Cocktail similarity
February 23, 2019 6:18 PM   Subscribe

"When I started writing down the first basic ingredients, I started noticing that cocktails are very close to each other - if you ignore fruit rinds and ice and such, an Americano is a Negroni with soda water instead of gin. An Old Fashioned is a Manhattan with sugar instead of vermouth." A Negroni is a Amber Road but you replace maple syrup with campari, replace lemon juice with sweet vermouth, replace aperol with gin, and remove bourbon.
posted by curious nu (56 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
 
An apple is an orange but you replace the apple with an orange.
posted by runcibleshaw at 6:37 PM on February 23 [84 favorites]


An apple pie is a peach cobbler except you replace the apples with peaches and the pie with a cobbler.
posted by STFUDonnie at 6:40 PM on February 23 [15 favorites]


A vodka martini is just a martini, except ... fuck vodka martinis. If it doesn't have gin it's not a fucking martini!
posted by rikschell at 6:44 PM on February 23 [52 favorites]


A libertarian is an anarchist, but you replace the scruffy jeans and fuck-the-world t-shirt with a suit and tie.*

*There, did I do it right?
posted by el io at 6:45 PM on February 23 [17 favorites]


"similarity"
posted by Greg_Ace at 6:47 PM on February 23 [3 favorites]


Drink wine.
posted by sammyo at 6:50 PM on February 23 [3 favorites]


A Negroni is a Amber Road but you replace maple syrup with campari, replace lemon juice with sweet vermouth, replace aperol with gin, and remove bourbon.

It's like someone built a bot to make comments on internet recipe posts.
posted by zamboni at 6:52 PM on February 23 [37 favorites]


He does note at the end my first thought, that there should be more done to match like ingredients to like.

For instance:

"A Martini is a Manhattan but you replace bitters with dry vermouth, replace sweet vermouth with gin, and remove whiskey."

Wouldn't it be more sensible to replace the whiskey with gin, sweet vermouth with dry, and remove the bitters?

Even without deeper consideration of the "purpose" of different ingredients, I bet you could get an improvement just by basing it on their ratios.
posted by RobotHero at 6:52 PM on February 23 [12 favorites]


I mean. A cocktail is an alcoholic beverage that has a certain combination of a few basic types of ingredients (an alcohol, a sugar, etc.) with optional small amounts of flavor components. It's kind of in the definition, not really a new or noteworthy observation.
posted by eviemath at 6:54 PM on February 23 [15 favorites]


Eg., from "Edible Cocktails":
  • cobbler: spirit or wine + sugar over crushed ice, often garnished with fruit
  • cocktail: spirit + sugar + water (can be ice) + bitters
  • daisy: spirit + liquer + citrus
  • fizz: similar to the sour (2 parts spirit, 1 part sweet, 1 part sour) with added club soda and optional egg variations
  • flip: spirit + sherry + egg + sugar
  • punch: [either] spirit + spice + sugar + citrus + water (or tea) [or] 1 part sour + 2 parts sweet + 3 parts strong (spirit) + 4 parts weak (mixer)
  • sour: spirit + citrus + sugar. Generally the ration is 2 parts spirit + 1 part each sour (citrus) and sugar.
  • smash: spirit + fruit and/or herb + sugar + citrus built in the tall glass it is served in
  • swizzle: spirit + lime + bitters + sugar + crushed ice built in the tall glass it is served in and vigorously stirred (swizzled) until the outside of the glass is frosted
posted by eviemath at 7:01 PM on February 23 [35 favorites]


Sterno is just like a Corpse Reviver #2, except you replace the gin, Cointreau, Lillet Blanc, fresh lemon juice, and absinthe with Sterno.
posted by salt grass at 7:05 PM on February 23 [33 favorites]


Even without deeper consideration of the "purpose" of different ingredients, I bet you could get an improvement just by basing it on their ratios.
posted by RobotHero at 6:52 PM on February 23 [1 favorite −] Favorite added! [!]


