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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Introducing the Utah Mixologist

One of my hobbies is creating new cocktails. I have enjoyed drinking cocktails since my early twenties, when I developed an unfortunate taste for Zombies and Singapore Slings, but I later drifted away from heavy consumption of these drinks in the interest of my health, concentrating instead on more pedestrian drinks like Rum and Coke (always with lime) and beer and wine. Languorous vacations inHawaii gave me a taste for the ubiquitous Mai Tais and Pina Coladas, which were easy to mix in my vacation condo (and when I got back home).  I have to admit, however, that imagination was somewhat lacking when it came to drinking.

Several years ago, my wife and I, along with a small group of friends, went to the theater and stopped at a Martini bar: Bambara in Hotel Monaco.  There, we rediscovered the basic truth that in cocktails, as in food, presentation is essential.  We had such a great time that we decided to have a cocktail party.  We used to have nice parties with beer, wine, and well drinks – nothing fancy, so for our first cocktail party we decided to keep things simple and just do Martinis and Cosmopolitans.  The party was a great success, and I was hooked – not hooked on drinking cocktails (that happened many years ago), but hooked on making them.

Utah is fertile ground for amateur mixologists because the liquor laws are so strict that it’s difficult to get a good, stiff drink in a bar.  Part of the problem is that there are no bars.  Well, there are beer bars, but none for cocktails. To get a cocktail you have to go to a restaurant or a private club; and the bartenders are only allowed to put 1 ¼ oz. of liquor in a drink.  Martinis are often served in unusually thick glasses to make it look like they are bigger than they really are. Bartenders can lose their jobs if they give you too much liquor in a drink. Now the intent of this is to reduce DUI, a worthy goal, but not everyone buying a drink plans on driving.  (Note: the Martini bar mentioned above was in actuality a private club, and back then drinks were allowed to be mixed stronger than they are today.)  The end result is that drinking at home can be more fulfilling and enjoyable.

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