Sam Slaughter, the author of Are You Afraid of the Dark Rum? has come to Grand Rapids and will be hitting the town tasting the distilleries and breweries we have to offer.
Sam also happens to be a great friend, and former editor of mine, and will be bartending my wife’s 30th birthday party.
Anyway, we’ll be all around town the next few nights, so be on the lookout for a man pictured below, just sans cheeseballs.
Pat: What inspired your 90s cocktail book? How did you up with all the recipes and names?
Sam: I’ve always loved pop culture, and more specifically the 90s (being a child of the decade). I’ve also been in the service industry for half my life. Combine those things with my job as a food and drink writer (and a love of puns and dad jokes) and it practically wrote itself.
As far as the recipes, about half of them came from recipes I’d messed around with before the book and the other half I reverse-engineered, so to speak, from punny names I came up with. The flavor profiles themselves I wanted to keep easy so that anyone no matter their skill, could make them.
Pat: What’s your favorite cocktail from the book?
Sam: The first three in the book are my favorites. If you’re a brown liquor person, then I’d pick the Juice Box Iced Tea, which is an adult Ssips Iced Tea. The Fresh Mint of Bel Air is a strawberry gin sour that I had made for a Bombay Sapphire competition back in 2016 and have loved it since.
Pat: What do you love about beverages?
Sam: Two things. First, the possibilities when it comes to flavor combinations. As people learn more and more and are exposed to more and more talented bartenders, the bar (pun intended) keeps getting elevated, which is good for everyone. Second, the community aspect.
I got into the service industry because I wanted to talk to strangers all the time and I wanted to make people happy. Making drinks for people accomplishes both of those.
Pat: What do you look forward to most to in Grand Rapids?
Sam: Having never been before, I’m excited to check out the beer scene more than anything. Coming from near Asheville, we have our own ‘Beer City, USA,’ so I’m pumped to see how they stack up.
It’ll be great to check out some beers that I can get here on occasion from the source, but also try the stuff that never makes it down to SC where I live.
Some cocktails from Sam’s book
Juice Box Iced Tea
- 2 ounces bourbon
- .5 ounce limoncello
- .25 ounce simple syrup
- Orange bitters
- Lemon slice
Method: Add bourbon, limoncello, simply syrup and bitters to mixing glass with ice and stir well. Strain into rocks glass with large ice cube. Garnish wtih lemon slice.
The Fresh Mint of Bel-Air
- 2 strawberries
- 2 ounces Bombay Sapphire Gin
- .75 ounce lime juice
- Ice cold Prosecco
- Mint leaf
Method: muddle strawberries in bottom of cocktail shaker. Add gin, simple syrup, and lime juice. Shake. Double strain into coupe glass and top with Prosecco. Put mint leaf between palms and slap together, garnish.
What is Pat drinking?
Trying to take it easy between the holiday, as well as anticipating this weekend with Sam, but I’ve enjoyed a couple of fantastic whiskies I’ve recently received: Old Potrero Straight Rye Whiskey from San Francisco and Writer’s Tears Double Oaked, a great Irish tipple.