The cocktail scene is in the most exciting time in our country’s history. The power of the internet has enabled us to learn from the best mixologists in the country. The history of the word “cocktail” has many different origins. There are some who believe that it came from a patriotic lady who was stealing chickens from an English farm. She would then put the feathers into the patriot’s drinks. There are several other ideas listed in our show. Unfortunately, there is no clarity as to the origins of the term. However, we can say that cocktails involve the blending of juices, liquors with bitters.
Through the years, the American cocktail scene has changed dramatically. During Prohibition, the cocktail culture was killed. The few spirits that people were drinking, in general, were bad expressions of pure alcohol like rock gut gin and watered-down Canadian Whiskey. The cocktail culture gained considerable momentum through the 40s and 50s. Through the 60s people were largely experimenting with other vices. In the 70s we saw some playful drinks that were not necessarily delicious, but creative like Sex on the Beach. This gave rise to the Punk cocktail scene with drinks like the Lonely Lesbian and Windex. However, in the late 80’s and early 90’s, as the country became more affluent, we saw people drinking better quality wines and liquors. Single Malt Scotch and XO Cognacs became rather chic. Prestige Cuvee Champagne was soaring on Wall St even before it became a staple of the rap culture.
With the rise of the celebrity chef, we saw a real focus on restaurants defining our eating and drinking habits. Shortly thereafter, the celebrated and approachable sommelier gained the favor of patrons around the country. In the last 10-15 years we have seen the rise of the mixologists. These are men and women who have taken the Classic Cocktails and put their own twists on them. Furthermore, they created their own delicious libations. Certainly there are well known mixologists around the country like Steve Olson or Dale Degroff. My favorite mixologist is Mike Lee who is now the beverage manager at Mr. Chow in South Beach. Mike is a Rastafarian with a great knowledge of wine and makes the best tasting drinks I have ever had.
Mike strongly recommends carefully measuring your beverages to insure consistency. He guides us to stay with white liquors in the summer months. We talk about Mojitos and substituting Splenda for sugar to make a lighter beverage. Caipirinhas are made with Cachaca which is a style of rum made in Brazil. Mike then goes on to tell us about his G Vine Gin martini.
Dan joins Tommy again to provide some clarity about all great ideas. We go over some of the specifics on these cocktails. You can find the recipes for all the beverages on our site @ www.gastrotommy.com.
We have a great promotion this week on the site with our friend Jim Clendenen from Au Bon Climat. We are offering our membership with 3 bottles of Jim’s wines ( 2 bottles of Pinot Noir and 1 bottle of Chardonnay) for $75. This is the best offer I have seen on the internet. You can see our interview with Jim @ www.gastrotommy.com/episodes/episode-1/part-1. As always, thanks for joining us this week.