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MxMo XXXVII: First Time


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#1 haresfur

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Posted 05 March 2009 - 08:23 PM

Hope I'm not treading on anybody's toes, but time is wasting on this month's MxMo and I decided it was time to stage a coup.

If any of you read (or write) blogs which cover cocktails, you might know that Paul over at Cocktail Chronicles has been organizing a monthly online cocktail event he calls Mixology Mondays.

This month's event is hosted by Pink Lady at Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails - Boston (love the name). The theme is "First Time". To explain:

This event was inspired by a chance encounter I had with an almost-famous Christian rock musician who, at age 32, had never had a cocktail. “I’d like to try one sometime,” he said, “What do you think I should have?”

It’s an excellent question, and one I though best vetted by wide audience of experts: What drink do you suggest for the delicate palate of the cocktail neophyte? Something boozy and balanced, sure - but one wrong suggestion could relegate the newbie to a beer-drinker’s life. To which go-to cocktails do you turn to when faced with the challenge?

Here’s how to play:

  1. By Monday, March 9 mix, drink, and write about a good gateway drink for the cocktail virgin.


So hurry and post those corrupting concoctions here.
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#2 maggiethecat

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Posted 05 March 2009 - 11:36 PM

A Sidecar is an excellent Gateway Drink.

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#3 campus five

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Posted 06 March 2009 - 12:20 AM

Vieux Mot (Don Lee, PDT)

1.5 oz Gin (Plymouth)
0.75 oz Lemon
0.5 oz Simple (1:1)
0.5 oz St. Germain

Shake, strain, up.

I love foisting this upon either cocktail virgins or gin-phobes.

#4 Chris Amirault

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Posted 06 March 2009 - 06:28 AM

I usually lean toward a sour structure too -- Sidecar, Aviation, Bourbon Crusta -- but if I had to choose one in that family I'd go for a really well made Daiquiri or a variation on that theme like a Papa Doble (Hemingway Daiquiri) or an el Floridita #1. As much as I like other hooch (especially gin), I think that rums are a better entry for many people who are wary.

If someone's a bit more brazen, however, and I've got good mint on hand, I always start with one of Audrey Saunders's French Pearls. With a well-made Daiquiri, drinkers exclaim, "Wow -- that's good!" With a well-made French Pearl, they take another drink and exclaim, "What... oh my gosh... what IS that?" Then you know they're hooked forever.
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#5 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 06 March 2009 - 10:17 AM

The famous Corpse Reviver 2, as well as the Bitter Elder (provided the neophyte likes grapefruit to begin with). Sometimes, when the situation is even more hopeless I'll just start with sneaking brandy or dark rum into a "chocolate martini" order, to prove to people that dark spirits arent scary. I also get good results with the Oriental Cocktail and the Jack Rose.
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#6 Chris Amirault

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Posted 06 March 2009 - 04:36 PM

Jack Rose is a great idea. Gateway flavors from ingredients unusual to the vodka & Red Bull crowd.
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#7 JAZ

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Posted 06 March 2009 - 04:58 PM

I'll echo Maggie and say that the Sidecar is an excellent way to introduce newcomers to cocktails. It's what I usually suggest.

#8 haresfur

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Posted 06 March 2009 - 05:41 PM

Sidecar is good. Another choice is a properly made Margarita with real lime, Cointreau, and agave tequila. That tends to move people from "these are ok with Mexican food" to "Wow, there is something about a well made cocktail. Maybe I should try others."

But at the risk of recycling a MxMo entry the last one I made for a novice is the Tacoma Screw (named after a fastener store):

The Tacoma Screw

In a rocks glass mix:

2 oz white rum
3 oz orange juce
ice cubes

pour in 1 oz Cassis without mixing
float a splash of Pyrat XO rum on top

Said novice didn't gag on tasting my Americano so for a bit riskier take, a Campari gateway drink I posted a while back:

Campari Sacrilege:

1 Campari
2 Port (I used tawny because that's what I had)
2 dashes (or more) Fee's Orange Bitters
Orange twist to garnish

Mix Campari and port over ice, add bitters and garnish.
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#9 Mattmvb

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Posted 06 March 2009 - 06:20 PM

I think it depends on your customer / friends attitude.

