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slkinsey

Essential Cocktails

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One often hears it said that there are certain dishes that every cook who aspires to a certain proficiency should master as a fundamental (the classic French omelette, for example). For someone who admires cocktails, would like to have a well-rounded knowledge about properly formulating and presenting them, and would like to create his/her own in the future, is there a certain repertoire of cocktails that you think every mixologist should master? Again, I'd be interested in hearing from both of you, and why.

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Okay, I've been mulling this question, and although I'll probably never be satified with my answer, here's a stab at it.

In Joy of Mixology I divide most drinks into families--some of them already established, some of my own making. I went through each family, and selected one or two drinks from the families that I think are important. I have a family of Jelly Shots (fresh ingredients and unflavored gelatin) for instance, but I don't think it's necessary for a bartender to know how to make them, so I didn't list any from that family. Here's what I came up with, along with short explanations as to why I chose them:

The Champagne Cocktail. No explanation needed (I hope)

Godfather/Rusty Nail: Examples of drinks with a spirit modified with a liqueur

Black Russian/White Russian/Mudslide: White Russian being a Black Russian with cream, and a Mudslide is a Black Russian with Irish Cream liqueur. I find the relationship between these drinks interesting, and it points out how to vary one cocktail to come up with a new one.

Dry Gin Martini: spirit modified with dry vermoutrh.

Manhattan: spirit modified with sweet vermouth (and bitters, I hope)

Blood & Sand: scotch, sweet vermouth, orange juice, and cherry brandy (usually equal amounts). A great example of odd flavors that work well together. Just threw that one in since we made one for a friend on Sunday night, and since we had a bottle opened, we used Johnnie Walker Blue. Delicious. Mardee immediately gave it a new name: The Blue Blood and Sand.

Mint Julep: Obvious.

Mojito: Obvious*

Caipirinha: Obvious*

*In both these drinks I prefer to use granulated sugar instead of simple syrup. The sugar abrades the zest of the limes as you muddle, and adds a freshness to the drink.

Negroni: A classic that everyone should be able to make.

Old-Fashioned: I prefer Old-Fashioneds with muddled fruit, though some purists insist on no fruit. Here's a drink that makes you muddle, and points up why bitters are so important. It's also interesting to vary the fruit--try overripe peaches, for instance.

Bloody Mary. I know--I hate Bloody Marys! I never had any complaints about them when I worked behind the bar, though--I simply listened to my customers and made them accordingly.

Whiskey Sour: Bartenders should grasp the concept of sours--spirit, citrus, and sugar (usually simple syrup)--and be able to balance same.

Daiquiri: as above.

Aviation: A sour that utilizes a liqueur instead of sugar.

Twentieth Century Cocktail: as above.

Margarita/Sidecar/Cosmo: Sours that utilize triple sec as a sweetener.

Tom Collins: A carbonated Sour.

Singapore Sling: A complicated carbonated Sour!

Pina Colada: Just because . . .

Bartenders should probably have a few more tropical drinks under their belts, too, but it's a category that I need to learn more about, so I'll leave it at that.

Comments/questions welcome. What did I leave out?

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Mojito: Obvious*

Caipirinha: Obvious*

*In both these drinks I prefer to use granulated sugar instead of simple syrup. The sugar abrades the zest of the limes as you muddle, and adds a freshness to the drink.

Definitely agree with the granulated sugar. The best Mojito I've ever had used granulated sugar.

How do you think something less refined like sugar in the raw would work in this?

SML

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I've had Caipirinhas made with lumps of raw, brownish sugar that were fantastic. The caramel and vanilla notes from the rawer sugar complemented the cachaca flavors very well.

regards,

trillium

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I'm not a big fan of brown sugar, except sometimes in Irish Coffee. It's just a personal thing.

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I read Gary's reply with interest. As a bartender, I think that once you have the skills, you need only the most basic knowledge of drink recipes. Here are the bare bones (as taught to me by the Texas School of Bartenders; quantities often differ.)

Martinis: 2 oz. gin/vodka, sweet/dry vermouth depending on the boozer's preference.

