The Great Cocktail Experiment

(Image from Flickr user Graeme Maclean)
(Image from Flickr user Graeme Maclean)

Today’s off-topic topic: Drinking!

I’ve been practicing my classic cocktail making over the past couple weeks. Each week, I pick a cocktail and make at least one a night. Week One was Manhattans, last week was old fashioneds, and the next couple weeks, when not in holiday mode, will be spent on martinis (both gin and vodka).

In my ongoing quest to get better at the fun parts of being a grown-up, I wanted to build a reasonable repertoire of actual cocktails beyond the liquor-plus-pop formula that I’d grown comfortable with. There’s something beautiful about a well-made cocktail, and there’s something mysterious about that beauty when you don’t know what goes into one of those cocktails.

So far, I’m finding that I prefer my best version of the Manhattan (a little more than a full shot of whisky and exactly a full shot of sweet vermouth, plus the usual amount of bitters) to my best version of the old fashioned. I’ve mostly been using Bulleit rye, which I’ve found to be a good cocktail whiskey. I had the chance to make a few Manhattans using Jim Beam at a family gathering this weekend, which was also very good. I think I still prefer Woodford Reserve when drinking whiskey straight, though.

If you’re the type of person who enjoys social drinking, I strongly support taking the time to pick a couple cocktails and experiment with making them well. It’s certainly cheaper than getting the drinks at a bar, and may well be more economical than beer, depending on what your tastes and consumption levels are for beer vs. cocktails.

I’ll close by noting the feeling of genuine satisfaction I had about halfway through my Manhattan week when I took the first sip of my now-preferred recipe. It was as if I’d unlocked the spell for a secret elixir. I look forward to future experiments with wizardry.