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Archive for February, 2009

By Pinky Gonzales

roffignac2Of course it is the week of Fat Tuesday and Lent, and the good city of New Orleans is on our minds and so are it’s drinks. LUPEC Boston’s column in this week’s Dig is on the Roffignac cocktail, a kind of elegant, no-frills, tasty highball. Its exact story is fuzzy, but its origins seem to go back to the early part of the 19th century, when cocktails were fledging. The drink is named after a French Revolution refugee-turned-progressive New Orleans Mayor and state Senator, Count Louis Philippe Joseph de Roffignac, who may have liked to drink ‘em. It’s a Cognac or Brandy, raspberry, and soda water concoction, and personally, makes me pine for summer. Not a bad Winter blues beater (take it from me!) The original used a now-extinct raspberry syrup called Red Hembarig. I don’t know what our best store-bought choice is today as there are a number of them but I made a fresh raspberry simple syrup and that was not only good enough for me it was delicious.

So as Mayor in the 1820s, Roffignac, perhaps more of an “Obama” of his day than say, a Bush (ouch it’s hard to type his name), introduced and implemented a fistful of forward-minded ideas to make the Crescent city what it is today. According to Ryan Mayer in Where Y’At magazine, “He seems to have been the first official in New Orleans to appreciate its dawning commercial importance, and set himself earnestly and laboriously to prepare the city for its coming greatness.” Cool. He paid great attention to keeping the streets clean, planted trees, paved the streets, spearheaded some early levee planning, and lit the lantern-carrying Quarter with streetlamps in 1821. Pittoresque, no?

The swell little tome, Famous New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix Them by Stanley Clisby Arthur is a fun source for the recipe and a bit of history. It instructs:

untitled1“1 jigger whiskey

1 pony sirup

seltzer or soda water

raspberry sirup

Pour ito a highball glass the jigger of whiskey (or use Cognac, as in the original drink). Add the sirup, which may be raspberry, grenadine, or red Hembarig, the sweetening used in New Orleans a century ago [that would be 1837.] Add the soda water. Ice of course.

Cheers to progress, cheers to the swampy city.

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grand-finale-invite

by Pink Lady

We’re thrilled to announce that our very own Bourbon Belle is a finalist in the Marvelous Hendricks’s Limerick & Cocktail Competition taking place tonight at the Edison in Downtown Los Angeles!

Some of you may recall Bourbon Belle’s glorious victory at the Hendrick’s Gin Beantown Bartender Battle last August with her delicious drink, Nobody’s Darling. First prize was a complimentary trip anywhere in the US and an opportunity to compete in the Grand Finale this February 17th in Downtown Los Angeles.

Guests will be treated to a champagne punch and given a playbill for the evening. The playbill will outline the evening’s performances, that is to say, the competitors, their cocktails and their lovely limericks!

Bourbon Belle’s winning recipe is below, as well as the limerick that helped her take first place, and a brand new limerick that she’ll debut at the event. We’ll be mixing these up at home and toasting in Bourbon Belle’s honor as we await the results back home in Boston!

NOBODY’S DARLING
In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add:

2 oz Hendrick’s Gin
.5 oz Yellow Chartreuse
1 oz Angelica Root infused Honey*
.75 oz fresh celery juice
.5 oz fresh lemon juice
Shake and strain into a chilled coup glass.

*ANGELICA ROOT INFUSED HONEY
Pour 6 oz boiling water over 2 oz dried angelica root (in a tea strainer) and let sit for 45 seconds to 1 minute. Remove angelica.  Add 4 oz Wildflower Honey to the Angelica “Tea” and pour into a saucepan. Simmer over low heat for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.  Cool and store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Bourbon Belle mixes up the winning cocktail, Nobody's Darling

Bourbon Belle mixes up the winning cocktail, Nobody's Darling

LIMERICK No. 1

An elixir of cucumber and rose
With a scent that amuses the nose
Angelica-honey we’ll pair
Then some celery sounds fair
Yellow Chartreuse, lemon juice and there goes!

LIMERICK No 2
Ladies and Gentleman, I must confess
I’m quite nervous and in some distress
I’ve heard it helps to propose
Your observers unclothed
Please indulge me and just get undressed

Photo courtesy of C. Fernsebner.

