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Archive for May, 2008


After 95 years of being a big no no, absinthe is once again legal in the United States. Here in Boston we are fortunate to have wonderful liquor retailers such as Brix and Downtown Wine and Spirits so finding the two available absinthes, Lucid and Kubler, is a simple enough task. But what do you do once you’ve made that purchase?

Traditionally the consumption of absinthe was highly ritualized. At the end of a long, arduous day folks would meet for the green hour. With a glass of absinthe in hand, people would gather around an absinthe fountain. From multiple spigots ice water would slowly drip over sugar cube laden slotted absinthe spoons. As the glasses of absinthe slowly clouded over from the bottom up those waiting to imbibe would catch up on the day’s news and local gossip. Once the liquid was a uniform, pearly color the absinthe was ready to drink. Obviously not many of us today have an absinthe fountain hanging around, but you can easily replicate this process at home with a small pitcher of ice water, spoons and your good friends.
Of course as lovers of all things cocktail, the ladies of LUPEC love to use our absinthe to mix up something tasty during our green hour! Here are a few recipes to get you started.

CHRYSANTHEMUM COCKTAIL
2 oz French Vermouth
1 oz Benedictine
3 dashes Absinthe
Stir ingredients with ice. Strain into your favorite chilled vintage cocktail glass. Squeeze orange peel on top.

CORPSE REVIVER NO. 2*
.75 oz Dry Gin
.75 oz Lillet
.75 oz Cointreau
.75 oz Lemon Juice
1 dash Absinthe
Shake ingredients well with ice. Strain into your favorite chilled vintage cocktail glass.

* In The Savoy Cocktail Book author Harry Craddock noted “Four of these taken in quick succession will unrevive the corpse again.”

FASCINATOR COCKTAIL
2 oz Dry Gin
1 oz French Vermouth
2 dashes Absinthe
1 mint sprig
Shake ingredients well with ice. Strain cocktail through a tea strainer into your favorite chilled vintage cocktail glass.

Are you still thirsty and feeling a bit adventurous? Pull out your favorite recipes that call for pastis and substitute absinthe. Remember that absinthe can be kind of a bully, so start by using small quantities and then adjust to taste.

Cheers!

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by Pink Gin

The theme of the May LUPEC Boston meeting was Travel.

We live in an amazing time when women have status and choices and when travel is cheap and easy. The ladies of LUPEC Boston celebrated the convergence of these ‘movements’ with food, drink, conversation, and authentic costumes from around the world. Featured readings came from Stuff at Night (on the topic of LUPEC’s Little Black Book of Cocktails), the Complete Book for the Intelligent Woman Traveler by Frances Koltun, published in 1967 (on the lively topic of bidets), and Easy to Make Maidens and Cocktails: A Mixing, Swingers Bar Guide published by Enrol in 1965 (illustrated with a saucy dame for each base spirit).

Recipes were selected on the theme of travel, including the traveler’s imperative to seek out local specialties – in this case, JP!

Monday-night Mug

MONDAY NIGHT MUG
2 bottles of Cantina Bostonia White Table Wine
~12 oz. Picon
~6 oz. St. Germain
10-12 dashes orange bitters
1 lemon
Mix the refrigerated wine and other liquid ingredients into a punch bowl. Slice the lemon and float on top.

This recipe was inspired by the French classic of mixing local white wine and Picon. Cantina Bostonia is the only Boston-based wine maker. They make sulfite-free wines just a few blocks away in the brewery complex. The wines have plenty of character and will definitely remind you of homemade. In this case the recipe testing and decision to create a punch came late the night before the LUPEC meeting. Thanks to k. montuori for recipe development and for saying, “In JP you don’t get punched, you get mugged.”

PINK GIN
Recipe as given in the Little Black Book.

Inspired by thoughts of the high seas, of course!
NORMANDY
Recipe as given in the Little Black Book. Harpoon Cider is the featured Boston ingredient.

IRISH COFFEE WITH A SECRET
~1 tsp. sugar of any sort (I happened to have agave syrup last night and it was fine)
2 oz. Irish whiskey (Powers was the brand on hand)
8 oz. stovetop espresso brewed with a generous portion of red pepper flake (thanks to mcoffee for the brew)
Heavy cream (from a New England farm of course)
Assemble the sugar, whiskey, and coffee in a stemmed glass. Stir. Whip unsweetened cold cream to desired consistency (I like it just shy of soft peaks) and carefully spoon on top. One story has it that the original Irish Coffee was invented in the Shannon International Airport Lounge. Truth or fiction? Who cares! The secret is in the spice.

Cheers!

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by Pink Lady

The LUPEC Boston column in this week’s issue of the Weekly Dig stars two spirits that have become less and less vogue in the age of the extra extra dry, extra extra dirty vodka martini: gin and vermouth. I will save discussion of the “original” martini recipe (and modern bastardizations thereof) for a later date. For now, let’s get to know these two glorious spirits a little better. They are key ingredients in a good many endangered cocktails, as LUPEC Boston member and Drinkboston founder Barbara West explains beautifully here. To coax these classics back from beyond the grave you will need to cozy up to both.

