.

This is more of an experiment in flavor to give the adventurous drinker new ideas and experiences to take with them into future tastings. I've tried each of these personally and, while there are a few that I will pass on if offered a second round, they are all palatable and interesting and may be more aligned with your tastes than mine.

  • 01 of 10
    Natalie Bovis' Bacon Cherry Creek Cocktail
    This cocktail begins with a bacon-washed bourbon. Aleksandr Nakic/E+/Getty Images

    We'll start this list out with one of the few bacon cocktails that I have enjoyed and it comes from one of my favorite women in the bar business.

    Natalie Bovis' recipe begins by infusing four strips of bacon into Knob Creek, then mixes the bourbon with her cherry-cinnamon syrup and ruby port. It is fantastic and demonstrates that you can be a bacon fanatic with good taste.

    More Bacon Cocktails:

  • 02 of 10
    Jason Walsh's Root to Longevity Cocktail Recipe
    A rare cocktail for the adventurous spirit, the Root to Longevity pairs a fresh beet puree with Plymouth Gin and mint. MR.SURAKI HARNTONGKUL/E+/Getty Images

    How often have you seen the beet used in a drink? Probably not often, if at all, but it works and it works rather well.

    In this recipe from Jason Walsh a sweetened beet puree steals the show and pairs perfectly with Plymouth Gin, lemon, and mint. It's a simple recipe and perfect for a fresh from the garden taste.

    More Beet Cocktails:

  • 03 of 10

    Kabocha Spiced Cocktail

    Altantico Rum Kabocha Spiced Cordial - Noru Restaurants
    A most unique cocktail, this rum recipe uses apple, orange, egg white, ginger beer, and a kabocha squash puree. You have to try it!. Photo Courtesy: © Noru Restaurants

    Squash is the next little-used cocktail ingredient that we'll explore and the Kabocha Spiced Cocktail is the first of two to discuss.

    To create this drink you will begin with a roasted kabocha squash and blend it into a spiced puree. This is then mixed with a fine aged rum, apple juice, orange, egg white, and syrup before finishing it up with a spicy ginger beer. It's a tantalizing drink.

  • 04 of 10
    Little Dom's Butternut Old Fashioned Cocktail
    Put an autumn twist on the Old-fashioned with this cocktail recipe that begins with a butternut squash infusion of bourbon. Photo Courtesy: © Little Dom's (Los Angeles, California)

    The other squash drink takes a different approach and opts for a bourbon infusion of spiced and sweetened butternut squash instead of a puree. This creates a softer squash profile that works great with the whiskey.

    The drink then adds maple syrup and two great bitters, and you may want to think about serving this one with a light brunch.

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10
    Judy Bronson's The Marriage of Figaro Cocktail
    Judy Bronson's The Marriage of Figaro Cocktail is a very unique cocktail that features a fig-infused bourbon. Sheri L Giblin / Photodisc / Getty Images

     Every now and then figs make there way into a cocktail, though it's not often enough to make most people notice. This cocktail by Judy Bronson proves that it should be used more often.

    In The Marriage of Figaro, Bronson opts for the popular infusion route - again in bourbon - then adds more bourbon along with Cardamaro and allspice dram and the result is a perfect marriage of flavor that can quickly become a favorite.

    More Fig Cocktails:

  • 06 of 10
    Humberto Marques' Eucalyptus Martini
    The Eucalyptus Martini is a refreshing and unique cocktail and if you're in Copenhagen, stop by Curfew and have one made for you. Photo Courtesy: © Humberto Marques

    One reader calls this "...the most refreshing cocktail I've ever tasted!" and I find it hard to argue that eucalyptus is refreshing. The drink itself is simple: gin, syrup, lime, egg.

    It is in the syrup where the eucalyptus comes into play and Humberto Marques not only provides a recipe to make your own, but now sells it by the bottle on TheBartist.com. Is the Eucalyptus Martini for everyone? Probably not, but it's worth a shot and your taste buds may surprise you.

    More Eucalyptus...MORE Cocktails:

  • 07 of 10
    Carrot Cake UV Cake Vodka Cocktail
    Yes, there is a Carrot Cake cocktail and it's fun. Photo Courtesy: © UV Vodka

    It's time to have a little fun with cake vodka and it's definitely not the ordinary profile for vodkas of this sort. As the name implies, the drink does attempt to emulate a home-baked carrot cake and it does a fair job at it.

    The mix includes UV Cake and carrot juice, adding in milk, nutmeg, and cinnamon with a splash of soda to liven it up. If you love carrot cake, you may want to consider this one, just have your juicer ready because carrot juice can be hard to find.

    More Carrot...MORE Cocktails:

  • 08 of 10
    Beer, Bourbon, and Barbecue Cocktail by Tom Fischer and Steven Dennison
    Combining three elements of a manly summer afternoon, the Beer, Bourbon, and Barbecue cocktail is truly unique. Carin Krasner/Stockbyte/Getty Images

     Yes, each of the items listed in the drink's title are included in a single glass and it seems like this would be most the dream drink of most men.

    "Barbecue" does refer to the sauce, Jack Daniel's sauce to be exact, which is mixed down into a BBQ water to make it drinkable. Once you have this special water, you'll add Maker's Mark, Evan Williams' Honey Liqueur, a hefeweizen beer, and fresh orange juice to create this grilling-worthy tipple.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10
    Palin's Christmas Punch
    Palin's Christmas Punch is as 'piney' a punch as you can get and it is fantastic for holiday parties. Photo Courtesy: © Shannon Graham

    If you are looking for a truly unique party punch, this is one of the most interesting you will find. Palin's Christmas Punch is one that I've included because of its flavor combination, which is seemingly endless.

    It begins with one of Martin Miller's gins and continues with a demerara date syrup, pine liqueur, absinthe, and finishes up with Champagne, absinthe dates, and lemon ice.

    As its name and profile implies, it is perfect for the holiday season, but I had it on a sultry summer...MORE day in New Orleans and it worked surprisingly well then as well.

  • 10 of 10
    Brooklyn Cocktail
    A good gin, a hint of pear and a few raspberries, but don't forget the arugula. Yes, arugula!. Brian Macdonald / Digital Vision / Getty Images

    Last up is the Brooklyn Cocktail from New Amsterdam Gin and I include it because it uses one unusual ingredient that could take the place of every other peppery mixer you could think of.

    Arugula is the leaf to speak of here and it works spectacularly with the raspberries and pear of the Brooklyn.

    The great thing about arugula is that you can tailor the pepper taste just by choosing larger (stronger pepper) or smaller (softer pepper) leaves. Keep arugula in mind if you come across cocktails with...MORE peppercorns or the like because it is much more versatile.

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I'm always looking for very unusual drinks and if you've created a cocktail that would be a good fit here I'd like to see the recipe. You can email me at drinkstudio@scgrahamphoto.com.