I haven’t got the demographics for this site in front of me, but I’m pretty sure it falls well within the coveted “too poor and young to drink anything but piss-water beer” bracket. Who knows, maybe occasionally you splurge on a vodka cranberry when you’re feeling fancy?
Pabst, suitable for children and dogs
I haven’t got the demographics for this site in front of me, but I’m pretty sure it falls well within the coveted “too poor and young to drink anything but piss-water beer” bracket. Who knows, maybe occasionally you splurge on a vodka cranberry when you’re feeling fancy? It’s also pretty likely that a lot of you still think drinking is a sport you can win, take pride in how fucking wasted you got last night, bro, and generally drink like retards.
Alcohol is a lot more than a tool for pissing the bed and tricking girls into giving you a squeezer, though. So guess what? It’s time you grew up and started drinking like adults — by which I mean sad and alone, but also with a more sophisticated palate. I’m not saying you have to turn into one of these Prohibition-era cocktail Nazis, because those dudes take this stuff a little too seriously, like on some Civil War reenactment cosplay shit. But once you figure out what all those other bottles behind the bar are for, you really will appreciate your drinking experience a lot more. If you’ll permit me a totally boring metaphor, drinking only within your prescribed beer and shitty vodka comfort zone would be like being a musician who played songs using only the E string. So here’s a few things you should try:
You’ll recognize the sharp licorice flavor of this stuff from the jager-bombs you dropped in college. It’s actually a pretty versatile and subtle mixing ingredient used in a wide spectrum of drinking cultures, from the French absinthe and pastis, Italian sambuca and the South American anis. If you can appreciate the bracing flavor, try drinking one after dinner as a digestif (that means it helps you shit better) — but its best use is in cocktails like a Sazerac, made with rye whiskey, bitters and sugar, where the glass is rinsed lightly with the anise liqueur. (Hehe.)
This is pretty much the essential ingredient for any well-stocked bar. It’s made from plants, herbs, barks and other growing shit steeped in alcohol. Bitters are very high in alcohol and very strong in flavor, so most cocktail recipes only call for a few dashes. The most popular brand –- actually the most popular bar item in the world –- is called Angostura bitters, made in Trinidad and Tobago. So what do they taste like? Bitter, durr. There are also other types, like Peychaud’s and orange bitters, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. You’ll find bitters used in pretty much every good classic cocktail, but go ahead and start with a Manhattan (whiskey, sweet vermouth, bitters) or an Old Fashioned (whiskey, bitters, sugar and soda muddled with orange and cherry). Also, if your tummy hurts, throw some bitters into ginger ale and you’ll be sorted out in no time.
Like a lot of the liqueurs you’ll start to learn about once you get over to the other side of the cocktail looking glass, the recipe for chartreuse was developed by some ancient French monks in the mountains who didn’t have shit to do all day besides get wasted, mostly because they hadn’t invented pedophilia yet. Green chartreuse is the original and it’s flavored with like 130 herbs and plants, which gives it a sweet but almost medicinal grass taste. A lot of these liqueurs taste like medicine, actually, which is something you’re gonna have to get used to. The green stuff is used in awesome cocktails like The Last Word (gin, chartreuse, maraschino liqueur, lime juice). The yellow is slightly less powerful in taste, but a little sweeter and it turns up in an Alaska (gin, yellow chartreuse, orange bitters).
You could try calling Ernest Hemingway a pussy for drinking daiquiris, but dude did kill a lion.
You’ve probably had one of these — except the frozen, sugary bullshit kind you get at most bad bars is like the auto-tuned, pop R&B version of the cocktail (it fucking blows, but that’s what they’re offering, so you take it). The real deal is known as the Hemingway Daiquiri (made with white rum, fresh limes and grapefruit, maraschino liqueur over shaved ice) because he used to suck these things down in Cuba by the dozen. Say what you will about Hemingway, but if there’s one thing that dude knew how to do, besides shoot things in the face, it was get hammered.
Sounds gross at first, but once you’ve had a cocktail like a Pisco Sour (Pisco, a Peruvian grape brandy, with egg whites, citrus juice, sugar and bitters), you’ll be whistling a different tune. A tune about eggs probably, which is weird. Using eggs in drinks has been going on long before cocktails were even invented. What it does in drinks like this is build up a foamy head when shaken heavily and bring all the other disparate flavors together into a silky smooth texture. Also: Don’t be such a pussy. You’ll put all kinds of chemicals and paint chips up your nose and in your lungs, and you’re gonna balk at drinking a chicken fetus with your booze?
