Monday, February 1, 2010

Rant: Why So Many Sweet Cocktails?

I enjoy a good cocktail but many times won't have more than one. It is not because I am worried about the extra alcohol. What often stops me from having a second one is that I find them to be too sweet. That might be fine for a single drink, but I don't want to keep drinking sweet cocktails all night. I would much rather have something savory.

But if you look at many cocktail menus, they are packed with sweet cocktails, some being cloyingly so. You might not even see a single savory one on the menu. Go to any martini bar and scan their list to see how many have simple syrup added, or other sweeteners. Obviously these sweet concoctions are popular, or there would not be so many on their lists.

So why do so many people want a sweet cocktail? These same people are often having more than just one, so it is not something isolated. This does seem to be reflected in wine preferences as well, as there are plenty of people who prefer some sweetness in their wines. Is it more an American phenomenon?

Fortunately, it is not all a lost cause as good bartenders can make savory cocktails if you ask. But I still would like to know why sweet cocktails are so popular. Don't we get enough sugar from other foods and drinks? Is there something wrong with savory drinks? Do more women than men prefer sweet cocktails?


Sunday Cook said...

I think this is starting to change (slowly, but change is happening). I can always tell that a cocktail list is going to make me unhappy when I look at the bar and 15 flavored vodkas and two gins.

I suggest building a personal repertoire of cocktails that are easy to make. I think I remember you being a vodka drinker, so try:

Negroni (vodka variation) - equal pours of vodka, Campari, sweet vermouth = stir, serve up with orange twist

French 75 - gin (or brandy), healthy squeeze of lemon, *tiny* bit of simple syrup or sugar = shake w/ice to chill, top with champagne

Gimlet - Gin or vodka / lime juice (Rose's is ok) = STIR if using Rose's


Sunday Cook said...

Oh, and I'm a lady (biologically, if not always behaviorally) and I really dislike sweet drinks.

Karen said...

I'm with you (and I'm also female); you might find the Franklin Cafe's drink list interesting:

Anonymous said...

Not sure where you're hanging out, but all the good cocktail joints have cut way back on the sugar. Green St Grill, Drink in Fort Point and Craigie on Main of course, Highland Kitchen, Trina's Starlite Lounge, The Independent-- all of them known for high-quality non-cloying drinks.

Sunday Cook said...

To Anonymous's point I think that while it is true that there a lot of great cocktails being slung in the places you cite, there are tons more places where the sweet 'tini still rules supreme.

The suburban restaurants in my area (North shore) have generic, super-sweet, drink lists. In those places I either ask for a Negroni (and instruct the bartender in how to prepare one) or I drink bourbon on the rocks.

Charlotte King said...

I totally agree! I'm very much a classic cocktail girl, where the drinks were poured well and with more attention to detail and less to sugary sweetness where the drinker belives their enjoying dessert not a cocktail! If your going to drink, drink!

Anonymous said...

Why so many sweet drinks? Because they're tasty!