Drinks

Why We're Obsessed with Cereal Cocktails (+ How to Make Them)

November 14, 2015

Growing up, my home was a non-negotiable Lunchables- and all-good-processed-things-free zone. But the thing that really irked my kindergarten self about my parent’s very undemocratic implementation of healthy food only was the cereal. Oh, the cereal. A Honey Nut Cheerio never graced our pantry—and forget about Fruity Pebbles.

Photo by James Ransom

When offered a bowl at a friend’s house, I’d make the most of my sugary gift: I picked every semblance of a nutrient from my Lucky Charms—just happy spoonfuls of marshmallows for me—and the end of a bowl of Coco Puffs was celebrated with gulps of the leftover sugary, chocolate-spiked milk. But in my adolescent sugar-high dreams, I couldn't have even imagined the great gift adulthood would impart on me.

Two words: Cereal cocktails.

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Since my first encounter with a fateful Coco Puff White Russian, cereal-infused vodka sodas and one very memorable cereal-whiskey ice cream have found their way into my heart.

And last week, at The Eddy in the East Village, I experienced a showstopper: a Fruity Pebbles-infused Ramos Gin Fizz. The light pink cocktail is served in a tall glass with a dramatically overflowing meringue top, dotted with Fruity Pebbles, that’s so thick you have to bite through it before you get to the seltzer and cereal-infused Aperol, gin, and seltzer beneath it; they don’t offer you a straw, either.

The Bedrock Fizz is infused with Fruity Pebbles. Photo by Gabi Porter

Sergio Castellon, the bartender who served me the drink, explained later over the phone that the drink originated from his and the former Head Bartender at The Eddy, Kelvin Uffre's, philosophy that “classic drinks should have moments of nostalgia.” He explained, “When you drink—and eat—the Bedrock Fizz, it brings to mind watching the Flintstones: iI has that yabba dabba do.

And that may be a perfect summary of what’s so great about cereal cocktails—they’re delicious and inventive, without taking themselves too seriously. With every sip of seltzer comes a little bit of yabba, if you will—and they’re easy (and fun) to make at home.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Use what you have: Sergio says that most people have a random bottle of alcohol somewhere in their bar cart or kitchen—a bottle of untouched vermouth or gin left in the freezer from last year’s holidays. From there, hunt through your pantry and fridge for ingredients and inspiration: Use your regular morning cereal, grab a bottle of soda water, even an egg (if you’re feeling really creative).
  2. Take sweetness into account: Cereal has a lot of sugar in it, so it usually doesn’t need any added sugar. Sergio says that to achieve a balanced drink, it may help to think of it as you do cooking: “It’s like adding a little bit of salt or pepper to a dish to make it just right.”
  3. Infuse your alcohol: To make Fruity Pebbles-spiked Aperol, Sergio fills a quart container halfway with Fruity Pebbles, then pours in a a 750-milliliter bottle of Aperol and lets it sit for 20 minutes. “Any longer and the cereal will become mushy and you’ll lose your alcohol because the cereal will absorb it,” he says.
  4. Have fun: Sergio says, “Play at home—the process itself is fun—just put some cereal in and see what happens. All of a sudden, you might find that you made something great.”
Cereal Milk Ice Cream: The next best thing to cereal cocktails. Photo by Mark Weinberg

Possible Cereal Combinations:

Cocoa Puffs, Cocoa Rice Krispies, or any chocolate cereal: Sergio says that chocolate cereal pairs deliciously with darker spirits. He suggests combining them with a Scotch that’s smoky and dark, a rye whiskey, or even a three to one ratio of Cappelletti and chocolate cereal. “It would bring an elegance and an essence of chocolate to your drink,” he said.

Cinnamon Toast Crunch or any cinnamon cereal: The best thing about Cinnamon Toast Crunch and similar cinnamon-based cereals is the milk that’s leftover at the bottom of the bowl after it's all gone. “I used to eat it all the time as a kid,” Sergio said, “Maybe that’s why my dentist loves me so much now.” As for cocktails, he said he “was thinking of infusing milk with Cinnamon Toast Crunch so you have the flavor of cinnamon, then making it into an Absinthe Frappe, Milk-Infused Crunch.” (Note from the editor: Please, if you make this, send it our way.)

If all else fails: Have a bowl of cereal and some alcohol to pair with it (for dinner—or breakfast, though we can’t recommend that). Sergio remembers one night when a couple came into the restaurant late at night after the kitchen had already closed, so he served them a bowl of Fruity Pebbles. At the very least, you'll earn bragging rights, as this did for Sergio. He says when he talks with other bartenders, he's able to say, “I have people eating Fruity Pebbles at my bar—what do you serve at yours?

Do you have a favorite cereal cocktail? Will you try this at home—or stick with the classics? Tell us in the comments below!

7 Comments

Betsey November 16, 2015
My mom also did not allow most processed foods and sugar was high on the list. No sugar cereals for us. Nor pop or candy. So when my parents divorced when I was 11, my dad tried to get us to want to come to his place with promises of Lucky Charms and Coke.
 
Nancy M. November 15, 2015
I love it, I can definitely get behind a sugary cereal cocktail. Perhaps I'll try making a big pitcher of sangria infused with hefty scoops of Boo-Berry and Franken Berry cereals!
 
epicharis November 14, 2015
What a hipster thing to do. Plus we did it first! (which is an even more hipster thing to do, right?) https://instagram.com/p/6tPu5Ru0jJ/
 
amysarah November 14, 2015
Recently, Weekend Reading featured a video ("Real Chefs Cook Dumb Recipes") of Ilan Hall mocking a recipe by Tori Spelling for a Cake-tini. Smug hilarity ensued...how gauche! But when a hip downtown chef creates a cocktail with Fruity Pebbles or Lucky Charms (not to mention Momofuku Milk Bar's "Cereal Milk" and concoctions involving Tang) - it's witty retro fun. Got it.
 
epicharis November 14, 2015
Well said! Whatever it is, if your mom thought it was cool, it's terrible; if your grandma thought it was cool, it's amazing; if you can make yuppies stand in line for hours for it, it's genius.
 
Betsey November 16, 2015
I know, right? It's almost like there's more than one person writing articles for Food52. Weird.
 
amysarah November 16, 2015
As it happens, both were by the same person (who simply linked to the snarky piece in question at another site.) But that's irrelevant. <br /><br />My observation wasn't about the specific writer, but a far more common contradictory disdain and appropriation of 'high/low' culture, in the culinary world and beyond. And yes, an editorial tone/identity exists, even in media with multiple writers and points of view (as opposed to, e.g., in a discussion forum) - so noting a disconnect in that regard is neither naive nor unfair.