After an extended holiday, food for fun is finally ready to kick off 2015. And what better way to ring in the new year than with a cocktail? What with my enrollment in an online bartending course (Groupon made an offer that was too good to refuse) and the insanely awesome Christmas gift of Liquid Intelligence: The Art and Science of the Perfect Cocktail, I’m planning to beef up my drink-making skills in ’15.
My commitment to this project was reflected in my willingness to spend last Saturday in school. Granted, it was Cooks of Crocus Hill culinary school and the class was Classic Cocktails & Basic Mixology so I won’t win any martyr awards. There are worse ways to spend a Saturday.
Going back to basics seemed a good idea. So often I try to pinch-and-dash my way through a cocktail and while this wins points for creativity, the result is rarely everything it could be if I actually knew what I was doing. Back to basics, then. Absolutely.
Instructor Alison Perrier taught the best way to hold a bottle (by the neck) and the quantity of a standard 3-second pour (2 ounces). She made the best Gin and Tonic I’ve ever tasted and upped the ante on the Old-Fashioned by using bourbon-soaked cherries. There was more to the class, which I’ll come back to another day, but today it’s all about the G & T.
I’ve made my share of gin and tonics and have always enjoyed the outcome. But compared to Alison’s, my version is swill. Hers was smooth, sublime. Yet the recipe differed only because it used quinine concentrate and soda water rather than tonic.
Qui-what? Though I’d seen “quinine” listed as an ingredient in tonic water, I’d never given much thought to what it actually is. Still fuzzy on the details (something about it being a cure for malaria way way way back in the day), I do know that tonic water loses its fizz too quickly, making it a product with a short shelf-life once opened. Perrier gets around this by buying quinine (conveniently sold at Cooks of Crocus Hill) and mixing it with soda water in the glass. Her Perfect Gin & Tonic recipe, then, goes like this:
- Jack Rudy Tonic (quinine concentrate)
- Sparkling water or soda
Fill low ball or collins glass with ice. Add 2 ounces gin and 3/4 ounce quinine concentrate. Top with about 4 ounces sparkling water or soda. Stir and drink.
(There was a lime wedge in there, too, though she didn’t include it in her recipe. Whether oversight or because it’s optional, I know not, but lime seems a must, so I squeeze in a bit of juice and serve with the wedge.)
Seeing is believing.