Thursday, March 10, 2016

What I've Learned (Bartending Edition Pts. 3 & 4)


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Here we go again with some random knowledge I’ve accumulated over the last couple years of throwing booze at people. Please enjoy responsibly.



 What I’ve Learned in My Third and Fourth Year of Bartending


~ A customer wearing too much perfume/cologne is a circle of Hell that Dante forgot to mention.

~ In a pinch, a wire coat hanger makes a great sink snake.

 ~ It’s fun to use smoke, foam, lasers, liquid nitrogen, gene splicing, etc., to make a drink. But make sure it tastes good.

~ You will never have to buy sunglasses. Customers will constantly leave them behind and never come back for them.

 ~ You will never have to buy t-shirts (assuming you’re OK with all of your t-shirts having liquor brand logos on them)

 ~ If the first thing you give a customer is the menu, he will ask for water. If the first thing you give a customer is water, he will ask for the menu.

~ A first date is one of the most entertaining/uncomfortable things you will ever witness.

~ Having the walk-in on a different floor from the bar is a huge pain in the ass (and legs, and back).

~ Customers will frequently ask, “What’s your best drink?” The best drink is whichever one you like best.

~ You will always have one-dollar bills in your wallet.

~ Some customers must know who the owner is. It will be the first question they ask. Apparently it is important information.

~ On that note: If you are over 40 and behind the bar, people will assume you are the owner.

~ A hand-picked playlist beats Pandora every time.

~ Some customers are clearly insane. Not drunk. Not high. Insane.

~ Speaking of insane, sometimes a customer will pay their tab entirely in dollar coins.

~ Nobody expects the guy in the Hawaiian shirt to say his favorite drink is a Martini.

~ Speaking of Hawaiian shirts: If you wear them frequently, customers will give them to you as gifts.

~ If you find two or three strangers spontaneously striking up a conversation with each other, that’s usually a good sign. You probably did something right, vibe-wise.

~ If you’re someone who thinks it’s acceptable to touch your server, bartender, etc., stop it. Unless that person is on fire or about to walk into a swarm of bees, there is no reason you ever need to touch a member of the staff.

~ You don’t realize how much you need a barback until you don’t have one.

~ Somewhere along the way, ranch dressing became a punch line.

~ There is no question from a customer you will come to hate more than “What do you recommend?”

~ Most people still have no idea what absinthe is all about (how it’s made, how you prepare it, how you drink it.)

~ If you are running low on ingredients for a particular drink, that drink will be the night’s big seller.

~ Likewise, if you are running low on beer glasses, everybody will want to order beer. If you are running low on wine glasses, everybody will be ordering wine. You get the picture.

~ If you suspect your dishwasher smokes weed, he probably does.

~ Actually, I’m certain your dishwasher smokes weed.

~ You know what? The whole staff probably smokes weed.

~ Does social media bring in customers? Maybe. Does word-of-mouth bring in customers? Always.

~ If a customer says to their bartender or server, “Don’t worry, I’m gonna take good care of you”, that person invariably leaves a lousy tip.

~ If there’s a part of the floor behind the bar that is not covered by a mat, that’s precisely where you’ll drop (and break) a bottle.

~ Visiting other bartenders at their workplace is fun, but make a point of getting together when nobody is working. It’s good to hang out somewhere neutral where everyone is relaxed.

~ There are restaurant reviewers who are skilled, knowledgeable, conscientious and inquisitive. There are also restaurant reviewers who are none of those things. It doesn’t take long to figure out who is who.

~ Unlimited olives!

~ Whatever type of drink you don’t happen to currently be featuring in your Happy Hour specials is precisely the one that customers will want (and will complain about you overlooking).

~ It’s obvious a lot of liquor brands don’t design their bottle sizes & shapes with bartenders in mind. In fact, some seem to go out of their way to create the most difficult-to-use configurations they can imagine.

~ A surprising number of people will have several rounds in a bar while having no idea what the name of the place is or what street they’re on.

~ If the temperature in the bar seems fine to you, a customer will immediately complain about it.

~ If your bar has lamps on it, customers will screw around with them. They can’t help themselves. Apparently, turning a light on and off repeatedly is very satisfying.

