Reporting Luke McKinney
Most people don’t think of fresh fruit when mixing drinks, because most people aren’t very good at mixing drinks. Lemon and lime are the easiest possible upgrade to cocktails. Not only do they actually grow on trees, but people carry them from those trees to your local supermarket, where you can scoop them up and crush the sour flavors of life itself to relax yourself. When healthy ingredients and megavillainy overlap you know you’re on to a good thing.
Supermarkets sell plastic fruit full of juice, but mixing a drink with artificial juice is like putting on aftershave for a Friday night of internet porn: all you’ve done is add unpleasant tasting chemicals and your extra effort is wasted without real flesh.
As professional alcohologists we wouldn’t dream of making a claim without proof. Or a drink. That’s why we’re including three of the classic demonstrations of what citrus can do. The only extra ingredient in these drinks is fruit. We’re sick of drinks articles promising simple mixes then demanding four quarts of Benedectine and a flask of vanilla-infused syrup. If we had that kind of ingredient lying around (and we do) we’d be writing drinks columns instead of reading them (and we are). Everything here is in either your drinks cabinet or the local convenience store.
- ½ a lime
- 2 oz rum (usually white)
- 4-6 oz cola
This drink is a Master’s thesis in the class of cocktail, celebrating the power of one well-chosen ingredient. Without the lime it’s a Rum and Cola, known all over the world as the drink that says “I shouldn’t be drinking .“ Rum is a difficult drink to get right and when you mix it with cola you’re not even trying. Instead you’re actively advertising that you want to get drunk but still think that the stuff tastes icky. Every time someone orders a Rum and Cola, that bar starts double-checking IDs. Even when it’s serving army veterans.
The lime makes a more important difference than the pin in the grenade: what should be a painful problem becomes a powerful ally. Pour the rum and cola into an ice-filled glass, squeeze the half-lime over the drink and then drop the whole thing in. The sour taste completely cancels the overt sugar of the soda, creating a counterbalanced summer drink of surprising flavor. And if you’ve got the grip strength for it, crushing the half lime with your bare hands is one of the few ways showing off superior physical strength in a bar is still impressive. The original recipe recommends light rum, but dark spiced brands like Kraken are a lot of fun.
Long Island Iced Tea
This is the classic, and an education in more simultaneous drinks than Oktoberfest.
- ¾ oz white rum
- ¾ oz gin
- ¾ oz tequila
- ¾ oz Cointreau or Triple Sec
- ¾ oz vodka
- 1 oz lime juice
- ¾ oz orange juice
- 2 to 3 oz chilled club soda
- lemon wedge
Pour everything except the cola, then pour the cola. Squeeze the lemon wedge over the drink and drop it in.
This isn’t just a classic, this is the alcoholic equivalent of consuming your enemies to gain their strength. “We’re Going To Claim Victory” is both the battle cry and a useful acronym for remembering the liquors (White rum, Gin, Tequila, Cointreau, Vodka). You might think so many ingredients means no-one would miss one or two. Try it out, and it’s the reverse of a Disney movie: you learn an important lesson about why you were wrong at the beginning, and then go on to have a good time because of your mistake anyway.
Our advice is to mix it up by the jug at the start of a party, because then you won’t need to do it a dozen times, and in fact might not need to make another drink for the rest of the night. This is the original Joy Juice, accessible to everyone no matter how much they like the taste of alcohol. It’s not just a drink, it’s the impression you want to give on a night out: it might look like you’re indiscriminately pouring in every alcohol you can find, but it’s actually a master plan to help everyone have a much better time.
- 1 ½ oz Cognac or brandy
- ¾ oz Cointreau or Triple Sec
- ¾ oz lemon juice
- lemon twist (optional)
Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Twist the peel over the glass and drop it in.
This is such a classic that even reading the recipe teaches you about mixing. It’s obvious that cognac outclasses brandy , and now you’ve learned that on the citric spectrum Cointreau is the family brand name to Triple Sec’s generic method. (On the upper end of the spectrum is Grand Marnier’s exclusive orange flavor.)
The story goes that an old Parisian millionaire used to arrive at his favorite cocktail bar in a chauffer-driven motorcycle, sitting in the sidecar. You have to respect that: rich and old enough to be past motorcycling himself, he wasn’t prepared to give up on the wind in his hair, or let little things like dignity, stereotypical gender roles, or limousines stop him. When a cocktail starts with a millionaire speeding through the streets of Paris on mission for drink, you know it’s good times.
If you’re out of brandy, and thereby forbidden from wearing your Drinking Monocle, you can substitute gin for a Chelsea Sidecar, or rum for a Cuban Sidecar, or a Havana Sidecar, or whatever else you happen to have around for a That Location Sidecar. The whole point of getting into a motorcycle Sidecar is that you’re prepared to let something else steer how the rest of your night goes – so try whatever you want.
Luke McKinney knows booze & video games. His recent attempts to find the hottest food in the world led him to eat Murder Spice, which gave him the ability to melt through porcelain. The next day. In the bathroom. Follow him on Tumblr.