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Something that’s often lost in the modern-day cocktail frenzy are these certain categories or types of drinks where the base liquor isn’t the potation’s (love that word!) defining characteristic. Consider, for example, the very word cocktail; in its nascence, it had a rather strict interpretation, but what made it strict wasn’t which type of liquor you used, but what else you put in the glass: A mixture of any liquor, sugar, water and bitters.
As another example, I’ve done a couple of swizzles on this site, and as I’ve discussed before, a swizzle means any drink made with a liquor, a liqueur, fruit juice and crushed ice. Some of these (categories? subgenres? I wish I knew better nomenclature for what I’m talking about — one of my cocktail books lists them in the back as “Versatile Cocktails”) you do find at places like Death & Company, which has the Robert Johnson Swizzle, and Employees Only, which makes a Ginger Smash. (A smash begins as a julep does, with muddled mint and sugar in the bottom of the glass, then ice. Some folks then say you just put in whatever liquor and you’re done; I’ve also seen that a little club soda with an orange-and-cherry garnish is needed to make it a proper smash. Having said all that, Employees Only pretty much just muddles and ices and calls theirs a smash.)
Smashes, shrubs, fizzes, swizzles, slings, flips, rickeys, fixes — I love this stuff! Today, we are going to talk about another Versatile Cocktail category/subgenre, the Stinger. A stinger is basically made by adding a half-ounce of white creme de menthe to a shot of liquor… I will wait a moment to allow for any unintended gag reflexes. I know it sounds bad, but really it’s not!
Remember my friends Steve and Demian, the ones who taught me about Little Beers? Remember how Little Beers are, like, trompe-l’oeil shooters? Well, here’s what I’d call a trompe-la-bouche, courtesy of my dog’s favorite guncles (which is what we call them since they are Duke’s go-to dogsitters, and which unfortunately I stole from this stupid reality show that I (swear I) don’t even watch).
I was a good kid growing up, but a lousy history student. If I’d been a bad kid — if I’d drank, I mean — I think I would’ve done much better with the history stuff.
Intellectually speaking, what I love about booze (food, too) is that it’s everything. It’s history and it’s agriculture, it’s economics (both macro and micro? I was especially shitty at Econ), culture and style, a science and, some of us even like to believe, an art. If I’d been remotely interested in a subject like cocktails as a teenager (rum and diet Coke not included), it could’ve been my entry into giving a shit about the subject of history.
Which brings me to Tom Bullock, St. Louis bartender of yesteryear and creator of the All Right Cocktail.
Today began with my slogging through a backlog of e-mails, which included this plea from my Minnesota-livin’ bestie, Danette: “I’m hosting a Cajun boil this Saturday. Some of the ladies are either pregnant or breastfeeding so they can’t go too hard on the cocktails. We’d like to have fun pitchers of mixers that would taste good as their own drink, or you could spike them with some booze. Rescue your friend who falls back on cranberry juice and vodka whenever I have to mix a drink!”
I suggested just making a really good Bloody Mary mix and letting people choose to spike it with vodka. I also suggested (after a bit of Googling on my part, I wish I could claim total credit) a virgin white sangria. Wuh? How you make-a sangria with no alcodehol?
A long time back, I bought some Bacardi Gold while attempting to fashion a dark-rum cocktail, a purchase I immediately regretted because, my goodness, is Bacardi Gold god-awful.
Then not so long ago, I made some orange-infused gin, just because, and decided that while I was at it, I may as well see if I could render the Bacardi Gold palatable by likewise infusing a near-fifth of it with the rind of one rather large-ish orange.
It’s the end of Spring Break week. Which means it’s time to take this Spring Break into Overtime!
Folks, I couldn’t care less that it’s St. Patrick’s Day — and as you’re all
high-functioning alcoholics experienced drinkers like me, I know you feel the same way. It’s amateur night out there, and we’re all contentedly holed up in our respective abodes, our home bars pressed into service.
‘Tis nothing wrong, of course, with tipping a glass towards the Irish in mature fashion. And as we’re cocktailers first and foremost, the glass to tip is a Pilsner, in which you’ve crafted the World’s Greatest Shandygaff.
This is how you make a Duck Fart: You pour equal parts Kahlua, Bailey’s and Canadian whiskey into a shot glass, in that order, using a bar spoon to layer the latter two liquors.
This is what it looks like when you make a Duck Fart:
First off, a note about this week at the blog: SPRIIIIIIIIINNNNNNNGGG BREAAAAAAAAAAAAKKKKK!!!!!
Spring break is kinda my favorite time of year for a number of reasons, the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament being the top two of those reasons, but I’m getting ahead of myself. To kick off Spring Break week, nothing seemed more appropriately debauched than a cocktail in honor of Mr. Full of Bad Decisions himself, the opprobrious Carlos Irwin Estevez.
The very fact that any mixologist — a term I use here in its broadest scope, as one who has mixed at least two things together on at least one occasion in his/her life — can name a cocktail creation absolutely anything he or she wants is really quite mind-blowing to me. I mean, when you have a baby, you can name that baby any name you want, but it still has to be a name… unless, I suppose, you are an Oscar-winning actress or a world-famous lip-syncher/plastic surgery recipient or that man in Egypt who, post-uprising, bestowed upon his daughter the moniker of Facebook.
The point is, given how wide-open the field is, I think I overthink my cocktail naming. What to call a cocktail needn’t necessarily follow a traceable logic or make sense to anyone other than you, and really, it doesn’t need to make sense to you, either. It doesn’t need to mean something or say anything more than these words are what you say when you want this drink. It just needs a name.