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February 11, 2012 9:15 PM   Subscribe

Constitutions of Classic Cocktails - A single image that charts the ingredients of many well loved drinks.
posted by quin (61 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
uhh, this is utterly useless.
posted by arveale at 9:18 PM on February 11, 2012 [23 favorites]


Lillet isn't a fortified wine?
posted by kenko at 9:18 PM on February 11, 2012


It may be because I'm on a mobile browser, but this is completely illegible for me.
posted by Captain Cardanthian! at 9:30 PM on February 11, 2012


This is actually a sobriety aid; you can only have a drink if you can first figure from this chart what's in it.
posted by 2bucksplus at 9:30 PM on February 11, 2012 [11 favorites]


Here's the link to buy a print of the poster.
posted by nicebookrack at 9:31 PM on February 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


The glassware section is completely unnecessary, given my extensive collection of Riedel glassware posters.
posted by mek at 9:46 PM on February 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's a nice idea horribly executed. Perhaps it's meant to stare at, but it certainly isn't meant to be useful.
posted by hippybear at 9:58 PM on February 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hello guys, someone didn't get the memo that design makes things all cool and stuff.
posted by threeants at 10:11 PM on February 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


If you're putting your scotch in a cocktail, you have scotch that isn't worth drinking.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:16 PM on February 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


It is a single picture, but it's 3500*5074 pixels.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:21 PM on February 11, 2012


I think the chart says I'm drinking a Horse's Neck, minus the lemon peel. Good drink for new MLP day.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:23 PM on February 11, 2012


Does anyone have a good youtube or step by step for idiots for how to make one of those lemon twists?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:27 PM on February 11, 2012


Shit, this is almost as unreadable as the cover to the ironically named Information is Beautiful.

I hate plots that are circular for no discernible reason, when a vanilla fucking X-Y plot or table would actually be intelligible.
posted by benzenedream at 10:30 PM on February 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Pop Chart Labs also produced diagrams of Apple products, types of beer, rap names, heavy metal(s) and superpowers.

I've got to say, though, I appreciate that combinatorics are hard to visualize, but the cocktails one is the worst infographic of the lot. I'd love to see a better take on it...
posted by rh at 10:33 PM on February 11, 2012


You people are grumps who hate everything. The image is perfectly readable and usable. I'm disappointed at the lack of a (Richmond) Gimlet, but otherwise: nicely done.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 10:42 PM on February 11, 2012


I've been out of the loop for a couple of dacades but absinthe is about the 4th largest component in modern day cocktail preparation? Really?
posted by bonobothegreat at 10:48 PM on February 11, 2012


Probably still on the fashionable side in the US since it hasn't been legal that long.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:01 PM on February 11, 2012


I actually thought this was pretty cool. Maybe not 100% accurate or perfectly executed, but still pretty interesting.

But perhaps I'm too alcohol-ignorant to get sufficiently worked up over the errors and/or misrepresentations.
posted by johnstein at 11:30 PM on February 11, 2012


As soon as I saw the term "classic cocktails" in the title, I knew that Gin would be the main attraction, and vodka would be a mere blip on the radar. Back in my booze-snobbery days, when I fancied myself as an honorary member of the Algonquin Round Table or rubbing elbows with Nick and Nora Charles, gin was in. I suspect a chart of "currently popular cocktails" would be dominated by vodka, with gin making occasional appearances.

It's gotten to the point nowadays that one has to specifically request gin over vodka, even if gin is (or should be) the default liquor. For example, I find that I have to specify a "gin gimlet" in order to avoid vodka. Ordering a Tom Collins follows a similar script. Most depressing of all is that the venerated Martini has been bastardized beyond all recognition, to the point that anything served in a cocktail glass ought to have the suffix "ini" in its name.

Now bartender, can you please make me a vodka tonic, but with gin instead?
posted by ShutterBun at 11:34 PM on February 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


Vodka drinks aren't cocktails. They're just fruit juices that get teenagers drunk.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:50 PM on February 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


I don't see the Old Fashioned on here anywhere.
posted by Phssthpok at 12:04 AM on February 12, 2012


Uh, just follow Bourbon to the right. It's directly below "Sidecar." (how hard was that?)
posted by ShutterBun at 12:12 AM on February 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is nice and all, but when it comes down to the roll, isn't it your Constitution vs the cocktail's Strength?
posted by darksasami at 12:23 AM on February 12, 2012 [4 favorites]


I dunno, *hic*, my charisma score seems unusually high for some reason...
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:28 AM on February 12, 2012


