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Vodka Ain’t Sanitizer, But These Classic Vodka Cocktails Will Keep You Healthy Through Delicious, Delicious Quarantine

Tom Collins. Scott Akerman/Flickr.

Tito’s Vodka trended in the news over the weekend for much the same reason water bottles sold out across the country, despite no waterborne coronavirus transmissions and no coming water crisis. Panicked people aren’t always rational, and enough people had gotten it in their heads that vodka can substitute for sanitizer. It doesn’t, although it was likely a solid weekend for sales and Tito’s got a round of free media explaining why their product isn’t boozy enough to save you.

Do not despair if you’re one of the good folks who bought a case of vodka, though maybe don’t admit to your friends that’s why you bought it. There is no call for despair, because The Federalist knows a great number of uses that vodka will have while you hunker down through the plague, tailor-fitted to your personality, to your friends and loved ones, and even to the people you don’t like but occasionally have to interact with within the confines of local law.

While one recipe calls for apple schnapps (and the troll is worth it), there are no strange liqueurs or exotic plants and spices below. It does not take a 120-pound waif in a leather apron to shake any of these classics. Nor is this an Italian quarantine, where every home has an assortment of apertifs and digestivos.

This, my friends, is the land of Costco shopping, armed households and, apparently, vodka hoarding. We are Americans, and when the end times come, we will act like it.

Marthas Vineyard Harbor. Graham and Sheila/Flickr.

Few post-war American cocktails have the endurance of The Cape Codder, although the Ocean Spray cooperative called it a “Red Devil Cocktail” when they debuted it in 1945. The Cape Cod company likely wanted a way to order their product without provoking a beating, so we’ll forgive them the tough-guy name, but by 1965 at least Ocean Spray’s full-color national ad campaign called it by it’s current name. Old-timey signs placed outside taverns asked patrons to “set a straight course for your friendly tavern. Let the jolly innkeeper refresh you (and your lady) with America’s newest cocktail creation — the Cape Codder.”

Their recipe was 2:1 cranberry to vodka (add soda if you’d like to serve it in a highball), but this is the end of times, people, so after you’re done with your prayers, make it 1:1. Some people might call this the Hobo Ratio, but in the Bedford family, that’s just how you make ’em.

The Cape Codder

Equal parts cranberry juice (Ocean Spray if you can loot it) and vodka (probably Tito’s, since that’s what you already bought, isn’t it).

Poured over ice.

Add soda water if you’d like a tall one.

Garnish with a lime (for scurvy).

Put the kids to bed.

Of course, not everyone will be pleased with just cranking those Red Devils back, so for the sophisticate in your household, there is another classic.

Tom Collins. Scott Akerman/Flickr.

It’s true, when the first recipes for The Tom Collins were written in the 19th century they called for gin, but when your fancy company complains of this, remind them how they kept saying everything was fine and only dumb people worried about Wu Flu. They will politely shut up, but if they do not, this vodka version of the Collins will persuade them, because it is as delicious as it is refreshing.

Now, this cocktail requires a bar ingredient, but fear not — it is easy to make at home. To make simple syrup, simply boil one or more cups water (yes, we will still have running water) and then add sugar. How much sugar? Half as many cups as you used water. So, one cup of water, then half a cup of sugar, etc. Easy, and you can save it for future cocktails.

The Tom Collins

2 oz. vodka (or gin, brandy, tequila — your call, really, but you know what you stockpiled).

1 oz. lemon juice.

1/2 oz. simple syrup (or more to taste).

Poured over ice.

Topped with soda, if you’d like.

Garnish with a lemon.

Moscow Mule. Nan Palmero/Flickr.

Of course, not everyone will be as quick as our thirsty sophisticate to surrender before your mighty wisdom, so for the true sore loser in your life we present: The Moscow Mule.

The mule is a classic, and like all great cocktails its origins lay somewhere between legends, advertising and outright lies. But the earliest known mention harkens back to 1942 when a California newspaper reported, “There is a new drink that is a craze in the movie colony now. It is called ‘Moscow Mule'” Of course the claim is hotly contested, and as with so much of Russiagate we the people can find a little peace in tuning out and pouring a drink.

The Moscow Mule

2 oz. vodka into a copper mug (or rocks glass) filled with ice.

