The one that caught my eye was a drink that was mentioned in an article about swizzling. It's called a Campbell Swizzle. It starts out simply enough: rum, lime, simple syrup, bitters. But the thing that provided a bit of a hangup was a liqueur called Velvet Falernum. Upon doing a little research on Wikipedia, I discovered that it embodies flavors of almond, ginger, lime, and vanilla. I replaced the Velvet Falernum with a little Frangelico to capture the essence of almond, a little Grand Marnier to complement the orange bitters and lime, and a dash of vanilla extract.
Adapted from the NY Times dining section
-1 oz. white rum
-3/4 oz. fresh lime juice
-1/4 oz. simple syrup
-3/8 oz. Frangelico
-3/8 oz. Grand Marnier
-4 dashes orange bitters
-dash Angostura bitters
-dash vanilla extract
-mint sprig for garnish
Pour all ingredients except for mint into a tall glass. Fill glass with crushed ice. Blend ingredients with a genuine swizzle stick or a bar spoon for about 20 seconds. Add more crushed ice to form a mound on top, and top with mint.
What resulted was a complex, sweet, citrusy blend of flavors. Heather commented that she could see this drink being featured at a swanky bar like Dutch Kills. Well used bitters has that effect on a drink. As far as the vanilla extract, a little goes a long way. Too much will overpower your drink and obscure the other flavors and aromas. Just a drop will do. On a humid day, the crushed ice will create a rewarding layer of frost on the glass.
When a drink recipe needs to be altered because of a missing ingredient, it's fun to brainstorm about the different solutions and combinations of ingredients that could also work. Not only is it a fun process, but it allows you to take ownership of the drink--to put your signature on it and tailor it to your tastes. It's one of the things that keeps mixing interesting.