For one brief, terrifying moment I thought that the horizontal martini glasses on this chart were op-amps, that most vile circuit element, and that I had spent my years making cocktails very wrong indeed.
posted by Schismatic at 2:25 AM on February 12, 2012


See also The Evolution of the Cocktail, which groups cocktails into a tree structure based on the ingredients they contain.
posted by James Scott-Brown at 2:33 AM on February 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


MetaFilter: grumps who hate everything.
posted by HuronBob at 3:03 AM on February 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Some cocktails are unconstitutional.
posted by twoleftfeet at 3:45 AM on February 12, 2012


So I've been examining this chart for a while but I see no connexions between chilled gin, vermouth, olive brine, and a Mr. Grumpy coffee mug, what gives?
posted by tumid dahlia at 4:43 AM on February 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I see no tequila.
posted by theredpen at 4:44 AM on February 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, yay. Yet another "I haz Illustrator, little data, and no clue how to communicate clearly" infographic.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:56 AM on February 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


By following arcs very carefully, I was able to learn what goes into a gin and tonic.
posted by Wolfdog at 5:02 AM on February 12, 2012 [8 favorites]


Bartenders are needless. At each booth we've installed a touch screen and a convenient user interface so you can tap out the ingredients for the drink you want. Your request is translated into impulses that control the pumps and valves in the back room, and the perfect mixture is created according to your specifications. Your drink will arrive on the conveyor belt at your booth.
posted by twoleftfeet at 5:30 AM on February 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've been out of the loop for a couple of dacades but absinthe is about the 4th largest component in modern day cocktail preparation? Really?

Absinthe makes the heart grow fonder.
posted by kirkaracha at 5:47 AM on February 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


SHOCKING LACK OF CUCUMBER
posted by nathancaswell at 5:51 AM on February 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Absinthe makes the heart tart grow fonder.

Dowson had already FTFY.
posted by howfar at 5:56 AM on February 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Absinthe makes me fart harder.
posted by twoleftfeet at 6:05 AM on February 12, 2012


Finally a worthy replacement for my Old Mr. Boston Cocktail Recipe book!
posted by hal9k at 6:13 AM on February 12, 2012


Holy cow. That chart marries a rose/heat map/chart with a relationship chart, shoves into poster form, and can't decide if it's reference chart or a trends chart (neither of which either chart serves well). And then they present it in the worse possible way (condensed and unreadable; large and meaningless when focusing in on one section of the poster) to entice you..

And there are some good and/or interesting choices in there, but so much more importance is placed on the form (physical, design) than it is on the function (they chose chart forms suited for executive summaries and interactive data, and then put them to use in complex, data-rich, deeply inter-connected non-interactive subject worlds) that I'm not sure anyone would stick around long enough to notice them. So you end up with a poster people would want to buy primarily on it's visual merits, a narrower band of visual merits than may have been planned.

Also, I suddenly want a sloe gin fizz.
posted by julen at 7:56 AM on February 12, 2012


If you're putting your scotch in a cocktail, you have scotch that isn't worth drinking.

Go to Amherst Coffee, in Amherst, MA, after 3 pm (that's when the bar opens). Order a Scotch martini (bonus for you: it's got vodka in it!). I say this as a person who luuuuurves her smoky single malts: That cocktail almost made me cry, it was so good.
posted by rtha at 8:09 AM on February 12, 2012


Absinthe makes me fart harder.

Well you know what they say: Absinthes make the fart go longer.
posted by 2bucksplus at 8:54 AM on February 12, 2012


"Well stop kiddin', will you, and make us some drinks. You just press the button back there marked 'booze!' It's the only way to fly..."
posted by Graygorey at 9:43 AM on February 12, 2012


Gin only enjoyed a revival among bartenders who had waxes mustaches and created cocktails that tastes like somebody blended a fusion restaurant into a glass, who would respond to your request for a Manhattan by saying "I put my own special twist on it" and then would make it with pears and curry powder. I am hoping that this sort of "craft cocktail" movement is on the wane, because, while it offered some novelty, it consisted mostly of mediocre bartenders putting on airs, and produced very few decent -- or even reproducible -- drinks.

Gin never caught on again with the hoi polloi, and this is the ongoing, and bizarre, legacy of Prohibition. Americans lost their taste for savory cocktails, and lost their taste for the flavor of alcohol. Most drinkers prefer their drinks sweet and prefer the alcohol taste to be absent, which is why vodka is still the best-selling alcohol in America. And I don't blame people for not wanting vermouth in their drinks. Most bartenders use Martini and Rossi -- which is an unexceptional vermouth -- and then neglect to refrigerate it after opening it. While vermouth is a fortified wine, it is still a wine, and, after a while, degrades. So it doesn't taste very good to customers, and there is a reason for that -- it actually doesn't taste very good. Besides, vermouth is an acquired taste, as it is slightly tannin-y and herbal, a sort of fortified wine version of tea (which may be why it is much more popular in England. Americans will actually return martinis with vermouth in it, complaining that it tastes weird.

