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Archive for July, 2008

Get your hands on a bottle of sloe gin, turn up Rumors by Fleetwood Mac, and let the games begin!

SLOE COMFORTABLE SCREW
from Dale DeGroff’s Craft of the Cocktail
1 oz sloe gin
1 oz Southern Comfort
4 oz fresh orange juice
Orange slice for garnish

This drink has sloe gin, southern comfort, and OJ — get it? A sloe, comfortable screw. Build in a highball glass. Garnish with an orange slice.

ALABAMA SLAMMER
from Dale DeGroff’s Craft of the Cocktail
3/4 oz Southern Comfort
1 oz vodka
3/4 oz sloe gin
4 oz fresh orange juice
6 dashes grenadine, for garnish

Shake all ingredients hard with ice, strain into six 1-oz shot glasses, and dash the top of each with grenadine. Bottoms up!

Trader Vic’s Bartender’s Guide Revised Edition has a whole section devoted to Sloe Gin (and Pisco!) so pick up a copy and get inspired. I tried this cocktail and loved it — it’s surprisingly well balanced, sweet but not cloying, and utterly imbibeable.

SAN FRANCISCO COCKTAIL
3/4 oz sloe gin
3/4 oz Italian vermouth
3/4 oz French vermouth
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 dash orange bitters
Shake with ice cubes. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Add a cherry.

Cin-cin!

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by Pink Lady

While putting together this week’s Weekly Dig column on syrups I became intrigued about the origins of grenadine. This delicious pomegranate syrup is a key ingredient in both my namesake cocktail AND my favorite kiddie cocktail (the Shirley Temple). But when, exactly, did this delicious syrup become a fashionable mixer?

While writing about the Daisy in Imbibe, David Wondrich refers to the cocktail circa the 1870s as “something of a dude’s drink, a little bit of fanciness that came empinkened with grenadine.” Maybe it started then-ish?

Who knows. The I could find little data on who innovated the use of grenadine in cocktails, but a few of the following, totally unrelated facts popped up repeatedly as I searched:

  • There is a chain of Islands located in the Caribbean that share the same name as the delicious syrup. Nary a pomegranate grows on these islands, though. Nor to they grow on the adjacent island of Grenada.
  • The French word for pomegranate? La grenade. The Spanish word? La Granada. There is some speculation that these islands got their name from early settlers who thought the island’s shape resembled that of the fruit. I mean, maybe that happened…
  • There is an odd/fascinating legal situation a-brew wherein Grenada and/or the Grenadine islands are looking to claim rights to the name of the ruby red syrup, thus profiting from the sales of Grenadine with a capital “G”. Read more about it here.

Irrelevant facts aside, some more recipes for the stuff can be found at the end of this post.

I also learned that “Simple Syrup” is pretty much anything but, thanks to an illuminating article chemist-turned-mixologist Darcy O’Neil contributed to the first edition of Mixologist: The Journal of the American Cocktail.

The task at hand will always involve dissolving sugar in water, of course. But the method by which you do so — over heat, or hot process, vs. cold process — will have a dramatic effect on the flavor & consistency of your syrup. Heated syrup will be thinner, due to a higher presence of fructose, whereas syrup dissolved at room temperature will be nice and thick, and 100% sucrose. Rather than butchering Mr. O’Neil’s eloquent explanation, I suggest you purchase a copy of the book and check out his excellent blog. In the interim, here are simple syrup recipes for you to play around with.

As with all things cocktail, make a few batches, try ‘em in a few cocktails, and use whichever suits you best.

Simple Syrup:

A cold-process shakey-shakey method from King Cocktail, Dale Degroff
from the Craft of the Cocktail

Fill a cork bottle halfway with superfine sugar, the other half with water. Shake vigorously until most of the sugar dissolves, about 1 minute. It will remain cloudy for 5 minutes; after it clears, shake again briefly and it is ready to use. Stored in the refrigerator between uses, Simple Syrup will last for several weeks.