A lime wedge, squeezed for its juice.

Topped off with ginger beer, a spicy and delicious version of ginger ale.

Garnished with a lime.

An Innocent Bystander Drinking An Appletini. Spader/Flickr.

Still, some of your friends might be offended by your suggestion that Hillary lost and that you find this funny. You might not like that person but you’re stuck with him, and despite some reports, the Wuhan Whooper will not be the kind of crisis where you get to go around settling scores. For the special NeverTrumper in your bunker, we present: The Appletini.

This particularly bright green cocktail was invented in Los Angeles in 1996 and tastes like it. Which is to say, it’s perfect for that guy. It calls for another easy-to make bartender ingredient, this time sour mix (of margarita fame). For that, take one cup of your simple syrup (recipe above) and add a half cup of squeezed lemon juice and half cup of squeezed lime juice. Feel free to keep it in the fridge until order is restored and your guest takes his leave.

The Appletini

2 oz. vodka.

2 oz. green apple schnapps.

A dash of sour mix.

Shaken over ice and poured into the kitschiest martini glass you have.

Garnish with a cherry for extra mean.

Man with a rifle near the Burro Line in Arizona in 1961. MJR Kool/Flickr.

The day after tomorrow won’t be all fun and games, we know. With the people ordered indoors, a few bad men get an idea or two, and whether you live in the city or the country things might get a little hairy. For that dark night on the watch, we present The Bullshot. More will be written on this brilliant, brilliant drink at a future date, but for now let’s say you’d be as at home sipping its contents in your pappy’s old steakhouse as you would this night, polishing your long gun in your chair, eyes on the door.

A cousin of the Bloody Mary, the Bullshot combines steak, booze, and America over ice — and your cup runneth over with awesome. Sounds strange, we know, but stay with us. It will get you through the fire.

The Bullshot

1.5 oz. vodka.

3 oz. Campbell’s beef broth.

1 dash Worcestershire steak sauce.

A dash of Tabasco if you prefer (I do not).

A squeeze of lemon.

And if you have it, a dash of celery salt.

All over ice, stirred.

Backpocket Provisions' Bloody Brilliant. Backpocket Provisions/Instagram.

Of course, this is America and the sun will rise again. Remember, that’s why you didn’t settle all those scores. Also remember, this is when the hangover kicks in. And what more classic cure for the hangover than The Bloody Mary.

A New York-themed bar in France and New York bar in New York began arguing over who invented the Bloody Mary nearly a century ago, but when you wake up in your rocking chair to cast a bleary, red-eyed gaze at the rising sun, who cares: You made it, and your family is safe another night. Oh, and a Bloody will cure it.

A good deal of the Bloody Mary mix comes down to taste, but the basic ingredients are tomato juice and vodka, with Worcestershire, lemon, and lime, hot sauce and horseradish added to your levels. Some, myself included, dabble in Old Bay seasoning, buffalo sauce, maybe some celery salt, even A1.

Most bartenders long ago gave up on trying to please the myriad of palates and instead offer “The Bloody Mary Bar,” which makes us feel warm and fuzzy but is really just their way of telling us to make the damn drink ourselves. For your Chinese Corona Chaos needs, the best bet is to stock up on mix ahead.

Most mix, sadly, is garbage, but some are great and the absolute best around comes from Backpocket Provisions, a husband-and-wife operation out of Richmond, Virginia that can mail it to the door (until, you know, the apocalypse is upon us). They have three flavors, with the classic sold as Bloody Brilliant, a corn-spiked Southwestern take called the Bloody Baja, and a southeast Asian blend called the Bloody Bangkok. But however you take your hangover, the basics go like this:

The Bloody Mary

2 oz. vodka, poured over ice in a pint glass.

Add your special ingredients, then fill with tomato juice (or fill the glass with the mix and skip the specials).

Garnish with a lemon, lime, olive, piece of extra-crispy bacon, or whatever else you’ve got stored away for breakfast.

Well there you have it, friends. Of course you didn’t buy that vodka to make sanitizer. I mean, you’re not one of them! Shocking anyone would even suggest it. You bought that case (or two) for the hard times. The whole family, and even that part of the family, together, under one roof, for weeks and weeks upon beautiful weeks. And you’re going to enjoy them.