So most bars, when a martini is requested, will give a few shots of vodka in a martini glass with an olive, and that's it. Some will request a dirty martini, because at least the olive brine provides a little flavor. And this is how it has been my entire life, which is why I only order martinins at bars where I trust the bartender, and otherwise stick to drinks that people don't muck up.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:12 AM on February 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, I suddenly want a sloe gin fizz.

julen, you had me up until that last line.

Shudder. Memories of childhood medicine.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:32 AM on February 12, 2012


If you're putting your scotch in a cocktail, you have scotch that isn't worth drinking.
  1. Scotch-based cocktails typically use blended scotch which, on its own, is perhaps not great but works well in cocktails that are, you know, based upon it as a central ingredient.
  2. There seems to be a (very small) movement toward using single malts in cocktails. Auchentoshan, for example, suggests using their Three Wood in a Rob Roy before they suggest drinking it neat. They used to list a few other cocktails to use it in, but they seem to have removed from their website.
As much as I love single malts (especially smoky/peaty ones) straight-up, the idea of incorporating them into cocktails is actually really appealing to me. I have no idea how to do it well, and I'm kind of afraid to try because I don't want to ruin my scotch, but I am fascinated by the idea of cocktails that use single malt scotch.
posted by asnider at 12:21 PM on February 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


> I hate plots that are circular for no discernible reason, when a vanilla fucking X-Y plot or table would actually be intelligible.

... if every drink was made of exactly 2 ingredients.

Guys I really think it's not meant to be a recipe-book-in-a-poster. If that's what you were trying to get out of it then, yeah, it's horribly executed. If you would like to look up a cocktail by name and get a list of its ingredients, a good tool for this would a cocktail recipe book, several gazillion of which conveniently already exist.

I think the poster's interesting and worthwhile because you can see where different ingredient combinations intersect, or trace a line from an unusual ingredient to a random drink that contains it, or otherwise discover and explore different and new drinks and combinations. Looking at it this way is enjoyable. Viewing only its utility as a recipe book is probably not.
posted by churl at 12:38 PM on February 12, 2012


And this is how it has been my entire life, which is why I only order martinins at bars where I trust the bartender, and otherwise stick to drinks that people don't muck up.

Ladies and gentlemen, trust this man. I've seen him drink Jack & ginger on purpose.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:46 PM on February 12, 2012


The problem with this kind of visualization is that it emphasizes the complexity and the randomness of the ingredient combinations, but it's not very helpful if you try to understand the underlying order in a complicated thing. No-one looks at that tangle of lines and thinks, "Now I get it!".

What books like "The fine art of mixing drinks" do instead to make sense of the whole mess is that they simplify and categorize things, by making up new variables such as the "type" of the drink. Take gin/vodka/rum/tequila/brandy/bourbon and add lemon or lime juice and something else, get White Lady/Kamikaze/Daiquiri/Margarita/Sidecar/Whiskey Sour. Use vermouth or bitters instead for flavor to get Martini/Vodka Martini/Old Fashioned/Manhattan. Not all combinations work, and there's a huge number of drinks that do not fit into this simple model, but it's not all random either.
posted by ikalliom at 1:30 PM on February 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well you know what they say: Absinthes make the fart go longer.

No no no! The original saying was about the fact that the great strength of real absinthe, combined with the laxative effect of wormwood, meant that some of the alcohol passed all the way through the bowel. The quality of your absinthe could thus be tested by checking the flammability of your flatus.

Hence that old saw "Absinthe makes the fart glow stronger".
posted by howfar at 3:01 PM on February 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've seen him drink Jack & ginger on purpose.

Jameson and ginger. With a dash of bitters.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 5:20 PM on February 12, 2012


Back in the day, there was at least one copy of this on every floor of the engineering dorm, despite the fact that all we ever drank was beer (and cheap beer at that).
posted by Runes at 6:36 PM on February 12, 2012


Am I reading it wrong, or does this suggest a Sidecar should be made with bourbon?
posted by BT at 8:47 PM on February 12, 2012


> If you're putting your scotch in a cocktail, you have scotch that isn't worth drinking

People love to say this. It doesn't make it right though. Sure, you'd be an utter a-hole to put, say, Lagavulin in a cocktail. But this, this is what decent blended scotch is for. And I don't care what anyone says, both Rusty Nails and Bobby Burns are excellent, delicious winter drinks.

