New Year's Revolutions
The use of the word in the headline was intentional. Aren’t we all just a bit tired of making resolutions that within a few weeks, we have already chosen to disregard?
We are better than that, although to this point it’s a tough truism to believe. Bad habits take a long time to become ingrained and then we choose a fault or two, swearing by all that is holy that we are going to improve errant behavior. Then we fall back into the pit of whatever, returning to behaviors or habits that make someone mad or disappointed.
Good intentions do not, however, make for good outcomes. Which is why I am advocating this year that instead of making New Year’s resolutions we instead just go for the gusto and enter the realm of revolution. It is obvious we have tried a softer approach and that has not worked. Time to really commit to change, or not. It’s nothing to me as to how you go at this, but it could mean much for you.
The way I see it, the constant making-then-breaking of “resolutions” cheapens their effectiveness and the lowered expectations for success means the resolution becomes a longer-shot for success than the prior efforts.
This time go big and go long when it comes to adult beverages.
MAKE COCKTAILS WELL
All cocktails have a recipe. Respect it. Learn to do it well. Stick to the recipe’s measurements of all ingredients. And then you can experiment, even cut corners, if you wish. But do the right thing the right way first.
USE ONLY THE BEST
You owe it to your reputation to use the best ingredients possible. Anything less is immediately evident in the outcome. It may be that you are an excellent mixologist, but that you have been skimping on quality spirits and supporting additives, so your audience does not think you can do the work. Upgrade all ingredients and fool’em.
IMPRESS WITH PRESENTATION
Some amateurs still have not gotten the memo that service glassware does make a difference in taste, or, at the minimum, perception. Learn what is the proper service glass (you probably already own it) and then use it. I know it sounds like hokum but the glass’ shape, weight, texture, design, and cleanliness make a big difference at all levels of your guest enjoying what you are pouring and/or preparing.
ALONG THOSE LINES
Your glassware should never be washed with soap, even in the dishwasher. Most soaps leave residue in the vessel, maybe even a thin film. That souvenir of the washing process can really cause havoc with appearance of your drinks. And in extreme cases, such as sparkling wine, can negatively impact how the main drink behaves.
There are times, such as when orange juice is used as a mixer, that the pulp from the fruit is tough to clean away. Use ridiculously hot water and then take a clean sponge while the glass is being cleaned to remove dried pulp or residue at the bottom of the glass which has settled in following periods of non-use. Always rinse the glass before using it to remove dust.
Commercial institutions have regimens for cleaning, required by health regulations. You have no such rules at your home. Most glasses can become clean and hygienic without soap but with hot, hot water and a bit of a scrub, then a final rinse. We are dealing here with alcohol, which in and of itself is a pretty effective germicide.
And we have preached this before, use very clean ice in the drink. That likely is not going to come from your refrigerator. It will come from the store in three-pound plastic bags. Spend a few bucks on ice that the commercial ice-house has made. It will be free of odors that build up in your refrigerator and free of mold that loves the environment in your ice maker, and which you are always meaning to clean but never do.
GET INTO THE SPIRIT OF THE SPIRIT
In our modern world, there are so many products from so many exotic places that you likely have never explored. How much fun is it to experiment with a liqueur made from flowers growing on the sides of Alpine mountains, or serving wines from locations which you would love to visit someday but for now can’t even pronounce the name
Enjoying products from such global points allows you to not just learn about those places but also puts you in intimate touch with the culture and the people, assuming you allow your imagination and curiosity to take over your sense of hospitality.
Don’t reject a bottle simply because you don’t understand the design and the label copy. Stand in front of it with your phone and Google the style and use of the product. Look at the suggested recipes. Learn about the history of the raw ingredients.
When you serve the contents of the bottle to your guests, think of the fun of sharing the story.
I do cringe when I hear people tell a bartender, “the usual.” It’s comfortable but boring and misses the point of enjoying different and fascinating adult beverages.
Happy New Year and Happy Carnival. It’s going to be a great year of pleasure and discovery.
Read Happy Hour here on myneworleans.com every Wednesday, and listen to The Dine, Wine and Spirits Show, hosted by Tim, every weekday, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. on WGSO 990AM and streamed as well as stored (podcast), at www.wgso.com. Also, check out Last Call, Tim’s photo-feature every month in New Orleans Magazine.