Thursday, December 15, 2011

More on Drinking Myths

In my Dec. 7 New York Times article about popular drinking myths, I was only able to fit a portion of the commentary I culled from mixologists, bar owners and distillers. To trim the article down to the necessary 900 words, I had to dispense with many a wonderfully tart remark. Many were too good to lose. So I've gathered them here, arranged by topic. Enjoy.


Derek Brown, Washington D.C. owner of The Passenger and Columbia Room: "I make my Dry Martini fifty-fifty, or equal parts, which will shock people who consider 'dry' leaving out the vermouth altogether. To them, I apologize, because it's likely as surprising as finding out that Pluto is no longer a planet or the Triceratops is no longer a dinosaur. Historically, the Dry Martini was equal parts, 2:1 or 3:1. Some time in the 1940-'50s, 50 or 60 years after the Dry Martini's invention, people began passing on the vermouth. Why? Because of dipsomania, I suppose. Macho writers like Hemingway left it out in his famous Montgomery (15:1) to make a political point, but also because vermouth is the least alcoholic part of the drink. It became popular. People would order super-dry Martinis without thinking. But without vermouth it's no more a Martini than gnawing at the leg of a cow is a steak. It's unfinished, unmixed."


Frankie Marshall, bartender at Monkey Bar, Manhattan: "I hear this all the time, almost solely from men who are worried if what they've described as wanting to drink is a 'girly.' 'Does it come with an umbrella?' 'Is it pink?' Insert self-conscious 'he he,' then they're still looking at me as if to say meekly, 'Well... does it?' A lot of males also have a problem with glassware: champagne flutes and martini glasses in particular. Ok, so you'd like a cosmo but want me to put it in a shot glass?"

Alla Lapushchik, owner of Post Office, Williamsburg: "What I find interesting is that when people say they don't want soothing sweet, when you recommend something less sweet, they order a sweeter cocktail for the second drink."

Greg Seider, owner of Summit Bar, East Village: "There's a kind of question of manhood if you order a drink that is not so spirit-driven. But it still could be an amazing drink. It's all proportional. It's not necessarily going to be sweet. It's going to be balanced. But any mention of something sweet will dissuade them from trying it."

Derek Brown: "Oh, I love this one too. It plays to that masculine concept of drinking. It needs too be dry and it needs to be strong. Pardon me, but what about tasting good?"


Karin Stanley, bartender at Dutch Kills, Long Island City: "The idea of not mixing spirits is one I still see quite a lot. 'I've been drinking gin, so I have to stick with gin.' I think that belief must come from nights where someone has indulged too much, having beer, whiskey, wine, whatever all in one night and the next day they blame the 'mixing' vs. the over-indulgence."


Ivy Mix, bartender at Clover Club, Brooklyn: "The whiskey drinker considers themselves to be incredibly well-informed. The whiskey drinker can't be changed. They're very set in their ways. It's a statement to order a whiskey neat. Especially Scotch. It's a status symbol."

Derek Brown: "Perhaps the best analogy is found in sex with older women. Generally, it's better. People become more experienced, practiced with age. However, that doesn't mean a tromp with a younger women isn't going to be fun and, even superior in some cases. A lot of it depends on what material you're working with from the beginning."

Derek Brown, again, about demanding whiskey neat: "As obnoxious as people who have never put ice cubes in wine, or think you shouldn't drink cocktails with food. It expresses some characteristics and suppresses others. So does cold, in general. I think the proper way to drink something is how you enjoy it. Besides whipped cream vodka, pre-made sour mix and red bull and anything, I find very little an abomination. The aforementioned, however, doom the world."

Alla Lapushchik: "I see it a lot with people on a date when they're trying to impress someone. They get the oldest and they have it neat...With aging whiskey, you're trying to find the balance. There's a point were it's just right, and there's a point where where it goes off the cliff."


Ivy Mix: "Training wheels. I won't serve that."

Phil Ward, owner of Mayahuel: "Some people are still in the Stone Age."

Toby Maloney, Alchemy Consulting: "I do have a theory, but it is just a theory, like gravity and evolution. I always figured that the training wheels were for either people drinking shitty tequila, or people who have very little experience drinking good booze, so they are covering up the taste. Either way it's about the coverup, similar to the chilling of tequila."

Derek Brown: "The lime and salt are an example of extreme suppression of characteristics. Use lime and salt in that way only when you don't want to taste what you're drinking. For cheap tequila, this combo is paramount."


St. John Frizell, owner of Fort Defiance, Red Hook: "The worm in the mezcal is so persistent. People are working so hard to get rid of that, and it keeping coming up. To people, the worm makes the mezcal mezcal and makes you hallucinate. They think it got started to mask the flavor of mezcal. If you can think of something that tastes worse than a worm, that's what the old mezcal tasted like."


Greg Seider: "They'll say, 'I get hungover with gin.' Or 'gin makes me angry.' I say you have no idea because you got hammered on it in college."

Maks Pazuniak, bartender at Counting Room, Williamsburg: "They say, 'I had a bad experience with gin, with tequila.' The only answer is to drink it and get over that time that you drank a whole bottle of bottom shelf gin and spent the next day throwing up."


Julie Reiner, owner of Flatiron Lounge, Clover Club, Lani Kai: "How about the people who are convinced that we use jiggers so that we can pour weaker drinks?"

Tom Chadwick, owner of Dram, Williamsburg: "Every now and then when we used jiggers, they think that's being stingy. I say we're guaranteeing you two ounces. We're not going to underpour. It's in your favor."


Tom Chadwick: "The most annoying is their brand loyalty. They're not thinking what they want. 'I want Patron. You don't have Patron? I'll have Grey Goose.' Well, that a completely different spirit. They just want to make sure they're getting the stuff in the well. They want quality and don't skimp. We do have good stuff. You may not know the brands, but we curate the spirits."

Tonia Guffey, bartender at Dram and Monkey Bar: "I see a lot of people at the bar calling for a brand as opposed to a spirit. If we don't carry Bombay Sapphire, they'll just have a Jack Daniels and coke. No Patron? How does that lead your next order to be a Bacardi and Diet Coke? Because these giant brands are all the customer knows."

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