By Paul Nelson

I was helping a group of colleagues host a happy hour at an annual collegial event earlier this week.  They asked me to bartend and left the choice of libations up to me. Remembering the same event two years earlier, I knew that the most popular alcohol of choice by far had been rye and bourbon whiskey, so I decided to limit the menu to drinks with those as the main base. One option that I added to the list is one I’ve made before but have never been terribly impressed with – the mint julep.

By Paul Nelson

Christians have the Bible. Aspiring singers have The Great American Songbook. Bartenders have a cluster of drinks that never go out of style. Being able to offer one effortlessly and quickly demonstrates that you’ve done your homework. You can do more than just pour Coca Cola and Jack Daniels into a glass over ice. There’s nothing wrong with a Jack and Coke, mind you, but some occasions call for a bit of class, a bit of savoir faire.

Enter the Manhattan. Simple. Classy. Timeless.

By Paul Nelson

Last week, you made the pisco sour, a drink that utilizes the white of an egg to create a thick, foamy topping on the drink. Technically, the pisco sour qualifies as a flip, a variety of mixed drink that utilizes all or part of an egg. The term flip is a bartending adjective dating back to the mid-19th century, and there are any number of variations because there are all sorts of potential liquors to work with. The egg adds thickness and creaminess to the drink.

By Paul Nelson

The Harvey Wallbanger was popularized in the disco era along with other drinks that were sweet, colorful, easy to make, and easy to drink. According to tradition, it originated in the Los Angeles area in the 1950s, named after a surfer with the last name Harvey. You might meet people who poo-poo the drink because of the era it was popularized in or because the flavors are basic and anything but subtle. Lots of people have opinions about drinks. Ignore them. Don’t apologize for what you like to drink or what the people you’re making drinks for like to drink. If it isn’t cool, hip, organic, or whatever, get over it. Sometimes being a rebel and standing out from the crowd simply means continuing to do what others have done for generations.

By Paul Nelson

Last week, we started off with a basic liquor (whiskey or rum) mixed with Coca-Cola (never Pepsi, remember?). Now you want to do something a little more interesting, right? You want to create a real cocktail, not just one of the most popular drinks in the world. How about you take that rum and Coke you made last week and squeeze ¼ of a lime into it. Voila—you just created the classic cocktail Cuba Libre, which adds a touch of class and elegance to the whole affair, doesn’t it?

By Paul Nelson

– The Jagged Word has done it again, we went out and got ourselves our very own bartender! Cheers! –

I have been invited to provide the Jagged Mafia with a weekly cocktail recipe. The fact that I’m an ordained minister as well as a licensed bartender should explain my interpretation of the Biblical stance on alcohol. It should also indicate my level of trust in pension plans and Social Security, but hey, that’s really another blog post all together. In the realm of distilled alcoholic beverages, my exegesis is: God made them possible. Let’s enjoy them responsibly.