On a different night, I ate at D.C.’s famous, high-concept Afghan restaurant, Bistro Arachosia. The excessive-concept first-rate includes the delicious food but also the beverages. Specifically, how the drinks are named; if you need a mix of rye and apple brandy, you may inform the waiter, “I have died to myself, and I live for you,” as the thirteenth-century Persian poet Rumi wrote. If you dreamed of rye, dry vermouth, and maraschino liqueur, you could say, “I’ve disappeared from myself and my attributes.
How did we get here, in which drinks have elaborate and preposterous names? Even though Arachosia may have the best bar where Rumi traces specify the liquids, the eating place is infrequently alone in overdoing it with the cocktail-naming conventions. Two hundred years in the past, one would possibly normally have ordered a drink named for its alcoholic effect, consisting of a “phlegm-cutter” or a “fog driver.
There were also “slings,” “flips,” and a newfangled concoction known as the cocktail, which becomes, at its earliest, only a sling with bitters. By 1867, Mark Twain became Paris, seeking the right drink. He changed into outraged French bars who didn’t recognize a way to make champagne cocktails, sherry cobblers, and brandy smashes. Twain rails on the barman who’s clueless about the composition of “a Santa Cruz Punch, an Eye-Opener, a Stone-Fence, or an Earthquake.
By the end of the 19th century, the Barnumesque age of advertising changed into complete swing. Publicists recognize the loose press one should get if the client’s call is connected to a popular drink. So it became then, in 1899, Broadway singer Mayme Taylor was celebrated with a glass of scotch, ginger ale, and citrus, known as the Mamie Taylor. Mayme is forgotten; Mamie isn’t.
There was a Caruso cocktail, made — most wrongheaded cocktail books notwithstanding — with cognac, candy vermouth, and Benedictine; a Mary Pickford, made of rum, pineapple juice, grenadine, and maraschino liqueur; a Ginger Rogers, which is a martini spiked with apricot brandy and lemon juice; and a Jack Dempsey, with gin, rum, lemon juice, and sugar.
But for some time now, we’ve been inside the age of the terrible pun. Boston bartender Jackson Cannon reviews having witnessed a cocktail menu with a drink called “Everything Happens for a Riesling.” There was an area in Harlem that used to drink the use of thyme with the worn-out name “About Thyme!” Barman Alex Day is answerable for “Unidentified Floral Objects.” The Laundry Room in Las Vegas has featured.
Berried in Sin,” a bubbly drink with the berry liqueur crème de cassis. Bartender Devon Tarby came up with the Peeping Tomboy.” A pal claims to have an Amsterdam bar menu with the sad pun “Bear Necessities.” A higher order of wordplay comes from the chichi Chicago boîte The Aviary, which serves a drink called the “Ford’s Model Tea Party. Then there are drink names that aren’t puns so much as problematic internal jokes: Los Angeles bartender Daniel Zacharczuk created a drink he calls “Beth’s Going to Town.” The Aviary menu includes “Harry; I Took Care of It.
Rumor has it, there’s a bar in Portland, Ore., with a drink something like: “If you wake up Sunday morning and neglect wherein you parked your automobile, it is out in front of Mary’s, like continually,” with Mary’s being a neighborhood strip bar. Which is all correct fun, but no longer precisely the thing that journeys off the tongue in a noisy bar? It’s the rude counterpart of the drinks named with Rumi fees. One is bawdy, the others romantically philosophical, but all are overcomplicated and overdone.
It’s time we returned to some less complicated naming conventions and stopped looking to be too clever via 1/2. Some of the nice cocktail names are descriptive. It would help if you didn’t ask what is happening in a gin and tonic. Nor are you able to move wrong with something simple and evocative. For example, there’s a drink I’ve heard of called a Manhattan. Now, there’s a call for a cocktail with a few staying strong.