Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Back to the Bar: Summer Cocktail Menu

by James Lourey
I am overjoyed to finally see Sydney bars wiping down outside areas and preparing their summer menu's. Less layers and longer days mean sun accompanied cocktails we've missed so much. As easy and affordable as it may seem, some gentlemen may find the inclination to breakaway from their poor tasting beer they seem to nurse all summer; they may also need to know the appropriate drink to order or make for that special someone after she's tactically running late and devastatingly left the decision up to him, here's where we come in.

Throughout my bartending stint of early hours, fine measurements and many broken glasses, my appreciation for the art of mixology has put a higher emphasis on my consideration on what I’ll order after a hell of a week. Unfortunately I frequently notice the all too common clueless bastard with little to no grip on his alcoholic etiquette. Ordering the right drink in the right situation proves your attention to detail in knowledge, style and generally giving a toss to personal taste when you're drinking.

Although I may still have a few more points to check off before I can refer to myself as an alcohol connoisseur, trust me when I say that what you order at the bar has a great impact on the perceptions and impressions those around you will have of you. In saying that, here are my top seven drinks for men regardless of the situation. Scaling from a quiet start to the night to a kick in the teeth when needed, these cocktails have you covered.

1. The Old Fashioned.

The name itself whispers modern sophistication with a touch of mystery; picture Ryan Gosling out of Crazy Stupid Love or Don Draper sitting in his office overlooking Manhattan, those gentlemen are drinking an old fashioned. With 2 ounces of bourbon, the harsh strength is matched with the detail of this drink, emphasised with a well-placed orange peel and a touch of angostura bitters kept cool with a large block of hand chipped ice. For all you Sydney siders, enjoy the best old fashioned the city has to offer at Zeta Bar within The Hilton hotel Sydney, or for all you Melbourne dwellers, Siglo Bar.

2. Hendricks Gin & Tonic

Simplicity meets attention to detail as we come to my favourite summertime refreshment. Unfortunately house gin at the majority of bars isn’t up to the standard that it should be. The G&T may not seem like a drink that’s deserving to trump other competitors on this list, yet if you switch the brand of gin and garnish type you’ll find yourself adding a new preference. The next time you’re up the creek on what drink to order, whatever the occasion, ask the bartender for a Hendricks and tonic with cucumber. The distilled Scottish spirit is infused with rose and cucumber so by applying a thin slice the drink becomes a refreshing knock back that anyone can make and impress with.

3.The Whiskey Sour

If you’re looking to delve a bit deeper into everything that goes into a great cocktail, the whiskey sour is a perfect place to start. The strong whiskey based drink certainly helps get you into gear with enough Lemon juice to curl your tongue; shaken with egg white and sugar syrup to make you turn to your mate and remark, “these are going down much too easily”. If your ever unsure of what to order on a first or important date gentlemen, point to this in the memory bank.

4. The Espresso Martini

A common classic with a caffeinated spin, the Espresso martini is a perfect way to get your vodka coat on before heading into the pool for a dip later on(don't drink and swim dickheads). With a shot of espresso shaken with vodka, Kahlua and a dash of crème de cacao, this creative drink will have you bright eyed and bushy tailed throughout the night. 

5. The Mojito 

Let’s clear this up right here and now. No, this is not a gay drink. Rather the mojito can be defined as exotic artistry. Not often will you find a rum based cocktail which is placed in the sweet category, so the mojito is a great drink to order at a casual get together with some friends or easy enough for a gentleman to master at a summer garden party. The elements of mint leaves, caster sugar and lime make it one of the most flavoursome cocktails to get your hands on. 

6. The Bloody Mary

This is one of those things everyone has to drink at a 10am brunch after a monumental night to get back into shape. There’s enough fruit and vegetables in this drink to call it a healthy meal (minus the vodka). Newcomers beware, the spice of the tabasco and black pepper is not for the faint hearted, however this acquired British heritage creation should be experienced by every gentlemen at least once or twice. 

7. The Gin Martini

The classic and stylish martini, so far down the list? Be assured there’s method in this madness. The dirty gin martini’s time and place would be most suitable in the middle or coming to the end of a big night. In any case the two ounces of gin blended with vermouth accompanied with a fresh olive will either kick start you back into your mojo or be the main cause of your case of amnesia the following morning.


And for the lovely lady?

Again, it may seem daunting picturing your old self shaking things up from the reliable yet cliché bottle of red when it comes to date night; having your own home bar station setup is not only a high point of decoration, but something that you'll continuously get use out of. Undoubtedly every girl will have their own taste when it comes to what's shaken and what's stirred, however our team has arrived at a couple of beverage options that the majority of ladies would welcome.

1. The Amaretto Sour.
A drink I guarantee will hold the highest level in flavour above many others, with 45ml of Disaronno, 60ml lemon juice, a dash of simple sugar syrup and egg-white topped with a lemon wedge and maraschino cherry. Most bars make an outstanding Amaretto Sour and it's not a difficult one to master yourself. If by chance when your date arrives and thanks you for making her favourite drink and reaches for your old fashioned instead, marry the wonderful girl.

2. Variations of the Bellini.
A fruit twist on the traditional summer ice bucket resident. Whether your choice is strawberry, raspberry or peach, the addition of the given fruit puree to the base of a champagne flute followed by your bubbly of choice gives your romantic rendezvous the feel of the long awaited return of summer. Looking to step things up in the way of the homemade bellini? In earlier preparation, mix the chosen fruit puree with a dash of simple sugar syrup, 60ml grenadine syrup and a dash of egg white to be strongly shaken and rested. The fruity foam result is the perfect topping on the prosecco finalised with the given fruit garnish. Remember gentlemen, presentation is key.

There you have it. Challenge yourselves to explore the wide range of drinks available to you this summer along with expanding your skills behind the bar by bringing out the expert and impressive mixologist longing to show up during these warmer months.

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