For Lent, I'm Giving Up Not Drinking Cocktails - What About You?
February 13, 2002 8:41 AM   Subscribe

For Lent, I'm Giving Up Not Drinking Cocktails - What About You? I collect cocktail books but there are two web sites* that are just as good as the best bartender's bible. The first is Dale DeGroff's. The second, sadly discontinued but still invaluable, is Paul Harrington's. Both are very personal and reveal a deep knowledge and love of this quintessentially American and civilized art form. Cocktails may very well be the only truly democratic and universally accessible pastime. They can be made at home quite cheaply by anyone and be just as delicious as the very best served in the very best bar to the richest imbiber in the world. Not to mention their incredible Valentine's Day potential... so what's it to be, pal? *Webtender, Drinkboy and Esquire's cocktail guides pale by comparison
posted by MiguelCardoso (53 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Vodka tonics in the summer, Jack-and-Gingers in the winter. Weren't cocktails considered a vulgar, right into the 1930s?
posted by coelecanth at 8:49 AM on February 13, 2002

Cocktails may very well be the only truly democratic and universally accessible pastime.

All right, MC, I'm as big a fan of hyperbole as the next person, but I'm calling you out on that sentence. Card games, board games, hacky sack, and jumping rope are even more universally accessible than cocktails, and the last time I checked, at least some people considered them pastimes.

Also, I believe you're misusing "democratic". No one's voting, and we all know that the same cocktail has dramatically different effects on different people.

Gin and tonic, for the record.
posted by anapestic at 9:00 AM on February 13, 2002

Make mine a bloody mary, plenty of sherry and celery.
posted by jackiemcghee at 9:04 AM on February 13, 2002

Miguel... I... I...

I love you.

For straight up quaffing, nothing beats a nice fizzy vodka-tonic, with lime. But... you could do a LOT worse than a Boodles martini with twist OR a vodka gimlet. Use Finlandia for that last one.

Something regional from around here you might want to try: a VO "Press." Highball glass filled with ice, two jiggers VO, seltzer to the top, splash of sweet soda, lemon wedge. A nice little half-ass Yankee julip variant. Use any blended whiskey (7-Crown'll work) if VO's not your preference.
posted by UncleFes at 9:10 AM on February 13, 2002

CocktailDB offers "Metacocktail". Disgruntledhousewife offers snacks.
posted by liam at 9:16 AM on February 13, 2002

Make mine a bloody mary, plenty of sherry and celery.

. . . sherry? Eep!

Hey, to each his/her own, but this is a new one.

Not that I use the sanest recipe:

Tomato juice
Vodka (pepper-infused)
Minced garlic
Lemon juice
Lime juice
Tabasco (red and green)
Celery salt
White pepper
posted by Skot at 9:27 AM on February 13, 2002

white russians in the winter,
screwdrivers in the summer.
Ah, bliss.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 9:32 AM on February 13, 2002

Back in my mixology days (*sitting in rocker, creaking back and forth*), I had this evil concotion called a Hammer (probably known by other names from other sources, etc., etc.):

Good vodka (Lukosova, the Polish potato vodka had just become available in the States, so I used that - Grey Goose works well too)

Welch's white seedless grape juice (not sparkling)

Dash of lime juice (fresh, if you please - none of that bottled swill)

Splash of soda.

Lots of ice.

Lime and frozen grapes to garnish.

Used to make these by the pitcher for management staff.
posted by ebarker at 9:43 AM on February 13, 2002


The thing with food and wine is that it depends a hell of a lot on how rich you are. The rich can buy fresher fish, eat caviar, drink better wines, etc.
But take a Pimm's No.1 Cup, which the English aristocracy quaffs at Wimbledon and Lord's cricket ground. A whole bottle costs $15($10 here in Portugal)and makes 12 generous drinks. Two cucumbers, two apples, two oranges, two lemons and a bunch of mint add another...what?...$5?

