The Guys’ Guy’s Guide to Swinging Cocktails
Guy’s Guys appreciate the finer things in life, the company of friends and an occasional cocktail.
So it should come as no surprise that if and when a Guy’s Guy decides to savor his down time with a few compadres or that special lady, drinks might be included drinks in the schedule of activities. Not all Guy’s Guys drink, but the ones that do know how to handle their booze. Disclaimers aside, here are a few tips from your Guy’s Guy who has worked with distilled spirits brands for many years. So cheers, skol, gan bei, salud and chok dee (that’s Thai, for those keeping score).
This clear spirit accounts for 35% of all alcohol consumption and can be distilled from almost anything—winter wheat, grapes, potatoes, and rye, to name a few. Since it’s tasteless and odorless by definition, vodka mixes with everything. You can add fruit juices, energy drinks,tonic or club soda and in some countries like the U.K., they add cola. You can’t go wrong combining vodka with any of these beverages on ice with a piece of lime, although I prefer a wedge of orange. Pour it all into a tall glass and you’re good to go. Other methods are filling chilled shot glasses with a brand that’s been distilled at least three times and sipping. Or, just pour some of the good stuff on the rocks and garnish. I store my top shelf vodka in the freezer. Drinking note—I find that the more highly distilled the vodka consumed usually has a direct relationship to the severity of the hangover.
Let’s not forget martinis. When drinking vodka “straight” or in a martini, I suggest avoiding vodkas produced in places like Bayonne or Leonia, N.J. (although there is nothing inherently wrong with these fine habitats) and spending a few extra bucks for high-end brands made in the U.S. or northern Europe. Just sayin’. I prefer Russian vodkas made from winter wheat, but there are many excellent choices if you spend more than $20 for a 750ml.
As far as the plethora choices of flavored vodka, use your head and avoid anything like bubbleberry or flavors based on your favorite cereals or candy bar. We’re Guy’s Guys, remember?
Distilled from the agave plant that grows in a pina beneath the ground for eight years, tequila mixes wonderfully with any citrus juice. Mix your favorite 100% agave brand (all agave is “blue” by the way) with fresh squeezed limes and citrus juice, pour on ice, blend or shake it up and you have an awesome margarita. You really don’t need the mix and other ingredients they try to sell you. Although silver tequila is all the rage, it’s actually the cheap stuff. Make no mistake, there are some very good ones, but silver tequilas are only aged for a short time so they don’t have a chance to mellow out and turn that golden amber color. I prefer “reposados” that are laid down for about six months. They taste like tequila (herbal and distinct) and make great drinks and tasty shots. You can also sip the higher-end tequilas on ice. Make sure to keep a few wedges of lime on hand. Drinking note—tequila used to be the drink you chose when you wanted to cut loose and go crazy. Not sure about that anymore, but again, the cleaner the booze, the less severe hangover. Go for the good stuff and drink less. You’ll have a better time and minimize the wear and tear on your body.
Rum is an underrated spirit.I adore fine rums. We’re all familiar with the mass brands that are mixed with colas and lime. They can also be mixed with a variety of juices, and because rum is sugar-based, the drinks usually taste pretty good. Nothing wrong here, but if you want to go deeper, sample some dark aged rums from the Caribbean and South America. Do your research because they can be pricey, but for sipping neat, on the rocks or with a good cigar, there is nothing that beats an aged dark rum. There has been some progress made on producing higher-end clear rums, but for some reason they haven’t caught the consumers’ attention. I prefer rums distilled from pure sugar cane juice instead of molasses. An added bonus is that the high-end and dark rums are much easier on the palette than scotch, bourbon or rye. Drinking note—too many sugary drinks will cause a hangover.
This clear spirit is distilled from various botanicals and has a distinct taste that is not for everyone. Although marketers are constantly trying to invent new ways of consuming gin, your best bet is to stick with the basic gin and tonics and classic gin martinis. I always choose a high-end brand name and make sure not to overindulge. For some reason, consuming more than two gin cocktails can mean entering dangerous waters, for me at least. What’s that old saying about martinis? They’re like women’s breasts. One isn’t enough and three are too many. Try making your own blue cheese stuffed olives next time you are mixing a batch of martinis. Your guest will love them. Drinking note—again, note the possible mood change when you have one too many because you may not be that much fun to be around. I do not have empirical data to support this. Do your own research and let me know.
That’s enough for now. We’ve got other spirits to discuss, at another time. Until them, do you know your way around the bar when it comes to distilled spirits?
This week’s Guy’s Guys are all those bartenders who are mastering their crafts and evolving it into the art of “mixology”. Cin cin!