Friday, April 30, 2010

Memory Challenges

Of course the problem with being the resident cocktail nerd among your friends is that you can't travel with all your vintage and repro cocktail manuals--and it would be Very Bad to spill a Jupiter into your laptop after you'd used the 'puter to look up that recipe online. So although a good cocktail can make you FORGET the cares of the day, let's face it: there are some things you just have to memorize.

For me that's a couple of basic rules. Rule one: a shot equals about an ounce and a half (two if you're being generous). Ice, mixer and a highball glass, and you have a highball.

Rule two: a basic sour is an ounce and a half of booze, 3/4 of an ounce of a sweet liqueur(s), and 3/4 of an ounce of a tart citrus juice(s) of your choosing. Do it with tequila, cointreau and lime and you've got a (very simple) Margarita. Do it with vodka, cointreau, lime and a splash of cranberry juice and it's a Cosmo. Use lime and rum and you've got a Daiquiri. And an Aviation is a gin sour, using lemon juice, maraschino and creme de violette. Shake 'em up, and strain 'em into a chilled cocktail glass and there you go; the same formula more or less holds for them all. Goose the citrus up a bit and goose the sweet down a tad to your taste. It makes a smallish cocktail, but I'm not of the school that a drink needs to be served in a goldfish bowl. (A good cocktail is a strong drink. Too much of a good thing is not a good thing.)

There are plenty of other drinks that like irregular verbs, make the language of cocktail-age richer and more maddening. Those you will need your books for. But some other drinks are easy to remember because they call for equal parts of all their ingredients: a classic Negroni is equal parts of gin, red vermouth, and Campari--although I've had the drink mixed in somewhat different proportions and enjoyed it.

Here's a drink I found this week that fits into equal parts of all category:

The Cafe Royal Special

Equal parts: Gin, fresh lemon juice, white vermouth, and sloe gin. Shake hard, serve in a cocktail glass, up.

It's an interesting drink, brilliant red as sloe gin drinks usually are, and not stupid-strong. The trick to having it not be too cotton-candy-ish (and sloe gin drinks can be like that) is to use good sloe gin. I have some OK stuff that I got at the local booze shop, but what really works best in this or any sloe gin drink is Plymouth Sloe Gin. It's considerably more expensive than the garden-variety stuff, and absolutely worth it.

See you at at 4 Eastern today!!


Sherry O'Keefe said...

you crack me up, chris. drinks with irregular verbs.

you've made my day, which by the way is filled with snow. may sixth snow.

chrispy said...

Thanks, Sherry--

Listen, when you do a cocktail show every week, it's a challenge to keep coming up with fresh ideas.

On the other hand, I am a cocktail nerd, and it is a total waste of good brain cells how much space I allot to this stuff...