Monday, June 21, 2010

Classically Cool

After a long winter and pleasant spring, we are really looking forward to combating the heat with activities like barbecues and ball games. The best component of these activities, besides family and friends? I think we all know the answer to that one: consuming cooling libations. Yet, though this should be simple, I found a way to begin my summer torn.

In the last couple weeks, I have come across some recipes for new summer cocktails*. Yesterday, while trying to decide between The Melontini or a Summer Solstice Sake Sparkler, something hit me.

I thought about all of the new ingredients I would need to make these drinks: this juice, that mixer, random pieces of fruit. Things like that. Even with all of this work, these drinks will likely never hold a candle to the great mixed drinks of yesteryear, the classics, developed out of regional ingredients and flavorful alcohol. The cocktails I was considering were meager attempts to be the next big thing. They cannot succeed.

Think about the drinkers, nay, the culinary pioneers of long ago and all the classic drinks they invented. Some were out of necessity, others to highlight a new fermentation. They didn’t base their creations around tasteless, but alcoholic, vodka, or search high and low for a strawberry-kiwi-banana juice with pineapple schnapps to hide any harsh alcohol taste.

True mixologists sought to find the best flavors, and even textures, to compliment their liquor of choice. The non-alcoholic elements were intended to serve the premier ingredient, not hide it. It was way more cooking than chemistry lab.

And what was I going to do? I was going to aggravate this ongoing social problem by putting more money into the mixer-makers' pockets. Well, no more!

With this revelation, we have totally reworked our summer drink strategy. We have recently bought all the natural ingredients, including Agave Syrup, for a proper Margarita. Never have we been so concerned about the type of tequila that was in our bar. We seek truth, the drinks that have so much more soul than any slushy concoction I may find in Real Simple. After all, these drinks are classics for a reason.

How about you? Have you felt this tug of the heart for classic drinks? Is your favorite drink a gone-by-the-wayside-type, or is it a new-fangled, juice-driven cocktail? Or, are you upset because you read this whole blog entry hoping that I would talk about wine or beer? (Don't worry; their time will come.)

Oh, and if you’re with us, check out the origins of 11 classic drinks, or the backgrounds of the famous gentlemen on your favorite liquors.

*Did I say some? I mean, like, 2,643. If I was ambitious, I would get to like 5% of these recipes from now until winter.

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