Friday, May 8, 2015

9 Cocktails You Should Know in Vancouver

Cocktail culture is booming in Vancouver. Much like many metropolitan areas in the United States, it's pulling from a number of already established cultures of yore. New Orleans, the classic prohibition era, and tiki. For this reason I've decided to put together a list of the cocktails that you have to know in order to survive bartending in Vancouver. There won't be any paralyzers, Pina coladas or strawberry daiquiris on this list (however, it doesn't hurt to know these things anyway).

9. The Shirley Temple

Since I don't approve of Shirley Temples,
here's a Tequila Martini!
Let's get something straight at the onset here. I hate making Shirley Temples. They're essentially a child's drink that's made out to be a cocktail. And, parents being the responsible jerks that they are want to expose their children to cocktail culture in virgin form. Traditionally, it's orange juice, 7 up, and grenadine. But it also normally gets the disgusting maraschino cherry topper, skewered through an orange wheel or something. I hope you're wearing gloves because those cherries will stain your fingers.

Try twisting it up by giving an adult take on the famous virgin drink. A dash of orange flavored bitters, and swapping the 7 up with club soda will do you a world of good. Also do something like 4 times as much soda than orange juice, instead of the regular half and half. As for the grenadine.... well it sort of makes the drink, but pom will also give it an interesting look and flavor. When topping with garnish throw away your crap cherries and opt for real cherries from the produce department, and some orange zest.

8. Frozen Margaritas

So I gotta say... Mexican Bulldogs...
So awesome.
As a hot tourist destination, due in part to the lovely Vancouver beaches, margaritas are a tourist favorite. I have to say though, it is a bit weird because it never really gets all that hot in Vancouver, and people tend to prefer them in the frozen variety. I for one prefer them shaken, but since this list is not about my prefeerence, I recommend you get used to making them.

A normal margarita gets an ounce and a half of tequila and half an ounce of triple sec. I should add here that Grand Marnier works better, though it is pricy. Again, the standard is two ounces of lime juice and an ounce of simple syrup, and then you can blend using some ice cubes. If you opt to blend, make sure to add more ice as you go until you get a desired consistency. You can also try substituting the sweet and sour mix by pureeing various fruits, like banana, pinapple, or even kiwi, and throwing In different types of syrup, such as coconut or passionfruit.

7. The Cosmopolitan

That Cosmo! This one actually has Litchi in it, so
it's not totally my kind of thing.
What's a little sex in the city without a Cosmopolitan? And as ashamed as I am to be ashamed make to ask that question there's no shame in being able to make ashamed make a good cosmo. A lot of restaurants and bars of their own take on the cosmo, where they add their own little twist. Usually this something along the lines of using blue curacao to make the drink purple, or adding some random infused vodka. I don't recommend straying from the original though, unless you come up with something truly ground breaking.

A cosmo is quite simple. An ounce and a half of vodka and half of triple sec, an ounce of each lime juice, simple syrup and cranberry juice, shake, strain, garnish and voila! And if you were expecting a way to twist it up, like the previous cocktails you can forget about it.... well okay, the blue curacao thing isn't bad, and there are ways to make this cocktail work using grapefruit juice. But that's all you'll get from me!

6.The Martini

This is a Martini. Note: no bullshit.
Just like every other half classy city in the world, the Martini makes the list. There's nothing complicated here, and if I was hesitant to offer a twist on the Cosmopolitan, it goes doubly so with the Martini. Hell, I don't even like to use vodka in my Martinis, opting for the original gin version. And of course, weaker tongue individuals will have their dirty versions, but I'll stick to the standard.

The original martini calls for an ounce and a half of gin, and a half an ounce of dry vermouth.  I prefer to stir mine, but they're okay shaken as long as one double strains to compensate for ice chunks. And then there's the ever famed muddled ice martini, in the style of Bruno, bartender of Zam Zam and San Francisco bartending fame. It tastes no different than any other martini, but I have to say there's something more rewarding about making a martini this way. Perhaps it's all in the fact that by doing so, I'm doing something that so few others do?

5. The Manhattan

How can you have a list with the martini on it, and not the Manhattan? Well save for a gin cocktails you have to know list, anyway. The Manhattan is often referred to as the Martini of rye whiskey. I don't like to think of it that way, but I will grant that it's a pretty good comparison.

