Cocktail: Flowers for Algernon

Some cocktails are hit or miss. The first few revisions of this didn't hit the mark, but eventually came together as something I would order on a hot day.

Inventing a new cocktail is often the combination of boredom ("...idle hands are the Devil's plaything...") and curiosity ("...what the hell is Dry Cucumber Soda anyway?").

Mise en Scene: Mission Hill Saloon. The days' Giants game has been played, and with no hockey, basketball and certainly no football to hold the attention of the local sportsballers, the day-drinking crowd dispersed back to their respective man caves to refuel for Saturday evening.

I was left to listlessly watch muted MMA ("...hug it out boys!") while programming the jukebox with late 70s no wave and prog-punk (think early Rush, Devo, Talking Heads, Buzzcocks with some 1990s Built to Spill, Pixies and late 1980s Sonic Youth thrown in for good measure).

"What is Dry Cucumber Soda, anyway?"

It was something that, in my mind, would be damn fine with gin.

Bar mistress Tuula wry smile informed me that we were embarking on one of her favorite late day shift pass-times: the mystery drink. Bartender roulette*.

[ * Coined by Lotta of Lucky 13. ]

The result...

Flowers for Algernon**:
[ ** We've made several adjustments from the original to tone down the bitterness. If this is still not quite to your liking, try adding some simple syrup. ]

Fill a stovepipe with ice and mix ingredients in order listed. Do not stir - the soda will do all the stirring for you.

"But why gin?" you (dear reader) plead, "I don't like gin... gin doesn't like me."

Chances are if you have said the latter, you're drinking the wrong gin, or you're drinking it the wrong way.

Gin is a spirit with many volatile herbal ingredients. It's best not to press your luck pounding it like tequila on Cinco de Mayo or Jameson on St Patrick's Day.

Gin demands respect, and with the proper treatment, is the foundation of some of the world's finest craft cocktails. We recommend sidestepping the standards (Tanqueray, Bombay Sapphire) for a small-batch gin (No. 209, Terroir, Junipero to name a few).

Certainly you could substitute vodka, but it would be like listening to the orchestra without the brass section: those high, clarion notes would simply be missing; floral, herbaceous, coniferous, citric.


Mission Hill Saloon
491 Potrero Avenue
San Francisco, CA

Lucky 13
2040 Market Avenue
San Francisco, CA


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