Monday, February 15, 2010

The First Post

A seal walks into a bar.
The barman says, "What'll it be?"
The seal says, "Anything but a Canadian Club".

I don’t know anything about drinks.  You know, cocktails. 

I have consumed my fair share, but I can’t make them. 

It’s a weird thing too, that I know so little about making drinks.  I often order drinks that I know nothing about.  For instance, I’ve ordered Manhattans, but couldn’t tell you its contents, apart from the whiskey.  Even then, what kind of whiskey is it?  Is it bourbon?  Rye whiskey?  I have no clue. 

That’s no way to go through life.

So here we are – The Amateur Mixologist.  The name speaks for itself.  I know nothing of the art, but will forge ahead all the same.  Trying cocktails one by one, and hopefully learning what goes into the drinks I like, and the drinks I don’t. 

Just as I'm not a mixologist, I’m also not a professional writer.  Deep down in my heart of hearts, I would love to believe otherwise.  I didn’t say I was a good writer, so keep your expectations extremely low. 

The Goals
Here is what I hope to accomplish:

1.  Learn to make drinks.  Sounds simple enough, eh?  Have you tried making basic drinks?  I have – and the results are often terrible.  I can ruin a neat vodka order, if given a chance.

2.  Acquire a taste for drinks.  When I have somehow, someway, crafted a drink correctly, I often find it is far too strong for my tastes.  I’m not opposed to strong drinks, but when I make something like a Manhattan, it just doesn’t taste as I expect – maybe it just seems too strong, even if that’s how it’s supposed to be.  I suppose though, that I’ve never given such drink making, and such drink drinking, the critical focus it so justly deserves.

I should add too, that if I go to a bar, and order the same drink, it tastes far better, and is far more palatable.  Why is that? 

Are the drinks watered down at a bar?  It's very likely.

Do the surroundings that make it easier to drink something strong?  Probably so.

I don’t have the answers to these questions yet, but I’m going to drink until I figure them out.

3.  Write more.  I’m a writer deep down in my heart of hearts, remember?

The Books
To assist us with this journey, I have purchased two books:

Book One:
American Bar: The Artistry of Mixing Drinks, by Charles Schumann.

Book Two: The Ultimate Bar Book: The Comprehensive Guide to Over 1,000 Cocktails, by Mittie Hellmich

I’ll tell you this: I can’t guarantee that the drinks in American Bar or The Ultimate Bar Book will be any good, but damn are these classy looking books!  Buy them for that reason alone! 
If you own these books, you will immediately be more charming to your friends, funnier, wittier, and all around more pleasant to those nearby.  Do it!

The Rules
In conceiving of this blog, I figured I had to include some rules for myself – if for no other reason than to keep me on task, and force me to drink certain drinks that I’d typically pass on.  Here are the rules:

Rule #1:  Recipes shall be chosen at random.

I have to include this rule, otherwise, I’ll just look for ways to drink what I already like.  The only exception to this rule will be the first 6 recipes I try, and, as warranted because of holidays, celebrations, or other occasions requiring a specific drink.

Rule #2:  I have to give each drink a chance. 

I can’t one-sip it and call it a day.  Even if I don’t like it, I have to give it at least a good college-try.

Rule #3:  I have to make 50 drinks in 100 days, from the date of this first post.  Thereafter, additional goals will be made and hopefully achieved.

Rule #4:  A drink should never be avoided as a result of little-to-no garnish availability.  New rule added as a result of the Violet Champagne d'Amour post.

The First Six
The first 6 recipes will be based on David Embury's book The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, in which he wrote of six basic cocktails: the Manhattan, the Martini, the Old Fashioned, the Daiquiri, the Sidecar, and the Jack Rose.  I figure it’s best to start with these drinks before proceeding ahead with random recipes.  Think of it as the drinking equivalent of reading the classics before the modern literature.

So now that we have all that laid out, one blog post in the can, and a limitless horizon of vodka, vermouth, gin, bourbon, bitters and countless other friends to help us along the way, I say we drink.


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