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Worst Cocktails Ever


porcupine
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Skimming the forums I misread a thread title, but decided it might make for some entertaining stories. So what's the worst cocktail you've ever had? For me it might be a beer bloody mary that a friendly bartender foisted on me. It was probably well made, but I wouldn't know, 'cause... yuck!

Share your stories of bad experimental combinations or inept barkeeping.

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porcupine, was it a Michelada? That seems to be an industry favorite around here, I too am not a huge fan.

Inept barkeeping: one time I got a orange twist that still had part of the PLU sticker on it. I personally feel all fruit should be washed regardless (maybe not pineapples), so this one really disappointed me.

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for a few months after a party which somehow resulted in 3 leftover bottles of creme de menthe, the drink one was most often bullied into consuming was deemed the "Green Dragon." Much worse than a true Green Dragon (google it), it was equal parts whiskey and CdM, most often consumed in multiples during a game of Shot Chess. Ugh.

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for a few months after a party which somehow resulted in 3 leftover bottles of creme de menthe, the drink one was most often bullied into consuming was deemed the "Green Dragon." Much worse than a true Green Dragon (google it), it was equal parts whiskey and CdM, most often consumed in multiples during a game of Shot Chess. Ugh.

"Whiskey Stinger" inevitably portmanteaus into "Whinger." Pronounce and interpret in British English, dear reader.

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"Whiskey Stinger" inevitably portmanteaus into "Whinger." Pronounce and interpret in British English, dear reader.

But the Brits rhyme whinger with "ginger" (or "ninja", if you like), not with "ringer".

I'm not sure which bulk spring break swill is the worst I've had, but the would-be mai tai from the Solomon's Tiki Bar is definitely a contender.

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At the Amman Four Seasons, I ordered a manhattan and got a snifter of warm, rail scotch with a lemon. To be fair, I learned a valuable lesson: craft cocktails are not one of the fortes in Muslim countries.

I think I got my most expensive drink ever at the same place, double jack and coke--15 dinars. Something like $20... Their premium beer was Budweiser too.. 6 denaneer?

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porcupine, was it a Michelada? That seems to be an industry favorite around here, I too am not a huge fan.

A properly made Michelada (like one made by Phil Ward at Mayahuel) is a great thirst quencher in the summer. The choice of beer is muy importante.

The Old Pal, doesn't matter if I make it or someone else does, this drink just sucks - I have had three and that is my lifetime limit.

Hmm. One of my favorites, but I guess that's due to my inherent bitterness.

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I challenge any of you to partake in the awfulness that a bunch of high schoolers at senior week invented when presented with a wide array of obscure liqueurs when the primary liquors ran out. I still have the Mr Boston's where these were written in the margins for posterity. The one I recall was dubbed Swamp Foot and consisted of Midori, blue curacao, OJ and kiwi-lemon Mad Dog (try to picture this combination and you'll see where the name comes from). In fact several of these drinks featured good ol' MD 20/20 as the base ingredient.

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So here goes, a stout and cider cocktail. Gross.

The Snakebite is a classic!! :)

You'll probably hate the one beer cocktail that ulysses turned me onto: the Dog's Nose. A pint of stout with a shot of gin poured in. Zuidam gin has a nice vanilla vibe to it, and pairs really well with different stouts and porters I've tried. Gary Regan has a recipe where you heat it up and add additional spices, I like Justin's way better.

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The Snakebite is a classic!! :)

You'll probably hate the one beer cocktail that ulysses turned me onto: the Dog's Nose. A pint of stout with a shot of gin poured in. Zuidam gin has a nice vanilla vibe to it, and pairs really well with different stouts and porters I've tried. Gary Regan has a recipe where you heat it up and add additional spices, I like Justin's way better.

I guess I'm a purist when it comes to beer. I'll make beer with other flavors in it, but why pervert a perfectly good brew with something else. I can understand if its crappy beer, but if its made with good beer...this would be like making a bourbon and coke with top shelf bourbon.

