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Need some help creating a simple cocktail menu


jsmeeker
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In a few weeks, I'll be going to Ohio (Columbus area to be exact) to basically hang out with a bunch of friends, chill out, eat, drink, watch college football, drink, eat, drink. etc. etc. :cool:

Anyway, I sorta volunteered to make some GOOD cocktails. Something better than Jack and Coke and the like. I'm trying to think of things that are pretty easy to make and don't require "esoteric" ingredients. I'm really trying to turn the willing folks onto GOOD cocktails. I've got some ideas, but really want a fairly solid, limited list of suggested cocktails to make. I think this should make it easier because it will mean buying a fairly limited number of ingredients.

One concern I have is stemware. This crowd is typically drink out of large Solo cups. That may work OK if you want a giant quadruple Jack and Coke, but doesn't work well for a true cocktail experience in my opinion. If it were up to me and it was happening where I live, I would just suck it up and rent cocktail glasses and other glassware from a local party supply house. But it's not here in Dallas. I'll still suggest it though, and I have seen disposable cocktail glasses in liquor stores before.

I want two, maybe three cocktails that are served up in a cocktail glass. Also, I would like some decent highball type drinks for people that just want a "big" cup/glass with a lot of ice and liquid in it.

So, this is what I have been thinking

Manhattan -- simple to make. easy to obtain ingredients. no need for fresh juice. If I use something like Maker's or Jim Beam, that can also be used for the whiskey/bourbon and coke crowd. Vermouth and bitters are cheap, so if you have bourbon, making a Manhattan is pretty simple step up.

Some sort of sour -- I love sours. Might be my favorite class of cocktails. I am thinking either margartias to get people to try a proper one (with fresh lime juice and GOOD tequila) and Pegu Club as a way to show people that gin is something you should LIKE. Biggest catch here is getting orange bitters. I suppose I could get it locally and send it up there in advance. The advantage of doing margarita and Pegu Club is that they both use a triple sec. I really like drinks with a good triple sec like Cointreau

Some sort of good "highball" -- this would be the drink that I COULD serve in the plastic Solo cup. I dunno what to do here. Long Island Ice Tea? They are potent and would be popular for that. Plus, it would mean the need for several liquors, which would in turn open up lots of possibilities for other drinks.

A "house" drink -- this would be a bonus points drink, If someone could come up with an appropriate drink for the circumstances (Fall, Ohio State football) that would be really awesome. I don't have a clue as how to proceed here. But again, this is sorta a "bonus" that could go a long way to making the day a little special.

So, any help or guidance would be appreciated.

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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For the sours, I'm quite fond of The Jasmine, which I've effectively used to turn both avowed Gin and Campari haters into lovers. Plus, you'll have Campari for Campari and soda, or for those who like Manhattans, you can turn them on to the Old Pal.

Edited by jmfangio (log)

"Martinis should always be stirred, not shaken, so that the molecules lie sensuously one on top of the other." - W. Somerset Maugham

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I dealt with a few of these issues a few months back here. Renting cocktail glasses is a great option; you can just stick them in the freezer and blow the Solo cup crowd away. Don't get disposable glasses. Please. For me.

Manhattans are risky. A lot of people think that they're too boozy. Then again, given the number of times you say "drink," in your first post, maybe that's just fine.

Sours are big hits. Sidecars, Applecarts, rum sours like Daiquiris and Beachcombers, even a real Margarita: they'll all be revelations if you use real juice. If you want to go with a Pegu Club -- always a good choice -- you can order the bitters from Buffalo Trace, Fee's, and so on.

What would you want from a house drink?

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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On the issue of a "house drink:" Fall in the Midwest makes me think of the apple harvest (I miss living in northern Illinois). That leads me to Applejack. Some drinks in that direction might have too many ingredients that would be unusable elsewhere. However, a nice Vieux Carre variation would require only what you already have on hand (whiskey, vermouth, bitters), a bottle of Applejack, and a teaspoon of a good, distinctive liqueur (Benedictine is the Vieux Carre standard, but I think amaretto, Apry, cherry brandy, or anything else brandy based would work).

If that veers too close to a Manhattan, since you've already got juice for sours, you could consider a Jack Rose. Applejack, lime juice, grenadine. Grenadine is cheap to buy, but easier to make on your own: pomegranate juice and superfine sugar. Leaving some homemade grenadine behind for your hosts wouldn't be necessary, since you could base your recipe on how much you need, but if there's some leftover, it's not a big deal.

