Sunday, March 27

The Old Fashioned

Wow, Robert Hess' review of the Old Fashioned is great! This is an awesome review of a fantastic cocktail. The Old Fashioned is in my 2 top of drinks. The article recounts the history of the cocktail back to its assumed origins and gives examples of how the receipt changed over the years.

I've been examining this article all day and experimenting with the receipt. I changed how I make this old favorite after reading Robert's article.

Old Fashioned:
1 to 2 tsp Simple Syrup
3 dashes Bitters (Orange Bitters if you can find it)
Slice of Orange Peel, after first squeezing into glass
Muddle these ingredients...

then add
Fill with Bourbon
Garnish with orange wheel and cherry
Serve with straws or small bar spoon.

I think I'll go have another one now. ;)

Thanks for the article Robert.
Here it is, enjoy!

By the way Robert, I checked my 2000 printing of Mr. Boston and it has the same Old Fashioned receipt as the 1979 printing.

Thursday, March 24

Developing Favorites

So you don't know what to order, but you know you want something...

So many choices...

Before you settle for another beer lets try to get you a few favorite cocktails.

Generally you can get a drink that falls into one of the following categories:

  • sweet and strong - Black Russian (vodka and coffee liqueur)
  • sweet and weak - Bay Breeze (Vodka, Cranberry Juice, and Pineapple Juice)
  • tart and strong - Vodka Martini (Vodka, Dry Vermouth)
  • tart and weak - Vodka 7 (Vodka and Lemon-lime soda)
  • balanced and weak - Screwdriver (Vodka and Orange Juice)
  • balanced and strong - Long Island Iced Tea (Vodka, Gin, Tequila, Rum, Triple Sec, Sweet and Sour mix, Cola)
  • other - Each base liquor has a unique flavor that can provide a flavor like none you have experienced, but will greatly enjoy. These can't be lumped into a category. You will just have to try it.

All of my examples are made with vodka for a reason. If you are just coming into the joys of cocktails, I would recommend starting with vodka drinks. Vodka is a liquor that takes on the flavor of whatever it is mixed with and should not have an aftertaste.

At first, find a favorite vodka drink then move on to other liquors. (See The order of liquor post.)

Another great way to develop a favorite cocktail is to ask the bartender. Bartenders love to recommend drinks. They have a ton of them in their back pocket. ;)

Seriously, go into a bar in an afternoon when the bar is not so busy, sit down, and tell the bartender that you are interested in finding a new favorite vodka cocktail. They will be very happy to recommend and serve it up.

Up next... some recommended starter drinks.

Sunday, March 20

The Order of Liquor

If you are new to cocktails this is the order in which you would want to ease into drinks.

  • Vodka
  • Rum
  • Brandy
  • Bourbon
  • Whiskey
  • Scotch
  • Gin
  • Tequila

Find drinks you like with vodka first, then rum, and so on. Before you move onto the next level you should do a shot of the liquor itself. This will give you a real appreciation for the differences in these liquors.

Saturday, March 19

Gee, I'm an ass

Looking back at my past posts I've come to realize that I have been pretty critical of bartenders.

I have a very high respect for bartenders. It is very very difficult job and a good bartender is worth his/her weight in gold.

I have a desire to be a bartender, but I wouldn't want to do it half ass. If I was to do it I would want to devote all my time to it and I just can't do that right now.

I guess I have been so critical of some of the "bad" bartenders I have come in contact with because I'm jealous. I’m jealous that they are doing the thing that I love to do as a hobby, getting paid for it, but doing it poorly and without passion.

So to all those passionate, good bartenders out there... my hats off to you and know that my criticism is not directed at you.

Being specific

Patrons if you want to increase your chance of getting the drink you want.

Be specific.

Ask for [name of drink], [rocks or up], [stirred or shaken], [other options]. For example Manhattan straight up stirred and you shouldn't be disappointed.

In a previous post, drink variations, I said that everyone should be speaking the same language with drink orders for classic cocktails. Well it would be this way in a perfect world, but that is not where we live.

Bartenders can't read your mind and if you know what you want... tell them.

Friday, March 18

Black Russian

One of my new favorite classic drink is the Black Russian. The Black Russian is similar to a White Russian, minus the milk and a slightly different mix of the liquor.

