Tuesday, May 26, 2020

The City Desk - Three New Concoctions

Who drinks cocktails anymore?

It must be a dying art.

Only the straggling ragtag crew of septuagenarians, of which I'm an honorable member, perhaps.

Each day affords another opportunity to expand the endless string of new combinations, in the ever-mutating mélange of taste.

In these strange times, each of us must make do with what is available, now that the pandemic has shortened everyone's leash, and just going to the corner store has become an adventure. 

As my liquor cabinet shrinks I recall fondly the times when I could wander freely through the aisles of Bev-Mo, 

or scan the thousand labels at Ledger's Liquors on University Avenue. 

Though drinking is often posed as a social phenomenon, being confined in this era of "sheltering in" could be another excuse to celebrate the happy hour at home. It's also cheaper. The going rate for custom cocktails these days usually runs north of $12. If you can afford your own liquor cabinet, you can mix one for less than $3 apiece! I'd expect to pay at least $15 for a good recipe in any high end cocktail bar today, and sometimes as much as $20.  

Lately I've been meditating on the difference between serving drinks "up" or over the rocks. What, exactly, is this variation in service supposed to accomplish? Drinks served over the rocks tend to keep their chill longer, though they usually become somewhat dilute as you drink them as the ice melts. Drink menus for on the rocks usually tell you to stir the ingredients, or simply to pour them into the ice glass. Shaking ingredients in a mixer imparts an effervescence to the mix which may or may not be regarded as appropriate to the case. I don't think the flavor of a drink is influenced in any specific way by serving it differently. You can't change the flavor, though you may dilute it by serving it in the ice. 

Here are three new combinations from the stainless steel counter. Hot off the press! Journalists used to be thought of as lushes. After spiking their stories, they'd repair to the local watering hole to quench their sorrows in a couple of stiff drinks. Hereabouts, I remember that Herb Caen and Charles McCabe were notorious, each having an assigned seat in their respective corner tavern(s). 

These blog entries bear a certain vague resemblance to journalism, so I guess I can fantasize that I share that habit with the trade, though of course newspaper writers no longer "go to work"--doing their stories on computers in the privacy of their own digs. Big "city desk" daily offices don't exist any more, having been obsoleted by the digital age.    

3 1/2 bourbon
1 1/2 part triple sec
1 part pisco
1/2 part lemon
peychaud bitters

Shaken and served up.

2 part dark rum
2 parts sweet vermouth
1 part orange liqueur
1 part sweet lime
2 parts "flat" ginger soda

Stirred and served over ice.

2 parts rye
2 parts sweet vermouth
1 part bitter orange liqueur
1 teaspoon allspice liqueur
1/2 part fresh lemon juice

Shaken and served up with a slice of lemon peel. 

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