The Making of a Cocktailian

So Fernet of You

Anyone who reads the Minty for a while gets the sense I enjoy a good cocktail. With a whole section devoted to bars and another website devoted to hot bartenders, one might wonder why do I need another site? I don’t plan to duplicate what I’m doing. I’ll continue to write about bars on the Minty blog and feature bartender profiles on Bar-Stalker. Interviews such as with Marcos Tello or Matthew Biancaniello will go on the Minty. I see this site, LA Cocktails, as where I want to talk about everything else. Where I’d like to talk about the history, the people and perhaps there will be “fiction.” For a long time, I had a dating blog that was my notepad (so to speak) of what would eventually be my book. While the book never quite got finished, I accumulated more stories from the bar stool than anyone should rightly have.

For the time being, let me tell you how I became a cocktailian– or what I like to call an drinks enthusiast or booze nerd. I have always been a bit of a geek and now I’m a cocktails geek.

I had my first drink at 19. This was in college. I never sneaked liquor when I was a kid and I suppose 2 years shy of legal drinking age was enough excitement for me. I started going to frat parties where I drank things like “jungle juice.” This delightful punch was crappy vodka and Tang. I drank whatever the kids were drinking those days- Boone’s Farm and wine coolers. Eventually I would learn about Screwdrivers and the many variations of it. Bay Breeze, anyone? My favorite variation of a Madras. I had my first one in Atlanta. My best friend preferred gin but I didn’t have an affinity for juniper. It would take a while before I discovered other gin styles. Until then, vodka was my lover.

I have always been a completist- meaning someone who is a bit OCD. I tend to want to learn everything about things I’m into. In college I moved from vodka “cocktails” to Amaretto sours. Amusingly, I was recently asked by a craft bartender if I used egg whites back then. No, this was college. It was horrible, terrible sour mix. It was an epiphany when I had a real whiskey sour. And heaven when I tried a pisco sour.

At some point, I started drinking French Martinis. This was my way of ignoring Cosmopolitans because they were too trendy. I had a friend who asked for them on the rocks for the fear someone thought she was being trendy.

Bartenders at this point generally thought I was a pain when I asked for Madras or French Martinis or worst, Mai Tais. They had no idea how to make them. So I started going easy on them. I drank more dirty martinis, vodka tonics (OMG!) and yes, Cape Cods (“cranvodka”). I refused however anything with energy drinks or diet soda. Bleh. I never drank beer and thought people who drank wine were pretentious– the same goddamn people who used words like “lovely.” Oh, how times have changed. I was probably just graduating college at this point.

My cocktails now expanded to Key lime martinis, Girl Scout cookie shots, Kamikazis (but not as shots) and some disastrous blue drinks. I wish I could tell you there were gems there but you probably wouldn’t appreciate hearing about finding a bartender who knew how to make Chocolate cake shots (those are clear and not made with Godiva liqueur, by the way). And let’s not talk about Long Island Iced Teas and their Asian counterpart, Tokyo Teas. Those were my Sunset Strip days.

Still, when did I leave vodka behind before I discovered whiskey? I’ll point you to a bottle of Jameson. Oh, the Irish.

And then it was all downhill from there. The craft cocktail movement hit LA and Seven Grand turned my head fully towards the world of whiskey. I not only loved bourbon but proclaimed it to be my baby. These days I’m drinking more rye but I’ve also branched out to rum and many, many other spirits. I am delighted when I find a new amaro. I’ve even judged a cocktail contest and am very excited to attend Portland Cocktail Week next month. I’m starting to get geeky about beer and wine now. But cocktails will always be my first love.

My favorite sorts of cocktails now are brown, bitter and stirred cocktails. I love Manhattans. And I enjoy very classic cocktails. I also dig the new trends of farm-to-glass and appreciate the care that goes into making a cocktail. Whenever I go out with friends who aren’t booze nerds like me,  I try not to sneer too much about sweet drinks and vodka considering my own dark past. Stating my obvious distaste has gotten me into a bit of trouble. Don’t let me go on and on about spirits. I’ll want to punch myself in the face. Let’s just drink.

Cheers!

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