Young and Hungry

On Whipped Cream and Cocktails

I’ve heard of so many ridiculous cocktail combinations that it often barely registers, much like the hum of traffic outside of my apartment window. Truthfully, I count blue martinis and lemon drops as the checkout line of mixed drinks where an array of candy stands before the buyer and their exit. I like candy too, you know, but everything in its place.

Yet every now and then it’s worthy of a warning shot, if only to see if anyone realizes how utterly ridiculous these drinks really are and how humanity in its infinite advancement sometimes still drags its knuckles when it comes to quality imbibing, especially in restaurants. Is anyone else astounded that the very first thing you’re likely handed in a dining establishment is just plain crap?

Yesterday’s “Ask Tom” chat for the Washington Post Online lends a ready example:

While dining in Williamsburg at a rated restaurant, I ordered a frozen strawberry daiquiri — is it wrong to have such a drink before dinner? The drink arrived without warning with a heap of reddi whip, definitely not real whipped cream, on top. I objected but all the restaurant would offer was to have the bartender remove the topping. The server said they always make the drink with a topping! Is this something new? Yuck.

I’m not a snob–a nerd, yes, but not a snob. However, the thought of anyone putting whipped cream on a Daiquiri, especially on the 100th year anniversary of this brilliant, simple combination is worthy of lesser form of torture such as the Indian rug burn or Charlie horse. “Yuck” is right.

The obvious line of defense, dining critics–who would rip into an establishment for serving boxed macaroni and cheese or microwave-ready burritos–adopt an “anything goes” attitude toward these drinks in spite of public interest and the cocktail's place at the table. Yet my ire is not toward them–the bar has always been a democracy to the totalitarian dining experience and cosmos often accompany steaks and chocolate martinis Caesar salad. So be it.

My ire is toward so-called fine dining establishments who list the farms they use on the menu, insist upon the highest standards of service and are content to use store-bought mixes and serve bubble-gum sweet drinks. Fine examples of local restaurants that take cocktails seriously include Restaurant Eve, Bourbon Steak, PS7 and Rasika. Yet cocktail lists needn’t be complex or over-studied. The Daiquiri is composed of rum, sugar and lime and not whipped cream or whatever else tends to accompany the designation “frozen,” in which case it is a perfect aperitif for an excellent meal.

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