Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Beach Fire

I had a standing arrangement with a friend to do a recipe for her Meyer limoncello. The limoncello was ready so here’s my end of the deal. The cachaça I mixed it with, Novo Fogo, is rich and complex, and opens up with dilution to reveal a distinct hint of sea water not unlike Brugal Extra Viejo. (Wishing I was walking on the beach right now with the glass shown below.)

Beach Fire
  • 2 oz cachaça
  • 3/4 oz Meyer limoncello
  • 1/2 oz lime juice
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Sherry Cocktail

Making good on a threat from a couple of posts ago, I present the Sherry Cocktail. In 1934, the Sherry Cocktail was reckoned by bartender and author Barney Burke to be the 13th most famous cocktail in the world. (Man, did that go the way of all flesh.) If made with dry sherry, it’s light, modern and easy to drink. It would be a good item to serve before lunch or dinner instead of a Martini, like when you have someone over who only drinks wine. (I have met such people though I do not find them easy to understand.)

Burke’s Sherry Cocktail in his Complete Cocktail & Drinking Recipes calls for 2 ounces sherry, 3 dashes dry vermouth and 4 dashes orange bitters. And at the beginning of the book, he defines his dash as three drops. So nine drops of dry vermouth? In a glass of sherry and bitters? Really? The CocktailDB came in at a half ounce of vermouth and only 2 dashes orange bitters. That sounded like a recipe you could follow—a drink you could actually make without tossing and turning all night wondering what on earth the man meant. Measuring out nine drops of dry vermouth might give me a complex.

(In the CocktailDB, by way of The Café Royal Cocktail Book, there is also a drink called the Plain Sherry Cocktail. This is sherry with dashes of maraschino and absinthe, which seems less plain than the Sherry Cocktail. Something has been added there but I can’t seem to work out what.)

Sherry Cocktail

  • 2 oz pale sherry (fino is good)
  • 1/2 oz dry vermouth
  • 1 dash orange bitters (Fee Bros)
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

I felt like Fee’s orange bitters this time. Regans’ would be be fine, if very different, and Angostura Orange probably too assertive. Notice that I’ve only used a dash. Two dashes trampled the light, bone-dry sherry I used. In any case, it sounds like there’s some latitude with the sherry. Maybe Burke’s was an amontillado, but nobody would’ve tasted even ten drops of dry vermouth in that.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Speak Low

I went to a big party in December, a potluck at a house I’d never been to before and didn’t know the crowd. But I figured nothing succeeds like liquor so I made up a batch of a room temp cocktail I’d spotted on Cocktail Virgin Slut, Creole Lady. It features Madeira, my favorite wine of that sort. As it happened, my hosts had invited someone else who felt the same way more than somewhat, and she was my best customer. What’s more, she started ordering Creole Lady all over town. Must’ve been the recipe and the Madeira I’d made it with, a Blandy’s 5-year Malmsey. I’ve used the same for this original cocktail as a foil for some apple brandy and a trace of smoky scotch—my favorite personal invention in a while. Sending this one out to the fellow party guest who likes Madeira.

Speak Low
  • 2 oz Laird’s straight apple brandy
  • 1 oz Madeira
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice
  • 1/8 oz or scant tsp Ardbeg Single Malt
  • 1 dash Jerry Thomas’ Own Decanter Bitters
  • tiny pinch sea salt
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The World’s 14 Most Famous Cocktails

Greetings, folks. A touch of upper respiratory crud has me thinking that maybe this is not the moment to try a recipe, but it’s as good a time as any to present for your astonishment a list of popular drinks from 1934 with comments by yours truly. This list is nothing less than the “World’s 14 Most Famous Cocktails” from my copy of Burke’s Complete Cocktail & Drinking Recipes by Barney Burke. It is a wondrous list—at least it leaves me wondering: why 14? And why “famous”? (“Yeah—I know that one but wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole.”) And who figured this out?

“On the inside cover is a list of Cocktails that may be considered conventional and reasonably safe. The list represents the consumption of more drinks per annum than all the other mixtures combined.” That seems reassuring if not too well documented. And you can’t help but feel confident in Burke when he notes, “Many of the modern cocktail mixtures are closely akin to gun-cotton, and should be avoided.” So in case there was any doubt, we have the evidence of a professional that people ordered disgusting things in the ’30s too.

But let’s see what was supposed to have been nice.

