Wednesday, January 14, 2009

How a Cocktail Is Born . . . Quickly!

We were just in Kansas for the holidays when Tracy shouted, “Make me a cocktail.” Steve was in the throes of cooking something delicious, so his hands were tied. I looked at the bar and there lay a big bottle of Crown Royal. Okay, that would be my base spirit. I didn’t want to make a Manhattan—too spirituous for a crowd that was about to dig in to some good grub (roasted turkey with seasoned gravy, cranberry relish, creamy mashed potatoes, green beans with shallots and hazelnuts). So what else to make? I could make an Oriental (Steve just picked up some sweet vermouth and triple sec from the liquor store), but that would be too easy, I thought. Tracy wanted something new, but familiar. So why not a riff on an Oriental. Hm, how can I change it but not too much. I was dealing with the pressures of family in search of an immediate cocktail buzz. So into a mixing glass I poured 1 1/2 ounces of the blended Canadian whisky, and a half ounce each of triple sec, sweet vermouth, and lemon juice, plus a tiny wedge of Clementine, as a garnish (Steve’s mom had bought some lemons and Clementines for the occasion, so why not use them). I gave it a vigorous stir (there were no shakers in the house), plopped in the Clementine mini-wedge, and tasted it. Immediately I thought that it was too citrusy, so I added another 1/4 ounce of sweet vermouth, which helped the balance. Tracy then tried it and opined that the drink needed more booze, so back into the mixing glass with an extra 1/2 ounce of the Crown Royal. Voila! That did the trick, and it hit the spot too. Before I knew it, I had made four of them. We dubbed the drink a “Quick & Dirty,” on the spot, until Steve’s grandmother Dunie so astutely retorted, “I know why you call it ‘Quick,’ but what makes it ‘Dirty’?” Good question, we’d have to come up with another name, but more orders needed to be filled, and the crowd was thirsty. Three weeks later, we made the drink again, back home in Brooklyn, and the name “Occidental” popped into my head. Being a riff on an Oriental, and having been invented out West, the Occidental seemed like the perfect moniker for such a tasty drink that boasts sweet, sour, and bitter notes in every sip. Try one on the rocks, or up, and let us know what you think. Cheers to all, and Happy Happy New Year!

The Occidental
(created by Paul Zablocki, Cocktail Buzz)

2 ounces Canadian whiskey
3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
1/2 ounce triple sec
1/2 ounce lemon juice
small Clementine wedge, as garnish

Shake in ice for 15 seconds. Strain into ice-filled rocks glass. Squeeze garnish over drink and drop in.

A holiday feast.

Cousin Danny, enjoying a Sombrero.

Aunt Mary, Cousin Brian, and Sister Carol.

Uncle Joe shows you the easiest way to carve a turkey.

text by Paul Zablocki
photos © Steve Schul, Cocktail Buzz


  1. Awe, the home pics are great!! I'm real glad I got to see the place a few times before it gets sold! Their place always felt like 'home' when I visited via Oklahoma. Maybe some day our distant cousin paths will cross.

    I love the hard work you two do on your site! Best of luck!!! :) -Charles

  2. Thanks, Charles. We will really miss the farm. Hope to cross paths with you as well.
    Best, Steve and Paul


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