Spirits & Cocktails

Snooth User: Philip James

Best "go to" cocktail?

Posted by Philip James, Nov 27, 2008.

I've long wanted a go-to drink for when I'm at a bar and don't want a pint or a glass of wine. I also want a cocktail and not a basic mixed drink, so out the window with my staple G&T.

To be honest I used to have one: Brandy Sour, but I'm finding it harder and harder to find places that will do it with egg whites. So, any suggestions as to what strikes the balance between interesting / exotic and yet is still likely to be feasible in the average well stocked establishment?

Please not that I'd be fine telling the bartender how to make it, I just want to make sure that they have the ingredients.

I'm thinking something like: brandy sour, gimlet, old fashioned, martini (not for me), manhattan ice tea (not for me either) - just somewhere middle of the road in complexity.

My tastes: I have a sweet tooth, but prefer something fairly strong (ie. bitter / acrid / hot is all good), yet not 80 proof.

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Replies

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Reply by gr, Nov 27, 2008.

The gimlet's a good call, but insist on fresh lime juice, never Rose's. If you need it a bit sweeter, ask for simple, and consider the fresh herb addition if they have them (rosemary, as I noted previously -- http://www.snooth.com/talk/topic/re... -- or basil work well; probably not mint).

You're all over the place on the base alcohols there, do you have a preference?

All of the ones you mentioned are good choices, and traditional. I'd add in a regular Manhattan (or consider the Toronto, made with an amaro instead of rosso vermouth; it should be Fernet-Branca, but Aperol and Averna are passable as well), the Dark and Stormy (dark rum + ginger beer -- better if the establishment has or, better yet, makes their own ginger beer; ginger ale is just too saccharine), the Clover Club if they do have egg whites on hand (gin, grenadine -- or, better, establishment-made raspberry syrup, fresh lemon juice, egg white -- this is a good one to ask for at Little Branch, as it's very traditional cocktail), the Bacardi Buck (easy to make, and any light rum will do, many better, better still with cachaça/pitú/whatever you want to call it: built in a collins or pint glass with crushed ice, the juice of one lemon, half of that lemon, post reaming, in the glass, light rum, and a splash of simple).

My current favorite, but not one any old bar will have the goods for, so perhaps another Little Branch or similar plan, is the traditional (1919 recipe) of the Aviation: gin, maraschino liqueur, and crème de violette. (The later version just elides the violette, which doesn't get you far in most bars.)

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Reply by gr, Nov 27, 2008.

Oh, and one can't forget the Pimm's No. 1 cup (Pimm's, lemon lime soda, garnish with a cucumber and a lemon peel).

(I'm purposely avoiding things that are stupidly popular right now, like the Caipirinha, of course.)

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Reply by boredwiththesea, Nov 30, 2008.

On the record, I typed out an astonishingly long and indepth reply to this discussion before I realized one had to approve, and navigated away. Lost. Gone. sigh. I'll try to recap tomorrow.

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Reply by Philip James, Nov 30, 2008.

Nick - welcome to the site! I think some variation on the Harlem Fizz is going to be pretty much replicable in most places: whiskey, lemon, syrup and soda, right? I need to go and google the actual proportions, but I think I can commit it to memory as needed.

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Reply by gr, Nov 30, 2008.

Philip, first, the Internet is not a place to find good drink recipes (it's precisely the proportions they usually get wrong). Second, go 'head, google it. Third, you're missing the egg white, methinks.

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Reply by Philip James, Nov 30, 2008.

No egg white - this wasnt a sour, it was the Tom Collins variant: http://www.cocktail.com/recipes/t/T...

Just substituting Gin for Whiskey, or in the case of the Harlem Fizz, it was Calvados (with some claret on top)

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Reply by Mark Angelillo, Dec 1, 2008.

Hmm... Maybe we could have a "not yet approved" onunload function so the site warns you that you might lose the data. I'm not sure it would always work, but would be worth a test.

Sorry about that lost post, Nick.

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Reply by Philip James, Dec 1, 2008.

You mean if you are navigating away from the page? Word press does something similar, but I think it only works if you are clicking a link in the html, not sure if the browser back button can trigger the alert.

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Reply by gr, Dec 1, 2008.

Philip, there are definitely procedures for "on closing the window", it's just that many browsers now suppress them because they're commonly used for pop-up ads.

Mark, yes please!

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Reply by alavaughn, Feb 10, 2009.

One of my go to cocktails is always the negroni, it's bitter and fruity and delicious!

