Don't Be Hatin on the Blender

by Naren Young

I fondly remember some of the first cocktail I ever made, when I was about 15 years old. My mother would have people over for parties and I would happily assume the role of bartender (the word ‘mixologist’ wouldn’t creep into the modern lexicon for at least a decade in Australia). I would scour through any old cocktail books I could get my hands on, most of which were aimed at housewives and the like (think Women’s Weekly). I always found solace in making drinks in a blender. They were easy and could service a lot of people at once. Strawberry Daiquiris were a particular hit with the ladies, I might add.

All the bars I worked in up until the late 90s had blenders on the bar. Muddlers weren’t a common tool like they are now and customers would not be happy if they couldn’t get their frozen Pina Colada, its peaks standing tall and solid like the Matterhorn. Now blenders are chastised by the modern bartender, cast out as passé and reserved for college bars and perhaps somewhere tropical where a swim up pool and a cocktail umbrella seem more fitting.

But there is no shame in the blender I say. Richie Boccato and his crew over at PKNY on New York’s Lower East Side are making some very fine blended concoctions, the whir of their machines a never ending sound in this Tiki basement. From their signature Painkiller Cocktail, to a frozen Negroni, there’s nary a concoction in here that can’t, or won’t be blended. Except for beer. Some things should just be left alone.

On a trip to Jamaica last year I found there wasn’t a bar that didn’t proudly display at least a couple of blenders on the bar. I don’t care how many Vieux Carré Cocktails you stir or shake of an evening, nothing is more refreshing, appropriate or delicious than a velvety smooth Banana Daiquiri (replete with all the gaudy trimmings of course). When in Rome...

Let’s look at the Pisco Sour, one of the world’s great libations to be sure. This simple mix of pisco, fresh lime, some sugar and an egg white is about as tasty as they come. But while you’re getting arthritis dry shaking this drink into its signature foamy delight, know that in Peru at that very moment, every bartender making one is doing so with the humble blender. If those bartenders are making their Pisco Sours this way – in the country where it was invented – then that’s good enough for me. Happy blending everyone!

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