Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Cocktail Chat | Recent Repeats

It’s been a crazed couple of weeks and the Dilettante has been a bit remiss about keeping up with the bevy of new bevs we’ve been trying.  But between work, The Partner’s birthday, and a holiday weekend, there’s been precious little time to write.  My goal is to get everything up to date this week.

In the meantime, I thought I’d share some recent repeats we’ve enjoyed on the social scene and on the roof now that the weather in the Old Northwest is finally looking less like the weather of the New Northwest.
I’m here to report that I’ve living the whole point of this project, not ordering my old Ketel and instead have settled into Manhattans when I go out.  It’s tasty and one any bartender can make.  Back in March, Betz commented on the Manhattan post that a bartender once recommended that she try a dash of Worcestershire in her Manhattan.  One Kiss Creations then tried it and liked it.  Intrigued, I gave it a shot.  It’s wonderful!  When just a dash is added, the sauce doesn’t give any discernable flavor, actually.  Instead it imparts a depth, some dimension.  The foodie in my wants to say it’s umami, the 5th taste the Japanese have identified as “savoriness”.  It’s an enjoyable counterpoint to the sweetness of the rye & vermouth.  So I highly recommend!  Thanks for the suggestion, Betz!

For the Chicagoan followers, head over to Sprout, Dale Levitsky’s place, of Top Chef fame.  He makes his own Worcestershire, crazy man that he is.  Not only are the Manhattans incredibly well made, but if you ask for the homemade stuff they’ll add it to your drink.  (Then be sure to order the Steak course on the tasting menu.  But be warned, it’ll be a tough transition back to Lea & Perrin’s.)

As the weather’s turned warmer here in Chicago, I’ve gone back to the “summer” tag.  Twice now I’ve made the Pegu at home.  I then ordered it out, again at Sprout.  Despite the fact that H & M say it’s making a resurgence, the server had no idea what it was and needed some coaching.  Taking the chance paid off handsomely.  He even asked if I had a preference of bitters.  He then wanted feedback to take back to the bartender.  Impressively, the first try was spot on – pale orange color, citrusy dryness, refreshingly cool.

The other cocktail we’ve had now more than once is the Cuba Libre, both at home and out.  This one too, needs a little coaching if ordered out.  Be on alert, though.  If you find a mixologist who has heard of a CL, be prepared to coach that this is not simply a rum & coke by a hoity toity name, or that’s what you’ll likely get.  I busted this one out for the season inaugural of our roof deck.  While The Partner sipped wine spritzers in the 90 degree sunshine, I went to CL route.  When our friends, C., N. and baby A. dropped in for a surprise visit, C. joined me.  “Wow,” he said, coming up from his first sip.  “This is nice…  I like it!  It’s very refreshing…  I could drink a lot of these, especially on a hot summer day.”  

Not only do I love validation, I also love not drinking alone! The great thing about the Cuba Libre too is that it’s a soothing hair of the dog after a night of over-indulgence.

What’s been very interesting as I venture out with new beverage requests is the responses of the servers and bartenders tasked with stretching filling my order.  They’re expanding their own repertoire and their responses have run the gamut.   Everything from the server at Sprout who wanted feedback for the mixologist and asked my bitters preference, to the bartender who sent out a bottle of Worcestershire sauce with my drink because he was too timid to add the unexpected accent to my drink.   Still another listened to my ingredients list and then consulted a recipe book he had stashed under the bar.  I love that one.  There’s no shame in not knowing if you know where to go to find the info you need. 
So far, taking the chance to ask for a new cocktail when going out and coach it along makes for some great conversation with new and interesting people.  Plus, it’s good to have the only unique cocktail at the table or along the bar.  After all, these are the things of which cocktailing’s all about.

1 comment:

Play nice! Criticism is best when friendly & constructive.