So, vermouth: qu’est-ce que c’est?

It’s simply fortified wine aromatized with herbs and spices. As the story goes, vermouth was invented in Italy in the 1780s by Anthony Carpano — allegedly it was grandma’s recipe — and the name is derived from the German term for key ingredient wormwood (“Wermuth“). Vermouth herb & spice blends are as protected and proprietary as recipes for gin botanicals, and can contain something on the order of 40 – 50 ingredients. Carpano’s original vermouth was sweet and red; about a generation later, French herbalist Joseph Noilly invented a dry vermouth based on the delicate, dry white wines and local plants of his region, and also made with wormwood (which is also a key ingredient in Absinthe; more info on that in next week’s column.)

Vermouth was originally referred to according to its country of origin, especially in old cocktail books. Italian vermouth references the sweet stuff and French vermouth references dry. Grazie, Antonio! Merci, Joseph!

Many Americans fear vermouth in this modern age of drinking, as The Spirit World‘s post on the topic articulates. Perhaps your first encounter was with vermouth that had gone stale for lack of use in your parent’s liquor cabinet? Lesson learned, you shouldn’t have been dipping into their stash while they were out of town, anyway. In any event, I implore you to give vermouth another try as a grown up. It’s cheap enough to buy a few bottles, taste and compare, and discover on your own what you like best — and what works best in different cocktail recipes. Married…with Dinner conducted a vermouth-by-vermouth in home taste test, the results of which are very enlightening.

My most recent vermouth “a-ha!” moment came with the purchase of a bottle each of Extra Dry and Sweet Vya at Brix in the South End. It’s expensive for sure, retailing for $25 whereas other bottles in the category hover around $7 – $10, but Vya is a truly worth it investment, especially if you can find a way to write off alcohol purchases. Vya Extra Dry is light, herbaceous, and melon-y; Vya Sweet is warm, complex, citrus-y and spicy — it reminds me of sipping my Swedish Pop-pop’s glug by the fire on a snowy New Year’s Eve in Vermont.

And for you gin-shy folks…

I actually did have a gin-cident circa my freshman year of college. I do not speak of what ensued that night and I didn’t touch the juniper scented stuff for nearly a decade thereafter. Then I fell in love with classic cocktails and it was only a matter of time before my vodka days were numbered. If I can do it, you can too.

What really brought me back was the gin tasting we did at our very first LUPEC meeting in February 2007. It was an aggressive re-entry but it got me over the initial hump, and also taught me a very important lesson: not all gins are created equal. I found Hendrick’s, with its crisp, clean flavors and fresh cucumber notes t be a great gateway gin. I also like the then locally unavailable Blue Coat Gin that a friend had smuggled across state lines for our hostess from the “City of Brotherly Love.” I also learned as we tasted each gin side-by-side that it is the botanical blend of Tanqueray that my mind and palate equate with my gincident, not gin or it’s juniper flavors. Et voila, I am now officially a gin girl.

I’m sure you’ve tried Absolut Citron or Grey Goose Orange; gin is just a few steps away from those flavored neutral grain spirits. Here are a few starter cocktails to get you going:

THE PEGU CUB
So refreshing & delicious, this is the one that REALLY brought me back to gin, at Taste of the South End last year. I had about seventeen of these.
1.5 oz Plymouth Gin
.5 oz Orange Curacao
.5 oz Fresh Lime Juice
1 dash Angostura Bitters
1 dash Orange Bitters

BLUE SKIES
Tried this again recently at our April ’08 meeting at Barbara West’s house — so delicious!
1 oz Applejack
1 oz Gin
.5 oz Lemon Juice
.25 oz Simple Syrup
1 or dashes grenadine
Shake with cracked ice and strain into your favorite vintage cocktail glass!

THE FRENCH 75
What better way to sneak gin into the glass of an unsuspecting gin-phobe? By adding lemon, sugar, and champagne…
2 oz Gin
1 oz fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons sugar or 1 tsp simple syrup
Champagne

Cin cin!

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by Pink Lady

Hopefully you all caught the debut of the LUPEC Boston column in this week’s issue of The Weekly Dig. As promised, here’s a little more info on our favorite recipe for the Pink Lady, and a few notes on why I thought it an appropriate choice as the very first cocktail for our very first Dig column.

At first glance The Pink Lady appears to bear all the trappings of a “girly” drink – a feminine name, an approachable frothiness, a pastel hue. But the Pink Lady is no drink for the faint of heart: its tart-dry flavor is a far cry from the cloyingly sweet “girly” cocktails we’re wary of in this modern era of drinking. And its boozy gin & apple brandy base packs a whallop. As Eric Felten wrote in his Wall Street Journal column on the topic, “though a tasty drink worthy of inclusion in the cocktail canon, the Pink Lady has found its reputation dogged by association with a dubious aesthetic.” It is a cocktail that is easily underestimated. After enjoying one or two of these, though, I’m sure you’ll agree: ladylike as she is, the Pink Lady kicks ass and takes names. She’s a LUPEC kind of gal. Our favorite recipe is below:

PINK LADY COCKTAIL
1.5 oz gin
.5 oz applejack
.5 oz fresh lemon juice
.5 oz grenadine (preferably homemade)
1 egg white
Combine ingredients in a shaker and shake vigorously without ice.

