Recently, I've started getting into cocktail culture, mixing various syrups and sodas with both liqueurs and liquors. It's a throwback to underground saloons in the 1920s when Prohibition was strict — though not well-enforced, judging by wild parties from The Great Gatsby. Sipping a drink with more than two ingredients, out of a glass rather than a red Solo cup, makes me feel fancy and dramatic. So I have to assemble fancy, dramatic outfits to enhance the atmosphere, right?
When you delve into a new endeavor, such as learning about aesthetic alcohol imbition, which I want to be the noun form of "imbibe" but apparently isn't, start with the classics! (Similarly, I suggest that rookie fashionistas start with dresses. Everybody, wear dresses all the time! Or if dresses aren't comfortable with your gender expression, ask somebody else because I've exhausted my advice.) In order to start with the classics, you have to figure out what the classics are. I had a vague idea, ready to mention hyper-popular drinks like Margaritas and Martinis. However, I wanted to expand my horizons! (On my horizons, a Tequila Sunrise dawned. Bahaha. I'll be here all week.) Anyway, I searched "best cocktails" and immediately clicked on a list by Serious Eats blogger Michael Dietsch, "25 Cocktails Everyone Should Know." Dietsch has different reasons for perusing these recipes:
"We who like to mix drinks at home do it for many reasons: First, it's cheaper than drinking out. Second, it's fun to mix your own drinks at home. Third, it's even more fun to mix drinks for other people at home. Any self-respecting home bartender should have a mental... spreadsheet of favorite classic cocktail recipes."
Whatever, I just wanna wear a flapper dress and impress everybody at game night! I guess the "impress everybody" part does fall in Dietsch's purview.
I will wear that dress and everybody will cry because I will be an angel of booze, visiting the plebs bearing a platter of delectable drinks. Such as...
An Old Fashioned, Basically Made Out Of Sugar
This cocktail pops up fairly often in literature but I was intimidated because I don't have much vintage cred. I routinely shop at thrift stores, but depressingly often I just buy castoffs from Target. (Mossimo is my brand, yo.) As it turns out, an Old Fashioned simply consists of whiskey, sugar, and bitters. Actually, it's somewhat more flexible; Michael Dietsch reminds us that "the original definition called for spirits of any kind. You can make a tasty Old Fashioned from whiskey, of course, but also from tequila, mezcal, brandy, rum," or whatever "robustly flavored spirits" you have at your disposal. As to the other essential ingredients, if you're like me and don't know what "bitters" are, foodie blog The Kitchn will teach you to make them yourself.
Important part: What will you wear while you drink this? The Old Fashioned is an appropriately antique cocktail, so I suggest going whole-hog and dressing modern-medieval. I delight in the irony that anachronism is always trendy, although the fêted decade varies. Off-white peasant blouse, warm-colored vest, and a long earth-toned skirt. Bam.
The Daiquiri, For Your Citrus-Berry Sweet Tooth
Another Serious Eats writer, Paul Clarke, admonishes us that "an old-school daiquiri is an exercise in purity, as beautiful in its unadorned simplicity as a well-made Martini or Manhattan. Of course, 'well made' is a big factor here... to fully realize the daiquiri's inherent beauty, be sure to measure your ingredients; free-pouring... frequently leaves you with an odd-tasting drink." Yessiree. The ingredients for the basic daiquiri are rum, lime juice, and sugar. I advise ignoring Clarke's austerity and making a frozen strawberry version! When drinking strawberries, wear pink. Do it on a Wednesday. And display this gilded poster on your wall:
The French 75, Gin And Champagne And Cherries, Oh My!
The French 75 is truly an obscure cocktail. I'd never heard of it before reading the Serious Eats list. Notable ingredients are, as I mentioned, gin and sparkling wine and a "cocktail cherry," which I am choosing to interpret as "maraschino cherry" because I love those things.
Ramos Gin Fizz, Because Grownups Still Love Milkshakes
Save yourself the workout and use a blender to make this New Orleans favorite, which contains cream, egg whites, multiple kinds of citrus, and most crucially, gin! Can't be a Gin Fizz without gin. (A similar, tempting concoction is the Pisco Sour.) Because of the un-resemblance to an egg cream — egg creams are actually both dairy and egg-free — now's your chance to ironically evoke 1950s New York, the proverbial golden age of the diner. Wear a poodle skirt! Or a dainty pleated skirt with a cardigan tucked in, if your taste is little more understated.
Four cocktails down, a zillion more to go! And a zillion more matched outfits to plan!
The reality is that you should wear whatever strikes your fancy, or is otherwise practical, at any given moment. (As I write this, I'm curled up in owl-patterned pajamas. So.) That is the reality — but who wants reality? Often I prefer the fantasy, in which my careful clothing choices weave an aesthetic dream, making my experiences more special and memorable. I want to have a healthy relationship to alcohol, and part of that is focusing on the capital-e Experience instead of rapidly getting crunk. (For me, that's what it means. Your choices are your own choices; your reasons are your own reasons.) Dressing intentionally makes every aspect of my life more special, including partying.
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