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Archive for August, 2009

*LUPEC Boston’s latest ruminations, in case you missed ‘em in this week’s Dig

by Pink Lady

Earlier this summer, we broached rye and bourbon in our ongoing discussion of whisk(e)y. This week, we look north to Canada, inspired in part by a new season of Mad Men. If you watch it as avidly as this LUPEC lady, you’ll notice leading man Don Draper takes his Canadian Club neat.

Though commonly perceived as a rye-based spirit, Canadian whisky (spelled with no “e”) in its modern incarnation is usually based on corn, with rye and barley added to the mix (not terribly unlike American bourbon.) By definition, Canadian whisky is a blend, with neutral grain spirit accounting for half of its contents. Canadian whisky ages a minimum of three years by law, most commonly in used bourbon barrels made from charred American white oak.

Though eschewed by single-malt Scotch fans and small-batch bourbon connoisseurs, there was a time when Canadian whisky was the style of choice for American drinkers, thanks largely to Prohibition. We needed something to drink when the Noble Experiment shuttered our native distilleries, and turned to our neighbors to the north to quench our thirst. The second year of Prohibition saw a 400-percent increase in Canadian whisky sales, and the Canucks weren’t the ones drinking it. Smugglers sold the stuff on a robust black market, transporting it across the Great Lakes and the Detroit River, which measures less than a mile across in some places. An underground pipeline built for this purpose was recently discovered.

Prohibition was repealed in 1933, but before the American whiskey industry could bounce back, the second World War mandated that US alcohol be allocated for munitions. By the 1960s, when the Mad Men set were drinking Canadian Club neat for breakfast, Americans had developed a taste for Canadian whisky’s smooth character.

The days of the three-martini lunch may be gone (unless you’re in LUPEC), but that doesn’t mean you can’t invoke the era by tucking in with one of these as you watch season three unfold.

“OLD PAL” COCKTAIL

from THE SAVOY COCKTAIL BOOK by Harry Craddock

1/3 Canadian Club Whisky (we suggest the 10-Year Reserve, which uses a higher percentage of rye)

1/3 French vermouth

1/3 Campari

Shake well and strain into a cocktail glass.

CIN-CIN!

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IMG_0466*LUPEC Boston’s latest ruminations, in case you missed ‘em in this week’s Dig

by Pink Lady

Summer has finally arrived in Boston, as we all knew it would, with high temperatures and humidity to match. For those days when it feels too swampy to even move, we suggest lounging about with a Roof Garden Cooler in hand. The drink, which comes to us by way of David Wondrich’s Killer Cocktails, is a forgotten classic that once functioned as a sort of air conditioning for well-heeled guests at the rooftop garden at the tony Waldorf Hotel in New York City.

Opened in 1893 on the former site of owner William Waldorf Astor’s mansion, the grand luxury hotel once stood where the Empire State Building now resides. It was the first hotel of its kind, lavishly appointed with electricity throughout and private bathrooms en suite in most rooms, and offering “room service” for the first time in history. New York had never seen such opulence in a hotel. Four years later, cousin John Jacob Astor erected the Astoria Hotel right next door, which was something of a Waldorf 2.0, standing at 17 stories tall, and featuring the first indoor driveway in hotel history and a grand 1,500-seat ballroom.

Together, the Waldorf-Astoria (as it became known) helped transform the hotel from a way station for transient travelers into a cosmopolitan epicenter. It also helped advance the status of women, who could be admitted without the company of an escort. Louise Kehrer Boldt, the wife of founding proprietor George C. Boldt, was influential in this regard, and sought to make the hotel a popular social destination for women and an important part of the urban social landscape.

ROOF GARDEN COOLER

2 oz dry vermouth

1 oz lime juice

1/2 tsp superfine sugar

1 dash Angostura bitters

top with ginger ale

Combine in a glass, stir to dissolve sugar, add 4-5 ice cubes, top with ginger ale.

CIN-CIN!

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by Hanky Panky

*LUPEC Boston’s latest ruminations, in case you missed ‘em in this week’s Dig

After a damp start to summer, afternoons by the pool and furloughs to the beach are upon us. When the dog days of summer come barking at my door, this LUPECer likes to put down her Hanky Panky and pick up a Collins. This classic tall drink is the perfect refresher for an afternoon on the patio.

The Collins is a tall variation of a classic punch. The most common Collins is the Tom Collins, a mixture of Old Tom Gin, lemon juice, sugar and soda water. According to David Wondrich’s Imbibe, the Tom Collins was born as the John Collins and shared its moniker with the headwaiter at Limmer’s Hotel in London. We aren’t certain how the drink made the jump from John to Tom, but most likely it was related to the drink’s use of Old Tom Gin. After the switch took place, the name John Collins became used for a bourbon Collins.

I enjoy both the Tom and John Collins, but in true LUPEC fashion, I would like to throw my hat in the ring with the Gail Collins. In 2001, Gail Collins became the first female editor of the editorial page of the New York Times. She also penned one of my favorite books on women’s history, America’s Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates and Heroines. The Gail Collins features the current hot spirit tequila and forgoes simple syrup by using maraschino liqueur as a sweetener. The sloe gin and lemon provide refreshing tartness and balance. Grab your ice trays and build yourself a thirst-quenching Gail Collins.

