While a lot of the things we do are far from simple, I am continually reminded of something I learned during my brief career as a recording engineer: you can’t polish a turd. In recording terms, we were taught that no matter how expensive your gear, if the source isn’t any good, the product won’t be either. The further you get from the source, the less important the means is. If I sang into a $5000 microphone and that went into a $10,000 tube amp plugged into a $500,000 mixer and kissed it with a state-of-the-art reverb plug in, I am 100% confident it will sound horrible, since the source (me) has a horrible, horrible voice. On the other hand, I heard once that that Ray Charles could sing without monitor speakers (meaning he had to sing about a half-second ahead of the sound coming out of the speakers to the crowd). Recently, Billy Joel spontaneously granted a young music student’s wish to perform with him and both musicians sounded fine. It always impresses me when an artist needs little to no equipment, accompaniment, or manipulation to make good music. Drinks are the same… while it’s fun to tweak cocktails with barrel-aging, smoke, spherification, homemade soda, or god-knows-what else, it’s imperative that you can make great drinks with a few good quality ingredients. Plus it’s nice to be able to fix something at home in a few seconds after a long day.
2 oz. good quality white rum
1 oz. fresh squeezed lime juice
1 oz. sugar
Stir the sugar in the lime juice in a dry shaker until it’s dissolved. Add rum and ice, shake, and strain into a cocktail glass.
2 oz. good quality spirit (yes, this works for pretty much any main spirit)
1 sugar cube
3 shakes bitters of your choice
orange peel, white pith removed
Shake bitters onto sugar in an empty rocks glass. Add the orange peel after expressing its oil onto the sugar and sweep it against the rim of the glass. Use a spoon or muddler to dissolve the sugar onto the orange peel; feel free to use a few drops of water. Add spirit, drink.