Cocktail Basics: The Sidecar

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The venerable Sidecar. I get an order for one – I dunno – maybe 3 or 4 times a year. Often, it’s at my behest. Most young’uns don’t know a damned thing about it’s existence, let alone it’s wonderful balance of well-chilled sweet/dry/citrus magic stuff in a purty Martini cocktail glass. That’s cuz they’re far too easily (and wrongly) satiated with simpleton and tasteless shizz like Vodka & Soda - sheesh. Outside Speakeasy type throwbacks, nary will most folks ever venture out of their comfort zone of booze-hounding to get all experimental with classic and relatively “obscure” brown-liquor drinks like ye Sidecar. That’s a damned shame. I’ve never had a single guest not go absolutely gaga over this cocktail – particularly straight Cognac lovers.

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We’re Going Ham With The Mint Julep

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It’s nearly Kentucky Derby time fools! Personally, I don’t give two craps. I’m the anti-hero when it comes to sports. Golf, Horse Racing, and NASCAR make me dry-heave an extra two times with, twisting my gut with extraordinary pain. I know, I know - sacrilege, right? Especially for a bartender and a dude! I couldn’t care any less about following football, basketball, hockey (extra yikes!), and baseball. My straight guy friends (they’re rare – 9/10 of my friends are hot chicks) hate on me endlessly for being “anti-sports,” a befitting description of me since my early twenties. Shockingly, many of my gay guy friends have a ton more interest in following sports than even I do. Somehow, I fake it pretty good when engaging sports fanatics with seemingly endless conversations at the bar.

The only reason I care about the Kentucky Derby, is because it’s yet another excuse to drink a classic cocktail.

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Cocktail Basics: Bloody Hell! Bloody Mary for Dummies

Bloody Mary

 

Ahh… the time-honored Bloody Mary. This cocktail has been with us for an eternity. Even today, it’s as wildly popular as ever. Yet for some reason, most of us have it in our heads that this buzz-inducing, yet seemingly health-conscious concoction, should only reasonably be consumed on Saturday and Sundays before dark (a.k.a., Brunch). Where’d that idea come from?

This is one of those standard cocktails that every barkeep – from the buffoon at your hog-roast/bait-n-tackle shop on the Gulf Coast, to the master mixologist at the Occidental – must be intimately familiar with. Despite the commonality, like a dozen or so other standards, bartenders routinely muck this drink up for some odd reason. Typically, their establishments (a) use gasp – use commercial Bloody Mary mix – perish the thought or (b) they’re so disengaged, that they’ve become much more interested in pumping out a sub-par drink and moving on, than creating repeat business by offering exceptional cocktails. From my experience, “b” is far more pronounced a problem.

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The Cappuccino Martini

Those of us who opt for the delicious combination that is coffee and booze, know exactly what we’re doing. Although it most often shows up in the form of an Irish Coffee (I’ll eventually straighten out the misconceptions about that one), there are plenty of other ways to both imbibe, keep oneself awake, and look damned good doing it.

NOTE: if you’re over 25, quit drinking retarded Jager Bombs and Vodka-Redbulls. Those drinks belong only at frat parties… they’re bro drinks. There are a handful of cocktails that scream ghetto classless. Anything with Redbull is on that deafening list.

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The Manhattan Cocktail

The Rob Roy Cocktail (Коктейль Роб Рой)So, you fancy you some good old boy Rye whiskey – don’t cha? Well, the epitome of haute culture Rye drinks is, hands-down, the Classic Manhattan Cocktail.  Even though many a bartender claim to be itimately familiar with the ingredients, I’ve seen tons of folks, calling themselves “bartenders,” completely screw this drink up. Knowing a cocktail’s contents does not equate to knowing how to prepare, proportion, mix, garnish and serve – even one as seemingly simple as a Manhattan.

It’s unfortunate, in NYC at least, that a large percentage – if not the majority – of bars you’ll frequent, really should not pass for “bars” at all. Rather, they are trendy nightlife establishments that happen to serve alcohol and are staffed, yet again, by eye-candy that are focused neither on customer service (in the traditional sense) nor speed – enough said. In contrast, thankfully, there are also dozens/hundreds of boutique, hipsterish, low-key venues that do focus on quality homemade ingredients, aesthetics, mixology, atmosphere, individuality, and proper preparation.  Befittingly, they are almost always owned and/or staffed by some seriously OCD mixologists with a love of all things old school and classy.  Some of them can be found in my Pub Crawl.  Places like, Please Don’t Tell, Dram and Raines Law Room illustrate the point.

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Carabinieri Cocktail

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The Carabinieri

Ingredients:

  • 1oz Vodka (or Tequila if you prefer)
  • 1/2 oz Galiano
  • 1/2 oz Countreau (Orange Curacao or Triple Sec if you’re cheap)
  • Splash of Fresh Orange Juice
  • 1 Egg Yolk

Prep:

Chill a cocktail/Martini glass if you don’t have a dedicated chiller.

Build your concoction in your 16oz glass shaker. Save the egg yolk for last. Crack and separate the yolk from white using second glass, making sure to stretch your arms really high, and bulging your eyes as extra drama.

Smile grandly and say something mystical that will reinforce the customer’s belief that you’ve graduated from the Tom Cruise Academy of Flair.  Alternatively, concoct some whimsical story about partying it up with these crazy dancers from Florence you shacked up with last year when you were exploring the Eastern-most Himalayas on foot.  Remember, you’re on stage.  The theatrics, presentation and atmosphere are half of what they’re paying for.

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