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Ask A Bartender: What Is The Cheapest Ingredient In A Cocktail?

Friday, June 26, 2015

 

Don't mistake fear for cowardice. Don't mistake confronting fears for conquering them.

Don’t be afraid of fear. Though new age types like to vilify it as somehow opposed to love, fear is a crucial part of the creative process when it comes to making art and living our lives. Specifically when it comes to making cocktails, the fear of loss should be our driving motive. The purpose of any bar should be to make the finest product available at a reasonable value. Due to the almost infinite variety of ways things can go wrong, we need to make informed decisions before we mess up. We need to take advantage of the people before us that experimented. However much I detest the proverb: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” (mostly because of the incorrect grammar) it still makes much more sense than the more recent and prevalent: “Why ask why?” There are a myriad of reasons why we should ask why. Especially when precious product is at risk. 

This doesn’t mean don’t try new things. When you do try new things, question everything. Ask why you think this will work before you try it out. Conceptualize it. Categorize every ingredient you plan to use and ask why they will compliment each other. Don’t just blindly pour booze into a mixing tin and hope for a miracle. An experienced bartender will create something passable almost every time. But passable isn’t a good enough excuse to waste booze. Be frugal and question everything. Including your motives. Visualize how the drink will taste before you make it. 

Use a jigger, a notepad and a pencil. Then take tasting notes. Speed and flair our important in a service but if somebody wants you to do something new, you need to put those attributes in the backseat. Apprehension and doubt may not be the sexiest qualities in a bartender, but they are necessary. This is applicable when cutting off service to a belligerent costumer and it’s applicable to experimentation. This takes finesse. Finesse is infinitely more important than flair. It always has been and it always will be. 

I took a month off drinking (starting just a couple days ago) and in my head I have been thinking about nothing but cocktails. I’ve been mulling over one particular drink for the past couple days and the more I visualize it, the more real it becomes. Aside from the alcohol, there are three ingredients: juice of lime, the juice from brandied cherries and ice. I haven’t decided if the ice is going to be crushed yet or if the drink will be served up, but I’m leaning towards crushed. I have a whole 28 days to think about it and perfect the drink in my head. 

This may seem like overkill, and maybe the drink will turn out as just a slightly improved variation of a classic. But a slight improvement is still an improvement. I look forward to trying it but I also enjoy thinking about it. The build up may not be the fun part but it will magnify the experience of making it and tasting it. 

The truth is, I’m afraid to try it, especially now that I’m writing about it. What if it’s not as good as I think it will be? That’s why I have to think more about it. That’s why I have to make the drink in my head over and over again before I do it physically. 

I’m terrified of a lot of things – just about everything. And the more I think about them, the more terrified I become. I’ll never avoid doing something I want to do because I’m terrified. Instead, I’ll stew over how to do it right. Or how I think I can do it right. The idea that fear should be taken out of the equation for trying something new is ludicrous. Fear goes hand in hand with experimentation. It’s more important to do things properly than it is to try new things. 

When making a cocktail, start with the least expensive ingredient and gradually work up in cost. The cheapest ingredient, even before the lime and the cherry juice, is your own fear and apprehension. Use it liberally.  

 

Related Slideshow: 20 Fun Things To Do In Portland This Summer

20 Fun Things To Do In Portland This Summer

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Portland Thunder

One of Portland’s newest franchises will be continuing with their season through the summer. The Portland Thunder is an indoor arena football team that completed their inaugural season last year. To the surprise of many, they ended up making the playoffs during the 2014 season. This summer will be extremely important if they have hopes of returning to the playoffs.

Moda Center, 1 Center Court, Portland., March 27th-Aug 8th. Tickets $20-$135. For more information click HERE.

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World Naked Bike Ride

The naked bike ride has drawn more than 8,000 participants in past years. Hopefully, this year is no different. If you’re comfortable bearing it all, feel free to come out and join in on this annual bike ride. The only stipulation is that you need to wear as little clothing as possible. Obviously helmets, shoes and pads are encouraged, but after that it’s entirely up to you.