This is totes correct and even, you know, a real thing. A Rob Roy is a Manhattan made with Scotch instead of bourbon. I mean I applaud the not-invented-here approach but as demonstrated upthread this is a weak, er, solution.
posted by mwhybark at 7:09 PM on February 23 [4 favorites]


So basically what any person who makes cocktails has figured out, except over-complicated?

A minimally-viable bar is easy. It's the perishable garnishes that are a pain.
posted by linux at 7:15 PM on February 23 [5 favorites]


This reminds me of a line from M*A*S*H, in which Radar, serving drinks, says, "we were all out of soda, so I just used bourbon."
posted by wabbittwax at 7:16 PM on February 23 [24 favorites]


There’s some kind of interesting math and coding, even if the whole “find the distance between two cocktails” is kind of silly.

My favorite approach to cocktail making is the “classic cocktail” recipe of 2 parts strong, 1 part sweet, and 1 part sour.

I’ve only really had it fail once, when I used gin for strong and for my sweet I used a guavaberry liqueur that turned out to be rum-based. (And lime for the sour.) The drink was much better when I used rum for the strong as well.

One of my current favorites is tequila, velvet falernum, and lime juice.
posted by leahwrenn at 7:29 PM on February 23 [5 favorites]


"You need three ingredients for a cocktail. Vodka and Mountain Dew is an emergency."

--Peggy Olson
posted by The Underpants Monster at 7:45 PM on February 23 [23 favorites]


Er... yeah. As eviemath pointed out, cocktails already slot into families, i.e. a margarita is a tequila daisy (or "margarita" in Spanish). Know a couple families and you can make lots of drinks without ever knowing their names, just swapping in liquor for liquor, sour for sour, &c.
posted by oneirodynia at 8:14 PM on February 23 [1 favorite]


I’m pregnant and this thread is making me jones so hard. Gonna go drink my soda water with a twist of jealousy right now.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 8:15 PM on February 23 [15 favorites]


Except for mouthfeel, required dilution, to aerate or not to aerate, the fact that garnishes are almost always olfactory components, etc. As usual, a computer scientist tyoe thinks things are really simple after choosing to consider most of the complex bits "non-essential".
posted by macross city flaneur at 8:15 PM on February 23 [7 favorites]


As usual, a computer scientist tyoe thinks things are really simple after choosing to consider most of the complex bits "non-essential".
Yeah, totally a computer scientist thing. Except you meant “programmer.” Don’t worry, though—the difference is a bit complex.

Kidding aside, this xkcd is what I think of rather than “computer scientist...”
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 8:29 PM on February 23 [8 favorites]


Mandrake, have you never wondered why I drink only distilled water, or rainwater, and only pure-grain alcohol?
posted by sourcequench at 9:52 PM on February 23 [8 favorites]


Well Jack, I'd never thought about it. I suppose that if you replace grain alcohol with gin you'd have to join me in the RAF, and if you substituted vodka you'd have to shoot yourself, now wouldn't you?
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 10:20 PM on February 23 [13 favorites]


As usual, a computer scientist type thinks things are really simple after choosing to consider most of the complex bits "non-essential".

As someone whose day job involves knowing the difference between a Jaccard and a Hamming distance: The post is a fooling-around-with-algorithms post, not a cocktail post. It doesn't make any particular claims to originality or insight about either cocktails or programming.

May not be your cup of (Long Island iced) tea but your reading stuff into it that isn't there.
posted by mark k at 10:43 PM on February 23 [8 favorites]


I have drank
the gin
that was in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
I wanted an Old Fashioned
but had a Fitzgerald instead
posted by a halcyon day at 11:06 PM on February 23 [21 favorites]


A gin and tonic
Lime and ice float in the glass
Heavy summer heat
posted by Metacircular at 11:28 PM on February 23 [7 favorites]


Sterno is just like a Corpse Reviver #2, except you replace the gin, Cointreau, Lillet Blanc, fresh lemon juice, and absinthe with Sterno.

