Better Know A Blogger: Professor Cocktail
A fourth-generation Californian, David J. Montgomery spent close to 20 years in Bakersfield, learning, as he puts it, "...the joys of Coors Light, Picon Punch, Fernet after dinner, and plenty of cheap red wine." Now residing in D.C.'s Northern Virginia suburbs, the longtime author and book critic is the scribe behind Professor Cocktail. On the blog Montgomery documents his spirit sampling, awarding As to bottles he'd happily drink forever, and lesser grades to those falling short of world-class status. While he admits to occasional grade inflation (enthusiasm over new distilling techniques is to blame for that) his professor title is 100 percent legit. Montgomery spent several years teaching college history, and is well versed in the influence spirits have had on U.S. culture. Naturally, when we asked him a few questions about his blog and drink preferences, we were more than happy to play the role of student. Here's what we learned.
Société Perrier: What sparked your interest in spirits?
David J. Montgomery: It's mostly something that just grew over time. I always enjoyed a cocktail, but it was usually something simple like a gin and tonic, screwdriver or 7 and 7. It was only in the past couple of years that I became interested in exploring spirits for their own merits. Once I got to that point, it opened up a whole new world for me.
What has the blogging experience been like thus far? Is it what you envisioned?
It's actually been a lot more fun than I anticipated. I've enjoyed some success in other writing arenas -- most notably as a book critic -- but writing about spirits and cocktails has been a blast. I think it helps that, you know, I'm writing about booze. I didn't really have any expectations when I started, so it's all gravy. I look forward to a lot of fun things in the future.
Is there anything you’ve been dying to taste that you haven’t gotten your hands on yet?
Lots of things! There are so many great bourbons and rums out there, in particular, that I've never tried. Buffalo Trace's Antique Collection, Plantation's Rhums. And that's just the two that immediately come to mind. I've never really delved into Scotch, and there are so many new craft gins. I could try new things every week for the next twenty years and never run out. But I'm certainly willing to give it a try.
What’s one drink you’d never be caught drinking?
I don't think there is one. I have very liberal tastes when it comes to alcohol. As long as something isn't outright disgusting, I'd probably give it a try. Well, maybe not glazed donut vodka... I'm not sure that's necessary. But I'll drink Cosmos, Long Island Iced Teas... the “touristy” drinks don't bother me.
Thus far, what are your favorite new bottles of 2012?
I think the Pierre Ferrand 1840 Original Formula Cognac and Dry Curaçao are both exciting new products. They give bartenders and mixologists a chance to experiment with cocktails in the 19th century style and that's pretty damn cool. I was also impressed with the Z Tequilas, a line of authentic artisan tequilas. They're doing some very interesting things that are definitely worth watching
What’s your recommendation for a great party drink that’s easy to make but will also impress guests?
Some type of punch -- I'm a big believer in punches. (Thanks David Wondrich!) They're easy to make and can be prepared ahead of time, allowing the host to drink and have fun with his guests. The particular punch you choose will depend on the spirits you like best, the occasion, the season, etc. But there are a lot of great recipes out there, so you're certain to find something you like. Wondrich's book Punch: The Delights (and Dangers) of the Flowing Bowl is a great place to start. Or just Google “punch recipe” along with the name of your favorite bartender.
Images courtesy Professor Cocktail