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Social media is a bizarre world full of picture posting, “me me me”-ing and so much content that it’s hard to absorb even a fraction of the messages. But, I will say, that if you choose your battles and dedicate your time to one channel, the payoff is great. I’ve gravitated towards Instagram as my channel of choice for a number of reasons – the food community is bar none, inspiration in the form of jaw-droppingly beautiful images is aplenty, and no less important – it serves as a laboratory for future food posts.

I’ve had people ask me how I develop content for the site and the answer is twofold: often a story worth telling pops into my head and I reverse engineer a food connection from that starting point (e.g. “Valentine’s Day and other tragedies“). But I also use Instagram as a way to test the popularity of certain dishes. If I notice that people really love eggs, “Green Shakshuka” will show up on the blog.

Today, the show is all about cocktails, which just so happens to be an Instagram-driven topic. A few months ago I started posting a regular Friday night cocktail, and noticed a trend. Every time I post my Friday night cocktail:

1. I immediately lose followers, which suggests that I’ve somehow attracted a large percentage of a) teetotalers and/or b) people who don’t like to have a good time. So if you would include yourself in one or more of those categories, I’ll clarify: You will see booze on this site. Lots of it. I sometimes mix myself a lunch cocktail and once drank red wine at breakfast. [sneeze]Forbreakfast.
2. Of those who do leave comments, the response is overwhelmingly positive. A few of my favorites:

  • Whoa, check this out! [tags friend]
  • [tags friend] lets get that party on the books!
  • I think I’m in love….shhh don’t tell my husband and my personal favorite:
  • Fååårk det lyder perfekt! (which I imagine to mean “f*** this looks perfect!”….but maybe it’s really “far from perfect!” or “for your diet this is perfect!”
     
    If anyone can answer this question, I’ll send you a Bloody Mary. Or at least a recipe for a Bloody Mary.)

You can see that a lot of friend tagging happens when I post a cocktail picture. I get it; people are excited for the weekend. They’re eager to discuss where the night will start. And this, by the way, makes me incredibly happy. I love knowing that I have some infinitesimally small part in kick-starting people’s weekends. Where they take it from there (raging hangover, walk of shame in fishnets and a borrowed boyfriend T.) is up to them.

I also find this second point interesting because I never get the same kind of reaction with my food pics. It’s not that my food images are unloved, it’s just that people are far more vocal when meals are posted in liquid form.

Which…suggests one thing: People aren’t making fancy cocktails at home.

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Am I right?

I see a few obstacles in the making of cocktails at home.

Please answer the following questions honestly:

  1. When you’re at a bar and order a Gin & Tonic or a Vodka soda and the bartender asks for your liquor preference, do you panic? Furthermore:
    1. Do you squeak out the word “Belvedere” not sure whether you’ve dropped the name of a gin or vodka brand?
    2. Or do you just casually say “whatever you’ve got on hand”, attempting to seem low key when really your booze game is weak?
  2. Could you spot a jigger out of a bar tools lineup? A muddler? How about a Hawthorne strainer?
  3. Do you have the right barware above your fully-stocked bar? (brandy snifters, champagne flutes, highball glasses, rocks glasses, copper mugs for Moscow mules, etc.?)
  4. Do you even have a bar? (translation: counter that holds at least three bottles of hard alcohol)

 

If your answers were Yes, Yes, Yes, No, No, No then count yourself amongst the majority.

Because mixing a cocktail is intimidating. And if you don’t do it correctly, your drink will be a total failure.

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And that’s what bartenders everywhere would lead you to believe. 

OK, maybe not the bartenders. But some mystery group is at work, spreading this kind of propaganda because why on earth do we all feel this way? Me included. At least the former version of myself.

It wasn’t until I had a food blog and literally forced myself out of old beer & wine routines when I had a forehead-smacking realization: cocktails are like food: they can be imprecise, thrown together at a moment’s notice with whatever you have on hand, and they don’t require specialized tools. We aren’t baking bundt cakes. We’re getting people drunk.

Unless you’re working at Death & Co., which presumably most of us aren’t, feel free to be creative with your cocktail making. Mix and match flavors, rim your glasses with different kinds of sugar and salt, use bitters lavishly (because they make everything taste better), don’t measure ingredients, and above all, have fun. Do you need a jigger? A Hawthorne strainer? A fancy shaker with measured gradations? No, no, certainly no.

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Truth be told, your drinking partner won’t care about the quality of your cocktail once you’ve made a batch or two anyway.

Last week, Edible Manhattan hosted the Good Spirits event in NYC, and I had the pleasure of hosting their social media for the evening. Which included live tweeting my love of booze to a network of 30,000 thirsty subjects. What could be better? Other than tweeting my love of booze and drinking it at the same time. Oh yes, I got to do that too :)))))))) (for the record, this is the opposite of last week’s frozen pipe-induced frownie face emoji)

For an evening, I gathered with a set of kindred spirits and toasted the evening with a series of drinks from fruity and salty to bitter and sweet. The party reaffirmed my love for local spirits, and the people who breathe life into these old world products. Making alcohol is a commitment, and there is no group of people more dedicated to their craft.

The evening also reaffirmed my suspicion that a great cocktail, in its most basic form, is nothing more than a good-quality spirit, a dash or two of bitters, and something fun to shake things up (think flavored simple syrups, crushed spices, herbs, fancy ice cubes).

I’ve included a recipe for one of my favorite cocktails below – a spicy bitter Michelada. It gets its heat from a few different sources – chili-infused vodka and Tabasco. Plus, it has a dash of celery bitters, which could be my new favorite variety.

But this post is about more than making something to the letter. It’s about embracing a state of mind; a willingness to try something new. And to remove any tendencies about making a cocktail at home. Because when it comes down to it, mixing a cocktail is just like cooking. Only easier. Cheers…

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Spicy bitter Micheladas
Yields 2
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
24 hr
Total Time
24 hr 10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
24 hr
Total Time
24 hr 10 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 pepper (use any kind you like- for a milder flavor, go with anaheim or poblano, but feel free to use spicier varieties like cayenne or jalapeño)
  2. Approx 1 cup of vodka
  3. 3 kumoto tomatoes
  4. 1 tablespoon worcestershire
  5. Dash of tabasco
  6. Dash of celery bitters
  7. 1/2 teaspoon of celery salt + more for rimming the glass
  8. 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt + more for rimming the glass
  9. Juice of 1 lemon
  10. 1 light beer (e.g. Corona)
  11. Cucumber spears for garnish
To make the spiced vodka
  1. Rinse and clean your pepper, and split lengthwise. Add to a clean mason jar, and add the vodka to cover. Let the vodka steep overnight, maximum 2 days, and then remove the chile.
To make the cocktails
  1. I prefer my cocktails with a little texture; if you’d like yours a little finer, start by pureeing the tomatoes first, then running the puree over a strainer to separate out some of the pulpy pieces.
If you’d like yours with a little texture, do the following
  1. In a small blender or chopper, puree the tomatoes with the worcestershire, tabasco, celery bitters, celery salt, kosher salt and lemon juice.
  2. Rim your glass by rubbing the rim with the cut leftover lemon, and then dredging in a plate with a little salt+celery salt.
  3. Split the tomato mixture evenly between two glasses. Top each glass with a light beer (e.g. Corona). Stir gently and add a large ice cube to each glass.
  4. Garnish each glass with a cucumber spear.
  5. Enjoy!
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