As the summer continues its course through the calendar year, cocktails hit the peak of their demand. Cocktails are one of the best beverages to cool off with under the hot summer sun. It is not just that they are over ice. It is the combination of all the ingredients working together to wake you up and tease the senses during the hot day or night. It is not a coincidence that most well-known cocktails were invented in hot and tropical places: Mojito in Cuba, Daiquiri in Miami, Caipirinia in Brazil Piña Colada in Puerto Rico… the list goes on!
In 1948 when David A. Embury was publishing the book “The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks” little he knew it will become a classic cocktail book, praised 70 years later. The book attempted to put an order to the mess of the cocktails and all the different mixed drinks that right after the end of the second World War became a growing trend. He laid down a few simple rules and concepts that can be a guide, a compass for every bartender. The peak era of the cocktails was in the 60s. The Rat Pack and James Bond made cocktails cool. And then came the 70’s. The Dance floor was steamy hot. The dancers need to cool down and get energy. Slowly the Martini and the Manhatan gave their place to neon colored sissified drinks.The 90s came along and Jazz, Blues and the Funk all became popular again. And just like a whole new generation was rediscovering the music, the cocktails became popular again. The bartenders gave up the colorful drinks for tasteful drinks. The globalization brought in the scene new high proof alcohols and more exquisite flavors. Suddenly David A. Embury’s book was rediscovered. The old copies skyrocketed to hundreds of dollars. It went back in press. David did not dictate, he suggested. He suggested 5 simple rules.
This is the third recipe that has a special meaning. It is from my island in Greece the glorious island of Crete, and even more specifically from my Home town, the town of Ierapetra ( Ιεράπετρα ) that literally translates as Hollystone. Crete is most known for the agriculture and farming, ranging from olive oil, vegetables and wine to animal farming (sheep and goats) and fishing. It is in a way self sustained island. The wine industry although not well developed is responsible for a great by product. All the leftover grape mush after the juice is extracted. This waste is converted to one of the most celebrated distilled spirit of Crete tsikoudia (τσικουδιά) or raki after the turkish version of another distilled spirit. One difference with all the other spirits? It is never mixed, not even with ice. Always straight, never in a cocktail. Well things are about to change. I just made a perfect cocktail based on the same techniques of all the classic cocktails.