Welcome, dear readers, to The Takeout Draft, our recurring feature that combines our love of food, fantasy sports, and arguing on Slack.
Every week, we will select a topic of conversation from the food and drink world. Takeout writers will then field a team via the snake draft format. After five rounds, The Takeout commenteriat will vote on who they believe was victorious in that week’s draft. At the end of the year, the staffer with the most weekly victories will select a charity of his/her choice that The Takeout will make a donation towards.
The winner of last week’s Takeout Draft: Best Non-Chocolate Candy, as voted by readers: Kate Bernot!
This week, the topic is classic cocktails, meaning we’ll exclude the 15-ingredient drinks that only your friend knows how to assemble. Joining us this week are Takeout contributor John Carruthers and fancy shopgirl Allison Shoemaker. The randomizer has selected a draft order:
- John Carruthers
- Allison Shoemaker
- Kate Bernot
Let’s get shakin’.
John Carruthers: I will do the very predictable thing and take the definition of Weekend In a Glass: the Margarita
But I do want to stress that there are some really fantastic ones out there, and that it’s not all 32 ounces of slushee that your server tries to upsell Patron into
Allison Shoemaker: My local makes an incredible one that includes an inside out lime half that’s filled with an orange liqueur
It is heaven
Kate Bernot: I would write in defense of overly boozy slushee margaritas, so no need to sell me on this
JC: I had a very nice charred pepper one just the other day. I also seem to remember a prickly pear margarita served to me in an actual glass at a Diamondbacks game last time I was in AZ, but that seems insane so maybe I’m mushing different memories together.
AS: Kate didn’t I write a defense of shitty margaritas last year?
KB: You did a guide to passable margaritas, much classier.
JC: I’m glad we’re all on Team Shitty Margarita
This was my clear #1 because it encompasses both the Sugarbooze and the Fancy Cocktail so well
AS: I’ve got to follow my heart and go with the Old-Fashioned
AS: Classy AF, as they say
KB: True to your whiskey-loving heart
AS: And if I didn’t pick a whiskey cocktail I’d be shamed outta this place
JC: Plus there’s that optional Brandy variant for our friends up north
AS: Very different but still good
A good Old-Fashioned is next level
A great showcase for great whiskey
JC: Ordering an Old-Fashioned is always a really good gauge of how good a bar is
Plus you get to feel very Mad Men whilst drinking one
JC: I always try to meaningfully brood
People ask if I have gas
KB: The two are not mutually exclusive, John.
For my first-round pick, I’m going with another classic that gets an unfair rap: the daiquiri
AS: Oooh good choice
KB: Made with good rum and fresh lime juice, it is so refreshing and bright.
JC: Plus, banana dolphin
KB: Again, the strawberry slushee version ruins it for a lot of people, but a three-ingredient daiquiri is a thing of minimalist beauty.
For my next pick, I am thrilled and humbled to be able to call upon: Bloody Mary
JC: I love to make them and do not drink them myself. I can’t do the tomato juice
As a pure mess of different elements, it’s very appealing
AS: A bourbon Bloody Mary is so good
KB: I love the acidic tomato juice. Makes me feel like it’s partially healthy.
Ooooh, bourbon Bloody Mary, you say. See, endless possibilities.
JC: My favorite variation was at Baconfest one year—cheddar powder rim
KB: My god
JC: Yeah, Cheddar Oppenheimer finally did it
AS: This is tough. A lot of what are IMHO the best classic cocktails are not hot weather friendly, so I’m tempted to just pick things I’m craving. And one of those things is a pretty basic marvel: the Moscow Mule
Bright, crisp, refreshing, lots of great variants
(As is often the case, I love subbing bourbon and making a Kentucky Mule)
KB: Moscow Mules are the cocktail-hour drink at our upcoming wedding, respect.
AS: Fresh juice makes a HUGE difference but an average MM is still a thing of beauty
KB: Pour ginger beer directly down my throat any day.
