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Apr 24, 2010 10:49 PM

How to order a specific cocktail that doesn't have a name?

So, I had a wonderful cocktail a few months back at Gulf Stream in Newport Beach. We asked if they had a signature cocktail and they recommended one that they called an Elder Collins. It consists of 1.5 oz of gin, 3/4 oz. of St. Germain Elderflower liquer, equal parts grapefruit juice and ginger ale, and a lime garnish. It was amazing and delicious and light - a perfect cocktail in my opinion. The problem is that no one else seems to have heard of an "Elder Collins" so if I want to have this drink anywhere other than Gulf Stream I end up having to give the recipe to the waitress or bartender and ask them to make it. There never seems to be any problem duplicating it but I feel so silly having to give the recipe rather than being able to just ask for it by name. So, I have two questions: (1) Does anyone have a name for this cocktail that other bartenders would recognize? And, (2) If there is no recognizable name for this drink, is it weird to pass the recipe along each time I want that particular drink? By the way, I checked on this board under Elderflower liquer and founds lots of discussion but not about this particular recipe or a name. TIA!

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  1. In this day and age of bartenders really going all out and making some fab new drinks, I'm not surprised you've not seen this delicious sounding drink in other bars. I certainly haven't seen it here in SF in some of my fave specialty drink bars (not to sound snobby). I think that there are so many YUMMY (and not so yummy) drinks being made these days by excellent bartenders (and not so excellent) that it's hard to keep up. It's getting very creative, and is quite exciting, although I think my liver may not agree. ;)

    Think of it this way, if the bartender doesn't mind making it for you then you've got your yummy drink and you've shown the bartender a new drink, name it after the bar tender who made it for you! Or whatever he/she called it.

    You're a trendsetter, be happy!

    1. I do not think it is weird to pass the recipe along each time you want that particular drink. In fact, this is how classic cocktails got started. A drink would be invented by one bartender, someone would like it, and ask for the drink at another bar. Years later, cocktail historians go to great lengths to track down the particulars of a drink's origin, and it makes for some interesting stories.

      Do future cocktail historians a favor, and tell people this is a "Gulfstream Elder Collins."
      I can foresee some confusion with "Elder Collins" as there is already a drink called the "Elderflower Collins" with St Germain, Gin, lemon juice, and soda water.

      1 Reply
      1. re: jerryc123

        I feel weird giving proportions to a bartender, unless it is for a common drink (and even then, if they eihter are or I suspect they will screw it up - e.g. a manhattan, martini, etc). What I usually do in this case is just mention a drink I had that i enjoyed and some of the ingredients and let them do their own thing with it.

      2. Oddly, I just saw someone do this last night. He asked the bartender if he would be willing to make a specific drink if given the recipe. He had a laminated card in his wallet with the drink he wanted (I don't know what it was; I couldn't see the recipe). The bartender made it with no problem.

        3 Replies
        1. re: jquinnjr

          I was thinking of doing exactly that!! Boy, wouldn't you love to know what that drink was? Obviously special enough to him to have cards made with the recipe printed thereon. And I totally get it!

          Thank you cosmogrrl and jerryc for your comments as well. Never thought of myself as a trendsetter or a contributor to 'cocktail history" but I like that. :^)

          1. re: jquinnjr

            I know a person here in Boston who has a cards printed with her preferred Negroni recipe. And another person who has the recipe for a Frankenjack on the back of his business cards.

            1. re: yarm

              :) this is a totally cool thing to do-- actually it's sometimes better than asking for a somewhat uncommon drink "by name" because

              1) sometimes 2 or more different drinks are known by the same catchy name, or by a regional or local name, and customers are sometimes surprised by what they get! there are literally thousands of drink names, and with a recipe there is no confusion.

              2) you don't have the following time-consuming and potentially awkward conversation between bartender and patron:
              patron: do you know what an "Athena's Velvet Hammer" is?
              bartender: um, no i don't. . .
              patron: this little bar called athena's, outside of seattle/in manhattan/in the french quarter, makes it. . . and it's really good. i can drink three or four of them. everybody really likes them.
              bartender (getting annoyed): yes, i'll have to go visit the next time i vacation in that area. what's in the drink, though?
              patron: a) *embarrassed* i don't have any clue or b) it's got brand name special infused vodka, kahlua, a little cream, and some coke.
              bartender: a) *impatient* i'm sorry, but if you don't know what's in the drink i can't help you. is there a different drink i can get you? b) *exasperated* dude, that's just a colorado bulldog with flavored vodka, why didn't you just say so/what's with the stupid name???

              3) bartenders love learning new drinks! if the bt can look at the recipe or even keep it, there is a good chance s/he will learn it, use it, be able to remember & serve it to you next time. Also the bt can tell at a glance if it's impossible to make the drink because the bar does not stock an essential liqueur or mixer. btw this happens more often than you'd think.

              4) try explaining the intricacies of a complicated drink recipe to a busy nightclub bartender with a full bar of waiting customers, while motorhead is just beginning their first set at about a zillion decibels. . . a flashcard is much easier. second thought, maybe forget the flashcard and just order a gin&tonic or something from that bartender, s/he is *super* busy! ;-P