~ If your bar has a piano in it, customers will screw around with it. They can’t help themselves. Apparently, pounding on a musical instrument when you don’t know how to play it is very satisfying.

~ If you keep your tools, bitters, garnishes, etc., within reach of customers, they will screw around with them. They can’t help themselves. Apparently fondling fruit and examining tiny bottles is very satisfying.

~ What I’m saying is that a lot of grownups behave just like toddlers when they’re at a bar.     

~ There are people who place a stack of bills on the table, inform their server that it’s their tip, and every time the server does something “wrong”, they’ll remove a portion of it. If you’re one of those people, stay home.

~ If someone orders a pisco sour, that person just got back from a trip to South America.

~ If someone orders a caipirinha , that person just saw a TV show about South America.

~ When you are making drinks or cooking at home, you will find yourself reaching for the bar towel you usually have hanging from your belt when you’re at work. It may not be there. This phenomenon is referred to as “phantom butt-rag.”

~ If a customer asks what nights you work, you probably showed them a good time.

~ You will destroy an unbelievable amount of socks.    

Friday, February 28, 2014

What I've Learned (Bartending Edition Pt. 2)

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It's time again for my annual laundry list of stuff I've learned over the past year. Hopefully I'm a little wiser than I was 12 months ago, but you never can tell...all that alcohol probably impaired something.


What I've Learned In Two Years Of Bartending
 

~ In most cases, people want a drink, not a dissertation.

~ If you wear a Hawaiian shirt, people will comment on it (especially in Winter).

~ The last 15 minutes before you open is often a frenzy of getting everything in place and nailed down before people start arriving. This is when your beer rep will show up unannounced and want to talk at length about all the great new stuff he’s got.

~ People will react with genuine bewilderment and anger when you inform them you don’t have any flavored vodka.

~ People will react with genuine bewilderment and anger when you inform them you don’t have Bud Light.

~ When lighting stuff on fire, go with matches rather than a lighter. It looks classier, and your co-workers who smoke probably already stole your lighter anyway.

~ If you work at a fancy-schmancy bar, get your clothes at thrift stores. You can get dress shirts for four bucks, and ties for two. It makes no sense to wear expensive stuff that’s going to get splattered with all manner of crud the first time you wear it.

~ The customer is not always right. But the customer does come first.

~ Don’t bad-mouth other bars/restaurants or your colleagues who work there. The hospitality industry is a much smaller community than you think, and they will hear about it.

~ You will be asked on a nightly basis what your favorite drink is. (Mine happens to be a Martini, but that’s rarely the answer they’re looking for)

~ You will also be asked on a nightly basis to recommend a drink. You can be passive-aggressive, suggest something lousy, and possibly lose a customer. Or you could sincerely point someone to a drink they’ll like and help them have a nice night. Hopefully you’ll make the right choice.

~ Some of the best food you will ever eat will be consumed while sitting on a milk crate next to a dumpster.

~ When your boss says something like, “There’s a VIP at seat 13”, that person is usually a low-level politician, local TV news personality, or someone else who will show up once and never return. Your real VIPs are the people who come in on a regular basis, appreciate what you have to offer, and put money in your pocket.

~ There are a lot of bartenders who want to be chefs…and vice-versa.

~ If a customer asks your name when they first sit down, it means they want to be able to get your attention immediately when they want something. If they ask your name as they’re leaving, it means they enjoyed their time with you and plan on coming back.

~ People will make out aggressively in comfy lounge chairs if you provide them. They will also make out aggressively on barstools. Or in hallways. Anywhere, really.

~ Single-digit temperatures will not deter people from going to a bar for a cold drink. Brutally high temperatures will not deter people from eating hot food on a sun-blasted patio.

~ Bring your own first-aid kit to work with you (mine is just an Altoids tin full of Band-Aids, gauze, and a roll of electrical tape). Your employer’s kit may not be stocked properly and/or not where it’s supposed to be. Running all over the back-of-house trying to find medical supplies while vigorously bleeding is not fun.

~ Right around the time you have all the drink recipes memorized, they’ll change the menu.

