When Kent at eight years old started exploring his parents’ kitchen, they were very supportive. He was allowed to cook anything his heart desired. They only had two rules: 1. Clean your mess and 2. If you cook it, you eat it! There was no better impulse to learn to cook well, fast! 😉
30 years on Kent is a well-versed hobby-chef. He shares his kitchen-exploits on his blog, Cooking-4-One, and as the title suggest he also focuses on recipes-for-one.
This shared interest called for a collab! Because Kent is a prolific cocktail-blogger, I asked him to concoct a cocktail-special for Singlemade. He’s sharing two of his top-favourites: the (slurpee-) piña colada and the Gin & It!
You have an amazing blog with recipes for one, when and why did you start with your blog?
Thank you for such kind comments about the blog. I really try to provide recipes that will interest everyone, especially anyone that is daunted by the task of cooking for one. I started the blog in August 2016 during a ‘break’ from my career. Being in technical support, I was working around a lot of recent college graduates – single, first major job, and most of the time, saddled with debt from college. Going out was killing their budgets, but cooking at home was not something they were comfortable doing. They knew I was single yet cooked almost every night – and I was cooking different dishes (because I am not a huge fan of leftovers, sorry!) each night. The blog was my way of sharing with this group of people and anyone else struggling to cook for one and not have a ton of leftovers and frustrating amounts of waste. I figured if I could do it, anyone could!
Let’s talk cocktails. Clearly, cocktails are a huge part of your blog and your life. What do you love so much about them?
My interest in expanding my cocktail repertoire began just before the blog. I encountered a few people with robust whiskey collections and they invited me to try different ones. The range of flavours was amazing. It then dawned on me that really good cocktails blend with these amazing flavours to create new and more interesting flavours. Just like a delicious dish satisfies, I found that properly made cocktails were very much alike.
Where did it all start?
I guess it started all along time ago when I would mix different alcohols together to make ‘gasoline’ that my friends and I would drink on weekends. It was terrible stuff, but we always tried to improve the taste… unsuccessfully I might add! Upon reaching the age to legally imbibe in the early 80’s, I found most cocktails too sweet and really did not have a refined palate for the more nuanced tipples. A long dry spell followed (by choice) and by the early 2000’s, I found numerous places in and around Seattle that showcased the cocktail revival. Experiencing these new takes on classics was amazing, yet I typically left the bartending to the professionals. Yet, once I encountered the group with and an array of collectable whiskeys, the light turned on. I started making new and different cocktails for myself and shared some with select friends. The Friday Night Cocktail blog post was a request from a subscriber and has become a popular aspect of Cooking-4-One. The best benefit was I found an outlet for testing and trying new cocktails, tweaking classics my way, and a forum for sharing those experiences.
Where do you find your inspiration for your cocktails?
That is a great question! Primarily through reading and research. Sometimes, I think up combinations and search to see if it has been done before and if so, what is the name and what was the overall impression by those who sampled it. Most of the inspiration comes from knowing my ‘flavor profile’ – many cocktails fit snugly into that zone. The fun comes when I take the chance and step outside that ‘profile’ and have a wonderful experience. It is always good to broaden one’s knowledge and experience, right?
How many bottles of liquor do you have?
Well, in the past, it was just the basics – whiskey, vodka, tequila, gin, coffee liqueur, vermouth. Now I have a variety of each primary spirit – bourbon, rye, scotch, vodka, tequila, mescal, vermouth, liqueurs of many flavours, amaros, and bitters. If I would count them, I would say there is over 50 bottles spread across that list.
And how often do you find you’ve drunk a whole bottle? :-p
Very often… as I go through a test for a type of cocktail, I might use up certain ingredients, coupled if I just choose to enjoy a cocktail in the evening after dinner with a cigar. Two passions combined for a wonderfully relaxing experience!
What should you always have in your drinks-cupboard! (bottles/toppings)
Here is where knowing your flavour profile comes in handy. Stock those items you enjoy. I enjoy smooth, slightly bitter, slightly sweet cocktails more than others – so whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters or amaros are staples I would always want on hand. I have friends that enjoy bracing, clean cocktails, so they predominately have gin and vodka with dry vermouth in their home bars. The fun part comes in discovering your flavour profile – lots of sampling to find what you really like!
What about the serving glass? How important is it for the drink experience? Which kinds of glasses are a must-have?
I have read about the need for certain glasses to enhance the drink’s impact on the consumer. There is a lot of science behind it too, but in my opinion, I think how the drink is made makes a bigger impact than the glass it is served in. I think there are only two types of glasses needed. A Double Old Fashioned (DOF) glass (also known as a rocks glass) and a cocktail glass (the V-shaped stemmed typical martini glass). I prefer a stemless version as my hands are not holding the glass and warming the drink. Of course, if you desire to have a full set of glassware, you will enjoy the nuances received from using a Glencairn glass with scotch over a DOF, the flirtiness of using a coupe over a cocktail glass, and who can resist sipping out of a Nick and Nora glass – especially if you are with someone special. They are all nice to have for those one-off occasions, but definitely not required.
If there’s only one drink you could drink for the rest of your life, which one would it be and why?
Up until recently, I would have said a Manhattan. But after trying both the Gin & It and the Brooklyn, I would say it is a toss-up between them… probably leaning toward the Gin & It. 🙂
What’s your most beautiful cocktail memory/what’s the most memorable cocktail you’ve ever had?
Back in the early 2000’s I encountered the original Flatliner that was all the rage around Seattle. That cocktail was amazing… and I was lucky to have a friend provide me with the recipe that particular bartender used. Then while on vacation 2 years later, I taught it to a bartender on Maui and everyone wanted it. It was a hit for that bar!
And which was the worst? :-p
Wow, that is a tough question. I tend to block out those types of events. I can’t recall the cocktail’s name, but it contained grappa – which was not in my flavour profile. I was attending an event and a client wanted to share with me this great cocktail. Needless to say, I did not enjoy it, but I did finish it without the client knowing I suspected him of lacking taste buds! 😉
Finally, can you give Singlemade 3 tips for the perfect cocktail experience at home?
Certainly! Here are my tips for cocktail success at home. First, always use good quality ingredients. If the cocktail needs juice, opt for fresh juice over bottled or canned where possible. Mid-range spirits and liqueurs can provide the same cocktail experience as high-end items (sometimes, superior to high-end spirits), but avoid low-end ingredients. Second, learn the basics of bartending, i.e. when to stir over when to shake (yes, James Bond is wrong – always stir a martini, never shake it), how to peel a twist, etc. The little things matter to make an average cocktail more than average. Lastly, have fun. Experiment. Learn your flavour profile. Share with others. And most of all, smile and laugh.
Follow our Singlemade heroes into the fray and try one of Kent’s recipes! Share your Singlemade creations through #singlemade_it, @singlemade of email@example.com!
Have fun cooking and… bon appétit! 🙂