When Steven Hughes was growing up, he never dreamed his studies would lead to a job with the title master blender/spirits scientist.
Likewise, Tim Laird’s visions of being a CEO had little to do with being “chief entertaining officer.”
Yet that’s what the two have become for Canadian Mist. Together, they’re a sort of a contemporary Martin and Lewis, traveling the country to extol the virtues of the whiskey cocktail in a manner that’s tasty, humorous and maybe even a little enlightening.
The duo will be at the McNay Art Museum, 6000 N. New Braunfels, this Thursday for a special presentation that benefits the museum, “Mistology: The Science Behind the Cocktail.”
The purpose? “We want to get you thinking differently about your whiskey cocktails,” Hughes said in a telephone conference call recently.
To do that, they talk about a few favorites, such as the old fashioned and the whiskey sour. Hughes presents the science behind the distillation of whiskey as well as the history of the cocktail, while Laird provides “the entertainment.”
“Did you know that the original whiskey sour was made with egg whites?” Laird said, adding that the recipe was once a mixture of whiskey, simple syrup, egg white and freshly squeeze lemon juice.
The perfect simplicity of that drink, like many other potent potables, got corrupted over the years with the introduction of corn syrup-filled mixers, prefab citrus products that have no real citrus in them and other shortcuts that cut the cocktail short on flavor.
But with a growing interest in handcrafted drinks across the country, thanks in part to period movies on cable and shows like the two-martini lunch world of “Mad Men,” an increasing number of people are refusing to settle for a second-rate drink.
That’s where Hughes and Laird step in. “We want to take the intimidation away from making cocktails,” Laird said. “We want you to have fun at home and entertain with these things.”
One drink on the menu is sure to be a surprise to some in attendance. The duo plan to present a whiskey version of the cocktail that practically flows in our veins here in San Antonio. I mean, of course, the margarita.
Their variation is made with Canadian Mist, a Canadian whiskey, as well as lime juice and agave nectar. Laird assured me that it was not meant to replace our old standby, but merely to offer a new way of thinking about it.
Whichever way you make it, don’t forget to use freshly squeezed lime juice, both said. It makes all the difference in the world in terms of flavor and is one of the basic building blocks of an outstanding cocktail.
“If we can get you to be more conscious of simple, fresh ingredients, that’s a great first step” Hughes said.
Only a few tickets remain for “Mistology: The Science Behind the Cocktail,” which begins at 6 p.m. Thursday at the McNay Art Museum, 6000 N. New Braunfels. The event is open to anyone 21 years of age and older with admission of $8 per museum member or $10 per non-member. All proceeds benefit the McNay. Call (210) 805-1763 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a pair of recipes for Canadian Mist-based cocktails, click here.