Colonel Summers Park, S.E. 17th Ave. & S.E. Taylor St., Portland., Sat. June 27th. This is a free event. For more information click HERE.

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Mississippi Street Fair

One of the city’s biggest street fairs will be returning to Portland this summer. The Mississippi Street Fair will be on N. Mississippi Avenue from N. Fremont to N. Skidmore. Guests can expect over 200 vendors, 40 plus bands, dunk tanks and beer and wine gardens.

N. Mississippi Avenue from N. Fremont to N. Skidmore., 10am-9pm Sat. July 11th. This is a free event. For more information click HERE.

Photo via Mississippi Street Fair Facebook Page (image cropped)

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Sand In The City

This year will mark the 20th Anniversary of Yoshida’s Sand in the City. At this event corporate teams are matched with the design expertise of local architectural firms. Each team will then receive training and support as they prepare for the July sand castle competition. 100% of the proceeds will go directly back into the community. Last year, five charities received grants totaling $114,000. It will prove to be a must-see summer showdown!

Pioneer Courthouse Square, 701 SW 6th Ave, Portland., Fri-Sun. July 17th-19th. This is a free event. For more information click HERE.

Photo via Sand In The City Facebook Page (image cropped)

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Cathedral Park Jazz Fest.

The Cathedral Park Jazz Festival is the West’s largest and oldest free celebration of jazz and blues. Not only will the evening be filled with great music, but also amazing scenery. 

Cathedral Park, N. Edison St and Pittsburg Ave Portland., Fri-Sun. July 17th-19th. This is a free event. For more information click HERE.

Photo via Cathedral Park Jazz Festival Facebook Page (image cropped)

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Oregon Brewers Festival

The month of July is considered to be Oregon Craft Beer Month. In lieu of this the Oregon Brewers Festival will be at the Waterfront on July 22nd through July 26th. In the past, this five-day event has brought in over 85,000 attendees and around 86 breweries.

Waterfront Park, SW Naito Pkwy, Portland., Wed-Sun. July 22nd-July 26th. Tickets $7. For more information click HERE.

Photo via Oregon Brewers Festival Facebook Page (image cropped)

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PDX Pop Now

This independent music festival will feature over 50 local artists within a 2-day period. This festival, which has been going on since 1998, was created in order to create a connection between Portland-based artists and their audiences. The best part is that this event if free!

AudioCinema, 226 SE Madison, Portland., 12pm-1am Fri-Sun. July 24th-26th. This is a free event. For more information click HERE.

Photo via PDX Pop Now Facebook Page (image cropped)

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Flicks On The Bricks

This year, Flicks on the Bricks will be returning to Pioneer Courthouse Square. On five consecutive Fridays between July and August there will be a free movie shown on Portland’s largest outdoor screen. To make this movie night even better there will also be free popcorn. If you need to unwind under the stars be sure to come check out Flicks on the Bricks.

Pioneer Courthouse Bricks, 701 Southwest 6th Avenue, Portland., Fri. July 24th and 31st and August 7th, 14th and 21st. This is a free event. For more information click HERE.

Photo via Flicks On The Bricks Facebook Page (image cropped)

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Train, The Fray and Matt

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Sleep Country Ampitheater, 17200 NE Delfel Road Ridgefield, Washington., 7pm Fri. July 24th. Tickets $25-$79.50. For more information click HERE.

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Rip City 3-On-3

Attention all ballers! Rip City 3-on-3 will be making their second annual appearance at the Moda Center this July. Those who wish to get a team together can participate in this 3-on-3 tournament. Other activities will include a slam-dunk contest, 3-point shootout and a skills competition. If you would like to compete don’t forget to register ahead of time.

Moda Center, 1 Center Court, Portland., Sat and Sun. July 25th and 26th. For more information click HERE.

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Festival of Balloons

Get down to Cook Park, located in Tigard, on June 26th through the 28th in order to participate in the annual Festival of Balloons. Although balloons highlight this event, there will also be plenty of other activities for the entire family to enjoy. The money raised from this event will go toward non-profit groups in Tigard.

