Lately whenever someone asks me what I do, I find that I suffer from a bit of an identity crisis. I know that I write a blog about cocktails, I take pretty good photos, and I can make a decent drink… but what exactly should I called myself? A few weeks ago a man asked me if I was a writer and I mentioned the blog. His response was to tell me that didn’t count. Ok then, scratch that one off the list. I take pictures of drinks, but I’m not exactly a photographer, and cocktail enthusiast sounds like something you’d put on a dating website. So what’s left then? Well, there’s home bartender, the term I like the best, and amateur bartender which is probably the most accurate, but it never sounds very positive to me. I decided to look up the word amateur. The first meaning is “a person who engages in a study, sport, or other activity for pleasure rather than for financial benefits.” Well now that is certainly true at the moment! The second definition is “a person inexperienced or unskilled in a particular activity. See antonym: professional.” Ouch, that one actually hurts.
Since I spend a fair amount of time at the vegan bar and restaurant Charlie was a sinner. in Philadelphia, I certainly don’t need to look in the dictionary to know what a professional bartender looks like. As far as I’m concerned, the bartenders at Charlie are among the best in the city (as I’ve mentioned many times). I could sit for hours watching them work and watching their interaction with customers, particularly the ones who have no idea what they’d like to drink. A few simple questions later and that uncertain person has a cocktail in front of them that they’ll most likely end up loving. This past Saturday night I asked Michelle Martinez if she’d come up with a cocktail for me that I could write a Friday Musings post about. I had no real requirements other than that it be a Christmasy drink. I knew that Michelle would come up with something amazing and I was definitely not disappointed!
Michelle said she wanted to create a cocktail with a smoky/sweet taste that would be appealing to a wide range of people, something that can be a real challenge since not everyone likes smokiness in a drink. I happen to love it so I was excited to hear her describe the Scotch whisky and pear combination she’d come up with. The smoke in this cocktail comes from infusing the glass with actual burnt rosemary right before the drink is poured in. In addition to the Scotch and pear, there’s some orange liqueur that adds a bit more sweetness, lemon to keep that sweetness in check and brighten things up, orgeat that creates beautiful texture, and angostura bitters to balance everything out. The nutmeg and rosemary sprig give the drink a wintertime feel, so this is not exclusively a holiday drink. As soon as I took my first sip I thought of the third meaning of the word amateur which is “a person who admires something intensely, a devotee, a fan.” And so I know then how to describe what I do: I am a cocktail blogger (and yes I do consider that writing), I am a home bartender, and I am an amateur, especially in the sense that I have boundless admiration for professional bartenders like Michelle whose creativity never ceases to amaze me.
A Partridge in a Pear Tree Michelle Martinez from Charlie was a sinner, Philadelphia, PA.
1½ oz Johnny Walker Red Scotch whisky
½ oz orange liqueur
1 oz pear purée
½ oz orgeat
½ oz lemon juice
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Shake all ingredients together with ice in a shaker tin. Strain into a cocktail glass that has been smoked with rosemary. Grate nutmeg on top and garnish with a rosemary sprig. Enjoy!
Have a great weekend everyone! See you all on Monday!