A thousand years ago when I was into wine (these were the dark times) a wine shop owner suggested a bottle of crisp un-oaked white to me as a “chore wine.” When I asked him to elaborate, he told me that a chore wine was a wine you could drink while mowing the lawn; something refreshing, enjoyable, and relatively cheap.
This man changed my life.
Since then, I have stood/drunkenly swayed on the shoulders of this giant and expanded the genre to include chore cocktails. In order to be a chore cocktail, a cocktail must be:
- Easy to make
- Sufficiently low-ABV so you can still do the chore
- Sufficiently high-ABV so you won’t notice you’re actually doing it
After painstaking (and often painful) trial and error, I arrived at this definitive list of chore cocktails. Cheers to productivity.
1. Sloe Gin Highball
After years of reading Tatler, I always romanticized sloe gin. Learning about how British country houses batched their own convinced me that drinking it would endow me with Dowager Countess levels of sick burn delivery. Unfortunately, when I finally brought home a bottle I was a bit disappointed. Sloe was less light and fresh than I always imagined it to be, and every time I made a cocktail with it, it tasted somewhat muddy. It wasn’t until I made this very simple drink that lets the sloe shine with very little interference that I started to love the spirit. This has now become one of my favorite light and easy highballs to whip up.
Chore to pair it with: light home repairs. It’s pretty low-ABV, so it shouldn’t hinder your ability to hang a picture frame or slap together a Malm.
-2 oz sloe gin
-1/2 a lemon
Fill a highball glass with ice, then add all ingredients. Stir 12 times and enjoy.
Palomas are sweet, sour, bitter, effervescent, refreshing, and supremely satisfying. They’re also easy to make. While they’re particularly unbeatable on a hot summer day, it’s easy to make an argument for them at any time of year.
Chore to pair it with: dishes, because the worst of the chores can only be counteracted with one of the best of the cocktails.
-2 oz tequila (or mezcal if you like smoke)
-Juice from 1 lime (less if you’re not into sour)
-Grapefruit soda (Q Drinks makes an awesome one but you can use Squirt in a pinch)
Fill a highball glass with ice then add all ingredients. Stir 15 times and enjoy.
3. Peaches and Bourbon
This cocktail is one of my biggest guilty pleasures to throw together at home. It’s not the prettiest, but it’s relatively low in calories and when you’re done drinking it you get to eat delicious bourbon soaked peaches. Warning: it’s boozier than many of the other drinks so I don’t recommend pairing it with any activities that require precision, strength, accuracy, or good behavior.
Chore to pair it with: awkward calls to your fam. “Hey Aunt Karen, yes, I’d LOVE to hear about how the regrouting is coming along!”
-2 oz bourbon
-Handful of frozen peaches
Add your peaches and a few cubes of ice to a rocks glass. Pour the bourbon over it then add some branch water until the peaches are covered. Stir 25 times.
4. Rosé Sangria
Cool, fruity, low ABV, and maximally drinkable. For light cleaning, grab a can of rosé and make one serving (Underwood makes a serviceable one) but for big jobs (e.g., overnight guests are coming to town and you need a deep clean) multiply the servings and make a whole pitcher. Throw in whatever fruit and liqueur is handy, and try to make your place look like it’s not a disheveled pit of despair.
Chore to pair it with: General house cleaning.
-.75 oz liqueur (I used grapefruit here but peach, orange, elderflower, and ginger also work— whatever complements the fruit you’re using)
-A handful of sliced fruit (and mint, basil, or arugula if you’ve got them)
Add your fruit, herbs, and liqueur to a wine glass with a handful of ice. Fill with rosé then stir 15 times. Enjoy.
5. Gin and Tonic
The gin and tonic has gotten pretty extravagant over the past few years. Garnishes up the wazoo (I feel like that’s a mom term but I just Googled wazoo and definitely don’t put garnishes there), craft tonic waters, and luxury gins come together to make this a truly premium drink. But G&Ts don’t have to be this much of a production; the chore cocktail version is casual and still delicious.
Chore to pair it with: Laundry. It’s a pretty colorless drink so if you end up spilling a bit on the clothes no one will be the wiser.
-2 oz gin
-1/2 a lime
-Splash of St. Germain (optional)
Fill a glass with ice then pour in the gin, lime, St. Germain, and tonic water. Stir 15-20 times and enjoy.
6. Whiskey Soda
Many people have wondered at how Churchill was able to drink whiskey all day and still function well enough to write 33 books, deliver fire clap backs, and still have the energy to trounce Hitler. Perhaps the secret was that his omnipresent glass of whiskey wasn’t straight whiskey; it was heavily diluted with soda. And maybe he got so much done not in spite of this drink but because of it. This theory justifies drinking more of them, so I’ll stick with it.
Chore to pair it with: Taxes. A scotch and soda somehow feels like it will make one better understand the ins and outs of high finance (pronounced here “high fin-AHNCE,” obviously). Or, in my case, better understand if I can justify writing off gummy bears as garnishes.
-2 oz scotch
Add scotch and ice to a rocks glass and top with soda. Stir 7 times, express the lemon oil, and get to work.
7. Cold Brew and Bourbon Cocktail
For most chore cocktails, mental acuity is less critical than simply a beverage that helps dull the pain of manual labor. But when you have a chore to accomplish that requires keeping a (relatively) sharp mind, this cocktail is a good way to go. Cold brew, refreshing mint syrup (plain simple, chocolate, or ginger all work too), and whiskey will help you get you through it.
Chore to pair it with: Writing this dumb post. Or reading it. If you’re reading it feel free to add a bonus shot, you deserve it.
-1.5 oz bourbon oz
-.5 oz mint syrup
-3 oz cold brew
Add bourbon, syrup, coffee and ice to a shaker. Shake for 20 seconds and strain over ice into a rocks glass. Garnish with mint sprig, stop checking Instagram, and start writing.
In conclusion, while some people might raise an eyebrow at this tactic for getting stuff done, those people aren’t you. They’re not adventurous. They’re not fun. And they’re not drunk. But you are, and you’re getting stuff done dammit. So go hang your picture frames crookedly, accidentally dye your whites pink, and put yourself at risk for an audit. I’ve got some stiff martini riffs to help you deal with those too.