~ Right around the time you learn where all the bottles are, they’ll rearrange the back bar.

~ People say things to servers that they would never dream of saying to bartenders. If you are someone who does this, understand that behaving badly and abusing the staff (regardless of their position or duties) doesn’t make you important. It makes you a jerk.

~ Co-workers, customers, vendors, etc., will always congregate at the one narrow opening that is the only way in & out from behind the bar.

~ Sexual harassment. It’s real, and you can be fired for it.

~ If the first words out of a customer’s mouth are, “What’s on special?” that person doesn’t really care what he/she drinks. They’re just looking for the cheapest buzz.

~ People will tell you they can’t get a decent Martini in most bars. Don’t be one of those bars.

~ Sweetness is the hardest thing to calibrate in a cocktail. You can give what you consider a wonderfully balanced drink to three people, and one will say it’s too sweet, one will say it’s not sweet enough, and one will say it’s just right.

~ The same customer can be a complete SOB one night and perfectly cool another night.

~ If you slap a sprig of mint anywhere in view of customers, someone will yell, "Spank it! Spank that mint!” (Guaranteed. This is the “Freebird!” of bartending.)

~ Many customers love to be guinea pigs for new recipes you’re working on. If you’re playing around with a new drink concept, let some of your more adventurous patrons give it a taste and offer feedback. Most people enjoy being part of the creative process.

~ If you’re using your phone, I’m waiting on someone else.

~ It’s tough to get to know dishwashers (the people, not the machines). They come and go pretty quickly.

~ During pre-shift hours, co-workers will use the bar as an office, lunch counter, makeshift kitchen, etc. This means computers, phones, restaurant supplies, half-eaten meals, and miscellaneous projects will be strewn the length of the bar right up until the first customer walks in.

~ People really love big hunks of hand-cut ice in their drinks. Make them if you can reasonably manage it.

~ You’re either a Fernet Branca person or a J├Ągermeister person.

~ Many people are deathly afraid of beer that has significant color or flavor (I’ve been aware of this for years, but it still surprises me how often people will choose the least interesting beer in the lineup).

~ If someone famous comes into your place, it will invariably be on a night you aren’t working.

~ Giving someone their first properly-made Old-Fashioned is incredibly rewarding.

~ You don’t have to like all your customers. You just need to be as professional as possible with the ones you don’t like.*

~ Just when you’ve managed to get the atmosphere in the bar perfectly set, your boss will begin fiddling with the lights and cranking up the music.

~ Cambros are not watertight. If you have to move large quantities of liquid via plane, train, automobile, etc., bear this in mind or be prepared for a trunkful of grenadine.

~ Just because someone is a bartender doesn’t mean they know how to drink.

~ People will order a drink just because it has egg white in it. People will not order a drink just because it has egg white in it.

~ It’s difficult to describe the subtle pleasure of working in a bar with no TVs.

~ Ordering a Martini or Manhattan on the rocks is incomprehensible to me.

~ Some nights it’s just one big game of Whack-A-Mole.




*Unless that person proves to be an irredeemable asshole. Then you should professionally get them out of your bar.





Tuesday, February 26, 2013

What I've Learned (Bartending Edition)

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This is normally the time of year when I rip off pay tribute to my favorite Esquire feature and check in with my list of things I learned while blogging about booze the previous year. Unfortunately, these past 12 months I've done very little blogging, but I have spent a bit of time behind the bar (a story for another time), and I picked up a few things.

One of the first things I realized is that it's virtually impossible to bartend several nights a week and not learn something. Matt Robold pointed this out a while ago, and it still holds true. Spend a few nights swapping money for booze and your eyes will be opened in ways they never would have if you frequent bars only as a customer.

And so we have...


What I've Learned in One Year of Bartending


~ If the bar is completely prepped by opening time, no one will come in the place for 20 minutes. But if you're scrambling like mad to get set up, there will be 14 people outside the door waiting for you to open.

~ As tempting (and entertaining) as it may be, don't get carried away profiling your customers. You'd be surprised how often the lady orders whiskey on the rocks and the guy gets a chardonnay.

