Wednesday, April 29, 2009


1 oz. Tequila (Partida's Blanco)
1 oz. Cointreau
1 oz. Fresh Lime Juice

Shake with plenty of cracked ice and strain into a good-sized cocktail glass. Fred disprefers the use of a salt-rimmed glass, but if you're into that kind of thing, coat the rim with lime and dip into a dish of kosher salt before decanting.
Fred and I have a dream bar set-up at home for a couple of amateurs (at least as far as bartending toys and booze selection go). For the past couple of years that we've been into craft cocktails, I've deferred to Fred's bartending skills, happy to have him choose and mix. Lately I've thought, "why should he have all the fun?" I love to get all technique-y, and back in my youth (before I was seduced away by software development) I was an analytical chemist. So I've been picking up the shaker myself, concentrating on learning to make some of the classics. Fred's already written about my first foray - a basic martini. After that, I really got cracking - literally. I'd been schooled months earlier in the importance of properly chilling and waterizing a cocktail. One of my toy purchases back a few months ago was a lovely vintage ice cracker. It's a stainless-steel ball connected to a bakelite handle by a stiff spring. Fred always looks so cool when he uses it. I also wanted to master the Boston shaker. So, having a wide streak of masochism in my nature, I decided that my next cocktail would be a Ramos Fizz. The Ramos Fizz requires lots of cracked ice, which provides a proper surface area and topology to help emusify the egg white. It also requires lots of shaking, 5 minutes at a minimum. These 5 minutes (to be fair, Fred shook for the middle minute thirty) gave me plenty of opportunity to experiment with different shaking techniques [1]. I found a variant of Tommy's technique (a two-handed, two-part shake whose rhythm reminds me of how someone would shake a tambourine) to be the most comfortable.

When I came home from work last Thursday with a bag full of limes, I decided to make one of my personal favorites, a margarita. In looking up recipes, I decided to try Ted Haigh's recipe from Vintage Spirits & Forgotten Cocktails. While the margarita hardly qualifies as a forgotten cocktail, the properly-made classic version has certainly been neglected. Haigh's version used equal parts instead of the more common sidecar ratio (3 parts spirit, 2 parts orange liqueur, 1 part citrus juice), and as a result was rather on the sour side. The Partida definitely held up in the flavor profile, its honeyed smokiness probably worked better in this ratio than a less mellow blanco would have. Substitution of Grand Marnier for the Cointreau would also work with this ratio to make it less sour. Fred remained unconvinced of the margarita's charms, but I found this recipe to be refreshingly tart.

[1] OK, someone should do a write-up of the various shaking techniques used by Boston's finest bartenders, complete with pictures, or possibly even video.


leadlike said...

Ha! My friends and I have had the same conversation about classifying the different shakes - and if different drinks called for different techniques (a la in The Thin Man movie). There should also be classifications for the intense shaker-faces bartenders make! ("this one is called 'Magnum'...")

andrea said...

"classifications for the intense shaker-faces bartenders make"

HAHA! I think John G. clearly wins in the performance art category. Though I wish I'd been there for Sam's Ramos Fizz mishap a few weeks back. Sigh. I miss Sam, can't wait until he's back at Drink.

leadlike said...

I missed the shaking part, but I managed to shoot video of the aftermath:

MC Slim JB said...

Your recipe looks like the classic Margarita proportions, which would make it way too limey in my book, and clobber the flavor of a nice pure-agave blanco. Here's what I use, served straight up:

1 fresh OJ *
2 simple syrup
3 fresh lime juice
4 Marie Brizzard Triple Sec
8 tequila

* This is an idea I copied from watching the making of the excellent Margaritas at Tremont 647. Purist anathema, I know, but it softens the edge of the lime in a way I like.