Monday, June 11, 2012

Accessories That Make The Man: Swizzles

Recently, I was drinking tequila cocktails (see my previous post) with the Consultant and the Banker. Our conversation, as many of mine are apt to do, began to focus on men’s style. What was most interesting to me about the conversation was that the Consultant does not work in a fashionable industry, lives in a far more conservative city than I, and is also a few years younger. Nonetheless, we were discussing the virtues of a proper-fitting suit, surgeon cuffs, pocket squares (a definite subject of a future post), colored socks, and other accessories as routinely as three guys discussing the morning’s baseball scores.  At times, even the Banker jumped in to show off his horological knowledge as naturally as if agreeing that Yankees are overpaying for their pitching roster.  The conversation confirmed that we really are living in a sartorial revolution. One in which a man takes pride in his appearance and is not afraid to display aplomb, much less discuss the pros and cons of brogues vs. monk straps with friends.  Indeed, shows such as Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire, Suits, and others have given guys the “green light” to dress well and, as evidenced by this very blog, discuss clothing and style in social settings.

An exciting part about this revolution is the ability to break out of the traditional suit/tie or jeans/shirt mold. A man can now wear—without apologies—accessories that add a bit of peacock flair to his outfit. Whether it be a tie bar, a collar pin, a vest, a pocket watch, flamboyant cufflinks, or colored socks (as opposed to the boring gold toe all black version), we now have an excuse to stock up on these sartorial accessories.  We can proudly wear a pair of off-white oxfords with a navy suit in the summer or green captoes at night with jeans.  Indeed, you can and should be searching for those accessories that, while you may not wear every day, you don on those occasions when you want to subtly stand out for having a rakish quality. These, after all, are the details that separate the men from the boys and communicate that you are not a man to be taken lightly, much less crossed.

The cocktail accessory equivalent is the swizzle stick. Unless you work in a tiki bar, it is likely a tool that you won’t use every day, but when you do…wow, what a difference!

As the name implies you use a swizzle stick to swizzle (thus, creating swizzle cocktails), which is not the same as stirring or shaking. A swizzle stick originally came from the Swizzlestick Tree (Quararibea turbinata), which grows in the Caribbean.  Branches from the Swizzlestick tree grow so that the twigs diverge from each other at close to a 90 degree angle, similar to a star burst. The branches are cut and whittled down to create a long handle with an end that has 5 or 6 “spokes.”  These days you can also find a plastic swizzle stick (which is basically useless) or ones cut from bamboo.

To swizzle, build a drink in a glass full of crushed ice. Insert the stick so that the “spokes” are at the bottom of the glass (you may need to twirl the stick a few times to work it through the ice).  Spin the stick back and forth as fast as you can by rubbing your hands together with the handle in between them.  Move the stick up and down in the glass as you twirl. As the drink “swizzles” and gets colder, frost will appear on the outside of the glass.  When the glass is frosted, your drink is ready. Start with these simple swizzle cocktails:

Rum Swizzle
3 oz El Dorado Demerara Rum
.75 oz Lime Juice
.5 oz Simple Syrup(I use Demerara sugar to pair with the rum)
3 Dashes Angostura Bitters
.25 oz. Falernum Syrup
Fresh Mint

***Swizzle the ingredients (except the mint) until frosted. Garnish with the fresh mint.

Bourbon Swizzle
2 oz. Bourbon
1.5 oz. Lime Juice
1 tsp. Sugar
2 Dashes of Bitters
Club Soda

***Swizzle the ingredients (except the club soda) until frosted. Fill the glass with the club soda and garnish with a lime wedge.

Backyard Swizzle
1.5 oz. Reposado tequila (Any good quality reposado will suffice.)
1 oz. pear puree (puree 2 pears, 2 Tbsp sugar and 2 Tbsp water in a blender)
.5 oz. lemon Juice
2 small slices Thai chili peppers
4-5 grilled pineapple chunks
3 dashesAngostura Bitters

***Swizzle the ingredients (except the peppers and pineapple) until frosted. Garnish with chili pepper and pineapple chunks.

A swizzle cocktail is not something that you will drink on every occasion. But on a hot summer evening, when you pull out your swizzle stick, your guests will know that you are a true bon vivant.

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