GAIL COLLINS

1 oz blanco tequila

1 oz sloe gin

0.5 oz maraschino liqueur

0.5 oz lemon juice

2 dashes angostura orange bitters

soda water

Build in a Collins glass over ice. Garnish with a lemon twist.

CIN-CIN! LUPECBOSTON.COM

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by Pink Lady

Along with several other LUPEC ladies, I spent 5 days in July pickling myself at the Tales of the Cocktail festival in New Orleans. Instead of heading home after so much debauchery, I continued my trip over to the Left Coast where my high school bestie’s wedding was scheduled for the following weekend. For future reference, I would NOT recommend tacking another whole week of boozy travel on to the week after Tales, unless you have a liver the size of Texas. That said, my travels introduced me to a whole new world of Left Coast libations of which I was thrilled to partake. The adventure included a night of bar-hopping in Seattle to check out the Zig Zag Cafe and meet living legend, Murray Stenson, followed by several drinks at the ultra-sleek cocktail venue Vessel, Tini Biggs for a visit with blogger/bartender Jamie Boudreau, and last call at Sun Liquor. (Special thanks to my lovely tour guides, Rocky and Kevin.)

After a one-evening break (which involved sipping rose instead of cocktails), I headed to Portland, Oregon, where I was shepherded from train station to nail salon to dinner in a whirlwind of bachelorette party madness. I’m typically wary of bachelorette parties – penis straws and screaming girls wearing identical tee-shirts and over-sexualized pieces of flair are just not my thing. I circumvented silliness this time by planning the party myself.

IMG_3306Perhaps against his better judgment, PDX bartender Dave Shenaut invited me to bring the ladies to the Teardrop Lounge. The venue is a classy place, not one I’d typically bring a gaggle of drunk, screaming girls into, but Dave insisted it would be the best place to take our group. He arranged for there to be pitchers of cocktails waiting for us on the table they’d reserved, allowing me to introduce the group to the deliciousness that is the Hemingway Daiquiri. Each pitcher was cooled with meticulously carved special ice: one held two perfectly round balls, the other contained the obligatory phallus. As we imbibed, they played the bride’s all-time favorite movie on the screens above the bar, Dirty Dancing. Around 11:30, just as the busy evening crescendoed, the lounge-y background music suddenly stopped, supplanted for a few glorious minutes by this song/scene from Dirty Dancing. The ladies – and some other awesome bar guests – sang along.

To outside observers, especially jaded restaurant industry vets like myself, the drunk, screaming bachelorette party can seem insufferable…until all of a sudden you’re inside the lady explosion. Then it can be fun. Thanks to Dave and our good friends at the Teardrop Lounge, I think it’s safe to say: the bride had the time of her life.

HEMINGWAY DAIQUIRI

1.25 oz white rum

.25 oz maraschino liqueur

.5 oz fresh grapefruit

.75 oz simple syrup

.75 oz fresh lime juice

Shake with ice; strain into a chilled vintage cocktail glass.

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IMG_0003

*LUPEC Boston’s latest ruminations, in case you missed ‘em in this week’s Dig

by Pink Lady

Wedding registries serve their purpose, but what if you forget to buy a present until the last minute? Rather than choose between a gravy ladle and a celebration bowl as nuptial present for my best friend from high school, I circumvented mediocrity this July by giving the gift of booze.

The betrothed wanted to serve cocktails at their wedding, but offered just beer and wine in an effort to cut costs. Suspecting their guests might get rowdy if allowed unchecked access to an open bar, this seemed an optimal way to ensure the reception stayed classy. But the bride still longed for at least one cocktail at her wedding. A special nuptial punch created just for her was the perfect solution.

I procured a retro, 50’s-era punch bowl on EBay a few weeks before the wedding and had it shipped directly to the bride’s doorstep in Portland, OR. The night before the wedding I batched up this typical 18th century punch, tailoring it to the nuptial couple’s taste. Christened with a special name and served in their new punch bowl, it was a unique, delicious gift. Guests continue to stalk me on Facebook for the recipe.

THE ROSE CITY WEDDING CUP
For Alex and Mary’s Wedding
Serves 85

Step #1: Two days before.
Fill a metal bowl (sized to scale with the punch bowl) with water and stash it in the freezer.

Step #2: A few hours before the wedding, or the night before.
Steep 4 green tea bags in 4 cups water for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Peel 16 lemons. In a large bowl, muddle peels in 2 lbs sugar until oil is absorbed.
Add tea, 2 L cognac, and 1 750-ml bottle dark rum (I used Bacardi Dark Select, a favored brand of the father-of-the-bride.) Stir until sugar is dissolved.
Add 8 cups cold water and refrigerate.

Step #3: Complete this step within a few hours of serving.
Add 24 oz fresh-squeezed lemon juice to the booze-sugar-tea mixture.

Add block of ice to the punch bowl and serve. The punch doesn’t taste strong but it is; ladle conservatively into an ice-filled glass.

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