09 December 2013

How I Got Started Getting Into and Making Cocktails

Holding a Canadian Cocktail (from my video series)
A couple of years ago, while visiting some friends, I noticed a book in their apartment building's vestibule (as part of a pile of ownerless books) about cocktails.  Being on a trip (I was in NYC for the first of four sessions of the Rabbis Without Borders fellowship), I was looking for interesting reading material and my interest was piqued by seeing the book.  Part of my initial interest was seeing the cover of the book with its nostalgic look back at the perceived heyday of cocktails.  So, I picked it up and began to learn about the cultural   of cocktails in America, which was fascinating enough.
Now, I had not been new to alcohol prior to then, but I would have the occasional drink or beer, but I wasn't particularly knowledgeable about options (there are several times when I would go to bars with people and have no idea what sorts of drinks I should get). I got interested in and started liking wine in my young-20s after having seen Sideways with my family. In my mid-20s, during rabbinical school, I began to tolerate and even sort of like beer (well, more specifically, lagers). And I had some cocktails with my wife in my upper-20s (although she would advise me what to order, since I wouldn't know what to order (usually, she recommended an amaretto sour (which I enjoyed!)).
Holding a Caipirinha from my video series
When I began reading this cute cocktail book, one thing I read about was about the interest in it and how people were into them in the middle of the century and that although they had gone away in popularity,  they were making a comeback. I also realized that the instructions to make them were simple enough to manage,  so I decided I would take it up as a new hobby.
From November 2011 through April 2012, I explored cocktails as a passion and learned a lot not only about  , but also about making them.  This process included not only building a decently-sized liquor library, but also involved a lot of learning about the constituent elements of cocktails: spirits, liqueurs, as well as mixers.  
Then while leaving the last of the four sessions of Rabbis Without Borders, my colleagues wished me well in my cocktail-making and I wondered if there was a way that they could experience them in some way.  So, on the spot, I decided I would do a video project. The video project upon which I embarked was 30 Days of 30 Videos of 30 Cocktails by a 30-Year Old.  This project consisted of roughly six weeks of five cocktails each, with videos posted daily, Sunday through Thursday.  And it was great!  The project was very enjoyable for a number of reasons: 1) It was structured, 2) It forced me to learn how to make new cocktails (so there was an educational component to it), and 3) It got other people interested in what was going on with the cocktails :)
Once that concluded, I felt a few things: 1) I felt accomplished (in seeing the project through), 2) I felt glad to have had some more video experience, and 3) I felt relieved.  I felt relieved since I had experienced something I had never experienced before: the need to not drink.  My body was not used to consuming alcohol on either a daily basis or with such regularity (and with some videos being filmed twice in one night, I was consuming more alcohol than I was used to).  So, I was very glad/relieved that, shortly after completing my project, I then went away to staff a summer program at a dry camp for a few weeks!
My first-ever daiquiri (from video series)
Upon my return, while I enjoyed making cocktails, I realized that cocktail-making can be tedious just to get a drink and that bourbon was tremendously enjoyable on its own!  So, that fall, I frequently began to turn to bourbon when I wanted a drink rather than a cocktail.  Although I still make cocktails on occasion - especially if there are people over - my interest began turning towards bourbon late summer 2012.  Then, of course, my interest in beer last fall began to take off....  

We'll see how my interest in cocktails will continue....

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