The Hallmarks Of A Great Cocktail

In an effort to explore another side of the spirit world (alcohol related), I’m going to be taking a closer look at cocktails. In the coming months I will be visiting some local bars/restaurants as well as continuing experiments in my kitchen in Manahttan.

I started by selecting a place around the corner from work called Peels and chose to sit at the bar. I think sitting at the bar gives you great access to the real action and if you ask the right questions you become fast friends with the people who know what’s going on. That particular night was chilly and I needed something to warm up with. I had rye on my mind and the first thing that caught my attention was the New York Shrub. I asked what type of rye was used and the bartender said Rittenhouse. Lots of times a drink menu may simply list the generic categories of a drink or styles (i.e. rye, or straight) that go into composing a cocktail not the specific producer (i.e. Rittenhouse, Riverboat). Getting specific is important. It shows that you care about what they are providing you with and it will help you fine tune your own personal taste. That rye packs a punch at 50% a.b.v. and loads of character. This drink also had lemon juice, simple syrup, and balsamic vinegar reduction. It was lively with a lift from the acid and sweetness from the balsamic reduction. The acidity also helped cut through lovely duck fat tater tots that came with their, “secret burger”. I would tell you how that burger is prepared but, alas, I couldn’t procure the secret.

Rounding out the desert portion of the program I wanted something sweet and keeping on the cocktail mission I opted for the Ichabod’s Old Fashioned. This drink is made up of homemade pumpkin bitters, bourbon (Elijah Craig 12 Yr.), rum (Smith & Cross Jamaican Rum), and maple syrup. Wow! So good. Who doesn’t like maple syrup? I do expect to go back and explore some of the other drinks on their list!

The drinks I chose had elements that I gambled on but that paid off in the end. Hallmarks of a great cocktail are elements of distinct aroma, acidity, texture, complex flavor, and a resonating finish. The trick of the trade however is maintaining all these very different qualities in balance. Both of these cocktails had balance and complexity in spades.