Darcy O’Neil’s Simple Syrup
from Mixologist: the Journal of the American Cocktail

Ingredients: 2 cups sugar 2 cups water, 1/4- cup corn syrup, 1000 ML bottle (with milliliters marks on the side)

Add 2 – cups of water to a pan and bring it to a simmer, 122 – 140 degrees Fahrenheit, or ’til it’s just slightly too hot to put your finger in for more than a few seconds. Add 2 cups of table sugar and 1/4 cup of corn syrup and leave on heat for 30 seconds. Remove pan from heat, stir until all is dissolved. Let solution cool then add to a bottle. Fill the bottle up to 1000 ML and shake.

NOTE: To try this recipe cold process, add sugar, water, and corn syrup to a 1000 ML bottle and shake ’til all is dissolved. Top off with water.

Grenadine:

A cold process shakey-shakey method from David Wondrich’s Killer Cocktails
borrowed from Paul Clarke’s Cocktail Chronicles

Take one cup of pomegranate juice, and place it in a jar with one cup of granulated sugar. Seal tightly and shake like hell until all of the sugar is dissolved. Add another ounce or two of sugar and repeat.

Clarke suggests: Adding an ounce of high-proof vodka or grain alcohol as a preservative, and storing in a plastic container in the freezer: “the high volume of sugar keeps it from freezing, and you can just tip out a little frigid syrup each time you need it.” Thanks, Paul!

Cin-cin!

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Check us out in this short webisode recorded with the Liquid Muse at Tales of the Cocktail on the Small Screen Network!

Cin cin!

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Mimi at the Napoleon House, looking like a ’70s Album cover

A pair of perfect Pimm’s Cups…

Napoleon House’s big as your head Muffelatta. This is the “quarter” size.

Chad Solomon of Cuff & Buttons pours sample Pisco Sours at the Emerging Spirits panel. This conference was tough, tough work.

Rebirth…the Remix.

Dancing ’til dawn…

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Barbara West is presenting at the conference and had to make sure she had all her materials on hand. Don’t expect to get on a plane with a portable bar and a bottle of Picon without raising some eyebrows…


Babs’ Contraband



Lunch by the pool with MiMi and longtime LUPEC friend, Em…

Mimi, Pink Lady & Em, at dinner at Jacques-Imo’s.

Pink Gin + Fried Roast Beef Po’ Boy = Heaven

Hanky Panky & Pink Gin + bubbly = heaven. What else does one drink with a Fried Po’ Boy?

Last night we drank these. Try one and live vicariously through us:

Vieux Carre

1 ounce rye whiskey
1 ounce Cognac
1 ounce sweet vermouth
1 teaspoon Bénédictine D.O.M.
2 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters2 dashes Angostura Bitters

Mix all ingredients in a double Old Fashioned glass over ice; stir.

Cin-cin!

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With half of LUPEC Boston in NOLA for the Tales of the Cocktail festival this week, it only seemed right to raise a glass to the Sazerac, the city’s official cocktail. It’s not just a tag line you know: last month the Louisiana House of Representatives proclaimed the Sazerac New Orleans’ official cocktail in a 62-33 vote. (Did those 33 other legislators vote for the Ramos Gin Fizz?)

But you can’t write casually about the Sazerac. The history of the cocktail is complex and much debated, “so intricate and entangled in myth,” writes David Wondrich in Imbibe!, “it requires a monograph of its own.” Wondrich reached page sixteen of his Sazerac treatise before his editor made him stop, and if this historian-come-cocktail authority won’t try for encyclopedic in his coverage of Sazerac, neither will we. However, we can guide you to a few fun sources that sketch the lore of the Sazerac. Below are a few facets of the Sazerac myth which may or may not be true, but should absolutely be embellished to provide the most exciting story possible.

The Sazerac is the original cocktail. That’s likely false, as Wondrich argues rather compellingly in Imbibe!:

“There is in fact no written record of [the Sazerac] before the first decade of the twentieth century, which is perfectly understandable: When all is said and done, the Sazerac is merely a plain Whiskey (or Brandy)…Cocktail made with Peychaud’s bitters and finished with a dash of absinthe. A generation earlier, you could have ordered the same thing in any bar in America that served mixed drinks.”

As Wondrich’s research reveals, written record of that elusive noun, “cocktail” appears as early as 1803 in a tiny little newspaper produced in a tiny little town called Amherst, New Hampshire (which is coincidentally, where I grew up.) The debate goes on and on, but the nomenclature and the execution of such a drink with such a name likely predate Peychaud’s home tippling.

