|(and tell me why cocktails have such bad names)
Ritzy cocktails are the long white boots and leopard print dresses of the bar, with names such as Fluffy Duck, Cock-Sucking Cowboy and the Quick...you know what. Clive Smith pulls up a stool and asks the question: Why give such tasty drinks such tasteless names?
Cocktails reside at the sophisticated end of the mixed drink spectrum. Exuding style and distinction, they lend an air of worldliness to the drinking proceedings and are the signature flourish of the bartender's art. So why the hell give them such god-awful names?
Anyone for a Harvey Wallbanger? What about a Brown Cow? Or a Fluffy Duck? Perhaps something classy, like a Crapton or a Creamy Sex on the Beach? In case you're wondering, a Crapton is mixed with something called Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum and cranberry Juice. It's Canadian. Creative eh?
Perhaps that's why bartenders are nearly always wannabe word-smiths. The level of linguistic skill that went into the Crapton, the Ginspiration, or the Alternatini, is positively Dostoevsky-esque. And as if those aren't already Mensa-level, what about a Gummy Beary Juice, a Pink Thing or a Pan Galactic Gargleblaster? Try ordering the latter with a skinful.
In less complicated times, cocktail names had a no nonsense simplicity that cut straight to the chase. Gin Fizz, Whiskey Sour, Manhattan, Margarita or Martini, were cocktail terms without borders, understood all over the world. Try ordering a Mongolian Dingbat or a Mashed Kermit anywhere outside of Disneyland and see what sort of reaction you get.
Miles Ferguson, the man behind the bar at Sydney's Biba, says that the crazy names are for the kids. "Inexperienced drinkers, the young ones, the students, like the sound of something a bit naughty or racy," says Ferguson. "It's to disguise what they're actually drinking."
"That's why there are so many shooter type mixed drinks with milky ingredients like Baileys," he says. "Baileys will annihilate the taste of just about anything."
Ferguson says that once you've grown up a bit that's when you start ordering a good Martini or something you're confident pronouncing. Although the current 'it' drink at better bars, the Caipirinha, will always test your mettle if you're feeling a little furry round the edges.
Jennifer Cole, who works the cocktail bar at Melbourne's Heat nightclub, declares the 'rude' drinks the most popular. Cock-sucking Cowboys, Quick F**ks (or Slow if you have the time) and Slippery Nipples are such well-worn chestnuts in the night-crowd's lexicon they never raise an eyebrow.
"I draw the line at C-Muncher though," says Cole. "Although it's never the men who order them, always the giggling girls." For the record, the C-Muncher consists of Frangelico, Kahlua, Malibu and Baileys.
There's something about the mixing of drinks in metal shakers that sends their inventors to the very outer reaches of decency. What about the Abortion, the Anal Violator, Citron My Face, the Muff Rider or that grand-daddy of them all -- the Long Comfortable Screw Up Against a Wall. What's in a Violator you ask? Don't.
You'll find the recipes for these and thousands more in as many books and web-sites, but you might want to invent your own. It doesn't appear all that difficult really. Just take three or more exotic liqueurs or spirits, which on their own would seem quite palatable. Mix them until they look and taste like your worst nappy accident and give the finished product one of those high giggle factor names. Alien Urine Sample anyone?
Thankfully, for every puerile cocktail name, you'll find a nice one if you look hard enough.
Order me a Vesper (a James Bond Martini derivative made with Lillet Blanc), a good Mojito or an Absolut Gimlet, and your credentials as a stylist will go unquestioned. But get a bit of a glow on and order up a Dirty Bong Water, Old Sock or Miscarriage, and watch me wince in pain.
Name A Cocktail
Biba's Miles Ferguson, has issued you, dear reader, a challenge. Come up with a hip and stylin' name for the following drink.
The following ingredients already make a way-cool cocktail with an OK name, which shall remain unmentioned. See if you can do better. Miles will be the judge and the winner will receive definite recognition and possible fame and fortune in the next issue of Wine X.
The ingredients are -- gin, Cointreau, Campari, lemon juice -- shaken, strained. Not bad, eh? And if anyone calls this a Greasy Arsed Phud Pucker, Miles will personally end your life.