Like most people, my introduction to drinking was characterized by consuming what I could get my hands on. In college, my consumption was guided strictly by an infallible calculation of alcohol to dollar.
Coming of bar hopping age, I had never even considered branching out from the draft list at a bar. As a newcomer to the Portland Pour, and to cocktails, I decided to dedicate a small post about why people find cocktails so appealing.
This is probably the most common answer to the question, though it certainly isn't the only one. Much like a gourmet meal, a well prepared cocktail can pack a flavorful punch.
Now, I for one have never been a particularly picky person--especially when it comes to drinks. However, when it comes to variety and depth, a cocktail offers something that other libations can't.
As I have started to dip my toe into the wide world of cocktails, I'm coming to realize that the layers of alcohol and other ingredients can become a complex flavor profile. While a craft-brewed beer can be just as complex in flavor when compared to an indivdual spirit, a cocktail's flavor profile doesn't end with distillation
A beer is brewed and served; what you see is what you get. But a cocktail of note has been put through a process by your bartender. Proportions of spirit to liquer, garnishes, and delivery method are all variables that have been crafted to work together./While, it may seem absurd, this sophistication in drink not only changes its taste, but it can also change the social mood of the night.
In college, I was fortunate enough to have had friends who had more refined tastes than I did. One of these friends was a bartender who, bless his heart, loved to whip up delicious cocktails for us. Of course, as entertainment, this approach added something that the pbr-ridden ragers couldn’t.
Knowing my bartending friend, I understood that he enjoyed the process of making the drink as much as he did sharing it with us. Cocktails are the perfect drink of choice for enthusiasts because of how much there is to experiment with. Drinking and making drinks can become a hobby and an art.
And as you go deeper into the craft, in many ways, you go deeper into the culture of the spirits. Learning to mix your cocktails mean learning more about what goes into the end product. Everything from the distilling of the spirit, to the thickness of the syrup and the acidic palettes of fruits becomes a subject for investigation.
Inevitably, these investigations introduce you to previously hidden histories as well as an ever-present community of bartenders, enthusiasts, and distillers. Each with their own stories and passion about the beverages they create.
Making and consuming alcohol is a practice as old as agriculture. However the craft and culture of cocktails is not purely alcoholic. While researching fruits
When I was young, my father told me a tall tale about cocktails being invented during The Prohibition Era as a method to consume alcohol in disguise. As a young boy, this brer rabbit mythology appealed to my sense of the American ethos. Though that particular story is not exactly true, it did make an impression on me that madet he cocktail stand out.
Indeed there is a real history associated with cocktails and their evolution, and this story is more interesting than the myth. Alcohol has played a fairly signifcant role in American political history. Libations have sparked revolutions such as the Whiskey Rebellion, provided a source of financial and political power to organized crime in the Prohibition Era.
As I’ve started to peek back into the history of the cocktail, I’m realizing the truth of the old adage about history being many conflicting stories and not one narrative. Each drink has its own story, characters, and evolution. These stories imbue character and a certain timelessness to each drink, and it is our goal here at the Pour to illuminate some of these tales.
And not to be a sucker for tradition, the narrative becomes something you can spin in your own way once you start mixing.
A cocktail is more than just a great tasting drink. Within the limits of the glass are boundless possibilities extending both to the past and to the future.
As I continue to learn more about the craft of mixology, I’m sure that the reasons to love cocktails will increase. As for now, I’m excited by the prospect to learn more about Portland’s robust distilling, craft cocktail landscape, and its place in the history of alcoholic alchemy.