The Pinot-Fashioned

Early on in my bartending career, I found myself standing behind clothed folding table at many a beer-and-wine-only wedding reception. There, whilst pouring cheap wine from Methuselah-sized bottles into tiny clear plastic cups and popping the tops of Michelob Lights (long before the days of Ultra were these), I would invariably be asked for a wine spritzer by someone with too-tall hair and wobbly in their too-tall heels (generally female). In this environment, a wine spritzer consisted of: icing a glass and filling with equal parts of whatever white (or pink) wine you had on hand and Sprite (or ginger ale), then garnishing it with whatever sad fruit you had in your garnish bin (usually an oversized orange wheel and a neon, cherry-like thing). The person calling for said wine spritzer could be summed up by one (or all) of these three things: I want to be drunk at this wedding, but I like neither the taste of beer nor wine. I am not really quite old enough to be consuming alcohol at this wedding. I have no tolerance for alcohol and too much of the Sutter Home might cause me to Electric Boogaloo on the dance floor with Granna to the Journey cover band. In time, the word “spritzer” came to become the common derogation our crew of drink slingers would bestow upon anyone with neither the stamina nor good taste to drink good booze. “Spritzer boy at table 13 wants another pearl diver… and he said to make sure it’s brighter green this time!” Over the 27 years I have been bartending (and 31 years drinking), I have come to appreciate the low-octane cocktail, because there are times when you would like to have a boozy beverage, but you shouldn’t invest the rest of your day in the venture. (Sunday brunch… I repeat, Sunday brunch.) You could opt for the complimentary mimosa (professional recommendation: be skeptical of any alcoholic beverage given away for free), but why don’t you have this instead.

August 28, 2015


Muddle sugar, lemon juice and bitters in a Collins glass until the sugar has completely melted. Add wine, stir well and fill with ice. Top with club soda and stir again to combine. Twist lemon zest over the top of the glass and drop in.

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  • ½ tablespoon raw sugar
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 3 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • 3-4 ounces Pinot Noir (preferably a moderately priced Californian on the drier side)
  • Club soda to top
  • Lemon zest to garnish
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