On the occasions that they're up for it and want to try something different I find a TV Mai Tai can work wonders. Whereas if it's more of an arm twisting scenario then, assuming they're a coffee drinker, a twist on an espresso martini is great - I'd make it with our own spiced rum as the base with cointreau/amaretto/a.n.other liqueur with a flavour that works well with coffee for sweetness and possibly gomme depending how they'd normally take their coffee. This is also a good one because you can sell it as a sophisticated alternative to vodka red bull.

Also, their normal drink is something that needs to be taken into account. If they're a whisky drinker then an old fashioned is probably the obvious first step, if they habitually drink beer you're not going to want to make something where the alcohol is too obvious.

Cheers,

Matt

Edited by Mattmvb, 06 March 2009 - 06:22 PM.


#10 MikeInSacto

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Posted 06 March 2009 - 07:57 PM

I'd have to agree with the Sidecar, given that it was my first-ever professionally mixed cocktail (some 30+ years ago). The sugar on the rim really helps for the first-timer.

#11 Pierogi

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Posted 08 March 2009 - 01:36 AM

Vieux Mot (Don Lee, PDT)

1.5 oz Gin (Plymouth)
0.75 oz Lemon
0.5 oz Simple (1:1)
0.5 oz St. Germain

Shake, strain, up.

I love foisting this upon either cocktail virgins or gin-phobes.

Oh. My. GOD.

I made one of these (OK, a couple.......OK, three) of these tonight.

One of the best cocktails, EVER. So so good. Thank you for sharing.
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#12 Wild Bill Turkey

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Posted 08 March 2009 - 09:55 AM

I'm hoping a non-professional can play along, (after all, the subject is newcomers) so I'll throw in a drink I started offering at my first cocktail parties. I offered a longer menu of cocktails than maybe a new bartender should attempt, but by far the most successful was the somewhat obscure Missing Link from Gary Regan's book.

This drink combines two of the themes in this topic, the universality of the Margarita, and the approachability of rum as a base spirit. As crazy popular as the Margarita is, there are still quite a few people who don't like tequila, whereas I've never met anybody who wouldn't try a rum drink.

The Missing Link
1 1/2 ozs dark rum (Goslings)
1 oz Cointreau
1/2 oz lemon juice

To invite comparison to its more famous cousin, I strain this into a chilled Margarita glass.

#13 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 08 March 2009 - 09:56 AM

Vieux Mot (Don Lee, PDT)

1.5 oz Gin (Plymouth)
0.75 oz Lemon
0.5 oz Simple (1:1)
0.5 oz St. Germain

Shake, strain, up.

I love foisting this upon either cocktail virgins or gin-phobes.

Oh. My. GOD.

I made one of these (OK, a couple.......OK, three) of these tonight.

One of the best cocktails, EVER. So so good. Thank you for sharing.

View Post


We've been making something very similar, 2 gin: 1/2 StGermaine: 1/2 lemon, ever since the St Germaine hit the shelves here in Texas. Big hit, hard to beat. Plymouth or Hendricks for the gin-averse, Beefeater or Tanqueray for those on board.
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#14 John the Barman

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Posted 08 March 2009 - 01:33 PM

A well made Bee's Knees is great for a newbie.

2 oz Gin
3/4 lemon
3/4 honey (brought down to 75% strength by stirring with hot water)

shake, strain into a chilled Cocktail("Martini") glass
no garnish

add a blackberry or two and fine strain for a simple variation.

#15 RoyalSwagger

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Posted 08 March 2009 - 09:25 PM

In response to previous post

A cocktail that i have been a huge fan of since getting into cocktails...

Beehive cocktail as written in cocktail DB

1 1/2 oz bourbon
2 oz Grapefruit juice
3/4 oz honey
Shake, Strain
no garnish

(scale down the propoertions to your liking, 2 oz of grapefruit a bit much..)
Like a sour but, not..

One of the most delicious sour based cocktails I have ever had
yeah, the Airmail doesn't come close

A whiskey sour mixed with elysium.

Edited by RoyalSwagger, 08 March 2009 - 09:27 PM.


