Photo illustration: Jeremy Allen/Bloomberg Business; photograph: Stephen Pulvirent/Bloomberg Business
Drink

Should You Let Google Be Your Bartender?

We test eight quick-search recipes

Google knows everything, right? Right?  

Now when you type a cocktail's name into the search engine, you get a list of ingredients and a recipe in addition to your normal search results. That's fine and dandy—assuming the instructions are on point. Nobody should suffer a bad cocktail. I shudder at the thought.

So like the concerned journalist I am, I've put my bar cart (and cocktail-shaking biceps) to the test to find out if Google's go-to recipes are up to snuff . Where they're not, and can be saved, I've suggested changes. It's a tough job, but one I'm willing to do for you. Just buy me a drink next time we're out (but please, not the Google version of a French 75).

Sidecar

Photo illustration: Jeremy Allen/Bloomberg Business; photograph: (right) Stephen Pulvirent/Bloomberg Business

Not a great start for Google. The Sidecar was pleasant enough, if a little soft and flat tasting. It sort of reminded me of a yellow VitaminWater, but not in a good way. Cut the triple sec and lemon juice to a half ounce each, use a good Cognac, and remember to shake hard so you get those little ice crystals on top. That's the best part.

Margarita

Photo illustration: Jeremy Allen/Bloomberg Business; photograph: (right) Stephen Pulvirent/Bloomberg Business

Exactly what a Margarita should be. A little boozy, more sour than sweet, and easy enough to drink that you want more than you should have. Stick to silver tequilas here; the vanilla and spice flavors you get from barrel-aging will just muddy things up. Get it as cold as you can, and be generous with the salt. Really generous.

Martini

Photo illustration: Jeremy Allen/Bloomberg Business; photograph: (right) Stephen Pulvirent/Bloomberg Business

I had unnatural anxiety when I hit search on this one, worried that I'd get a recipe including vodka. Thankfully, Google kept to the classic—and correct, despite what you might prefer—base liquor of gin. The ratios are good if you like a drier Martini, and you even get a choice of lemon twist or olive. In the interest of rigorous journalism, I tested it with both a softer gin (Hendricks) and a spicier gin (Sipsmith), and both were winners.

Old Fashioned

Photo illustration: Jeremy Allen/Bloomberg Business; photograph: (right) Stephen Pulvirent/Bloomberg Business

Lesson one: Sugar does not dissolve well in alcohol, so reach for simple syrup instead of the charming-but-annoying sugar cube unless you like a gritty Old Fashioned. The ratios also felt all kinds of off with this recipe. The cocktail tasted like fruity sugar whiskey, and I could barely stomach a second sip. This is a hard pass.

Daiquiri

Photo illustration: Jeremy Allen/Bloomberg Business; photograph: (right) Stephen Pulvirent/Bloomberg Business

This is really too easy to drink. The Daiquiri tastes almost like a limeade, which is not a bad thing at all. You could make it more interesting by using a funky Jamaican white rum, but it's extremely drinkable with the simpler stuff. My only additional suggestion is that you drink it in a deck chair by a pool. In fact, that's a must.

French 75

Photo illustration: Jeremy Allen/Bloomberg Business; photograph: (right) Stephen Pulvirent/Bloomberg Business

This is everything a French 75 shouldn't be. It's flat, it's sweet, and it's surprisingly bland. You want some heat and flavor from the gin, some sourness from the lemon, and all those bubbles from the Champagne. Leave out the sugar and double the amount of Champagne for something a little closer to the real thing.

Sazerac

Photo illustration: Jeremy Allen/Bloomberg Business; photograph: (right) Stephen Pulvirent/Bloomberg Business

I don't know why Google is so obsessed with sugar cubes, but (again) choose simple syrup instead. Or even better, leave the sugar out altogether since most absinthes have enough already. Whether you choose Cognac or rye, you want a Sazerac to kick you in the teeth a little. This recipe does just that.

Last Word

Photo illustration: Jeremy Allen/Bloomberg Business; photograph: (right) Stephen Pulvirent/Bloomberg Business

What else were we going to make to finish the test? A Long Island Iced Tea? Forget it. Even if that recipe does look pretty decent. 

The Last Word is a cocktail for professionals (read: those who actually enjoy their booze instead of using it as a vehicle for something else), and this recipe really delivers. There are so many flavors happening in one glass that you'll have to make a few to really get a handle on it. Trust me on this one.

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