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Monthly ArchiveMay 2017

The Bloody Mary (On a Budget)

Welcome to the first post of my new Bartender On A Budget blogging series!

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It is such a treat to check out the new fancy bar that opened up in downtown, especially when you’re served a specialty cocktail that was shaken, and served in a perfectly chilled martini glass. The bartender usually performs his craft with a finesse that you hope to achieve one day.

He or she also uses high-end spirits and liqueurs, and fresh ingredients, with fancy tools, albeit for an arm and a leg. But what about the rest of us that want to mix cocktails at home? Or want to give our refined taste buds a break without breaking the bank?

Well, friends, let’s set our budget for some cheap ingredients, MacGyver some stuff at home together for our cocktail equipment, and pour it into some random drink vessel, like a cup, or even a bowl; we are going to have fun. Each of us has a Bartender-on-a-budget deep down inside.

Do you want to mix drinks, but you just can’t afford all of the ingredients and just cannot break the bank? Well, I have some life hacks, or rather, drinking hacks for you.

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The Bloody Mary on a Budget

Alright, so you just do not have the cash to make yourself an enjoyable cocktail this weekend. Well, hey, no fear – I have you covered.

This week, we’re going to make a fun concoction: The Bloody Mary.

Will it be traditional? No, I am sorry. Each time this is made, it will be completely different as you and I will be using whatever is on hand.

We’re going to roll a “Makeshift Bloody Mary,” and it’s going to be terrific. Why? Because you’re going to feel like a badass MacGyver, treating yourself or a friend/significant other and they are going to hold you with admiration in their eyes.

Ingredients

Vodka

First, go to a liquor store and look for those mini-bottles of Vodka laying around. They are usually 50 ML or nearly 3/4 ounces. (Almost a shot!). Typically, you’re going to want to have two, so then we have 1 1/2 ounces for our bloody mary. But if not, whatever, just cut the ingredients list in half! If you have a little vodka laying around, fill it up in your shot glass and throw it in!

Each drink needs about 30ml – just a shot’s worth.

Tomato Juice

The next ingredient we’re going to need is tomato juice. About 3 ounces will do. Or three individual shots.

My buddy Mohan V says:  I’ve found that fresh juice works best, because when I make it, I usually roast the tomatoes over a high open flame, until the skin chars.
Once you blend them together, the whole juice gets this really nice smoky character.Opinion is divided on whether or not to strain the tomato juice (some enjoy the thick consistency), so try it out for yourself both ways. Let us know which way you prefer!

Salt and Pepper

The Spice of life. Here, we can throw in salt and pepper. And if you want to get creative, which I think you are, feel free to experiment with a dash or two of Paprika, or any other spice that you like!

Flavourings

Typically, we’ll want 2 dashes of tabasco sauce and 4 dashes of Worcestershire sauce.

“But what if I don’t have that, Joe?” Well, hell, let’s throw in some spicy sauce in there instead for some flavoring. How about curry sauce? Or a dash of hot sauce? Guys, let’s get really creative with this drink.

Fruit Juices

Hopefully, you have a Lemon. Just a singular lemon. Cut it into 4 wedges, and squeeze in two of the wedges juices into your drink.

Make It!

This drink is good because you do not need any cocktail equipment whatsoever. You do need two cups and ice. Put in your ingredients and some ice into one cup. Now slide it into your other cup. And then slide that back into your other cup. Good! You’re rolling a cocktail! What Fun!

You’ll want to do this 7 or 8 times back and forth. Now pour your drink into a tall-ish glass!

If you want to get a little more ambitious, look around your kitchen for a few tapered glasses. You’ll need them to fit snugly over each other, like this.

Add the ice, put all your ingredients into one glass, stick the other one top of it, and give it a few shakes.  Try it slowly at first, then try to build some momentum. Make sure to keep them secure, you don’t want a mess!

Once, you’re done,  you’re ready to pour!

Presentation

Lastly, we’ll need a garnish. Something to make it feel that much healthier.

