Welcome to Riverfront Times‘Five day decisions. Start living right.
As Eric Guenther thinks back to what ignited his passion for cocktails, he remembers that it all started with one drink.
“I remember I went to Público and had this really good daiquiri,” Guenther says. “It’s incredibly simple – just rum, lime juice and simple syrup – but it’s so incredible. My personality is such that I do not just say, ‘Oh, this is the best daiquiri in St. Louis.’ “I want to dig deep into it and ask how it can get better. It can always get better. You never know everything, do you?”
Although Público daiquiri may have been the spark that ignited the powder keg, it was not the first time Guenther, a physician by profession, went down the cocktail rabbit hole. Already before, he had been working on perfecting his margarita game, graduating from Cuervo and ready-made blend for actual recipes that involved better-quality tequilas and freshly squeezed juices. He puzzled with different blends and chose a classic three-two-and-a-half ratio: three parts tequila, two parts lime juice, one part simple syrup and half a part Cointreau or other orange liqueur. After committing that recipe in memory, a light bulb went off when he started researching daiquiris.
“I thought, ‘Wait a minute. This is basically the same formula as a margarita, but with rum,'” Guenther says. “The connection was just starting to happen. I liked whiskey, so I looked up whiskey sours and saw that it was pretty much the same recipe as well. I realized that the base was almost the same formula – alcohol, citrus and simple – and it all started to fall apart. When I got to that point, I just started playing. ”
While Guenther is quick to admit that there is much more to cocktails than learning just that recipe, he believes that at least for home bartenders, finding something simple is an important first step in improving your cocktail game. As he explains, he started experimenting with different citrus fruits, different simple syrups (e.g. white sugar versus brown sugar), different spirit brands and even adding multiple spirits in one drink, such as adding tequila. and mezcal in his margarita.
In addition to mastering a basic recipe, Guenther advises those interested in getting into home bartending to focus on the practical and your own personal preferences.
“When I learn something new, I’m super practical,” Guenther says. “I do not just have to find recipes and follow them all the time; I will only do it if I remember. If I just pick a random drink that I do not care about and follow a step-by-step recipe, I will not remember it. I might only be able to do it once. If you start with what you really are and stick to it, it will umbrella from there. ”
While he admits that the cost of building your own home bar collection can be prohibitive, he insists that you can find good bottles at a variety of price ranges. His own preference for daiquiris, Flor De Cana white rum, costs about $ 18 per bottle. Advanced bottles are not necessary, he insists, but there is a certain level of quality, if not cost, that you have to hit. He also stresses that one cannot take shortcuts when it comes to the other ingredients. There is no substitute for freshly squeezed juice, though citrus juice can be a laborious endeavor.
“There is no cheating,” he says. “Get everything you actually need and do not cut corners. It makes all the difference because you can not hide any shit when there are only three or four ingredients.”
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