Few logos have the instant familiarity of Coca-Cola.
It's known the world over as the popular soft-drink whose taste ingredient formula is among the most guarded secrets. Over the years, there have been imitators, and probably not many people would be able to tell the difference if offered a sample of competing brands of cola. Despite this, the company is still a leader in its field--a tribute to its shrewd brand marketing.
The idea that a constructed artificial flavor could come to have so universal quality is kind of astounding. Certain other drink flavors, such as root beer or orange soda, may seem as identifiable, but do not have the same branded strength.
Often, when inventing cocktails, I'll stumble upon an unintended flavor, a combination which resembles a familiar taste. Coke has popped up along the flavor spectrum several times. This one, which I've named The Inspector, sidles up to Coke, and brushes it gently on the elbow, but obviously isn't a blood brother, just a distant taste-a-like. Still, it's close enough to remark, since so many people know what the sensation is.
Coca-Cola isn't very good for you. In fact, it was probably responsible for the spate of nasty cavities I developed during my last year of high school, when I bought Coke for lunches at the little concession stand on the school grounds behind the main building. I soon gave it up, but the damage was done. No self-respecting kid in those days would have been caught dead brushing his or her teeth in the lavatory. I'm probably lucky I still have all mine, albeit with the collection of fillings and caps that constitute my set.
1.5 Famous Grouse blended scotch
1/2 part sweet (Cynar) vermouth
1 tablespoon creme de cacao
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Demerara bitters
Served on the rocks.
The other outrider is a gin concoction that includes pear liqueur, an ingredient familiar to European drinkers, but not so much in America. Fruit flavors vary, and some have become synonymous with their brand-names. Slivovitz, a central European liqueur or spirit, comes to mind, as a mixer that approaches the pear flavor, though its typical starting base is plum. Often, characteristic tastes become associated in my mind with certain drinks, even though they may not actually be made from the fruit I associate with them. How close are plum and pear in taste? To my mind, pear has always been a sort of relative of apple, but it behaves differently in combination than apple does. In the drink below, the pear mates with the sweeter candy-like quality of Chartreuse, and the drying acidity of the lime, to produce a nice little pyramid of flavor.
2 parts City of London gin
1 part pear liqueur
1/3 part yellow Chartreuse
1 part fresh lime juice
Shaken and served up. Garnish with lemon wedge.
During the current pandemic, most of the local liquor stores were closed, or were only open for pick-up at the entrance. This last week, BevMo finally allowed customers in for the first time in several weeks, which allowed me to stock up on some spirits I hadn't been able to find elsewhere, or which I preferred to buy at their lower price-settings. The warehouse space they have is also spacious enough to vacate any sense of jeopardy to transmission, though everyone of course wore masks.
Here's to a healthier future, when we may toast those bad old days when the virus oppressed our daily lives in so many unpleasant ways!