I guess it started with gin and tonics in university. Bombay, Schwepps and a squeeze of lime – lovely. Basic, yes. But, at the time, it was heralded (by me) as the perfect drink for summer quaffing.
My next cocktail epiphany occurred in a small bar somewhere in Monti – a neighborhood of Rome – when friends of mine ordered me what would turn out to be my favorite cocktail – the Negroni. The magical triad of gin, sweet vermouth and Campari was nothing I had had before. I bowed and worshiped at the altar of this astounding apéritif for years to come.
Then the cocktail “thing” began to happen in Ottawa. Cocktail movement? Nah, I’m with Jeffrey Morgenthaler – let’s call it the cocktail thing. Bars around Ottawa started to dig up the classic cocktails of yore and charge $14 for them. This was before my daughter arrived on the scene. This was a time when my wife and I had disposable income. A time when cinq à sept was a daily activity. We ate at fancy restaurants and drank fancy drinks. One of our favorite places to pull up a stool was at Murray St. Kitchen & Charcuterie. A fellow New Brunswicker was behind the stick at the time and single handedly introduced me to the craft cocktail. His name, of course, was Jeff Taylor. Jeff would mix, shake and stir us wonderful concoctions of his own making, incorporating infused spirits, savory reductions, and exotic (to me) liqueurs and amari. His libations were amazing and never disappointed.
Jeff moved on from Murray St., and so did I. I started to frequent the Moon Room at the south end of Preston in Little Italy. They take their cocktails seriously. I’ve never had a bad drink there; however, my thirst for these delicious delights resulted in some staggering bills at the end of the night.
Starswipe to a few years later and I am now a homeowner and a proud father of a rambunctious little girl closing in on 2 years old. Times have changed. I have responsibilities now. I can’t just be out all hours of the night, bent on becoming debauchery incarnate, waking up in a gutter covered in the fruits of my revelrous genius! No. That would be irresponsible. That would be negligent.
What was I to do? This question tolled deep in my mind like a portentous gong. But then it became clear. I didn’t need to go out into the night to get myself a decent drink! Heavens no! I could make them at home!
Which brings me here. My home bar has swelled to some sixty bottles. I possess fancy mixing glasses, spoons, shakers and the like. I have become a cocktail snob. My obsession is clear and disconcerting to some. Don’t even get me started on proper ice preparation and the importance of correct vermouth storage. What can I say? I have been told I have a bit of an “all-or-nothing” personality. It’s time to embrace it. Hence, this blog. I hope you enjoy my chronicles as the Paternal Drunk. Cheers.
– Matt Jardine