Photo by evilgreg3000 at Flickr.
We wrote an article (Ladies! Drinks to Order Now that You're Grown Up) a while back at the suggestion of some female readers who wanted something a little less girly to order in the bars. This in response to the massive and unnatural prolifereation of candy drinks in trendy bars. How many of these can one tolerate no matter how colorful the drink or how white the gleaming teeth of the smiling bartender?
Recently, we had a user accuse us of unfairly singling out the fairer sex and rightly pointed out, Men are keeping the crap beer industry afloat, not women. And Jaeger shots? Those are on you people.
Point well taken. She also made another interesting point: Drink making is done by more women [than men]. For better or worse, the same people making the meals are probably fixing the cocktails. Sure is the case in my world and those of the people I hang out with. Only in 60s and 70s movies does the man of the house say, Let me freshen that for you. And he's dreamy.
That led us to a massive self realization. An epiphany, if you will.
Men are lazy drinkers.
It's true. Complicated cocktails? No way. Guys throw their whiskey in some ice and drink it. Scotch sites usually recommend drinking it neat with a splash of water. A Russian's idea of culinary improvement on their vodkas is throwing it in the freezer and chasing it with caviar. Aged rums and anejo tequilas are considered sipping drinks.
Get the idea? Now cross-reference that with my very own sister who has taken drink cocktails to the next level. She's spiral cutting lemon twists, infusing her own vodkas, grinding her own spices, layering the drinks, inventing whole new fruit juices to mix with exotic liquors, and so forth. She follows in the footsteps of her mother, who conscientiously slices mango sticks "just so" for no better reason than to provide something sweet, nice, and pretty with which to stir the drink. I slice mangos the same way I pull weeds and with about the same artistic sensibilities and with about as much joy. Our generous reviewer who touched off this whole line of thought mentioned that she makes her own maraschino cherries (I always figured they were made from some kind of waste fluid from the plastics factory and it never occurred to me try to make them), is fluent in several varieties of bitters (most guys don't even know you're supposed to use angostura bitters in a Manhattan-if they even know what that is), and charitably announced, Orange are sliced. Lemons are twisted. Limes are wedged. How hard is that??
Regarding maraschino cherries, our reviewer anticipated me - your author - to a tee saying at the end, what man would take the time [to make maraschino cherries]? He'd just shell out the ridiculous $18 for good ones or eat the crappy plastic ones. There are good maraschino cherries?! I never even knew...
So, there it is. Here we were giving women a hard time for their drink orders when the last time I myself drank a truly elegant cocktail was when my sister made it for me. Thank you, Sweet Jane, for pointing out the foot that had gone so long unnoticed in the side of my mouth.
So men, here it is! It's your turn to take the set of instructions while maintaining the credo of laziness.
First, no tequila shots - whether out of the glass or off the belly of some nubile tart (who is probably secretly laughing at you). No rum shots. No whiskey shots. If you know what you're doing, then you're ordering decent stuff and decent stuff is never, ever, ever shot. Leave the Red Bull in the medicine cabinet and out of your drinks. How could you commit such a criminal act on an innocent vodka? No vodka, even if you made it in your own bathtub, deserves the cruel and unusual punishment of being mixed with that noxious, vile brew.
Save the crap beer for after the softball game on a hot day. It's water and use it as such.
There's something pretty manly about a cigar and a little neat scotch. A strong cigar can cut the peatiness of a typical Laphroaig and that can be a good thing. The same can be said for some single-barrel bourbons. It's dimly allowable to order them on the rocks... just make sure your bartender doesn't drown the scotch by putting a ton of ice in the thing.
The Manhattan family (sweet vermouth and Angostura bitters with your rye whiskey) of cocktails is massive. Scotch instead of rye makes a Rob Roy-add Benedictine in exchange of vermouth to that and you get a Bobby Burns; irish whiskey makes it a Paddy Cocktail or exchange the vermouth for Drambuie and you get a Leprechaun (use scotch and it's a Rusty Nail; that same bit of Benedictine in bourbon and you've achieved a Preakness Cocktail or Kentucky Colonel). Grand Marnier - can make exciting cocktails such as a Red Lion or a Maiden's Prayer. A little olive juice makes your martini dirty; a little dry sherry makes your martini Fino. A bit of sweet vermouth makes your martini perfect and a dash of Benedictine makes a Rolls Royce. Many people who like a sharp lime-tang in the martini will use Rose's Lime Juice to make a Gimlet. It's probably unfair to expect today's routine bartender to know all of these names so learn the recipe and order by ingredient. I'll take a Tanqueray with splashes of Grand Marnier and fresh orange juice please... shake it well with a twist.
The great thing about these drinks is that they're not especially hard and reinforce the Lazy Man Drink code while still being tasty, specific, and elegant. And it will work. Once your female of choice has exited college and successfully entered the adult world, your buddy Joe shooting the tequila and your buddy Jim ordering a rum-and-coke isn't going to be as interesting to her as you, who is ordering Jameson on the rocks with a dash of Drambuie. You want to hoot like a frat boy at hooters, keep ordering the boyish, boorish crap. You want to gt together with the newly-minted doctorate? She wants a martini-man.