Rule 2: No “Tini’s”
God damn it, a Martini is nothing other than gin and vermouth with a dash of orange bitters (if you are lucky) stirred and put into a cocktail glass. Don’t ever ask what type of, “Martinis,” a bar has, because it perpetuates not knowing this simple definition. “Cocktail” is the broad term we have agreed upon to be a mixed drink of spirits, through specifically, the word cocktail means an all spirit drink with a dash of bitters, like a Manhattan, or a Martini, or even a Kangaroo Kicker (vodka martini). YOU CAN’T ADD “TINI” OR AN ADJECTIVE LIKE “POMEGRANATE” TO AN OLD DRINK AND MAKE IT A NEW DRINK. The more you look into drinks, you’ll find that they have already all been named. I don’t know them all, I never will and I’m not going to try that hard, and neither should you. One should, however, understand that ordering drinks that sound like Cold Stone Creamery flavors are not going to be generally accepted or known cocktails. But there is good news, you can still get what you want without looking like an idiot, it is called knowing the type of drink you want. It isn’t your job to know drink families, but a few that are good to vaguely grasp are:
Cocktail: The Balance and Columbia Repository newspaper defined it in 1806, “Cocktail is a stimulating liquor composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters—it is vulgarly called a bittered sling.” That is something that is spoken by someone dressed as Mr. Peanut, however it is easy to explain: all booze, always stirred. The Manhattan and the Martini are the kings, more advanced would be the scotch based Roby Roy and the lightly bitter gin based Negroni. I have a very tacky habit of hand delivering every Negroni ordered in my restaurant. This is a cocktail for the savvy.
Sour: Lemon and/or lime shaken with a base spirit and some sort of sugar. I’m sure you know a few, perhaps a Margarita, a Sidecar a Cosmopolitan, a Gimlet, a Whiskey Sour, get it? Most mixed drinks that people order and enjoy are sours. More advanced soured would be a Pisco Sour (introduce the egg white to the drink), a Last Word or an Aviation.
Fizz: To fizz is to add effervescence, make it sparkle. You might notice recurring words in the fizz world. Here are a few Royal: topped with Champagne-like Kir Royale. Ricky: lime and soda-like gin ricky. Buck: ginger ale –like a whiskey buck. Silver: with an egg white. Golden: with an egg yolk.
Julep: Crushed ice, herbs and booze. It will almost always be mint and an aged spirit, but increasing, anything is up for mixing. The addition of fruit to this mixed drink style would make it a, “smash.”
Tiki or Exotics: There aren’t really rules for tiki, but if there were they would be: #1 use fresh juices to make long refreshing drinks and #2 have fun. Tiki started in the 40’s and was characterized mostly by rum drinks and tropical flavors that are very strong, but when mixed well are very subtle. Modern tiki often goes wrong for one reason, the lack of fresh juice.