~ That being said, it's a safe bet the guy with the full beard, plaid shirt and Buddy Holly glasses will order the most obscure craft beer you have.

~ Telling me to "make it strong" when you order a drink guarantees I won't put a single drop more alcohol in it than the recipe requires.

~ Likewise, if you ask me to "go light on the ice", that doesn't mean I'm going to fill the extra space with more booze. If you want a double, order a double.

~ Shockingly smart people with a diverse array of talents and skills work in bars and restaurants. Don't assume that your server, bartender, etc., is working there because they're too dumb or incompetent to find employment elsewhere. (I knew this a long time ago, but it needs to be restated. Often.)

~If you're lucky enough to have a barback, don't mistreat him/her. That person is doing a thankless, unglamorous job in order to help you do yours better. Also, it makes you look like a tyrannical jackass.

~ People who have never bartended have no idea how much of the job is moving stuff from point "A" to point "B". And then moving it back again.

~ Some people go to bars purely because they want attention. The fact that they can buy food and drink there is incidental. What they really need is someone to fuss over them. This doesn't make them bad people. It's just possible that interacting with their bartender may be the only pleasant, gratifying human contact they can count on.

~ However, some of these same customers will be self-important, unreasonably demanding high-maintenance pains in the neck. Summon as much politeness and professionalism as possible and weather them the best you can.

~ On the other end of the spectrum are people who want virtually no interaction at all. They're pretty easy to spot, so give 'em their drinks, stay out of their face, and don't take it personally.

~ If you work at a bar that boasts a list of almost 200 tequilas, you will be asked at least once a night which one is your favorite. It's a good idea to have several favorites.

~ The strangest drink anyone asked me to make was a mojito with scotch instead of rum. It wasn't great. But it didn't taste as bad as you'd think.

~ When it's time to settle up, the people who initially wanted separate checks will now tell you to put it all together, and the people who said they were fine with everything on one check will now want you to split it.

~ I never realized how many people are afraid of rum.

~ If you want a drink to sell, incorporate "berry" into its name somehow.

~ People will ask you to make up drinks on the spot. Try to accommodate them if possible, within reason (Rest assured someone will ask you to improvise a drink when you are completely slammed, so your ability to do so may depend on circumstances).

~ Speaking of which, there are nights when you will be swamped. A raw, undiluted panic may wash over you, but remember: It's just drinks. You are not trying to re-attach someone's leg or land a crippled 747.

~ That being said, take care of your guests to the best of your abilities. I've found that most people are patient and forgiving, provided you acknowledge them. They may not get their drinks for a bit, but at least they know they're not being ignored. Also, a simple apology for the wait goes a long, long way.

~ If you dispense a drink ingredient (no matter how ordinary) from an eyedropper, at least one customer will exclaim, "Whoa! Mad scientist stuff!"

~ The best beer is often the worst seller.

~ Milk crates are the bartender's best friend.

~ Plastic quart containers are the bartender's other best friend.

~ Finding out several of my fellow bartenders also disliked Fernet Branca was a true bonding experience.

~ It's heartening to see so many people buying locally-made beer and spirits.

~ If you make 50 great-looking drinks and one not-so-great-looking one, that's the one someone will take a picture of.

~ Always have a roll of duct tape within easy reach. It's the only thing that will hold band-aids, gauze, finger cots, etc. on your hands while working. It's pretty good for fixing other stuff too.

~ While we're on the topic, you will bloody your hands and fingers on a regular basis. The upside to this is that combining wounds with citrus juice is better than a cup of coffee for keeping you awake and alert during your shift.

~ If you serve wine, carry a wine key with you. If you serve bottled beer, carry a bottle opener with you. If there's anything you use on a semi-regular basis, keep it in your pocket if possible. Don't assume whatever you need will be conveniently lying nearby when you need it. People and things move around rapidly behind a bar, and stuff disappears in a heartbeat.

~ People leave their credit cards behind with startling frequency.

~ Get to know other bartenders, especially ones who have been at it longer than you have. Talk to them whenever possible. You'll learn things.

