I have a confession. I got drunk for the first time in my life when I was 28. And I don’t mean a particular kind of drunk. Like “black-out drunk,” or “pass-out-in-my-own-vomit drunk,” or any other increasing level of drunk, drunk. No. I mean drunk in any form. It’s not like I had any overarching, culturally, or socially moral or ethical aversion to partaking in alcohol. I just (1) would have rather eaten my calories than drink them, and (2) was not keen on losing control of myself. Ironically enough, I didn’t want to lose control of myself, because I was afraid of what I would do without my active conscious limitations and filters.
I didn’t trust my subconscious with the wheel, because I know what I think, and am intimately familiar with what gets through, and with what I keep to myself. So what was the event that was worthy of letting go of my inhibitions? None other than my bachelorette party in St. Augustine, Florida. I’m a lover of all thing creepy and historical, so my patronus, whom I affectionately call Niki, one of my law school buddies, had the genius idea of bringing me to a place where both of these fixations are present in abundance. I also think she figured adding alcohol and a virgin drinker to the mix would produce a really entertaining weekend. And not just entertaining for me.
So, the main attraction was a haunted pub crawl. Let me just cut to the chase and tell you that it was the most fun I have ever had in my life. We started the tour at Scarlett O’Hara’s bar, and moved from there to some old yellow Victorian house-turned inn and restaurant famous for their chocolate martinis, and then on to bars with alcohol and jello shots. The ability to remember names and then physical descriptions became more impaired as the night wore on. The only thing I was responsible for doing that night, was to have at least one drink (and I had to finish that drink) at each bar.
Well, the overachiever that I am, one drink per bar turned into two drinks, which turned into 5 jello shots, and then the ability (along with the ability to describe things) to count was lost too. We ended up adopting some dude named Trevor, whom I invited to my wedding, and ending the night with two of the most amazing pizzas I had ever had. Now, it’s important to understand my neuroses. I am 100% a control freak. When it comes to food, each meal is carefully planned, with each calorie and each micronutrient accounted for. There are no such things as “snack-attacks.” No “midnight snacks,” no, “I’ll have dessert,” unless it was specifically planned earlier that day or week. So, not only was drinking WAY out of the plan…but sausage and pepperoni pizza at 3:00 a.m.? Out. Of. The. Question.
And it was amazeballs.
You know what else? No hangover. I was up 5 hours later, and ran 3 miles. Now, I must have smelled like a bar floor with all the alcohol I was sweating off, but that’s neither here nor there. In fact, I would argue that I am a natural lush, as my body is naturally adept at processing alcohol. Anyway, the point is, that I came to an epiphany. I can drink *responsibly* (and mother-of-god, not as much as I did that night) and enjoy myself without having to count every calorie/nutrient, and still wake up the next morning without feeling awful, or guilty, or waking up the next morning and magically weigh 300 pounds. I can drink *responsibly* around friends, and not have to worry *much* about what I say or do, because they are my friends, and won’t disown me for what I say or do when I’m drunk. This feeling of relief was coupled with a sense of profound regret that I didn’t take advantage of the opportunities available during my sorority days in college. That feeling of regret was quickly quelled when I realized that the maturity level of my law school/adult friends was probably what made it possible for me to say and do things without the filter and not find my tires slit and car teepeed the next morning.
In any case, this revelation opened up a whole new culinary chapter for me, and I have dived in with impunity. When you think about it, I mean, really sit down and think about it, the world of craft cocktails is arguable the epitome of culinary craftsmanship. Not only do you have the elements involved in crafting just a single spirit, but then you have all of the different types of spirits, each with its own rich history and mastery. Alcohol goes way back. And I dare say its history involves far more “spirited” stories than, say, the history of pot roast. So-you have the elements of the spirit itself: everything from the ingredients (and quality/origin/etc.) to the distilling process, to the aging process. And we could simply stop here. In fact, most nay-saying spirit puritans would, many insisting that a liquor straight up is enough. And I could agree. It would depend on my mood. In argument for using a spirit as an ingredient in a cocktail, I offer this: though the spirit itself is wonderful, just think of how wonderful it would be if used in concert with ingredients which enhance its flavor profiles?
And that’s when we start talking about the other ingredients. And that’s when the imagination loses its boundaries. You can dream up cocktails inspired by nothing but the pattern of the tile floor in your mind palace. Or you could draw inspiration from foods, or places, or smells, or feelings. The possibilities are literally endless…or at least too much to easily count. Now, I’m new to this aspect of the food world, so I have started with recipes of pretty common drinks. I figure its best to master the classics before venturing off on my own. And since I live in Florida, and so have been conditioned to like rum-based fruity tiki drinks, I started with the Bahama Mama.
The exact origins of the drink are unknown, except for that it was developed in the Bahamas around the time of prohibition. In addition to its enigmatic history, the exact recipe is not certain. There appear to be at least three variations. The recipe which is most commonly cited as the “original” recipe contains coffee liquor, dark and coconut rums, along with 151 proof rum, pineapple juice and orange juice. This place the Bahama Mama in the category of rum punches. There is also a variation that contains only coconut and banana rums. For mine, I liked th idea of the depth of flavor offered by the coffee liquor; but I also liked the idea of adding banana to mellow everything out. So, here’s my variation:
1 oz. Coconut rum (Captain 70 proof)
¼1/4 oz. Coffee liquor (Kahlua)
1/4 oz. Banana liquor (Cruzan Banana rum)
1/4 oz. Dark rum (Kraken Black Spiced)
2 ozs. Sour mix (I made my own. Recipe below)
2 ozs. Pineapple juice
1/4 oz. Grenadine
Optional: 1/4 oz. Bacardi 151
Add all ingredients (except the grenadine and 151) to a shaker, and shake. Pour into a tumbler, add the grenadine. Then float the 151 on top.
1 cup simple syrup (which is equal parts water and sugar. You can make your own syrup, too. Super….simple. Hurhurhurhurhur)
1 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
Combine everything in a resealable bottle. Like an empty liquor bottle. Or in my case, a half-full simple syrup bottle. All I had to do was add the juices and shake. Boom.