The Sazerac was originally served in an egg cup. On The Gumbo Pages, Chuck Taggart provides an excellent overview of the history of the Sazerac. Here we learn that Creole apothecary Antoine Amadie Peychaud moved to NOLA in the early 1800s, set up shop in the French Quarter, and began selling his signature tincture to “relieve the ails of all his clients.” After hours Peychaud mixed that magic tincture with a little cognac, water, and sugar for his friends. He served the drink in the large end of an egg cup — a coquetier en Francais — and the improper American pronunciation of this term led to the eventual appellation “cocktail”. In that version of the myth, the Sazerac is thus the original cocktail, Peychaud its father, and New Orleans its cradle. It’s as likely as landing a dinner meeting with the Easter bunny, but a good tale nonetheless.

The Sazerac became the Sazerac at the Sazerac Coffee House on Royal Street. Sewell Taylor christened the “Sazerac Cocktail” as the signature drink of his Sazerac Coffee House on Exchange alley in 1853 . The drink was to be made only with Sazerac de Forge et Fils brandy, a popular brand of cognac of which he was the sole importer. Or was it John Schiller who opened the Sazerac Coffee House in 1859, and christened the Sazerac Cocktail its signature drink to be made with Sazerac brand cognac, for which he was the sole importer?

In any case, it was at the Sazerac Coffee House that an innovative barkeep introduced the step of rinsing a glass with absinthe, and it was here, under new owner Thomas H. Handy (or was it John Handy, as cited in The Craft of the Cocktail?) that the principal spirit was changed from cognac to rye whiskey, circa 1870. Reasons for that switch are clear, at least: the phylloxera epidemic in France made cognac hard to come by…or was it simply that the American palate favored rye? Maybe it was a little of both.

Sazerac de Forge et Fils perished in the 1880s, but as one brand dies, another is born: a decade later the Sazerac bar had grown into a Sazerac company who began to bottle and sell the rye-based version of the drink. That same company sells a six-year-old Sazerac brand rye today, as well as many other spirits.

Oh, what a tangled web history becomes when its scribes hit the bottlet! The beauty of these modern times is that all of these ingredients (save the Sazerac de Forge et Fils cognac) are available today — event absinthe! We suggest experimenting with the ingredients, ratios, and recipes you like the best, and matching it to your favorite foggy detailed story while mixing one up to impress your friends. Here are a few variations to get you started.

Exhibit A: Original(ish) Sazerac
from
Imbibe! by David Wondrich

This recipe is the first one in print for the whiskey-based version. Reprinted in David Wonderich’s Imbibe!, it was first published by William Boothby as the late Tom Handy’s recipe in an undated supplement to THE WORLD’S DRINKS AND HOW TO MIX THEM:

Frappe [chill] an old-fashioned flat bar-glass; then take a mixing glass and muddle half a cube of sugar with a little water; add some ice, a jigger of good whiskey, two dashes of Peychaud bitters, and a piece of twisted lemon peel; stir well until cold, then throw the ice out of the bar-glass, dash several drops of Absinthe into the same, and rinse well with the Absinthe. Now strain the Cocktail into frozen glass, and serve with ice water on the side.

A free copy of the LITTLE BLACK BOOK OF COCKTAILS goes to the first reader to try this with a good cognac and an egg cup and report back with pictures!

Exhibit B: King Cocktail’s Sazerac Cocktail
from The Craft of the Cocktail by Dale DeGroff

Dale DeGroff’s version calls for a little bit of everything. The plot thickens…
Splash of Ricard or Herbsaint
1 oz. VS cognac
1 oz. rye whiskey
1/2 oz. simple syrup
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
2 dashes Angostura bitters
lemon peel for garnish

Chill one rocks glass while preparing the drink in another. Splash the Ricard into another glass and swirl it, then pour it out. Add the cognac, rye, simple syrup, and the two kinds of bitters. Stir with ice cubes to chill. Strain into the chilled rocks glass and garnish with lemon peel.

