Thursday, February 16, 2017

Two on the Aisle

I'm not sure how much longer I'll be able to keep up my regimen of cocktail recipes. My endocrine system is sending me distant messages about my longevity, and we all know that isn't an argument any of us is going to win, ultimately. 

In the meantime, here are two more lovely variations from the stainless steel counter, concocted by yours truly, for no other reason than the delight of invention. 

Bartenders who are interested may experiment with different combinations, which may in time become famous, or signature recipes. At some point, I'd like to be able to publish a collection of my own original cocktail mixes. 

The majority of cocktail books seem determined either to make a claim to be the most reliable source of classic recipes, or of the sexiest new inventions. Tastes may be strong, or subtly variable. There's always room for innovation. 

A lot of new cocktail recipes depend on exotic flavors. But the way a cocktail is structured generally hasn't changed over the last century. You begin with a distillate, or perhaps a wine (or even a beer), and you add other ingredients in various proportion to augment the essential flavor of the "goods." It's perfectly possible to drink any liquor straight, which lots of drinkers do. And there's enough variation among brands and types that you could confine yourself to sampling unmixed liquors forever, if that were your choice. There are confirmed drinkers of Scotch, Bourbon, Rum, Gin and Vodka, and Vodka producers have begun to produce pre-flavored versions, so no mixing is required; in my view, this makes vodka seem like a poor sister to the other liquors, since its own flavor may be considered too weak by itself, though there are people who delight in the subtle shades of flavor of different vodkas. But life's too short to drink every version of anything. Professional tasters must find it difficult sometimes to extend their discrimination beyond a certain point. Of course, some people have a much greater sensitivity to flavor or smells than others. Animals (dogs for instance) have a smell sensitivity which is hundreds or thousands of times more sensitive than people's. Probably there are people who could distinguish between all the different kinds of liquors there are in the world, if they chose. But most of us can't, and certainly wouldn't need or want to. 

The spirit of adventure and experimentation is a very good thing. It's how discoveries are made. Discoveries may be accidents, or they may be deliberately conducted trials. Whenever I contemplate a new mix, I try to think of combinations I've never heard about. It's possible that I'm actually duplicating a recipe that someone, somewhere has already tried. And occasionally I'll accidentally "create" a recipe that, unbeknownst to me, has been labeled a classic decades ago. That's either a confirmation of your good intuition, or a proof of the "inevitability" of that happy congruence. 

Of course, I mix from published recipes all the time. The old standards are standards for a reason. The Rusty Nail has hung around because it's a wonderful flavor, not because someone thinks it's good to keep repeating old methods or favorites. 

But I'm not a professional bartender, and I would never want to be one. The idea of having to mix the same drinks, from a menu, or from customers' preferences, is abhorrent to me. Who wants to mix for others, especially when you can't really share the experience yourself. Good service is good, but the pleasure in that case has nothing to do with the goods. And bartenders who never experiment in an attempt to make new discoveries are just putting in their time, or lack imagination. 

In any case, I've never seen these recipes anywhere else, so I'll assume for the time being that they're completely new and original.         
2 parts Boodles gin
1 part St. Germaine liqueur
1/2 part Kirsch
1/2 part fresh lime juice

1 part manhattan rye
1 part dry vermouth
3/4 part peach liqueur
1/2 part fresh lemon

Both are mixed by proportion for single drinks served over ice. Our favorite accompaniment is freshly roasted pistachio nuts in the split shell. You break the shell with your fingers and pop the green nut in your mouth. And then another, and another . . . . They're just dry enough not to interfere with your tastebuds. 


Unknown said...

Curtis- do you have a compendium of Rye drink recipes? It is cold here in the northeast and rye seems to be the best choice for a drink in front of the fire!

Curtis Faville said...


Put the word "rye" in the search field at the upper left corner of the window, you'll get a couple of posts that mention rye.

I don't know about cold climes much anymore. We lived in the Midwest for 3 years back in the 1970's, but I wasn't a drinker then (except for tavern beer).

An old-fashioned built out of quality rye can be a real treat any time, cold weather or hot.

Talisker (scotch) has always been billed as a "warmer upper"--taken straight after a good stretch of the legs abroad on the moors.