~ Use your head when it comes to your feet. When bartending, you will be standing/walking almost the entire duration of your shift. Also, bar floors are covered with liquid, food, bits of broken glass, etc. Ideally, you want footwear that has a good combination of comfort, durability, and traction.

~ Sometimes doing or not doing a very small thing can make someone's else job a whole lot easier. (this applies to many jobs, but reaps immediate, tangible rewards in a bar or restaurant).

~ Be able (and willing) to make mocktails. When you spend a lot of time in a bar it's easy to forget that not everybody drinks.

~ When in doubt, Jameson's.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Pack & Pour: A Guide to Nomadic Bartending

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If you enjoy making cocktails (and if you're one of the five people who read this blog, then it's a safe bet you do), sooner or later someone will ask you to bartend at a party, cookout, tailgate, or other similar gathering. Providing adult refreshment at these kinds of events can be a lot of fun, especially if you're asked to make cocktails from scratch. We're not talking about just needing someone to pop open beers or crack a few wine bottles ... we're talking events where you'll actually be mixing drinks and need the equipment necessary to do so.

A big issue with making drinks somewhere other than your usual spot is trying to figure out what you'll need to bring with you in order to pull it off. Some places may have a fully-equipped bar, and all you'll need to bring are your smile and your know-how. Other places will require you to essentially bring an entire bar with you. It all depends on the event. Ideally, the organizer(s) will be supplying the booze, mixers, garnishes, and other stuff that's going in the drinks, but you'll probably need to provide at least some of the other necessities.

Aside from obvious items like shakers, strainers, bar spoons, etc., what other miscellaneous stuff should you bring when you're mixing away from home? I've bartended at several events big and small, casual and formal, and I quickly learned to operate under the following rule:


Assume the place you're working won't have what you need.


If someone tells you they'll have something you'll need, bring it with you anyway. Never count on your host to provide important equipment. Even the most organized, detail-oriented person can forget things or miscommunicate, so cover your bases, anticipate what you'll need, and bring it yourself (Even if they do have it, it never hurts to have extra).

The list below is not exhaustive, but just offers up a few things I've found handy. I don't bring everything with me every time, but I've used each of them at one time or another and was glad I had it.


Drink Recipes

Depending on what you're serving, you'll likely want to have a few recipes jotted down. Whether you're preparing traditional favorites or a selection of original recipes, write 'em down somewhere. Bring a little notebook, a pile of Post-its, or something you can easily refer to when it's time to start pouring.

Ice

"They said they'll have ice."

People say a lot of things.

I once worked an event where I was assured I'd have all the ice I'd need because the place had an ice machine. When I arrived, I discovered the machine was extremely small and had already been thoroughly emptied of its contents by the many other vendors working the event. Since then, I always bring a bag or two with me. That ensures I can get started making drinks while the hosts/organizers go scrounge up more ice.

Water

It sounds silly, but when you're somewhere without easy access to water (like the middle of a stadium parking lot) washing your barware becomes a problem. Bring a gallon or two with you if a convenient water source looks unlikely.

Ice Scoop

Much classier than using your hands or a keg cup.

5-Gallon Bucket

There's nothing like the feeling of making the first drink of the evening ... and realizing there's nowhere to dump out your shaker. 5-gallon buckets work great as portable sinks. I always bring at least two, using one as a dump sink and the others to clean barware in.

Cooler/Ice Chest

As the name suggests, this is where you put your ice. Also handy for storage and carrying stuff in and out of the venue. Basically, they're insulated steamer trunks. And just like your 5-gallon buckets, you can use them as makeshift sinks.

Bar/Side Towels

Always, always, always bring these- they'll be one of the very first things you reach for, and in all likelihood the venue won't provide them. I bring a dozen or so. You'll need them to clean up spills, dry off barware, and a bunch of other stuff. You can usually find them in bulk at restaurant supply stores, so grab a pack or two before you head out.

OXO Mini-measure

Their easy-to-read markings and pour-friendly shape make these little guys a favorite of many professional and home bartenders. I use standard jiggers, but I usually bring one of these along as a backup or in case a non-bartending-type guest wants to help out.