Made properly - a question of following the recipe - you get 12 oversized, delicious Pimm's cups for around $20. Which is, er, less than two bucks per person. And it's just as good as what the Queen Mother drinks.
The same goes for Dry Martinis or whatever. The best bottle of gin, say Plymouth, Tanqueray Ten or Bombay Sapphire, plus a small amount of vermouth and the necessary lemon peel and/or olives would come to about $24($15 here). So 12 oversized Martinis would cost around two bucks each.

And we're talking the very best ingredients here. Isn't that democratic, i.e., open to everyone? Even with beer the rich, by paying more, can get a better, more painstakingly made brew. But with cocktails - no, they cannot. The really expensive drinks - malt whiskies, old cognacs, rums or tequilas - are wasted in cocktails.

With cocktails it all depends on fresh ice, fresh juice and the right attitude. I remember reading Andy Warhol's "Philosophy From A to B" and pondering about his remark that "the rich can't buy a better Coke". At first - hey, I was young - I thought it was reactionary. Sort of consoling the poor in an eye-of-the-needle way: "Don't envy the rich; they drink the same Coke as you do."

That was before I discovered Hollywood moguls have specially imported old-style miniature Coca Cola glass bottles imported from Paraguay or something.

So I stick to my original claim. This is quite rare for me, by the way. And a gin and tonic it is! ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 9:45 AM on February 13, 2002

Isn't that democratic, i.e., open to everyone

your "democratic" is our "egalitarian." I think.
posted by UncleFes at 9:56 AM on February 13, 2002

Aside from Jackie, who prefers sherry in her Bloody Marys, we have a few vodka fans.

And so, may I recommend Belvedere as a second alternative to Finlandia for gimlets?

posted by brittney at 9:57 AM on February 13, 2002

Really now, UncleFes. Is there any drink finer than the gimlet? They give you enough Vitamin C so that you can eat nothing but ramen and still not get scurvy. They give you all of the sophistication of drinking from a martini glass with none of the vermouth. If you like being a snob, you can complain when you go to a bar and get one made with bottled lime juice. You can carry everything you need to make them in a normal-sized backpack. Hell, without the vodka gimlet, I would not be engaged to my lovely fiancee. On top of all this they're an undeniably positive bit of American culture - something which is far to uncommon in these days of AOL Time Warner and McDonald's. Drinking them is practically your patriotic duty - if I wasn't already at work I'd make myself one right now.

True story: While in the checkout line at a grocery store in a strange town with unfamiliar liquor laws, I asked the couple in front of me if they knew where the closest liquor store was. The man asked "Well, do you want somewhere that you can get hard liquor, or just wine?" His wife replied "Don't be silly, dear. All he's buying a box of sugar and a bag of limes - what do you think he wants?" I nearly kissed her.
posted by jaek at 9:59 AM on February 13, 2002 [1 favorite]

No offense, Migster, but didn't we already do the Cocktail thread?

Oh what the hell: Make mine

Vodka Tonic or
Moscow Mule or
Mint Julep or
Monkey Gland
posted by Kafkaesque at 9:59 AM on February 13, 2002

Vodka Gimlet (f. Rose's Lime Juice) in the...well, anytime.
Also, Bombay Sapphire Gin & Tonic. Again, anytime.

I've given up beer for Lent. For inexplicable reasons, the consumption of (even my favorite fine-quality) beer has made my stomach unhappy lately, so I figure it's as good a time as any. It's damn expensive to drink good beer, too, especially when they're brewing/locally.
posted by Danelope at 10:00 AM on February 13, 2002

Generally speaking cocktails are for amatuers, pros drink their whiskey neat. But if I'm feeling jaunty, this one is always fun:

Green Demon:

1 shooter each vodka, Midori, and Triple Sec. Shake, pour in a whiskey glass and bottoms up.

also the Mind Eraser:

Equal parts Vodka and Mountain Dew in a beer mug with a Kahlua floater(Do Not Mix)

Enjoy you crazy kids.
posted by jonmc at 10:06 AM on February 13, 2002

When I was a kid in Brazil, rich folks sometimes drank caipiroska, a version of the caipirinha made with expensive imported vodka, instead of the cheap local cachaça. In Europe and the States, where cachaça was an imported luxury, the status of these drinks was reversed.

