Iíve been known to tie one on in my youth, but the appreciation of keeping my few remaining brain cells in good health and my inability to withstand hangovers has lead me to a life altering outlook on consuming alcohol. I no longer Ďtie one oní and simply enjoy a good drink or glass of wine with dinner nowadays. I rarely have more than two, and maybe once a year wake up feeling the texture of burnt cotton in my mouth and find myself unable to move from the couch for a day and half after a long night of swilling booze. That one day and a half is usually enough of a reminder to why I donít party anymore and holds me over for a year or so. (if I could just figure out how to avoid wine hangovers now, I'd be set)

It must have been about six years ago when I first stumbled into a Ďmartini barí that Iíd snubbed my power drinking nose at numerous times before. Iím not sure what inspired me to sit down at that bar and order my first Cosmopolitan, but it was good, real good, and Iíve been trying my hand at different drinks ever since. But I rarely write down the recipe and figured what the heck, Iíve been told by all my friends that Iím a pretty good mixologist and should open a bar, so I figured Iíd keep track of them here. And as a bonus, maybe some of you had some dandy comboís youíd like to share. Thereís already a beer thread and a wine thread, might as well have a cocktail thread.

Instead of simply jotting down a bunch of recipes right now, Iím going to start off with some basic drink mixing techniques so you all know what Iím talking about and will add recipes later.

Iím not about to argue with those strict classic martini lovers that think a martini is only gin or vodka and a little vermouth. The name martini has become commonplace with any mixed drink that you strain into a martini glass without ice. For the sake of this thread, Iím calling strained drinks that I pour into a martini glass, some sort of martini.

I like to infuse vodka. By doing so, it seems to Ďmellowí out the bite at the same time as adding a subtle flavor to the vodka. I prefer to infuse my own verses buying the new types of infused vodka ready to go. What you get at the store has sweetener added to it; it tastes and sells better with sweetener added. Plus, I add my own type of sweetener, so I donít buy them pre infused. Itís pretty simple and I recommend anyone give it a try. You can infuse anythingÖ..pepper, jalapenos (no kiddin), fruit, vegetables, spices, etcÖ. All you do is cut up a piece of fruit or anything else and drop it in an air tight container with your favorite bottle of vodka. Wait 48 hours; strain it and your done. Iíll mention a few drinks that have some type of infuse vodka in them.

While talking about vodka, my favorite is Finlandia. Iíve tried them all (literally) and find that Finlandia is the smoothest vodka for under $25 a ltr. Some of the others like Grey Goose, Kettle One and the rest of those high priced bottles are as smooth, but most definitely not worth the money to me. Especially if itís going to be mixed. All my vodka drinks are made with Finlandia.

I also use Crown Royal quite a bit with mixed drinks. It can be bought for under $25 a ltr and mixes with just about anything. I also like it straight up or on the rocks, but for those whisky drinking moods, I prefer Pendletonís over Crown Royal (Pendletons is one of the best deals in a bottle that I've found). All my mixed whisky drinks have CR. Itís not too sweet, too harsh, too much of anythingÖitís just right.

Bourbon on the other hand is entirely different. Iíve got several bourbon drinks with all sorts of different brands of bourbon.

For the drinks with Gin in them, I use Bombay Sapphire. There really is a difference when it comes to Gin. While itís definitely not my favorite drink, a little bit of Gin can make a heck of a difference in the overall taste of a drink. Sapphire is by far the best Gin that Iíve ever tried. Before you get all weird'ed out over gin, give it a try. Youíll be surprised.

Iím not a Scotch drinker. It all tastes like potting soil to me. Iíve tried it and tried some that goes for $500 a bottle. I like none of it. YukÖ..

I donít stir drinks, I shake them. The real trick to a good martini is making it cold. Even a bad one tastes good if itís really cold. I shake for a count of 20, no less. The shaker should have frost on it before you pour. I also donít mess around with little glasses either. I use a short pint glass (12 oz) and a regular old stainless mixer that the short pint glass nestles into. With ice, they hold about 8 oz of liquid, which is just right for me and fills a 9 oz martini glass just perfectly. Iím not real sure what their Ďrealí name is, but they are what you get at most of the pubs when you order a draft of micro brew. Iíve tried numerous fancy shaped, insulated pretty shakers with strainers and they all suck. They either leak, stick together so you canít get them apart or come apart while shakingÖ The regular old stainless Manhattan shaker that you see in any bar is what I use. They work, forever. When I mix the drinks, I fill the glass all the way with ice, add the booze and mixer, shake and pour.

Seeing how itís too time consuming and messy to measure quantities, I go by parts. IE: one part this, two parts that, one part this. So when I reference Ďpartsí, that what I mean. The parts all equal the whole. Just guestimate it.

I use a sweat and sour mix for several of my drinks and I make my own S/S mixer. Itís two parts lime juice, one half part lemon juice, one half part simple syrup, one half part triple sect, one half part vodka, mandarin oranges, cherries, cherry juice. I let all this infuse for a couple days, strain and squeeze/crush the juice from the fruit and then keep it in the fridge. With the vodka and triple sect, itís only about 20 proof, so it does well as a mixer without diluting the overall alcohol content of the drink. When mixing drinks by shaking with ice, about half the ice melts anyway, so the drink is already diluted. You may prefer it sweeter, but try this mix first. If you want it sweeter, just add more syrup until it has the right combination of sweet and sour. Also, you may want to add some cherry syrup (coffee flavouring works very well).

So, is there any interest in this sort of thread? If so, Iíll add a few drinks as time permits. If not, I might anyway.