More and more, its important to recognize the cocktail has to be of quality ingredients since you are using premium brand spirits.  Even if you are using cheap spirits, its still expensive these days.  Why would you spend $30 on a bottle of quality gin (or any other spirit) and then not use a quality mixer which comprises 30% or more of the drink?  Why would you use ice made from city tap water which contains chlorine and other bad tasting elements rather than ice you made yourself from your favorite spring water?  Whether food or drink, quality always rules and makes the best tasting thing to the palate.

I suppose if you are young and don’t really know what you like, a gin and tonic made with cheap gin and tonic from a bar fountain will do just fine.  But if you are a serious gin and tonic drinker, you will seek something better.  Same as any cocktail.

In college I can remember a friend who insisted on getting to the local college bar before 8pm because drinks were only $1 each.  We would get there around 7:45pm and he would put down a $10 bill and order 10 Screwdrivers (vodka and orange juice).  The glasses were smaller, the vodka was a brand I never heard of and the “orange juice” was most likely Tang cut with 50% water.  He would drop them down like shots so he was primed up for a night of partying.  After 8pm the price of a drink went up as well as the price of the bottled beer.  So, a long neck beer at the price of $3 or more (whatever it was) made him appear to be a casual drinker, but very well comfortably intoxicated to talk and charm the college girls while being able to pretend to dance with some confidence.

That was a very long time ago, and I don’t even know what “cheap drinks” at local college bars cost these days, but I am willing to be its closer to $5 than $1, even for beer or wine.  And now that I am a full grown adult, when I walk into a “famous” restaurant and I want a Negroni, and they are using Plymouth Gin and charging $15, I have to wonder.  $15 is more than most appetizers in even the most expensive restaurants.  So why are they using gin that is $15 per bottle when premium gin is going for $25 per bottle?  Well, here they can justify it, because Plymouth Gin was used originally for the Negroni.  But, its the 21st Century, specifically 2012, why are they not using premium gin and charging $15 per drink?  Why are they using more than 50% ice?  Yes, yes, I know, they are trying to cut a profit.  But if I am going to an expensive restaurant, they damn well better be serving the best gin and the best mixers and not adding more ice to kill the flavor as to not just fill the glass to the top. If you are gonna cheat me, and charge me double, why wouldn’t I pre-game at the local bar a few doors down like my friend in college did?  Please, charge me premium prices but provide me a premium cocktail in return?  You are still making 75% or more profit, so why not? 95% is more of what you are looking for?

That aside, especially at home, you spent the $25 for a great bottle of spirit, you spent $2 for a bottle of clear, clean spring water ice, so why not spend an extra $1 for a great mixer?  We are not in college and about to down 5-10 of these within one night, but rather only have 2, maybe 3, so make it a quality drink to savor and enjoy.

If your only goal is to get intoxicated, ignore this post and buy the cheapest spirit with the cheapest mixer (if it makes it easier to drink, otherwise, drink straight).  But if you take your drink as seriously as you take your food, then realize, alcohol is expensive, so prepare it with quality ingredients to get the most out of it.  Save the cheap stuff for gatherings and barbecues for people that don’t know better and don’t really care. But for yourself, enjoy the very best ingredients because then it will be the very best taste and experience, and you will appreciate it that much more.

My constant dilema is going to a bar and having to order a drink which I know will be made badly, or suck, and I have to think of drinks they can’t possibly screw up.  You end up with few choices like rum and coke, or gin and tonic, safer yet, a Black Russian which is ONLY Kahlua and Vodka over ice. Even safer yet, your favorite whiskey or scotch on the rocks or bottled beer for consistency.  Forget wine, you don’t know which leftover bottle its from over the past week, and even a screwdriver can contain less than 10% orange juice.  So select a drink with quality ingredients which you don’t make at home, especially if its the same price.  A rum and coke is hard to mess up, as well as Jack Daniels and Coke or JD and ginger ale.

Select your cocktails wisely, both at home and when out even at the best bars or worst dives.  Bottoms up!


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