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Navel Gazing Cocktails

July 18, 2014

This isn’t Fussy’s Fuzzy Navel. The trick for that would be to find a great brand of peach schnapps. Maybe one exists, but I can’t say I’ve been in much of a rush to find one. I suppose the closest I might come would be squeezing and straining some Florida oranges into a glass and mixing it with Harvest Spirits’ Peach Jack.

But that’s a far cry from the original low-alcohol refresher.

Bastardizations of cocktails abound. Some are worse than others. The crimes that have been perpetrated against the simple and elegant Martini are uncountable. Mojitos aren’t far behind. Folks can’t seem to understand that a Dark and Stormy can only be Gosling’s Black Seal Rum and Barritt’s Ginger Beer (there is no lime). And now people are starting to tinker with the venerable Negroni. Where will it end?

Still, there is something bothering me more than those who would take something as tropical and refreshing as the mojito and fill it with sweet and sticky liqueurs. It bothers me more than the vodka aisle in the liquor store starting to look like a candy shop. Salted caramel vodka? Does anyone over 21 buy that stuff besides Albany Jane?

No, the thing that is keeping me up at night are the bastardizations that I find acceptable.

For the most part, I like to think of myself as incredibly consistent. I’m hard on everybody. Restaurants. Bars. Food producers. My family. Myself. Honestly, I don’t know how anyone puts up with me.

Ever since I was a young kid, I’ve had a strong moral compass. My kindergarten teacher may have been the first to notice it. And to this day, even though the world isn’t as black and white as it once was, I have an unwavering certainty about things that are right and wrong.

For example, a Martini made with vodka is wrong. Martinis are made with gin.

By the same logic, one would suspect that I would have a problem with a Manhattan made from bourbon. But the thing that is keeping me up at night is that I don’t.

Somehow, a bourbon Manhattan gets a free pass. The same goes for other rye drinks too, like the Sazerac (although some would make the case that it’s a brandy cocktail). And it’s not that I don’t know the difference between rye and bourbon. I love the spiciness of an assertive rye whiskey. Even high rye content bourbons, which are still mostly corn, don’t quite hit the same flavor notes.

To say that the two are similar so it’s okay is a copout. Because vodka and gin aren’t really that far apart. In fact, it wouldn’t be so far off to say that gin is little more than flavored vodka. And we all know how I feel about flavored vodka.

I suppose one could blame the scarcity of rye up until recently. There just wasn’t a lot of the stuff produced, unless you start looking at Canadian whisky.

Can the sorry state of the post-Prohibition rye market save me from my sins? After all, this is the most likely culprit for the normalization of the idea that a Manhattan is made with bourbon. And just because a lot of people do something doesn’t make it right either.

Remember what your mother said, “If everyone jumped off the Empire State Building, would you do it too?”

Heck no.

But I can’t help shake the idea that my easy acceptance of a bourbon Manhattan as a true Manhattan reflects an obsolete vernacular. I’m slow to change. But perhaps I can try. In the meantime, the closest thing to a Manhattan that is actually made with bourbon is something called the Honolulu. I doubt I’ll be able to convince Mrs. Fussy to change her favorite drink, but I think it’s time that I start to hold the line.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 19, 2014 3:14 am

    You’ll definitely hate this. I can’t help myself. Vodka flavored like whipping cream in a root beer float. Think girls weekend at the beach hanging out in the hot tub. Just because I’m almost 40, doesn’t mean I can’t like a fruffy-girly candy flavored drink on occasion. Like I said, you’ll hate it :)

  2. MikeH permalink
    July 23, 2014 12:41 pm

    This post got me to go out and pick up a bottle of Tanqueray, club soda and some lemons. Great drink for a hot day. I also tried with half lemon and half lime juice – have you ever had a gin and Wink? My parents used to drink them when I was a kid. I don’t know if you can still get Wink.

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