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THE COLLEGIATE GUIDE: Mixing Drinks, 007 style

Drinking alcohol has long been a favorite pastime of college students (those of legal drinking age, of course). Considering the ubiquity of recreational drinking on campuses, however, the utter lack of appreciation for the art of mixology expressed by the average student never ceases to confound. Too often we torture our tastebuds with travesties concocted of cheap vodka and whatever juice or soda we were able to scavenge at Hodgdon on Friday afternoon—or, worse, we drink Natural Light beer.

The goal of this primer is to offer ways that a drinker with an undeveloped palate but a curious mind may expand their horizons. If the only “cocktail” you’ve ever made is a screwdriver (“it has a name that isn’t just ‘vodka and orange juice,’ so it counts, right?”), prepare to have your mind figuratively blown.

Following are a few recipes for classic, simple cocktails that you can make to impress your friends and lovers. Before we get to the drinks, though, a quick glossary:

SOME TERMS AND NOTES

–          1.5 oz: The size of a standard shot. Some shot glasses come in 1oz, 2oz, or 4oz sizes, so be reasonably careful when measuring (A standard “double shot” glass is likely to be 2oz). Anyway, assuming that your shot glass is in fact 1.5 oz, it’s pretty easy to extrapolate measurements from there. For example, 1oz is two-thirds of that glass, and so on. I’m not going to give you any further examples because math is terrible, but I think you get the picture.

–          Highball glass: A glass that typically holds 8 to 12 ounces of liquid, typically used for drinks with a high mixer to alcohol ratio. A standard Solo cup can serve as a decent replacement.

–          Martini glass: Also known simply as a “cocktail glass,” these are those classy, cone-shaped glasses that martinis, Manhattans, and other high-alcohol mixed drinks are served in.

–         Margarita glass: That curvy, wide-rimmed stemmed glass they serve margaritas in. You know what I’m talking about.

–         Cocktail shaker: They come in a lot of different styles (two-piece, three-piece, Boston), but the purpose of any cocktail shaker is, well, to shake cocktails. The basic idea is that you put your ingredients and some ice in your shaker, shake it up, then pour the contents through a strainer so your drink comes out pure and beautiful. For anyone serious enough to actually want to buy a cocktail shaker, or even if you just want to stare at some, I recommend you go to the Boston Shaker next to Dave’s Fresh Pasta. It’s an amazing place.

THE DRINKS

1) The Gin and Tonic

The Recipe:
1.5 oz (1 shot) gin
tonic water
lime wedges

Ice cubes

Place ice cubes in a chilled highball glass (or a Solo cup, or one of those clear cups you stole from Dewick). Pour gin over ice, then top with tonic water. Squeeze a lime wedge into the drink and stir. If you’re feeling fancy, garnish with a thin slice of lime or a curled lime peel.

***

When your friends ask you what you’re making, smile knowingly and say, “It’s a G & T.” “What’s a G & T?” they’ll ask, bewildered. “You know, what Barney drinks,” you’ll reply. If your friends watch How I Met Your Mother, which is a GREAT show, they will instantly understand and think you are Awesome. If they don’t, they’ll be awed and humbled that you made two references they didn’t understand in the span of two minutes, and then they’ll taste the drink and they’ll still think you’re Awesome.

Even if you aren’t awesome, drinking a gin and tonic will make you feel awesome. It’s smooth and refined, not sweet but not too strong, either. Like any simple recipe, a G & T is made even more excellent if you splurge on some middle-to-upper-middle shelf gin and fancy Fever Tree tonic water from Dave’s (did you know there’s such a thing as fancy tonic water? I didn’t either, but trust me, it makes a difference). If you’re cheap like most of us, though, it’s still perfectly fine made with Seagram’s and Schweppes.

2) The Manhattan

 

The Recipe:

2 oz rye whiskey

1 oz sweet (red) vermouth

2 dashes Angostura or orange bitters

Stir together whiskey, vermouth, and bitters and pour into a chilled martini glass (or small Solo cup). Garnish with a Maraschino cherry or a curled lemon peel.