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In this age of globalization, one of the few great cleavages that still exist between Europe and America is the cocktail. I once ordered a Margarita in a Mexican restaurant in Bonn that made a big deal out of its bartending skills. I received an unsalted, small Old-Fashioned glass filled with a treacly pink liquid the further details of which I have thankfully forgotten. And we all know the transatlantic cognitive disjuncture of the concept "martini." But you would think this gap would have narrowed over the decades. Perhaps because most bars in Europe use measured pours, it's hard to get a real cocktail culture going.

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Okay, on thing that was worse than the beer and cider. It was called a "Windex"

It contained the following:

blue curacao

rail tequilla

triple sec

Sprite

See why it was called Windex? It seemed to be popular among the early 20's crowd, it was a drink made to just F you up and not to enjoy.

I used to keep a bottle of this in my locker in high school, why? Because in a Windex bottle it looks like the product - my locker was searched twice for... umm... contraband and they never found it, though they must have thought that I was mighty vain to keep a mirror in the door (why else would I need a bottle of window cleaner).

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I used to keep a bottle of this in my locker in high school, why? Because in a Windex bottle it looks like the product - my locker was searched twice for... umm... contraband and they never found it, though they must have thought that I was mighty vain to keep a mirror in the door (why else would I need a bottle of window cleaner).

Here's something that isn't a cocktail, but its just as bad as a bad cocktail. Never buy a tequilla named after the neighborhood you're buying it in. Many years ago, I bought a bottle of "Cleveland Park Tequilla." Wow, what a mistake. It smelled and tasted like terpentine.

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Never buy a tequilla named after the neighborhood you're buying it in. Many years ago, I bought a bottle of "Cleveland Park Tequilla." Wow, what a mistake. It smelled and tasted like terpentine.

The rule should be to never buy liquor named after the store you are in - though you can suspend this rule when purchasing from some of the finer stores in Europe.

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I'm sorry, wha? Measuring is critical to consistently great cocktails.

I knew somebody would say this. I know it's true for the fussy (and I mean that in a good way) type of bar like Central and PX that is enjoying a trend right now and mixing their own original creations. But that high standard reflects the very existence of the high cocktail culture in this country that Europe generally lacks. And it's very difficult to rise to that standard if you're a bartender who has been acculturated to measuring pours for gin-and-tonics and whiskey sodas.

(Having said that, the best Negroni I ever had was in Bologna, but that's perhaps an unsurprising exception.)

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this would be like making a bourbon and coke with top shelf bourbon.

Don't knock it until you try it! I'm talking about using a quality stout/porter with a craft gin, not craft spirits with a filler. The Zuidam actually enhanced alot of the notes that were going on in the porter, plus it gave it a 20 second finish. That said, folks are grossed out by the concept of gin and beer, plus "Dog's Nose" aint too sexy either.

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In college we used to love to drink what we called "the happy shot" which was half goldschalger and half baileys. We used to shoot it, and then take a deep lung breath to feel the burn. Looking back, it was really really gross.

On the subject of the Old Pal, I love them, and anythign else really bitter (like a Negroni). Any other suggestions for me?

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On the subject of the Old Pal, I love them, and anythign else really bitter (like a Negroni). Any other suggestions for me?

Fernet Branca & anything? Here's one from CocktailDB called the Pick Up Cocktail: 1 3/4 oz rye, 1/2 oz Fernet Branca, 1/4 oz pastis. Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, add a lemon wedge. I haven't tried this, and probably never will.
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On the subject of the Old Pal, I love them, and anythign else really bitter (like a Negroni). Any other suggestions for me?

Well, The Hersch is right - you should try Fernet Branca. Yum yum yum. Popular drink for certain folks, like bartenders and booze bloggers. If only I didn't have a conference call in ten minutes I'd get some right now...

Check out various amaros such as Averna, Luxardo, etc. These tend to be bitter but herbal.

