Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Getting Your Thanksgiving Bar in Order, Part III

Here is the third and final piece of Thanksgiving drinking advice I wrote for the New York Times' Diner's Journal blog.
Q. A number of the people coming for Thanksgiving have a taste for, well, "girly drinks." (I'm sorry, but you know what I mean). Is there a cocktail that will I can make for both them and also those with more, er, sophisticated tastes? 
A. By "girly," I'm assuming you mean a drink that is on the sweet side. And possibly pink. And very possibly a Cosmopolitan. I can't help you on the latter two points. The discerning drinkers at your gathering aren't going to touch a pastel-hued libation, no matter what the pedigree. But a bit of sugar shouldn't be a divisive issue. Contrary to popular belief, a sweet drink need not be a unsophisticated one. Much of the history of cocktail creation has been striking the right balance of liquor, sweetener and acidity (usually in the form of citrus). 
You might want to start people off with a simple Champagne cocktail. French bubbly satisfies every taste, from the frivolous to the dignified. If the serious imbibers balk, remind them that this is what Victor Laszlo drank. And he won both World War II AND Ingrid Bergman. 

Champagne Cocktail 
6 oz. Champagne 
 1 sugar cube 
Angostura bitters 
Pour Champagne into a chilled flute. Soak the sugar cube with the bitters and drop into the glass. Garnish with lemon twist. 
Another potential consensus builder is the Bijou, a gin-based minor classic from the 1890s that is a favorite among mixologists. An ounce of sweet vermouth satisfies the sweet tooth, while an equal portion of herbal Chartreuse lends some complexity. Tell your more worldly guests that this drink is found in the "Bartender's Manual" of 19th-century bar legend Harry Johnson and you'll win their approval. (Some choose to increase the gin content to create a more dry, less herbal drink. You may want to test drive the recipe before serving.) 
1 oz. London dry gin 
1 oz. sweet vermouth 
1 oz. Chartreuse 
Dash orange bitter 
Still ingredients over ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 
Due to the recent introduction of some artisanal sloe gins, such as Plymouth, this sloe berry-infused liqueur has partly recovered from its trashy 1970s reputation as an artificially flavored, bottom-shelf mixer found in low-rent drinks like the Alabama Slammer. Because of this, the bloom is back on the Sloe Gin Fizz, a delicious drink that just happens to be sweet, frothy and purple. 
Sloe Gin Fizz 
1 oz. Sloe Gin 
1 oz. Gin 
3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice 
1 oz. simple syrup 
Shake ingredients with ice and strain into ice-filled highball glass. Top with soda water. 
Finally, I can't imagine anyone at your feast objecting to a classic Pisco Sour, founded on the centuries-old, South America-born (both Chile and Peru claim it as their own), grape brandy. You could just give everyone a whiskey sour, and get the same effect, but this will lend a festively exotic note to the day. 
Pisco Sour 
2 oz. Pisco 
3/4 oz. lime juice 
1 oz. simple syrup 
1 egg white 
To best integrate the ingredients, first shake without ice, then shake with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish the frothy top with a few drops of Angostura bitters. 

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