I think people who love to say smarmily this are contemplative-sipper-types almost exclusively, and haven't really delved into the world of good cocktails much. Which is fine But you don't know what you're talking about, that half of things.
posted by ifjuly at 5:53 AM on February 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


> I've been out of the loop for a couple of dacades but absinthe is about the 4th largest component in modern day cocktail preparation? Really?

I'm not that surprised, actually...a lot of the new mixology San Fran-Boston-NYC craft cocktail stuff uses absinthe, I've noticed, as a rinse or treated like a bitters garnish. Sort of taking a cue from Savoy-style vintage stuff, and the current love of NOLA vintage stuff, but updating it. At first this bummed me out when I got into trying a zillion different cocktails like this--despite my love of fennel/licorice flavors I'm not crazy about the stuff--but I came around. It really does give a lot of those drinks a certain magical edgy something that keeps them from falling flat.
posted by ifjuly at 5:58 AM on February 13, 2012


> Am I reading it wrong, or does this suggest a Sidecar should be made with bourbon?

Obviously it's not traditional, but that variation is pretty well known (IIRC Gary Regan mentions it, or Cocktail Chronicles or...someone like that). And, this will probably get me shot but, some people including myself prefer it (just to damn myself further, last week I was contemplating how brandy is seen as this classic and classy thing for cocktails but honestly, the way people go on about mixing scotch in cocktails is how I feel about brandy. It gets entirely lost and wasted whenever I mix with it, no matter how classic the drink recipe, and I end up with a disappointing pale shade of a drink and less brandy to enjoy in a snifter...I've decided to just stop mixing with it altogether).
posted by ifjuly at 6:05 AM on February 13, 2012


Speaking of Regan, Joy of Mixology is pretty good at deconstructing cocktail families. It's never going to be a bulletproof system, trying to classify drinks, since there's too many approaches (historical/contextual, ingredient, method, time of year, etc.), but it's pretty good and very clear. It's full of charts for groups like "Sours" with subgroups "International Sours", "New Orleans Sours", "Squirrel Sours", "Sparkling Sours"; "French-Italian Family" (base spirit + vermouth or aromatized wine + optional secondary liqueur or other spirit + optional bitters); "Duos and Trios" (base spirit + secondary spirit or liqueur + optional cream usually); "Highballs" with subsections "Florida" vs. "New England" etc. with grids for each specific drink--so you see the relation to a Dry Martini vs. a Gibson vs. a Dirty Martini vs. a Third Degree vs. a Vesper in one bracket by what aromatized wine is use, what garnish, etc., and then see how the Caricature, Martinez, and Allies are related, etc. Fun stuff. (BTW, if you own the book and are a member of the Chanticleer Society, they've been posted digitally since it's hard to keep the spine open to see them on a kitchen table.)
posted by ifjuly at 6:17 AM on February 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sure, you'd be an utter a-hole to put, say, Lagavulin in a cocktail.

I can't remember now which Islay the bartender at Amherst Coffee used in the Scotch martini, so it might've been Ardbeg or Laphroaig, but it was goddamn delicious.
posted by rtha at 6:31 AM on February 13, 2012


I've seen him drink Jack & ginger on purpose.

Jameson and ginger. With a dash of bitters.

The difference being, Bunny Ultramod, that Jameson is drinkable.

And the bitters.
posted by IAmBroom at 6:43 AM on February 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


rtha, I was just thinking while I was typing it that I've had Ardbeg cocktails that were amazing, ha. I guess I'm thinking of people mixing OJ with really amazing peaty scotch. Just seems...sad to me. (And yes, I know about the Blood and Sand.) I'm sure it can be done by really fantastic bartenders. But yeah, my overall point was just, I get the impetus behind the kneejerk "oh my god don't treat that scotch like some fratboy vodka mixer!!" but in these days of crazy and brilliant cocktail revival, it doesn't have to be like that. So really, we agree I think.
posted by ifjuly at 7:08 AM on February 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


Of Islay single malts, Smokehead is especially advertised as a component for cocktails. The bottler does not tell which distillery it comes from, but rumor says that it's a young Ardbeg or Caol Ila or Lagavulin even.
posted by ikalliom at 10:08 AM on February 13, 2012


Yeah, and Jim Meehan of PDT recently divulged in his book that they often use Compass Box Peat Monster Blended Scotch in cocktails. Sounds delish.
posted by ifjuly at 3:10 PM on February 13, 2012


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