The near classic cocktails (continued)

The Cosmopolitan

I’m going to be flat-out sexist because it’s true – the Cosmo was a promising new cocktail that was ruined when, in the 1990s, virtually every young woman who ever went near a bar ordered one. No doubt they heard about it from Sex and the City, where, surprise surprise, it was the house drink. It was almost always made with cheap, over-sweet ingredients.

The Cosmo was only invented in the late 1980s, so it can’t possibly be a classic – it could be completely forgotten (one can only hope) in a few decades. As it is, today many of the best mixologists simply refuse to make Cosmos – some won’t even keep cranberry juice in stock.

A really well-made Cosmo is a delightful libation but it’s virtually impossible to find one. Good bartenders won’t make them and bad bartenders can’t make good ones. I can say one thing in favor of the Cosmo – it’s a drink that survives commercial pre-mixing, and in fact there are some pre-mixed brands that are better than you can get in most bars.

My favorite is one made by the Boyd & Blair distillery. Their craft Cosmo is prepared with the famous Boyd & Blair vodka, which has won many awards, along with blood orange, cranberry and lime. You might find it to be slightly on the sweet side (it is, after all, a Cosmo) but add another shot of vodka and all will be well.

The Mojito

The Mojito can be a refreshing drink – it’s really just a Rum Collins with mint – but that’s about the best that can be said for it. Unless it’s topped with a rum floater it’s mostly dull and in any event no drink that began its life as a cure for cholera will ever be a True Classic.

The Sidecar

Just as the Cosmo was ruined by Sex and the City fans, the Sidecar was ruined by its association with the Rat Pack (Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Dean Martin, etc.) and with snooty cocktail lounges in New York. Made with cognac, Cointreau and lemon juice, it’s actually a very nice drink, but it’s fallen badly out of favor and may never recover.

The Bloody Mary

I‘ve discussed the Bloody Mary already – it’s almost more of a remedy for drinking than a drink in itself. It’s delicious, for sure, and is definitely a bit of the hair of the dog that bit you, but if it weren’t for brunches it would be almost unknown.

Long Island Iced Tea

This is a drink that everyone loves to hate. It’s a bit of a mess, so snooty mixologists sneer at it. But I’m including it as a Near Classic for one reason: I used it to woo my wife (well, my second wife), who doesn’t drink much and so she loved the Long Island Iced Tea, which doesn’t taste like liquor even though it knocked her for a loop.

Piña Colada

Despite being a frozen drink the piña colada is actually a serious cocktail, although it’s not treated seriously in the US. Stateside it’s always too sweet and too light on the rum. It’s just a fun cocktail over here, drunk almost exclusively at seaside and usually on vacation.

The drink was invented in Puerto Rico and it’s their national drink. I haven’t been to Puerto Rico but friends who have been there and who know their booze tell me the piña colada over there is a completely different thing, even though it contains the exact same ingredients.

I’m inclined to believe it because I once had a piña colada in St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. I was down there to make a speech at a conference, but of course I spent most of my time having fun. One afternoon I was strolling along the beach with a guy named Danny who’d introduced me at my presentation.

We were watching in astonishment as a cruise ship bigger than St. Thomas pulled into the tiny harbor. Two hours later the island was overwhelmed by thousands of drunken locusts – excuse me, tourists – who fed ravenously off the land and then, when there was nothing left, returned to their ship and sailed away.

Anyway, as we were walking along the shore we came to a Jamaican guy – at least I assumed he was Jamaican, he looked pretty Rastafari to me. The guy was standing on the beach behind a folding card table on which were set out many kinds of rum and many kinds of fruit. Although he was smiling broadly he seemed a bit forlorn – he had no customers and Danny and I were the only people on the beach.

I said to Danny, “I’m not much of a drinker but let’s give the guy some business.”

When Danny stopped laughing he asked the Jamaican what was on the menu. “Good drinks, mon!” the guy said. “I got Jamaica rum punch, I got piña colada. The best on the island!”

Danny ordered the punch so I ordered the piña. To make the punch the Jamaican guy cut up six kinds of fresh fruit and squeezed the juice into a large plastic glass. Then he added four different kinds of rum and shook the hell out of it, meanwhile singing the Reggae song, “Red Red Wine.” (In case you don’t know, that song wasn’t written by Bob Marley, it was written by Neil Diamond.)

To make the piña colada the guy made it just like anyone else would make it, except he used an ancient, battery-powered blender. But it was the best piña I ever had, before or since.

Then we switched and I got the rum punch and Danny got the piña. It was also the best Jamaican rum punch I ever had, before or since. So, naturally, we had another round.

As we staggered off toward our hotel I asked Danny if he’d heard the P. G. Wodehouse joke about Jamaica. Since he hadn’t heard it I told it to him:

Bertie Wooster: My girlfriend went on vacation.

Psmith: Jamaica?

Bertie: No, she went of her own free will.

Next up: The Oxford Companion, Part 9

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Please note that this post is intended to provide interested persons with an insight on the capital markets and other matters and is not intended to promote any manager or firm, nor does it intend to advertise their performance. All opinions expressed are those of Gregory Curtis and do not necessarily represent the views of Greycourt & Co., Inc., the wealth management firm with which he is associated. The information in this report is not intended to address the needs of any particular investor.


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