Entertaining at home is as popular as ever, but the art of mixing drinks sometimes seems as if it’s gone the way of hatpins and pocket squares.
Kyle Fleischfresser, bartender at the Coach House in Oklahoma City, loves to watch classic film scenes of house parties with music and great conversation.
“There was always a guy making martinis for everybody,” he says. “I kind of like the idea of just coming in and making a pitcher of martinis and just having a chat.”
If the thought of mixing cocktails for a crowd or even just a few friends makes your social butterfly flit away, you need only brush up on a few fun standards. Served to a crowd or just a few pals, these three drinks will make you the toast of the night. Fleischfresser can attest.
“I know when I go to parties and make up cocktails, I’m usually a pretty big star,” he says. “It’s always good to know that stuff and keep that tradition alive.”
The martini has gone through a transformation over the years. While many people think of it as a vodka-based cocktail that is “shaken, not stirred” thanks to James Bond, a martini begins with two key ingredients that are sometimes left off the list: Gin and fresh, dry vermouth. One more thing: Stir it. Shaking adds air and ice chips that diminish the flavor and intensity.
- dry vermouth
- orange bitters
- lemon peel
In a mixing glass, add ice and combine two parts gin to one part dry vermouth, add a few dashes of orange bitters. Stir until chilled. Strain contents into a chilled cocktail glass and add a twist of lemon peel for citrusy kick.
The official drink of New Orleans, the Sazarac is a distinctive drink making the most of some creative liquors and technique. Here’s how Fleischfresser does it.
- 1 sugar cube
- Peychaud’s Bitters
- 2 oz. rye whiskey (or brandy)
- Herbsaint (or absinthe)
Put ice water into a highball glass and set aside to chill. In a mixing glass, douse sugar cube with a few dashes of Peychaud’s Bitters. Crush saturated sugar, add a splash of water and muddle to a syrupy consistency. Add rye whiskey and set aside. Discard ice water from highball glass, add just enough Herbsaint to coat inside of glass. Strain sugar and whiskey mix into the glass. Serve without ice.
The Mai Tai
As winter turns to spring, punchy cocktails are sublime. Jack Wood, co-owner of and bartender at Chimera in Tulsa, has good news: The Mai Tai, that giant among ‘50s tiki drinks, is making a comeback.
“It’s nice for spring and summer because it’s fruity and sweet, but it also has the strength of two kinds of rum in it,” Wood says.
Don’t be deceived, he adds. The Mai Tai, when properly prepared, is incredibly complex. Wood shares his recipe as well as one for its signature ingredient, orgeat.
- 1 oz. light rum (like Barcardi)
- 1 oz. spiced rum (like Captain Morgan)
- ½ oz. orange curaçao
- ½ oz. orgeat (or simple syrup)
- 2 oz. pineapple juice
- squeeze of lime juice
- pineapple or pineapple leaf
Place ice in a tall rocks glass. Add light rum and spiced rum. Add orange curacao, orgeat and a squeeze of lime wedge. Garnish with a piece of pineapple or pineapple leaf and serve.
Wood also shares his recipe for orgeat.
- 2 c. raw almonds
- 1 ½ c. sugar
- 1 ¼ c. water
- 1 tsp. orange flower water
- 1 oz. vodka
Bake almonds scattered on a cookie sheet at 400 degrees for five minutes. When they have cooled, crush or pulverize in a food processor or with a mallet. In a tall-sided saucepan, dissolve sugar in water on the stove over medium heat to create simple syrup. Remove from heat. Add crushed almonds to simple syrup and let sit for three to five hours. Strain the mixture through cheesecloth or a fine strainer to remove almond pieces. Add orange flower water and vodka. Makes about 10 ounces to store in refrigerator.