Since this old classic cocktail has a champagne base (along with lemon juice, sugar and gin) it’s got the sort of festive, pretend-we’re-rich-and-fabulous flair that girls who watched too much Sex and the City might feel accessorizes well with their handbag. But unlike drinking regular shitty sparkling wine, it’s combined with good old manly gin, so, you know, dude power, man-bro.
Jesus loves it!
Drinking exclusively vodka is silly at this point, since it’s basically flavorless burn water, but if you have to dress it up like a junky at a parole hearing, adding a strong spicy ginger beer to the mix will do. That’s called a Moscow Mule and it’s pretty much the cocktail that invented the idea of vodka in America in the first place during the ’40s. Before that it was considered a weird foreign novelty. Weird right? Even better is a Dark and Stormy, which uses a dark, spiced rum with ginger beer, or a Mamie Taylor, whose spirit base is scotch.
Yes, it has a goofy name, but you have to keep in mind that the people who invented all of these cocktails were shit-faced at the time, so what do you expect? This ’50s and ’60s era cocktail, like a lot of its contemporaries, got a bad name somewhere along the line. Maybe because nobody knew what the hell they were doing when they were making them at home back then. It’s made with vodka, Galliano and orange juice. Galliano is a sweet herbal liqueur made in Italy, which is actually kind of gross, so forget I mentioned this one actually. Try a Hanky Panky instead, which is made with gin, sweet vermouth and Fernet Branca, a cocktail invented around the beginning of the 20th century at the legendary Savoy Hotel bar in London, famous for giving nerdy bartenders giant boners for 100 years running.
Depending on what city you live in, infusions are either still pervasive at your better bars or have fallen by the wayside as yesterday’s news. There’s still a lot to appreciate here though, because there is literally endless variety to the types of flavors you can come up with. The idea is simple: Take a spirit (usually vodka) and stick something else in it, like fruit, or vegetables, or even bacon (that was a thing for a minute), then let it sit for a while. Once you strain out the chunky bits, you’re left with an entirely new product. Fresh fruits with distinct flavors, like blueberry or strawberry, can dress up a vodka or tequila. Hot peppers are a popular option as well, especially when you’re working with a Bloody Mary recipe. Try throwing some pepperoncinis or habaneros into gin or vodka and mixing that with tomato juice and horseradish. You won’t shit right for a few days, but the flavor is worth it. Gin is basically vodka infused with juniper berries and some other botanicals, by the way.
A Jack Rose
At Boston’s Eastern Standard, one of the best cocktail bars in the country and one that I get (steal) a lot of my ideas from, they sell this Prohibition-era cocktail by the gallon. The reason for that is, unlike a lot of other, lazier bars, they use real pomegranate grenadine in the recipe, as opposed to that fluorescent crap we give to kids to shut them up for twenty goddamn minutes during dinner. Rounding out the cocktail is citrus juice and applejack, a brandy made with apples that a fella by the name of George Washington used to swill by the bucket load. Jake Barnes in The Sun Also Rises drank these babies too. Then again, one of those dudes had no teeth and the other had no balls, so….
Much like skinny jeans and coke, this “shooter” (and shots in general actually) is one of those things you’re just going to have to say goodbye to once you hit the bad side of 30 (sorry, everyone I know). Not because it’s necessarily a bad drink on its face (vodka, orange liqueur and lime juice), but the ham-fisted way most shitty bartenders make them (with Rose’s lime juice, guh) manages to fuck it up anyway. It’s just that when you order one of these at a bar what it says about you is that you are a boring automaton who can’t think for his or herself, you work in a desperate cubicle all day pushing numbers around a spreadsheet and this is your one big night out at the bar at Pizzeria Uno.
Like everything else in the drinking world, this apertif wine was invented in France in the late 1800s. French dudes may be total douches, but how wasted would you be right now if it weren’t for them? Non-wasted. Lillet is made from mixing wine from Bordeaux with grapefruit and orange peels. It used to be more bitter when it was made with quinine and James Bond was drinking it in his favorite martini called a Vesper, a drink he named after a piece of ass so you know it’s good. (A vesper is made with both vodka and gin in addition to Lillet.) Now it’s sweeter and fruitier. You can drink it alone on the rocks with an orange peel or mix it with a Corpse Reviver #2 (gin, Cointreau, Lillet, lemon juice, absinthe).
Click here for part II of “How to Drink Like an Adult”