Good evening, friends and neighbors!
There was a time I really detested the taste of alcohol.
I call these “The Wandering Years.”
I started learning about alcohol from my father, whose hobby is wine. My sisters and I got the same education at roughly the same time. Whenever my dad opened up a bottle at a restaurant or at home, he’d let us take SMALL sips, just to try it.
To my 13-year-old palette, it all tasted like spoiled grape juice. My dad, however, would have us taste wines again and again, asking us to look for particular flavors or smells. He told us about where each wine came from, what that area of the world is known for, and about “terroir-” how you can taste certain things about the location food came from in the food itself. He lectured us about the science of winemaking, and how every step of the process is controlled to impart flavors- or not.
To the casual onlooker, you might think it was a man teaching his kids about his favorite hobby, or maybe a father ensuring that his kids were cultured, possibly overzealously. Both of these things were probably true. My father, however, had a more interesting motive in mind.
He was teaching us about wine to make sure we never became drunks.
My father is of the opinion that if you teach someone to not just enjoy something, but love and appreciate it, they will never abuse it. If you teach someone about the crafting of fine whiskeys and all the artistry involved in them, my dad believed that that man isn’t likely to spend an afternoon on the couch taking pulls from a handle of Old Crow/ Midnight Hobo/ other rotgut.
It worked bizarrely well- I absolutely hated alcohol until I was 21, at which point I decided to try beer and rum. It wasn’t mysterious or taboo for me, but it was intriguing. More like a new area to explore than a lock I had to pick just for being there. Though it wasn’t wine- something I now enjoy, but don’t really go looking for,- I applied everything my father had taught me about how to taste and appreciate potent potables.
Ten years later, well… the results speak for themselves.
– What am I tasting? (of course)
– Do I want a cocktail, or just something straight?
– If I want a cocktail, do I want something from the house’s menu, or ask for a standard that I know and love?
– If I’m out, why do I want to get something I can mix up for myself at home?
– What am I planning to eat?
And so on and so on…
Provided here, then, is a short list of my “standbys-” cocktails that I KNOW I like, can usually make at home, and often do. You probably aren’t going to find too many crazy/out there cocktails on here- as you might expect, I’m a guy that has deep respect for the classics, and will only stray so far as ingredients and personal taste.
The recipes for these cocktails I got from a number of different places over the years- Webtender, cocktail books, people, iPhone apps, and the like. I’m listing them here in no particular order, but in a way, each one of these drinks is a indicative of a stage in my life- and drinking them has a tendency to take me right back.
The BHB’s Top 10 Cocktails
“Shaken, not stirred.”
Thanks to James Bond, the martini is my #1 cocktail when I think of “class.” I ordered my first martini with Grey Goose (seemed like a decent vodka,) dry (I’m not really fond of sweetness), and dirty, meaning some of the olive brine is tipped into the drink.
The BHB Martini
In a shaker with ice:
1 oz dry vermouth
2 oz vodka or gin
dash of olive brine
Shake well, pour into a chilled martini glass, add olive or Tomolive.
“It is a curious fact, and one to which no-one knows quite how much importance to attach, that something like 85 percent of all known worlds in the Galaxy, be they primitive or highly advanced, have invented a drink called jynnan tonyx, or gee-N’N-T’N-ix, or jinond-o-nicks, or any one of a thousand variations on this phonetic theme.
The drinks themselves are not the same, and vary between the Sivolvian ‘chinanto/mnigs’ which is ordinary water served just above room temperature, and the Gagrakackan ‘tzjin-anthony-ks’ which kills cows at a hundred paces…”– Douglas Adams, “The Restaurant At The End of the Universe.”
This is what I get when I just want something refreshing and alcoholic to drink. Since moving to Portland, I’ve become enamored with a locally-made gin called “Aria.” While the traditional fruit addition is lime, I find it much more refreshing to muddle a cucumber slice at the bottom of the glass and add another wheel to the edge.
The BHB G+T
In a glass, muddle a slice of cucumber.
Add ice and build:
2 oz. Aria gin
Fill with tonic.
Garnish with cucumber wheel.
3. The Wembley
This is one of the first cocktails I ever mixed for Emily, using what I had the most of in my bar at the time. For our wedding last year, we were going to use a variant of it as our “signature cocktail” and call it “There and Back Again-” the name taken from our desire to use Portland’s Aria Gin and New Jersey’s Laird Applejack. Unfortunately, the cost of getting a case of Aria to Jersey was prohibitive.
There and Back Again (Matt and Emily’s Wembley)
In a shaker with ice:
1.5 oz. Aria gin
¾ oz. Dry vermouth
¾ oz. Laird’s Applejack
Shake, strain, and serve in a chilled glass.
Grog. Just Grog.
In a mixing glass:
½ oz. Lime juice
2 tsp brown sugar
4 oz. Water.
Stir to dissolve, then add
2 oz. Dark rum
Pour into cocktail glass with ice, serve with lime wheel.
Also called “Bloody Beer,” this was my FAVORITE cocktail of this past summer, and the second beer cocktail I ever liked (the first being the classic “Boilermaker.”) I first tried it after reading a simplified recipe for one in the New York Times. When Golden Road Brewing out of San Diego came out with their “Pico To Mexico” cucumber/habanero beer, well- that just sealed the deal. Later on, I tried a Cuban version at Pambiche, which used Tecate. This is the version I made at home:
In a glass rimmed with either Tajin spice or celery salt and filled with ice, add:
Tomato juice/V8 to half
Worchestershire sauce to taste
Tabasco sauce to taste
Tajin spice/celery salt to taste
Fill and refresh with a cerveza-style beer of choice as needed.
Nothing further need be said here, I think.
One Hell of a Caucasian
In an old fashioned glass with ice:
2 oz. Vodka
1 oz. Kahlua or coffee rum
Float cream to taste.
Hot Buttered Rum
In your favorite coffee mug:
1 tsp brown sugar
2 oz dark rum
Stir to dissolve, then fill with hot water. Add ½ tbsp of good butter and let it melt.
Garnish with pinch of nutmeg
The Basic Margarita (i.e. the blenders on the fritz)
In a shaker filled with ice:
1.5 oz tequila
½ oz. Triple sec
1 oz. Lime juice
Shake well, strain into a salt-rimmed glass, drink and try to pretend you are in a hammock.
My favorite drink for when I want to mellow out a bit. Not exactly a “boat drink” in my opinion because the fizziness of the ginger beer can be a little distracting, but it was my favorite cocktail to get at “Likewise” when it was open.
BHB’s Dark and Stormy
In a tall glass with ice:
2oz. Dark rum
Fill with Crabbie’s Alcoholic Ginger Beer
Garnish with lime wedge.
10. The Bloody Mary
Because alcoholic spicy vegetables. Drink your veggies, AND not get looked at weird for catching a buzz Sunday morning? Sign me up.
The BHB Mary
In a mixing glass:
Garlic and onion powder
Rim a tall glass with celery salt and fill with ice. Add
2.5 oz vodka.
Fill with the tomato mix.
Stay Classy (and upright),