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Cocktail Evangelism


DrinkBoy
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Just stumbled onto this site/forum yesterday, and after browsing through many of the posts, I must say that I am impressed and encouraged by the level of cocktail knowledge and enthusiasm shown here. So I thought I'd quickly dive in, introduce myself, and start participating.

I view cocktails as a cuisine, with all of the artistry of flavors that this implies. Far too many bartenders, and their customers, are clueless about what a real cocktail is, and what it takes to make one properly. Sidecars and Margaritas made with Sour mix... Old Fashioneds topped off with Soda... Manhattans made without bitters... each of these are examples of the sad state of cocktails that I run across on a regular basis.

Here in Seattle, I do notice that things are slowly starting to change. I am running into more bartenders who at least show an "interest" in trying to understand cocktails better, even if they don't currently have the proper background knowledge to be able to execute on it. One of my favorite joints is the Zig Zag Cafe (www.ZigZagCafe.net) down by the Pike Place Market, and I know I can always get a good cocktail down there regardless of which bartender is working.

-Robert Hess

www.DrinkBoy.com

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Hi Robert.

emmerlee sent me here. Glad to see a familiar 'face' and welcome. Gosh I love Webtender, but lately.... I think there is much to enjoy here and glad to see you've joined as I know you will be a fabulous contributor!

lynn

p.s. Don't you wish we were better web surfers to have discovered eGullet earlier than we have? Especially to have participated in the Dale DeGroff Q&A!!!!!! :rolleyes:

Edited by beans (log)
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Welcome DrinkBoy! Since you're in Seattle, it's too bad you just missed my last eGullet cocktail party. It was a lot of fun and I would have enjoyed hearing your take on some of the cocktails I served and what your favorites are.

I completely agree about the sad state of cocktails in general, especially in restaurants - even at the high end. Everything is mixed too sweet and nobody stocks Maraschino behind the bar :angry: . I've given up trying to order most older classic cocktails and tend to stick to the "house specials" menu if they have one. And don't get me started on all the flavored "Martinis". A Martini is gin (no, not vodka) and dry vermouth - any thing else is a cocktail, NOT a martini.

I haven't been to the Zig Zag, but another place I've found the bartender to be interested in higher standards and at least willing to try new recipes is the Capitol Club. Fun place, and they have a second floor veranda that's nice in the summer. And he actually knows what a French 75 is :cool:. Brasa also does a pretty good job, though I haven't tested the bartender with an "off menu" order.

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And don't get me started on all the flavored "Martinis". A Martini is gin (no, not vodka) and dry vermouth - any thing else is a cocktail, NOT a martini.

Robert will surely enjoy this. :biggrin: As we all know any bar worth its salt does not have Rose's Lime juice in its stock!!

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Welcome indeed, Robert! Great to see you here, especially since the DrinkBoy boards have fallen off of my regular browsing schedule since I found egullet. Hopefully your expertise will get many a lively cocktail thread going here!

Looking forward to seeing more from you!

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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As we all know any bar worth its salt does not have Rose's Lime juice in its stock!!

I absolutely beg to differ, as do several others here (Rose's lime/gimlet thread). While it is true that Rose's is not a substitute for fresh lime, it is essential in the gimlet.

That being said, it's nice to see a few new cocktail lovers here.

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Far too many bartenders, and their customers, are clueless about what a real cocktail is, and what it takes to make one properly. Sidecars and Margaritas made with Sour mix... Old Fashioneds topped off with Soda... Manhattans made without bitters... each of these are examples of the sad state of cocktails that I run across on a regular basis.

Welcome!

Most of my cocktail books list bitters as "optional" for Manhattans, and although I add them to mine, I've always thought it was more traditional without them. What I find disturbing is that 95% of the Manhattans made in the world today are made with bourbon rather than rye.

You are right about the state of cocktails and bartenders...it's sad. The low point for me was ordering a gimlet and hearing the bartender ask, "That's with an onion, right?"

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I've grown to enjoy the fresh squeezed lime juice with a dash of simple syrup.

Maybe Robert would care to discourse on this in more depth, but my reaction to the suggestion of fresh lime with a dash of simple syrup is that it would do serious damage to the mouthfeel of the underlying cocktail.

Part of my unified theory of cocktails is that any cocktail that uses fresh citrus juice requires a healthy counterbalancing dose of a syrupy ingredient like triple sec, maraschino, other more obscure liqueurs, or simple syrup. A dash of simple syrup would leave the underlying gimlet downright astringent and unpleasant to drink. At least one made with east coast market limes.

Edited by cdh (log)

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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Hi cdh. Robert was the one that has turned me onto the lime and simple syrup, although he has, I think, admitted to using Rose's for gimlets. It's all a matter of personal preference, but pouring out gallons of the sticky, sugary goo for several seasons of making endless margaritas I have grown to dislike Rose's on the whole.

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.....

What I find disturbing is that 95% of the Manhattans made in the world today are made with bourbon rather than rye.

.....

I would guess that the majority are made with blended whikey.

-- Jeff

"I don't care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members." -- Groucho Marx

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.....

What I find disturbing is that 95% of the Manhattans made in the world today are made with bourbon rather than rye.

.....

I would guess that the majority are made with blended whikey.

Another reason to always call your liquor.

"Yes. I'd like a Maker's Mark Perfect Manhattan on the rocks w/ a cherry, please." (Of course, prefaced by, "What brand of vermouth do you have?")

