WE CONSIDER OURSELVES a pretty top shelf website, but sometimes, you can't drink top shelf. Maybe you're at a bar that just doesn't have the good stuff. Maybe someone else is buying. Or maybe you're in a band. See, most venues will give you drink tickets when you play, which are good for everything-- as long as it's on tap or below waist level.
What's a classy drinker to do under circumstances like this? There's a powerful argument for the sour drink at a time like this, but you have to know where you are. The Triple Rock Social Club has great sour mix, as does the Turf Club. First Ave and Seventh St. Entry? Pretty good. The Nomad's terrible when it comes to sour. Great at other things, like the Negroni, but their whiskey sours leave a lot to be desired.
There are a couple other tricks you can pull to make a drink made with rail liquor more appetizing. Knol Tate, of the bands Askeleton and Ela (and a veteran of many a drink ticket-fueled evening), makes any drink a "Tate" by asking for a lemon and a lime in it. The original "Knol Tate" is a whiskey sour with a lemon and a lime, but the other night at First Ave he was throwing back a "Tate Sunrise." By the way, you can totally order a "Knol Tate" at the Turf Club and they won't look at you funny.
Of course, you can always go with an amaretto sour, which is pretty much the candy of the gods. It's pretty hard to catch a buzz off of, given amaretto's relatively mild alcohol content, but damn if they're not tasty. Amaretto also varies a lot less between the top shelf variety (DiSaronno) and the lesser types. My co-editor, Max Sparber, turned me onto the amaretto Coke, which basically tastes like alcoholic Cherry Coke. It also works pretty well with Diet Coke, if you're watching your
Also great with Diet Coke are rum (get Malibu and ask for a lime to make a Diet Hawaiian, a drink I will stay lay claim to inventing, although I'll give Kevin Hunt credit for the name) and whiskey. Oddly, the combo of diet cola and whiskey provides a taste not unrelated to that of a Manhattan. My theory is that the diet cola (being less sweet than real cola) behaves more like bitters. Try it with a maraschino cherry and tell me I'm wrong.
One final tip: you might want to find out if the cola the bartenders are shooting out of that nifty little nozzle is completely off brand or just semi-generic. Bad diet cola in any drink can totally ruin it. (McPHERSON)