Prohibition did a lot of damage to drinking well in America. When it was lifted, we tried starting all over again but were in such a rush to get drunk, we couldn’t get it right. All quantity, no quality. And even when a great new drink arrived, modern industry, quick to turn a buck, would step in and mess things up. Only recently have bartenders started to give a damn and make things right. Here are some of the best redemption stories behind the stick, plus how to mix them yourself.
Somewhere along the line, this drink started getting thrown into a blender and made out like Steve Buscemi in Fargo. Thankfully, the most popular drink in the world is being made in its original tart glory again. No blender, no slushie machine, and please God no margarita mix! It’s only three ingredients, and if you need it a tad sweeter, add some agave syrup, but that’s it. No mangos, no strawberries, no dyes, just delicious. And yes, it’s supposed to taste like tequila!
Do It Right
2 oz of good silver tequila
1 oz of a good triple sec (Cointreau or Combier)
¾ oz of fresh lime juice (Key lime is best)
Shake, strain into a cocktail glass and serve with a smile.
The Old Fashioned
Many people mistakenly believe that the muddling of fruit or fruitlike substances (red dye cherry) is necessary, but that’s not an old-fashioned cocktail, that’s a Barney French. Just pick a quality spirit and watch how Ryan Gosling makes it in Crazy Stupid Love (only reason to watch; OK, that and Marisa Tomei). And remember, it can be made with any spirit. Try rum or even gin.
Do It Right
1 sugar cube
2 to 4 dashes of bitters
Splash of soda (maybe ½ oz at most)
Muddle and break down sugar until its completely dissolved.
Add one large cube of ice and stir.
After a moment, add 2 oz of your chosen spirit.
Stir some more, taste, and when you’ve achieved proper dilution, stop.
Use a knife or vegetable peeler to peel a strip of lemon zest and/or one of orange zest.
Squeeze zest so that the oils land on drink (it’s called “expressing the oils”) and rest both strips of peel in drink.
Marvel at your awesomeness.
So, hear me out on this one. Better yet read my colleague Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s take. He’s not kidding, this recipe is freaking awesome, not to mention safe for beginners. The addition of a high-proof, high-quality spirit makes this drink strong enough for a man whilst remaining Ph balanced for a woman.
Do It Right (via Morgenthaler)
1½ oz amaretto (I love the Lazzaroni amaretto, but Disaronno works well here, too)
¾ oz cask-proof bourbon (I use Booker’s, from the Jim Beam distillery)
1 oz lemon juice
1 tsp 2:1 simple syrup
½ oz egg white, beaten
Dry shake ingredients to combine, then shake well with cracked ice. Strain over fresh ice in an old fashioned glass. Garnish with lemon peel and brandied cherries, if desired. Serve and grin like an idiot as your friends freak out.
Not just for moms anymore: like the margarita, the beautiful daiquiri has been beaten up by many a cheap blender over the years, and it’s time to take it back. First of all, the guys at PKNY have shown us that even though you can make a good frozen drink, it is damn hard, and requires an Ivy League educated bartender or two to do the research to learn how, so ditch the blender and keep it simple. If you do insist on a twist, try it with an aged rum or agricole rum. When done right, it is the best thing to come out of Cuba since Ricky Ricardo.
Do It Right
2 oz Havana Club or Matusalem Rum
¾ oz fresh lime (Key lime is best here, too)
¾ oz simple syrup
Shake, strain and garnish with a lime wheel.
Of all the things Prohibition messed up in America, beer suffered the most tragic fate. It has the longest tradition of any alcoholic beverage, and it is possibly the best evidence of a higher power known to man. As if things weren’t bad enough, the ’70s went and created “Light” beer (as opposed to “heavy” beer?). This made beer the flunky stepbrother to wine, the Fredo of fermentates if you will. Thankfully, high-quality, complex and damn tasty beer is back, so feel free to order without looking uncouth.
Do It Right
Good rule of thumb is to go local. Especially in the brewing hotbeds of Cascadia, California and the Northeast, it also gives you ammunition against pretentious wine drinkers. You are not only being green but participating in a time-honored tradition that is shared not only by the elite but by the proletariat as well. Trust me, makes Harvard girls knee’s tremble when you say “proletariat.”