5@5 - Break out of your cocktail comfort zone
January 2nd, 2012
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

It's a New Year. Maybe you're giving up booze - maybe you're not.

If the latter is your tippling decision and you're sticking to it, at least shake last year's repertoire up with Woodfire Grill Bar Manager Blake Morley.

Five Ways to Break Out of Your Cocktail Comfort Zone: Blake Morley

1. Because you never knew just how good rye whiskey tasted
"Here in the South, a.k.a. Bourbon Country, rye always had the reputation for only being consumed by outlaws and, well, Canadians. It was seen as being inferior to bourbon and therefore was condemned to a long dusty sentence hidden in the back bar.

With the re-emergence of the American cocktail culture, rye once again has begun to whet the palates of many 'reformed' cocktailers. The spicy and minty notes of a good rye whiskey make even the most basic of cocktails something new and interesting."

2. Because “this ain’t your granddaddy’s gin”
"The new American gin market has broken the London dry mold most are familiar with. Genevere and Old Tom styles as well as damson and sloe gins are allowing bartenders and cocktailers alike the opportunity to venture back into the days of old as well as create new and inventive creations to appease the curiosity of the willing."

3. In a word, well, two words, egg white
"Raw egg is a classic ingredient for those cocktails from the Golden Age, most common, of course, are eggnog, flips, sours, the Ramos Gin Fizz, the Clover Club, and the famed Pisco Sour. If you have ever tried one of these cocktails without the addition of a raw egg, you haven’t had the opportunity to enjoy the real thing.

The sole purpose of adding the egg white or the yolk, in some cases both, is to add texture and volume to a cocktail. Think of it in pastry terms: remember the delight and enjoyment of that lighter-than-air meringue on top of your favorite pie? The result is the same in a cocktail.

An egg white, when properly shaken, acts as a binder melding the flavors of the cocktail and helping them coat your palate while adding a light airy note to the weight. Want to have some real fun at your next party? Add an egg white to a cocktail that doesn’t call for it. That’s right, a Negroni."

4. Forget tequila; hello mezcal
"Mezcal, tequila’s 'brother from another mother,' has long been associated with plastic bottles and floating worms. The fact of the matter is the differences between the two nectars of the agave plant is what makes mezcal my typical go-to on my back bar: Tequila has to be from the Weber blue species of Agave, mezcal can come from a variety of species but most commonly Espadin agave; for tequila, the plants are steamed, for mezcal they are smoked) .

The smokey sweetness, as well as an impressive smoothness from a high-quality craft mezcal, will shake off any bad college memory and open the door to a wide array of cocktail possibilities that would otherwise be shut with tequila.

Grab a bottle (I'm a big fan of Ilegal Reposado) and impress your party guests with a play on the classic Manhattan, only this time, replace the whiskey with mezcal.

Something different? How about something I affectionately refer to as a 'Mexican Jewel': 3 parts mezcal, 1 part sweet vermouth, 1 part green Chartreuse, few dashes of orange bitters - throw in an egg white, why not? Remember, it’s about stepping outside of your cocktail comfort zone."

5. Because Jeffrey Morganthaler says so
"I pinpoint Mr. Morganthaler, the famed barman from Oregon, because about three years back after years of slinging drinks in various bars, I was beginning to hear whispers of what other bartenders were doing about this so-called 'cocktail revolution' taking place.

What I found on his blog was a whole world of wonderment about what was emerging. I suddenly found myself freed from the monotony of the neon colored 'Sex & the City' martini.

From Morganthaler’s blog, I began to spread out to the other pioneers, barmen like David Wondrich, Ted Haigh, the immortal Dale DeGroff and Derek Brown in D.C to name a few. Thus, began my metaphysical bar transformation - I, in essence, began to step outside my own cocktail comfort zone."

Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.

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Filed under: 5@5 • Sip • Spirits • Think

soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. KK

    Would love to see Naren Young profiled.

    January 13, 2012 at 11:33 am |
  2. TobyB

    Great to see that Genever is making a comeback in the US, you can now find Genever from the Netherlands and also Belgium (Flanders).

    January 5, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  3. Sergeant Hulka

    That guy may be a pole smoker.

    January 3, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
    • fretlessbass

      That's a fact, Jack!

      January 3, 2012 at 9:41 pm |
  4. Ballson Chinn

    Finally, a good news story full of booze. Lighten up you stiffs and have a drink. It would do most of you some good.

    January 3, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
  5. Alex

    the heck with hard liquors, fruity drinks are the best and don't forget the umbrella

    January 3, 2012 at 11:13 am |
    • ForReal

      Why would I need an umbrella if I do most of my drinking indoors?

      January 3, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
  6. j

    This site is morally bankrupt. Now it's encouraging people to become alcoholics. This is a new low.

    January 3, 2012 at 2:03 am |
    • srikanth

      @J –who said this site is encouraging people to become alcoholics.

      Firstly, I am a teetotaler.
      But, I guess this article is trying to put forth various options for those who want to drink.
      Does not drive people to drinking. So, I dont understand your analogy here.

      January 3, 2012 at 2:30 am |
    • Kevin

      Place one measure of self righteous attitude in a cocktail shaker with half a measure of inflammatory nonsense, shake, and strain over the cracked ice of J's cold heart. Apply a twist of lemon directly to the cornea and enjoy!

      January 3, 2012 at 8:31 am |
      • Joan

        You forgot the egg white. ;-)

        January 3, 2012 at 2:16 pm |
    • Kevin

      Place one measure of self righteous attitude in a shaker with half a measure of inflammatory nonsense, shake, and strain over the cracked ice of J's cold heart. Apply a twist of lemon directly to the cornea and enjoy!

      January 3, 2012 at 8:32 am |
    • *


      January 3, 2012 at 11:18 am |
    • Sergeant Hulka

      Lighten up, Francis.

      January 3, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
  7. Charley K

    Serious suggestion: Hit up Andy Borbely who manages Seven Saints Bar in Champaign Illinois. He does a feature on local TV about spirits and cocktails and also sports the best back bar in town. He taught me to call rye instead of bourbon in my Manhattans, isn't afraid of egg white or fire, and woe to any of his bartenders who overpour or otherwise don't stick to by-the-book proportions. Seven Saints is easy to find via Google, just call and ask for him.

    January 3, 2012 at 1:19 am |
  8. MeatyPortion

    I'd try any of those but for simplicity I probably wouldn't have them more than once. By the way, is it just me or does the guy in the photo look like The Joker and Harry Potter had a kid?

    January 3, 2012 at 12:21 am |
  9. Flatulent Fred

    Wet the palate? Really? You mean whet, don't you?

    January 2, 2012 at 11:45 pm |
  10. Pat

    Why mix a drink when you can have jack on the rocks?

    January 2, 2012 at 11:25 pm |
    • sean g

      because you can mix jack with cherry coke and make it even more delicious.

      January 3, 2012 at 12:48 am |
    • Dave

      Because not everyone likes Jack on the rocks?

      January 3, 2012 at 1:50 am |
    • Carn E. Vore

      Because Evan Williams is both better AND cheaper?

      January 3, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
  11. Pat

    what the hell

    January 2, 2012 at 11:17 pm |
  12. Nick

    Love the Negroni, try the Boulevardier & Brooklyn with Rye...also try the Ford cocktail with Old Tom Gin, Ransom makes a good bottle!

    January 2, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
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