Cocktails are hip – colorful, delicious concoctions of liquor mixed with an endless array of bitters and sugars, presented in ever unique arrangements with garnishes set to impress. Cocktails are edible art.
The history of the cocktail is fascinating and worth a bit of exploration, but suffice it to say, here in America we owe a tremendous gratitude to Mr. Jerry Thomas and his opus, The Bartender’s Guide. I remember this book in my father’s kitchen collection of must have recipe directionals, but at the time did not fully grasp its importance in the evolution of cocktails and their modern day renaissance which we know as the craft of “mixology”. Truly, a Master Mixologist is a rare gem, indeed. Part chemist, part wizard, to bear witness to their magic, to imbibe of their creations is no less a religious experience than any culinary bite that creates a memory for a lifetime in the mind of the consumer. My father is a man of particular palette and pines still for a lobster Cantonese once savored decades ago at the House of Woo in NYC. The story is ingrained in our family lore and, in spite of many attempts to find a comparable dish, never has he been able to do so.
Like food, beverages may evoke a visceral memory experience – all the physical senses firing at once creating an imprint that literally will linger forever. A single sense will bring the memory to the forefront in a snap second, a familiar scent or flavor, a relatable sight or sound and there it is, a story to share, perhaps for the 100th time :)
A surprising number of years past ( time does fly! ) we visited Boone and Crockett, a cocktail haven in Bay View, WI, with friends where the Gin Brambles were to die for – huge, lush basil leaves atop a concoction so sublime, I lost track of….time. (What? You thought I was going to say the number of Gin Brambles I consumed? Potentially that too, but my lips are sealed ;) The cocktails crafted that evening were as intoxicating to witness as they were to consume. People watching became secondary to absorbing the crafting of the cocktails…it was inspiring to say the least.
With Boone & Crockett an ever-pleasant aspiration, we have begun our own foray into the world of cocktail art. Combining the creative processes that are photography with culinary exploration and recipe development, we are steadily working on a series of images to capture the essence of the cocktail. A huge shout out to our collaborative partner in this endeavor, Kathryn Conrad – cheers, my dear! We invite you to check back periodically to share in our pursuit of this happiness.