JC: My mom got all the kids Moscow Mule copper mugs two Christmases ago
KB: So far no one has chosen a truly unconscionable drink, well done us.
JC: So I shouldn’t pick Laudanum? that’s kind of a cocktail
KB: That’s a different draft entirely.
JC: Looking forward to it
AS: Old Ways To Dull The Pain And/Or Die
(wow, got dark fast)
JC: For my actual pick, the drink that wasn’t Busch Light that got me through college: Gin martini
I used to hoard my meager college newspaper paychecks to get a bottle of Bombay. Not Sapphire, just the white label
AS: I was wondering when one of us would get to the martini
JC: I’m guessing I thought it would make me seem interesting, when in fact I was a very paint by numbers grubby guy at a big state school
KB: I like that every cocktail is basically a method acting moment for you.
JC: but hey, turns out I really love good gin
AS: That is 100 percent why I started drinking them too - but good gin is so good
JC: That Bombay was the gateway to a lot of new things for me. I even had a single martini glass I’d clean and keep on a shelf in my room like a real dork
Crisp, bracing, botanical-forward. It feels like you’re an adult drinking like an adult
AS: At another time we should nerd out about gins, John
JC: heck yeah
AS: My current faves are Barr Hill and the Field Gin made by Journeyman for the Field Museum
JC: Journeyman is one of my favorite distillery tours around here. I went not long after they opened and they gave us samples of EVERYTHING and the tour guide called my wife out for making a face at the gin (she isn’t a gin drinker but gave it a shot)
turned out our tour guide was the owner’s mom
JC: It all ended well
KB: I still have a bottle of Journeyman Black Hearts on my bar cart from my Midwest days
JC: It got my dad drinking local spirits, which, if you’d asked me ten years ago...
JC: For my next pick, there’s a beverage here, man: WHITE RUSSIAN
KB: WILD CARD
JC: I realize it’s not the most versatile thing
JC: But sometimes it’s just the thing. And I very much enjoy it and the weird little variations (Colorado Bulldog, etc) that come with it
(Kidding, it’s a fine drink)
KB: Do you actually make these at home with frequency?
JC: I do. Vodka’s always around. Kahlua tends to last me a long while. There’s always something dairy about.
KB: Robe’s always on
AS: Rug really ties the room together
JC: and the Creedence tapes
KB: I want to party at Casa Carruthers
AS: I want to get back to gin with a slightly less well-known, but dearly beloved (around these parts anyway) cocktail: The Aviation
Also on topic, as this is a drink I make frequently at home. It’s so pretty and so tasty
JC: Creme de Violette? You are operating at a far more advanced level
AS: Once you have a bottle, you have it for a long time
KB: Oh, Aviations are the definition of classy in my book.
JC: I’m impressed
AS: JUST LOOKIT:
JC: Color-matching glassware. C L A S S Y
AS: They’re really not hard and once you’ve got the bottles handy you’re set for awhile. Have a lemon and some good good cherries on hand and you’re good to go
JC: My White Russians get poured into a Brian Urlacher souvenir cup
KB: It looks like you’re going to drink that and then solve an Agatha Christie-type mystery.
JC: That’s why the butler is getting all squirrely
KB: For my next pick, summer summer summertime: Paloma
AS: DAMMIT I shoulda known
JC: Excellent pick
AS: I thought I might be able to sneak that one in at the end
KB: Tart, incredibly fresh, the drink of hot weather.
AS: A great afternoon cocktail
Speaking of, I’m not going to pick this, but it’s worth sharing one of my favorite cocktail recipes (not one of my favorite cocktails—just the recipe):
Death in the Afternoon: “Pour one jigger absinthe into a Champagne glass. Add iced Champagne until it attains the proper opalescent milkiness. Drink three to five of these slowly.”
KB: Gotta respect a cocktail that might make you hallucinate or die.
