Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Remaking of American Culture, the Rattle of the Cocktail Shaker

Once, I was stirred to do important things, like work for lesbian and gay civil rights in Maryland. Now, I'm shaken. One of my friends asked me if I had a drinking problem. Of course not! Unless I've run out of alcohol!

Yes, in my retirement I've come to appreciate the cocktail hour and its tools: the cocktail shaker and the bartender guide. The very best, in my humble opinion, is the Field Guide to Cocktails. This book has just about every obscure mixed drink that you can imagine, and it sets the intrepid mixologist on a voyage of discovery and experimentation.

Each day at 4:30 p.m. I think, hmmm, the Cocktail Hour approaches. What should I mix? Sometimes I try the oldies: a Margarita or a Caiparinha. But sometimes, undaunted, I grab my shaker, I muddle my lime (I'm really into fru-fru drinks), and I go where no bartender has gone before. For example, today's following an old Serbian urge, I mixed a Vodka Knockout. The Serbs use different ingredients, but the end result is remarkably similar, a warm fuzzy feeling.

Vodka Knockout

1/2 lime, cut into sixths
2 t sugar
1 oz peach schnapps
2 oz citrus flavored vodka
2 oz pineapple juice
Angostura Bitters

In the bottom of a cocktail shaker, muddle the lime and sugar. Add ice to the shaker, then add the other spirits and pineapple juice. Shake vigorously for 20 seconds. Strain into a large glass.

Did you know that if you eliminate the salt around the rim of a margarita, that you have a heart-healthy beverage? Isn't that a powerful message for personal responsibility? Of course, you can leave the alcohol out of all of these drinks. You'll be drinking a lot of tonic water, cranberry juice, lime juice, and coke. No I don't have a drinking problem. My cabinet is well-stocked. Now, where is my shaker?