How to DIY 5 Unconventional Drinking Vessels

Pickles cut into shot glasses on a cutting board.
If you're going to take a Pickleback, why not make use of the gourd from which it came? Photo courtesy of Trisha Atonson.

Traditional drinking glasses will forever and always have a place in the cocktail scene, but sometimes you want to step outside the glassware box and into something less conventional. There are many ways to do that – tiki cups, punch bowls or funky mugs – but today we’re narrowing the focus and highlighting drinking vessels carved out of various foods. Because really, you need at least one more thing to do with a pumpkin this autumn.

Pickleback Shots in Actual Pickles

Love them or hate them, the idea of drinking a pickleback shot out of an actual pickle is straight genius. The idea comes from Trisha Atonson, the chief cocktail officer at You’ll need your favorite flavor of pickle in jumbo size (ex. dill, sour, garlic, spicy) and an ounce of Irish whiskey for each shot.

“You’re looking for pickles about five inches in length and one and half inches thick,” says Atonson. “Cut the pickle in half, then slice off each end. Use a sharp knife to slice along the inner edges on one side of the pickle. Use the smallest end of a melon baller to scoop out as much of the pickle as you can. Fill with whiskey and enjoy.”

Bloody Pumpkin Mary

Trevor MacMoto of Liquid Digestife is a bartender, mixologist and self-dubbed "madman with a bar and a Sonic spoon." His Instagram feed is full of zany concoctions in even zanier displays, so we reached out to him for the 4-1-1 on some of his latest. The first we’re talking about is his “Bloody Pumpkin Mary,” which is exactly what it sounds like: a Bloody Mary with a pumpkin twist served in an autumnal gourd.

What you need:

  • 2 ounces Blue Ice Vodka
  • 8 ounces tomato juice
  • 1 ½ tablespoon pumpkin purée

Bloody Pumpkin Spice Mix

To create this one, cut the top off your choice small pumpkin and scoop out the flesh and seeds with a melon baller and/or grapefruit cutter. You can use 100% pumpkin puree from a can, or make your own from the pumpkin flesh you remove. Combine the ingredients together, pour into the gourd and serve chilled.

On his untraditional concoctions, MacMoto tells us, “The drinking vessels should always be more than just a garnish. It should be reflective of the cocktail and not only add a visual representation to the body, but also play a component in the tasting and the visceral feel of the cocktail.”

A pineapple with straws coming out of it. Using a pineapple as a punch bowl now seems all too obvious, but it serves as the obvious container for a drink for three. Photo courtesy of NYC's Social Drink & Food.

Communal Pineapple

If you don’t want to get too wacky, but still want to create something flashy and fun, reach for a hefty pineapple. This shareable tiki-inspired Tropical Triple comes to you from NYC’s Social Drink & Food bar, located on the 4th floor rooftop terrace of boutique hotel, Yotel.

First cut the top off your pineapple and set it aside. Next, scoop out the flesh so that there’s plenty of space inside to pour your cocktail, but so that the walls aren’t thin enough to leak. Set aside the juice and the flesh.

For the cocktail itself, combine the following:

  • 1 dash Peychaud’s Bitters
  • 2 dashes Donn's Tinc (or your preferred tiki tincture)
  • ½ ounce coconut syrup
  • ½ ounce pineapple syrup
  • 4 ounces Flor de Caña rum
  • 1 ½ ounce pineapple juice

Shake and strain the drink over ice into the pineapple. Use the top and any pineapple chunks or rings as a garnish and serve with three straws (hence the Tropical Triple name).

Persimmon Obsession

Next up is an “east meets west” cocktail housed in a pretty persimmon, also by MacMoto. For those unfamiliar with persimmon, it’s a delicate, slightly sweet, slightly pungent fruit native to Asia.

You’ll need the following:

  • 1 ounce Denham Gin
  • 2 ounces fresh persimmon juice
  • ½ ounce Suze liqueur
  • ½ ounce dry curaçao
  • ¼ ounce simple syrup

To create, cut off the top of the persimmon with a small knife, then gently scoop out the flesh with a melon baller. Note that persimmon skin is thin and easy to pierce, so you’ll need to use a very careful hand. Combine your ingredients and pour over ice into the fruit.

Coconut Mule

The last unconventional vessel we’re showcasing – and the third from MacMoto – is a coconut. We like this one because it puts a spin on the expected: not only do you drink out of the side of the coconut (versus the top), but the recipe is a take on the mule — sans the iconic copper mug, of course. Here’s what you need:

  • 1 ounce Monkey Toasted Coconut Rum
  • 1 ounce Absolut Elyx Vodka
  • 1 ounce Homemade Ginger Liqueur
  • 1 ounce coconut cream
  • ½ ounce lime juice
  • ½ ounce ginger simple syrup

To create this, you’ll need a sharp X-Acto knife (or similar). Lightly trace where you want to create an opening in the coconut, then cut. Drain the water, then combine your ingredients and pour into the coconut with ice.

As for the question of preventing leakage in all of the above vessels, MacMoto says it’s a matter of understanding the fruit you’re working with.

“This is the Zen of the craft,” he says. “There is the outer skin, the interior membrane and the fleshly fruit. It is understanding the ripeness of the fruit and that takes into account the feel of the fruit. Is it too tough, too soft or just the right amount of ripeness?”

Another protip is to follow the natural curve of the fruit as you’re scooping out the flesh and cutting into it.

“Touching the fruit, but also having a mental image of what you want to use it for as a vessel is probably the most important thing,” says MacMoto.

In other words: visualize what you want the drink to look like – even draw a picture if it helps – get a feel for the fruit itself, and then start carving. It may take a few passes, but you’ll get a handle of it.

Wendy Rose Gould is a freelance lifestyle reporter and photographer based in Phoenix, Arizona. From Tel Aviv to Miami, from Prague to NYC, she enjoys sipping on well-crafted cocktails in all corners of the world.

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