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Making Stuff Out of Nothing At All

August 19, 2011

Last week I mentioned Virgin Atlantic’s Next Top Cocktail contest. I’m not really sure what’s going on with it, but officially the entry period ended on August 16. Oddly, the entry portal is still up, along with the form that allows you to submit your recipe.

It’s a good thing too, because otherwise I’d be hard pressed to remember the details of this promotion. Because while the entry period is closed, this exercise provides an interesting platform to talk about how to build a tasty cocktail, as well as an opportunity to discuss what you would do with the ingredients on hand.

And in this case, that would be everything in the beverage cart.

Virgin America would seem to have quite an eclectic assortment of beverages to work with, so I’ll lay out the ingredients at our disposal. As you read the list, try and think of what sounds good to you.

Sauza Hornitos Reposado, Funkin Margarita Mixer, Absolut Vodka, Bombay Sapphire, Jack Daniel’s, Bacardi Rum, Bailey’s Irish Cream, VeeV Acai Spirit, Karma Tequila

Beer & Wine
Blue Moon, Heineken, Black Star Beer, Bud Light, Wente Sauvignon Blanc, Hayes Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon, Wente Syrah

Premium Mixers
EBOOST, Honest Ade – Pomegranate Blue, Honest Tea – Honey Green, Ghiradelli Hot Chocolate, Mighty Leaf Organic Earl Grey, Mighty Leaf Chamomile Citrus, Mighty Leaf Organic Spring Jasmine, Drazil Fruit Punch Juice Box

Free Mixers
Coke, Diet Coke, Coke Zero, Ginger Ale, Sprite, Sprite Zero, Seltzer, Tonic Water, Cranapple Juice, Orange Juice, Apple Juice, Tomato Juice, Bloody Mary Mix, Water, Philz Coffee, Mighty Leaf Tea

Lemon, Lime, Orange

Yes or No

Here’s what I thought. This is a drink on a plane. It should be refreshing, relatively simple, and easy to make.

My drink started with gin because it’s aromatic complexity is a great starting place for many cocktails and the Bombay Sapphire is good. To add some sweetness, I wanted to stay away from sweet mixers and the only liqueur on the cart is VeeV. Luckily I know a thing or two about this newcomer, and it would work with the gin.

But now the drink is all booze. So to take off a bit of the boozy edge, I would want to add some dry vermouth. Seeing none, I thought just a splash of the sauvignon blanc would do the trick. To make it refreshing, it should have ice. Topping it with seltzer not only adds to the refreshment, but helps make sure all the ingredients get mixed well. And an orange slice adds color, flavor and brightness

I was pretty pleased with this drink, and named it the Gulfstream Cocktail. As far as I can tell from Google, that name has only been used once, and for something completely disgusting. But I thought the name spoke to both the global nature of air travel and the farflung aromatics and fruits used in the spirit and liqueur of this drink.

Mostly I just wanted to see if I could come up with something interesting. And I’m happy with the result.

Presenting a beer cocktail would be daring. They are all the rage, and even a local blogger up here in the Capital Region has a recipe for one that is super-seasonal. But somehow a beer based cocktail didn’t quite seem elegant enough for the plane. Perhaps I’m wrong.

A long time ago, I used to think that making cocktails was just about throwing some ingredients together and seeing what tasted good. Now I know to think ahead about what I want a drink to be, and find the ingredients and proportions that get me there.

Everything that goes into a drink gets added for a reason, down to the garnish. And ultimately, I’m looking for some kind of balance.

So now I’m curious. What would you have made?

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 19, 2011 1:56 pm

    I hate that you put that song into my head.

  2. August 21, 2011 12:19 am

    Oh lord, since I have a nice history of being BEAT UP ON AIRPLANES (yes, it’s true, I’ll tell you the whole story over a beer SOON!), I’d definitely require a stiff drink. But since air travel and drinking aren’t always a good mix, in reality I would probaly create something a little more on the lighter side. Here’s what I’d create:

    The “Howard Hughes” (as this cocktail probably alleviates chronic pain, eccentrism, OCD, and flight-induced neurosis):

    – 1 part Absolut Vodka
    – 1 part Mighty Leaf Chamomile Citrus
    – Ginger Ale
    – Lemon wedge

    In an double old-fashioned glass (or airplane disposable cup) stir vodka and Mighty Leaf with ice. Top with ginger ale, garnish with lemon.

    I think the ginger and chamomile would sooth frayed nerves, the vodka soothes all else. Citrus is a refreshing boost.

    PS – Thanks for linking over to my Peroni Cocktail! Beer cocktails can be very elegant, btw.

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