a-doodle yeehaw! – The New Indian Express

Cock-a-doodle yeehaw!

Express News Service | Published: 13th May 2023 07:13 AM

Image used for representational purpose only. (File Photo)

KOCHI: It’s been a taxing summer, right? What better way to cool down on a weekend than with a refreshing margarita by the seaside? Or, perhaps, on one’s balcony. A squeeze of lime, a splash of tequila, triple sec, and a sweet syrup over ice with salt on the rim of the glass — that’s it.

How did such legendary concoctions come to be?
It is said that cocktails were inspired by the British punch — big bowls of spirits mixed with fruit juices, spices, and other flavours — of historical punch houses where, according to English painter William Hogarth’s A Midnight Modern Conversation, politicians, lawyers, and parsons spent hours of debauchery in front of a huge bowl of heady mixes, wilting their night away.

However, it was thanks to American and merchant Frederic Tudor, famously known as the “Ice King”, that cocktails came to be what they are today. Well, someone had to figure out how to transport ice from freezing regions via ships to American cities, and that’s what the “Ice King” did. And that led to great cocktail recipes. 

It was on May 13 in 1806 that a definition of the cocktail was formed. New York tabloid ‘The Balance and Columbian Repository’ defined it as “a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters”, courtesy editor Harry Croswell’s response to a reader’s inquiry. May 13 is now celebrated as World Cocktail Day.

The real cocktail guru, however, was Jerry Thomas or “Professor” Thomas, a bartender from Connecticut. He compiled a seminal volume of recipes titled ‘How To Mix Drinks, or The Bon-Vivant’s Companion’. It consisted of punches, slings (spirit mixed with sugar and water), cobblers (a mix of spirit, sugar, crushed ice, and fruit), toddies (a spirit with hot water, sugar, and maybe spices), sours (a drink made by mixing a spirit with lemon or lime juice), and, of course, cocktails.

“Well, we cannot forget the infamous prohibitions in America,” notes Dushyant Mishra, director of food and beverages at Grand Hyatt, Kochi. “There were two prohibitions when production, sale, and distribution of alcohol were illegal. Bartenders became jobless. Many travelled to European countries for jobs and learned of new kinds of alcohol. Some returned to America and recreated gin and other beverages.” 

In the 20th century, cocktails became a rage, after the world wars. “Especially in the 1990s, many experiments created a lot of incredible concoctions,” says Dushyant. “Cocktails became a trend, a fashion, and an art. With Absolut becoming a fashionable and trendy brand, the popularity of vodka and vodka-based cocktails rose. Gin, too, became a trend, followed by tequila.”

Dushyant says India is slowly recognising gin and tequila, and the latter has evolved much more than a drink for shots. “Recently, I visited Amsterdam, and now in Europe, rum is trending,” he adds.

It was the Britishers who brought most alcohol and cocktails to India. Now, it is mostly Mumbai and Delhi that determine the trend. “Bengaluru and Goa are also evolving as trendsetters,” Dushyant says.

Kerala, he says, is relatively a small market for cocktails. “Here, baby boomers are still stuck on whiskey, Glenfiddich on the rocks, their go-to sophisticated drink,” he quips. 

“While youngsters experiment more with gin, tequila, and suave cocktails.” 

Southeast Asian countries such as Singapore and Vietnam are also chipping in these days. “If once orange was the king in cocktails, a lot of Asian components are on the rise now. Lemongrass is already being added and soon, we will see a plethora of Asian ingredients,” he says.

The name
It is said that the name has nothing to do with chicken but with horses. The Oxford Dictionary says in the early 17th century the word was used “as an adjective describing a creature with a tail like that of a cock, specifically a horse with a docked tail; hence a racehorse which was not a thoroughbred. So the came to be used for ‘adulterated’ drinks.

Everyone knows it as the favourite choice of James Bond. “Shaken not stirred,” is his way. Well in its original form, a martini is a mix of gin and vermouth and garnished with olive. Now though there are many versions available. Its origin is also disputed. Some say the name came from the brand of Vermouth. Another theory traces its origin to Martinez, a cocktail served in the early 1860s at Occidental Hotel in San Franciso. People frequented the hotel before taking a ferry to the nearby town of Martinez. Also, some residents of Martinez say the drink was created by a local bartender. The drink was first mentioned in Jerry Thomas’s 1887 edition of the Bartender’s Guide, How to Mix All Kinds of Plain And Fancy Drinks.  The modern version is a dry martini which rose to prominence during the prohibition days as the ease of manufacturing illegal gin. Now there are various kinds of martinis, and some use vodka instead of gin.