Edited by TBoner (log)

Tim

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Spike a watermelon with Vodka.

IF you really want to go exotic hollow out pineapples and make some kind of punch. Line them with solo cups though on things could get sticky.

"And in the meantime, listen to your appetite and play with your food."

Alton Brown, Good Eats

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I appreciate the tips.

For the house drink, it would be cool if it said "Ohio State" in some way. Even if just in color. I'm a big 12 guy (texas tech to be exact), so Big 10 football is something I don't know much about.

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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How many people is this for, how big is your space, and do you access to a juicer.

Is this the kind of thing where you are also wanting to hang out with people and not just be bogged down with too many ingredients/steps per drink?

As far as glassware goes, perhaps look into all purpose wine or champagne saucers in lieu of cocktail glasses.

I would look into maybe getting about 5 or 6 bottles, then figure out what kind of permutations you can produce with those and the given mixers that you are willing to stock. Then narrow it down.

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For the sour, I'd definitely do a Sidecar, at the expense of the Pegu if necessary. If you want a really boozy highball that will introduce people very cordially to gin and get them silly, I might suggest a French 75 (inexpensive Cava such as Cristalino is very suitable for this, but in general avoid value-priced domestic sparklers for cocktail use). If you've squirreled away some orange bitters, you now have all the ingredients for a Pegu so you could branch out a bit if you have time. Having done things like this before, though, I have the following advice: be ready to be the host, even if you're not technically the host. If you are bartending for a crowd, do not expect to be able to follow the game in more than a cursory manner. A slightly different approach I might suggest is to sort of do a tasting menu where you say ok first we are having Sidecars, then Manhattans, then French 75s or whatever and whoever wants one can have one but you're not taking requests so much as leading them through a cocktail prix fixe. If you do this, keep the glasses relatively small so that the enthusiastic can finish off the straggler's drinks if desired without paying for it the next morning. Also allows you to do some degree of prep and/or premixing. Just a thought.

-Andy

Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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I appreciate the tips.

For the house drink, it would be cool if it said "Ohio State" in some way.  Even if just in color. I'm a big 12 guy (texas tech to be exact), so Big 10 football is something I don't know much about.

Those are hard colors to mix for! Gray/silver is not really a color I want so often in my drinks...

One option would be to go with 1 1/2 applejack to 3/4 Dubonnet rouge with a couple of dashes of orange bitters. This is likely to look reasonably Ohio State red, and probably makes a tasty variant on the Marconi wireless. Serve with a little bit of (edible) silver foil crumbled over top, and you've got the colors and something autumnal.

You could also doctor a Jack Rose to achieve more or less this result by clarifying the lemon juice (run it through a coffee filter a couple of times) and stirring rather than shaking. The resulting drink should be red, and that mixed with applejack and grenadine might work. Just tried doing this with my homemade grenadine, and it's still too purple, but if you were to use commercial grenadine (I know, I know) the color should be right.

Mayur Subbarao, aka "Mayur"
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Also, at the risk of offending my fellow eGulleteers, I might recommend batching drinks. Sours especially aren't actually that hard to batch and hold (use a pitcher sunk into ice, and briefly shake before pouring). Or make some nice big ice rings (freezing ice in a bundt pan works well for this), grab some big bowls, and make punch! Some ideas after a recent trip to Death & Co that would give you a base red for Ohio State:

-Gin, Dubonnet, ginger ale, orange bitters

-Whiskey, applejack, benedictine, Peychaud's bitters, angostura, some soda

Mayur Subbarao, aka "Mayur"
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Good idea with the punch? Just 5 things, (paunch is five in Hindi) They are ment to be "batched". You can make a couple of gallons before the party and that let that flow while you make "crafted" cocktails. Bring your own bitters. Find a willing person to juice some limes, bruise a bit of mint and you have a boatload of southsides.

FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS HOLY do not bring an egg.

Toby

A DUSTY SHAKER LEADS TO A THIRSTY LIFE

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I find printing a small menu helps people decide. They don't have to keep asking you what each one is and what's in it. You could even fit your menu on a 3x5 card.

I was planning on printing up a short menu with the suggested drinks of the evening.

