Not tryin to reinvent the wheel here (yet)
It just dawned on me that I had yet to feature any original cocktails here on the blog. The goal of this thing has always been to approach critical thinking in the craft of bartending. Whether it be asking questions like do we really need chilled glassware or bevnaps under champagne flutes; making controversial observations when I see bartenders leaping over the bar and running away from it in search of undeserved fame; highlighting events and achievements by local colleagues; or condensing seminars. As such, I will never compile a list of classic cocktails here on Commercial Free- there are just too many awesome blogs, sites and resources already out there (in fact I just added a handful of links to help you on your cocktail conquest. Its right above you.) So while you may not see a post on here with recipes for Sidecars and French 75’s, I will do my best to at least post a couple of original drinks and maybe something about ‘em on here now and again going forward. I’ll start with three.
No, its not the Long Island Tea with Blue Curacao, that’s the Adios Motherfucker. Its basically a gin and tonic, the hard way. While there’s nothing new about this drink, (tipples combining gin, lime and quinine date back to the 1700’s and earlier) I do think its rather delicious. Oh and the Gin and Tonic was Joey Ramone’s favorite drink, and the Ramones’ final studio album was called Adios Amigos. I like to think he might’ve enjoyed this one a little more.
.75oz fresh lime juice
.5 oz Quinine Syrup
2 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
Shake, fine strain into cocktail glass.
Garnish with a lime wedge or wheel.
To make quinine syrup, combine 32 oz of white granulated sugar to 21 oz water (this is a 3:2 ratio and is what I often use when making flavored syrups) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, add 1 tbsp. of cinchona bark (available at Terra Spice and at Monterey Spice Co) simmer for 20 minutes, then cool in a water bath and strain through a coffee filter.
Last summer, during the weekly Commercial Free residence at Grand Prize on Wednesday nights, I decided for one of my menus that I was going to remake some “college bar shots.” Red Headed Slut, Water Moccasin, Sex on the Beach, Washington Apple, and the Surfer on Acid were all on the menu. I took the essence of all of the drinks and reworked them using quality, fresh ingredients, and astonishingly, they were all good cocktails. Were most of them great? No, but they were all on par in terms of balance, drinkability, and believe it or not, interesting-ness. One drink, however, stood out. I reworked the original Jager-based shot by adding fresh lime juice, fresh pineapple, by ditching the artificially flavored Malibu and subbing a combination of El Dorado 5 yr Guyana Rum and Coco Lopez coconut cream. I served it long and on crushed ice, or was it cubes?… I initially thought that there was no way it would work, but kept it on for the staff and regulars at Grand Prize who have turned Jager into the new Fernet. So we made one and it was as ironically enjoyable as the words on the menu, it has every element of a great tiki drink. Was it a Pina Colada with Jager, or a Painkiller, with Jager subbed for Orange, who cares? Is it “played out?” Maybe, but so is lime juice.
1.5 oz Jagermeister
.5 oz El Dorado 5 year Guyana Rum
1 oz Fresh Pineapple Juice
.5 oz Coco Lopez
.5 oz Fresh Lime Juice
Shake, Strain into a Collins glass, fill with crushed ice.
Garnish w/ lime wedge (or more elaborately if you fancy)
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade, when a chef gives Lainey a bushel of lemon grass, I make lemongrass syrup, and when I make a syrup one of the first things I do to test its workability is make a gin Collins (notice I said gin not Tom, a tom Collins requires Old Tom Gin, and since I am testing a sweetener, I don’t want a gin that sweet). That’s just what I did here, when Benjy from Downhouse tweeted that he needed someone to help him with his lemon grass problem, Lainey was on it, and suddenly, I too had too much lemongrass on my hands. The solution was simple, make a flavored cocktail syrup. (did I mention I like making syrups? Well I do, in fact I’m in the process of getting a syrup company started right now.) This is a great example of how a tried and true classic can really sing with subtle and restrained modification. Will this drink win you any transcontinental flights, naw mane, but it will make your guests at home and at the bar think you actually love them.
2 oz Dry Gin (Citadelle and Bombay Sapphire East both work nicely )
1 oz Lemon Juice
.75 oz Lemongrass Syrup
Shake, Strain into a Collins glass, add cubes, top with Soda.
Garnish with lemon and blades of Lemon Grass.
To make Lemongrass Syrup, follow Benjy on twitter, get Lemongrass, put it in a pot with 21oz water and bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes (making a tea) Strain through mesh strainer or China cap, then add 32oz White, granulated sugar (there’s that 3:2 ratio again), bring back to a boil, then remove from heat allow to cool slowly at ambient room temperature.
Cocktails, photos and post by Alex Gregg.