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Thursday, January 20, 2011

How does your classic cocktail measure up?

When amateur mixologists in Salt Lake City (or across the nation) begin to get interested in classic cocktails, they usually start by looking for recipes on the internet, but sooner or later cocktail books find their way into the mix.  Regular readers will be familiar with recipes from the Savoy Cocktail Book (1930), and last weeks post on the Little Devil introduced “Barflies and Cocktails by Harry and Wynn” (1927).  (For more information on this little book, and a good recipe, see the Little Devil Cocktail.)  Of course, you can always get classic cocktail recipes from modern classics like Dale DeGroff’s The Craft of the Cocktail.

If you enjoy classic cocktails and begin buying old cocktail books (or replicas), you will probably run into difficulties with measures.  When a recipe calls for 1/3 of Gin or 2/3 of Bourbon, you might ask “what is 1/3? 1/3 of what?”  Fortunately, this mixologist has done some of the research for you and can report the results.  If you have a jigger that has two small, opposing, unequal measuring cups on the end of a metal rod, the smaller one (the 1/3) is usually half the size of the larger one (the 2/3).  On mine, the two cups hold ¾ and 1½ ounces respectively (1½ oz is a shot or a jigger), which become the 1/3 and 2/3.  Some of these recipes, though, call for 1/6, which then becomes only 3/8 of an ounce and is a little difficult to measure.  In cases like this, you can always adjust the quantities a little while maintaining the proportions.  That means that rather than having 2/3, 1/3, 1/6 be 1 ½ oz, ¾ oz, and 3/8 oz, you can use 2 oz, 1 oz, and ½ oz.  Just be careful that your cocktail doesn’t become too large.  Another vague measure is a “glass.”  Is that a shot glass, a wine glass, or a 12 oz tumbler?  Actually, in the old recipes a “glass” without qualification usually refers to a 3 oz glass, which might seem small, but has the benefit of delivering reasonably sized cocktails.  So here’s the Utah Mixologist’s version of the straight dope:
              1/6       3/8 oz              (or round up to ½ oz)
1/3       3/4 oz              (or round up to 1 oz)
2/3       1 1/2 oz           (or round up to 2 oz)
Glass   3 oz
For more on measurement, check out the following post on dashes.

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