Drink Softly, and from a Big Glass

If you look at cocktail blogs and sites across the ‘Net, you can find literally millions of way to combine alcohol with everything from Tabasco to rock candy to bacon. People will turn it into a gummy bear, shake it up with ice and myriad other ingredients, or simply drink a pure solution of ethanol and water. Mixologists around the world are concerned with taking whisk(e)y, rum, brandy, vodka, gin, and a variety of more exotic spirits and turning them into interesting drinks. But why must all mixed drinks be either alcoholic, and usually extremely so, or overly sweet concoctions? Whether it is to allow children to sit with their parents at a bar, even to let college students just over and just under the legal drinking age to hang out together there, simply to make it easier for the designated driver to have a good time, or if it is only to expand our drinking horizons, we should also try non-alcoholic and minimally alcoholic cocktails.

The easiest drink is to take a soda and put in a generous splash of bitters in. Stirring’s bitters are even non-alcoholic, making them quite well suited to the task. One drink I have been enjoying recently is:

Ginger Tonic

  • 1/2-1 oz – Bitters (Stirring’s Blood Orange)
  • 4-8 oz – Ginger Ale (Canada Dry)

Build in a long glass with ice. Garnish with a cherry or orange wedge.

This is, of course, a very simple drink. However, we have the juices of a hundred fruits, bitters, sodas, waters, and a thousand different syrups. We can even use ice cream, as in the beloved root beer float, or coffee, or both as in an Israeli cafe au lait. We can infuse various herbs and spices into the drink as we please. An iced chai is little more than water infused with herbs and spices, and then mixed with milk.

If you have some interesting virgin drinks, either post them on your blog, or let me know in the comments. They may not help your heart, but they may help a friend.

Cheers!
The Scribe

(For any of you who may be scarred, I will not switch to non-alcoholic drinks. It is just a subject I have been thinking of a bit recently.)

A Willing Foe and Sea Room

Today at 8:00 this morning over one hundred boats set sail from Newport to battle wind, waves, and most importantly, each other to be the first to Bermuda. The biennial Newport Bermuda Race is one of the highlights of the racing schedule and at the send off party last night one drink was being consumed far in excess of any other. I speak, of course, of the dark and stormy. The dark and stormy is one of my favorite drinks, and, for me at least, a unique drink because it is the only drink I mix by colour.

The story goes that shortly after the Great War, the Royal Navy started offering ginger beer instead rum in an attempt at temperance. Upon being asked whether they wanted ginger beer or rum, limeys answered that they would take both. They poured both rations together, drank it, and thus was born the dark and stormy.

It’s a nice story but some variation of the rum and ginger has been around for ages. In fact, it hardly starts with rum. Ginger is a flavour that tends to go well with most amber spirits. Some experts believe that the first spirit and mixer style drink was likely ginger beer and brandy.

Now all that history is nice, Mr. Scribe, but how does one go about making a dark and stormy?

The Dark and Stormy

  • Gosling’s Black Seal or Bundaberg rum
  • Bermuda stone ginger beer (Barritts or Regatta work well with Gosling’s, or use Bundaburg with Bundaberg)
  • Lime wedge

In a long glass pour a healthy measure or rum and add ginger beer to taste. When I make it, I pour ginger beer until it has roughly the color displayed to the right. Squeeze the lime wedge if you like, stir gently to mix, and add ice to fill.

Now we just came to one of the huge debates in making the dark and stormy: to lime or not to lime? In Bermuda the lime is verbotten. In the States, and most of the Caribbean, ubiquitous. Were I a bartender, or entertaining, I would simply provide the lime wedge as garnish and allow my guest to use the lime as he or she saw fit. As for me, I like it both ways. If I am in a bar, I drink it as provided. In Bermuda, I drink it without the lime. When my father makes it, he adds lime. When I make it, it depends on my mood. The one I was drinking this evening can be seen to the left, and, as you can see, has a lime.

Now I had hoped to make a cocktail out of the dark and stormy. I was thinking rum, ginger liqueur, and perhaps lime bitters. Unfortunately, while I did see ginger brandy, I had heard bad things about it. As for something decent like Giffard’s Ginger of the Indies or Canton, well, the cheap liquor (Hillside Liquors) I go to for staple products would never carry something like that, and the more upscale place I go to for my sippers and specialty liqueurs (Downtown Wine & Spirits) was in the process of remodeling and didn’t have it in stock. Meanwhile, my housemates with cars were working ten hour days and didn’t feel like driving me to Kappy’s. So we needs must languish without the cocktail and leave it for another day.

And so, in the spirit of Friday and the Race, I wish you,

A willing foe, and sea room to race her,
The Scribe