AS: Thanks, Hemingway
JC: Weird to see that written not sarcastically at an MFA student
Well, we can thank him for that recipe, at least. Instructions as short story.
JC: For Sale, Absinthe Shoes, Never Worn
KB: And we’re back in gin territory with my next pick (we know The Takeout’s spirit of choice now): French 75
I love a cocktail with bubbles, is my explanation here.
It’s for when I want gin....but also bubbles, which is all the times.
JC: Gin & Bubbles: America’s most elegant cocktail magazine
AS: It’s such an elegant freakin’ drink
JC: The name is solid too, sounds like an international incident
“It was a simpler time, and we were happy, before the French 75 changed everything”
AS: Okay, I am going to stick with adding-things-to-bubbles territory and go with something that’s both basic and that dreaded word, Basic: the Mimosa
KB: wonderful choice
JC: Legend says the true mimosa has no bottom
AS: In a perfect world I would claim the beermosa alongside it but no one woman should have that much power
Apologies to the delightful Bloody Mary, but this is humanity’s finest excuse for day-drinking
KB: There we can disagree, but we are lucky to live in a world with both.
AS: Hear hear
JC: Mimosas and giant omelettes have killed so many Sunday afternoons
JC: For my first of two picks, first a beloved regional cocktail that also tells you how good a bar is: Pimm’s Cup
I have had many a delicious Pimm’s Cup on trips to the sweaty gym sock confines of New Orleans
AS: What a fun choice
KB: Oooo that is a wild one and I like it.
JC: A little citrus, a little spice, not too much of either. Honestly, I feel like this one gets a semi-bad rap because people will visit New Orleans and go to a place that’s “famous” for it and they’re just making it in five-gallon buckets in the back but when made with care, it’s a really delicious one
KB: TL;DR: Put Pimm’s on your bar cart, folks.
JC: Last one. Maybe I’m giving away votes here for going too simple
AS: Giving away votes is a Takeout draft tradition
JC: but a Cuba Libre rum with just a splash of Coke and fresh lime, the stepping stone into really getting into rum beyond a rail drink boot-and-rally way
A tasty drink that doesn’t require too much effort and made with a light enough hand, you’re not wasting mid-shelf rum
It’s just summer to me. And as a Midwesterner, I hold dear to any and all summer things
KB: So, a “better” rum and Coke?
JC: Basically. Like I said, just throwing votes back into the ocean, but the heart wants what it wants
AS: A good drink is a good drink
Okay, speaking of throwing votes away: I would like to briefly stand on a soapbox before I make my last pick to stump for the Penicillin, a real delight and something I very much want to but shall not pick. Please try this! It is good!
But like John said, the heart wants what it wants, so I’m going with the Hot Toddy
KB: Ooooooo yes, you were our hot toddy correspondent this winter!
AS: One of my favorite cocktails AND my favorite Old Wives’ Tales in one
it’s a ‘tail-’tale
JC: The Hot Toddy is the best part of being sick and disgusting
JC: Wish I had a hacking cough right now
KB: Congested and snotty? Whip up a hot toddy™!
AS: But even in perfect health, nothing better on a cold day when you’ve just walked in, covered in damp fabric
AS: Lots of variations but the plain, simple recipe is perfect
JC: Kate’s Mad Menning all our picks
“It’s not a Mai Tai... it’s a carousel” (tears up)
AS: Hahaha A+
KB: Alright, I’m bringing it home here with: Pisco Sour
Maybe the texture I love most next to bubbly cocktails is egg white cocktails, and pisco sour is my favorite of them all. Pisco is fruity, earthy, can be a little funky-weird, it’s got it all. The egg white smoothes everything out like a fuzzy blanket.
JC: Note to self: invent Fuzzy Blanket cocktail
AS: That was on my short list, too. I love a flip
JC: This was an excellent draft. I would drink all of these in one night
wake up on a riverbank
KB: Not advisable
Who won? Please vote now!