Friday Happy Hour: Long Drinks for a Long Weekend

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A long drink, a term with which you might not be familiar, is a bartender’s term for a cocktail which is longer on non-alcoholic mixer than it is on base spirit. You may already know some long drinks as highballs, a slightly younger name which refers to a long drink made with just a single base spirit and a single mixer, often with a fruit garnish. A gin and tonic is a highball, but a Tom Collins (containing not only gin and soda but sugar and lemon juice) is a long drink. The Tom Collins, by the way, gave its name to the archetypical tall glass in which these drinks are served. A highball glass is usually synonymous with a Collins glass (and vice versa).

Cocktails follow formulas, and the combination of a single base spirit and a particular mixer often lends its name to some other concoction made with the same mixer and a different base spirit. The Tom Collins, for instance, begat the Vodka Collins. You could ask a bartender for a Whiskey Collins, and while he or she might look at you funny they’d know exactly what you mean without having to stop to think. Some names have lost popularity over time (Mamie Taylor, anyone?), but others are still current and show up in all sorts of interesting combinations. The Mojito, by the way, is also a long drink; replace the rum with gin and it becomes a Southside; add lemon to that and it turns into a Major Bailey. Formulas! They’re magic!

Common long drinks include DC’s native Rickey (soda, lime juice), the aforementioned Collins (soda, lemon juice, sugar), the Buck (ginger ale, lime), and my current favorite, the Mule (ginger beer, lime — a Mule made with Gosling’s might be better known to you as a Dark and Stormy). The best known Mule is the Moscow Mule, made with vodka and traditionally served in a copper cup.

I like rye whiskey in my Mule, since the spicy rye and the spicy ginger beer really play well off each other. Thanks to the recent boom in artisan spirits, at both the Passenger and Bourbon Steak I’ve recently had Mules made with white whiskey. Bourbon Steak calls theirs the High Plains Mule, and it’s made with High West Silver Whiskey. Oat whiskey! Oat!

So the next time you think of ordering a Dark and Stormy, think of the many variants of the Mule and try branching out. Try gin! Try rye! You’ll be glad you did.

Fedward Potz moved into the District in 1999 with a four year plan and never left. He enjoys good food, craft cocktails, photography, music, and long walks on the beach.

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