I'm not sure how you all spent your Halloween, but I got to spend mine in just about the best way I can imagine - tending bar at a house party for my buddy Vern. It was a blast! This was a bit different from some of the tasting events that I've done in the past, in that there were no "courses", just a set menu of a couple simple drinks that I served up on request. In other words, pretty straightforward bartending, but I got to have some fun with the menu.
I mentioned this a little bit earlier, but the party was themed after "Nostalgia" and I decided to try for a menu that reminded me of the bars I frequented when I first turned of age. It's all relatively simple stuff, easy to batch and serve quickly. Yet I was pleased by the response I received; one of the best comments I got was that the overall set of drinks were all excellent and nicely varied. Exactly what I was aiming for!
Because I batched most of these drinks for quick service, I'm going to provide a couple different versions: the full measurements that I was using to batch, and scaled-down individual versions, in case you want to try them before committing to a larger quantity.
DRINK #1: COSMOTINI
The big hit of the night. I wound up nearly running out of base ingredients for the juice mix! No surprise; this is really just a classic Cosmopolitan, served with the option of gin (which is now my preferred method). Service seemed to split the vodka and gin pretty evenly.
10 oz cranberry juice
6 oz triple sec
4 oz lime juice
10 dashes Fee Brothers Cranberry Bitters
To serve: combine 2 oz of gin (the citrus-forward New Amsterdam) or citrus vodka with 2 1/2 oz of the mix above; shake vigorously, strain into a glass, and garnish with cranberries and a lemon wedge (for vodka) or a lime wedge (for gin).
1 1/4 oz cranberry juice
3/4 oz triple sec
1/2 oz lime juice
1 (large) dash Fee Brothers Cranberry Bitters
2 oz gin (or citrus vodka)
Shake and strain into a cocktail glass; add garnish as described above.
DRINK #2: WISCONSIN OLD-FASHIONED
Less of my typical very remixable old-fashioned, more the Wisconsin style that I was first introduced to: the kind with a muddled cherry, orange, and splash of soda. Simplified here for speed, but very successfully. This is what I was sipping on all night, in between a couple other random combinations.
12 oz brandy (can't remember exactly what we had; my recommendation would be Torres)
4 oz bourbon (Cabin Still)
2 oz Cherry Heering
2 oz soda water
25 dashes Regan's No. 6 Orange Bitters
To serve: pour 2 1/2 oz over ice, add a small orange slice, and stir to combine.
1 1/2 oz brandy
1/2 oz bourbon
1/4 oz Cherry Heering
1/4 oz soda water
Stir over ice; garnish as described above.
DRINK #3: WHATEVER & COKE
This was my attempt to accommodate the house-party vibe, letting guests choose a spirit for combination with a mixer. It also provided a booze-free option for those unfortunate folks who couldn't consume alcohol. For the cola portion, I'll point you to a previous post; in this batch, I ran short on brown sugar and added in a sizeable portion of molasses, a substitution that I may have to repeat. The end result was reportedly "amazing" and went down very well indeed.
4 oz TC Cola syrup
12 oz soda water
1 dash lemon juice
Combine and bottle for service; this will foam up when mixed, so do this in an oversize vessel.
To serve: Combine 1 1/2 oz spirit of choice over ice, with 4-5 oz of homemade cola to taste; garnish at whim with lime (for rum), lemon (for vodka), or orange (for whiskey).
Alternatively: Pour 6 oz over ice and garnish with cranberries. For a low-proof option, add 1/2 oz Cherry Heering and a couple dashes of Regan's Orange Bitters for a "Cherry Coke".