A Few Basic Cocktails

If this website can be said to have any sort of “mission statement” at all (as a side note, I’m proud to say I’ve never worked in some sort of cubicle jockey job that put a focus on inane things like mission statements), it would be “Teach men to become barbaric gentlemen”-to turn the reader into a man of action and intrigue, a man equally capable of using his brawn and his brain, a man just as comfortable in the fighting pits as he is in a woman’s bedchambers-and this is a journey that never ends, for there is always somebody who excels more in those fields. While many of my articles, both on this website and Return of Kings, deal with the training of purely physical skills, today I am bringing to you the journeyman knowledge I have obtained over the years in the genteel art of mixing cocktails. In other words, we’ve made a fair bit of headway in the barbarism part of the mission statement in the short time this website has been up, now let us do something a little more gentlemanly.

I am not a bartender by training, and have never done this professionally. But we’re not reinventing the wheel: you don’t need to be a professional to learn a few basic cocktails you can pull out at the proper time-that proper time being at any social gathering where you want to serve a higher class of drink than mass market piss water. Not only does mixing serve to impress your friends and the opposite sex, learning this skill provides a bit of “on the job” training of memorization and manual dexterity (ie: memorizing recipes and proportions slightly trains the mind, and manual dexterity is needed to avoid spilling various liquors and syrups around like an idiot).

If you want to learn how to mix, you can either make friends with bartenders and watch them at their craft, as I did, or you can use that magical thing called the “internet” to find cocktail recipes and more information on glasses then you ever cared to know. It’s almost as if you found this webpage by doing so…

cocktail-party_cartoon

Before i get to the recipes, let’s talk about the glassware: regardless of whether you believe Jack Donovan’s thesis on the genders of objects being based on the hand position used to hold it, different drinks call for different glassware. Does the choice of glass affect the taste of the drink? Probably not (frankly, arguing that the glassware effects the drink is like saying vinyl records sound better than digital), but the choice of glass will facilitate actions such as muddling (muddling being grinding of ingredients with a mortar).

For most cocktails you’ll either be using a tumbler or stemware-a tumbler being a flat, robust glass without a stem or a handle-almost always a Collins, highball, or Old Fashioned glass, in increasing order of robustness. The Old Fashioned (in single or double form, the latter being larger of course) is usually the glass of choice for drinks that require grinding or muddling, due to its thickness preventing breakage, with the other two being assigned to various drinks for reasons unbeknownst to me.

old_fashioned_glass_cocktails_muddling

Stemware, which graces the first image of is something most people are familiar with-wine and champagne glasses, and overall glasses that are fluted and require a much more delicate grip than the tumbler. Obviously, no muddling or grinding is done with these.

And without further ado, here are four simple cocktails for you to learn, two are traditional men’s cocktails that utilize tumblers, and two are more feminine and thus use stemware-more will perhaps come in the future, but these are four that any beginner should be able to do-there’s no complex muddling, fear of “bruising” the alcohol, lighting things on fire, or anything else that oculd be confusing:

1) The Mint Julep.

Originating in the antebellum South, this bourbon based cocktail is one that many foreigners will immediately associate with American alcohol (the fact that American whiskeys are much more respected than American beers overseas is a topic for another time). It is an excellent drink for hot weather, and one that has a kick beneath its seeming sweetness. A drink for the more gentlemanly among us:

For this, you will need bourbon, several fresh mint sprigs, sugar, and ice.  Putting the ice and mint into a tumbler (traditionally a silver cup is used, but a tumbler will suffice), muddle to your liking. Add a teaspoon of sugar and pour bourbon until the glass frosts. Stir a little bit if needed.

mint_julep_in_silver_cup_with_mint_sprigs

2) The Whiskey Sour

This is a tangy drink stereotypically associated with old codgers…and if you’re on this website, you’re probably shaking your fist at the modern zeitgeist. And you should be. So why not imbibe a drink favored by men from a better generation?

There are a few variations of this drink, changing based on whether you use regular sugar, a simple syrup, or gome syrup. Some recipes use an egg white as well. For the sake of simplicity, I will be teaching the simplest version:

You will need lemon juice (that’s real lemon juice, mind you), bourbon, powdered sugar, and shaved ice. Mix 3 ounces/135 milliliters of bourbon (a standard shot glass size is approximately 1.5 ounces), 2 teaspoons of powdered sugar, and a jigger of lemon juice (I don’t have a jigger, and you likely don’t either, but as long as you remember that a jigger is roughly the size of a shot glass, you should be able to estimate.) Mix with the ice into a cocktail shaker, and strain (in case you’re not aware, that’s “pour it into a glass through a colander so the ice doesn’t dilute it”). Or pour it on the rocks should you choose.

whiskey_sour_poured_on_the_rocks

3) The Pink Lady

Now getting into cocktails to make for the woman in your life…

The Pink Lady is a cocktail consisting of gin, grenadine, and an egg white. Lemon juice is often included, and this cocktail is served in a stemmed glass, typically a martini glass. It is a sweet and mild drink, particularly when doing the variations that utilize sweet cream instead of the egg white. Again, for simplicity, I will use the standard version:

Take half an ounce of grenadine, half an ounce of lemon juice, 1 and a half ounces of gin, and an egg white. Mix with shaved ice in a cocktail shaker, strain, and serve.

PINK_LADY_COCKTAIL

4) The Angel’s Kiss

Another sweet and mild cocktail for women, and as a plus side it’s probably the simplest one to make of the four:

For it, you will need creme de cacao, heavy creme, and a maraschino cherry. Taking a stemmed glass (properly a 3/4 pony glass is used, but seeing as you likely don’t have one, and the women you  bring home with you likely won’t know the difference, a martini or champagne glass is fine), fill it up with the creme de cacao about 3/4 of the way. Pour the cream on to the rim of the glass, and garnish with a cherry.

angels_kiss_cocktail

Now that you know a few cocktails, go forth and make drinks.

  • I would also suggest adding the Old Fashioned and Martini to your repertoire. Both are fantastic drinks that have an air of sophistication and old-world charm.

    • I’m definitely going to do another cocktail article sometime down the road, so I’ll keep it in mind.