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You don't need whiskey for an Old-Fashioned, or vodka for a Cosmo

These two classics are vastly adaptable, ideal at a time when stocking up on new bottles isn't always easy.

The beauty of the Old-Fashioned is to use and appreciate what you have; let the rest go.

Raspberry jam diluted with water can step in if you don't have cranberry juice for your Cosmopolitan.

COMFORT is often sought in the familiar: sitcom reruns, well-worn books, family recipes, even an old relationship. Just as something from our past can act as a balm when the future feels uncertain, so, too, can a classic cocktail.

Reaching into the drink archives doesn't have to be solely rooted in nostalgia, it can also open the door to simple, adaptable, established recipes, ideal at a time when stocking up on new bottles isn't always easy.

One such recipe is the Old-Fashioned, one of the oldest drinks in the cocktail canon. Correctly composed, it's strong and sweet without being too much of either. And, perhaps most important for the time we are in, it's impressively malleable.

For example, don't have bourbon or rye? Allison Kave, a founder of Butter & Scotch in Brooklyn, New York, swaps in brandy. "It's not quite as aggressive as whiskey in an Old-Fashioned," she said. "There's something a lot lighter about it in flavour and in mouthfeel."

No brandy? Reach for an aged rum or even gin. Or add a mix of tequila and mezcal. And use whichever bitters you have: angostura, orange or otherwise. Needless to say, a rye Old-Fashioned and a rum Old-Fashioned taste quite different, but both work. The beauty of the Old-Fashioned is to use and appreciate what you have; let the rest go.

Another drink that reaches back just decades rather than centuries, but is still vastly adaptable is the Cosmopolitan. Created by Toby Cecchini in New York City in the late 1980s, the lightly pink, vodka-based cocktail enjoyed brief, regional popularity before it became inextricably tied to Sex and the City.

Don't let that undermine its potential for current-day glory. As Ina Garten recently reminded us, when a video of her, clad in her signature navy button-down and mixing up a pitcher, went viral, the sweet-tart Cosmopolitan has its place, whether in a martini glass the size of your head, as in Ina's case, or whatever is still clean in the cupboard. If your bar - or freezer - is lacking in vodka, put gin or tequila to work. No cranberry juice? Kave uses a tiny bit of pomegranate molasses or dilutes a bit of raspberry jam with water to make a syrup.

One thing holds in these trying times, if it's nearing cocktail hour and you're drinking, go simple and go easy - mostly on yourself. NYTIMES

An adaptable Old-Fashioned

Yield: 1 drink

For the 2-to-1 simple syrup:

1/2 cup granulated or turbinado sugar

For the cocktail:

Ice, as needed

2 ounces whiskey (such as bourbon or rye), brandy, rum or gin (or even 1½ ounces tequila plus 1/2 ounce mezcal)

1/2 ounce 2-to-1 simple syrup (or to taste) or 1 sugar cube

3 to 4 dashes Angostura or orange bitters Citrus twist (orange or lemon or whatever you have), or a maraschino cherry and a dash of its juice (optional)

1. Prepare the simple syrup: In a small saucepan, combine sugar with 1/4 cup water. Heat over low, stirring frequently, just until sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Refrigerate if not using immediately. (Remaining syrup will keep in the fridge for up to 1 month.)

2. Prepare the cocktail: In an ice-filled mixing glass, combine the whiskey, prepared syrup and bitters. Stir until well-chilled, about 15 seconds. (If using a sugar cube, muddle it with a dash of water and the 3 to 4 dashes bitters before stirring it with the whiskey over ice.) Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into an ice-filled rocks glass and finish with the citrus twist.

An adaptable Cosmopolitan

Yield: 1 drink

1½ ounces vodka (citrus or regular), gin or tequila

3/4 ounce cranberry juice cocktail, or use a dash of pomegranate molasses or a bit of raspberry jam diluted with water

1/2 ounce orange liqueur (such as Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao, Cointreau or triple sec)

1/2 ounce fresh lime juice

Ice, as needed

Lime wedge or lemon twist (optional)

1. Set coupe glass or other cocktail glass in the freezer to chill for 10 minutes.

2. In a shaker, combine the vodka, cranberry juice cocktail, orange liqueur and lime juice. Add ice and shake until very well-chilled.

3. Strain the cocktail into the chilled glass. Garnish with a lime wedge or lemon twist, if desired.

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