Gin: 2 1/2 ounces 
Dry vermouth: 1/2 ounce 
Lemon twist: for garnish

Chill the glass. Add gin and vermouth to a mixing glass. Add ice for 30 seconds and stir (or shake vigorously for 10 seconds). Strain the drink into the chilled glass. Garnish with a lemon twist or olives.

It probably has the most interesting origin story and is named after a Cuban beach. It is said to be invented by American engineer Jenning Cox who was in Cuba at the time of Spanish American war. He was throwing a cocktail party and ran out of gin. And rum being readily available in Cuba, he decided to mix it with lime and brown sugar. He named it Daiquiri after the nearby port town. However, it is not clear whether he invented it or whether was it already available in the country where rum is aplenty. But Cox did write down a recipe, which became popular in America later.

White rum: 2 ounce 
Fresh lime juice: 1 ounce plus one tsp 
Simple syrup: ½ ounce

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and combine rum, lime juice, and simple syrup. Shake vigorously. Strain into a cocktail glass.

Long Island Ice Tea
A delicious but potent concoction. Well, tequila, vodka, triple sec, gin and rum are all great on their own, however, someone somewhere had the dangerous idea to mix it all together, add a splash of cola, drink it and regret the next morning.  It boasts of 22% alcohol concentration. The drink’s origin is much disputed with multiple stories. One story is attributed to Old Man Bishop from Kingsport in Tennessee. In the 1920s during the prohibition time, the Old Man mixed whiskey, maple syrup, and varied quantities of the five liquors (no triple sec). His son added cola, lime and lemon. He called it Old Man Bishop. Another story is that Robert “Rosebud” Butt invented the Long Island iced tea as an entry in a contest to create a new mixed drink with the triple sec in 1972 in New York. 

Vodka: 3/4 ounce 
White rum: 3/4 ounce 
Silver tequila: 3/4 ounce 
Gin: 3/4 ounce 
Triple sec: 3/4 ounce 
Simple syrup: 3/4 ounce 
Lemon juice, freshly squeezed: 3/4 ounce 
Cola, to top
Garnish: lemon wedge

Add vodka, rum, tequila, gin, triple sec, simple syrup and lemon juice to a Collins glass filled with ice. Top with a splash of cola and stir. Garnish with a lemon wedge. Serve with a straw.

Gin And Tonic
This classic has an Indian connection. When the Britishers colonised India, they also had to deal with Malaria. Officers of East India Company’s Presidency armies were stationed in the sub-continent. Malaria was a persistent problem for Europeans. And as a cure, they were given quinine, which was drunk in tonic water. To counteract the bitter taste, officers started adding water, sugar, lime and gin to the quinine. And thus was born the gin and tonic cocktail. Since it is no longer used as an antimalarial, tonic water today contains much less quinine and is usually sweetened.

Gin: 2 ounce
Tonic water: 4 ounce
Lime peel: For garnish 
Fill a highball glass with ice and add the gin. Top with tonic water and gently stir. Garnish 
with lime.

Whiskey Sour
A perfect blend of sweet and sour. It is said that the first mention of a whiskey sour was in 1862 in Jerry Thomas’s book. But it is likely that the drink was being consumed long before. One story follows sailors who in the 1800s were battling scurvy during voyages. And a perfect remedy was vitamin C which means they used to consume lemon a lot. And bourbon and whiskey were abundant on ships. So they mixed it all together. Then it reached the shores and became a legendary drink. Now there are many versions of it available. 

Bourbon: 2 ounces
Freshly squeezed lemon: 3/4 ounces
Simple syrup: 1/2 ounce
Egg white (optional): 1/2 ounce
Bitters: For garnish

Add bourbon, lemon juice, simple syrup and egg white, if using, to a shaker and dry-shake for 30 seconds without ice. Add ice and shake again. Strain into a rocks glass. Garnish with three or four drops of bitters.

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