No, we didn’t go on a four day binge like Ray Milland in the 1945 movie, The Lost Weekend, but we did participate in two cocktail workshops at the Astor Center.
Saturday afternoon, Jon Santer, a mixologist, and cocktail instructor from San Francisco, came into town to teach us about gin cocktails.
Wait. Take the eeewww, “I don’t like gin” look off your face. Gin, like vodka, is distilled into pure alcohol, so you have an essentially tasteless base liquid; now add some botanicals: juniper is the only constant, then perhaps orange or lemon peel, cinnamon, cassia, or nutmeg. Think of it as a complex, flavored vodka and see, now you are happy again and back in familiar territory. Gin gives a drink more complexity than vodka, and not all gins taste alike so you do need to experiment to find one that pleases you.
To reinforce this, Jon had us mix a vodka Lemon Drop that is basically vodka, lemon juice and simple syrup. It tasted like your basic lemonade. Then we made it again, this time with gin, and now there was a complexity to the drink that hadn’t been there before, something that made you want to take another sip, something elusive and deserving of exploration.