Few people have ever accused me of doing anything halfway. And after an evening that included 16 different gin brands, 34 plastic squeeze bottles, and over 300 plastic bathroom cups (all hand-labeled by yours truly), it appears my reputation remains intact. But what better way to kick off a blog on drinking? Or more appropriately, a blog on making practical yet tasty drinks for you and your friends.
Actually the blog is bigger than that. It got its start years ago, when my friend Jason and I decided that beer was okay, but it sure would be fun to learn to make cool cocktails and other drinks for ourselves and our friends. Path to popularity, indeed…
We purchased several cocktail reference books, and all of them fell into the first of 2 classes of cocktail book — quantity over quality. In these books there are 2,958 cocktail recipes, and 2,912 of them are complete shit. If you’re just starting out you don’t know which is which and you say to yourself, “Clearly I’m not cut out for this bartending thing”.
We quickly abandoned these books and started freelancing. That’s when my notebook started. I have a small red notebook that I’ve kept for nearly 2 decades that has recipes for all the drinks I’ve liked in that time. The first 20 pages or so are pretty shameful – I’m embarrassed to admit that I ever served “Ski-Dew” to friends of mine. Maybe we’ll revisit those pages next year around back-to-school season.
Fast forward many years and I’ve collected a lot of recipes – not to mention a lot of different bar tools, glasses, weird liqueurs and a Long Island coffee shop’s worth of opinions on what makes a good drink.
Along the way, I’ve also collected a lot of the 2nd class of cocktail book: The Aficionado’s Book. This is the coffee-table-quality book with shiny pictures and a smaller number of high-quality recipes. But each recipe is VERY particular. To make it successfully, the author tells you, you MUST have square ice cubes and an 8.25oz collins glass and his favorite brand of gin. Or forget it – you might as well change back into your ‘beat and swill Miller High Life all weekend. This kind of book is appealing to a small number of people (like me) who have a lot of experience making cocktails and know what they like and don’t. Most other people don’t even take it out of the bookstore.
This blog is an attempt to create a 3rd class of cocktail reference – the truly practical guide. Here I will attempt to share lessons learned and help the amateur or novice bartender learn what is important (and what is not) in setting up a home bar, where to spend money and where to save it, and share not only recipes but some of the theory that goes behind them so you can alter them and make them your own.
We’ll start next week with a short series on the Gin Tasting I mentioned above….