It is a sad sign of the times, but apparently I am not drinking seriously enough these days. That doesn’t mean I need to drink more. It means that since I last mixed a cocktail, a whole new closet full of flavors and strange beverages have become a bartender’s staples. I thought technology was the only thing passing me by.My bartender-by-hobby dad had given me a pretty thorough training in his day. I knew what orange flower water was. I knew about sweet vermouth, a Pimm’s Cup, Angostura bitters, ginger beer and simple syrup. With heaping understatement, I would say the menu has expanded.
I wanted to serve some fun cocktails for my grown children and their significant others this Christmas, so, of course, I turned to the Internet. I found a fabulous site with 106 “chic” holiday drink recipes. I discovered that every third recipe, I had to look up an ingredient. It was sobering, which is counterproductive, in this case.
I had to look up a ginger liqueur called Domaine de Canton along with a dozen other liqueur flavors I had not yet encountered in my sheltered gin-and-tonic world. I puzzled over Monin violet syrup, cachaça, Lillet Rouge, agua luca, St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram, Pisco Quebranta, Nouaison and Soju. And for those with a very strong constitution and a taste for history, there is a resurfacing of absinthe … gack.
You’ve got your vodkas in a dozen possible flavors plus vodka infusions. And for garnish or muddling, don’t forget the basil, wheatgrass and sage. Maybe someone still orders scotch neat, water back but it is rather retro boring.
Between now and Christmas, it appears I’ll be cruising the aisles of my area liquor stores fighting a complete sensory overload. My daughter-of-a-master-bartender-reputation may take a real hit. Perhaps I’ll default to champagne. Or Margaritas. Or beer. A little red food coloring and we’re good to go.
Jean Gillette is a freelance writer remembering the simplicity of a wine cooler — in 1970. Contact her at [email protected]