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a home + living guide for the post-college, pre-parenthood, quasi-adult generation

09.04.2003

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beyond the g&t other classic cocktails | 1 2 
continued from page 1

margarita cont.
try this at home | I know it's easy, and cheap, but trust me: a margarita made from anything that comes in a plastic bottle labeled "margarita mix" isn't going to be half as tasty a beverage as one made the proper way: by juicing those limes yourself. Use a really good, 100% blue agave tequila (I like Sauza Hornitos or Herradura Silver), and you may discover you don't need any sugar at all. If you're using a cheaper, rougher tequila however, you'll probably find that the cocktail benefits from a little bit of simple syrup to smooth it out.
variations on a theme | Fresh fruit tossed into the blender along with the normal margarita ingredients make for a tasty, if somewhat frou-frou variation. Watermelon, strawberry and mango are all mighty good.

sidecar
what it involves | brandy, triple sec/Cointreau, lemon juice
how to order it | Name your poison for a very tasty sidecar, go with that premium French brandy, cognac. A decent but not too over-the-top expensive cognac, like Courvoisier or Hennessy VS, works dandy. A sidecar can be served on the rocks, but I like it served up, with a sugared rim.
when to order it | This sweet-and-sour cocktail has an old-money, prep-school-bred sort of air to it, and is best suited to elegant surroundings rather than, say, a sports bar.
try this at home | Triple sec makes an okay, cheaper alternative to the tastier Cointreau, but under no circumstances should you ever, ever use anything other than juice from lemons you've squeezed yourself. That concentrated stuff that comes in the little plastic lemons, or a big jug of sweet-and-sour mix, will not do at all.
variations on a theme | The sidecar is traditionally made with brandy, but one of my favorite sidecars is a version that uses bourbon (specifically, Makers' Mark). You might also try a gin sidecar.

old-fashioned
what it involves | whiskey, orange slice, sugar, angostura bitters
how to order it | I like it best with a good bourbon like Maker's Mark, but specify whatever sort of whiskey suits your fancy. Should you catch your bartender reaching for the soda gun, stop him immediately: a proper old-fashioned really shouldn't include the fizzy. Once you've received your cocktail, sip it slowly, as the flavors meld and get better over time.
when to order it | The old-fashioned is strong, elegant, but mellow, and, as its name implies, a little on the mature side not exactly the kind of drink you'd get at a place that's best known for its hip flavored martini of the month. Proper technique is of prime importance when it comes to creating a perfect old-fashioned, so order wisely: if the bartender's a nineteen-year-old who looks like they haven't a clue what they're doing, stick with a simpler cocktail.
try this at home | The key to a good old-fashioned is proper muddling. First add the sugar and a tiny bit of water - no more than a teaspoon. Water dissolves sugar much better than alcohol; it's important to dissolve the granules so you don't end up with grit at the bottom of your drink. Next, smush up the dissolved sugar along with the bitters and a slice of orange, to urge all the flavors to come out and mingle. You can use a muddler for this if you happen to have one; the back of a spoon works just fine as well. Add ice, whiskey, and maraschino cherry, and serve with a stirrer.

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