Recent events have inspired me to write about skills I’ve learned over the past few months and some I am still learning. I feel several of them should be a requirement for men!
Problem: I moved into a new apartment at the beginning of June and I am getting a new roommate starting in August. We want to have a homey place that is inviting and comfortable for entertaining friends.
Solution: Home Bar and Cocktail Evenings. Saves money in the long run, changes up your social scene, and gives you the opportunity to learn more about your friends (and make new ones! Have your invitees invite one friend!) . . . BAM!! Solution found. You get the furniture you need to host and focus on group entertainment/activities.
When hosting the party, unless you are serving only wine or beer (which I would stick to one type of alcohol for your guests. It makes shopping easier), you should want to give your friends an experience they won’t forget.
Skill: How to make a cocktail perfect! Just as the rule applies to your appearance, same goes for entertaining: a little attention to detail goes a long way. Every drinking man should know how raise the bar when it comes to their drinks. It is a lost art, but one that we can easily reclaim.
1. Ice: Most drinks should have ice and if you use the right type of ice for the drink, then you will enhance the quality of the drink tenfold. Believe it or not, drinks with ice in it are meant to be enjoyed slowly. The dilution works with the flavor of the drink. Large cubes are great for keeping drinks cold without diluting the beverage too quickly. Crushed cubes melt quicker, but if packed correctly, it will melt at the perfect rate for drinking. Drinks served ‘up’ (no ice) are meant to be finished before the drink gets temperate. An Old-Fashioned is an example of a drink with large cubes. Use crushed ice for juleps or drinks with poignant flavors (bitters, lime, etc.). If you want to take it one step further, make your ice clear. To do this you use warm, filtered water and freeze it at the warmest setting. Quicker isn’t always better. The ice crystals forming too quickly is what makes ice cloudy.
2. Muddle: muddling, or crushing your ingredients allow the flavors to jump out. This is an easy way to avoid using sugary, artificial mixes. My favorite margarita is used with lime juice from 1.5 fresh limes, tequila, and clear agave syrup (just enough to take the edge off). I like to muddle a some of the lime peel in the shaker to release the oils from the rind. You’ve most likely seen this happen if you’ve ordered a Mojito at a bar. They crush the limes and mint together.
3. Follow the recipe: Place the ingredients in order from smallest to largest. This is mostly to save your ingredients. Let’s say you mess up, you waste less that way. Easy peasy.
4. Garnish: always a must. It is the accessory of the drink. It doesn’t have to be standard either. Break some rules. What ever you choose, make sure it is in the drink or compliments the drink. Slap herbs in your palm. Bend the peel of citrus in the drink (or light it on fire before you put in the drink…that is a crowd pleaser). My favorite champagne cocktail is made with blackberries and served up in a flute. Using two spears, the blackberry garnish hangs suspended in the drink, allowing it to absorb the drink, but you can still drink the beverage. And it look awesome!!
5. Serving: if it has a straw make sure it is near the mouth of the imbiber and the garnish on the opposite side of the glass. If there isn’t a straw, make sure the garnish is away from where their mouth will be, but try to have the garnish pass under their nose when handing it off. This preps your guest for the flavors! And that is how you make a cocktail great. Don’t like liquor, then make some mocktails! Use the same flavor profiles, just ixnay on the alcohol. Try one of my favs: the Blueberry Ginger Bellini, but use a sparkling soda instead of the wine.
My favorite place right now in the Bay Area, which follows most, if not all of these rules is Single Barrel.
Until next week,
Keep it classy.
The Guy with the Red Hair.