No stick of Celery? Maybe if you have a fresh-ish Lemon in the fridge, let’s cut a lemon wheel and stick it on the rim of the drink. Or perhaps, you want to make an island: Put that lemon wheel in the middle of your drink.

Mohan V: You could also gently crush and add some fresh basil when rolling or shaking your drink – it’s known to go very well with tomato, and will add some nice herby character to it. You can use the larger, prettier leaves for garnishing as well.

If you do not have either, think of a green vegetable that you could slide into the drink.

Now, our drinking vessel!

Glassware

Now, our drinking vessel. My advice would be to pick any glass you feel comfortable drinking out of, and put it in the freezer before making your drink.

Don’t underestimate a frozen glass – it keeps the drink cool longer, gives a pleasant sensation when sipping, and it looks pretty amazing as well.

Once you’re sure all the ingredients are mixed, bring your strainer back out and pour.

Garnish with whatever you wish – a lime wheel, a stick of celery, a sprig of basil, whatever – and your Bloody Mary is ready.

This article remains incomplete without your involvement – try making one at home, and you’ll realize how easy and delicious home bartending can be! And be the soul of every good party, when people realize you can make some mad drinks!

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Special thanks to Mohan for featuring this post on his website, Drunk For A Penny! Go give their page a peruse!

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If you’re into everything cocktail, sign up for the Curious Cocktailian Email List and we’ll send you the new posts right when they come out. That’s the only thing we use the list for – Don’t worry about getting tons of spam or other nonsense!

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More Curious Cocktailian

If you want to understand Liqueurs better, check out these posts:

Fernet Branca

Yellow Chartreuse

And here’s the cocktail basics that every bartender needs to know:

An Easy Guide To Bar Tools

The Ultimate Guide To Making The Perfect Manhattan

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Winepour

A Bartender’s Guide to Wine (Guest Post)

This week, we are going to deviate a little from spirits, liqueurs and tantalizing cocktails and journey to the realm of wine. Wine has always scared me because I just did not know anything about it – until now. And it is all thanks to my friends from Drunk From A Penny. You have to check out their blog here. It will not disappoint. Before I let them take it away, I’m going to include their Website and social handles below!

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Website: https://drunkforapenny.wordpress.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/drunk_for_a_penny/

Now, the boys are going to take it away!

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First of all, big thanks to the Cocktailian for getting in touch. Definitely, check out the rest of his articles, they’re bound to help on your bartending journey.

Today I’ll be talking about the different kinds of wine, and the different categories they can fall under. What you see on the label is a combination of all of these categories.
The concept of wine is pretty massive, so it takes a fair bit of organizing to make it easier to understand. The good news is, most of what we discuss here, if not everything, will already be familiar to you.
There are a few ways in which we can split up the different wines, a lot of which overlap each other. Broadly speaking, they can be divided…

  • By Colour
  • By Grape
  • By Region
  • By Sweetness
  • By Vintage*
  • By the bubbles present (if any)
  • By Alcohol Content
  • Others


Now, when I said “overlap”, that means that these categories are not independent of each other. So a wine can be named based on a lot of these factors, not just one.
Now let’s break it down.

By Colour  

It’s a white wine. This is the most obvious one. Wines can be Red, White, and Pink (Rosé).

By Grape

This particular wine was made from the Chenin Blanc grape. Different grapes have their own characteristic flavors, so this is important to mention on the label.

By Region

This wine is from Nashik, in India. There are a lot of wine producing countries, like France, Germany, Italy, Australia, and New Zealand.
South America and South Africa are also coming up as quality producers of certain grapes.
(See the overlap here between grapes and regions? A lot of places produce Chenin Blanc wines – but Sula’s would have certain differences in quality and taste to another country’s.)