Another way to go with cachaça is to make batidas, such as the Angel's Piss.
posted by liam at 10:08 AM on February 13, 2002

No offense, Migster, but didn't we already do the Cocktail thread?(Kafkaesque)

Oh no! I thought MetaFilter encouraged posting cool, personally-found links one would like to share with all the other drunks. Next time I'll just ask "I'm a Margarita Man - what's your poison?" and link to some CNN link about the agave shortage. Not that I've ever heard of the Monkey Gland, mind you...

*goes off to fix one up, it being past six o'clock GMT.*
posted by MiguelCardoso at 10:10 AM on February 13, 2002

For lent, I gave up soda and nicotine.
posted by uftheory at 10:11 AM on February 13, 2002

Hmmm, vodka & cranberry. Have heard voda & grapefruit is good, but haven't tried. Also keen on caipirinha, but like vodka & cranberry, that's hard to get over here in Holland.
posted by prolific at 10:17 AM on February 13, 2002

Oh no! I thought MetaFilter encouraged posting cool, personally-found links one would like to share with all the other drunks.

Are you being snarky, you crazy kid? After all I've done for you?!

... I'm just a little emotional right now.
posted by Kafkaesque at 10:20 AM on February 13, 2002

Two of my favourites are home (Canadian) grown:

The Bloody Caesar: basically a Bloody Mary but substitute the Tomato juice with Clamato (clam/tomato juice) It's much better than it sounds. A great variation is the Gin Caesar, made, obviously, with Gin instead of vodka.

The Rye and Ginger. Smoother than a Bourban/Ginger, and yummier too. Plus you can get some amazing premium ryes (scroll down to "Canadian") for very little money.

mmmmmm.... booze....
posted by sauril at 10:29 AM on February 13, 2002

A Sidecar for me, please. Of course, a Gibson, Ward 8, or Kafkaesque's Monkey Gland will always do in a pinch.
posted by Monk at 10:52 AM on February 13, 2002

The caipirinha is enjoying a vogue here in Wellington, where at least three bars I know of are serving them -- I think someone's importing cachaca. Whatever; those of us who can't manage to slur "caipirinha" are reduced to saying "another delicious fruity drink, please". And the best thing? With all the citrus in them, I wake up the next day feeling dull BUT sprightly. Odd, but better than an actual hangover.

Anyway, this MeFite says: Martinis, at least 7:1 gin:vermouth when I'm feeling mean. Mojitos (white rum/soda water/lemon syrup/crushed mint) when merry. Long Island Iced Tea when mad.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:54 AM on February 13, 2002

mmmm... Mojito.
posted by kahboom at 10:58 AM on February 13, 2002

Drinking them is practically your patriotic duty - if I wasn't already at work I'd make myself one right now.

I bow to your superior judgment and perspicacity. I've been known to have a vodka-tonic or two at lunch - workday drinking is not as dead as you might think!
posted by UncleFes at 11:03 AM on February 13, 2002

Life here is be served with a martini. A real martini:

-2 jiggers of gin (quality stuff but not too froofy, ie. no Sapphire)
-a hint of vermouth (also quality)

and, and this is the most important part, the PERFECT olive. I use Mezzetta Family Style olives stuffed lovingly, in my own kitchen, with the choicest anchovy fillets. This makes for the most delightful salty finish to a delightful cold dry cocktail.

Damn, it's not even noon here on the west coast.
posted by shagoth at 11:09 AM on February 13, 2002

top-shelf tequila shot (patron or don julio) with a sidecar of iced tomato juice, lime juice, and triple-sec or grand marnier.

sip the tequila then hit the sidecar, which removes the bitterness, not that the expensive stuff has much anyway.

coctail? debatable.

delicious? indeed.
posted by berk at 11:50 AM on February 13, 2002

I drink black russians myself.