This party is ballooning to be a pretty big gathering (I think we are close to 40 now), but I really don't expect everyone will be interested in these types of cocktails. Plus, not everyone that will be there is a drinker (which could lead to a whole 'nother thread... :) )

I am liking the idea of a Sidecar, too. I have used E&J VSOP brandy myself for them with good results. It's also another triple sec drink. (I love drinks with Cointreau!!)

I plan to have access to some sort of juicer and was planning on juicing limes/lemons in advance to make things a little more speedy at the bar. The house DOES have a bar setup in the basment. Plenty of counter space to work, plus I think there is a sink there.

The idea of batching them doesn't bother me. In fact, I had the idea of making up a mix of say margaritas (lime juice, tequila and cointreau) and putting it in a pithcer/bottle. Then just shaking them to order for a little bit of show. I think that will be fine and will yield far superior results over using a commerical mix plus Jose Cuervo Gold.

I do want to mingle with the people, but am contnet to spend a lot of time behind the bar. I beleive it's in the room with the big TV, so I'd probably be there most of the time anyway. Plus, I'm sure I can train a few people on how to whip up the specialty drinks. :)

again, more great tips! Thanks for them all.

Edit to add: I am really liking Andy's idea of "tasting sessions". That actually might work out really well.

Edited by jsmeeker (log)

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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I would do a cuba libre for a high ball, then you could also do a natural daq for a short drink.

If you are doing margs, then you could also make up some sangrita for some of the left over tequila.

Another thing you could do for highballs is some variation on the rickey. rasberry lime is my favorite, mango is good, blood orange. This could also help ease some of the vodka drinkers into gin based drinks.

If you do this you can make a rickey then float some rasberry syrup on top and call it a buckeye fizz, the colors won't be exact, but should work pretty well.

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Instead of renting glassware or using the 'snap together' plastic stuff they do make nice stemware and "glassware" out of a plexiglass type material. I was at a hotel this summer and they had cocktail hour by the pool with everything in these glasses. They look just like glass but are a bit lighter. No worries about breakage.

I dont' know who sells it, but sometimes williams-sonoma sells things like that during the summer as ice tea/lemonade sets

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My event is getting closer, and I think I have a pretty good idea as to what I want to do. A similar thread has inspired me to do something wtih Applejack/Apple brandy. I think this will be a great idea since apples are big part of the fall season.

Here is what I came up with..

Sidecar, plus a variation made with apple jack or apple brandy. I think someome called it an Apple Cart

Pegu Club

Manhattan

An apple brandy/apple jack based high ball suggested by someone in anohter thread. Apple jack, bourboun, apple cider, topped with ginger ale, IIRC.

Possibly an apple jack/apple brandy based punch suggested by Alchemist.

I'll jump into the apple jack thread, but can someone quickly tell me the difference between apple jack and Calvados (something that was mentioned in another thread) are they similar in relationship as Congac and brandy are? If I can't track down actual apple jack, but can get Calvados, will that work??

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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[...]

I'll jump into the apple jack thread, but can someone quickly tell me the difference between apple jack and Calvados (something that was mentioned in another thread)  are they similar in relationship as  Congac and brandy are?    If I can't track down actual apple jack, but can get Calvados, will that work??

Menu looks good!

AppleJack in modern American mixology typically means the blended stuff from Laird's. It is 35% Apple Brandy blended with 65% neutral spirits. It's got a bit more Whiskey character than pure Apple Brandy. Calvados is Apple Brandy from France.

To the best of my knowledge, Laird's didn't start making the blended product until after Prohibition some time. In any older recipe that calls for AppleJack, that just means a younger American Apple Brandy or Calvados.

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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thanks. Since I've never had it before, I don't know how the various forms stack up against eachother, especially when mixed into a cocktail. I've read some of the Applejack thread, and I get the impression people are liking the Laird's bonded stuff a lot. Cost wise, how does Calvados stack up against a blended or a bonded American Applejack? (I'm assuming the French stuff costs more??)

I'll have my friends that leave at/near the town in Ohio and see what is available there.

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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Laird's bonded costs around $15 a bottle; Calvados is MUCH more expensive unless you're buying glorified hooch. It is, IMHO, also a completely different animal; the good stuff has more assertive oak notes, a hint of remembered fermentation "funk," and some beautiful flower-grassy elements that don't come with the Laird's bonded. Not that the Laird's isn't a fine product, but it's just different, and makes for different cocktails.

Mayur Subbarao, aka "Mayur"
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