"I cannot live without books: but fewer will suffice where amusement, and not use, is the only future object." -- Thomas Jefferson

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Mocktail Adventure

Oh, the things writers must do for their books or stories.

I am writing a mocktail recipe book. Of course, I have to test the recipes. When I first started, I researched various mocktail recipes that resembled classic cocktails and adapted aspects of various recipes to suit available ingredients, and my budget and tastes.

Somewhere along the way, I felt I should try the original cocktail and make my mocktail recipes as similar in flavor and appearance as possible to the original.

When I went out with friends, it was easy to find Champagne and a Margarita but then I hit a snag. It seemed like many Mexican bartenders did not know how to make a Daiquiri, a Manhattan or Cosmopolitan.

Attempting to tackle the problem, when I went out to dinner, I would order one of the drinks I needed to test. But, on the first try, when I ordered a Daiquiri, I got a sorta of Margarita, a drink with slushy ice and a salted rim. I could not smell or taste the rum. The only flavor was the lime slush. The drink had no bite.

I did not make a fuss but I did check with the bartender to see what rum he used. When he showed me the empty bottle of Bacardi’s white rum, I understood why the drink lacked sufficient alcohol. My question upset the manager and he hovered over my table. I tried explain in my awful Español that I was writing a book about drinks and that the drink was fine. I am sure he thought ‘oh boy, another crazy expat.’

On a second attempt, at a reputable Irish restaurant, I ordered a Manhattan and got a concoction made with cognac. It was yellow and tasted awful. Even my friends said it was not a Manhattan. Whew! This experiment was getting expensive and time consuming.

Ok, one more try. I decided to go to the high-end American hotel, the Hyatt, on a Friday afternoon. They had an informal bar set up in the lobby.

At first, the young bartender, Henry, did not understand what I was trying to do. But, I was able order a Manhattan and watch him make the drink. I think he had to read up on how to make a Manhattan.

He used Johnny Walker Red. I knew JWR, it was a good scotch. But, the drink itself, while I am sure was well made, tasted like pure alcohol with a smoky taste which I think came from the scotch. It was not sweet. I could not discern the bitters or vermouth in the drink. It was cold, smooth, with a pure alcohol flavor.

I think I would rather have JWR on the rocks than in a Manhattan. Plus, I never considered trying a Martini. I just can’t drink straight alcohol.

I had drunk about 1/3 of the Manhattan and I had at least two more drinks to test, when Henry offered me a drink of his own design. He named it, Rivera. It was made with orange juice, Midor, Vodka, creme de menthe and a dash of Sprite. The garnish was a lime slice and mint sprig.

I liked it. It smelled good with a mild lime aroma. It was not too sweet and you could taste a hint of orange. The mint gave the drink a unique flavor. I gave up on the Manhattan and drank the Rivera.

While researching cocktails, the history of a drink often includes the hotel, restaurant or bar where the drink was “invented.” So, for the record, Henry created the Rivera at the Hyatt Hotel in Merida, Mexico.

Henry’s drinks looked like little drinks. So, I wondered about trying a Tom Collins.

I think the Manhattan was kicking in. I was feeling a little silly. I was also thinking about ordering a Cosmopolitan. I felt I was bordering on being foolish.

Do men giggle when they get tipsy?

I did not think my girlfriends would appreciate coming to my rescue if I asked them to order drinks just so I could taste them and to prevent me from going under the table. Just what does that mean, going under the table? If I think about it for too long, it doesn’t sound like fun.

I gave up on the idea of ordering a Tom Collins and asked Henry to make a Cosmopolitan.

Henry had all the right ingredients, so I figured, let’s get this done.

Watching Henry reminds me of the time when I was a bar maid and I had to use a book to make drinks. My favorite customers would let me make any drink I wanted for them. I would go crazy, using the fanciest glasses, embellishing the rims, and adding  various garnishes.

The Cosmopolitan smelled like pink grapefruit. I see why people like it. It is not an overwhelming drink. It is not too citrusy or overly sweet. There is a faint taste of orange. I suspect Henry used pink grapefruit instead of cranberry juice.

To heck with the Tom Collins and Daiquiri.

I think vodka is sneaky. What is the opposite of a liquor connoisseur? I am not a connoisseur of anything, but, I have grown to like my mocktails. They are tasty, fun and refreshing and I won’t be going under any tables if I drink them.

Good thing I didn’t finish the Manhattan.

Now home to create more mocktails.

Here's my revised Boyhattan Mocktail recipe:

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