This is a very dangerous drink. You can knock back 2 or 3 of these and you will know it.

So here's what's in it:
1 part Vodka
.75 part Coffee Liqueur (Kahlua)

Pour over ice in an Old-Fashioned glass (the short one) and stir.

This drink is sweet and is a good after dinner drink.

Cocktail Gallery

My wife is a very talented photographer, at least I think so. She has created a coctail gallery of drinks that I have made. One is used here as the main image on this blog. I just thought I would share...

View her cocktail gallery


Sunday, March 6

Whiskey Snippet

Abraham Lincoln once replied to a Prohibitionist's complaint that general
Grant was overly fond of his bottle.

"Find out the brand of whiskey the General uses," Lincoln said. "I would
like to furnish the same brand to my other generals."

source: Mr. Boston Official Bartender's and Party Guide Warner Books, Inc., 1271 Avenue of the Americas, New Your, NY 10020 copyright 1994.

Bar Fear: Introduction

If there is one thing that I hope my blog does here it is to alleviate what I call bar fear. Bar fear is experienced when people are too afraid to place an order for a drink because they are scared of what they will get. After all, it could be something you don't like. People like this tend to order beer or wine because they know what they are getting.

Or perhaps you just have problems deciding what drink to get. This category of posts is for you.

I find that when I go into a bar it depends on my mood as to what I order. However, those who have bar fear do not have this instinct because they don't really know what they like.

Let's start here. Vodka is a good safe liquor that can be easily mixed with just about anything. By law in the US vodka is to be tasteless and colorless, it is anyway so I don't know why they made a law.

Now if you are in the mood for something sweet, think about fruit juices you like. Cranberry and Orange Juice for example mix very well with vodka. Don't let the names of drinks throw you, just because something is called a Cap Codder or Screwdriver it doesn't mean that it is complicated. (By the way, vodka and cranberry is a Cap Codder and vodka and orange juice is a Screwdriver.)

You can walk into any bar anywhere and order a vodka and cranberry juice with no problem.

Look for future postings that will help you get past your bar fears in the Bar Fear category.

Saturday, March 5

Sagamore Resort in Bolton Landing, NY

The bar staff at the Sagamore Resort seem to have their stuff together. I was there for a business function and I had a chance to visit Mr. Brown's Pub. My server was Betty. The bar was extremely busy all the stools were filled. The drinks being ordered was mostly liquor and soda, vodka martinis, and beer. I have a seat and order up a Maker's Mark Manhattan up, stirred.

"No problem," said Betty who went straight to work mixing up a great Manhattan. She did forget the bitters but when I reminded her she had no problem throwing it in.

I love sitting at a bar and watching a busy bartender. You can tell when the barkeep is in the zone and she was in the zone tonight. Stopping every now and then to take a breath and look for the next empty glass to fill. It was great.

I had two Manhattans and dinner at the bar.

Afterwards my company was hosting a casino night in the ball room. You've been to one of these things. Everyone is given a bag of chips and a few tickets for free drinks and off they go. There was blackjack, poker, and craps. As an employee I wasn't able to play, just watch. I could tell everyone was having a great time and the dealers were practically letting the customers win. Why not, its not real money.

That is when I notice that someone at the table is getting low on their drink. So, I play the part of the waiter and ask, "can I get anyone a drink?" To my surprise one of the customers said, "yeah, let me have a Crown Manhattan."

Crown in a Manhattan... yikes! But, seeing we are only a few miles form Canada and Crown Royal is a Canadian whiskey, I'll forgive him. However, the man's wife said, "yeah me too except make it a Southern Comfort Manhattan." Oh my goodness! I've heard of bastardizing a drink but this is crazy!

So, I take my drink orders over to the bartender, who is standing beside a table full of bottles. I tell the guy, "okay, I would like a Crown Manhattan and - - I pause - - a Comfort and sweet vermouth." I couldn't bring myself to calling it a Manhattan. The bartender looked up and smiled knowingly at me. "Some people want the weirdest things", he says. I also order a Black Russian for myself. He made the three drinks without hesitation and got all the ingredients perfect.

So long story, short, I would recommend the bar staff at the Sagamore resort in upstate New York.

Thanks Joe and Betty!