Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Mischievous Mixologist: Beware the Ides of March!

The Young Cato

1 ounce Prairie vodka
1 ounce Prairie cucumber vodka
1 ounce Quince&Apple rhubarb hops
1 ounce soda water
Juice, one lime
5 dashes Fee Brothers Rhubarb bitters

muddled mint

Friends.  Romans.  Countrymen.  Listen the fuck up.
It’s almost the Ides of March.  And beware.  Because that means it's mid-March.   And you know what happens in the middle of march, if you live in Wisconsin.   Dirty ice.   Yeah.  I said it.  Dirty ice.  Everywhere.  Glaciers of filthy black, dirty ice, covering every surface in town.  At some point, days and possibly weeks after the Ides, these black ice glaciers will start to melt down.  Then they will become muddy lumps of wet dirt.  Then eventually, they’ll just be dirt.  Somewhere around the Ides of April, things will start to grow in the dirt.  And then, after it snows a few more times, it will supposedly be summer.   

The other thing that happened on the Ides of March is that Julius Caesar was assassinated.  RIP, man.  Tough luck.  We know about his murder, of course, because it happened.   And then William Shakespeare wrote about it, in one of his three plays about stuff that really happened.   There was Mark Anthony.  And this gypsy called The Soothsayer.  And the gypsy tried to warn him, but Julius Caesar ignored the warning.  That is allegedly because Julius Caesar was ambitious.  I'm guessing he was also a little overconfident.   Shakespeare didn’t write that.  But based on how things turned out, I think it's fairly obvious.

There are people – for example, one of my brothers – who truly fear the Ides of March.  Shakespeare totally spooked him with that creepy gypsy, and now he's afraid something bad might happen in the middle of March every year.   Personally, I’m not that worried.  First of all, was the assassination really that bad?  I mean, it seems like Julius Caesar may have had that coming.   Didn’t he basically dissolve the republic?  Wasn’t he, in fact, too ambitious?  I think he was like, the Vladimir Putin of ancient Rome.    He was everything Edward Snowden has been warning us about, in his secret encrypted speeches delivered from Vladimir Putin’s summer home.  Edward Snowden is just like the Soothsayer, man.  Except less Mediterranean.  And more drunk on gratis dictator vodka. 

To tell the truth, my biggest fear about the Ides of March is that I might slip on dirty ice.  Because I did that last week.  I hurt my leg, too.  In that sense, I guess Edward Snowden the modern day Shakespearean Soothsayer is right.   We do have stuff to worry about.  The government is probably reading my blog.  And your friends and countrymen sometimes betray you, and move to Russia.  Also, dirty ice doesn’t have nearly as much traction as was once believed. 

One thing my brother and I agree on, is that the best way to endure the Ides of March is by getting drunk.   That was my goal last week, when I had a little party.  My goal was to have a few friends come over to entertain me, in exchange for some freshly mixed cocktails.  There might have been a gypsy there, too.  Or maybe she was half Lebanese.   To my knowledge, nobody was assassinated.   One or two of my neighbors were late.  But they’re always late.  I didn’t need a soothsayer to warn me about that shit.  

In homage to Shakespeare and western democracy, I asked folks to sample 4 different cocktails and then vote for their least favorite.   If you have read this cocktail column in the past, you’ve seen a version of some of these drinks before: To be exact, the Nashville Mule, and the Vortex.  But I enhanced them over time, improved them.  Then I made up a few more.  And reamed them to celebrate the dirty ice season, the spirit of democracy, and the ghoulish specter of betrayal and death. 

The Marcus Brutus (per glass): 1 oz Calvados, 1 oz dry vermouth, 1 oz cointreau,
2 oz fresh squeezed orange juice, 1 oz homemade grenadine, juice half lemon, 3 dashes
bitter orange bitters, and freshly grated nutmeg to taste.  Shake with ice, strain into glass.

I counted the votes when I woke up.  I won't lie to you, there were some surprises.  I’m not even talking about the ballots that were defaced with curse words.  Or the ballots that failed to indicate a drink choice, and just  voted for my cat.  Personally, I think the biggest surprise was the Young Cato.  

Yes, even though I made it up myself, I absolutely thought Young Cato was going down.  I’m not just saying that because it was a summery cocktail, with notes of cucumber and rhubarb and mint.  Or because Young Cato sounds a little like a gay strip bar, rather than a drink.  But it ran out first!  It got the least amount of least votes!   I had so little confidence in Young Cato, that I didn’t even take a picture of it.  Sorry, Young Cato.  I made you the featured recipe because I totally underestimated you. 

But guess what, friends.  Romans.  There’s a good object lesson here.  It's that we can’t have dictators telling us what to drink.  And sometimes, the cucumber underdog drink is the countrymen’s favorite.  I think that is either because they live in Wisconsin and everyone is pining for summer.  Or because secretly, they’re all gay strippers.  I guess we’ll never know.

Publius Punch (per glass): 2 oz Four Roses Single Barrel bourbon,
Homemade puree of fresh ginger and half a lime, 6 oz. ginger beer,
half ounce simple syrup. Pour over crushed ice.

There was some talk of impropriety and inequity in the voting process. I served the Soothsayer in jelly jars, and the other drinks in urns and bowls.  To be fair, you can’t add a splash of soda to a 5 ounce jelly jar, and it might have needed dilution with bubbles.   Also, jelly jars are the kind of thing you’d get at a party in Brooklyn.  And according to the New York Times just last weekBrooklyn is over.  It’s as over as pickled ramps.  And Moscow Mules.  And fennel.  Just kidding, fennel isn’t over.  I’m still waiting though. Blech.

The Soothsayer (per glass): 1 oz Death's Door Gin, 1 oz St. Germain elderflower liqueur,
1/2 oz pomegranate juice, 1/2 oz homemade sour mix, 1/2 oz fresh lemon juice,
 2 dashes angostura bitters.  Drink up in glass.  Or In jelly jars.  (So over.)

So in conclusion, Beware the Ides of March!  Beware the dirty ice! And even though people drank every last jelly jar right before stabbing it in the back (et tu Brute?), beware the Soothsayer!

Gratuitous picture of my cat, next to the punch bowl.

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