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Reply by gr, Feb 10, 2009.

alavaughn, the Negroni is an excellent cocktail, but one that I prefer only one or two of, earlier in the evening (ie, before dinner), as Campari tends to overwhelm other flavors that are also pleasant. You might be interested in a pleasant variation, the Cyn Cin, in which one substitutes Cynar (another amaro, with an artichoke base) for the Campari and explicitly uses Cinzano rosso vermouth (no reason not to do that generally, of course: Cinzano is a wonderful vermouth, and inexpensive in the US, provided you can lay hands on it).

If you like the amaro flavor, you may also like to explore some others (there are very, very many), such as Averna, Aperol, and Nonino. Also of interest is Punt e Mes Antica, which is a rosso vermouth that's pre-flavored with amaro.

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Reply by alavaughn, Feb 10, 2009.

I agree gr, my home bar is constantly stocked with amari! I can't get enough of them. As far as vermouth goes, I recently laid hands on a great recipe for vermouth, and have been making my own. It's awesome, if time consuming, but very worth it. Here's a great variation on a champagne cocktail or Aperol Spritz that I tried out the other day. Bubbly of course, a dash of Campari or Aperol, orange flower water, and a dash of blood orange bitters. Awesome way to get ready for a meal, but not a drink that can go the distance of a whole night for me. And if you ever get the chance to try Averna with anything caramel, do it right away!

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Reply by gr, Feb 10, 2009.

That does sound good!

Whose blood orange bitters are you using?

I've seen several companies foisting citrus bitters that are not, when it comes down to it, (non-potable) bitters, but really more of a shrub. Not that there's anything wrong with that, and the product is tasty, but it's the truth in advertising failure that bugs me. Proper orange and lemon bitters (Fee's, Regan's, even Angostura taste nothing like these products, and don't work the same way in a cocktail.

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Reply by alavaughn, Feb 11, 2009.

I'm using Stirrings bitters, do you know of a better one? That one is a little sweet, and I wish that it wasn't.

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Reply by gr, Feb 11, 2009.

Yeah, I'm not much of a fan of Stirrings: they Just Don't Get It. They make sweet syrups (note that their Blood Orange "Bitters" is 0% alcohol... what?) rather than proper cocktail seasonings, and they think they're somehow doing someone a favor. You're much better off with a standard orange bitter. I haven't really read much of his stuff (although it looks promising) but here's a decent article comparing the orange bitters commonly available in the US: http://ohgo.sh/archive/orange-bitters/

Amazon has a sampling of everything that you don't have, less the Bitter Truth (see http://www.the-bitter-truth.com/ -- they're in Germany): http://www.amazon.com/KegWorks-com-...

And Regan includes the recipe for his orange bitters (should you care to tweak it to use nothing but blood oranges, for example) in his "Joy of Mixology" (http://www.amazon.com/Joy-Mixology-... ), which is well worth the purchase price in general.

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Reply by Philip James, Feb 11, 2009.

By the way Gr - Im leaning towards whiskey and soda as my "go to", it's not really even a cocktail, but at least everyone can actually make it.

On a different note, i've started to gain a liking for neat rum, which is something i'd only ever had in cocktails (pina colada!) for the longest time.

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Reply by gr, Feb 11, 2009.

I generally figure that highballs count as cocktails these days, though I suppose some might make that distinction.

I still don't exactly Understand rum, but the Apo folks all think highly of Rhum Clément, and if you haven't had occasion to try it previously, you may want to. Also, the next time you're in Philly, swing by Rum Bar (http://www.rumbarphilly.com/ ).

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Reply by Rodolphe Boulanger, Feb 13, 2009.

I'm a big Rhum fan after tasting some *real* ones in Trinidad and Jamaica after college. However, most people in the states have grown up on Bacardi which smells like aviation fuel and doesn't really taste of much either. It's fine for mixed drinks, but it's downright disgusting neat. Then most people's second rum is Malibu or Captain Morgan... which still don't have the richness and complexity of a dark rum or rhum agricole. Maybe we'll get gr over to the dark side someday.

@alavaughn - Have you ever tried Fernet Branca? If you love all those wonderful amari (potable bitters), I think you'll enjoy Fernet too.

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Reply by amour, Jan 23, 2010.

Rum...a great drink....
I have had several including the over proof!

Nothing compares to a well-balanced Planter's Punch,
which is a Caribbean Rum Punch made with boiled sugar syrup,
fresh lime juice, a dash or two of angostora bitters,dark rum,
and served with a maraschino cherry and a fun umbrella toothpick
decorator on a hot day on the best beach!!!!

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Reply by amour, Jan 23, 2010.

gr...thanks for the memory of the Pimms...
Lindy will surely understand Wimbledon Tennis
and a glass of Pimms with a mint leaf!
In the summer in London everyone looks
forward to Pimms in a glass tankard...
I have had it served to me in pure silver
tankards in fine London hotels!

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