By Sweetness

Wines can range from absolutely bone-dry (almost zero sugar), to about 45% sugar, depending on how and where they are made.
The four basic categories are Dry, Off-Dry ( a bit of sugar, but not much), Off-Sweet (leaning towards sweet, but not quite there yet), and Sweet.
There’s no numerical standard for what is sweet and what is not, but it’s generally based on the proportion of “residual” sugar left in the wine.
Sula is a great example of this because they produce two Chenin Blanc wines – one, shown above, which is mostly dry. But they also have a Late Harvest Chenin Blanc, which is very, very sweet.

It’s marketed as a “dessert wine” – it’s that sweet.

By Vintage

Vintage here has two meanings.
It generally refers to the year of production. But a vineyard can also “declare a vintage“, which is basically them saying “this year’s harvest is of brilliant quality, so expect a brilliant wine”.
The label on the wine that year will generally have the prefix “vintage” before the year, like XYZ Producer, This Grape, Vintage 2012.

Wines can be divided into Vintage and Non-Vintage, but nobody ever openly comes out and says “non-vintage”. If it isn’t specifically mentioned on the bottle, it’s assumed that it’s a regular, non-vintage wine.
Fun fact: The word “vintage” is actually derived from the word vin – which means “wine” in French.

By the Bubbles

Again, this is fairly obvious. Wines without bubbles, or “effervescence”  are called “still” wines. If it’s got a pleasant number of bubbles, it’s called a “sparkling” wine. (the way soda is called “sparkling water”).
The two wines are easy to tell apart – the latter have thicker bottles, and differently shaped corks – mushroom shaped ones for sparkling wines, and long, cylindrical ones for still wines.

By Alcohol Content

What I actually meant to explain here is a cumulative term called Body. It not only includes the alcohol strength, but also the concentration of flavors, and the viscosity (how thin or thick it feels on your palate). Based on this, wines can be Light-Bodied, Medium-Bodied, or Full-Bodied.
You might hear people saying that a certain wine is “aggressive and robust”, or “pleasant and refreshing”. What they are trying to convey is how heavy-bodied or light-bodied the wine is.

Others

These are significant, but not seen very often, especially in India. Things like Fortified wines would come under this category. These wines have their alcohol strength externally increased from 10-12% up to 22% or more.

Notable examples would be Port, Madeira, and Sherry (unfortunately, very few are even available here).
Aromatised wines are another example. These are wines that are infused with a lot of flavors like cloves, cinnamon, anise, and even orange peel and roasted seeds.

Vermouth is the best-known example. These are often served at the start of meals as aperitifs, or used in cocktails.

(I had a picture of all the styles of M&R’s vermouth, side by side)
All of these are Vermouth, produced in different styles and flavors.

I believe it’s important to mention the so-called “unconventional” wines, as well.
A wine can be made from any fruit – it’s not limited to just grapes. You can have cherry wine, pineapple wine, apple wine, plum wine… I’ve even tasted a ginger wine that someone made at their home. I’m hearing about a carrot wine being made by a small producer in Nashik.

And in every sense of the word, all these beverages can still be called wines.
You just have to specify what it’s made of, in the name. Nobody ever says “grape wine”, because that goes without saying. So if you’re making it with anything apart from grapes, you have to mention it clearly on the label.

Non-alcoholic wines are also becoming pretty popular right now. A lot of them have sparkling variants as well, which are a great party alternative if you’re inviting people who don’t like to drink. They’re always there whenever I throw a party, and they’re all delicious.

• • •

Glad You Could Join[themify_icon icon=”fa-glass” link=”http://curiouscocktailian.com” style=”Large”]

• • •

If you’re into everything cocktail, sign up for the Curious Cocktailian Email List and we’ll send you the new posts right when they come out. That’s the only thing we use the list for – Don’t worry about getting tons of spam or other nonsense!

• • •

More Curious Cocktailian

If you want to understand Liqueurs better, check out these posts:

Fernet Branca

Yellow Chartreuse

And here’s the cocktail basics that every bartender needs to know:

An Easy Guide To Bar Tools

The Ultimate Guide To Making The Perfect Manhattan

• • •