[...] So you walk into your house and suddenly remember. You're out of gin. Your spouse finished the bottle last night. After all, a screaming toddler and a broken dishwasher and a leaking ceiling is also grounds for an intense Negroni craving.It goes on to talk about the different "families" of drinks, and ingredient substitutions and the logic of how they work. It ends with a cheat sheet of suggestions that follow the logic. Very useful, especially if you don't want to spend a fortune on bar ingredients, and like to experiment with drink recipes.
Now what do you do? Comb the house for replacement ingredients.
That's the purpose of today's piece. If you don't have X, maybe you have Y, and if you have Y, what can you make with it?
For example, if you have everything for your Negroni except gin, but you have rum, are you good to go? If you want a Sidecar, but you don't have triple sec, will the maraschino work, or do you need to schlep back out to the liquor store?
The Substitution Principle
The first thing to think about here is, "Like replaces like." Swap one fortified wine (vermouth) for another (sherry, for example), when making a Martini or Manhattan. Brown liquors stand in well for each other, in drinks such as Manhattans or Juleps. Various liqueurs can tag in for others, within reason. For example, bitter amari sub in well for each other, as I'll talk about shortly, but an amaro might not be a great swap for triple sec in a Sidecar.
Think about the flavor of a given ingredient, and the role it plays in the drink, before attempting substitutes. You'd never try to build a Manhattan out of three vermouths and bitters. Why? Because the main ingredient needs to be a strong spirit for the drink to be anything close to Manhattan-like. Similarly, don't take the triple sec from a Sidecar and replace it with gin. You need a sweetening agent to balance the cognac and citrus. So try another liqueur, even one that's not fruity. [...]
Also see: An A to Z List of Popular Liqueurs and Cordials