Warm weather in the Willamette Valley makes me crave cool drinks. I was raised in an alcohol-free home, and have only recently discovered the joys of adult beverages. I bought a book on cocktails during my last trip to Powell's, a book which has already yielded a couple of tasty treats.
I was initially turned off from cocktails because the first few I tried tasted more like alcohol than anything else. A couple of trips with Dave to the neighborhood bar have convinced me that cocktails can be quite delicious. I'm a sucker for anything citrus. Give me a lemon drop and a basket of fish and chips and I'm set for the evening.
House and Garden's Drink Guide (published in 1973) is a fantastic book for a guy who knows almost nothing about liquor. (I do know that I like Scotch, but that's about it.)
The first seventy-five pages (!) of the Drink Guide are devoted to explaining the history and science behind cocktails. Chapter titles include "What Every Drink Maker Should Know", "Spirits and Wines — What They Are and How to Use Them", and "What Drinks to Serve When". The book is a pleasure to read because it's so damned earnest: this was the era of serious cocktails and serious cocktail drinkers.
Mixing good drinks deftly and easily is a skill that not only affords a host a fine sense of accomplishment but gives guests a great deal of pleasure. It is a skill worth having, one that enhances hospitality and can make jovial a gathering of any size.
There are handy lists of drink measurements (such as jigger and pony), proper glasses, spirits for a well-stocked bar, garnishments and flavorings, and various types of mixers. There are short histories on brandy, champagne, rum, port, vodka, and whiskey. There's a small wine section.
Here's the two-page spread illustrating the various types of drink glasses (click on a page to open a larger image in a new window):
Browsing through the 850+ recipes in the Drink Guide, the Gin Fizz caught my eye. "Let's try it!" Kris said eagerly. And so we did. It's a little bomb of effervescent citrusy goodness. Here's the recipe (with extended text):
from House and Garden's Drink Guide (1973)
Fizzes, which are popular drinks in the late morning and afternoon, are usually served in highball glasses. They are made from liquor, citrus juices and sugar, shaken with ice. The mixture is strained into glasses which are then filled with club soda or other carbonated drink, including champagne. Egg, both yolk and white, is used in some fizzes.
Perhaps the best-known of these drinks is the Gin Fizz. There are many versions of it, but following is the classic recipe.
3 ounces gin
1 tablespoon superfine sugar
2 tablespoons [fresh] lemon juice
1 tablespoon [fresh] lime juice
3 or 4 ice cubes
Combine all ingredients except the soda in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously. Strain into a [12 oz] highball glass and fill with soda. Serves one.
Brandy Fizz: Use brandy instead of gin.
Holland Gin Fizz: Substitute Holland gin for standard dry gin.
Scotch Fizz: Use Scotch instead of gin. [This sounds awful, and I love Scotch.]
Silver Fizz: Add the white of an egg. [Why?]
Golden Fizz: Add the yolk of an egg. [Why?]
Bootleg Fizz: Add the white of an egg and a sprig of mint.
Cream Fizz: Add 2 teaspoons heavy cream.
Alabama Fizz: Add a sprig of mint.
I love that "serves one". The book lists a four full pages of other Fizz recipes. Maybe I'll try them all by the time I'm sixty.
Now that I've made several gin fizzes, I can ad-lib a little. By this I mean that I do not measure the citrus juice. Generally I do the following:
- Roll a lemon on the countertop to free the juice.
- Do the same with a lime.
- Split each fruit in two and squeeze their juices into the cocktail shaker.
(Here's a little secret: if you like citrus juice, this drink is damn good even without the club soda.)
Mickey Finn's, the pub at which we sometimes play trivia, makes a tasty little concoction they call a lemon drop. I'm not sure what's in it, but a little digging on the web revealed a couple of recipes, the most likely of which seems to be this:
Sacramento Lemon Drop
3 oz. Absolut Citron vodka (chilled)
1/2 oz. sweet vermouth
2 tbsp. superfine sugar
Juice of 5 lemons (fresh and ripe)
Mix all the ingredients in a shaker. Shake vigorously with cracked ice. Dip the rim of a chilled martini glass into some superfine sugar. Pour strained liquor glass. (Dave, the Drink Master, suggests triple sec instead of vermouth.)
Kris' favorite drink can only be found at Caprial's Bistro. They call it a Metropolitan. We suspect that it's like a Cosmopolitan, but made with grapefruit juice instead of cranberry juice.
I've e-mailed Caprial's. They're going to look up the recipe and e-mail me on Monday or Tuesday. (How cool is that?) I'll post the recipe next week.
Aimee, who inspired this entry, forwarded the following recipe. "Try this on a hot day," she says.
Blended Vodka Daiquiris with Lime and Mint
3-1/2 cups ice cubes
1 cup frozen limeade concentrate (do not thaw)
3/4 cup vodka
1/3 cup fresh mint leaves
Blend the first four ingredients in a blender until mixture has a
smooth, slushy texture. Divide among six champagne flutes or slender
glasses. (This is a must! It makes it more fun to drink the daiquiri in
fits and starts.) Garnish with a sprig of mint.
Tune in next time when we may (or may not) explore the gentle art of smoking.
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