For this month’s Mixology Monday, the ladies at LUPEC Boston have challenged us to come up with a good gateway drink for the cocktail virgin, that is, one who has never imbibed or one who typically does not drink alcohol.
First question is, why don’t you drink? If Felicia’s is going to fix you your first cocktail ever in an attempt to bring you over to the dark side, we want to know what we are up against. Are you scared of alcohol? A lightweight? Maybe you do not like the taste of alcohol. Maybe you have bad memories of the horrible things that happened after Uncle Jimmy polished off a bottle of Old Granddad by himself, you remember, that Christmas when he almost burned the house down.
Ok. We will not start you on whiskey. Typically, first-time drinkers need something sweet to water down their cocktails and make them think they are drinking soda pop, fruit juice or dessert. Like the good ol’ Kahlua and Cream. That’s what I drank when I snuck into my first bar, The Golden Pond, at age 15 (Mom and Dad, I swear I just made that up to impress my friends so they would not know what a nerd I was back then). That’s me in the picture above. I was so totally awesome in 1987. Leah started at age 13; she was an early bloomer. Her drink of choice was Fuzzy Navels. We will not subject you to teenager drinks, however. At Felicia’s Atomic Lounge, we would be much more likely to recommend you try the Horny Ninjarita (our margarita with fresh lime juice and grated ginger), our homemade Sangria or a mojito, all of which mask the flavor of alcohol with fresh ingredients. Mmmm. Getting thirsty.
I am sitting at home at the computer right now, and I don’t have any fresh grated ginger, red wine or mint, so I am going to fall back on an old 1980’s standby that made a comeback in recent years: the fruit punch-colored Cosmopolitan. The most important thing for drink virgins to know is that the cheaper the alcohol, the more biting the flavor. Go for Grey Goose or Ciroc, or if today’s economy has you thinking more about quitting your vices than adding to them, Svedka is an acceptable substitute. You definitely want fresh squeezed lime juice, and use Cointreau, not triple sec. As for cranberry juice, most of what you find in the store is filled with mystery ingredients like high fructose corn syrup and Red #6, so consider substituting pomegranate juice (Shout out to Pom Wonderful! Thanks for the juice!) If you use cranberry juice and make the cosmo correctly, it will be a pale pink like my tie-dyed shirt in the photo above. With pom juice, the drink will be a deeper red.
Now a warning: Good drinks taste good! Cosmopolitans are addictive. The answer is out there, Neo, and it's looking for you, and it will find you if you want it to. You take the red pill and you stay in Wonderland and I will show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.
1 ½ ounces of vodka
½ ounce Cointreau
¼ ounce fresh squeezed lime juice
¼ ounce simple syrup (half sugar, half water)
1 ounce pomegranate juice (or cranberry juice)
Shake ingredients with ice. Strain into chilled cosmo glass. Garnish with a lime wheel.
Be sure to read the Mixology Monday round-up at LUPEC Boston's website!