Good drinks tell a story, and this is the story of those drinks. Each week, we'll be serving up a remedial cocktail lesson for bartending beginners to help you get the most out of your glass, with recipes, interviews, and histories coming right up.
Lesson 5: Sours and Daisies
In 1936, an Irish bartender in Tijuana was making a classic Daisy cocktail. Perhaps it was a Brandy Daisy, consisting of brandy, lemon and lime juice, a bit of sugar, grenadine, and a dash or two of carbonated water. Or maybe it was a Gin, Rum, or Whiskey Daisy, made by swapping the spirit and using the same recipe.
But, that one fateful day in Tijuana, the bartender grabbed a bottle of tequila by mistake. Yet his customer was so delighted by the accidental creation that he called for another, and soon his neighbors were asking for them too. They called them "margaritas," which is Spanish for "daisies." Or at least, that's how the legend goes.
It's no coincidence that the substitution worked: that's how daisies — and their close cousins sours — tend to operate. At the Mission's Trick Dog, which has just debuted a hokey and hilarious new Chinese menu, bartender Morgan Schick tells me that he often tries to break drink formulas only to realize later that he's totally followed them. The member of the Bon Vivants hospitality and bartending society says that, "I do this, and I tweak that, and then I really look at a drink and I realize, it's a fucking martini!"
Sours and daisies are descendants of punch: the difference, of course, is that punch is served "long" or in large quantities, but soon drinks were served "short" or by the glass. For that reason, fewer ingredients could fit in drinks, and so the formulas became simple and adaptable.
Sour = spirit + sweetener + citrus. The 1860s to the 1960s were the heyday of the drink, and surely you've seen a sour on menus as recently as the last time you hit the bar. A daiquiri? Just a sour with rum. Sometimes you'll notice egg white added to a Sour, as in the case of a classic Whiskey Sour.
To give the sour a little something extra, namely carbonated water, the daisy was born. Daisies are simply sours with that addition, giving the drink a bit of effervescent pep. And then from the basic Brandy Daisy (sugar, lemon, brandy, and soda water), you have the birth of the Sidecar, with the sweetener component replaced by Cointreau, adding another layer of liqueur and sophistication.
Then comes the almighty Cosmopolitan, the drink that launched a trillion and one girls nights out in the fashion of Carrie Bradshaw and the gang, and a drink that, arguably, helped singlehandedly stir (or shake) the cocktail renaissance of the last decade and a half. A Cosmo is basically a Vodka Daisy with a splash of cranberry juice, and Cointreau playing the sweetener role just like in a Sidecar.
Schick was good enough to share two excellent sour recipes with us, including the #5 on Trick Dog's new menu.
1.5 oz Old Grand Dad Bonded bourbon
.5 oz Ancho Reyes
.75 oz ginger mango syrup
.75 oz lemon juice
2 dashes angostura bitters
Shake and double strain over fresh ice. Garnish with mango cubes.
2 oz Tequila Ocho Reposado
.25 oz Campari
.5 oz grapefruit juice
.5 oz Cinnamon syrup
.75 oz lime juice
.75 oz egg white
Shake and strain onto fresh ice. Grate cinnamon over the top. Smile.