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Troy Sidle

Naming Cocktails

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This is a fun thread!

When I was testing/tweaking drinks for Spice & Ice, naming the drinks was one of my favorite parts of writing the book. All of the drink testers got into it -- most of the names fell into one of three categories:

--Descriptive: the name tells you what ingredients are in the drink, i.e. "Blackberry Poblano Margarita"

--Drink Style: if we riffed on a classic I tried to make the drink name reflect that, i.e. "Mule Kick" was a jalapeno-infused version of the classic Moscow Mule

--Memorable: even if it was silly, it gets your attention! One of my favorites: The Flamethrower. It almost doesn't matter what's in it, but you know right off the bat that it's going to be crazy-hot!

And then there were a bunch that were just hilariously bad - I've posted them here: http://www.karanewman.net/Spicy_extra2.html if you feel like a laugh!

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What is the etiquette of using humor in drinks names? Is it wrong to assume that most people have the ability to laugh at themselves or in this age of P.C. based behavior, is it safer to assume that most don't? I'm one of those people who think funny is funny and can laugh just as hard when I'm the butt of the joke but I'm not sure how universal that is. I have a specific example in mind but I thought I'd get the general feeling on the subject from the experts before putting myself out there.


It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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From all the way back at the begining... I love the idea of naming drinks after Hong kong movies. I think there are a few tiki drinks that could be named after Jackie Chan's classic, Drunken Master. I guess its not really appealing if you were selling it, but it would make me laugh.

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Funny names are good. They grab peoples attention. Best one ever attached to one of my drinks was a Spanish Brandy based Old Fashioned (a riff on a Wisconsin Old Fashioned). The Old Fascist. With props to Philadining for wry humor.


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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The dorky english-major in me tends to make literary jokes that are totally inappropriate, but only to people that "get" them, which usually earns me points with the patrons. My favorite special-of-the-night was the "Medea," a potent riff on a Communard with Metaxa, which, in the menu subtitle it said simply:

"What to drink when the kids are gone."

I had about two people laugh out loud in a really twisted way... :cool:


Torrence O'Haire - Private Chef, FMSC Tablemaster, Culinary Scholar

"life is a combination of magic and pasta"

-F. Fellini

"We should never lose sight of a beautifully conceived meal."

-J. Child

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The dorky english-major in me tends to make literary jokes that are totally inappropriate, but only to people that "get" them, which usually earns me points with the patrons. My favorite special-of-the-night was the "Medea," a potent riff on a Communard with Metaxa, which, in the menu subtitle it said simply:

"What to drink when the kids are gone."

I had about two people laugh out loud in a really twisted way... :cool:

Hm... that calls for one called 'Iphigenia', which could be described as 'What to drink when you're hiding from dad'. No idea what would go into it, but I think it's have to be a bit blue, so maybe some Creme de Violette.


Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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Okay, maybe I should just put it out there after all because I'm still not sure if I'm crossing a line or not. I came up with a drink, basically a martini variation using Citadelle gin, Lillet Blanc, grapefruit bitters, salt tincture and a grapefruit twist. I've been calling it a Salty Frog... with no desire to offend anyone, it just struck me as funny . But like I said, I'm not sure my sense of humor is all that common. If someone named a drink a Crazy Canuck Cooler or something, I'd laugh and, if it was good, I'd drink it.

Edited because apparently I can' type at 5am.


Edited by Tri2Cook (log)

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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The salt equivalent of simple syrup. I first saw it so named in Rogue Cocktails, or on the Beta Cocktails website (can't remember which).


 

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Things like this bug me a bit. I suppose they must have thought "salt tincture" sounds cool and old-school alchemical/scientific. But really it just seems to reflect a lack of understanding as to what a tincture is.

If it's salt dissolved in water, why not just call it "brine" or "liquid salt" or, I don't know, "salt water" or "salt solution"?

A "tincture" is something that is infused/extracted into alcohol, which is needless to say not what happens when you dissolve salt into water.

Even if the so-called "salt tincture" is actually off-the-shelf booze with salt dissolved into it, it's still not a tincture any more than booze with sugar dissolved into it is a "sugar tincture." This is not least because salt has very poor solubility in ethanol. So to the extent that some does dissolve into 40% abv booze, it's really because of the 60% of the solution that's water. Try dissolving salt into Everclear and see how salty it turns out. Not very.

