The cocktail

So, there’s this thing called a cocktail.  Many people have had them. Few know the history and background of them.  Almost everyone knows the results of drinking too many.  What I plan on sharing here is my knowledge of the cocktail and its many different forms and ingredients.

Where to begin?  How about I talk about what this blog is named, “Sugar and Bitters”.  Sugar and bitters are two of the most basic ingredients in classic and neo-classic cocktails.  I’ve come to learn that the basic cocktail consists of three main parts; the spirit, a sweetener, and a bitter agent.  The most delicious cocktails are made when these three elements come together in the right proportions.

Back in the early days of cocktails, barkeepers used what they had readily available to create libations.  Sugar, of course, had been around since ancient times from processed…..sugar cane, or more recently, the sugar beet.  Today, sugar in a cocktail can come from the traditional sugar cube, or a spoonful of superfine (powdered) sugar.  New creations have been made with a block of raw turbinado sugar, or even the sweetness of an agave syrup can be used.

Bitters on the other hand began being produced as a medicinal “cure-all” in the early 1800’s.  Bitters manufactured today fall into two categories; digestive bitters, and cocktail bitters.  While both of these bitters can be used in cocktails, the latter is used primarily as a base ingredient.

As I said, many classic cocktails consist of a spirit, a sweetener, and a bitters.  One of my favorite classic cocktails, the sazerac, was created with little more than these three ingredients.  It is so perfect in its simplicity, I wonder why it ever had a falling out with bar culture in the States.  To make one, you need specific ingredients which should be able to be found in any BevMo or quality liquor store.

You need:

2 ounces Rye whiskey

1 Sugar cube

4-5 Peychaud’s bitters dashes (YES, it MUST be this specific bitters for THIS cocktail)

1/2 ounce Absinthe

2 Old-fashioned glasses (aka “buckets”)

Ice

Lemon

Citrus peeler or knife

Muddler

Method:

Prep one of the glasses by pouring 1/2 ounce absinthe and filling with crushed ice.  This glass will be the final vessel for the cocktail, but you want to build the cocktail in the other glass.

Place the sugar in the bottom of the second glass and douse that sucker with the bitters.  Muddle the sugar and bitters together for about 10 seconds to create a syrup-like consistency.  Stir in the 2 ounces of rye whiskey.  (Purists might insist on using only “Sazerac brand rye whiskey”, but for the purpose of this creation, any rye will do.)

Give the other glass a twirl to coat the sides with the chilled absinthe, then throw out the ice+absinthe mix.  Stir the rye as you pour it into the chilled glass, this ensures all of the mix makes it to the chilled glass.

Use a peeler or a knife to cut a section of the lemon rind.  Squeeze the lemon over the glass to release the oils from the rind and wipe it around the edge the rim.  Place the rind into the glass and say “Cheers!”  You just created a classic cocktail.

Take your time enjoying this one, breathe in and smell the aromatics, let the cocktail develop as the lemon interacts with the mix.

Cheers!