Friday, July 9, 2010

Friday Happy Hour: the Daisy

A few weeks ago in our tongue-in-cheek discussion about drinks for the "advanced" bartender, we came to the point that a lot of classic drinks are simply two or three ingredients thrown together in the right proportions. In that case, the point was that you (yes, you, too!) can be an accomplished home bartender. Another point to be drawn from that is today's Friday Happy Hour topic.

A very popular drink these days -- and it's a good one -- is a vodka soda. Or, often a so-called "Citron soda" made with Absolut Citron or any other infused vodka. They're light, refreshing -- it's a great drink. They're simple to make -- hence even an "advanced" bartender can master them.

These "soda" drinks have a forgotten ancestry. A "daisy" was a kind of drink that mixed a spirit (your choice), lemon or lime juice, grenadine or a sweet syrup, and topped it off with soda. Illustrated in the following recipes from our 1946 edition of the "Cocktail and Wine Digest" by Oscar Haimo:

Now, of course, this was from an era when no one was drinking vodka yet.
Maybe it was because of the Cold War or something. But, take that citrus from the lemon juice , imagine that it's calling for vodka, and you kind of have a Citron soda.
Here's a recipe for a gin daisy from our 1948 Fleishmann's Mixer's Manual:
So, a daisy is just as easy to make as your trusty old vodka soda, and it has such an interesting history behind it. Why not add this drink to your bag of tricks and trot it out whenever you have your friends over and one of them asks for a vodka soda or something along those lines? Suddenly you're an expert! Also, by now, maybe you're kind of understanding that a daisy is a perfect summer drink -- on the rocks, spirit and soda, citrus and sweetener, and some pretty garnishes thrown in. As they say, two is too many, three is never enough!
It's too bad that you can't walk into a bar and order a daisy, since this old war horse of a drink was put out to pasture years ago. It still has legs, though, and maybe she'll make another run. But next time you or a friend orders a vodka soda, and they serve it with a wedge of lemon or a twist, think of the daisy!

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