If you want to know whether or not the guy behind the counter of a bar actually knows his job, order a Madras which is a very simple alcoholic drink, but less than half the world's bartenders actually know it by name.
Most bartenders respond to the word 'Madras' with a blank stare. Furthermore, a bartender who knows a Madras tends to be a better bartender both in service and in quality of product. The bartenders who don't know about it, rarely get it, or any other drink, quite right.
- 1 1/4 oz vodka
- 3/4 oz cranberry juice
- 3/4 oz orange juice
- slice of lime
- 1 Very talented bartender
Take 1 and 1/4 oz of vodka. Add equal amounts of cranberry juice and orange juice. Toss in a slice of lime. That's a Madras. A Madras is actually a cross between a Cape Cod and a Screwdriver. Really simple.
However, a very good bartender knows precisely how much juice to mix with the vodka. There is both a science and an art to this, and the secret to a good Madras lies in this elusive combination. More than a splash. Less than too much.
For a Madras to taste ideal, your taste buds should almost question whether or not there is alcohol in it. Ideally, you should almost taste the vodka, but not be too sure.
If you're trying to quit drinking altogether, drink Madrases during social occasions for several weeks until you become very comfortable with them. Then begin ordering virgin Madrases, without the vodka. Your taste buds will still think you're drinking alcohol but your liver will know better.
What to Expect When you Order a Madras
What can I do fer ya?
I'd like a Madras, please.
(Composed sigh) Do you know what a Screwdriver is?
Do you know what a Cape Cod is?
A Madras is a Screwdriver and a Cape Cod.
Well why didn't you say so?
At which point you'll inevitably get an orange drink and a reddish drink in two separate glasses and will be charged for two separate drinks.
Even when the drink arrives in the same glass, the combination will rarely be to your liking and it may reach the point where if the barman asks 'What's a Madras?', you'll politely excuse yourself and find another bar.
If you ask for a Madras and the bartender nonchalantly nods and turns away, you have just found either a very talented bartender, or a competent poker-face. Watch him closely. You are about to witness a master at work. Observe as he casually spins the concoction together like a well-heeled ghost story. Remember his name and tip him: there are a precious few truly gifted bartenders in this world.
Variations and Tips
Strongly recommended is an 'Absolut Madras' which means you'll get high quality vodka. Otherwise they'll hit you with something horrid: if you don't specify, they'll pour you the cheap urine vodka that they've been trying to get rid of for years.
Never make your own Madras unless you're a trained professional. You'll never get it right. Also pay attention to the spelling: madres is Spanish for 'mothers' and madris and maudress are just incorrect. It is, however, pronounced as if it were spelled 'mad dress' with emphasis on the first syllable.