Welcome to one of the new cultural features here at RedState. The Tavern is open.
This will be an ongoing venture where hopefully you can be challenged to expand your potables experience by breaking out of the norms and experimenting for the sake of experiencing. One of the facts of life is that, after a time, most people become very set in their preferences of the consumables in our recreational time. There is a reason that advertisers target the younger demographics.
Once a preferred article of pleasure is found, human nature latches on. This goes both for specific products, and also for branding. We take comfort in an established item because it serves a dual purpose; it molds our personal identity and likewise identifies us to others. When I worked in the beer industry, it was known that getting older swillers to try other brands is nearly impossible. You needed to focus on the new drinkers and get them to identify with your label, and also help them have it identify them.
While this is great from a marketing perspective, it is a bit of a loss for the consumer. This rigid devotion means you miss out on many other pleasures and experiences. The best thing to do is have a preference — your go-to choice — but also be willing to branch out and savor other selections. It is fine to have a home port, but you do need to hit the high seas on a regular basis.
With that in mind, this first entry will be themed to a cultural event this weekend — The 93rd presentation of the Academy Awards. Understand one thing: I fully grasp the ridiculous and the vapid nature of this show. I am one who is hurling verbal tomatoes from the back row. (Watch this space Sunday evening for a scathing live blog of the pageant.) While having fun at their expense the key is just that — having fun.
So, here will be a variety of themed cocktails for the show, and hopefully, there will be one, or some, that will encourage you to break from your standard norms and sample some new potables to enjoy. These will not be overly exotic, and they will be rather makeable with the proper ingredients and a modicum of preparation.
So, strike up the orchestra intro and wear your finest sofa fashions, as we are about to revel in the gala of this event — and make fun of celebrities along the way.
We’ll start off with something that is both opulent, but extremely easy. Here is a cocktail that is appropriately classy but has a twist, as well as a certain flair for the evening. Your initial reaction might be: these two things do NOT go together – but take my word. I have introduced many people to this potable and most have said both, ”This is surprisingly good!”, then in the ensuing weeks would let me know, ”I made those again at our party.”
Note: Dry champagne/sparkling wine is what works better than a sweeter version, such as Prosecco. The sharp cinnamon is mitigated, and the flavor blends well.
- Bottle(s) Dry Champagne
- 1/2 oz Goldschlager
–Pour champagne to 1/3 in a fluted glass, add the Goldschlager, then fill with champagne. The bubbles will make the gold flakes circulate in the glass.
(in honor of ”One Night In Miami”)
This is actually a standard in South Florida, by way of Havana, but do not be leery of its exoticness. The most basic of prep time and some minimal counter space will deliver great results. Buy enough mint stalks for the crowd size you are serving. The limes are best cut into wheels, as they are a visual as well as a flavoring. I suggest lime soda as a variation. The great thing is you can add more or less of the items to suit your taste.
- 2 oz White Rum
- Mint Sprigs
- One Teaspoon Sugar
- Lime Soda
– In a shaker drop in 3-4 mint leaves, 1/2 tsp. of sugar, and a splash of rum. Muddle well to release the oils in the leaves. Add ice, sugar, rum, more mint leaves, squeeze 2 lime wheels and drop them in. Shake vigorously, at least 30 seconds to break up leaves and dissolve sugar. Pour contents into a Collins glass. Fill with lime soda. Garnish with mint sprig.
Buttered Popcorn Cocktail
Yes, seriously. If you have ever had the popcorn-flavored Jelly Bellys this is right there, in terms of flavor. You can adjust the taste with more or less of the Buttershots liqueur.
- 1/2 oz Frangelico
- 1/2 oz Amaretto
- 3/4 oz Buttershots
- 1oz Bailey’s Irish Cream
–In a shaker add all ingredients and shake until blended. Pour into a rocks glass. If serving guests garnish with caramel corn kernels on a pick.
The Chicago Fire
(in honor of ”The Trial of the Chicago 7”)
From the area restaurant of the same name, this is a sweet and spicy drink that embodies its inspiration.
- 1.5 oz Fireball whiskey
- Juice of lemon
- 1 oz simple syrup
- Ginger Beer
- Fresh strawberries
–In a shaker muddle 2 strawberries, add ice, whiskey, lemon juice, and syrup. Shake well and pour into large rocks glass, fill with ginger beer. Garnish with cinnamon stick.
French 75 Cocktail
(in honor of ”Mank”)
In order to toast the David Fincher epic about the making of the script for ”Citizen Kane,” here is a throwback cocktail from the 1940s, with the added bonus that it has a similar shading to the black and white film. This will be a tart boost to the champagne, so a fruitier version like Asti would work well with the components.
- 1 oz gin (citrus based labels like Hendricks, or Black Button work well)
- Juice from one lemon
- 1 oz simple syrup
- 4 oz Champagne
–Combine first three ingredients in a shaker with ice, strain into flute glass, fill with chilled champagne, garnish with lemon wheel.
(in honor of ”Minari”)
To toast the film of a Korean family that becomes established in Arkansas, try this variation of a traditional fruit favorite. Many are unfamiliar with this Asian staple, but it is the most consumed spirit in the world and can be found in most larger liquor outlets. It does come in varying strengths, so be sure to check you are getting a potent enough batch (80 proof or better).
- 3 oz Soju
- 1 cup cut strawberries
- 1 cup cubed watermelon
- 1 oz Heavy cream
–In a blender add ingredients with ice and blend until smooth. Pour into daiquiri or margarita glasses. Top with whipped cream, garnish with a strawberry slice and a watermelon cube.
For more potable inspirations as well as deeper cultural topics come listen as we discuss these items across the coasters at The Cocktail Lounge podcast, every Tuesday evening at 8:30 pm ET.
Editor’s note: All images (unless noted), credit: Brad Slager, used with permission.