Skip to main content

happier hours

although i salute the return of bars that serve cocktails, as opposed to those where you have to explain how to make a vodka and orange, i am distressed by the fact that, rather than making proper cocktails, they generally just give themselves an uber-sleek decor, take whatever bottles have collected dust, mash up the ingredients and serve them in a martini glass to fashion victims.

a well-prepared cocktail can be the highlight of an evening, but it needs to be executed by someone who knows what they’re doing. and too often, there is a confusion between the flat out weird and the low-yield girl drinks that are generally dished out at resorts. the best cocktails have more kick than an angry mule, but taste so divine you’ll be under the table before you know what hit you. the iron fist in the velvet glove indeed.

a few of my favourites include:

the mint julep. do yourself a favour: never order this in a bar. you’re likely to get a mix of creme de menthe and cheap whiskey that tastes like your mouth when you were trying to hide the fact that you were out drinking in high school. the first time i had these made properly, the guy preparing them called a friend of his in west virginia to get the recipie: nice bourbon, fresh mint, brown sugar that you heat on the spot, all served over ice. one of the most refreshing summer drinks ever, but beware, it packs a punch beyond what you would expect from its simple ingredients. tasting tip: let it sit for a few minutes after preparation to allow the flavours to mingle.

the sidecar. rarer than hen’s teeth are the bartenders who know how to prepare one of these properly. i’ve actually been known to walk a couple of them through the process, with mixed results (go ahead, groan, i swear it was unintentional). probably the only cocktail involving brandy that won’t make your teeth rot, this little bomb also involves cointreau and lemon and tastes best when it’s a little on the sour side (to me at least). (warning: some guides or bartenders will tell you that you can substitute triple sec, which is cheaper, for cointreau. don’t believe them.) no one really orders these, or even knows what they are, for the most part, because they faded from popularity around the early 1940s, but that makes the hunt for a good one all the more exciting.

the mojito. luckily, this cuban treat is the essence of popularity right now, which makes them easy to find. chain restaurants even serve them and they’re pretty good to boot. a mix of rum, lime, mint, soda and sugar, they should be required patio drinking in the summer. also worth checking is the mojito’s brazilian cousin the caphirinia, which eschews the mint, but gives much the same effect. the caphirinia is a little more difficult to find, but is gaining in popularity.

i personally think that the cocktail hour is the essence of civility and, let’s face it, who doesn’t want to unwind at the end of the day? despite the fact that the cost per drink is high, most people can’t handle more than a few serious cocktails even if they could routinely drink sumo wrestlers under the table, so you are getting more bang for your buck.

anyone who has favourite cocktail recipies or locales to share, please feel free.

Comments

Hah, the lost art of the mix drink. Its amazing how there can be so many "Bartenders" and "Barmaids" who get hired on their hability to sell drinks rather than mix them... style over substance as it is.
Fave cocktail experience: a Singapore Sling, which I had ordered in a chinese buffet in Montreal's Chinatown. You could actually taste the alcohol, without the bite, so a perfect blend.
Worse experience: a Godfather, my personal favourite and damned simple, just the right proportion of whisky and amaretto on ice, how can you screw that up? Well you can. By using Jack Daniels instead of whisky. Jack should not be mixed with anything; in fact it should not be consummed at all. And this is coming from someone who drinks grappa and enjoys it.
flora_mundi said…
aside from the mint julep disaster, my worst experience was a screwdriver made with orange drink crystals instead of orange juice... shudder...
Yeah, I sympathise with that... Tang should not be used except by white trash astronauts...

as long as you're here, why not read more?

losers?

just a short time ago, i waxed prosaic about trump supporters who felt betrayed by their candidate pursuing in office the exact things that he said he would. short version: i have no sympathy.

today is a bit different. in the wake of america's bombing of a syrian air strip, in response to a chemical weapons attack by the syrian government, my facebook and twitter feeds were peppered with plaintive shades of "we believed you". these are the people who heard trump say that he wanted the united states to step back and focus on defending its own. indeed, trump did say such things, over and over; america cannot be the policeman of the world. even arch-liberal cynics like me had to admit that this was a refreshing argument to hear from someone outside the paul family, and, could easily have been turned into trump's greatest argument against hillary clinton. [he chose to go another way, which also worked.]

trump also said, repeatedly, that america needed to invest heavily …

long division

after the united states election last year, there were the usual calls for the country to unite behind the new president. that never happens anymore, because, since george w. bush scored a victory in 2004, having launched the country into a war in iraq for no reason, the people on the losing side of a presidential election have been pretty bloody angry about it. democrats hated bush 43. republicans really hated obama. democrats really hate trump.

it didn't help that trump didn't make the typical conciliatory gestures like including a couple of members of the opposite party in his cabinet, or encouraging his party to proceed slowly with contentious legislation. barack obama arguably wasted at least two and as many as six years of his tenure as president trying to play peacemaker before he felt sufficiently safe to just say "screw you guys" and start governing around the ridiculous congress he was forced to deal with. not-giving-a-shit obama was the best president in …

don't speak

you might think that it sounds dramatic, but linguistic genocide is something that happens. people in power will go to great lengths to eradicate certain languages, not just for the sheer joy of making the world a lesser place, but as a way of beating down the culture that's associated with it. language has a unique reciprocal bond with culture, and every group that has attempted to break down another has recognised that forbidding a cultural group from communicating in their own language is an extremely effective way to tear apart their culture.

there are lots [and lots and lots and lots] of examples of this sort of thing, some successful, some not, but far too many to cover in one blog post. however, i thought it was worth looking at some languages that have been the subjects of active repression, and what the political consequences of that have been.

devastation :: the native north american languages :: it should come as no surprise that the largest genocide in history [by a ma…