The Fruity Possibilities Are Endless With Jam Jar Cocktails

The mixology world is shrouded in a fabulous birdcage veil of elitism and gatekeeping, but it turns out that all it takes to make an unforgettable cocktail is a nearly empty jam jar.

It's a thrifty exercise in perpetuating a zero-waste kitchen, using up the last of the jam in the jar when there isn't quite enough left for breakfast but still too much to throw away. Plus, serving drinks in jam jars makes for a super cute aesthetic presentation, and there are no extra dishes to wash after your cocktail hour guests have gone home.

To do it, make sure there's about a half inch of jam left in the bottom of the jar, roughly the equivalent of a heaping tablespoon or two. For a shrub-like element, combine all of your ingredients in a cocktail shaker and strain them into your nearly-empty jam jar. Or, for a more thorough jammy infusion, assemble the cocktail in the jam jar, screw the lid on, and give it a vigorous shake with ice right in the jar. This tip could work especially well with stirred cocktails, as building the cocktail in the jar and stirring would agitate the remaining jam and incorporate it into the cocktail without any extra steps. Just keep in mind that if you're using any sort of fizzy ingredient in your cocktail, shaking is an absolute no-no, as it'll pop all the carbonation bubbles. In these cases, stirring and serving in the jar is the way to go. 

Jam however you jam -- but we have a few tips for the road

If there isn't enough jam left to achieve a sweet flavor in your cocktail, you can always hit it with a little simple syrup to adjust the balance. In general, to let the flavorfulness of the jam shine, this tip tends to work best with cocktails that have a light-colored spirit base. Lighter spirits take on the more pronounced ingredient without competing, clashing, or overpowering. But, if dark spirits are more your style, don't despair. There are exceptions. Peach jam could make a flavorful addition to a White Peach Julep with mint and bourbon. Or, leftover fig jam would be delicious in a Chocolate Old Fashioned with rye whiskey, creme de cacao, bitters, and an orange twist to garnish.

Also, be mindful of the fluid-ounce capacity of your jam jar. If you're using a smaller jar, adjusting the measurements of your go-to cocktail recipes might be necessary so your drink doesn't spill over. You don't necessarily have to use the jam jar as the serving glass, either. If the country-chic presentation isn't your style, you could simply use the jar as a utilitarian shaker to infuse the jammy ingredient, then strain the cocktail into a chilled glass to serve.

A few cocktail ideas to shake up your brainstorm

You could use leftover lemon curd to make a Lemon Drop Martini or a bright, herbaceous Rosemary Tom Collins. Or, stir some strawberry jam into a Rosewater Cointreau Fizz. Cherry jam remnants would work well in a rich Amaretto Sour, or used as a substitute for grenadine in a Tequila Sunrise or non-alcoholic Shirley Temple.

Got grape jelly? Stir it into an Elderflower Martini to complement the sweet, slightly fruity elderflower, the dry bitter vermouth, and the botanical gin. Apricot preserves would work beautifully in a Gin Sour or an Apricot Rum Swizzle, with spiced falernum, orange juice, pineapple, and a Luxardo cherry trio skewer.

Orange marmalade is a natural fit for a punchy, sophisticated Paddington or in a Hurricane with dark rum and passionfruit. Peach jam would instantly elevate a salted grapefruit-tequila Paloma. Try shaking some raspberry jam into a sweet-tart Cosmopolitan or a lime-cachaça Caipirinha.

Feeling ambitious? Use your leftover blackberry jam with vanilla extract, clarified milk punch, and Ceylon tea-infused simple syrup. Kick it avant-garde style and use up your red pepper jelly in a savory Mezcal Margarita or a spicy Screwdriver. Or, turn fig jam into a stripped-down spritz with soda water, lemon vodka, Grand Marnier, and a few fresh sage leaves. You could also use up leftover blueberry jam in a reimagined Bee's Knees cocktail with vodka, triple sec, lemon juice, honey, and lavender syrup (don't forget the lavender sprig and mint leaf to garnish).