Pourers

These are the little nozzles you see in the tops of bottles at pretty much every bar. You can get by without them, but they definitely make pouring faster and easier. Get them from restaurant supply stores or online barware vendors and throw a handful into your bag.

Openers

Even if you're mainly serving cocktails, always have something to open wine and beer bottles with.

Multi-tool

Not mandatory, but useful as hell. Having some combination of pliers, knife, screwdrivers etc. in one convenient package can be a lifesaver. There are expensive ones and cheap ones, so buy according to your budget and preferences. I like the Leatherman Wave (which I have with me every time I bartend, no matter where), but there's a bunch of good options out there.

Duct Tape

Self-explanatory. It fixes everything.

Swing-top Bottles

If you're bringing any of your own liquid ingredients (juices, syrups, etc.) invest in a few of these. They're not expensive, and they pay for themselves in not having to keep track of a bunch of little caps all night long.

Energy Bars

Because you might get hungry ... and they might not have food for you.

Serrated Knife

Serrated knives do a better job than straight-edged knives at cutting fruit like limes, lemons or anything with a rind or a thick peel. Since it's likely that's exactly the kind of stuff you'll be dealing with, bring a knife you're comfortable with. I like the cheap ones that come with their own sheath like this one because I can just chuck them in my bag and not worry about them punching holes in stuff or people.

Small Cutting Board

Bring this along so your knife doesn't get lonely. It also prevents disapproving looks from your host when he notices you slicing lime wedges on top of his Xbox.

Channel Knife/Vegetable Peeler

Handy for making spiffy-looking garnishes, if you're a spiffy garnish kind of person.

Folding Table

I know it sounds strange to bring your own work surface with you, but anyone who has ever had to make a ton of drinks on a cramped kitchen counter or wobbly patio table can attest to how frustrating an experience it can be. For those (like me) who don't happen to own one of those high-end portable bars, I suggest using a folding table like this.

I was fortunate enough to have a couple of these donated to me by a neighbor who was moving, and they're great. The only drawbacks are their size and weight. They don't fit in smaller cars and can be unwieldy for one person to carry. However, there are similar models that fold up to smaller size and come with a handle so you can carry 'em around like a suitcase.

Stuff to Write With

I like to bring a ballpoint pen, a Sharpie, and a few sheets of paper with me. I use them mainly to write up on-the-spot menus, because everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) will ask you what drinks you have on offer. Writing up a quick sign with the drink names and ingredients will save you having to recite the particulars of your drink list over and over every time someone steps to the bar.

Oh, and I use ballpoint pens and Sharpies specifically because their ink isn't water-soluble. Remember that everything in a bar will get wet at some point, including your carefully-written menu.

Small Funnel

You won't realize you need it until it's too late.

Measuring Cup

Useful mainly if you're making batches of something like punch or sangria. Get a 2 or 4-cup size (unless you enjoy measuring out a bowl of punch 2 ounces at a time).

Ice Crusher/Lewis Bag & Mallet

Not necessary unless you know you're going to be making things like juleps, swizzles, and tiki drinks. I prefer the mechanical hand-cranked type over the bag & mallet, but both work fine.

First Aid Kit

I'm not talking an EMT-grade extravaganza with aspirin, burn cream, antiseptic, 15 different sizes of bandages, and all the other goodies. My first-aid kit is an Altoids tin full of band-aids and the roll of duct tape mentioned above. Basically, just bring something to keep from bleeding into people's drinks when you cut yourself (and you will cut yourself, eventually).

Plastic Grocery Bags

Toss a few of these in your kit. They're great for packing up wet/sticky stuff at the end of the night. Again, like duct tape and 5 -gallon buckets, they're a cheap, simple item with lots of uses.

Business Cards

If you find it pleasurable to make drinks for strangers, have something with your contact info on it you can give them. Assuming you've done your job somewhat competently, it's entirely possible someone will ask you to make drinks again at a future event. Make it easy for them.


One last tip: I don't recommend bringing particularly expensive or valuable equipment on the road if you can manage it. As tempting as it may be to show off your Uncle Herbert's one-of-a-kind antique cocktail shaker, you'll probably want to leave it at home unless you're OK with family heirlooms being lost, broken, or stolen.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Oregon Daiquiri

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Oregon Daiquiri

2 oz. White rum
3/4 oz. Lime juice
1/2 oz. Hazelnut syrup
2 dashes Bittermen's Xocolatl Mole bitters

Shake everything with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass.


