This month’s Mixology Monday is hosted by LUPEC Boston, and asks us to consider first cocktails – approachable drinks for people who aren’t used to downing Martinis and Manhattans. This is an interesting subject for me as many of my friends don’t really drink cocktails, and trying to get them to like decent cocktails is a long, uphill battle I’ve been waging for several years.
It’s also a situation I was in not that many years ago when I had my first sickly sweet drinks masquerading under the banner of cocktails back at university. My tastes have since moved on enormously, and my own progression from Woo Woos to the Old Fashioned, via the Sidecar and Martinez gives me both hope and guidance when trying to sway my friends toward a better class of drinks. So what is the perfect cocktail for ensnaring new drinkers in to the world of mixed drinks?
Perhaps my favourite spirit, gin, provides several really decent classic cocktails that actually work quite well for newbie purposes, and I’ve had friends really enjoy the Corpse Reviver and Pegu Club before. However gin is sadly a spirit much feared, usually on spurious grounds, that will often put people off trying a cocktail before they’ve so much as smelt it. Gin cocktails, sadly, are therefore out of the running.
The Sidecar is also a good introductory drink, with proportions that can easily be varied to reduce the emphasis on the Cognac to make it a bit more approachable. The simple mixture of Cognac, Cointreau and lemon creates a drink that doesn’t overwhelm the senses but does provide lots of flavour. Sadly, this flavour can sometimes be too much to someone not used to aged spirits – sorry Cognac, not today.
Indeed aged spirits of any kind, and in particular whiskies like bourbon, rye and Scotch, generally present a bit of a barrier to anyone not very familiar with cocktails, especially as most of the better cocktails using these spirits use them in very upfront roles. Ironically, given my friends often drink Jack Daniels with coke, I rarely manage to serve them a bourbon-based drink they truly enjoy.
Of the spirits left Tequila, in the form of a Margarita, is a great option, or at least would be were it not for tequila shots and frozen Margaritas. These drinks give people such a distorted view of the spirit and cocktail that it’s hard to get them to try a proper Margarita for fear of what happened to them on nights of tequila shots, and even if they do they are invariably disappointed it’s not of the frozen variety.
We’re therefore left with white rum, a spirit many are already familiar with in the form of a Mojito and Cuba Libre. Given how popular sours often are to cocktail neophytes the Daiquiri is an obvious choice, but to give it an even friendlier edge I like to add a little Cointreau, providing a familiar orangey edge to the drink and producing, what else, the Oh Gosh!
- 1½ shots / 45 ml / 1½ oz light rum
- 1 shot / 30 ml / 1 oz Cointreau
- ½ shot / 15 ml / ½ oz lime juice
- ¼ shot / 7.5 ml / ¼ oz sugar syrup
- Shake all ingredients with ice and strain in to a cocktail glass. Garnish with a slice of lime.
I vary the recipe depending on who I’m serving it to, sometimes upping the sugar syrup to help tone back the rum, but when I make them for myself I cut it out entirely. Having quite a few orange liqueurs on the shelf I often experiment with different varieties but it’s hard to beat Cointreau, though a healthy splash of a blue curaçao often persuades even the most sceptical to at least give it a try.
Combining the light but flavoursome rum with sweet, fruity orange and a nice tart bite of lime the Oh Gosh! is fresh, tasty and very easily approachable. It’s been a while since I drank an Oh Gosh!, but trying it again tonight reminds me why I like them so much. I could have named this site after plenty of other cocktails I liked at the time, some of which I wouldn’t be so pleased about now, but happily the Oh Gosh! still tastes pretty decent to me.
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