Now that summer is (nearly) here, you’ll be needing some extra-cooling beverages.
Glasserie – mostly known as purveyors of spectacular lamb sandwiches and spicy tomato stew (I’m working my way through their brunch menu) – organized a special private cocktail class Thursday, where we were able to try some of their refreshing Summer drinks (and learn a thing or two about the cocktail business).
Kitchen worker Molly Baz says she put the event together to encourage cross-pollination between skilled foodies and the bar-based boozies. In a casual session, to which staff and neighborhood residents were invited, cocktail genius Matt Fogharty put newbies through their drink-mixing paces. Don’t mind if we do!
Fogharty is ripe with delicious poetic pearls of wisdom such as, “When you shake a drink, you’re not rocking it to sleep – you’re waking it up.”
We also got talking cocktail trivia and history, which began, of course, in the US and is pretty fascinating on its own. For example, we found out that:
- The much-loved Negroni is indeed a classic, but only from 1960 (not the 1880s, like the Old-Fashioned) – because that’s when Campari was invented. The Negroni is great to have before dinner, because the bitterness will “get you all drooly” (which I take to mean that it stimulates saliva production…)
- Gin martinis came first. Vodka came later. Vodka really wasn’t popular in the US until the 1950s and 60s when Smirnoff tried new marketing tactics, and Ocean Spray began pairing up with vodka companies to devise cranberry juice cocktails.
- Generally speaking, if a cocktail doesn’t have juice in it, then it’s probably stirred, rather than shaken (Key exceptions include James Bond’s martini. Theories posit that he has it shaken because it is more diluted this way, leaving him sharper when he needs to tackle bad guys and drive fast cars in chases)
Obligingly, Fogharty gave us a couple of basic cocktail recipes to relax as the weather heats up.
Fogharty’s Rum Honeydew
Start by pouring ¾ oz lime juice into a shaker filled with ice cubes. It’s best to start with the juice because juice is expensive, and if you over-pour it, you ruin the cocktail. By putting it in first, if you make a mistake you can always pour the juice back in the bottle and save your pennies.
Next, dump in ¾ oz honey syrup.
Fogharty says, “What you have now is citrus and sugar – a good base for any cocktail. So you could then add any range of spirits. You could do tequila, gin, vodka – any of these and it would taste fantastic. For a variation you could use gin with lemon juice instead of lime. But this time, we’re gonna use rum.”
So add 2 oz rum. Then shake for 15 – 20 seconds. It’s good to use an all-metal shaker (rather than a Boston glass, for example) because it transmits the change in temperature very quickly and you can tell when your drink is chilled enough. “If your hands start hurting from the cold, it’s time to stop,” says Fogharty.
Then strain into a chilled glass with ice. Leave a tiny bit of space at the top of your glass (a “collar”). Add a lime wedge and a cute little straw.
The perfect basic Manhattan
OK, so we’re in Brooklyn, but Fogharty believes the Manhattan to be one of the two cornerstones of cocktails today – “seasonal, but good any time of year; deceptively simple, with many possible variations”.
So slosh in two dashes of bitters to a pint glass filled with ice cubes. Add a cheeky (small!) dash of orange bitters. Then pour in 1 oz sweet vermouth (or, if you want to be a superstar, make it ½ oz dry vermouth and ½ oz sweet) and 2 oz bourbon.
Stir for 15 to 20 seconds. Stirring is a bit of an art – you don’t want to jiggle your hand around the glass, which looks lame. Instead, rotate the stem of the long spoon. Put the stem between your index and ring fingers, so you have two fingers on top and two below. Use your index finger to prod the spoon into life (takes practice!)
Strain into a chilled martini glass. The purpose of a martini glass is to look pretty and keep the drink cool; and the purpose of stirring with ice is to chill the drink through and dilute it a little with water.
Add a twist of orange (cut the peel with a knife, avoiding too much pith) and flame if you’re brave enough, which will add a caramelized flavor. Rub it round the rim and drop it in.
And last but not least…drink! And don’t forget that if yours turn out rubbish, you can always swing by the Glasserie.