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Simple Pleasures: Classic drinks are classics for a reason, simplicity. And respect the grandma.
Recently, I just like to make drinks out of the Mr Boston drink book. Not true really, I haven’t opened the book since a brutish cannuk ordered a, “wet pussy*,” from me, and I had to make a to do about looking it up. But seriously, these days I mostly want only to drink and to make the most simple drinks possible. Conversely, I most admire people for can balance seven or ingredients in a way that I can taste all of them, so far only Jim Romdall and Daniel Shoemaker are the only bartenders I know that can do this. But I feel like the karate kid approach to bar training is the only way.
It may seem stupid, but I need to show a picture of a 70 year old grandma to every bartender on his first day. The grandma will have a perm, large owl like glasses, and in the picture, she will be smiling and handing a birthday card to you that certainly has $5 inside. This picture of this truly happy grandma, at peace is the joy a young bartender can give if said bartender can make Stinger properly. Most bartenders under 60 have made 3 or 4 stingers in their lives. The first singer was out of curiosity, and the next 3 were funded by social security checks. 2 ingredients, pretty simple, then why do people make the drink so wrong? Well, as I already have explained in previous entries, technique, balance and love.
The Stinger Cocktail Recipe:2oz brandy, .5oz white crème de menthe, SHAKE fine strain and smile, it’s a simple drink.
I won’t go into a 4 paragraph rant on how to make the grandma happy (write letters and call) I’ll just say, if you want to be a great, you must be able to make the simplest drinks with great perfection. Here are 6 base spirits and a drink for each that nobody cares about, and why when made well I love them more than any foam, caviar or infused article worthy drink.
I’m not cool like the mixologists, when regular bartenders swing by to say hi, or I go to a rock club to have a shot with my bartender pal, I do a shot of whatever they are having, 10% Jager, 30%Jameson and at least 60% a chilled shot of vodka**. I love a chilled shot of vodka. In moderation, a chilled shot of vodka even masks the quality of bad vodka, but not the hangover. On rare occasion, I’ve even been known to do a shot of Absolut Grapefruit but only with the most beautiful bartender.
The Gimlet*** is the amazing. This is not the time for history or sailors and surgeon generals and limeys. I prefer fresh limes to Rose’s but either way to make a perfectly balanced Gimlet is very difficult. Too much lime makes a drink indistinguishable from a Kamakazi, too little makes it bitter and astringent. To make the drink correctly the gin’s botanicals need to be enhanced by lime and the citrus cut by just a small amount of sugar.
I’ve taken a mid day 3 Mojito**** nap and its great. Bacardi can be thanked for bringing back the Mojito and cursed for making everybody think they can make one all slapdash. Again, I won’t start to talk about crushed ice vs cubed of how much mint or who invented this drink, the key to making a Mojito is to put the “b” in subtle. I can put Kold Draft ice in a mixing tin and muddle it into crushed ice, I am strong and I am bragging. This skill is of no use when handling the delicate mint going into a Mojito. Oils are bitter, and the more herbs or citrus are beaten, the more they become bitter and require more sugar. Mojitos are delicate and transparent, not the color of the Margarita.
The Margarita***** is the most complex flavored drink that has but 3 ingredients. Tequila’s bouquet is dynamic, evil, silky and sexy. If you can’t see that in tequila then you are doing it wrong. As I said in earlier you need to taste the tequila, otherwise drink a Kamakazi. Salt is the most controversial part of a Margarita, salt is a garnish, and let me set forth a rule for all to follow, a garnish never goes in the drink, that makes it an ingredient. This is my sly way to say, salt only goes on the outside of the glass. There are 2 more failings of the common Margarita, they are retaining ice used to mix the drink and sour mix. Sour mix, don’t, just don’t use fresh, that’s simple. Retaining ice, never do this, strain drinks over fresh ice every time.
The Manhattan****** is my beer. I almost exclusively order Manhattans with crappy whiskey. I do this in airports, dinners and nowherevilles the nation over. If mixed properly the cheap Manhattan has just the right sweetness of bitters and vermouth and still delivers a couple ounces of pretty bourbon, rye if you are lucky. Stirred cocktails are generally the most mis-made of all. 1.-Gentle stirs, 2.-2 dashes of bitters 3.- 20% -33% vermouth and 4. -always strained. 1. Don’t bruise it, don’t shake cocktails. 2. Non bitters, no Manhattan 3. Love vermouth, keep it fresh in the fridge. 4. Men fear cocktail glasses, lame. People who use cocktail glasses are better lovers. Cocktails on the rocks are sloppy and gross.
For me the Sidecar******* is the cocktail that best shows quality ingredients affecting the outcome of a cocktail. Cognac and Cointreau trump non-descript California brandy and triple sec every time. Play with a drink how you think it is and then replace it with the good stuff, most times, when the technique is there, it pays to pay more.
*Wet Pussy Cocktail Recipe-an unfortunately real drink
1.5oz Yukon Jack-I used Bookers and lemon bitters and a dash of simple instead
1oz Grapefruit Juice-I used fresh squeezed
1 Dash grenadine-house made of course
Shake and Strain
Despite the tasteless name, I was an ok drink
-vodka bottle in the freezer, works everytime
.25oz Fresh Lime
.25oz Simple Syrup
Shake and Strain
1.5oz Light Rum
.5 oz Fresh Lime
.5oz Simple Syrup
2 full mint sprigs given a light smack
build over ice, top with a touch of soda
1.5 oz Tequila
.5 oz Fresh Lime
.5oz your choice-Agave Nectar-Coitreau or Simple Syrup
shake and strain
rim out side of cocktail glass with sat
.5oz Sweet Vermouth
2 dashes of Angostura Bitters
Stir and strain, Cherry garnish
.5oz Fresh Lemon
shake and strain, try to forgo the rimmed glass