Given the amounts of salt one is likely to use in a cocktail, it's unclear to me what advantage, if any, is to be gained by making a salt solution over just putting in a pinch of salt. I suppose if one is turning out a zillion salted cocktails it might be worthwhile to pre-salt the batch in order to titrate the salinity by taste, or perhaps in a professional bar setting it might be easier and neater to dash liquid salt out of a bottle than to pinch solid salt out of a container. I suppose menu-writers may have thought it expedient to call these salt solutions "salt tinctures" instead of just "salt" so that customers knew it wasn't a salt rim or something like that.


--

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I believe the Rogue/Beta guys were using the phrase "saline solution". I'm not familiar with them using "salt tincture" on the blog or in the book(s) (though the cocktail menu at Cure currently lists a drink with "Smoked Salt Tincture"), but perhaps someone got concerned that their drink would have eye drops in it?


Edited by KD1191 (log)

True rye and true bourbon wake delight like any great wine...dignify man as possessing a palate that responds to them and ennoble his soul as shimmering with the response.

DeVoto, The Hour

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Things like this bug me a bit. I suppose they must have thought "salt tincture" sounds cool and old-school alchemical/scientific. But really it just seems to reflect a lack of understanding as to what a tincture is.

If it's salt dissolved in water, why not just call it "brine" or "liquid salt" or, I don't know, "salt water" or "salt solution"?

A "tincture" is something that is infused/extracted into alcohol, which is needless to say not what happens when you dissolve salt into water.

Even if the so-called "salt tincture" is actually off-the-shelf booze with salt dissolved into it, it's still not a tincture any more than booze with sugar dissolved into it is a "sugar tincture." This is not least because salt has very poor solubility in ethanol. So to the extent that some does dissolve into 40% abv booze, it's really because of the 60% of the solution that's water. Try dissolving salt into Everclear and see how salty it turns out. Not very.

Given the amounts of salt one is likely to use in a cocktail, it's unclear to me what advantage, if any, is to be gained by making a salt solution over just putting in a pinch of salt. I suppose if one is turning out a zillion salted cocktails it might be worthwhile to pre-salt the batch in order to titrate the salinity by taste, or perhaps in a professional bar setting it might be easier and neater to dash liquid salt out of a bottle than to pinch solid salt out of a container. I suppose menu-writers may have thought it expedient to call these salt solutions "salt tinctures" instead of just "salt" so that customers knew it wasn't a salt rim or something like that.

Ageed. Plus, just setting eyes on 'salt tincture' made me reflexively hit myself on the forehead rather forcefully, so, I now hate the term twice as much. 'Brine' makes a hell of a lot more sense, but I imagine that somebody thinks the word 'tincture' lends an upmarket tone to the stuff. Yeesh.

I also now think this would be an excellent addition to the hypothetical 'Iphigenia', which, if everything that I'm thinking of ends up in it, would be a quite revolting drink. And probably indicates that it's a good thing my work week has been abruptly cut off.


Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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I was just wondering about the name of the drink. :biggrin: Not that I have the slightest problem with the term "salt tincture" being discussed, I just don't really care who rolls their eyes, slaps their head, looks down their nose or whatever else they choose to do so I'm not sure how that particular information is going to help roll the conversation along. When I found the recipe, it was called "salt tincture" so that's what I call it. As for the reason why I used it... because I can. The same reason we do a great deal of the things we don't technically need to do in our home bars and kitchens.


It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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So... I made this martini-esque drink with Citadelle gin, Lillet Blanc, grapefruit bitters, salt-infused gin (which was entirely unnecessary but fun to play around with) and a grapefruit twist. Am I a bad person for calling it a Salty Frog?


It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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I don't think it's offensive, although others might disagree. The issues I might have with it are:

(a) clever joke/pun names are rarely a good idea;

(b) the name evokes the Salty Dog but the drink clearly has nothing in common with it.


--

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(b) the name evokes the Salty Dog but the drink clearly has nothing in common with it.

Other than gin, grapefruit and salt... but I understand your point. My non-expert thought was that it evoked the flavors of a Salty Dog without being one. I'm not saying that's necessarily a good thing but it's what I did. The grapefruit is in the nose primarily and the salt is a subtle flavor in what is otherwise pretty much a martini. I'm making no claims about it being a spectacular creation or anything, I'm just starting to delve into creating anything at all so I'm trying to keep it simple for now while I get a feel for how things work. As for the name... I knew it was cheesy, I just wasn't sure if it was offensive. Anyway, thanks for the thoughts. I do appreciate the help.


