Classic cocktails, anytime!
An umbrella, a celery stick, an olive, or a lemon peel. Garnishes and their accompanying drinks can depict where you are and what your current mood may be. It seems certain drinks are related to certain times of day or even a specific day of the week. What is it about a specific location and the desire to have a cocktail and its adorning decorative piece cascading off the side of the glass? While the history of how drinks evolve to specific times and places will vary depending on who you ask, I feel everyone’s memory and experience influences their own impressions of drinks and I thought it would be fun to share what I drink, when, and why.
Give me the biggest stalk you’ve got! There’s a meal in every Mary, I say. I’m starting with this iconic drink because I can also write about one of my favorite hotel chains, The St. Regis. A Bloody Mary was never my top drink choice when I think of what my fellow Sunday-funday partners in crime order during our get-togethers. But the St. Regis changed that for me and now I am a fan any time of day. This hotel chain creates a unique signature Bloody Mary inspired by the hotels’ locations, which is clever and creative because now I have a goal to taste (aka visit) every location. The San Francisco location is one of my favorites, with tequila used as the base spirit with a pinch of chili powder for a kick. Check out the St. Regis locations and the ingredients of their signature Bloody Marys here.
There is no debate in my mind that the classic martini begins with gin. Now, that doesn’t mean vodka is excluded, as I must attest that over 50% of the time my martinis begin with that clear, colorless spirit made from grain or potatoes (and nowadays a vast array of other ingredients like grapes, etc.). Next decision: olive, onion, or twist. Those are the three typical classes of accompaniments, and now with the popularity of olives stuffed with cheese, almonds, or other goodies, it makes me feel like “a meal in every glass” now holds true. For me, when my evening starts with a martini, I envision the remainder of the evening including a ribeye, potatoes, copious amounts of laughter, and full bellies. Something about a martini signals strength, and to me, that says steakhouse. One of my favorites is Mastro’s, a sophisticated, classic steakhouse with locations in nine U.S. states, and I am sure more coming soon. Make sure to order the lobster mashed potatoes and I’d like mine shaken not stirred, please.
Mai Tai or Pina Colada
Palm trees swaying, ocean waves crashing, sun beaming, and Jimmy Buffet strumming. Give me a cold, fruity, cooling beverage whenever my flip flops land in a tropical paradise. Now, throw a flowery parasol on top of a toothpick for sidebar entertainment and I feel like a kid hanging with Willy Wonka. Any tropical location requires a drink packed with calories which you will hopefully sweat off under a palapa between dips in the surf. One of my favorite places to indulge in caloric overload is the Royal Hawaiian, located in the heart of Waikiki, also known as the Pink Palace since 1927. I get the allure of these cold, slushy, sweet beverages, and although my consumption of these may be less than the other three drinks in this article, come on, I’ve got food calories to prioritize also!
Happy Birthday, congratulations, you did it, or good luck! To some, champagne drinking symbolizes joyful, celebratory events, and that’s the only occasion they drink the bubbles. Yes, popping the cork and the tantalizing bubbles both evoke a celebratory joy, but don’t you deserve that feeling anytime you wish? When I have a rough day, champagne is my go-to beverage and the one to help me wallow away the day’s problems and ultimately helps dissipate whatever blues ail me. Also, there are so many good, reasonably priced varietals out there, champagne is not a drink out of reach because of cost. I just returned from one of my many trips to the Champagne region in France and I enjoyed a behind-the-scenes tour of Nicolas Feuillatte, with a great portfolio of delicate and refined champagnes that will suit any budget.
Specific cocktails can evoke internal feelings and often seem to be reserved for certain places, times, or occasions, but that doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself. Your Caribbean vacation may be three months away, but after a hard day’s work you can still have that mai tai and begin to smell and feel that coconut sunblock and envision the beach palapa with you under it. Enjoy what you want, when you want. The only question to ask yourself is, with whom?