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Screwdriver in search of fortune and good spirits

Screwdriver in search of fortune and good spirits

This month’s Mixology Monday hosted by Rowley’s Whiskey Forge is all about desperate times.  In these days of economic downturn how do we tipplers keep ourselves fully saturated?  For the ladies of LUPEC Boston its through an understanding that quality hooch doesn’t have to carry a hefty price tag.

Now don’t get us wrong.  We are more than willing to splurge on a delicious bottle of 20 year old bourbon every now and again.  It takes a lot of care to shepherd a barrel of bourbon through 20 years of aging and we will happily empty our wallets to enjoy that labor of love.  But all too frequently a bottle sports a hefty price tag due to the producer’s million dollar ad campaign.  So what about the bottle next to the $40 bottle of bourbon, the one that is only $20 and has a name with which you’re unfamiliar?  With a little research you just may find a gem. Here are a few tips and things to keep in mind as you explore:

RULE #1: Skip anything packaged in plastic.  These aren’t the desperate times of college.

RULE #2: Don’t be afraid to ask questions at your favorite cocktail bars and liquor stores.  We are fortunate to have several establishments here in Boston that stock unconventional brands in their wells and on their back bars.  If your bartender appears to have some time next time you visit your favorite local, ask a few questions about what they’ve chosen to stock and why.

RULE #3: Don’t be afraid to take a chance.  It’s doubtful that $20 bottle will be completely  undrinkable.  Take it home and taste it next to some of your higher priced bottles.  You may decide that one bottle was enough – or you may have found a diamond in the rough.

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A favorite affordable bottle for the LUPEC broads is Old Fitzgerald bourbon, a quality spirit with a distinguished history.  According to the Heaven Hills web site John E. Fitzgerald started producing his bourbon in 1870 for rail and steamship lines.  Around 1900 he released his bourbon to the public and was able to continue distilling through Prohibition, thanks to the national medicine trade.  It’s also around this time that the famed Pappy Van Winkle took over Old Fitzgerald and introduced the “whisper of wheat” formula.  Today the fine folks at Heaven Hills distillery continue the tradition of Old Fitz.

The final stamp of approval for Old Fitzgerald comes from one of our favorite saucy broads of yore, Dirty Helen (aka Helen Cromwell).  A woman who wore many hats, including prostitute and madame, Dirty Helen was known far and wide.  Her bar at the Sunflower Inn in Milwaukee, WI was frequented in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s by gangsters, millionaires, society, famous sportsmen and just plain people.  With no furniture to speak of guests plopped down on the plushly carpeted floor sipping one of two options: House of Lords Scotch or Old Fitzgerald Bourbon.  And if you dared to order something else, Dirty Helen’s salty sense of humor would turn you into the spectacle of the bar.

brands_oldfitz_bottleIn 1946 her dedication to Old Fitzgerald earned her a personal invite by Julian Van Winkle to attend the three day annual sales meeting of Stitzel-Weller distillery.  In true Dirty Helen style she eschewed the offer of a free plane ticket and traveled by taxi from Milwaukee, WI to Louisville, KY with an unsuspecting cab driver named Harold.

So in honor of hard times and salty broads, grab a bottle of Old Fitz, pour yourself a shot and raise your glass to Dirty Helen!

Cin Cin!

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Thanks to everyone who stopped by the Local for Love Event at Poor Little Rich Girl last night! The event was sponsored by Somerville Local First and featured treats from Taza Chocolate, Ball Square Fine Wines & Liquors, Narragansett beer, and a few fun cocktails poured by the ladies of LUPEC Boston.

Our table was a popular one, but whose isn’t when you’re handing out free hooch? For those of you who are interested in sampling some of the delicious libations we poured last night at home, recipes are below. Two of them even feature vodka*** a base spirit we rarely mix with!

CAN-CAN variation
(adapted from St-Germain recipe book, with a twist)
2 oz. Rain Vodka
3/4 oz. Dry rose wine (instead of Chardonnay)
1/2 oz. St-Germain
1/4 oz fresh lemon

Shake ingredients well over ice; strain into a chilled vintage cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon oil.

THE HEARTBEAT
(adapted from Cocktail DB, with St-Germain instead of Galliano)
1 oz. Rain Vodka
3/4 oz. St-Germain
1 oz.  fresh lemon
1/4 oz Green Chartreuse

Shake ingredients well over ice; strain into a chilled vintage cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon peel.