Cook Park, 17005 SW 92nd Avenue Tigard., 5:45am-5pm Fri-Sun. July 26th-28th. Tickets in advance $5, the day of $7. For more information click HERE.

Photo via Festival of Balloons Facebook (image cropped)

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Wicked

The hit Broadway musical, Wicked, will be in Portland for 2 weeks. This musical tells the story of what happened in the Land of Oz before the arrival of Dorothy. Oz has won 50 major awards, including 3 Tony Awards and a Grammy.

Keller Auditorium, 222 SW Clay Portland., Aug 5th-23rd. Tickets $30-$175. For more information click HERE.

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Bite of Oregon

During the first weekend of August the 32nd annual Bite of Oregon will be at the Waterfront Park. This event will feature food from local chefs and food vendors. The money that is raised from this event will also help support Special Olympics Oregon. 

Waterfront Park, SW Naito Pkwy, Portland., Fri-Sun. Aug 7th-9th. Tickets in advance $5, the day of $6. For more information click HERE.

Photo via Bite of Oregon Facebook (image cropped)

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Providence Bridge Pedal

Have you ever wanted to be the first one to cross a bridge before it opens? Well, this event may be for you! On Sunday, August 9th the Providence Bridge Pedal will be taking a trip across Tilikum Crossing. The Tilikum Crossing is a new bridge that is expected to open in September 2015. Participants will have the opportunity to walk or bike during this event.

SW Naito Parkway and Salmon Street., 6:45am Sun. Aug 9th. Tickets $25-$30. For more information click HERE. 

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Kelly Clarkson

The original winner of American Idol will be making a stop in Portland in mid-August. The Piece By Piece Tour will include songs from her latest album, as well as some of her classic hits. Pentatonix will also be accompanying Clarkson on this leg of the tour.

Moda Center, 1 Center Court Portland., 7pm Mon. August 10th. Tickets $29.50-$99.50. For more information click HERE.

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Adult Soapbox Derby

How does acting like a kid for the day sound? Well, you’ll have that opportunity on August 15th. Adults who have designed and assembled their own soapboxes can compete against other soapbox racers. This race will take place down Mt. Tabor. Prizes for speed, engineering, fan-favorites and lifetime achievement will be handed out as well.

Mt. Tabor Park, SE 60th Ave & SE Salmon St, Portland., Sat. Aug 15th. This is a free event. For more information click HERE.

Photo via Adult Soapbox Derby Facebook (image cropped)

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MusicFestNW

MusicfestNW will be occurring on the Waterfront from August 21st through the 23rd. Throughout this music-filled weekend there will be around 20 artists who will be taking the stage. The weekend will officially kick off with Foster The People.

Waterfront Park, SW Naito Pkwy, Portland., Fri-Sun. Aug 21st-23rd. Tickets $45-$300. For more information click HERE. 

 

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Ariana Grande

The former Nickelodean star will be gracing the city of Portland with her presence this summer. The Honeymoon Tour will be her second headlining tour as a solo artist. Many critics have compared her voice to Mariah Carrey, but we’ll let the city of Portland be the judge of that.

Moda Center, 1 Center Court Portland., 7:30pm Fri. Sept 4th. Tickets $29.50-$69.50. For more information click HERE.

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Portland Timbers

Portland has been considered to be “Soccer City USA” since 1975. With the Timbers having some of the best players in the world there’s no better time to go and check out these clubs. Let’s prove to the country that we truly are “Soccer City USA.”

Providence Park, 1844 SW Morrison St, Portland., January 31st-Oct 25th. Tickets $24-$80. For more information click HERE.

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Portland Thorns

Although a few key players are in Canada competing in the Women’s World Cup, the Thorns are still a formidable team. With the season about halfway over, now is a crucial time for the team if they expect to make the post-season.

Providence Park, 1844 SW Morrison St, Portland., March 21st-Sept 4th. Tickets $10.50-$90. For more information click HERE.

 
 

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