Five Deceptively Difficult-to-Make Cocktails

Categories: Last Call

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JK Grence
It looks pretty, but your Cosmo has too much cranberry if it looks like this.

Ring the bell, it's time for Last Call, where JK Grence, bartender at Shady's, serves up booze advice and recipes. Got a burning question for your bartender? Leave it in the comments and it might be answered in a future column.

See Also: Five Safe Drinks in Any Bar
See Also: Why Your Martini Sucks
See Also: The Original Mai Tai

Last week, I divulged five drinks that you can order in pretty much any bar, and be guaranteed you'll have a delicious drink no matter the bartender's skill. This week, we're going to the other side of the spectrum. You're heading out somewhere nice, somewhere that you've heard the bartenders are really good. What drink can you order to see if the bartender really knows their stuff? It has to be something that every bartender should know, but has its idiosyncrasies that are all but guaranteed to trip up a novice. Here are my top five drinks that a bartender worth their salt should pull off every time, but so rarely do:

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Lauren Gilger
5: Mai Tai
It's probably my bartender upbringing at Trader Vic's talking, but I'm a stickler for a good Mai Tai. It's wrong if it's yellow (from pineapple juice) or red (grenadine, ugh) in color. It should be tan, with nothing more than lime, sugar syrup, orange liqueur, dark rum, and the secret ingredient, orgeat (almond) syrup. I think there's all of three bars in town that make them like this.

4: Old-Fashioned
Please, please, please stop mashing the hell out of an orange slice and maraschino cherries in your Old-Fashioneds. Those are the garnish. Muddling the entire orange slice releases bitter flavors in the pith, and makes the drink look ugly as hell. Soak the sugar cube with a couple dashes of bitters, add a splash of soda water to help the sugar dissolve, and just muddle that. I'll allow muddling a strip of orange zest, mostly because this is how we make them to rave reviews at Shady's.


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