Short Sours: 9 oz. rocks glass, 1.5 oz. of the base liquor, fill the rest with Sweet and Sour.

(Many, many drinks such as a Cape Cod or Screwdriver start with 1.5 oz. of liquor... vodka in this case... and fill the rest with the mixer)

Whenever somebody orders a liquor straight up, it's 1.5 oz. (anybody else have thoughts on that?)

Your teas (the most famous being the Long Island, which you top with Sweet and Sour and a splash of Coke in a highball glass): 1/2 oz. each of Vodka, Gin, Rum Tequila, Triple Sec.

Margaritas: most basically, 1.5 oz. tequila, Fill with Sweet and Sour, float some Grand Mariner or some other orange liqueur on top.

Your Collins', which are essentially whatever alcohol (gin for Tom, vodka for Sally, bourbon for John, etc) and fill with Sweet and Sour.

White/Black Russians and Irish Coffee.

Bloody Mary's, Cosmopolitans, Sour Apple Martinis...

Don't bother with memorizing shooters, unless it's something very popular where you are (such as Sex on the Beach). I recommend using anagrams to remember (VMCOP).

And, as always, keep that bartending cheat book handy. I strongly reccommend one that lists the drinks alphabetically instead of by liquors; it's faster than looking it up in the index.

I'm at Isaac Hayes' restaurant and club in Memphis. Stop by some time. Happy drinking!

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Great lists - thank you!

This will seem a really stupid question, but what is "Sweet and Sour"? I've often enjoyed whiskey sours made with Sour Mix (thanks to a great bartender at the Oak Room (Bar?) at the Plaza, NYC, who faced with my snooty European freshly-squeezed-lemon-juice demands, said "Just try it - you'll like it". And I did. Very much in fact!

However, most bars I went to in Manhattan (Bemelsmans at the Carlyle, 58/58 at the Four Seasons for example) made their own sour mixes. And the range of commercial sour mixes is far too daunting for a foreigner. How would one go about mixing one's own? Is it lime juice, lemon juice and sugar or sugar syrup? Will it keep? Lemon juice oxidizes so quickly. What's the secret? :)

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Sweet and Sour is the same thing as Sour Mix.

Fresh is always best. :wub:

Robert/DrinkBoy shared a great recipe that I'll happily pass along here:

Sour Mix:

1 part Simple Syrup

1 part (fresh) lemon and/or lime juice

Directions: Mix, Bottle, Use.

Simple Syrup:

2 parts sugar

1 part water

Directions: Heat water to simmering, stir in sugar, dissolve fully, remove

from heat, bottle.

I rarely make Sour Mix, but always have Simple Syrup on hand. That way I can

easily make up a drink that would need sour mix by just combining the two

ingredients on a per-drink basis. For home use, any decent amount of sour mix

will go bad before you have a chance to use it. But simple syrup will keep

almost indefinately in the refrigerator, and if you add a couple shots of

vodka to a pint of syrup, it will also keep on the shelf.

-Robert

www.DrinkBoy.com

http://www.webtender.com/iforum/message.cg...5&hili=sour+mix

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alice -

First, congrats on landing a successful position in your new home. (I remember your post a ways back in the Cocktail forum). :cool: I should be in Memphis the first part of May for a fantastic five course degustation from a good friend and amazing chef. We'll stop by and say a hello. :smile:

Back to business at hand! I've never heard of a Sally Collins, but then in the years I've tended bar, I've only ever had two requests for a Collins -- one of which was the Vodka Collins. Learn something new every day, eh?!

Whenever somebody orders a liquor straight up, it's 1.5 oz. (anybody else have thoughts on that?)

Where I work our standard pour is 1 1/4 ounces. If a guest orders a Jack, straight up, neat they get a 1 1/4 ounce pour. If the guest instead orders the Jack, on the rocks, then the pour is increased by 1/4 ounce. "Historically" for us, if a guest orders a cocktail up (in a prechilled cocktail glass) then the pour was increased also by a 1/4 ounce for a total of a 1 1/2 ounce pour. However, now anything "up" has changed with the new cocktail glasses we have purchased which are much larger than the old ones.... :rolleyes:

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