Then I moved to San Francisco (after more than 10 years of living down in San Jose), and started going to a Burmese restaurant in The Castro called Nirvana. They have a variety of specialty cocktails — including various froofy tropical drinks — and at some point I started ordering them there and elsewhere on a regular basis.
But cocktails ain't cheap. So I originally tried making cocktails at home to see if I could save money compared to the cost at bars and restaurants, while still having an enjoyable drink. How hard could it be? After all, many of the cocktail menus list the ingredients: "A delightful blend of…" I just had to figure out the proportions.
I didn't count on it becoming a hobby. But I found mixing drinks to be a lot of fun. Building a drink can be a lot like cooking, but with less clean-up required afterwards. I was amazed by how the character of a drink can change by using a different vodka, gin, etc. And how finding just the right "accent" mixer can totally make a drink.
My initial attempt at mixology was to duplicate some of my favorite drinks from Nirvana: a couple of sweet, flavored "martini" drinks. Actually, I rarely drink them these days, as my tastes have changed and I usually find them a bit too sweet. But I still get a hankerin' for one every now and then, and they've been very popular with guests, too.
I usually shake these for better aeration, which clouds the drink initially. Let the drink stand a couple of minutes to clear, or stir instead of shaking if you prefer.
- 1½ oz. vanilla vodka (I like Stoli Vanil)
- 1 oz. apple pucker
- ½ oz. triple sec
- ½ oz. Rose's lime juice
By itself, the apple pucker is just too candy-like for me to take. But the vanilla vodka smooths it out a lot. This drink's simple enough I could do it in my sleep. When I'm looking to impress, I'll serve it in a sugar-rimmed martini glass with a maraschino cherry.Cherry-tini
- 1½ oz. lemon vodka (I typically use Absolut Citron)
- ¾ oz. sweet-and-sour
- ¾ oz. Chambord (raspberry liqueur)
- ½ oz. triple sec
- ¼ oz. Rose's lime juice
So the ironic thing about this drink is that there's no cherry-flavored ingredients. But the overall effect is somewhat cherry-like. Or cherry-ish. Or something. This drink works well in a sugar-rimmed martini glass as well, and a maraschino cherry actually adds something to used to be a cherry to the drink. Oh, and I usually mix this as a double, so the odd proportions are easier to handle. And if nobody else wants to share it with me, I drink the double. :-)