Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The NY Times Dining Section or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love those Sugar Coated Ticking Timebombs

As many of you may know, Heather is an avid reader of the New York Times dining section. This past Wednesday's dining section was filled with all sorts of fun, summery, sugary, hangover inducing, spirited concoctions. When Heather got home from work, she promptly kicked open the door, shoved the dining section in my face and screamed, “MAKE IT!” After I fixed the lock on the door (safety first people,) I made it. The “it” was a Whiskey Peach Smash. I muddled mint, lemon and peach into an ounce of water and a half an ounce of simple syrup (three parts sugar dissolved into two parts boiling water. Let cool and keep refrigerated. I make it myself and keep it around, it comes in handy,) shake in a shaker with ice and 2 oz. of bourbon and strain over ice. There was a lot of crap left in the shaker that clogged the strainer, but with a little persistence, anything is possible. A mojito glass gives it a nice summery feel and makes one feel more festive and less like a problem drinker.

My first round was a standard mint julep. I’ve loved mint juleps ever since I’ve started making them earlier this year. The dining section suggested we use gin. Where do they get off? I don’t care for gin. Neither does Heather. She one commented that it tastes the way you would expect perfume to taste. No argument here. Tequila is about as flowery a spirit as I can deal with. Mint juleps are made with bourbon, sugar, mint and crushed ice. Don’t mess with what works. Screw innovation. For those of you who don’t know, I also listen to the latest Al Jolson hits via gramophone and ride around in a horse-drawn carriage.

Heather’s second round was a Queens Park Swizzle, one of the signature drinks at Dutch Kills—a bar in Long Island City. The man pictured in the article has a wicked handlebar mustache that makes me feel jealous and insecure. If he challenged me to fisticuffs, I would have to back down. If you had to place a be on who would win in a fistfight—a guy with a handlebar mustache or a guy who is not mustachioed at all—there would be no contest. I can’t compete with that.

It might be a little silly to plug a bar that we’ve never been to, but we’ve been meaning to go. It’s just that we’ve been busy lately. Get off my back! I’m sorry I snapped like that. Forget it ever happened—The drink is kind of like a mojito but instead of club soda, it uses angostura bitters; instead of cubed ice, it uses crushed ice; and instead of tossing the mixture, it requires you to stir gently with a swizzle stick to maintain a layered effect. It also calls for a whole lime’s worth of juice rather than a half lime. If you like your drinks nice and limey then use the whole lime, but I think half of a lime would be plenty.

My final drink was by far the simplest—what can I say? As the evening goes on, I get lazier. It was a John Collins. It’s prepared the same as a Tom Collins, but it calls for Vodka instead of Gin*. All it needs is juice from a whole lemon, about 3/4 oz. simple syrup, two shots of vodka and top with club soda for pleasant effervescence. It’s sort of like a Mike’s Hard Lemonade but cheaper and with the added satisfaction of making it yourself.

Contrary to the title of this post and the first few sentences, we did not have hangovers the next morning. The after effects of sugary drinks can be quelled with moderation.

*I’m glad that this drink has a name that’s similar and yet separate from the original. On a few occasions I’ve heard people sharply criticize the Vodka Martini as not being a martini. My response is always that I don’t care if it’s not a martini, that’s the drink I want. If it were called something else, I would order that. This may be a topic for another blog post.

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