Monday, December 6

Alabama Fizz

Well, it figures. The first drink in the book that calls for a garnish and I can't deliver. Stupid winter months.

Alabama Fizz:
  • 2 oz. Gin
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon (about 3/4 oz.)
  • 1 tsp. sugar (2 tsp. simple syrup)
Shake and strain into 7 oz. highball glass. Top with club soda and garnish with two sprigs of mint.

There's a lot to like about this recipe. For one, it's really unfortunate that I don't have mint just lying around right now; one of the long-term plans is to get some kind of indoor herb garden with good mint, almost exclusively so that I can have cheap drink-making materials year-round. Or I suppose I could just move to San Diego. But the point is, fresh mint adds a lot to a cocktail, even if it's just in the nose. It would certainly add an interesting dynamic to what is essentially just a Tom Collins otherwise.

Also important: the specification of the size of the glass. The neat thing about this book is that it's really precise about what glassware to use. The shape isn't nearly so important as the size. When you're talking about putting a drink into a cocktail glass, in most cases it's mostly academic or a matter of presentation. When you're talking about a drink that gets topped off with something though (club soda, tonic water, ice, ginger ale, vodka...), size is extremely important. The difference between a 7 ounce Highball glass and a 12 ounce Collins glass is, get this, 5 extra ounces of club soda. That's the difference between a potent, flavorful cocktail and a light, refreshing one.

One final interesting note, as this is the first drink I've used that hasn't been put into a Cocktail glass. The actual wording of the recipe for this drink is "Shake well with cracked ice and strain into 7 oz. Highball glass. Fill with carbonated water. Add two sprigs of fresh mint." What you will notice about that is that it doesn't mention ice. I thought that was a whimsical missing piece, because of course you need ice in this drink, but then I thought about it and paged through the book to find some drinks that absolutely should have ice in them, and they did. In far smaller proportions than I'm used to. So, in actuality, no ice in this drink. which means that you get about 4 1/2 to 5 ounces of drink after the shake, and top the remaining 2 or so ounces with (chilled) club soda.

That's completely foreign to the modern American palate, where I've been trained to fill a glass to overflowing with ice and then add the drink, melting the ice as you go. What I need to decide is how closely I'm going to follow the book in this case. One the one hand, it's a very small difference (in this case) as the ice is going to be water eventually anyway, albeit less fizzy than club soda. On the other hand, the drink wouldn't dilute in the least if there were no ice in it, which has both positives and negatives. There is the option of just adding half of the ice that I normally would, which would seem like a fair compromise, except that there's a good, physics-based reason as to why I've been trained to consistently fill the glass with ice: The more ice, the less ice will melt and the more consistent the temperature (and dilution) of the drink from first sip to last.

I realize as I type that this seems to be a completely ridiculous detail. I likely wouldn't even be discussing it if it weren't for the fact that Old Mr. Boston was ridiculous specific on what he wants; the Gin and Tonic, for instance, requires one ice cube, whereas the Tom Collins asks for "several". I think that artistic integrity demands that I abide by the letter of the law, because I'm not adjusting any other cocktails for modern tastes, but if you'd choose to make this yourself, it would be legit to use a little ice. After all, it was good with ice. But don't miss the mint, if you can help it. I'm positive that that would add a lot of interesting depth. I'll have to try this one again in the summer.

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