  1. Martini Cocktail (Dry or Sweet)—OK, I’ll buy that as Number 1. Everybody’s heard of that, even nowadays, though there seems to be some confusion as to what’s in it. But even Burke’s sweet one is a Dry Martini sweetened by the addition of sweet vermouth and not, say, hazelnut liqueur. And he puts orange bitters in the dry one. (In case anybody reading this doesn’t know, when it’s got both vermouths like that, it’s sometimes called a Perfect Martini. Beats me why, though it’s OK as those things go.)
  2. Manhattan Cocktail (Sweet or Dry)—Well, that would be second. Burke’s Manhattans are stirred, by the way, if any of my most recent bartenders are reading this. And his Dry Manhattan is the standard Manhattan recipe, and has 2 dashes Angostura. Curiously, he adds not only twist but olive. We might skip that detail. (His Sweet is a Perfect with gum syrup. So make the Dry Manhattan a Sweet, add dry vermouth, then sweeten. Or is that, hm....)
  3. Bronx Cocktail (Dry or Sweet)—I puzzled out the Bronx Cocktail pretty much completely this time last year and still have no clue why it was third most famous—when you make them as Burke indicates, at any rate.
  4. Old Fashioned Whiskey Cocktail (Sweet)—Straightforward enough: booze, sugar, bitters, a couple of dashes either curacao or absinthe. But then along with the twist, he drops in a slice of orange and beats it up. Not quite the old Old Fashioned, not quite the new. The mixological equivalent of a transitional fossil. Kinda freaky.
  5. Sidecar Cocktail (Sweet)—Again, this is pretty believable as one of those things everybody’s heard of, whether they know how it’s made or not. (Usually not.) Burke gives the strong-sweet-tart formula at least some of us still expect, and with a sugar rim.
  6. Clover Club Cocktail (Dry)—This is pretty much the same strong-sweet-tart template as the previous cocktail so “Dry” doesn’t help you much there. By the way, when they wanted pomegranate drinks in those days, they used grenadine.
  7. Gin Rickey (Dry)—This is indeed a dry formula: gin, lime, soda. I suspect a lot of people nowadays would wonder what happened to the sugar. Then again, how many of them would know what a rickey is, anyway?
  8. Gin Fizz (Sweet or Dry)—The Dry would be good for those who like the previous number without ice. If you could order with this sort of precision everywhere, wouldn’t life be grand? I wonder how many got it right in 1934.
  9. Bacardi Cocktail (Dry)—See Clover Club.
  10. Alexander Cocktail No. 1 (Sweet)—a drink for people who don’t like liquor but like the effect. Nowadays they’ve stopped numbering the Alexanders and call them Martinis. You try figuring it out.
  11. Rock and Rye (Sweet)—Anybody else spend time in a bar staring at that dusty bottle of who-knows-what sitting next to the crummy sloe gin? Who’da thunk it was based on the twelfth most famous cocktail? OK, here goes: “Rye Whiskey, 1 glass. Rock Candy, 1 piece. Add the juice of 1 Lemon and stir until the candy dissolves. Serve in the same glass.” (Hm—sounds like that might be good for my cold.)
  12. Whiskey Cocktail (Dry)—A-ha! Like the above Old Fashioned Whiskey Cocktail (Sweet) but with a cherry instead of an orange. Not sure what’s afoot here but at least he didn’t mash the fruit.
  13. Sherry Cocktail (Sweet or Dry)—Sherry, dry vermouth, orange bitters—perfectly nice, graceful wine cocktail. In the dry version, it would be just swell before dinner. Looks well worth reviving. Might be my next post.
  14. Dubonnet Cocktail (Sweet)—Dubonnet and gin. There’s that nifty interzone between the Martini and the Manhattan in which all these old aromatic numbers live. That people broadly used to know about such things and might again one day is the whole point of writing a drink blog.
So there’s the list, such as it is. If it’s an accurate picture of what most people liked at the end of Prohibition, it seems they had pretty good taste on the whole, or at least Barney Burke did. He offers the good with the bad drinks of the day, observing that “liberty must not be restrained” but giving us this list right away.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Dry Rye Martini

I want to say right up front that I don’t approve of the trend of calling everything in a conical glass a Martini. Let’s call things by their own names. A Martini is a gin-vermouth combo. I’m prepared to call any added dashes and splashes a matter of taste, but the Martini has to have gin and vermouth—unless the gin tastes like rye, as in Dry Rye Gin by St. George Spirits, in which case, you would do better to call it a Dry Rye Martini. And if instead of dry vermouth you made it with Cocchi Americano—say a fair amount of it—you wouldn’t have a Dry Martini—though it could still be a Dry Rye Martini. Except that it wouldn’t be dry—only the Dry Rye would be dry. And the Dry Rye is gin, and dry, but not like a London dry gin. But it’s just as dry—you follow me?

Now don’t think for a moment that this is a Martini because it’s not. Except that it is. There’s the gin—but Dry Rye isn’t what I’d call a Martini gin. Except, I suppose, if you used it in a Martini recipe, which this is. You got the gin and the vermouth. And orange bitters. You don’t hear much about orange bitters in Martinis anymore. Why would that ever go away? But it seems to be coming back. I’m glad. Anyway, here’s the recipe. Have at it.

Dry Rye Martini

  • 2 oz St. George Spirits Dry Rye Gin
  • 3/4 oz Cocchi Americano (or Lillet will do)
  • 2 dashes Regans’ Orange Bitters
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Lemon twist.

You can twist the twist and drop it in, or discard it if you find that your twist keeps ending up in your mouth near the end of the drink. But if that happens, you’re probably gulping. I won’t tell you not to drink too fast. That’s your own affair.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Autumn Decade

I got the idea for this while sipping gold Rhum J.M one evening with some friends. Someone pointed out the apricot note in the rum, especially when it opened up a little with water. I’ve kept the apricot brandy in the background so you can still taste the rum. The color of J.M is apricot too.

Autumn Decade

  • 1 1/2 oz Bacardi 8
  • 3/4 oz gold Rhum J.M
  • 2 tsp Grand Marnier
  • 1 tsp apricot brandy
  • 1/2 oz lime juice
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Smoky Michelada

Maybe I could wait until the weather’s warmer before posting a quencher like a Michelada, but suddenly I feel like playing with beer. The one in this recipe is Schlenkerla Oak Smoke, a great ingredient to cook with as well. A pint bottle will do two drinks—or one if you’re very thirsty.

Smoky Michelada
  • 8 oz Schlenkerla Oak Smoke beer, or to taste
  • 3 oz tomato juice
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 dashes hot sauce
  • 2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • salt, for rim
Rim chilled pint glass with salt. Shake remaining ingredients except beer with ice lightly 10 times. Pour into glass and add beer. Stir briefly. Lime shell garnish.

The smoke’s in the background, contributing to the overall savoriness and amping up the pepper sauce. Light but very flavorful.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.