True but sterno is traditionally served in a sock.
posted by boilermonster at 11:50 PM on February 23 [4 favorites]


I drank a Vesper last evening. It was icy.
posted by chavenet at 1:19 AM on February 24


First, assume a spherical cocktail... If you just omit the alcohol, most cocktails are flavored seltzer. Also, I make a mean moscow mule by squeezing a lime into some ginger beer and you replace the vodka with nothing.
posted by sysinfo at 1:37 AM on February 24 [4 favorites]


Perhaps a similar logic will power the Keurig for cocktails.
posted by eirias at 2:26 AM on February 24 [1 favorite]


Also, I make a mean moscow mule by squeezing a lime into some ginger beer and you replace the vodka with nothing.

You mean... you establish a void in your cocktail? Stunts like that is likely why we live in this terrible timeline.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:51 AM on February 24 [12 favorites]


I've invented a cocktail called the Ship of Theseus. Each time you order one, one of the ingredients changes, until eventually they're all different. You then have to decide whether you're still drinking a Ship of Theseus or something else, e.g. a Sidecar of Theseus.
posted by pipeski at 3:53 AM on February 24 [52 favorites]


A vodka is just like world peace. No replacement necessary.
posted by mono blanco at 5:24 AM on February 24


May not be your cup of (Long Island iced) tea but your reading stuff into it that isn't there.

It’s a pretty classic example of an engineer thinking his skill set is generalizable, applying it to an area already well studied by others and getting a lot of detail wrong. He this applies is misunderstanding to an analytical tool, producing misleading output. This is a significant feeling in a lot of engineers, statisticians, and other applied science people, so it’s worth pointing out.

Additionally, he omitted the crème de violette from the Aviation, which is admittedly Cocktails 201, but stil....
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:59 AM on February 24 [10 favorites]


You know, if you replace cocktails with beer, it's even easier. Basically all beers are the same ingredients, in pretty much the same proportions.

And in the trivial case, wine is just grape juice, srsly.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 6:46 AM on February 24 [2 favorites]


Additionally, he omitted the crème de violette from the Aviation, which is admittedly Cocktails 201, but stil....

Hey, don't blame this guy, blame the IBA.
All Day Cocktail
  • 4.5 cl Gin
  • 1.5 cl Maraschino
  • 1.5 cl Fresh lemon juice
Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
posted by zamboni at 7:03 AM on February 24 [2 favorites]


This was written by MeFi's own tmcw.
posted by schmod at 7:24 AM on February 24 [3 favorites]


Except for mouthfeel, required dilution, to aerate or not to aerate, the fact that garnishes are almost always olfactory components, etc. As usual, a computer scientist tyoe thinks things are really simple after choosing to consider most of the complex bits "non-essential".

These are largely questions of technique, not ingredients. The point of the exercise, as I read it, is to not to create a new taxonomy of libations, but to investigate what standard cocktails you can make given a set of ingredients. No deep claims are being made about the nature of cocktails.
posted by zamboni at 7:30 AM on February 24 [3 favorites]


The point of the exercise, as I read it, is to not to create a new taxonomy of libations, but to investigate what standard cocktails you can make given a set of ingredients.

Eh. The Magical Loaf Studio is a better model for that sort of web site (though in the context of Adventist-style vegetarian loaf, rather than cocktails).

I think that mark k's description is more accurate:

As someone whose day job involves knowing the difference between a Jaccard and a Hamming distance: The post is a fooling-around-with-algorithms post, not a cocktail post.
posted by eviemath at 7:50 AM on February 24 [2 favorites]


I got pretty fed up with the preposterous snob in-joke that the teller loves martinis, but hates vermouth, so you just "show the vermouth bottle to the glass, and put it away without opening it."

