Certain impending life changes here at TP HQ threaten to make us a bit less American in the coming years, so we're delighted to take a week to revel in what we love about the fatherland. America Week will highlight the world's brashest, most flamboyantly ignorant and most creative culture by looking at how these cowgals 'n' guys drink, fuck and amuse themselves.
It shouldn't surprise that the land of pink slime and imitation cheese also tends to favor a drink that leaves you with little idea what you're actually drinking: the cocktail. Many countries do a bit of mixing of liquors, but Americans elevate the cocktail glass like no one else.
The video below is from our lovely rivals at Everyday Drinkers, and covers just one aspect of successful cocktail preparation: handling ice. The entire five-and-a-half minutes of instruction can be conveyed in a single sentence (keep your drink colder by using fresh ice in your cocktail glass, not the leftover ice from the shaker), but as usual TP is not so interested in a particular mandate but rather in what it says about a culture. So take a look.
Here's what we're seeing:
1. The slavish obsession of the presenter, Derrick Schommer, for his subject. This tendency to work way too hard at whatever crazy thing is presumably what has allowed Americans to originate everything from chess-playing computers to nuclear bombs to rock music.
2. Tipsy has investigated a lot of drink wisdom over the years, but it takes an American to demonstrate his wisdom in a side-by-side video test. Wine snobs in Bordeaux have scolded me to open a wine bottle in the "correct" way, and Serbians have, with a lot more levity, passed on the "proper, time-tested" temperature and cooking times for mulled wine, but it takes folks from a young country to verify drinking lore in an empirical test.
3. Pride in geekiness. Take a look at some of the worlds' other drink blogs and videos — Europeans often try to present themselves as smooth connoisseurs, Latin Americans as party animals. But our ice hero seems to have no desire to hide his awkwardness; he's relaxed and at home in an amelodic, staccato delivery and sharp, flailed gestures. I take this as implied expertise; he couldn't be bothered with time or effort on presentation, or anything other than making fine cocktails. (Proudly asserted alternativeness is common among smart folks in the States. I once took a Catalan girlfriend home to visit my Midwestern college town, and she commented that everyone there seemed like a cartoon version of themselves.)
This week (or as soon as we get around to it) we have a lot planned on Americans' geeked out drinking, including homemade hooch and off-the-grid espresso. Your input is of course welcome in the comments. And in the meantime, check out some cocktail recipes over with the Everyday folks.
Photo credit: Fausto Fernos.