Monday, April 28, 2014

Cocktails - Two to Know Today

Happy Monday! If you're anything like me, you're wishing pretty hard that this was Friday, and that instead of having a work-week ahead of you, you were just a few hours away from kicking off your shoes and hitting the booze. To help ease you out of your weekend debauchery and to give you a CTB (cold-tasty-beverage) to look forward to next weekend, today we turn to cocktails.

Right off the bat, let me admit that many of you will find this information very, well, basic. These aren't any crazy cocktails, and are probably among the first few a real 'mixologist' (is there a less pretentious word I can use here? I can't say that without hating myself a little bit...) will learn. That said, I personally have always been a craft beer guy (the last time I could call myself a 'liquor' guy was in college, when a 'cocktail' was rum and diet coke). Recently, however, I've gotten a taste for good whiskey, which has in turn developed into a taste for well-mixed cocktails, and I've begun to take it upon myself to learn to mix my own.

This weekend, my girlfriend and I mixed up two essentials, although each is essential in it's own unique fashion.

The Classic Old Fashioned:
The first was my favorite cocktail, at least at this point, the Classic Old Fashioned. First, a bit of background, that I found particularly interesting: Old Fashioneds used to just be ordered as 'whiskey cocktails.' In fact, it was basically the only cocktail made from whiskey, so merely by ordering a cocktail, that's watcha got. Then the Manhattan was introduced, and a few of the other more classic whiskey drinks, and people started having to be more specific. If that original mix is what they wanted, they had to ask for the 'Old Fashioned' whiskey cocktail (not one of those new-fangled things all the kids were drinking those days). Just an interesting tidbit. With that behind us, let me share my recipe:

An Old Fashioned, if done right, is an incredibly simple drink to make. Sure, there are tons of variations and twists, but the real deal, the original champ, consists of just a few ingredients:

Sugar Cube & Club Soda (or Simple Syrup)
2-3 Dashes Angostura Bitters
2 oz. Bourbon or Rye Whiskey
1 Orange Twist

To mix the cocktail, start with a tumbler (or rocks glass, whatever you prefer to call it). Splash just enough club soda over the sugar cube to dissolve the sugar (it won't dissolve in alcohol, so making sure it dissolves now is very important. For a little less fuss, you can use a splash of simple syrup to taste (I went this route this weekend, .

Next, add 2-3 dashes of bitters (to taste).

If you're going to add ice, do it now. I prefer one large ice cube, as it provides a very slow and steady dilution while chilling the drink quite fast, but I'm stuck with my refrigerator ice-maker. No biggie, but smaller cubes = more water. If you want chilled with minimal dilution, you can mix this in a shaker and then strain the ice, but that is not very traditional.

Anyway, add 2 oz. of whiskey over the ice (I prefer bourbon for something a tad sweeter, but Rye is considered a traditional ingredient as well).

Garnish with an orange peel (you can squeeze it to get some of those citrus-y oils mixed in). Stir lightly and enjoy.

Now, I've read some traditionalists who say there is no muddled fruit, no vermouth, no maraschino cherries, but I had a drink this weekend with all of those that was quite tasty. Perhaps not a real Old Fashioned, but hey, if it tastes good...I'm not complaining.

The finished product.

Editor's Note: Along the lines of variations, by far the best Old Fashioned I have ever had was crafted at Rhine Hall in Chicago. A brandy distillery, they use their fantastic apple brandy in place of the bourbon...I'm not sure how the rest of the recipe varies but holy hell that's one tasty drink.

Cucumber Gin Fizz:
For today's second cocktail, we're doing a quick 180. Where the Old Fashioned is a bit hearty and a bit manly, hopefully we'll soon be sipping drinks pool-side and will need something much lighter and more refreshing - and lady-pleasing (although I'm not trying to insinuate that the gals won't enjoy the whiskey as well). For that, my all-time favorite (and not-so-coincidentally my girlfriend's, as well) is the cucumber gin fizz. I have no idea if that is the official name, but I'm sticking with it. Because it just makes sense.

This one takes a bit more prep, between slicing and peeling and muddling the produce, but is still relatively simple. You'll need:

Fresh Mint
3 Cucumber Slices
1/2 oz. Simple Syrup
2 oz. Hendrick's Gin
Limes (or 1/2-1 oz. lime juice)
Club Soda

First, take about 4-5 leaves of mint and two peeled slices of cucumber and muddle them thoroughly in a shaker. Next, add the liquids: you'll use about 1/2 oz simple syrup, 1/2-1 oz lime juice (depending on taste), and 2 oz gin. We prefer Hendrick's, since it's already infused with cucumbery goodness, but we suppose other gins will suffice. Add a handful of ice and shake vigorously for about a minute. This will not only get everything nice and cold, but will also really get all of those cucumber and mint juices mixed into the cocktail.

Fill a highball cocktail glass about halfway with ice, and strain the cocktail over the ice. Top with club soda and a un-peeled cucumber slice garnish. Sip, and relax.

The finished product.
As far as this drink goes, variations will be plenty, and will all probably be freakin' fantastic. Some with vodka, some skip the lime or mint, some have pureed cucumber mixed in, and every one that I've had has hit the spot.

No comments:

Post a Comment