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  • Rebecca Landesman

Cheers from Quarantine: I'm a Bartender Now

Updated: May 3

I get experimental while quarantined. Sometimes the results are good, sometimes they're bad, but they always give me a buzz.

via Pinterest


I’m trying on different hobbies and seeing what fits. Last week I set a realistic goal of learning Spanish while on lockdown, which is somewhat doable since I’ve been taking courses on and off the past several months. I’d at least understand past-tense when this was all over. So far I’ve read five chapters of a beginner’s language book and subsequently placed the book in an interdimensional drawer that has teleported the book far out of this galaxy. I’ve also launched full throttle into my yoga practice. This is finally my chance to master a headstand and to build the biceps for crow pose. It’s going quite well, though I’m experiencing geriatric-levels of knee and wrist pain. To supplement my bourgeoning skills as a chef, I’ve taken to bartending.


I’ve been content with these particular pastimes, if not only because I can definitively list my hobbies now, which when asked about in the past resulted in my stuttering for a well-rounded answer that made me seem wholesome and learned and cool. And bartending seems to abet the other two interests, loosening the tongue for rolling Rs and encouraging flexibility. It’s also the pursuit I’m most eager to showcase once we’re allowed to interact again and I can host guests and flaunt the fruits of my quarantine. I’ve invested in some essentials for the liquor cabinet: jigger, cocktail shaker, swizzle stick, nomenclature I bragged about knowing when I went to bars back in 2020 BC (Before Corona), the bartenders of which surely miss my patronage.


via Sf Girl


Throughout these weeks of social-distancing I’ve perfected a daily walk, a three block journey to Total Wine. This knocks out the fundamentals—fresh air, booze, upper body workout. Each trip adds to the collection: coffee liqueur, Campari, cocktail sticks (reusable). The experiment begins at happy hour and the drinks are omakase, though if the mood strikes I’ll take requests from my boyfriend, my only customer. My recent concoction, a reinvented mason jar martini, made good use of pickle juice and cornichons that are available in excess in my household for fear of a charcuterie board shortage. I’ve yet to purchase gin or vermouth so I made do with vodka and a dry sauvignon blanc. The result was more than palatable, a briny and refreshing mix with a subtle fruity finish.


via Rhubarbarians


A recent favorite of mine is the espresso martini AKA the espressotini, which, legend has it, was born in the mid-80s when Kate Moss sat at the bar of the The Soho Brasserie and asked for a drink to “wake her up and f**k her up.” I relate to this sentiment and have thus added the cocktail—which simultaneously induces anxiety and takes the edge off—to my menu.


Red wine is my go-to drink, and while pouring a glass without spillage is an art, it does not challenge me as a self-proclaimed at-home mixologist. To incorporate wine into my cocktail skillset I’ve embraced the white wine spritzer. Surely this is no substitute for red wine, but it is a loophole for drinking wine in the afternoon, though given the current state of affairs we don’t need to justify our drinking habits to anyone. The spritz is a lazy yet impressive drink that says you don’t want to try too hard but you also want to be acknowledged for putting in some effort—peeling a perfect lemon twist takes skill.


via My Kitchen Love


My pastimes are creative outlets, enjoyable parts of our socially and recreationally restricted lives. My boyfriend/sole patron comes to my bar for an evening libation that brings us together after many consecutive days of, well, also being together. A mezcalita or old-fashioned eases the restlessness and uncertainty, serving as a reminder of better days. During these unprecedented times, happy hour does exactly what the name suggests.


The Cocktail Collection:


Espresso Martini

  • 1 part Kahlúa

  • 1 part Absolut vodka

  • 1 part espresso


How to mix

You’ll need an espresso machine and a shaker for this one. Shake the Kahlúa, Absolut Vodka and espresso together with plenty of ice. Strain into a cocktail glass to get rid of all the small ice chips. Tip: Shake for like 10 seconds for optimal frothiness.


Mezcalita

  • For spicy rim: Tajín Clásico Seasoning or a mix of 2 parts kosher salt and 1 part chili powder

  • Lime wedges, for lining the rim and garnish

  • 1 ½ ounces mild mezcal (sub tequila to make margarita)

  • 2 ounces fresh orange juice

  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice

  • 3 dashes of orange bitters (optional, for extra orange flavor)

  • 1 to 3 teaspoons orange liqueur, simple syrup or agave nectar (optional)


How to mix

To prepare your glasses: Pour the Tajín or salt/chili powder on a small plate. Run a wedge of lime around the top of each glass. Dip the top of the glass into the salt blend at a 45-degree angle and roll it from side to side to catch the salt. Add ice cubes to your glass and set it aside.


Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the mezcal, orange juice, lime juice, orange bitters (if using) and sweetener (if using). Shake well, pour into glass, garnish with lime wedge.


Negroni

  • 1¼ ounces gin

  • 1¼ ounces Campari

  • 1¼ ounces sweet vermouth

  • Orange twist, for garnish


How to mix

Stir (don't shake) all liquid ingredients with ice. Strain into chilled rocks glass filled with ice. Garnish with an orange twist.


White Wine Spritzer

  • 3/4 cup white wine of choice

  • 1/4 cup club soda

  • 1 lemon rind garnish


How to mix

Add wine to a tall wine glass and top with club soda. Twist lemon rind over glass and add.

Tip: Make sure the wine and soda are chilled ahead of time.


Gimlet

  • 2 1/2 ounces gin

  • 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice

  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup

  • Garnish: lime wheel


How to mix

Add all ingredients into a mixing glass with ice and stir. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a lime wheel.


Cheers!

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