***

There are a lot, and I mean a lot, of variations on the Manhattan out there, with the proportions and ingredients varying wildly depending on the whims and preferences of the bartender. Several recipes for a classic Manhattan call for as little as half an ounce of vermouth for two ounces of whiskey, but Esquire Magazine and I both prefer it with a bit more vermouth. Some traditionalists may call me a pansy for that, but they’re jerks. As for the rye whiskey, it’s a bit bolder and spicier than other whiskeys, but is the integral part of a classic Manhattan. If you and/or the people you send to the liquor store are afraid of and/or can’t find rye whiskey, the drink can also be made with bourbon or Canadian whiskey. Experiment! It’ll make you feel alive.

According to Wikipedia, the Manhattan may or may not have been invented at a club called the Manhattan in the 1800s at a banquet hosted by Winston Churchill’s mother. Because everything written on Wikipedia is gospel canon truth, feel free to repeat this story to your friends and feel doubly classy.

A brief word of warning: This drink is made with 100% alcohol. Faint of heart, beware.

  

3) The Classic Margarita

The Recipe:

2 ounces tequila

1 ounce orange liqueur, such as Cointreau (tastier, expensive) or Triple Sec (less tasty, cheaper)

1 ounce lime juice

Pour some salt onto a small plate, or napkin, or something. Rub a wedge of lime around the rim of a margarita glass or small Solo cup to moisten, and turn glass upside down on the salt to coat the rim. Shake the tequila, orange liqueur, and lime juice with ice in a cocktail shaker (or rig one out of some Tupperware, or just stir it all together in a cup) and strain into your salted glass. Garnish with a thin wedge of lime.

***

Contrary to popular belief, a classic margarita (or, more pretentiously, a “real” margarita) never touches a blender. We prefer to call those things “smoothies.” This margarita is smooth, tart, and refreshing – perfect for a hot summer day, or a cold New England winter night you want to pretend is a hot summer day. Additionally, this is a perfect opportunity to get some good use out of that salt shaker you stole from Dewick just for kicks at the beginning of last semester.

Wikipedia says that the margarita was invented at a bar in Mexico by a guy who wanted to impress a beautiful rich girl named Margarita. Wikipedia also says that the most popular tequila cocktail in Mexico is not the margarita, but something called the Paloma. Wikipedia is a wealth of relevant knowledge.


4) BONUS: The Summer Betty

The Recipe:

2 oz bourbon or Canadian whiskey

Juice of ½ orange

Juice of ½ lemon

Ginger ale

Club soda

Shake whiskey and fruit juices together with ice, and strain into a highball glass (or, even better, a Mason jar). Top with equal parts ginger ale and club soda to taste. Garnish with curls of orange and lemon.

***

This is not actually a “classic” cocktail, by which I mean I invented it and I want it to become famous. The name doesn’t really mean anything. I promise it’s delicious, and it’s so easy to take oranges and lemon wedges from the dining halls that despite having FIVE WHOLE INGREDIENTS they’re all criminally easy to procure. I’m sorry there’s no picture. If this drink actually becomes a thing I will be an incredibly happy person. That’s all.

***

As a final note, remember to be safe—classy drinks are not for getting blackout and puking over that guy from your Intro to IR recitation who you totally thought was into you as you drunkenly try to hook up. It’s best to save that sort of behavior for the screwdrivers and Natty Light.  Happy drinking, Tufts!

– Devyn Powell

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One Comment Post a comment
  1. BeezNeez #

    A couple of things.

    1. That is a nice way to make a very sweet Manhattan. If that’s not what you want then: more whiskey, and use sweet AND dry vermouth ie a Perfect Manhattan if you’re ordering at the bar
    2. Rye whiskey while spicier is most certainly not “bolder” than other whiskeys. As a craft the distilling of rye whiskey is not particularly impressive, simply put American bourbons are better spirits (especially for the money).

    Often quotes get thrown around like “rye is the Islay whiskey of America.” This is extremely misleading. While there are similarities in the requirements of certain percentages of barley in scotch and rye in rye whiskey (even this is a stretch), the craftsmanship in developing scotches on Islay as compared to the new resurgence of rye whiskey distillers in America is day and night. Rye was once America’s whiskey of choice but was replaced during prohibition as the major distillers closed and only recently was it revived. American bourbon making has become quite nuanced and impressive (still not like Islay but impressive in its own right) while Rye is for the most part still relearning how to make a quality spirit.

    I recommend Tufts students go and purchase some interesting bourbons, especially considering that even some of the more top shelf bourbon runs around $40 a bottle.

    January 31, 2012

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