If you like the flavor of Campari - more of a ctirus-y bitter, one-third of a Negroni - also look at Aperol and Gran Classico. For a lot of cocktails, you can take one that uses Campari and substitute one of those.

Marshall made a drink last weekend that was (if I remember correctly) gin, chartreuse, and lemon juice, just called a "Bitter Cocktail". I'll see if I can dig up the recipe.

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I'm not going to say this was me, but.

Let's say last year when the Four Loko was just beginning to get bad press that if SOMEONE decided on a whim to top off some prosecco with a little of the finest Cranberry Lemonade flavor... solely to be able to say they were drinking a LokoMosa. That someone would surely be old enough to have known better. More to the point, that person surely should have known the bubbles from the prosecco would push straight to the nose the godawful malt liqour/sugar/caffeine combo that floated on top of the glass as ominously as BP's best work in the gulf.

I bet that person never drinks $2 gas station booze ever again, no matter how silly the local news reports on the product are.

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...this would be like making a bourbon and coke with top shelf bourbon.

That is, in fact, one of the trick questions posed on the Buffalo Trace (2003 Distillery of the Year) "hard hat" tour: "What do you get when you mix Pappy Van Winkle with Coke? A *damn* fine bourbon and Coke."

Presumably, they're profiting a lot more on the Pappy than on the regular Trace.

I did make the mistake of leaving a bottle of first-release Anchor "Hotalings" rye out when guests were making Manhattans one night. Soon, folks had abandoned the other whiskies. Two-thirds of a bottle later, everybody was very happy. That was before I learned that only 30 cases had been made, and few had made it out of California.

Fortunately, I have a spare.

I infused Maker's Mark with Cajun Sparkle from Popeye's this weekend.

That fella just ain't right in the head.

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One "cocktail" that I've heard of that I imagine is the worst out there is a last call ritual, according to my Austin friend. During a busy shift, the rubber spill mat that's in the bar rail collects all sorts of liquids. Before you throw the spill mat in the sink, you strain all the spilled beer, liquor, etc. into a glass. Serve room temp.

I'm sure all the industry folks have seen worse, they've just haven't weighed in yet!

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In college we used to love to drink what we called "the happy shot" which was half goldschalger and half baileys. We used to shoot it, and then take a deep lung breath to feel the burn. Looking back, it was really really gross.

On the subject of the Old Pal, I love them, and anythign else really bitter (like a Negroni). Any other suggestions for me?

You'd probably like the Verrazano: 2 bourbon, 1 sweet vermouth, 1/2 tsp. Apry, Campari rinse, twist

The Boulevardier: 1.5 bourbon, 1 Antica, 1 Campari, twist

The 1794: 2 rye, 1 sweet, 1/2 Campari

Phil Ward's Cornwall Negroni is great, too: 2 Beefeater, 1/2 sweet , 1/2 Punt e Mes, 1/2 Campari, flamed orange twist

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porcupine, was it a Michelada? That seems to be an industry favorite around here, I too am not a huge fan.

Yes.

anythign else really bitter (like a Negroni). Any other suggestions for me?

Back when I was drinking (too much), I developed a drink that I called Prickly Porcupine. It's pretty f'in bitter (like me!): 1 1/2 oz gin (pref. G'Vine or Hendricks), 3/4 oz B&B, 2 drops Herbsaint, 2 dashes Regan's orange bitters, stir over ice, serve straight up. The brand of gin makes a huge difference.

I did make the mistake of leaving a bottle of first-release Anchor "Hotalings" rye out when guests were making Manhattans one night. Soon, folks had abandoned the other whiskies. Two-thirds of a bottle later, everybody was very happy. That was before I learned that only 30 cases had been made, and few had made it out of California.

Fortunately, I have a spare.