This is how I like my Manhattans. Pretty awesome, right?
The traditional methods of drinking this cocktail called for it on the rocks, and some people still like to do it that way, though, the popular method is to put it in a Martini, which fully realizes the false equivalency that this is a Martini with rye. Being that this is a whiskey cocktail, I readily scoff at the prospect of putting this in a flared rim glass. Whiskey has a delicate and pleasant nose, which needs to be funneled by the likes of an wine glass, glencairn or brandy glass. For the Manhattan though I prefer to use a snifter. I find that it has the perfect volume for the way I like them.

An ounce and a half of rye, half an ounce of sweet vermouth and a few dashes of Angostura bitters. Like the Martini, I prefer it stirred and then strained. But no maraschino cherries for this one. Stick to lemon or orange peel, to complement the rye. Or if you're particularly daring, you can brandy marinate your own cherries. Don't be afraid to try different bitters and vermouth. While Martini rosso is a quality product, Cinzano or Punt E Mes can be even better.

4. The French 75

This French 75 was made using Earl Grey infused Gin.
I was debating even including this one, instead, opting to out the Mimosa on the list. I mean who are we kiddinf? Mimosas are better known and more popular than the French 75. But since this list is going on a stylish streak, I'm just gonna assume everyone knows what goes into a Mimosa, but not necessarily a French 75. In reality, the reason I included this is because I see it as being similar but superior to the mimosa. Not necessarily because to absolutely HAVE to know what it is. That said, brunch is very popular in Vancouver,  and I most definitely encourage you to move your guests away from their Sunday Spumante and orange juice.

It's a similar kind of cocktail as the mimosa, calling for sparkling wine. The popular,  and affordable way is to choose a California Prossecco, but traditionally they are a French creation, and Champagne is the preferred method, if you can stomach using Champagne in a cocktail. Add an ounce of gin and half an ounce of triple sec with some lemon juice and a bit of simple syrup. Shake to your heart's content, and then strain into a flute before topping with your bubbly. I recommend garnishing with a long twirled lemon spiral zest.

3. Mojito

I have to tell you guys... a spiced rum Mojito is pretty
off the balls awesome.
This is another cocktail where I'm going to urge you to stick with the traditional recipe. But in all honesty, different versions of the Mojito can work real well, as long as there's no extra sugar added. Read: no packaged purees! There are also ways to make a Mojito into a delicious beer cocktail, which I'll have room elaborate sometime in another post.

For a true Mojito start off by muddling a healthy handful of mint with a bit of granulated sugar. The mint is the most important flavor of this cocktail, so make sure it's good quality! No black spots, or soggy leaves here!

Next add two ounces of white rum, an ounce of lime juice and an ounce of simple syrup and shake. Pour into a Collins glass and top with soda water to finish your concoction. If you're going to opt for the popular raspberry Mojito, I'd recommend muddling real raspberries with the mint, and using Bacardi Black Razz.

2. The Old Fashioned

I like my Old Fashioned to be indistinguishable
from my Manhattans. Big whoop?! Wanna fight
about it?!
The cocktail that started it all I guess. This is your go to for enjoying a good bourbon, and possibly the most popular classic cocktail in Vancouver. There's a lot of debate about what a true Old Fashioned was like in its time, but the most reliable sources say the four constituent ingredients are sugar, water, bitters and whiskey.

I've written about this one before,  and you can get the full story there. As for how to prepare it? Take a teaspoon of sugar, or a sugar cube, pour a few dashes of Angostura bitters onto it, add a teaspoon of water and stir to your heart's content. Or, rather, stir till the sugar is fully devolved. And two ounces of whiskey and your done. The familiar ice and orange zest are optional.  Personally I prefer mine neat, with a lemon zest. It should also be noted that you can enjoy an Old Fashioned with pretty much any spirit that isn't neutral flavored.

1. The Caesar

Note: A good caesar can be an entire meal!
I'm going to be honest with you. I wasn't sure whether to even put this in the list. It sort of goes without saying that every bartender needs to know how to make a Caesar. But I suppose that this cocktail essentially wraps up the cocktail culture of Canada, it has to be done. Whether you do it or not at your bar, that's totally up to the owners I suppose (there are places that refuse to make them).

Rim a glass with celery salt, and an ounce of vodka, a few dashes of Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce, fill with clamato juce and garnish with whatever ridiculous machinations you can come up with.

And there you have it.

Honorable mention: the Negroni.

In truth I prefer the Negroni to both of the gin cocktails on this list. That being said, this is a list for the masses! The Negroni is still a drink of the niche sophisticated croud.

This is not just any Negroni... it's a Negroni Spagliato! Basically that means I topped a Negroni with Spumante.

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