The sad tale of the modern cocktail
By Helena Young
Perhaps it’s the influence of shows like Sex and the City, but the suggestion of ‘going for cocktails’ has always seemed to evoke an image of fine dining. It’s presented as a ‘classier’ alternative to the English pub, where women wear impractically lengthy gloves, and smartly dressed bartenders twirl exotic looking instruments.
Of course, this is an extremely idealised image and via more down-market places like The Font, or Turtle Bay, cocktail bars have thankfully become associated with a more ‘jeans and t-shirt’ style of establishment. Unfortunately, along with this new budget aesthetic, has arrived an increasingly sub-standard product.
It is time for the glass to shatter — cocktails are no longer our friends. They have become overpriced, fake alcohol; hidden behind mint leaves, pun-filled names, and novelty coasters. They entice us with the promise of cheap spirits, mis-sold in a 2 for 1 deal that’s really 100ml of juice and enough ice to take down the Titanic.
This problem is particularly apparent when you’re living in a student area. Wetherspoons, for example, offers an £8 pitcher of Long Island Iced Tea, the ultimate saver deal. That is until you take the first sip, which in my personal opinion feels like you’re drinking watered down syrup with added lemon juice.
Of course, you get what you pay for, and no one really expects to get drunk from a £6 Mojito. But it’s time we stopped defiling the cocktail name with, what is essentially, a glorified smoothie. Time we, at long last, banned menus advertising ‘Mocktails’, which essentially boast the same meagre percentage as their supposedly alcoholic counterparts.
The madness cannot continue. Let’s return to the days where we choked down our Daiquiris with a wince, a time when two cubes of ice were a step too far, and an Aperol Spritz was more Aperol than Spritz. Let’s rid the cocktail industry of its sour taste, and give it a much-needed top up.