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Weekend Cocktail: The Case for Indolence

It is nearly impossible to be concerned about work, life, or anything much at all when sipping either of these cocktails.

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The pressures of the world can mount so quickly – deadlines looming, bills coming due, “Breaking Bad” ending, Mom asking where her grandchildren are – that they almost kill your desire to do anything besides vegetate. After 8 or 10 hours grappling with a quarrelsome datasheet, perhaps the last thing you want to do is bend your mind to the task of determining which artisan bitters would best accompany which small-batch bourbon. Your head is muddled enough by the prospect of coming in on the weekend; how can you be expected to mash various fruits into a juicy slop? Drinking should enhance your life, not contribute to your vexation. Sometimes, you need to simplify.

Now, you could just enjoy your liquor neat. That requires hardly any preparation. But appreciating liquor that way can be work unto itself, and work is the very thing you want to avoid.

Allow me to make the case for indolence.

Toasted Almond

This is a simple drink to prepare, and is a dessert unto itself. A sip or two and the primitive part of your brain that craves sugar and fat will curl up and purr contentedly. Those on a strict diet may find it prudent to avoid this one. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 oz. Kahlúa
  • 2 oz. Amaretto (You can’t really go wrong with Disaronno)
  • 2 oz. light cream

Add ice to a shaker. Add all ingredients. Shake vigorously for a bit more than 5 seconds. Strain over ice into an Old-Fashioned glass. Sprinkle with cinnamon or garnish with a cinnamon stick, then loosen your belt.

The key for this drink is to get it good and frothy. Some barmen simply build it in a rocks glass. I’m sure it tastes fine that way, but the scoundrels are cheating their customers of a full measure of enjoyment. The aeration provided by a good shake gives the drink a lighter texture that is essential for something this rich.

The almond notes of the amaretto come softly and clearly through the base of cream, while the Kahlúa gives the drink its appealing “toasted” taste. I’ve found that a dash of cinnamon on top gives it a necessary kick – otherwise it tends to be a bit too smooth and sweet.

In many ways the Toasted Almond is kin to the more widely-known White Russian, which featured so prominently in that Sam Elliott movie people are always quoting.

White Russian

  • 2.5 oz vodka (use something cheap, for Heaven’s sake)
  • 1 oz. Kahlúa
  • 1.5 oz. cream or half & half

Over a rocks glass with ice, pour the vodka and Kahlúa. Float cream over top. Give it a brief stir, put on your best bathrobe, and enjoy. The ratio here is a suggestion. You may find you prefer equal measures of vodka and Kahlúa, with cream to top it off. There is room to play here.

While the White Russian uses vodka in place of the amaretto (and a lot more of it, proportionally), the two concoctions are kissing cousins. Ironically enough for a drink favored by El Duderino, the White Russian requires more actual effort to prepare than the Toasted Almond. When properly executed one will float the cream on the top of the vodka and Kahlúa – a trick I’ve never quite mastered, but that involves shaking the cream before slowly pouring it into the glass over the back of a spoon.

There is a school of thought that dispenses with the build, claiming that this drink should be shaken and served up. I am not in this camp. While shaking provides the benefit of the frothy texture and ensures a good mix, I find that I prefer the traditional preparation over ice cubes. Besides which, and in keeping with our theme of laziness, if you bring a shaker into this then you’ll just have something else to clean.

It is nearly impossible to be concerned about work, life, or anything much at all when sipping either of these. For those unfamiliar or unused to drinking, they are both wonderful introductions. The cream takes nearly all the bite out of the drinks, which makes it easy for one to lose track not only of his sobriety, but the cares of the day.

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