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Wow... lots of replies already...

Re: Dale DeGroff... Sorry I missed this little Q&A Exchange. Dale is a friend of mine, and definately is a great resource. He was in Seattle a few months back as part of his book tour, and I took him out to a sampling of some of Seattle's bars. The Zig Zag wasn't quite opened for business yet, but we did stop in and chat with the owners for a while before starting out. We went to Il Bistro to chat with Murray (who now works at the Zig Zag), then off to Oliver's, Vivanda, and Mona's. It was a great evening.

If you get Food Arts magazine (or can find the June issue at the newstands) you can read about a recent "Jerry Thomas Tribute" event that was held in New York with Dale, Gary Regan, myself, and a few others serving drinks to the attendees. Dale did the "Blue Blazer" and put on a wonderful show.

Re: Martini's... 3 parts gin, 1 part dry vermouth, dash orange bitters, stirred, garnished with a twist... thank-you-very-much :->

Re: Captiol Club... I've gotten several recommendations to try them out... I need to.

Re: Gimlet... yes, the only cocktail in which it is appropriate to use Rose's lime juice. I -hate- it when I show a bartender a recipe for some drink that calls for "Lime Juice" and they immediately reach for the big bottle of Rose's that they have.

Re: The Manhattan & Bitters... bitters are not optional for a Manhattan, they are a required and necessary ingredient. It is only in the recent cocktail history that bartenders have started to omit them. I expect that some of this might come from a customer who tasted bitters "straight", and quickly decided that this was clearly not somethign they wanted in their cocktail. Bitters play the same sort of role in a cocktail as salt does in a soup... ok, not the "same" role, but a similar role. Your soup shouldn't taste "salty", but if you left the salt out it would taste wrong.

It is very important to note that prior to prohibition, virtually ALL cocktails included the use of bitters. The first "cocktail" that didn't use bitters was the "Lone Tree" (~1900), which was specifically invented as a "challenge" to create a cocktail that didn't need to use bitters.

Re: Rye/Bourbon Manhattan... Part of the reason that Bourbon is more common than Rye for Manhattan's (and Old Fashioneds, and Sazeracs, and...) is that Rye has unfortunately been the "forgotten child" ever since prohibition was over. Prior to prohibition Rye was the "common" whiskey, but the American distillers switched to Bourbon for the majority of their product since people were pretending that Canadian Whisky was rye... (which it isn't)... When I go to a bar, and ask for a Manhattan, my eye's light up if the bartender asks me if I want it with Bourbon or Rye... but 9 times out of 10, I then get a rude awakening when they reach for a bottle of Canadian Whisky... :-<

Re: Gimlet... yes, the use of fresn lime juice and simple syrup does result in a very good Gimlet, but you do need to use enough sweetener to balance out the sour. Equal parts is what I normally use. Since I don't even have any Rose's at home, that is the way I have to make a Gimlet.

...ok, I think that covers all of the issues that I wanted to be sure to reply to!

-Robert

www.DrinkBoy.com

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Welcome to eGullet, Robert.

BTW, I'm still carrying your PocketPC drink list with me. It's come in handy a few times when I've encountered a curious & not-so-busy bartender. (I've received more than my share of free drinks that way!)

Are you still keeping that up-to-date? (I can't get to your site right now. "Bad request" error.)

Cheers!

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Hi cdh.  Robert was the one that has turned me onto the lime and simple syrup, although he has, I think, admitted to using Rose's for gimlets.  It's all a matter of personal preference, but pouring out gallons of the sticky, sugary goo for several seasons of making endless margaritas I have grown to dislike Rose's on the whole.

Second things first... do you mean to say that you worked someplace that used Rose's in its margaritas? Ewwwwww. That unfortunate mixture has been foisted off on me a couple of times... Ewwwww.

And first things second... Is a drink with fresh lime and simple syrup and gin really a gimlet? sounds more like a gin daquiri to me... not what I think of as a gimlet.

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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Hi cdh. First dacquiris are not made with gin. My gimlets are vodka because I still have yet to grow that acquired appreciation for drinking something similar to my Christmas tree! (Although Tanq 10 doesn't seem that way, but I wouldn't dare add anything other than ice for that one!)

Next, Rose's was the sole flavouring agent where we made those margs. That lovely soda gun pumped out a fair amount of sour mix to boot.

Cheers y'all!

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Just stumbled onto this site/forum yesterday . . .

-Robert Hess

www.DrinkBoy.com

I often hang out in Robert's forum (the DrinkBoy community at MSN) and apparently stumbled onto this site just a couple days before him (5/28). That made me wonder if we happened to follow the same path to get here and I had to go back and trace it. I got here from a little link down at the bottom of a recent (but still a month old) Slate article about menu lingo. That took me to the amazing El Bulli article here at eGullet, a few more great articles from the front page, and on to the forums. Of course, the Spirits and Cocktails forum is the first one I checked!

Rodney

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...wonder if we happened to follow the same path to get here...

The way I "stumbled" over here, was doing a google search of "Paul Harrington". I was checking to see if "http://www.Bar.tv" came up on the search, since this is a semi-new website that he's been (or used to?) be providing some content for. It is an "interesting" site, perhaps a little over-designed, and definately isn't getting any buzz at all.

-Robert

www.DrinkBoy.com

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