Last week we talked about how to use a flask as a mobile cocktail unto itself, so this week, let’s examine another use for the flask: a mobile building block.
While a pre-mixed flask is great for situations where one will be out for a while, sitting through a long wedding ceremony or graduation, taking in a play, anything in an environment where buying or making a proper drink would be challenging if not impossible, there are also many scenarios where one simply needs to bring some liquor along in order to mix it on-location.
Scenario 1: A Cup Of Ice
Pretty much any place that serves anything can provide you with a cup of ice for the bargain rate of $0 - $0.50. If you anticipate this type of scenario, any drink you would normally have “on the rocks” can simply be poured into a flask and then iced/diluted on-location. The average pocket-size flask holds 5 - 6oz, which is a couple of good-sized Old Fashioned’s. If you don’t mind the extra dilution, a Martini or Manhattan will even do nicely over ice on a sunny day. There’s something about the familiar after-work flavor of a Martini while perched on a park bench in the afternoon. It just feels special. This method can be thought of as a next-level alternative to brown-bagging a pint of Jack Daniels. Other cocktails that do well when poured out over ice include:
Scenario 2: Soda Fountain
Most fast-food restaurants and many food trucks have soda fountains, making this an ideal strategy for longer car trips or outdoor festivals. Or, I suppose, if you really like drinking at the mall for some reason? Either way, all soda fountains have a “soda” tab, and this is what we’re interested in. Sure, you could make a whiskey and Coke but this column isn’t about that sort of thing. If you want to mix whiskey and bitters and lime juice and add coke later that will make an acceptable Cuba Libre, but seltzer is much more versatile, allows more flavors to shine through than pre-fab, sugar sodas, and causes much less diabetes which, hey, never hurts. Remember that it is also fairly easy to make or buy tonic syrup or ginger syrup that can be pre-mixed with gin or whiskey and a squeeze of lime for G&Ts or Bucks. Sometimes it’s refreshing (and luxurious) to have a “long drink” on a hot afternoon or over the course of a longer evening rather than sipping something fairly strong, like an Old Fashioned. Some other good options for the add-soda strategy:
Collinses/Fizzes (Lemon, sugar, spirit, soda)
Scenario 3: Coffee Shop
If you are short on time or imagination on your way out the door, never fear, for there is a place where a flask of plain spirits can be turned into something surprising and wonderful. This place is the humble coffee shop. Coffee shops are also good for the first two scenarios but add an extra dimension. Firstly, they all have some sort of cold-drink specialty, not to mention a big stack of flavored syrups for Italian sodas. Even the most generic of coffee houses will be able to make you an almond or hazelnut soda to dump that bourbon into. But don’t forget about hot water or tea for toddies in the colder months. Most cafes will also have Iced Tea, and many will have interesting variants like Hibiscus Ice Tea which are wonderful with gin, and there is always honey or sugar nearby to sweeten if needed.
Be sure to scrutinize the menu and talk to the staff to find out what’s unique there. For example, Compass Coffee, next door to us, makes an exceptional Arnold Palmer using fresh lemon juice which takes to bourbon like a bumble bee to spring blossoms — bring an AP into the shop sometime if you’d like proof of this. Bottom line: coffee shops are a wonderland of possibility and should be considered a resource for your on-the-go cocktail-ing. Even tequila can find a counterpart here.
Have fun out there this weekend.