Celebrate the Cocktail

When I started bartending for real, with regular shifts, I had the worst shifts that nooo one would possibly want. But it was a gig I actually was extremely pleased to have landed. I had been waiting to play this role. The banter with the guests. The showmanship. The constant flurry of activity.

Silly, but what I did not expect was that I would really love learning about and understanding flavor profiles.  The task of a bartender at any relatively respectable place is to create a drink with which one can indulge the senses. How do I enjoy my cocktail?I love to see the slight flourish of  a perfectly squeezed grapefruit peel, the end of which coyly rests on the rim of my glass. I love to hear the large clink of a suitably present stack of ice cubes, as the citrus’s oils swirl around the top of my glass. The first taste would be at once strong, but give way to subtle complexities, with a lingering finishing note. I crave a balanced cocktail. Bitter and sweet just meeting each other in a perfect match. Or creamy and sharp, joined in a timely union. Yes, I  do love a cocktail. Once one starts in on this subject, it is easy to get lost in the romance of it all. The cocktail after all, represents history in a glass, and is truly of American origin.

Next time you are enjoying a cocktail, perhaps look into the root of the matter; where from does it hail? What are the ingredients and where are they native to? It is in diving into this that I became a barfly swimming in the intoxicating, perfumed history of the crafting of the perfect cocktail.

There are many posters which celebrate liquors:

Vermouth Bianco Andreoli 1921

Oh what a lovely bed of grapes, I much prefer this to my tempurpedic!

cynar1

Never have I ever smelled such a lovely choke!

I do love those vintage posters. They create a story for a particular liquor. This is what I have set out to do for the the cocktail.

A wonderful thing happens when you mix a fine dry gin with lemon, triple sec, a dash of simple and shake the bejesus out of it with an egg white: The White lady is  seductive and sublime, and arguably more people should know about it! In commemorating a selection of classic cocktails, I hope to inspire folks to drink better. I want them to learn a bit about why, for example the Mint Julip is traditional to an event such as the Kentucky Derby, and associated with southern gentile and wealth. The cocktails of old have beautiful names, and better stories. Im going to bring them to life. 

For my cocktail posters, I settled on linoleum prints as the method of execution. It’s a relatively easy medium to handle, and the materials to get started with are affordable, with the exception paint (oh my love affair with Gamblin paint products…).

The first cocktail I chose to work on is the noble and elegant Negroni. The Negroni is a simple, well-balanced cocktail. At it’s core it is a combination of equal parts gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari. It may be garnished with an orange peel. It can be jazzed up using an aged gin, or adding a dash of orange bitters. I’ve seen, but have yet to try a ‘smoked’ Negroni (where the flavor is enhanced by infusing the components with smoked wood chips or actual smoke). YUM. However, in its original incantation, it is the simplicity of this cocktail that I am attracted to. The sweet of the vermouth contrasts with the bitter citrusy Campari, all suspended in dry gin base, it yields a beautifully clear cadmium red libation. In thinking about the balance of this cocktail, the image of a woman holding a scale came to mind. Thus my first cocktail poster was conceived! This is the linocut, nearly done! I’ll keep you updated as I work through my classics, next up is the Aviation 🙂

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