#16 bostonapothecary

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Posted 09 March 2009 - 09:30 AM

corpse reviver no. 2.
1 oz. gin (seagram's)
1 oz. triple sec (homemade creole shrub)
1 oz. lillet (vergano luli)
1 oz. lemon juice
2 dashes absinthe (kubler)

black dahlia
2 oz. cranberry-black tea vodka
1 oz. grenadine (not reduced down)
1 oz. lemon juice

for beginners we get really good mileage out of the corpse reviver no. 2, but i'm always surprised about what people like as they begin to explore adult mixed drinks. the "black dahlia" cocktail seems to be universally liked as well even though its not scared of lemon juice. these drinks differ from others that can be just as sweet and just as tart because they have huge amounts of flavor extract dissolved into their ingredients.

in a dessert wine, as sugar and acid increase, extract has to increase as well or you will end up with the "sweet-tart" phenomenon that characterizes bad dessert wines. cocktails share this phenomenon but unlike dessert wines, low extract drinks can be thrilling but tend to be for more seasoned drinks. new drinkers seem to be less afraid of fierce and refreshing sours if their drinks are over the top in extract.

you can get more extract in a drink like a jack rose by reducing down the pomegranate juice in the grenadine. sugar contents equal, the higher extract should taste not exactly less tart but less disjointed and less like your eating an apple-pomegranate pie that someone topped with crushed sweet tart candies. we don't use a reduced grenadine in the black dahlia because it already has so much extract dissolved in the vodka from the cranberries. it would be just too much. i've made the same mistake with rum punches because you can potentially put too much flavor into them. its like getting an over the top new zealand sauvignon blanc versus a crisp, minerally, and leaner chablis or muscadet.

one other way to make sours appeal to new drinkers is to go heavy the on bitters. besides a cocktail condiment, or something literally bitter, another way of thinking about "bitters" is just as a flavor concentrate or extract that can change the "sweet tart" perception of your drinks.

so for new drinkers, just like a dessert wine, as sugar and acid increases, so too does extract!
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#17 haresfur

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Posted 09 March 2009 - 09:31 PM

I sent a link to this thread off to the ladies. Very interesting discussion. Sours, especially the Sidecar, and rum seem to be most recommended, although there are some nice sounding gin choices.

For visitors who may find their way here from MxMo, a related thread is:

Cocktail Drinking for Beginners

Thanks for playing everyone; be sure to check out the other entries over at Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails - Boston
It's almost never bad to feed someone.

#18 Penwu

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Posted 09 March 2009 - 11:34 PM

The drink I've had the best response to from cocktail virgins is Dale DeGroff's Anejo Highball (though with blackstrap rum, perhaps it should have a slightly different name).

1.5oz anejo rum (Cruzan blackstrap)
0.5oz curacao (Cointreau)
0.5oz lime juice
0.25oz pimento dram (St Elizabeth)
dash Angostura
2-3oz ginger beer

I've tried others, including Aviations, Sazeracs, and Margaritas. Some people really liked them, but others definitely didn't. The Anejo Highball seems to be pretty universally liked.

#19 Kent Wang

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Posted 10 March 2009 - 02:43 AM

I'm going to argue a bit and say that any drink with anise like the CR2, or Campari, is not a good drink for newbies. I'm also against Sidecars as cognac can be rough for beginners.

I agree that the Vieux Mot, or rather the variation thirtyoneknots gives (which I call the Elderflower Sour), is my go to intro cocktail. Daiquiri is nice but is too rounded; I prefer to knock their socks off with the St. Germain.

#20 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 10 March 2009 - 06:25 AM

I'm going to argue a bit and say that any drink with anise like the CR2, or Campari, is not a good drink for newbies. I'm also against Sidecars as cognac can be rough for beginners.

I agree that the Vieux Mot, or rather the variation thirtyoneknots gives (which I call the Elderflower Sour), is my go to intro cocktail. Daiquiri is nice but is too rounded; I prefer to knock their socks off with the St. Germain.

