There are very few things about which I agree with Jonathan Miles, the erstwhile New York Times writer responsible for their seldom enlightening “Shaken and Stirred” column, but a bewildered column from a few weeks ago, about the increasingly weird attempts to be original coming out of New York bars these days, struck a chord.  Edible cocktails are the next big thing, apparently.  New York is, of course, a city famous for both staggering artistic and cultural accomplishment and for staggeringly tasteless choices of all sorts, so it isn’t entirely surprising that we’ve come to this point.  After I heard of using the calcium alginate ‘pearl’ technique on Cointreau to make cocktails, it seemed only a matter of time.

Still, it strikes me as cripplingly unfair that cocktail consultants who were so obviously dropped on their heads as young children are being paid more money than I make in a year to whisper, in dulcet tones, “edible cocktail” into the receptive ear of some New York bar owner.  And, at other bars, charlatans are being paid good money to declaim on the benefits of different types of ice.  The one side appears to be the modern reincarnation of those people who went around fifty years ago talking about how amazing it would be to have our dinners in pill form, and the others are like some kind of cocktail-universe Society for Creative Anachronism, except that for some reason people are listening to them instead of giving them swirlies, the generally accepted treatment for people who insist that the world was better before vaccinations and plumbing and such.

It’s not that I think I’d do a better job of running a bar – I hate hipsters, the ostentatiously wealthy, businessmen, tourists, women who wear stiletto heels, alcoholics, desperate single people, underage students, and those people who love to argue for twenty minutes over whether pink gin is made with Angostura or Peychaud’s bitters (Angostura, of course, is the correct answer), which, I believe, covers essentially the entire clientele of any reasonable bar.  I just suspect that, out there, there are others like me.  People who enjoy a drink that, while authentic and possibly even innovative, is both free of excessive pretension and, if at all possible, liquid.

The Nobel Cocktail

  • 2 oz aquavit
  • 1 oz Lillet blanc
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • 2 thinly sliced lemon wheels
    Add all ingredients except one of the lemon wheels to a shaker.  Shake well, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Float the remaining lemon wheel on top.

This is inspired by the Vesper.  Kind of.  By my memory of a fictional Vesper, at least, in which a lemon wheel is shaken into the cocktail for flavor.  And I swear I once heard someone compare aquavit to a cross of vodka and gin, so there you go.