A.I. Bartender

By Nick Fauchald Posted March 13, 2007

One of the best reads a cocktail geek could ever get his bitters-stained hands on is The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, the 1948 encyclopedia of cocktails by David A. Embury. The author was a cocksure, left-brained New York attorney and amateur bartender who loved breaking cocktails down into components (base + modifying agent + flavoring and/or coloring agent) and categories (aromatic and sour). Embury famously purported that all "sour" cocktails can be mixed using the same 1:2:8 proportions (1 part sweet, 2 parts sour, 8 parts base), a ratio that still largely holds up. I recently came across the Mixilator, a Web-based "cocktail generator" that creates entirely random drinks following Embury’s mixology formulas and protocols, and gives them entirely hilarious names using a database of 23,000 words. Created by Ted Haigh of the Internet Cocktail Database, this ingenious (and addictive) program has introduced me to such wonderments as the Montpelier Thanksgiving Chambermaid Cocktail, a bracing slap of wine, bitters, espresso and Jägermeister, as well as the Ballast Heaver, created mere seconds ago, an aptly named slurry of raspberry vodka, bitters, applejack, maple syrup and amaretto. Yum! Embury’s laws might not always yield delicious results, but without them, I would never have had the chance to try the Snotsdale Almsman—a blend of vodka, muscatel, red wine, sour mix, gomme syrup and blueberry schnapps—which could very well taste like an Almsman from Snotsdale.

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