It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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So in the interest of truly not wanting to offend, understanding that, offensive or not, it is indeed cheesy and not wanting to start my tentative early venturing into very basic creativity on the wrong foot... I'm decided to drop the name. I also want it to be clear that I'm not trying to convince anyone that it's a worthy cocktail. I have fun playing in the kitchen, I want to have fun playing at the bar.


It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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So in the interest of truly not wanting to offend, understanding that, offensive or not, it is indeed cheesy and not wanting to start my tentative early venturing into very basic creativity on the wrong foot... I'm decided to drop the name. I also want it to be clear that I'm not trying to convince anyone that it's a worthy cocktail. I have fun playing in the kitchen, I want to have fun playing at the bar.

Hm. I actually thought that you were concerned about it being somehow derogatory towards the French, but I can't imagine anyone other then the chronically offended being bothered by that. Mostly, it made me think of the Monty Python 'Crunchy Frog' sketch, which is sort of gross... but pretty funny, so why not? Did I miss something?


Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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Hm. I actually thought that you were concerned about it being somehow derogatory towards the French, but I can't imagine anyone other then the chronically offended being bothered by that. Mostly, it made me think of the Monty Python 'Crunchy Frog' sketch, which is sort of gross... but pretty funny, so why not? Did I miss something?

Nope, you didn't miss anything. That was the joke and the concern. I'm a lifelong fan of Mel Brooks movies and Monty Python movies/sketches. There was a time when most people had the ability to laugh at themselves and you could make jokes without having to run them through a large set of filters to make sure it was okay. Those days are sadly long gone and many people are on constant lookout to be offended or offended on someone elses behalf. So I try to find a better set of filters than my own when I think I might be walking a line. My sense of humor may be questionable but my intent isn't mean in nature. I wouldn't even have brought it up if I wasn't considering forcing my friends to try the drink. :biggrin:


It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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Name doesn't particularly bother me but my sense of humor is generally described by most of my friends as decidedly different so that may not mean much...

So what proportions do you use in "the drink formerly known as the Salty Frog" and is their a way to make it without salt infused gin which you noted was fun but unnecessary? Use a "pinch" of salt instead?

Noting of course that "pinch" is another one of those measures that is sufficiently vague as to not be all that helpful.


If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man. ~Mark Twain

Some people are like a Slinky. They are not really good for anything, but you still can't help but smile when you shove them down the stairs...

~tanstaafl2

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So what proportions do you use in "the drink formerly known as the Salty Frog" and is their a way to make it without salt infused gin which you noted was fun but unnecessary? Use a "pinch" of salt instead?

It was just 2 1/2 oz gin, 1/2 oz lillet, 2 dashes grapefruit bitters and the salty gin added 1 drop at a time until I was happy with where the salt was sitting in the mix. I think it ended up at 3 or 4 drops. I'd have to do it again and keep a better count. I gave it a good twist of grapefruit zest in the glass and that was it. I would say it would be a small pinch of salt if doing it that way but I have no idea what an actual measure would be. I was shooting for "salt?!", not "salt!!". I don't think going to extremes of precision is going to mean much with this one... it's not anything special.


It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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I must disagree with Mr. Sam in his assertion that punny drink names are a bad idea...if they are done right. My colleague at Fino is one with such a knack, although he doesn't always inflict them on the menu. In fact I got a message from him just last night, relating to me how he subbed Wray & Nepher OP for the Smith & Cross in the Savoy's Millionaire #1 recently rotated onto the menu), resulting in a "Slumdog Millionaire". He's also been responsible for such great names as the "Manhattan de la Mancha" (the restaurant is Spanish-influenced) and "Negroni, Please" and although he didn't come up with naming a cock-tail made with Wray & Nepher OP and rock candy syrup a "Kingston Crack Den" he was the first to see if it tasted good.

Of course you have to be careful about the ones you unleash on the public...of the above only the Manhattan de la Mancha was so honored. Don't want anybody getting the idea that reading the cocktail menu is a series of groans.


Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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It's okay, I've already come to the conclusion that I'll probably fail miserably as a serious cocktail person so I might as well go the class clown route. While I want to learn as much as possible about the craft aspect of cocktails and I want to make every effort to make drinks as well as I can within the scope of what is attainable to work with where I live, I also, as in my cooking, want it to be fun. :biggrin:


Edited by Tri2Cook (log)

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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