Our most significant discovery in our search for the ultimate cocktail is that, when lime juice is called for in a cocktail recipe, the Key lime is far superior to the Persian lime. Unfortunately the Persian lime is the one you are most likely to find in your local grocery store. Here's a little history of where the two varieties of lime come from.
Cranberry liqueur is one of those liqueurs that can be great with a bit of tartness or way too sweet. We've never been happy with the commercial brands but since the Cosmopolitan has been one of our favorite holiday drinks, we've been searching for a cranberry liqueur recipe that fits the bill. Kathy shares a recipe we discovered at a family gathering in Montana.
Not every recipe that we tried made it to our top shelves. In the interest of science, preventing unnecessary loss of brain cells, and avoiding the waste of good alcohol, here's what didn't make it. (All of the recipes we tried are from the book The New Cocktail Hour.) Perhaps it is due to our own particular taste, perhaps the quality of the fruit we used was not at its best, or possibly, in the words of the Randy Newman song: "Maybe I'm Doing It Wrong."
Here's a tour of the cocktail recipes on our two top shelves. We give a little of the history of each drink and where it came from. The tour starts with the oldest and simplest of the drinks, the Whiskey Sour. By changing one ingredient at a time we try to show the evolution of the drink recipes and how they are connected. While putting the tour together we discovered that there's only a fairly small number of different ingredients in all of the drinks on our top shelves. This helps to sort the chaos of a random pile of recipes, each with a funny name, into some semblance of order and progression.