I’ll Have a Cocktail

I’ve been able to get out of the house a bit more than usual during the last few weeks.  After the sun sets and the child is put to bed, I take a relaxing, short walk to one of the many neighborhood establishments to sit, alone, with a drink and my thoughts.

Drinking alone may not be for everyone, but it happens to be one of my favorite things.  In an appropriate setting – a dimly lit bar doing steady business, but by no means busy, serving stiff and classic cocktails – one can take company in their own solitude.  Sitting quietly, raising the glass slowly to your lips, slowly savoring the flavors and ingredients; deliberate and calm movements, made in the company of a few strangers and the bartender, while the ambient noise of conversations and music fill the air.

In this setting, I have found I prefer a cocktail rather than a beer or glass of wine.  And my reason for this choice is simple: bartenders are experts at crafting cocktails; I am not.  This is not to say I am incapable of performing the task, of course not; I certainly enjoy fixing myself a drink.  And creating your own beverage – just like cooking your own meal – does at times taste better because of the effort involved.

However, a cocktail prepared by an expert is likely to be of far higher quality.  Capability and expertise are therefore important distinctions.  Yes, I am completely capable of creating most cocktails in my kitchen; I own several books containing thousands of recipes, a decent set of basic bartending tools, and a moderate variety of top shelf liquors.  Yet my home bar has its limits and is lacking in several important areas, namely the absence of fresh fruit for juices or garnishes as well as rail-quality mixers.

More importantly to note are my own shortcomings: I am not an expert when it comes to those intrinsic qualities that make a great bartender, such as creativity, knowledge, and finesse – the characteristics separating a modern, professional mixologist from a common bartender.  Because anyone can open a bottle of beer or wine, even me; on the other hand, it takes a certain expertise to create a perfect cocktail.

So I’ll leave the more simple drinks – a glass of wine, a bottle of beer, or a dram of scotch – to be prepared at home, where a clean glass and bottle opener are the only requirements.  I’ll leave the cocktailing to the experts behind the bar, where I can take full advantage of the skills and resources at their disposal.  And perhaps make a new friend along the way.

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Published in: on August 10, 2011 at 9:22 am  Comments Off on I’ll Have a Cocktail  
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