For lent, I'm giving up abstinence and sobriety.
posted by ktheory at 12:12 PM on February 13, 2002

Some friends put together a Mojito Hut at Burning Man last year. It was a great little bamboo hut from which they served mojitos, until they ran through the dozen or so gallons of white rum they'd brought... 'twas a popular spot.

I generally start off an evening of drinking with a martini: equal parts vodka and vermouth, with an olive. But I'm generally too lazy to bother with olives when I mix them for myself.

Lately I've been drinking tico sours - basically a whiskey sour, but with guaro instead. Add a splash of midori and it's green lemonade with a kick...

posted by Mars Saxman at 12:22 PM on February 13, 2002

workday drinking is not as dead as you might think!

Last May my heart sunk when my wife and I walked into the Fifty-Seven Fifty-Seven Bar in the NYC Four Seasons Hotel, a minute or two before midday. Reared since age 5 on New Yorker cartoons of three-martini lunches I fully expected to stimulate my digestive enzimes in that time-honoured way.

Well, I couldn't find the bar. So I asked and the French maître d' informed me it didn't open till three o'clock in the afternoon. A second, feeling like a century, passed in silence. I expressed disbelief. My wife chipped in with severe disappointment. Gaston shrugged and said "In New York, no one drinks before lunch anymore", adding dolefully: "Or during lunch. Or even after lunch, Monsieur...Only after work." But, all of a sudden, the New York spirit kicked in and he said: "But if you'll wait five minutes I'll have the bartender set up the bar for you."

From nowhere a young Trinidadian barman called Chris, former boxer, about 27, appeared and set up the impressive bar, as if in a speeded-up time-lapse sequence.
At five past noon, two superb dry martinis were standing in front of us. The businessmen coming in for their power lunches, instead of frowning, smiled approvingly. We felt our liquid lunch was enjoyed by all, by proxy.

Before we too walked over to our waiting table, I asked Chris why his martinis were so damn scrumptious. He leaned over and said: "No vermouth. Just gin." Then he laughed: " And, of course, the most important ingredient of all: your empty stomachs!"

A dangerous lesson, but true: you live and learn...
posted by MiguelCardoso at 12:22 PM on February 13, 2002 [2 favorites]

Everyone in my family drinks Manhattans. My grandfather made my mother one when she first came over to America - it was her first drink in this country. After 30 years it's become a staple in the household I do try to uphold family traditions, but it is tough these days, with the resurgence in popularity that martini-shaped drinks are having. My family is very strict about not drinking the nouveau manhattans. When the bartender asks what type of whiskey you want. You are supposed to look at them funny and say, "from the rack!".
posted by goneill at 12:52 PM on February 13, 2002

Mars Saxman - Amoretto sour with a shot of vodka over crushed ice. Smooth, tangy, sweet, and a good kick in the pants.
posted by NortonDC at 12:59 PM on February 13, 2002

I am very sorry. No, I'm not.

Face it folks: so-called vodka "martinis" are, in Kingsley Amis' words, "for those rather second-rate people who cannot stand the taste of gin".

Gin, gin, gin. Martinis exist so that we gin lovers may drink almost straight gin in the guise of a mixed drink. If it has no gin, it is not a martini. Vodka martinis are to martinis what soy milk is to milk.

"Gin makes a man mean! Everyone booze up and riot!"

I hope I have made myself clear.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:02 PM on February 13, 2002

That brings up a point I've always been confused about, joe's spleen. If all that's in the damn glass is gin, aren't you being just a little deceptive about calling it a "mixed drink"? One ingredient doth not a mix make, methinks.
posted by starvingartist at 1:24 PM on February 13, 2002

Shhhhhhhhhhhhhh! (But see Miguel's description of the scrumptious martini above).

Truly, the vermouth is there solely to take the edge off the gin. That is why your premium gin, eg Sapphire, does not in my mind make such a good martini - it's too bland, and adding vermouth to it makes it blander yet. The Gordons and Beefeaters of this world can make perfectly good martinis, if they are cold enough.

