about this blog

December 4, 2010

Dear Reader,

I have been interested in the art of mixing of fine drinks for some time now.

My first favorite was a "Tanquerey martini, on the rocks, with 3 olives" and my first bar tending book was Gaz's "Bartender's Bible", which I picked up in 1991 (the year I graduated from High School) and read cover to cover.

In college I spent way too much time studying "bar etiquette". Sure I threw lots of beer parties but I always had a few mixed drinks around too.

My first professional gig was a cream puff job behind the stick at a small ski area in Oregon (Willamette Pass). I made lots of sickly sweet hot cocoa based drinks. Most of the people I served tended to cut themselves off due to the treacherous drive home. It was a no smoking bar with 20 foot tall windows looking out at the ski hill. Easy peasy.

When we moved to Eugene a year later I picked up a mid-week night gig at a local sports bar. Now I was serving food, dealing with smokers, malfunctioning lotto machines, breaking up fights, cutting people off and generally having to size up everyone who walked through the door.

The early evening crowd was mostly beer and whiskey. I was able to listen to all kinds of stories told by my new neighbors about the area, old times, and the grand art of being a drinker without being a drunk.

The last being a subject in which every one of my lovable drunks were expert's in of course. Looking back, many of the old timers really new their stuff, though to be honest I didn't realize it at the time.

Then the younger crowd would come in and I was pouring more beer and lots of rum and cokes, 7&7's, Long Island Ice Teas, Cosmos, shots and the like. Maybe a shaken Martini if the customer was showing off for a date.

So I was a working bar tender. Big deal. I still didn't know much about mixing a good drink, I did grow up in the cocktail dark ages after all. After some time I came to regard any mixed drink as suspect. Something to avoid unless you wanted a wicked hangover the next day.

For the next decade or so my liquor drinking was limited strictly to high quality spirits over ice, solo, no mixer. Single Malts. Fine Bourbons. The closest thing to a mixed drink was maybe a splash of Cazadores Respo in a can of Squirt or 7-up. That's OK though, I was raising a family by then and learning how to brew beer at home.

For the last 6-7 years I've been a book buyer by trade and visit NYC 2-3 times a year. When friends took me to Little Branch a few years ago and I was unable to recognize a single bottle they had on display I thought it was amazing, I was really blown away.

The real eye opener was on my next trip, when I was taken by another friend to Death and Company. It was one of Alex Day's last nights there and I had a front row seat for an entire evening. I tried Ocho tequila for the first time. I was introduced to a proper Daiquiri and later one with Rhum Agricole for contrast. It was a great night. (Thanks again Greg!)

Perhaps my favorite of the night (it was a cold night in February) was called the "Shruff's end," (a Phil Ward creation) which was served in a glass rinsed with Laphroaig 10 and made of 1 oz Laphroaig 10, 1 oz bonded applejack, .5 oz Benedectine and 2 dashes Peychaud's bitters. A perfect winter warmer.

I've been hooked ever since! Now with my skills somewhat up-to-date again and my collection in place I'm ready to share what I've learned with friends, and hopefully pick up a few new friends along the way.

My goal is to keep this blog accessable to beginners and professionals alike without boring either. Not an easy task. Especially since I'm not a professional writer and I don't work in the liquor trade in any way.

I'm simply a hobbyist with a long time interest, now learning all over again about something I thought I'd learned about long ago. C'est la vie!

I hope you enjoy these posts as much as I've enjoyed researching and creating them.

To your health!