Cocktail Culture

I’ve always had a fondness for cocktails……

When I was 10, my uncle was living with us and was studying to become a bartender.  I used to help him memorize cocktail ingredients using flashcards and the names captured my imagination: Tequila Sunrise, Zombie, Hurricane, White Russian.  To a 10-year old it all sounded so exotic.

At 13, my mom taught me how to make a bloody mary – complete with horseradish, Worcestershire and celery salt.

As a twenty-something watching old movies from the 1930’s, I thought it was so cool and elegant when a guest arrived and someone offered to make them a drink.

I’ve always wanted a fully-stocked bar at home.  Not because I’m a big drinker, (in fact, I often have to remind myself that I was going to make a cocktail before dinner), but because I’ve always thought it was the height of civility, culture and class to have a fully stocked bar.  (I found out recently that I come by this naturally – I guess my Grandpa always had the best-stocked bar in the neighborhood, even though my grandparents weren’t exactly drinkers by 1960’s standards.)

The old television cabinet became a bar

So my dream of finally having my own bar was realized, (and inspired by a recent Mad Men marathon.)  I re-purposed my old red lacquer television stand and purchased shot glasses, Highballs and Double Old-Fashioned glassware.  (I’ve yet to find the perfect Martini glasses.)  I moved the champagne flutes out of the wine cupboard and stored those in the bar as well.

I already had an ice bucket – vintage in fact since my mom bought it 30 years ago at Crate & Barrel – in bright red to match the bar.  I also had a great cocktail guide that I had purchased years ago that details all of the possible drinks in the universe and a bottle of Bombay Sapphire Gin, Grand Marnier and Absolute Vodka.  (Far short of what I considered necessary for a full bar.)

So I set about stocking the bar. I researched and researched – reading about the liquors I didn’t  drink so I didn’t end up with a sub-par bar.  I thought about what I liked to drink and those that would most likely be stopping by for a drink would like if it were offered to them.  So I settled on the following list:

Bourbon – Johnny Walker Red
Whiskey – Maker’s Mark
Vodka – Stolichnaya, Grey, Goose and Absolute Citron (I like vodka…)
Gin – Tanqueray since the Bombay is almost gone
Light Rum – Bacardi Light, Malibu Coconut
Dark Rum – Meyer’s Dark
Liqueurs – Kahlua, Bailey’s Irish Cream and Cointreau
Mixers – Tonic water, club soda, ginger ale, V8, cranberry juice and assorted fruit sodas, Rose’s Lime Juice, grenadine and vermouth – sweet and dry, Campari and Angostura bitters.
Tequila – Don Julio Silver

And then I wanted to make every cocktail known to man, but knowing that I only recently regained my tolerance for liquor I smartly decided not to try the whiskey sour, gin fizz, cosmopolitan and Manhattan all in one afternoon.

Shortly after I had stocked the bar to (almost) capacity, Joel stopped by with a friend of ours.  “Umm, you’re not exactly a big drinker are you?”, Tim asked.  “She’s been watching Mad Men,” Joel muttered, as if this explained everything.  (Actually is mostly does.)  So I offered them a drink.  They declined, but I love the fact that I could whip up any cocktail at a moments notice.

How civil, cultured and classy of me!

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2 comments on “Cocktail Culture

  1. Auntie Roxann
    November 19, 2011 at 8:59 am #

    we don’t need to go to the bar just to heathers house. i have the same glasses on mad men [love the show too i used to work with one of the owners of BBD@O add agency when i was at the newspaper] found my glasses at thrift store .you are so grown up love you so happy you are writing again!

  2. cousin courtney
    November 24, 2011 at 12:43 pm #

    love love love this! i want to [drive 15 hours and] come over for drinks!! i spied some 1950’s glass holders antique shopping that would be lovely! i should send you a picture of my “liquor cabinet 🙂 you’d approve

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