Monday, December 7, 2009

The Glamorous Life

Now before you’re all impressed by my pursuit of the perfect holiday cocktails and the incredibly glamorous life I must lead in order to embark on such an endeavor, I’m here to set the record straight:  I take my charge quite seriously.  And I take my credit card charges quite seriously.  But. . . it’s all good. Okay, it’s not really all good. Some of the drinks have been duds, but it has been good, as well as really fun, learning about the different types, blends, and taste combinations of alcoholic beverages so I can share some lovely holiday spirits with my friends.
Most of you probably know a lot about your favorite beer, wine, and spirits.  However, with the exception of a few experiments in college – including the time my roommate and I made our own Kahlua during which I came dangerously close to losing my eyebrows probably trying to kick an imaginary crash cymbal while boiling vodka – I knew nothing about spirits.  I could drink it no problem, but my knowledge of its history, composition, and complexity has been practically nil.

In addition to the terrific Danny Meyer book which inspired my quest, I found that I needed to get some outside help with the particulars of the spirit world.  Instead of turning to Shirley MacLaine, I found this ancient book named The Complete Book of Spirits and Liqueurs by Cyril Ray, © 1978. I’m still mulling it over, but I found out some good information about Scotch – single malt Scotch to be precise – pot stills, patent stills, peat, and ‘silent’ spirits. It’s all quite fascinating.

Additionally, my expanded knowledge has helped me to figure out where I went wrong in the Blue Smoke Martini.  I used a blended Scotch whiskey and not a malt whisky.  Silly lady – only Scotch made using malted barley instead of other grains and dried using peat in the fire carry the smoky taste the recipe called for.  At least this was true according to my newly borrowed ancient book.

Trivia: Did you know that the Scotch and Canadian whiskey is spelled “whisky”?  No. I didn’t think so.  And if you did, what the heck are you doing reading my neophyte babble?  Unless you like 80s music in which case you’re welcome to stay.

So after the first night’s jet fuel experience that was the Blue Smoke Martini – sans smoke – I planned to re-try that one with a single malt Islay Scotch.  I’m glad that my husband was up for the stuffing of the olives again and that the President wasn’t on TV.   The single malt Scotch worked like a charm, or possibly I’m acquiring a taste for jet fuel.

Small is beautiful.

The second night, I warmed up to the Adonis pret- ty darn quickly.

Dark, handsome and prevents scurvy.
What's not to love?

The third night, I could wait no longer and began to think pink.  Unexpectedly, I really, really enjoyed the Pink Lady! I do have to check on the types of grenadine, because my Pink Lady was more like a Muted-Apricot Lady and that just does not have the same ring or festive look to it. 

That is one good looking drink.
Just imagine if it were pink.

On the fourth night of experiments my true love gave to me: two Venetian spritzes.  (He joined me in that one.)  To be frank, I thought it kind of sucked.  The sugar cube didn’t fizz all that much and I like Prosecco better alone than with the Aperol, but it was pretty, and he liked it well enough to have another tonight.  As for me, I’ll take the Gramercy Tavern Bar Nuts he made to go with it any night.

Nice color on the drink, but the nuts, with
their non-sticky sweet and salty crystals
were simply packed with spicy flavor.

Six Empty Olives

Over the weekend we turned to other pursuits during which I managed to enjoy a candy cane martini (schnapps and something else) and a small glass of champagne for a toast to our hosts (neighbors who are great fun).  I finally got the glass jar in which to infuse the gin with ginger and lime for the Ginger Tonic only today, so the infusion is occurring as I write.  I know all you non-gin drinkers are anxiously awaiting this one but there is some serious prep time involved with it. It better be worth it.

Rosemary. Mmmmm. An Islay Single-Malt Scotch
(only $20 -$40 less per bottle than the Laphroaig called for)
and the Gin-Ginger-Lime infusion.

What’s left beside the Ginger Tonic then? 

The Pomegranate Gimlet, the Winter Vacation, and the Winter Solstice.  I’ve decided to forego the beautiful Cranberry Dacquiri because it seemed too sticky and the 23 Skidoo because I just can’t see myself being able to get rid of a bottle of elderflower liqueur.  Ever.

Price tag for my pursuit of the perfect holiday drink? About $250 – so far, including some new glasses.

Stephen suggested I post this picture and say that this is what our new liquor cabinet looks like. 

Other than the glare and the fact that these are all types of whiskey, he’s not that far off. This is what it’s starting to look like except there really is no cabinet, yet.

Optional barware: cleaver

And finally, since I can’t send any of you any cocktails, I’m sending you this little cowbell and drum-playing chick blast from the past as a token of a once and future glamorous life:


Gus Van Horn said...

Heh! That second to last ... shot ... makes me wonder whether you and SB might be interested in this site!

Lynne said...

No doubt we've got some crap in there! We have no idea what we're doing.

Mad Dog 20/20?!? Ha!

I haven't had that spirit here since 1989! Kidding. (It was 1986, but I needed it to fit the line from Hotel California.)

A bit of personal trivia: Among his many jobs in my youth, my father was a salesman for Boone's Farm Apple Wine! At one point, my desk was an old Boone's Farm liquor store display.