ST-GERMAIN COCKTAIL
1.5 oz St-Germain
2 oz. Sparkling Wine
2 oz. Club Soda

Stir ingredients with ice in a Collins glass. Garnish with lemon peel.

***Gin-philes please note: we think these drinks will work just as well with Plymouth as a base.

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elit_midnight_millionaireValentine’s Day is just around the corner and folks are clamoring for reservations at romantic locales all about town.  With the state of the economy and the big event falling on a Saturday many, however, may be choosing to spend the night at home.  That would be my choice as nothing is dearer to me than cooking, cocktailing and enjoying with my sweetie at home sweet home. 

Now the ladies of LUPEC are no slouches in the  kitchen, but that it is not our expertise.  If you are deciding to spend a romantic night in with your honey there are a plethora of great ideas for delicious treats at blogs such as Married…with Dinner or in the lovely pages of Bon Appetit.  But if you need help with some lovely bubbly libations to start your amorous evening, we are the broads for you!

This week’s column in the Dig features the Champagne Cocktail.  To us this is the little black dress of sparkling cocktails.  Simple, elegant and fitting for almost every occasion.  If simplicity is what you are searching for you can also try a Kir Royale.  This French classic is named after former mayor of Dijon Count Felix Kir who enjoyed drinking the local Bordeaux wine with a touch of Cassis.  For a Kir Royale drizzle between 1/8 and 1/4 of an ounce of Cassis in a glass of Champagne and garnish with a lemon twist.  

One of our favorite women behind the stick, Audrey Saunders, is the source of the following delicious rum based bubbly cocktail.

shak184The Old Cuban

1.5 oz Bacardi 8

1 oz Simple Syrup (or less to taste)

.75 oz lime juice

1 dash angostura bitters (we like 2)

Mint

Champagne

Muddle mint, syrup and lime in a mixing glass.  Add rum and bitters and shake with ice.  Double strain into a larger cocktail glass and top with Champagne.  Garnish with a mint leaf.

If you’ve finished a dinner and still have some of the bubbly in the bottle the Seelbach is a bitter filled sparkling cocktail that’s perfect as a digestivo.  The Seelbach is named after the Seelbach Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky.  According to Ted Haigh’s Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails the restaurant director found this forgotten pre-Prohibition recipe in 1995.  He began serving the cocktail in the hotel but kept the recipe a secret.  He finally divulged the full recipe in 1997 at the urging of Gary and Mardee Regan.

The Seelbach Cocktailsbhhotelgroup18851

1 oz Bourbon (Old Forrester was specified)

.5 oz Cointreau

7 dashes Angostura bitters

7 dashes Peychaud bitters

Champagne

Stir Bourbon, Cointreau and bitters briefly over ice.  Strain into a Champagne flute and top with bubbles.  Garnish with an orange twist.

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by Pink Lady

Interested in building a home cocktail library but not sure where to begin? This week’s Dig column mentioned some modern books that will get you started in the right direction. Here are a few more titles to check out as you expand your collection:

JIGGER, BEAKER, GLASS by Charles H. Baker is a modern reprint of a cocktail book originally published in 1946 as The Gentleman’s Companion. It’s a bit more challenging to mix from as many of the measurements are weird and retro, but worth picking up as the author’s writing breathes fresh, witty life into each recipe. Charles H. Baker spent most of his life traveling the world and writing about his food & drink exploits for Esquire, Town & Country, and Gourmet magazine. I’m jealous. This is the kind of cocktail book you read just to read.

Another must have book for any cocktail enthusiast is The Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock. An American ex-pat who fled the states during Prohibition to staff the American Bar in London, Harry Craddock was one of the most famous barmen of the 1920s and 30s. His legacy lives on in the 750 + recipes contained in the most recent reprint of the book, which has even inspired a little Julie-Julia style cocktail project: Erik Ellestad is mixing every cocktail in the book and chronicling his experiences here and here.

We’ll write more about vintage cocktail books in future posts, including suggestions on where to look for original editions, but also wanted to point new readers in the direction of Mud Puddle Books. The company  recently began issuing beautifully bound reprints of long out-of-print cocktail books. The craft-quality makes them a bit more pricey than most trade hardcovers or paperbacks, but well worth the higher price tag. You can buy online, or swing by the Boston Shaker store to check them out.

Happy reading/mixing! Cin cin!

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