The Oregon Daiquiri is a drink I came up with a while back. I wish I had some grandiose story of how I drew inspiration from a variety of sources, labored for days on the concept, and tweaked the recipe incessantly in the pursuit of the perfect drink. But that's not what happened. What went down is more or less:

1) A brand rep kindly sent me a bottle of rum (In this case, Banks 5 Island)

2) I had hazelnut syrup handy and wanted to see if it would taste good with the rum.

3) I added some lime juice and realized what I'd made is essentially a Daiquiri.

Welcome to mixology, kids. Sometimes that's all there is to it.

Back to the Daiquiri. The Daiquiri is a classic cocktail, and like many of the classics, it uses few ingredients to achieve superb results. Like I often do, I'll avoid going into the history and various incarnations of this drink, since lots of other booze geeks have worked very hard researching and publishing this information elsewhere. All that's really important to know is you should use good rum, fresh juice, and mix it properly.

In other words, don't screw up a simple, easy-to-make, delicious classic drink. Prominent bottle jockey Jeffrey Morgenthaler felt so strongly about this he recently made a video titled "How to Not F@%& Up a Daiquiri". It should be required viewing for anyone who thinks the ideal Daiquiri is pink and comes out of a machine with whirly parts.

Of course, not everyone loves a Daiquiri. On the other side of the fence is Bernard DeVoto, acclaimed author and historian who left no doubt as to his feelings on the Daiquiri in his cocktail manifesto The Hour:

"Now, bathtub gin was not a good liquor- though, gentlemen, there have been worse and still are. But it was not bathtub gin that came close to destroying the American stomach , nervous system, and aspiration to toward a subtler life. Not the gin but the fruit juices so basely mixed with it: all pestilential, all gangrenous, and all vile. A cocktail does not contain fruit juice.

In that sudden roar the word you make out is 'Daiquiri.' Yes, yes, I know. I have alluded to rum before, we must not deny that it exists and is drunk, and as a historian I must give it its due. It gave us political freedom and Negro slavery. It got ships built and sailed, forests felled, iron smelted and commercial freight carried from place to place by men who, if their primordial capitalist bosses had not given them rum would have done something to get their wages raised. In both cheapness and effectiveness it proved the best liquor for Indian traders to debauch their customers with. People without taste buds can enjoy it now, though the head that follows it is enormous, and such sentimentalists as the seadogs of small sailing craft can believe they do. But mainly it is drunk as all sweet liquors are, in a regressive fantasy, a sad hope of regaining childhood's joy at the soda fountain. No believer could drink it straight or gentled at the fastidious and hopeful hour. No one should drink it with a corrosive added, which is the formula of the Daiquiri."

A pretty harsh assessment, but given that there were only two drinks DeVoto considered worth consuming (the Martini and a belt of straight American whiskey), the Daiquiri didn't stand much of a chance. He also utterly loathed rum (and took a dim view of those who drank it), so that didn't help matters either.

But it's a great drink nonetheless. If you want to make the one shown above, white rum is pretty easy to come by, but make sure you get a relatively good one. Limes shouldn't be hard to track down, so don't cut corners- get your juice straight from the fruit! As for hazelnut syrup, I used Torani, since that's what I happened to have at the moment. Another choice is B.G. Reynolds hazelnut orgeat (and I'm not recommending them just because I drew the label art...it's good stuff). And you always have the option of smashing up a bunch of hazelnuts and making your own syrup ... if you're one of those make-your-own-ingredients kinda people.

Lastly, the Xocolatl Mole bitters are a tasty little ingredient with tons of uses. They can be found online at many places including Cocktail Kingdom, Boston Shaker, and Kegworks.

Oh, and I called it the Oregon Daiquiri because although I've never been to Oregon, I know several nice people who live there and they tell me that hazelnuts are a big deal out there. Again, sometimes that's all there is to it.

Thursday, June 7, 2012