Four years ago, I shared an introduction to making smoked cocktails on ManMade, exploring the techniques and ingredients that would allow you to create woodsy, rich drinks at home. I offered several ways to create and capture smoke, but admitted that I preferred a specialized, $100 tool designed for doing just that. Ever since then, at least once or twice a month, I've received an email asking me how to pull this off without buying any specialty gear.
To which I say: challenge accepted! I totally get not wanting to spend a large sum of money to make something you're not sure you're even going to like. I wouldn't either. So, let's break down the process and see what we can do to make some seriously tasty smoked cocktails using things you already have.
A few weekends ago, my wife and I went out for a special dinner to celebrate our fifth wedding anniversary. (Hi sweetheart!) We opted to enjoy a few beers with our meal, but the table next to us had ordered cocktails. They each showed up with the glass half full of color - slanted, and with the liquid on the top. Initially, I thought it was simply a triangular shaped glass, where the bottom angle was simply solid, but as I looked closer, I realized, in fact, it was a frozen wedge of solid ice, attached to the glass so it maintained the effect.
I asked the server how it was done, and she told me the bartender had a bunch of little rubber molds that fit the glass, and the whole thing goes into the freezer. She said they were cool, but only fit the certain glass they came with; so only a certain number of cocktail recipes are served in them, and they run out each night.
A few days later, I looked it up to see if I could pick up one or two. I found the product - it's a glass with a custom silicone insert that freezes the ice at a perfect 45° angle, cutting right down the center. They cost about $20 each, and are kinda cool.
But - they're also unnecessary. Because you can achieve the same effect without spending a dime, using any rocks glass you already have. Here's how to do it.
These days, the throwback "artisanal" cocktail scene can be easy to mock, what with its arm garters and ____ + ____ names and all. those. tinctures. But, don't forget that just a very short time ago, a "mixed drink" typically meant something frozen, blended, and saturated with sugar, with colors so unnatural they rivaled 90s candy aisles, and drinks named for sex acts and bizarro body parts.
If our current cocktail culture is a throwback to the post-prohibition era of WWII and its aftermath, what exactly happened in the middle there? What was going on with those three or four decades where baby boomers ordered neon slushies at airports and shopping malls?
Two years ago, I posted a basic recipe for making classic cocktail, the Old Fashioned, during ManMade's inaugural Cocktail Month festivities.
And two years ago, I was wrong. Quite wrong, in fact. I was just learning about cocktails, and was operating with the notion of the Old Fashioned I'd had in bars and restaurants,
There are drinks that are fairly easy to serve, such as beer and wine, as you simply need to open and pour. Many spirits can be enjoyed in nearly the same way: whiskey neat, brandy in a glass, sake warmed. There are the highballs that are fairly easy to figure out: the vodka cranberry, rum and Coke, gin and tonic. There are the drinks that are so open to interpretation, you'll likely never make them the same way twice: the Bloody Mary comes to mind, as does any number of adverturous use-what-you-have mixes.
But then, there are the classic cocktails, those time-proven combinations that have proven themselves for decades. Besides being tasty, these have emerged as the standards for a reason: they're made from typical ingredients that you can find easily, at any store, and probably should be keeping in your own home bar.
They're so essential, I'm making the claim that every man should have these recipes memorized so he can shake one up at a moment's notice. Trust me, you want to be that guy that knows how to mix drinks: at a get together, after a date, at a work function or meeting. None of these are particularly difficult to commit to memory, and once you've got 'em, you've got 'em, and they'll never go out of style.
If you're not already aware, cocktail bitters are aromatic infusions that are used to give mixed drinks an incredible depth of flavor. Think of them as the spice cabinet for your home bar. Many of the standard flavors - Angostura, Peychaud's - originated as tonics to settle stomachs and cure sickness.
If you're also not aware, artisinal bitters have exploded on the cocktail and home mixology scene, and all the cool kids are mixing up their own. These make an awesome weekend project, as well as a great gift to give to your friends as favors or holiday gifts.
If you're not aware, the reason that aged spirits - such as bourbon and scotch whiskeys, reposado and añejo tequilas, brandy, dark rum, sherry, and even some wines and vinegars - are smoky and aromatic and, well, tasty, is due to a traditional aging in charred (or "toasted") oak barrels. The water content will absorb the flavors in the wood, such as such as vanillin and wood tannins, as well as the smoky flavors from contact with the wood.
The trend of barrel-aging whole cocktails has emerged among mixologists (likely attributed to expert Jeffrey Morganthaler), and in the absence of your own tiny casks, you can aged your own "white" cocktails for a mere $10 investment.
If beer cans with color-changing mountains make you laugh and groan at the same time, then I think you'll enjoy this cartoon/illustration/infographic (I dunno what to call it) by lunchbreath. It's a series of "unsolicited proposals for new and wonderful beverages", and is conveniently divided up into four categories for your viewing pleasure...
I don't know what it is. Perhaps it's the obvious contrast between a childhood favorite meal and a very adult beverage, or just the pure curiousity of seeing whether a cocktail can not only taste like a savory food, but a complete meal, but I'm gonna do everything I can to make a grilled cheese and tomato soup martini.
Pop Chart Labs unveils their latest project, the Constitutions of Classic Cocktails, exploring the relationships and makeups of proven successful mixed drinks. The beautiful arrangement and layout draws colorful connections between spirits, glassware, mixers, and garnishes.
Beer is meant to stand on its own. Whether it's ice cold or cellar temp, from a draft or a bottle (or, gah, cans), in a frosty mug or a fancy snifter, it doesn't ask to play well with others. It's not an ingredient, but a finished product.
Except, it does work well in cocktails. "Beer has taken on a new and nuanced role in many