Tuesday, August 11, 2015


What's cooler on a hot day than a nice cooler?

Coolers aren't cocktails per se, but they are often included in cocktail compendiums, because they involve mixtures which include alcoholic ingredients.

Coolers may or may not have strictly defined "goods"--goods being hard liquor in any of its usual incarnations. Alcoholic content occurs in wines and beers and liqueurs and so forth, but aperitifs and cordials have not traditionally been considered cocktails, though they may constitute significant parts of cocktail recipes. 

One way of suppressing the hard alcoholic content of drinks is avoiding the use of "goods" altogether, thus reducing the percentage of alcohol present in the drink. Alcohol does have a very weak flavor by itself, but it's how it interacts with other taste elements that makes cocktails intriguing. No matter how little alcohol you imbibe, there is some effect on the brain and nervous system (as well as your digestive tract). But as I've pointed out more than once here, getting drunk or "tipsy" isn't the point of enjoying cocktails, and if it is, you've missed it entirely. 

The other consideration with coolers is sweetness. Soft drinks were invented to bring interest to water, which is a vital necessity to the body. If you're really thirsty, there's nothing like water, just as, when you're out of breath, there's nothing like fresh air. Soft drinks are flavored water. Flavored water has been popular for thousands of years, but popularly marketed flavored water drinks are a very recent development in history--one of the hallmarks of the modern world. 

Cocktails are like soft drinks for grown-ups. Lots of drinkers avoid sweeter cocktails, seeing them as nothing more than soft-drinks in fancy dress. I tend to agree, especially when faced with the "equatorial" "cool-aid" versions you often see offered at popular restaurants or taverns. Most of these don't even qualify as cocktails at all. You can spot these fakes by checking the order of ingredients. Inevitably, they involve the addition of fruit juices, at the expense of reducing the actual alcoholic content to less than 15%. In the restaurant and bar trade(s), this is usually a way of reducing costs, by cutting back on the actual amount of goods used to make them. These "weak" drinks don't deserve the name of cocktails, and should be avoided. 

Chacun a son gout. A large percentage of cocktail drinkers like martinis. The majority of traditional martinis are nearly pure goods, without any adulterating content (such as vermouth). Vodka martinis can be very good with certain foods, such as raw oysters, where the subtle saltiness of the shell-fish works in tandem with the dry clarity of the liquor. But if you enjoy variety, insisting on unadulterated goods as a steady diet is boring. 

But enough of this spin. The subject was coolers, and here are two nice recipes I've developed, used in conjunction with a "soda" that is presently new on the market. 

During the English occupation of India, so-called quinine water became a common way of ingesting the chemical (quinine--a prophylactic against malaria), and quinine water, mixed with gin (or vodka) has been a traditional combination for over a century. 

Tonic water (or Indian Tonic Water) is a carbonated soft drink. The commercial brand Fever-Tree Indian Tonic Water contains less sugar than is commonly used in most marketed tonic sodas, and it's what I've used here. You need less sugar, since the liqueurs or aperitifs I've used are sweet by themselves. Using a common tonic water with them would result in just the sort of "cool-aid" aspect I'm averse to. 

The method with these mixes is to combine the alcoholic ingredients in a stainless steel mixer, just as you would with any cocktail, but in amounts that will, when combined with the tonic water, result in a relatively smaller percentage of the finished drink. The amount of tonic water added to the mix is up to the mixer, but I've decided that the "mixed" alcoholic portion should constitute no more than about 30% of the whole when served. 

Mix these ingredients together with ice, then pour into "bubble"-wine glasses, add a couple of smaller pieces of ice (not the cube variety) and then pour the carbonated tonic water over this, stirring lightly. The drink should have a very pale color from the diluted drink ingredients, depending on what the recipe includes.   

1 1/2 part midori
1/12 part limoncello
1/5 part cinnamon liqueur
1 part fresh lime

add 3-4 small pieces of ice

Tonic soda water to top up


1 1/2 part genepi des alpes
1 1/2 part st germaine liqueur
1 part fresh lime 

add 3-4 small pieces of ice

Tonic soda water to top up

If these drinks seem too sweet, you can always use unsweetened carbonated water, or even boutique bottled drinking water. Tap water, I think, is just too pedestrian to use. A little carbonation stirs up the mix, and keeps it lively. And the quinine gives it character, which was always what made the English Gin and Tonic combination so seductive. 

There'll always be a British! 

1 comment:

Charles Shere said...

I can't agree with you about Martinis. Their essence is the flavor of gin-and-vermouth. The type and brand of each contributes variably to the result, of course: but it's gin-and-vermouth makes the Martini. Currently I add a few drops of orange bitters and garnish with a twist. Gin and vermouth, my boy!