If you Google “improved cocktail,” you will find a number of somewhat differing drinks featuring the most venerable of the base spirits (i.e., whiskey, brandy and gin) or genever, aka “Holland gin.” That’s because, as Michael Dietsch puts it, improved cocktails are more of a template and less of a recipe. Still, I’ve just found that the “improved” model is a pretty amazing template with which to build a recipe.
If the name seems odd to you, it’s important to remember that the actual meaning of the word “cocktail” has changed since the Gilded Age heyday of 19th century bartending. If you walk into a bar today and ask for a cocktail, your confused bartender is likely to say, “Sure, which one of the hundreds of thousands of potentials drinks do you mean?”
If, however, you walked into ur-bartender Jerry Thomas’s bar circa 1876 and asked for a cocktail, you’d find yourself with what we now call an Old Fashioned, a base spirit with sugar or syrup, bitters, maybe a bit of water and a garnish. That was a cocktail. Drinks that didn’t contain bitters were not yet considered cocktails — they were just mixed drinks, and some cocktailians still prefer that terminology. Specifically, if you had ordered last week’s drink at Mr. Thomas’s bar, you would have likely asked for a Holland Gin Cocktail, the once popular term for the spirit thatevolved into the dry English-style gins we all know. When you started adding other forms of booze to it, you were getting a bit fancy. Hence, the Improved Cocktail.
One thing that goes great with any activity at any time of year, whether it’s cruising in a boat on the lake in summer, playing football in the fall, or serious television watching in the winter, is an ice-cold beer. You have to have your beer at just the perfect temperature to get the most enjoyment. If it’s exposed to heat at any point along its journey, it probably won’t taste as good as it should.
Online degrees are on the rise, and aside from subjects where you need access to labs and practical resources, you can find an online option for just about any degree you want to do. Whether it’s a math degree or a masters in social work, you can find courses that would theoretically give you access to all kinds of career opportunities, and all without the hassle and expense of attending a college for the duration of your studies.
However, how do employers view online degrees compared with those gained on campus at a college? Will your online degree be as valuable an asset in your career?
Before there was gin, there was genever — sometimes also called jenever — a concoction that is similar and yet different from the ubiquitous clear booze we now enjoy in our martinis and G&Ts. One obvious geographical difference is that most gins are now made in England or thereabouts, and by law, a liquor can only be marketed as genever if it’s from the Netherlands or Belgium. Only a few brands can be found at all in the United States and, so far, I’ve only seen one on store shelves: Bols Genever. The flavor is definitely different; the manufacturing process is more similar to whiskey, and many detect a more malty flavor.
There’s quite a bit more history on how Dutch genever became English gin, and you can learn some of it in a post I wrote a few years back. However, I never actually owned a bottle of the stuff until this week, when curiosity finally got the better of me and I purchased a bottle of Bols. In Europe, I understand that genever is often served more or less in the same way that whiskey or vodka is traditionally consumed there — more or less straight, possibly with a beer chaser or with a small amount of sugar. It’s use in cocktails is something I’m still learning about, though I know it has been mentioned in some of the oldest cocktail books.
I am, however, under the impression that Old Fashioneds are one popular way to serve genever, and the ur-cocktail seems like a pretty good place to start with one of the ur-liquors. At the same time, genever isn’t whiskey, so you might want to vary the recipe ever so slightly from the basic whiskey Old Fashioned. Or, maybe you don’t.
The year’s most anticipated tech launch has arrived. With a revolutionary new drinkable wearable, Jim Beam is advancing the technology of shot pouring and drinking, providing bourbon lovers a fool-proof way to pour a refreshingly crisp Jim Beam Apple shot that can be enjoyed as is, on the rocks or with club soda and a lemon wedge.
Jim Beam Bourbon, the world’s #1 best-selling bourbon, is changing the game again, taking its knack for bourbon innovation and breaking into the tech market with a first-of-its-kind Jim Beam Apple Watch.