I'll Drink to That
Welcome to our website. It's new [buffs out a mark on the screen].
It's a bit intimidating to have a blog devoid of any entries. First impressions are everything, and if I worry too much about getting off on the right foot, I'll just sit here in front of the keyboard paralyzed. You know what? I think I'll make a drink. [Walks out of the room to his home bar]
Daiquiri. Nothing fancy, three ingredients - rum, lime, simple syrup. I used Jeffrey Morgenthaler's ratios, which I've never tried before. You can see a video of it at this site.
Why do I mention that I used Jeff's ratios rather than just saying "I made a daiquiri?" Because nowadays in drinking as in cooking, not all drinks (dishes) are equal. Just like every pumpkin pie recipe is different, there's often little consensus on how to make drinks. In some cities like New York or London, ordering a Manhattan will get you pretty much the same spirits in (close to) the same ratios, but here in Toronto if you order a Manhattan at 4 different bars, it's quite possible you'd get 4 different drinks with 5 different spirits and 3 different garnishes. If you're drinking at one of our numerous chain restaurants, the bartender might even have to look up the recipe, in which case you'll be at the mercy of the author of whatever drink-slinger's manual they happen to have on their back bar. So I'm always searching for the recipe that to me captures the essence of what a drink is meant to be - the perfect balance of ingredients that makes me want to have a second glass of the same drink before moving on.
All of which is to say that much like life or a box of chocolates, at a bar you don't always know what you're going to get.
One of the things I love about the current cocktail renaissance is that even though I have a particular drink in mind when I place my order, I'm often surprised (usually pleasantly) by what's going in the coupe or old-fashioned glass my barkeep places on the coaster in front of me. Todays craft bartenders (mixologists, if you don't hate the term) are playing with classic cocktails even before the classic cocktails are re-established as "classics" in the minds of a new generation of drinkers. Often the results are fantastic, occasionally they fall flat. But they're all part of an evolution and creative legacy that stretches (with one notable interruption) 170 years into the past.
But I digress. My plans for this real estate are to talk about my experiences with cocktails, drinking, bars and the people in front of and behind them. They've become a passion of mine over the last decade. I'm what you'd probably call a "cocktail enthusiast". Short of a brief long-ago stint serving beers in Europe, I've not been part of the spirits industry. The last five years in particular have been a crash course in spirits and cocktails for me. The idea of proper technique, bar setup, recipes and quality spirits appeals to the scientist and engineer in me. At the same time, for a long time I've been searching for a community to belong to, and the cocktail/spirits community is full of what I consider my kindred spirits. I'm very much drawn to the people in it, who strike a great balance between creativity, geekery and hospitality.
Much like breaking bread with other people creates bonds, drinking with one another connects us. Spirits (in moderation) can help us overcome our shyness, lubricate our social interactions and occasionally help us cope with life's travails. We toast newly wedded couples, drown our sorrows, and christen boats with bottles of champagne. Some of us take communion with sacramental wine. It's ingrained in our culture.
My search for new spirits, innovative cocktails (and well-executed classics!), enjoyable bar experiences and new culinary/bartending techniques is going to require some travelling companions. I'm hoping that you'll check back often to see what we've been up to, and join in the conversation. It's nowhere near last call.