The gin to vermouth proportion is a matter of taste, but yer true martini-snob will start at about 5:1, and as Miguel observes, that ratio can approach infinity. Kingsley Amis advises freezing a glass that has been rinsed in vermouth, and then pouring in frozen gin. I think that's a little excessive, but in concept absolutely correct.

Successful martinis must also be very, very cold. Warm gin is about as appealing as warm beer.

At bottom, starvingartist, martinis exist to get as much gin into you as possible, as quickly as possible, and we gin lizards call them cocktails so that we can blend in with the fruity softdrink crowd, flicking our forked tongues while we look for babies... and by the way, that's not really an olive...
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:43 PM on February 13, 2002

Kingsley Amis advises freezing a glass that has been rinsed in vermouth, and then pouring in frozen gin. I think that's a little excessive, but in concept absolutely correct.

I've seen little perfume-type bottles of vermouth used on martinis. The bartender will pour the gin, set the glass on the bar, pick up the vermouth sprayer, and give the air about a foot above the rim of the glass a little pooft of vermouth, which you can barely see mist down into the glass. Then the twist. Superb :)
posted by UncleFes at 2:19 PM on February 13, 2002

I_am_joe's_spleen and UncleFes: In Harry's Bar in Venice - I always stay at the Monaco Grand Canal hotel which is three yards away from their front door - they serve a Hemingway invention called the Montgomery. Based on the proportion of troops the English general required to beat the enemy - fifteen to one - it's supposed to contain 15 parts gin to one of vermouth.

They serve it in double-shot square glasses that are always kept in the freezer. After my first few times and failing to detect that 1/15th of vermouth I asked the barkeep how they measured them. So he showed me. He poured the gin into the glass, to the rim. Then he picked up a bottle of Cinzano extra dry vermouth, held it up to the light, made some magic Abracadabra gesture with his fingers and said wearily: "Ecco!"

Needless to say, the bottle had never been opened. So starvingartist is essentially right. Vermouth was used to mask the nasty taste of gin in the 30's and 40's. Since gin became smoother and better there's no longer any use for it.

I do pour a dollop of Noilly Prat over the ice into the mixing glass and then throw it away before adding the gin(never Bombay Sapphire, I agree). That leaves just a hint of an aroma. Just enough to mask the excuse for drinking cold, straight gin. With a spray of oil from a lemon rind. Or an olive, if I'm feeling raunchy. It's a guilt-lessening thing. Vermouth is very nasty stuff, anyway. The pork sausage of cocktail culture - nobody knows what goes into it. Better avoided altogether. ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 3:17 PM on February 13, 2002 [1 favorite]

For serious scholars, Lowell Edmunds's book on the Martini - he's a classics professor from Rutgers - is the best book I've ever read on on the subject. Indeed on anything to do with booze.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 3:21 PM on February 13, 2002

martinis: gibson, vodka martini with a twist
rum and coke [although rum and pepsi twist works well too]
coconut rum and dr. pepper
red bull and vodka
irish car bomb
posted by boogah at 3:42 PM on February 13, 2002

wow, vermouth scholarship, caipirinha, sprayed lemon rind oil?!
Am I the only person of Metafilter who just drinks good ol' Hoffenreffer Private Stock malt liquor from the bottle?
posted by jonmc at 3:48 PM on February 13, 2002

Partially off-subject, but...

While on mini-vacation for New Years with some friends, I was helping cook breakfast one morning and found a bottle of Canadian Mist in the kitchen.

Into the pancake batter it went. Best. Pancakes. Ever.

Back on the subject, Irish Car Bombs are amazing.
posted by tomorama at 3:49 PM on February 13, 2002

Dave Wondrich, Esquire's man in the cocktail bar, is a former classics professor. What's with dead languages and fancy drinks?
posted by liam at 4:07 PM on February 13, 2002

What's with dead languages and fancy drinks?

