Today’s post was written by Aaron Crandall, librarian, scientist, occasional bartender, and friend of the boozehounds.
I am, by many accounts, an odd duck. I have had pseudo-theological discussions which theorized the Kool-Aid man as a symbolic Christ figure in a fight with the Planters Peanut mascot, made armor out of fence wire, and have the words “Don’t Panic” tattooed in large, friendly letters on the inside of my biceps. But while these things have on occasion earned me strange looks and lost me the respect of some normal (read: boring) human beings, in my time spent at college bars I have earned the most grief due to my fondness for that most abhorred beverage:
The “girly” drink.
In this article I shall endeavor not to point fingers, as only you can determine where you stand on certain beverages. However, during undergrad I had the good fortune to have a friend behind the bar who introduced me to some rather delightful tropical cocktails of deceptive alcohol content.
In college one drinks what one can afford, and this tends to be sad mass-produced American beer, cheap liquor, and occasionally some far-too-sugary malt foolishness that hurts your teeth, dignity, and – the next morning – head. But notwithstanding my tendency to spend Saturday mornings in my pajamas playing video games, I am now a grownup. I am no longer drinking to overcome monolithic social awkwardness in an attempt to reach the opposite sex.
Instead, alcohol is for relaxing in the evening with good people, and the experience should be now about quality rather than quantity. I’d rather enjoy a few well-crafted drinks than many poor ones. Sure, they may be a bit more work (I’ve even spent a few weeks – at 2 drinks a day – trying to perfect a single recipe) but the end result is much more memorable, and rarely results in a face that suggests you’ve just lost a bet or incurred bodily harm.
As this blog usually offers recipes, I will suggest something of a drink template which has served me well, and can help you to mix the much derided “flavored martini.” Even the term is enough for the usual authors of this blog to make stern frowny faces.
The basic ratio is 3 parts vodka to 1 part liqueur with matched flavor. If your drink is fruity (for example, anyone playing a Scrubs drinking game should really be sipping an Appletini) try to garnish with the appropriate fruit, or try an interesting compliment.
For more of a dessert drink (such as the Adult Chocolate Milk I’ve seen on a few store shelves) the same ratio holds, but adding 1 part cream to the mix will help bring out your chocolate and vanilla flavors. One such concoction was inspired by ingredients I just happened to have on hand. I used 360 Double Chocolate Vodka and Grand Marnier in an attempt to recreate a Tobler chocolate orange with alcohol. I would suggest you add some chocolate syrup if you don’t want to taste the alcohol. Just shake over ice and serve up in stemware.
Now one point of annoyance that has been raised legitimately is the term “flavored martinis.” Associating a sweet light drink with a pile of cold gin and vermouth is a poor conceptual pairing. The basic reasoning is there – it does share the same basic proportions as the classic 3 to 1 martini – but the dissonance that has arisen over martini vs. vodka martini vs. something entirely different has reared its head. Some bar menus list a range of “martinis” with gin nowhere to be seen.
The flavored martinis are mostly labeled as such because of their strength and the stemware they’re served in. They use the same basic ratio as “rocks” drinks, with rarely any ingredients that aren’t alcoholic. But the desired flavor of is usually closer to that of cream drinks, the “liquid desserts” that use crème de menthe and crème de cacao among other ingredients. The martini and other classics like the Manhattan, Rob Roy, and Gibson have a short list of ingredients. Including normal, perfect, or dry variations, the whole family can be made with a list of less than 10 alcohols plus a range of common garnishes. This is in contrast to the wide range of possibilities presented by flavored martinis.
Perhaps a new category should be made, leaving the classics where they are, while not demonizing or relegating sweet drinks. “Fortified liquid dessert” perhaps. I think there is the possibility for a more useful category that allows delicious drinks to be enjoyed while subject to a little less grief.
But for all my bouncing between recipes, alcohol classification, and my general yammering, the point of all this is to consider why you drink what you drink. I drink what I enjoy. If you find yourself drinking but not enjoying your drink, what’s the point?
So why don’t we just do away with all the bar room judgments. You’re welcome to enjoy whatever you care to, as long as I can have the same courtesy.
Just don’t call it girly.