Red Wine and Coke (aka Kalimotxo, Cocavino)

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The first time I ever drank alcohol (Mom, stop reading now) was at a party at Jeff Dakin's house. I was 16, I think, and there was Budweiser in cans. As I couldn't stand the taste of the champagne of beers, I emptied a can into an oversized, plastic cup and mixed it with OJ, which was all I could find in the Dakin family fridge that struck me as even plausible to combine with pissy lager. And so my career in mixology began .

I remember being so embarrassed by this that I only did my mixing when nobody else was in the kitchen, but I also remember coming up with a name for my concoction -- the Rosebud -- which means I must've talked to other kids there about it, or at least that I saw the humor in what I was doing.

If I'd known then about red wine and Coke, think 0f how boldly I could've plundered Mr. and Mrs. Dakin's wine stash instead of making do with OJ'd-down, mass-produced swill. Imagine my rapt, pimple-pocked audience as I explained that rendering cheap booze palatable for consumption was a noted hallmark of youth across the seas! Think about what a precocious, pretentious ass I would've sounded like, expounding upon my own multiculti self-awareness. (Why, I may as well have checked my humility at the door and enrolled as one of Suri Cruise's classmates at Avenues!)

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In Spain, red wine and Coke -- sometimes known as Kalimotxo or Cocavino -- are often mixed together to drink at parties or street festivals. It's kinda considered a kids' drink (as in "these crazy kids today," not "my kid just turned 9 months old") because, as my behavior chez Dakin evidences, an adolescent's bank account mandates the purchase of cheap, less-than-desirable-tasting bilge, just as a teenage mindset is a prerequisite for believing that mixing dolla hooch with Coke sounds like an awesome idea.

Myriad suggested ways to prepare/guzzle red wine and Coke: Sometimes Kalimotxo is served in a short, glass tumbler; other times it's served in a "tall" glass, except for those other, other times when a "one liter, plastic drinking glass" is what's called for. Then there's that thing where you half-empty a two-liter of cola, pour your one-liter bottle of vino in, and voila! You've just bartended up a party-sized batch that comes in its own, cooties-friendly, communal chug jug.

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Likewise, varying flavorings abound. I've read that ouzo, blackberry liqueur and a lime twist are all good ideas (not all at the same time). So when I decided it was time to try my hand at red wine and Coke -- grownsed-up style, mind you -- I systematically worked my way through the options. My findings:

- I started with just red wine, Coke and a healthy-sized lime twist. Getting that hit of citrus up the nostrils before diving in was palate-confusing, but in a good, refreshing, smile-inducing way.

- Instead of blackberry liqueur, I did a 15ml of creme de cassis, as that was the closest facsimile I had on hand. This combo tasted like a good imitation of bad wine. It was like church wine, really -- very heady and juice-like in the way cheap, sugary booze often is.

- I will admit, I did not try doing a dash, nor a splash, nay, nary a drop of ouzo. That just sounded nasty.

- Ultimately, straight-up, equal parts red wine and Coke was what I liked best. The drink was pleasingly crisp rather than syrupy sweet. Still a curious bugger, to be sure, but one I could easily envision myself enjoying around adults my own age, which is probably how old Mr. and Mrs. Dakin were at the time, now that I think about it.

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The Kalimotxo

4 ounces red wine

4 ounces cola

Lime twist (optional), to garnish

Pour red wine, then cola into a large, ice-filled tumbler or stemless wine glass. Garnish with lime twist if desired.

Tasting Notes

Ice is key here. I simply cannot recommend this beverage at room temperature, even though I'm sure it's often consumed that way, what with its bottle-swigged-at-street-fests rep. Don't. Use lots of ice! (Pre-chill your red, in fact.)

I made this using a Spanish Garnacha. It is literally the cheapest red wine they sell at my nearest SAQ (about $10), but it's not bad at all. (We drink it at dinner all the time.)

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The Aviator No. 1

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I'd like to talk about cocktail geekdom in this post, which I realize is like talking about the pink elephant we're all seeing in the room.

When Googling "aviator cocktail," one of the top search results is this 2008 story from the NYT's Dining section entitled "A Brotherhood Formed with Cocktails and Ice." While the boys'-clubbish headline does make me wince (here's one occasion where I'm all for a "personhood" amendment; how about "camaraderie," Gray Lady?) the story tickles my historical fancy, as I feel like it's sort of the ur-trend piece about us modern-day cocktailians (as one of those quoted in the piece preferred to be called, rather than "cocktail geek").

A recipe for the Aviation Cocktail No. 1 is one of two that accompany the piece. Note that I just wrote Aviation Cocktail No. 1, not Aviator Cocktail No. 1. [Inner cocktail geek jolted awake by persnickety clarification.] The latter is actually more obscure, it seems, and therefore much harder to come by online. [Geek full of pride for self, knows more obscure cocktail knowledge than most, is so cool!] And as the numerical nomenclature suggests, both the Aviation Cocktail and the Aviator Cocktail come in more than one accepted form. [Geeeeeekkkkyyyeeeeaaaahhhhh!]

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The difference between Aviation No. 1 and Aviation No. 2 is creme de violette. While both are considered "vintage" tipples, I guess even back in the day -- a day perhaps as far back as 1916, as an Aviation No. 1 recipe can be found in Recipes for Mixed Drinks, published in that year -- creme de violette was hard to come by, as Aviation No. 2 omits it outright. This is not a bad thing, I'd say, as what's left sans creme is gin, Luxardo and lemon juice, a dangerously drinkable trifecta. [Reminds geek of geek's own, French Gimlet-esque recipe. Geek so money and don't even know it. Why geek talk like Cookie Monster? GEEK SMASH!]

The Aviator No. 1 builds on that heady trinity and adds creme de cassis -- perhaps to replace the original's creme de violette with a more commonly found ingredient? -- and egg white. While the egg white surely does it job and makes the drink damn good, I can't give you an historically justified reason for it. [Geek sad.]

An as long as I'm now gonna go ahead and deflate my inner geek ego, I have never, ever in my life managed to taste a drop of, or even find a bottle of, creme de violette. I think it's like the Godot of cocktail ingredients.

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The Aviator No. 1

(You can find this recipe or something similar in Difford's Encyclopedia of Cocktails, as well as my own The Big Book of Martinis for Moms)

2 ounces dry gin

1/2 ounce Luxardo maraschino liqueur

1/4 ounce creme de cassis

1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

Raw egg white (say, the amount in a medium-sized egg)

Combine gin, Luxardo, lemon juice and egg white in an ice-less cocktail shaker. Shake for about 20 seconds. Next, add ice to fill, cap shaker again and shake for another 20-ish seconds. Strain into a chilled martini glass. To finish, pour your quarter-ounce of creme de cassis into the center of the glass; it will sink to the bottom of the glass' V-shaped bowl and give the drink a layered look.

Tasting Notes

For extra egg-white froth, drop the coiled wire from a tktk strainer into your cocktail shaker for the first shake.

Difford says the drink tastes better when you forsake the layered look and shake the creme de cassis with the rest of the ingredients. Whatever, geek.

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