Look, breaking up is never easy, I know (and dear Muddlers, at least some of you will now have an ABBA song on repeat in your heads so you’re welcome), but it may be time for Shake, Stir, Muddle to move on.
The International Bartenders Association, which has provided the official list of cocktails that SSM has based several years of research from (after an admittedly half-arsed and somewhat arbitrary decision back in the early days of SSM), has been throwing up some red flags for a while.
We’ve all had those relationships where we turn a bit of a blind eye to some of the more “charming” aspects of the other party. You know, the daggy website, the insistence on maintaining a Flairtending Award several decades after that has been put to death in most good bars, that sort of thing.
But the biggest of these red-flags is that the IBA may not actually know what a cocktail is.
Oh I’m sure if I threw two ingredients at them – say gin and tonic – they would be able to differentiate between a mixed drink and a cocktail. The G&T – a truly magnificent alcoholic drink and possibly the cornerstone of civilisation – is worthy of cult status, but a cocktail it ain’t.
See, while two ingredients can indeed make a cocktail, it is only if they are both alcoholic.
Otherwise, it’s a mixed drink.
Like this week’s offering which, not only does the IBA incorrectly classify as a cocktail, but it actually categorises it as an Unforgettable, joining the Martini, the Old Fashioned, the Negroni and more than two dozen other actual important cocktails on that list.
But the Screwdriver – an adolescent combination of one part vodka to two parts orange juice – surely, surely has no place on this list?
And yet, the IBA insists.
So, until such time as we officially break up with the IBA, SSM is honour-bound to review it.
So there, it is. Vodka and orange. Whoopty-doo.
It seems to have been around since just after WWII, although how its “invention” could possibly have been held off for this long is beyond me.
One cool(ish) story is that oil rig workers in the Persian Gulf found the work hot and that some wowsers deemed that super-dangerous work (watch Bruce Willis in 1998’s classic film Armageddon to gain an expert knowledge in deep sea oil stuff) should probably be done sober, so they started drinking “Orange juice” which they stirred with the only bar tool handy – a Screwdriver.
If you like Orange Juice, you’ll like a Screwdriver. That’s why so many under-age drinkers favour the Screwdriver (and I was one of them).
I’m not even going to give you a picture of one. The very best Screwdriver looks like a glass of OJ.
The sole remaining interesting fact about the Screwdriver is that if you can master it, you are but one dash of Galliano away from nailing another IBA cocktail – the Harvey Wallbanger.
The three-ingredient Harvey Wallbanger does indeed qualify for cocktail status and the IBA has included it in Contemporary Classics.
Where does the name Harvey Wallbanger come from? Well that’s disputed, but most likely it joins last week’s actual cocktail, the Alexander, in having marketers to thank for its prominence. In this case, the importers of Galliano, the sweet bright yellow Italian liqueur found in some other questionable IBA cocktails such as the Yellow Bird and Golden Dream, both of which SSM is girding our collective loins before reviewing.
They wanted a cool, laidback surfer dude to advertise the drink and someone dubbed him Harvey Wallbanger. So it’s about as glamorous as Rhonda and Ketut.
From the Screwdriver and the Harvey Wallbanger, a world of mediocre cocktails is just a step and a 1970s sly wink at your bartender away.
Take your Screwdriver and substitute vodka for Sloe Gin and you get a Slow Screw (geddit?).
Take your Slow Screw and add some Southern Comfort (which is actually changing its century-old recipe this year to include actual whiskey instead of whiskey flavouring) and you have a Slow Comfortable Screw (seeing the pattern here yet?).
And add Galliano – our old friend from the Harvey Wallbanger – to your mix and you can ask your bartender for a Slow Comfortable Screw Against the Wall.
The variations on this theme are disappointingly numerous.
But given I’m contemplating ending a relationship, I’m going to have to think seriously over a good drink.
And sure, at 11am tomorrow if I’m still in need of a drink, I’ll turn to some navel-gazing, and pour myself a Screwdriver (unlikely, but possible), but otherwise, I’ll opt for a cup of tea, a proper cocktail or just stick to mixed drinks that have the courage to be unashamedly who they are and stop screwing with the cocktail list.