I was reminded again of my advancing years on Saturday night, when I innocently requested a Brandy Alexander in a bar.
The waitress looked at me as if I’d just time-travelled from the eighties.
It’s been a while since we went to a cocktail bar, admittedly. The last time was probably circa 2010 on Hamilton Island and obviously things have changed in the last three years.
I realized I was out of my eighties comfort zone when the only cocktail I recognized on the menu was a good old-fashioned Margarita.
You can’t go wrong with a Margarita, I thought innocently.
But even the Margarita has grown up, or should I say ‘evolved’? I’m not talking about the frozen version either, which even I’ve projectile vomited on occasion after a few too many at some seedy Mexican restaurant.
No, I was served a ‘Deconstructed Margarita’ which is a kind of DIY version of the cocktail.
Apparently it’s all very ‘feng shui’ or whatever the descriptive term for ‘f*cking pretentious’ is these days.
I blame Masterchef.
Maybe I’m too cynical, but what’s with the deal with deconstructing food and drink these days? Are chefs getting that lazy that they can’t actually combine ingredients together now? Don’t we pay to eat out because we’re not very good at the ‘construction’ part of cooking?
I first noticed this technique of ‘deconstructing’ on Masterchef in the form of a ‘Deconstructed Lasagne’ and I remember being secretly appalled. It’s hardly creative to ‘not’ put something together in the first place is it? I mean EVEN I can make a Lasagne, and to be honest if I separated all the ingredients (most of which I generally try to disguise), my kids would be out of the door like a shot.
So my ‘Deconstructed Margarita’ came out on a mirrored tile, (because everything is presented on a board or a mirrored tile these days – it’s just so Millennium) in a sea of green neon. The alcohol component was reassuringly in a glass, however the salt component came in the form of salt foam (WTF – I blame Heston Blumenthal) in another glass, and pretty slices of lime and pieces of ginger made up the rest of my smorgasbord of ingredients.
The drink itself was good but I did miss the contrast of the lip-smacking salt tang around the rim of the glass. I just wasn’t sure what to do with the salt foam. Eventually I put a teaspoon of it in my mouth, but for a horrible moment it just felt like I’d been dumped in the ocean and got the mouthful of sea water to prove it. The ginger was a nice touch but getting the right quantity in my mouth without singeing my palate was tricky.
Why is everything so over-complicated now? What happened to the days where you got what you asked for and didn’t end up with a piece of art on your plate or the Chef’s interpretation of art, which as we know can be highly subjective?
Or is my dissatisfaction with my cocktail simply because in middle-age you like what you know and become highly intolerant to anything new?
I have finally accepted Sushi and oysters into my arena of ‘foreign food I will eat’, even though the thought of raw fish goo would have made me gag in the past. I suppose what I’m saying is, that while I’m not averse to change, it has to be a change for the better.
Having to assemble my own Margarita when I’m paying $18 for it is wrong on every level.
So for those of you who never had permed hair, wore Dynasty shoulder pads, baggy shirts or leg warmers, and looked ridiculous dancing to Haircut 100 or Belinda Carlisle, here is the recipe for Brandy Alexander, which is apparently classified as ‘vintage’ now. Of course, they don’t make cocktails with cream these days – it’s just not ‘heart smart’ apparently – which is probably why this iconic cocktail has become extinct.
185ml (3/4 cup) brandy
185ml (3/4 cup) dark creme de cacao
185ml (3/4 cup) thin cream
1 cup crushed ice
Ground nutmeg, to garnish
Place the brandy, creme de cacao, cream and ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake until well combined. Strain through a sieve into serving glasses. Sprinkle with nutmeg and serve immediately. (www.taste.com.au)
Brandy Alexander courtesy of Chuck Olsen at http://www.flickr.com