Saturday, February 27, 2010

That Was Then, This Is So

Yes, it's been over a month since my last confession. These dreary winter days, some setbacks in my personal life and overall lack of career stimulation have given me a functioning case of the blahs. Or what someone I recently met at a party referred to as "confident apathy."

At least the weather finally stepped up and snowed on New York City in earnest. Weather reports all winter promised our "Snowmageddon" or "Snowpocalypse" and then we only got a slushy dusting. This time, seventeen inches in Central Park, baby! That's what the lady said.

But two bits of good news are beginning to emerge from this indifferent haze. My friend Rob and I, on a whim, then a full on dare, decided to dive head on into the Bar Smarts mixology program. It's an intensive, industry invite only, course created by a team of respected cocktailians (Pacult, Seymour, Olson, Degroff, Wondrich and Frost) to teach  expert drink making as well as thorough knowledge of base spirits and overall bar tending savvy. We have to completely memorize 25 classic cocktails and figure out how to adapt them, be expected to pick random spirits out of a blind lineup and look really comfortable making this happen. Consists of at home discipline with four online quizzes, then a big sit down and hands on exam in DC end of April.

Sounds easy, but there is much to do and learn. While my spirits knowledge is pretty high, I am no mixologist by any stretch. I have never used a Boston shaker. I have never muddled anything besides my own thoughts (or at times, perhaps the thoughts of others). Until the other day I had never even made my favorite cocktail for myself, a Manhattan. What is considered one of the easiest stirred drinks to execute.

Oh, the comedy. I described this first pass as me channeling both Inspector Clouseau and my mother (who in the 1960s famously poured an entire bowl of salad dressing into a drawer while distracted in conversation with a dinner guest). This should be easy: 2 oz. bourbon or rye (used Sazerac, which gives it a spicy edge), 1 oz. sweet vermouth, 4 dashes bitters. Stir with ice, strain, serve in chilled glass. Well, I somehow missed the mixing glass with the jigger and managed to toss a lot of rye alongside it. Had to guesstimate how much needed to be compensated to equal the right measurement. Then my "dashing" technique was called into question by Rob, who said I was "dropping, not dashing." All in the wrist, I suppose. Well HE knew what to do. I'm just sayin'. Got everything in there and stirred. Poured the ice out of the waiting glasses. Held the strainer over the mixing glass, tipped over the glass and voila! Manhattan all over counter. (Years ago I made an apple "Floor Pie." This is "Counter Manhattan." Or perhaps a "Staten Island?") We at least had enough left to sip. Rob made the twist. As though whittling bark from an oak tree.

But hey, they tasted good.

We'll get better.

I hope.

Oh, and I found a way to get to Scotland in May! There have been some wee drams there with my name on them for a long time now. I so deserve this.

Confident apathy morphing into nervous excitement. Um, yay. I mean, yay!