I mean, I guess you don't like martinis? Maybe you just want to do shots instead? Maybe you just want an excuse to sip gin? I dunno, but I always thought it was like a six-to-one ratio of gin to vermouth.
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 8:30 AM on February 24 [4 favorites]


Eh. The Magical Loaf Studio is a better model for that sort of web site (though in the context of Adventist-style vegetarian loaf, rather than cocktails).

That's a better tool, distinct from a fooling-around-with-algorithms post that's investigating which cocktails have ingredients in common.
posted by zamboni at 8:34 AM on February 24


As schmod noted this is by Metafilter's own Tom MacWright, who is quite active on Metafilter Music. When he announced it on Twitter it was mostly a joke / demo for Observable, but took on a new life with some contributions from Bryan Gin-ge Chen.

Observable, the platform this is published on, is super interesting. It's a start up by Tom and Mike Bostock (of D3.js fame). That whole computation and visualization is running in your browser, in an editable and sharable notebook. It's in the category of things along with Jupyter Notebooks, Glitch, and JSFiddle in that it's making exploratory computation more accessible and sharable. I'd hate for the point of that to get lost in this in the cocktail nerdery. You can read more about Mike's vision in this Medium post, which we discussed previously here.

Cocktail nerdery is good too though. Tom's post led me from a Negroni to a Boulevardier, just the thing to drink on a cold wintery night. As the chart indicates if you follow that line you get to the Preakness (Benedictine) and the Little Italy (Campari), which both sound awfully interesting. Edit distance: works for me!
posted by Nelson at 8:40 AM on February 24 [10 favorites]


That's a better tool, distinct from a fooling-around-with-algorithms post that's investigating which cocktails have ingredients in common.

Yes, ergo better "to investigate what standard [whatevers] you can make given a set of ingredients", but mark k's point that the fpp link is about fooling around with algorithms and not about investigating what you can make given a set of ingredients is well-taken.
posted by eviemath at 9:08 AM on February 24


I think we're agreeing past each other. The fpp link is fooling around with algorithms by investigating the relationships between cocktail ingredients.
posted by zamboni at 9:30 AM on February 24 [1 favorite]


what do apples and elephants have in common? They're both the same color, except apples are red, or perhaps green and/or sometimes yellow.
posted by philip-random at 9:52 AM on February 24 [1 favorite]


Hi folks :)
As someone whose day job involves knowing the difference between a Jaccard and a Hamming distance: The post is a fooling-around-with-algorithms post, not a cocktail post. It doesn't make any particular claims to originality or insight about either cocktails or programming.
Thanks mark k - that's the gist of it!

It's a fun experiment, and it's already taught me a lot about both cocktails and algorithms, as someone who is neither a drinkmaster nor a set theorist :) Some of my personal biases were baked into the original version (why differentiate between types of vermouth when they're all terrible!), and some of the community's amazing talents are included in the updated version (I learned about Jacquard indexes!). A bunch of things in this thread are already in the little todo list at the bottom, that I work on whenever I can get away with reading about cocktails at work.
posted by tmcw at 9:55 AM on February 24 [10 favorites]


The death and co. Cocktail book makes a similar argument- That there are like 6 “mother” cocktails and if you know them you know ‘em all.
posted by GilloD at 10:49 AM on February 24 [3 favorites]


Didn't realize this was a MetaFilter's Own! I thought this was pretty neat and appreciated the breakdowns between the different algorithms.
posted by curious nu at 11:35 AM on February 24


I got pretty fed up with the preposterous snob in-joke that the teller loves martinis, but hates vermouth,

Yeah, when I was talking above about using ratios to match ingredients, comparing a martini to a manhattan, I thought "you only add a dash or two of bitters, which wouldn't be enough vermouth." But then I'm sure someone would insist that's too much vermouth.
posted by RobotHero at 12:16 PM on February 24 [1 favorite]


Fun thought exercise but the biases ruin it for me.

