As I noted in my previous post, last month marked the third anniversary of A Dash of Bitters. And although my wallet’s hurting a little right now, I still have every intention of keeping the blog going through the next year. I started this site as a way to simply record the new drinks I was mixing at home, and to talk a bit about what we drank when we’d go out. My goal was to use the fact that I had this blog to be an incentive to push myself to try new things, and to always stay fresh.
With that in mind, I have one big project in mind for this year, and I’m going to need your help. But first, an explanatory note. One question that cocktail novices often ask is, “Where do I begin with this hobby? There are so many brands to choose from in each category, and there are so many categories to explore!” A common bit of advice to these folks is to narrow your focus: choose a drink or a type of liquor and build from there.
Robert Hess expands on this in his Essential Bartender’s Guide:
Rather than starting with a shopping list of products to buy, why not select a cocktail you want to make. Look up the recipe for that cocktail, and pick up just the products you need for that one drink. Simple, straightforward and effective.
…[M]ake that drink over and over again. Reach a point where you really understand what each ingredient is doing to the drink, and how the way you prepare it comes into play. Play around with the recipe a little bit. Perhaps look up a few alternate recipes and see how the drink is changed.
So, that’s the plan. I want one new drink that I will play with and blog about over the course of the coming year. I might not need a whole year to do this, but we’ll see. What I want from you is, suggest the drink. I have a few ground rules, though:
- Rum. It must include rum. White, golden, dark, whatever. Rum’s a spirit I’m still largely ignorant of and it intimidates me a little. This project will allow me to cycle several brands of rum through the same drink so I can start to learn differences between brands. If I move on from this drink and do this a second time, that new drink will also be rum-based.
- The drink, obviously, should be versatile enough that it can work with more than one brand of rum. I doubt that’ll be a problem, but I suppose it could be.
- I’d prefer the drink to be relatively simple. I don’t mean daiquiri-simple, with rum, juice, and sugar (I’ve pretty much mastered the sour, which is what a daiquiri is), but I also don’t want a drink with something like 8 or 9 ingredients, 3 of which are various types of rum.
- I’m open to tiki drinks, but see point 3.
An excellent example of the type of recipe I’m looking for would be the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club Cocktail, which Doug Winship wrote up last week. In fact, if the only comments on my post are the sound of chirping crickets, I might start with that drink. What I like about it is that it’s adaptable. You can try different rums in the base. You can swap out Grand Marnier for the Cointreau. If, like me, you’ve never made your own falernum, you can make some, and then judge the drink side-by-side against a version made with John Taylor’s Velvet, or another commercial product.
Please help. You know you want to.