View Post


I'd say that a properly made CR2 shouldn't have a discernable anise character, maybe more like the kind of thing that you can barely detect once you know i'ts there, but in general, only the most sensitive palates should be able to detect it on their own. As for Campari and the Bitter Elder, I'll just say try it yourself and try it on a newbie, it's like the Jasmine, but even more grapefruit-like. Like grapefruit itself, it won't charm everyone, but those who like it will really like it. With the Daiquiri, I'd prefer to wait til later and give a "proper" one (with only 1/2 oz of lime and 1/2 tsp sugar) to someone who is already somewhat familiar with cocktails, and then blow their minds. For someone new to cocktail flavors, that version is likely to be a bit much.
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#21 haresfur

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Posted 21 March 2009 - 09:53 PM

The results are in. eGullet got a nice mention. I'm a relative cocktail newbie and there are plenty of suggestions for me to explore. Thanks for playing!

lupec Boston
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#22 Kevin Liu

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Posted 18 October 2011 - 06:09 PM

I've tested a lot of the cocktails mentioned in this thread, but most of them are still pretty high proof for my friends who are afraid to taste too much alcohol in their drinks.

Here's a recipe I found that a bunch of beginners loved, and which I think was made with enough care to classify it as "craft".

Sofia's Swizzle
1 3/4 oz. Reposado Tequila
1 1/4 oz. Apple Juice
1/4 oz. Lime Juice
1/4 oz. Velvet Falernum
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
2 oz Ginger Beer

Shake the first five ingredients with ice, then strain over fresh ice. Top with ginger beer.

Every component in this cocktail played nicely, with the restrained use of ginger beer really making the drink. The ultimate flavor depends heavily on what brand of ginger beer you use.

Original Recipe

Does anyone else like drinks like this? Want to share some recipes?
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#23 Sunny&Rummy

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Posted 20 October 2011 - 03:40 AM

I've tested a lot of the cocktails mentioned in this thread, but most of them are still pretty high proof for my friends who are afraid to taste too much alcohol in their drinks.

Here's a recipe I found that a bunch of beginners loved, and which I think was made with enough care to classify it as "craft".

Sofia's Swizzle
1 3/4 oz. Reposado Tequila
1 1/4 oz. Apple Juice
1/4 oz. Lime Juice
1/4 oz. Velvet Falernum
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
2 oz Ginger Beer

Shake the first five ingredients with ice, then strain over fresh ice. Top with ginger beer.

Every component in this cocktail played nicely, with the restrained use of ginger beer really making the drink. The ultimate flavor depends heavily on what brand of ginger beer you use.

Original Recipe

Does anyone else like drinks like this? Want to share some recipes?


That sounds like it would be quite good — and something you could actually take the time to do as a traditional swizzle if you top with ginger beer after the swizzle. Also looks like subbing a favorite dark rum in for the tequila would make an equally nice drink.

#24 ThatNateGuy

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Posted 08 November 2011 - 12:44 AM

I have worked as a barista for years and year and years. Thus a good amount of people that i know are coffee geeks like me and when i told them i was really getting into cocktails etc a good amount of them stressed the fact that they didnt like the taste of cocktails and they would rather stick to coffee. Thus i came up with this little guy. Its a frou frou drink but its quite tasty. For my friends (mainly girls no offense) that don't like too much coffee flavor remove 1/2 oz esp. vodka with a whip cream infused one.

"The Ex-Barista"

1.5oz Espresso Infused Vodka
.5oz Cream Liqueur
.5oz Chambord
Splash of Soda
(2 dash pecan bitters optional)

As for introducing someone into traditional cocktails the two i enjoy having friends try for the first time are Manhattans, Gimlets, and Fizzes. One particular drink i make often for cocktail virgins that usually come over for dinner etc is a Basil Gimlet. I make mine as follows.

Basil Gimlet
2oz Hendrick's Gin
.5oz Fresh Lime Juice
.5oz Agave Syrup
7 Basil Leafs*

*Of the basil leaves choose the most visually appealing one and set aside for Garnish. Take the other six and give them a nice slap to release essential oils and muddle them with lime juice and agave at the bottom of Glass. Add ice. Pour gin over ice. Shake and serve in small coupe glass and garnish with set aside Basil Leaf.

Edited by ThatNateGuy, 08 November 2011 - 12:46 AM.


#25 KatieLoeb

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Posted 12 November 2011 - 11:03 AM

The Aviatrix variation of an Aviation is a great intro cocktail.

2 oz. gin
.5 oz. each St. Germain and maraschino
.75 oz. fresh lemon juice

Shake. Strain into a coupe. Garnish w/a lemon twist or a cherry at the bottom of the glass.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
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