Tsk, tsk. You'll lose your reputation as a gracious host. I seem to recall buying you a bottle of that or something equally rare to make up for the loss. :)

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One of my favorite craft bartenders once made me the worst Manhattan that I've ever had, and I was so embarrassed, I just couldn't bring myself to tell them.

It wasn't a lack of skill, mind you. It was the fact that they were using a particular whiskey which was entirely ill-suited for a Manhattan, if you can believe that is possible.

Despite the pain in the wallet, it is probably useful to experience a truly ghastly cocktail once in a while; that will make us appreciate the truly brilliant ones all the more :)

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One "cocktail" that I've heard of that I imagine is the worst out there is a last call ritual, according to my Austin friend. During a busy shift, the rubber spill mat that's in the bar rail collects all sorts of liquids. Before you throw the spill mat in the sink, you strain all the spilled beer, liquor, etc. into a glass. Serve room temp.

I'm sure all the industry folks have seen worse, they've just haven't weighed in yet!

Variously called a "spider", "spider piss", "bar sink", and I'm sure a hundred other names. I've meet more bartenders who claim to have served this than ones who have actually followed through! The one time I did see somebody down one it ended ... predictably.

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Back in the day, Azami had a roommate liked White Russians, but not Black Russians. This drove him to the very, very unfortunate decision to use the only dairy product in the joint: freezer-burned strawberry ice cream. :) Who's up for a grayish-brown drink with sludgy chunks floating around in it?

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Tsk, tsk. You'll lose your reputation as a gracious host. I seem to recall buying you a bottle of that or something equally rare to make up for the loss. :)

It was set out to be enjoyed, and who better to share it with?

Besides, I've spent years slowly depleting my friends' supplies of the batch 'A' Van Winkle Family Reserve Rye that I persuaded you all to acquire ;-)

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One of my favorite craft bartenders once made me the worst Manhattan that I've ever had, and I was so embarrassed, I just couldn't bring myself to tell them.

It wasn't a lack of skill, mind you. It was the fact that they were using a particular whiskey which was entirely ill-suited for a Manhattan, if you can believe that is possible.

Despite the pain in the wallet, it is probably useful to experience a truly ghastly cocktail once in a while; that will make us appreciate the truly brilliant ones all the more :)

Years ago (many), I, for some inexplicable reason, had a dream in which I consumed a Manhattan, a drink I'd never had. A day or two later, I was out with friends and figured fate had decided for me that I should order a Manhattan. Well, now I know that the rooftop bar of the Hotel Washington was not the ideal place to order that, but I still have no idea if I hate Manhattans or just that particular one. I've never tried again.

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I'll probably get flamed for this, but the BLT cocktail a few years back at PX comes to mind. Now was it creative and did it actually have a lot of BLT flavors to it? Yes, I respected the hell out of the creativity here. But did it taste good? Absolutely not.

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As I think about it...

I was up in NYC a few years ago when Eben Freeman was at Tailor (that's the right name, right? I keep wanting to say "Stand" for some reason. Think we went to both places in the same night.)

Anyways, I ordered a drink that featured habanero. I knew it'd be spicy, but that was what I wanted. It was beyond spicy, however - it was undrinkable. I asked the bartender if it'd get better (you know, maybe it was a float or something) and he said "oh, the ice melting will dilute it a bit."

Sigh.

I returned it. Actually, I offered to pay for it, but considered it undrinkable and wanted to get another drink. I got a lot of attitude from the bartender about it.

Later, after posting about it on my blog (back in the days when it was on LiveJournal) Eben followed up with me and said what had happened: the barback who made the habanero puree hadn't known to remove the ribs and seeds before adding the habaneros.

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I'll probably get flamed for this, but the BLT cocktail a few years back at PX comes to mind. Now was it creative and did it actually have a lot of BLT flavors to it? Yes, I respected the hell out of the creativity here. But did it taste good? Absolutely not.

Flamed? No. I will make an argument for it though. My mentor told me the trick to developing a good drink was creating something that a guest would order a second time around immediately after having the first. He taught me more about the business than anyone however I completely disagree with him on that point.