Add ice; shake continue vigorous shaking. Strain into your favorite vintage cocktail glass. There are two classic cocktail lessons inherent in the making of a Pink Lady:

Lesson #1: Quality of ingredients: your drinks will only taste as good as the stuff you use to make them. Most of the cocktails the ladies of LUPEC Boston are intent on reviving were invented in the days before preservatives kept juices intact for weeks on end. When trying them out at home, you too should use the freshest ingredients you can find. For the Pink Lady you’ll need fresh lemons and we highly recommend using homemade grenadine: the flavor is leaps and bounds beyond the stuff you can buy in a bottle, and it’s really simple to make. Hanky Panky’s recipe is below.

Grenadine

Combine equal parts pomegranate juice (Pom, par example) and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for 7 minutes. Remove from heat and add 1 tsp orange flower water for every 1/2 cup pomegranate juice used. Cool.

Lesson #2: Eggs in cocktails: We know, we know. The whole “egg thing” is a really weird concept for many classic cocktail novices, but I promise you, your trip down classic cocktail lane won’t be nearly as fulfilling if you can’t get over it. As you cozy up to the raw-egg-in-a-drink idea, ask yourself: when is the last time you ever heard of someone in America actually getting salmonella? And if I offered you a taste of delicious raw batter from the cookies I’ve just whipped up, would you decline? I thought not. If you’re still having doubts, check out this recent article in the New York Times: see, eggs are HUGE in New York.

Once you’re ready to take the egg plunge, get your biceps ready. For egg cocktails to reach the delicious, frothy state that is their hallmark, you’ve got to shake the bejesus out of them. First, however, the egg white must be emulsified, hence the instruction to combine all ingredients in your shaker and give ‘em a good shake BEFORE adding ice. A very insightful post on the topic can be found on the Robert Huegel’s Explore the Pour blog: the author advocates shaking ingredients ten times, then add just slightly more ice than the amount of standing liquid in your shaker.

After adding ice, shake…and shake…and shake…and shake your Pink Lady, remembering all the while that egg cocktails take time — a LONG time — but once they are perfect and complete in your cocktail glass, just seconds from slipping down your throat, they are oh so worth the labor and the wait.

Like anything worth doing, really.

Cin-cin!

Pink Lady photo borrowed from the Thinking of Drinking blog.

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by Pink Lady

Boston residents will soon be able to get their weekly dose of LUPEC in print as well as here online.

Starting next week The Weekly Dig will publish a weekly LUPEC Boston column filled with all manner of boozy material including cocktail history, tips for how to mix awesome classic drinks at home, introductions to new spirits, the story behind vintage spirits, news about our upcoming events, and more — and a cocktail recipe each week, of course.

Pick up a copy of this week’s Dig to read an introduction by our fabulous editor and fellow cocktail maven, Christine Liu.

Try one of these as you toast our new print home!

THE IRMA LA DOUCE
A LUPEC ORIGINAL, 2007 from Little Black Blook of Cocktails: Namesake & Favorite Recipes by LUPEC Boston. Irma La Douce is a movie in which Shirley MacLaine plays a Parisian prostitute who wears bright green stockings.

1.5 ounces Hendrick’s Gin
.5 ounces Green Chartreuse
.5 ounces cucumber purée (peel and blend fresh cucumber, then pass through a sieve)
.5 ounces fresh lemon juice
.5 ounces fresh grapefruit juice
.25 ounces simple syrup
Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Cin-cin!

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by Pink Lady

Dear Boston Drinkers,

The ladies of LUPEC Boston would like to invite you all to raise a glass to our very favorite holiday week: World Cocktail Week.

The brainchild of the geniuses behind the Museum of the American Cocktail, World Cocktail Week was established to celebrate the rich history of the cocktail and recognize the craftsmanship and skill of the bartenders who have been mixing them for over 200 years. It starts today, May 8th and culminates on World Cocktail Day, Tuesday, May 13th.

We will be celebrating World Cocktail Day on May 13th at the Drinkboston party at Green Street (details to follow on that.) Hopefully some of you will join us there. In the event that you can’t, why not start the celebration today with a Sazerac? Believed by some to be the “original” cocktail, and unarguably one of the oldest cocktails around, we couldn’t think of a better way to kick off the celebration than kicking back with one of these.

THE SAZERAC
Recipe borrowed from drinkboston.com
1 sugar cube (4-7 grams)
7 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
1 oz water
3 oz Sazerac rye whiskey
A few drops of Herbsaint (pastis)
Muddle first three ingredients in mixing glass. “Rinse” a pre-chilled, old-fashioned glass with Herbsaint (pour drops of Herbsaint into glass, swirl and discard). Add rye to mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir well for 30 seconds and strain into Herbsaint-rinsed glass. Squeeze lemon twist over glass and rub around rim. Discard peel.

Cin cin!

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