Exhibit C: NOLA Gals Weigh In
from In the Land of Cocktails by Ti Adelaide Martin and Lally Brennan

This modern recipe calls for both Peychaud’s & Angostura bitters in uneven ratios, Herbsaint, the local pastis that served as absinthe’s understudy during the ban, and shaking, not stirring, the ingredients. Makes 1 cocktail.
1 tablespoon Herbsaint
1.5 ounces rye whiskey, preferably Old Overholt or Sazerac rye
.5 teaspoon simple syrup
4 to 5 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 lemon twist with the white pith removed, for garnish

Pour the Herbsaint into a rocks glass and swirl to coat the inside. Discard any excess Herbsaint. Fill the glass with ice to chill. Combine the rye, simple syrup and Peychaud’s and Angostura bitters in a cocktail shaker with ice. Cover and shake vigorously. Discard the ice from the glass and strain the shaker mixture into the glass. Rub the rim of the glass with the lemon twist, add to the drink and serve immediately. Enjoy your Sazerac, and Happy Tales to you!

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by Bourbon Belle

Wishing for a drink that you just haven’t been able to find at your beloved watering hole? Or dreaming about making the perfect cocktail to suit a specific taste? It’s surprisingly easy to concoct a well-balanced cocktail in the classic style, so long as you keep a few basic rules of thumb in mind.

One of the earliest known definitions of the term “cocktail” comes from the May 1806 issue of The Balance, and Columbian Repository, a Hudson, N.Y.-based weekly newspaper of yore: “Cocktail is a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water and bitters …”

So let’s start with the spirit of your choice—Bourbon’s as good as any. Next, you’ll want to sweeten it up for balance. Let’s go traditional and throw in some sweet vermouth. Following the cocktail “definition,” we’re going to add some bitters; Angostura bitters make for a traditional Manhattan. Now, let’s make an original by including a flavor you’d like to impart into your drink. What goes well with Bourbon? How about … peaches! Let’s add a touch of peach liqueur—Mathilde Peches is my personal choice. And now you have your own twist on a traditional cocktail, made to suit your own flavor preferences.

Just remember: a spirit, a sweetener, a bitter (fresh citrus juice is also great for balancing out the sweetness) and water (in most cases, just consider the melting ice sufficient).

Cin-cin!

BOURBON BELLE
3 ounces Jim Beam Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
1/2 ounce Mathilde Peches Liqueur
1/2 ounce sweet vermouth (Martini & Rossi or Cinzano preferred)
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Fill a shaker with ice and add all ingredients. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

More fun and easy ways to create your own cocktail follows this same concept. Take a drink you like, and just put a little spin on it! Maybe you LOVE a classic Negroni, but sometimes prefer something a touch more smooth. Try another original created by one of our LUPEC ladies called the Contessa. Change up the Campari for Aperol, Campari’s less bitter cousin-as quoted from Hanky Panky the Weekly Dig 7.2.08-7.9.08) and even out the portions of all three ingredients.

The CONTESSA
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add:
1.5 oz Beefeater Gin
1.5 oz Aperol
1.5 oz Cinzano sweet vermouth
Stir and strain in a chilled cocktail glass
Garnish with an orange twist

How about a classic Sidecar variation? Swap out the traditional brandy for Belle Brillet, a pear flavored Cognac, for a smooth and delicious Pear flavored Sidecar.

BELLE de BRILLET SIDECAR
In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add:
2 oz Belle Brillet
.5 oz Cointreau
.5 oz fresh lemon juice
Shake gently and strain into a chilled cocktail glass that has been rimmed with raw sugar.
Garnish with an orange wheel

The sky’s the limit. After all, as Imbibe! author David Wondrich writes, “the small, idiomatic differences…are the mixographer’s delight!”

Cin cin!

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The ladies of LUPEC Boston are gearing up for our annual excursion to New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail. For five days we will be learning about everything from Shochu to sensory perception. And for five nights we will be eating, drinking and dancing at our favorite haunts. Sounds like something real close to heaven. So to get us in the mood let’s pour out a tasty, low alcohol cocktail from one of NOLA’s finest restaurants, Herbsaint.

HALF SINNER, HALF SAINT
2 oz French Vermouth
2 oz Dry Vermouth
5 oz Herbsaint
lemon twist
In a rocks glass combine the vermouths over ice. Float the Herbsaint. Garnish with the lemon twist.

Cheers!

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