In my last post, I wrote about my eco party preparations, and promised that cocktail recipes would follow. And because I'm a girl of her word, this post contains said cocktail recipes.
Classic cocktails are hip these days. Whether its the influence of Mad Men, or the greening of our culture, every major city seems to have its own micro-distilleries making small-batch bourbon, and bartenders dredging up old-school recipes for the perfect martini or old-fashioned. In Houston, Bobby and Kevin, proprietors of Anvil Bar and Refuge, keep cocktail culture alive and well. Happily, the classic cocktail culture eschews ungreen ingredients like high-fructose corn-syrup and artificially-flavored mixers.
I can honestly say (and not in a I'm-hipper-than-thou way, but in a I-drank-my-first-gin-martini-with-my-parents way) that cocktails are sorta my thing. And I love the classics. They are easy to concoct, yet elusive to master; they taste elemental; and you sound cool ordering them. Nevertheless, as a hostess, I know that not all of my friends dig the classics. Hence, I've developed the 3,2,1 system.
The 3,2,1 system is a nearly foolproof method for devising cocktails which satisfy your friends who like a fruity drink, yet remain sophisticated enough that Don Draper would still recognize them. When creating a recipe, if you stick to a formula like this one, you won't go (too) wrong:
3 parts spirits
2 parts fresh-squeezed lemon or lime juice (or other fruit if you want to get crazy)
1 part simple syrup (could be infused if you planned ahead)
This formula can easily be adjusted slightly. Don't like sweet? Dial down the simple syrup. Amp the lime. Want to keep the sweet but add astringency? Dial up the spirits. Soon you'll be able use this system flexibly to create drinks like the ones I served at my happy hour.
Mad Women Cocktails
I decided to dedicate these to the women of Mad Men, characters who might chafe at the restrictions placed upon their sex, but look great doing it.
Betty Draper's Mint Gimlet
On Mad Men, the gimlet is Betty Draper's drink of choice. The gimlet is a drink that perfectly reflects Betty -- the frozen shock of gin mixed with the tart sting of lime, softened by a hint of sugar. This season, however, Betty has truly lost the life she once craved ... and what better to represent the fading of summer than fresh mint? The green leaves wave to Betty like her lost youth.
3 parts gin (or vodka)
2 parts fresh-squeezed lime juice
1 part mint-infused simple syrup (Click here for the recipe)
Put a couple of mint leaves and ice in a shaker. Bash with the handle of a wooden spoon. Imagine that it's your father and then cry for betraying him. Put all liquid ingredients in the shaker and, you know ... shake. Strain. Garnish with mint leaves. Drink while appearing to have absolutely no feelings, yet with every sip feeling the stabbing loss of the life you once had.
Joan Holloway's Lavender Lemondrop
Joan is no shrinking violet. Hence, lavender might be her flower of choice. It's softly lovely, yet if you get too close to a stand of lavender, you'll no doubt find it bursts with bees. This lemondrop takes a step up in sophistication from the lemondrop you've no doubt had at a hotel bar.
3 parts vodka
2 parts fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 part lavender simple syrup (I used the Sonoma Syrup Co. brand, which has can sugar instead of high-fructose-corn syrup)
Mix liquid ingredients in a shaker. Strain. Garnish with lemon twist. Drink while looking askance at the immature little boys who run the firm where you work.
Peggy Olson's Whiskey on the Rocks
Peggy's not fancy. She's in new territory for a woman at her firm as she rises through the advertising ranks from secretary to copywriter. To succeed, Peggy's become incredibly adaptable, drinking what her boss drinks -- and that's whiskey.
2 oz. whiskey
Rocks (but if you don't have any, because you're drinking in your office at noon like the Mad Men just imagine them)
A dash bitters, if you're feeling sassy
Pour the whiskey in a glass. Drink standing up in your boss's office while he berates you.