Vermouth (A) isn't terrible at all, and (2) isn't so much a sweetener as a lengthener and aromatic component. Also if you know that vermouth is aromatized wine you can start to figure out the neighbor relation vermouth to quinquina (aromatized wine with the addition of quinine, e.g. Bonal or Cocchi Americano), and between both of those to non-wine-based potable bitters (which might have more gentian and less of a wine influence, but which get you to cocktails like a Black Manhattan using Averna instead of vermouth).

Curaçao (of which triple sec is a kind and Cointreau and Grand Marnier are brands) and Maraschino function more as sweeteners, as do amaretto or Bénédictine. If you pick up a copy of The Joy of Mixology you can see those substitutions at work in the "sours" family.

You really do need to account for construction and not just ingredients, though, as a Sazerac is just a fancy Old Fashioned, obvious from the construction (spirit, sugar, water, and bitters, stirred), but made less obvious by the ingredient list (the absinthe rinse and the fact that Peychaud's bitters are called for by both name and flavor profile). As such you could make an Old Fashioned with Peychaud's, but if you gave it to a cocktail aficionado they'd wonder where the absinthe was.
posted by fedward at 12:28 PM on February 24 [3 favorites]


Hey fedward, I came here to plug Gary Regan's Joy of Mixology too. He breaks cocktails down into families and very helpfully lists them in chart form. It helped me immensely when I was a bartender and needed to learn the difference between a sea breaze and a bay breaze. Also his bitters are very nice.
posted by nestor_makhno at 1:16 PM on February 24


Column A: Gin, Vodka, Rum, Whisky, Tequila, Brandy and variants
Column B: OJ, Lime(-ade), Lemon(-ade)
Column C: 7-Up, Coke, Ginger Ale, Sparkly water, Tonic
1 from Column A, 1 from Column B and/or C

Then you start fiddling with flavorings - sweet vermouth, white vermouth, Campari, Grenadine, bitters. Or you go with flavored liquor like Kahlua. Or dairy. Or replace the bourbon in the Manhattan with Scotch for a Rob Roy. I've made Tangerine Margaritas and recommend them. We call Mimosa with grapefruit juice instead of OJ a Hibiscus, and it can be white or pink, and grapefruit and bourbon is also quite nice. I've grown to like Tequila and it's good with all citrus drinks. There was a sale on sorbet, and Blood orange sorbet with tequila is good. Bourbon and butter pecan ice cream.

Good post. I have more orange sorbet, some coffee ice cream, and things to mix in. Should make watching the Oscars almost entertaining.
posted by theora55 at 2:32 PM on February 24


The "original" martini ratio is 2:1 gin:vermouth, but you could chalk that up to stretching the gin supplies, or not. I've made it that way and it is pretty good, but I tend to make 4:1 for myself. But yes, one can drink vermouth straight and it is actually a nice little sipping drink that way.

I am taking this exercise at the writer's word: minimally viable bar. Again, not so hard as long as you ignore the garnishes. My martinis, old fashioneds, sazeracs, and manhattans (my minimally viable bar is therefore whiskey, gin, sweet and dry vermouth, and absinthe) are naked when I'm just not in the mood to dig up lemon and orange rinds, cherries, and olives. When guests come over or I find an especially lovely bottle of whiskey or gin, then I'll splurge.
posted by linux at 3:18 PM on February 24 [2 favorites]


"...and remove bourbon."

How do you do that?

And why? Just start and end with bourbon and save all the fuss and cleanup.
posted by hal9k at 4:14 PM on February 24 [3 favorites]


I think that linked xkcd can replace (physicist) with (economist) and still be valid.
posted by aurelian at 3:17 AM on February 25


You mean... you establish a void in your cocktail? Stunts like that is likely why we live in this terrible timeline.

Nature abhors this one weird trick.
posted by sysinfo at 10:38 AM on February 26 [2 favorites]


I tried removing the bourbon from a cocktail once. Funny thing, I can't quite remember how it turned out.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:06 PM on February 26 [1 favorite]


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