Nobody knows how to pronounce them so even after five of them, you can slur and mumble away at will and still retain a semblance of authority? As in in wino weritash?
posted by MiguelCardoso at 4:15 PM on February 13, 2002

when i drank , i liked the rob roys. (loved the bombay sapphire) i gave up bacon for lent. (had a gyro for dinner though:(
posted by clavdivs at 4:45 PM on February 13, 2002

I gave up lady's fingers for lent. And coke.
posted by liam at 5:22 PM on February 13, 2002

I'd like to hear your comments on the modern absinthes if you've had a chance to try them, Miguel.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 6:11 PM on February 13, 2002

For lent, I gave up soda and nicotine.

That sounds a perfectly vile cocktail.
posted by rushmc at 8:56 PM on February 13, 2002

I'd like to hear your comments on the modern absinthes if you've had a chance to try them, Miguel.

Yes, do! Someone brought me a bottle from Portugal but it has not wormwooded its way into my possession yet.
posted by rushmc at 8:56 PM on February 13, 2002

Obiwanwasabi and rushmc:

I must hang my head in shame and confess ignorance. I hate the taste of absinthe, licorice, anise or any of the pseudo-absinthes like Pernod and Ricard. The bartender at the Algonquin Hotel in NYC, before it went downhill, used to drip a micro-drop of Pernod into his dry martinis(using a straw as a "pipette), as it brought out the gin flavour. The real absinthe - with the wormwood - is only made illegally. You cannot buy real absinthe anywhere in the world.

Friends of mine have tried it and tell hair-raising stories about getting into fights and passing out. Memory loss, in all cases, was almost complete. It's very, very dangerous stuff. Long before it kills you it'll mess up your brain as much as, I don't know, a mild LSD tab.

Amazing how much we Portuguese can talk when we know nothing about what's being asked of us, isn't it? ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 4:11 AM on February 14, 2002

Absinthe info
posted by the cuban at 5:38 AM on February 14, 2002

You cannot buy real absinthe anywhere in the world.

Miguel: Not true. "Seit 1991 ist Absinth in der EU (Richtlinie 88/388/EWG v. 22.06.1988) mit der Einschränkung von max. 10 mg Thujon je Liter erlaubt." The European Union legalized Absinthe in 1991, with a limit of 10mg Thujon/liter.

In fact, I just bought a bottle of Spanish absinthe at the Absinth Depot in Berlin, which sells it legally. Other places abound.

After a few glasses, I experienced an interesting drunk that was somehow more physical, sensual, and alert than regular drunks. My memory is intact, I didn't get into any fights, and my brain's no more messed up than before. In fact, there was no hangover. From what I understand, the experience was nowhere near a "mild" LSD tab. Therefore, I will fearlessly continue the self-experimentation. I'll let you know if I cut off any ears.
posted by muckster at 12:02 PM on March 9, 2002

Thanks, Muckster. As I trust your literary judgement, I'll be reporting back here as well, as soon as I get my hands on some of this new absinthe. Perhaps they just reduced the congeners - otherwise there would have definitely been a hangover.

Your description reminded me of a similar experience drinking Bacardi 151 proof rum - well it's not drinking as it evaporates on your tongue. I'd bought a litre bottle in Canada, where it sports a great big "INFLAMMABLE" label and a stern warning NOT to drink it straight.

Well we did and it was fine, though a bit spacey. There were four of us and after seven hours prancing and dancing about, truly drunk, with chamberpots on our heads and giving everyone a taste, we still had half a litre left...
posted by MiguelCardoso at 1:07 PM on March 9, 2002

Absinthe here abounds, as it is illegal in America still, but you can posess it - so everyone that goes to Europe now brings back massive quantities. I have almost fallen off of my bar stool from it, but alas no real halucinations, alas.
I actually drunk some antiguan rum recently too, at my office, where I drank the Absinthe. We only had paper cups with the wax on the inside, both drinks melted through the cups within a few minutes.
posted by goneill at 2:39 PM on March 12, 2002

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