Take, for example, the Eastern Sour. It's a variant on the Ward Eight, which is, itself, a variant on the venerable Whiskey Sour. The Eastern Sour diverges from the Ward Eight by using bourbon instead of rye, lime juice in lieu of lemon, swapping in simple syrup for the grenadine, and adding a tiny bit of orgeat syrup. I'm not sure exactly which of those changes make it "eastern," but perhaps the orgeat added enough mystery to it that it seemed exotic by comparison.
Well, I like that well enough, but while I was pondering what made it eastern, I started thinking about the connotations of things in the east, in literature and culture. I can't help it; I'm a dork. And one of the things I came up with was that Mordor, in "The Lord of the Rings" is in the east. So I did some further swapping and modifying, and I made it a Mordor Sour! It's a tiny bit more involved, but it really makes for a neat looking and tasting drink.
Mordor SourI think the only way this cocktail could be more exotic is if I added some crazy extract like, say, black pepper and orange (which I'm making, by the way). It naturally tends towards the sweet, even with all the citrus juice, so I'd go with the rye here, just to let that natural spiciness counteract it. I think the vodka also helps dry it out a little bit. I scaled back the simple syrup, since I was adding the grenadine, but if you're partial to more sour and less sweet, you can do away with it entirely. This has some great potential for tinkering with, and I think you could take it to really unusual places if you were so inclined. When my orange and black pepper extract is complete, I'll totally retry this with a few drops.
2 oz bourbon or rye (I think rye would be a little more interesting)
1 1/2 oz orange juice
1 oz lime juice
1/4 oz orgeat syrup
1/8 oz simple syrup
1/8 oz clementine or mandarin infused vodka (optional)
dash of orange bitters
1/4 oz grenadine
Combine all ingredients save for the grenadine with ice in your shaker and shake well to combine. Strain into an Old-Fashioned glass full of ice. Slowly add the 1/4 oz of grenadine, letting it seep to the bottom. Garnish with cherry and serve with a short stirring rod.
Oh, and because I don't want to get my broke ass sued, this drink is neither authorized nor endorsed by the Tolkien estate, New Line Cinemas, or any of the nifty people involved with The Lord of the Rings. Though if they like it and want to fly me out to make it for them at premieres or something, I would totally be up for it.