I have had the BLT and considered it to be one of the 5 best drinks I've ever tasted. Would I order two back to back? No. It's not that type of drink. I would like to think that it served another purpose.

While we obviously disagree on how we perceived the taste profile, I think it's important to realize that this drink and several others that they make challenge the idea of what we see as cocktails.

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On the subject of the Old Pal, I love them, and anythign else really bitter (like a Negroni). Any other suggestions for me?

As a fellow lover of all things bitter I understand where you're coming from. One of my favorites is the New Pal, which i found in the Art of the Bar book. It's like a cross between a sazerac and a negroni.

1 oz Rye

1 oz Sweet Vermouth

1 oz Campari

Dash Pechaud's

2-3 Dashes Absinthe

Orange Twist

The other lovely little bitter libation I've come across lately is the Goodnight.

1 oz Rye

1 oz Fernet

1 oz Yellow Chartreuse

Orange Bitters

Orange Twist

Enjoy

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As I think about it...

I was up in NYC a few years ago when Eben Freeman was at Tailor (that's the right name, right? I keep wanting to say "Stand" for some reason. Think we went to both places in the same night.)

That was its name, yes. I didn't love Freeman's "solid cocktails" much. And they got you nowhere near the buzz achieved with one of his liquid ones.

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Years ago (many), I, for some inexplicable reason, had a dream in which I consumed a Manhattan, a drink I'd never had. A day or two later, I was out with friends and figured fate had decided for me that I should order a Manhattan. Well, now I know that the rooftop bar of the Hotel Washington was not the ideal place to order that, but I still have no idea if I hate Manhattans or just that particular one. I've never tried again.

Well, that''s a shame. The Manhattan really is the "King" of cocktails, and any professional bartender worth their salt can make a decent one without much effort. I was merely the unfortunate recipient that night of what was, undoubtedly, an experiment on this bartender's part. It was a learning experience.

You really ought to try a well-made Manhattan, preferably made with rye whiskey, but Bourbon will suffice, as well as very good FRESH sweet vermouth. It is one of life's wonderfully simple drinking pleasures. :)

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You really ought to try a well-made Manhattan, preferably made with rye whiskey, but Bourbon will suffice, as well as very good FRESH sweet vermouth. It is one of life's wonderfully simple drinking pleasures. :)

You hit on a good point here, Joe. If the bartender has to blow the dust off of the bottle of sweet vermouth, or the dry vermouth if you've ordered a Martini, run the other way.

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the very existence of the high cocktail culture in this country that Europe generally lacks

I am going to have to disagree with this on two points, the first being that we have two types of “high cocktail culture” in this country, the first and most prevalent are those people that like to drink the specials at TGIMcTuesdays as their more “cultured” companion sips his Grey Goose Martini. I am willing to bet that these people outnumber the craft cocktail culture by a good 10,000 to 1. As for Europe’s cocktail culture, it is alive and well in London, actually, I would say that it has the most vibrant craft cocktail scene in the world with only New York and Tokyo as competitors, as for the continent its self, well depending on the country, I recommend ordering wine, beer, or some sort of brandy.

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Skimming the forums I misread a thread title, but decided it might make for some entertaining stories. So what's the worst cocktail you've ever had? For me it might be a beer bloody mary that a friendly bartender foisted on me. It was probably well made, but I wouldn't know, 'cause... yuck!

Share your stories of bad experimental combinations or inept barkeeping.

My brother-in-law Brian and I were in Xi'an, China at a hotel bar and he ordered a margarita. The bartender was reaching for the OJ when Brian says, "hold on there, partner. What are you doing, exactly?"

Then - and I am not making this up - the bar band made up of expat Filipinos starting singing a famous song from "Grease", you know, the one that goes:

"I know what you want - you want a walnut. Ooh, ooh, ooh!" (repeat)

Strange little evening.

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