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Archive for January, 2010

*The latest ruminations from LUPEC Boston, in case you missed them in The Weekly Dig

by Pink Lady

A 7.0-magnitude earthquake; over 1.5 million left homeless; as many as 200,000 dead. The statistics flickering across the television screen nightly about the recent earthquake in Haiti seem improbably tragic, difficult to comprehend from the comfortable vantage point of a barstool.

Restaurant industry colleagues have rushed to donate time and talent to raise money to support relief efforts: Via Matta and Radius will donate 100 percent of dessert sales, servers at Myers + Chang have been donating a portion of their tips, Stella did a mini-celebrity chef dinner, and Upstairs on the Square held a day-long fundraiser offering guests opportunities to dine and donate at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Our friends over at Drink offered an opportunity for charitable imbibing via a special menu of tropical cocktails made with Haiti’s famous Rhum Barbancourt, with a portion of proceeds going to Haiti relief. The list goes on an on, and we only hope it will grow.

Generous Bostonians, LUPEC salutes you. We invite our readers to do the same by raising a glass of Oloffson’s Punch, invented at the Grand Hotel Oloffson in Port-au-Prince. The eponymous hotel has been many things since it was erected at the turn of the 19th century: a fancy private residence for the then-ruling family, a military hospital occupied by US Marines, a fashionable tourist destination for glitterati like Mick Jagger and Jackie Onassis, and an artistic hub, a sort of “Greenwich Village of the Tropics.”

The enchantingly decrepit hotel also served as backdrop for Graham Greene’s novel, The Comedians. In his words, “You expected a witch to open the door to you or a maniac butler, with a bat dangling from the chandelier behind him.” The hotel’s “tropo-Gothic gingerbread façade” also inspired cartoonist Charles Addams, creator of the famed Addams Family. LUPEC loves a good story, and the Grand Hotel Oloffson is full of ‘em, from tales of an eccentric owner who raised alligators in the hotel swimming pool to the American expat owner who fancied himself a Caribbean version of Rick from Casablanca (weapons scandal and all).

Even as it fell into disrepair in the early ’80s, the Oloffson remained a destination for reporters and aid workers needing a safe place to stay near the heart of the city. Today, it’s where many American journalists are staying as they cover the earthquake that has devastated the country.

LUPEC hopes to partner with member chapters in other cities in the coming weeks to prepare a fundraiser of our own, allowing you to sample some of Haiti’s fine alcoholic heritage, from Rhum Barbancourt to cordials like Combier and Grand Marnier, which source bitter oranges from the tiny republic. Stay tuned for updates, and in the interim, enjoy one of these.

OLOFFSON’S PUNCH

2 oz Haitian dark rum
1 tsp maraschino liqueur
3 oz orange juice
1 1/2 oz lime juice
0.5 oz simple syrup

Shake in an iced cocktail shaker. Strain into a goblet and fill with crushed ice. Serve with straws and garnish with twists of orange and lime.

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*The latest ruminations from LUPEC Boston, in case you missed ‘em in the Dig.

by Pink Lady

There’s just something about The Great Gatsby: the gilded, glamorous, Jazz-era setting, the rich, drunk characters—as decadent as modern-day reality show stars. Plus, it’s a good book, a classic most people seem to have actually read, and one that LUPEC is very much looking forward to hearing again.

Not via book-on-tape, silly. At the American Repertory Theater’s latest show, GATZ, in which an employee at a low-rent business office finds a ragged old copy of The Great Gatsby in the clutter of his desk and starts to read it out loud—and doesn’t stop. It’s not a stage adaptation of The Great Gatsby, but a verbatim reading of the entire text. And it lasts six hours.

It sounds more like a “serious” episode of The Office than traditional theater, to be sure, but our faith in the A.R.T. has been sealed since they brought us Punchdrunk’s Sleep No More, which transformed an abandoned elementary school into a 1930s-era set that featured a bar, an awesome band and authentic classic cocktails. And GATZ has received rave reviews in the eight countries it’s toured since its premiere in 2006.

What better way to usher in this exciting new show than with a 1920s-themed party at the A.R.T.’s restaurant partner, Upstairs on the Square? You have our word that the drinks will be the bee’s knees. LUPEC curated the list.

We suggest you come dressed to the nines tonight, and sip a Seelbach as you don your spats and flapper hats. The drink was created at the Seelbach Hotel circa 1917, a haunt of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s as he was writing The Great Gatsby. Its history is a Lazarus tale if there ever was one: The recipe was lost during Prohibition, not drunk again until a hotel manager rediscovered and revived it in 1995. Legend has it that Gatsby was modeled on a gangster Fitzgerald met at the Seelbach Bar, probably while knocking back many of these.

Fitzgerald himself was a party man, after all, notorious for drinking too much gin with his wife Zelda and jumping into the fountains at the Plaza Hotel, boiling party guests’ watches in tomato soup and stripping down to dance naked at parties. The Seelbach was probably right up his alley. To paraphrase LUPEC member emeritus Barbara West, “One Seelbach makes you feel like you’re at a lawn party in  West Egg; a few Seelbachs make you feel like you’re in a nightclub balancing glassware on your boobs.”

Look out, Daisy, here we come.

SEELBACH COCKTAIL

1 oz bourbon

0.5 oz Cointreau

7 dashes angostura bitters

7 dashes Peychaud’s bitters

5 oz chilled brut champagne

Build in a champagne flute, stir, add champagne, stir again and garnish with an orange twist.

CIN-CIN!

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*The latest ruminations from LUPEC Boston, in case you missed ‘em in the Dig.

by Pink Lady

Is it just us or is winter come on particularly strong this year? This has inspired many a LUPECer to hibernate, basking in the glow of a sunlight-simulating lightbox as we watch the snow fall, clad in fuzzy slippers and wooly sweaters. What better way to warm from within than with a hot beverage?

We’ve introduced (and reintroduced) the Hot Toddy here, but how about putting that bottle of Laphroig 15 to good use with a Whisky Skin? Single malt drinkers usually shudder at the thought of mixing scotch into a cocktail, but it’s worth a try, for historical accuracy if nothing else. Blended scotches didn’t appear stateside until the 1890s (along with golf and a fascination with all things Scottish.) Before then, if you were mixing with Scotch whisky, it was the strong, smoky single malt variety.

Back then Scotch was usually served in a Toddy or other hot cocktail, like “Professor” Jerry Thomas’s Blue Blazer. To make this show-stopping tipple, add boiling water to a dram of Scotch, ignite, and hurl back and forth between two mugs; sweeten it with sugar and garnish with a lemon peel to serve. It’s a tough drink to make without injury. We suggest you spare your eyebrows and head down to Drink in Fort Point, where a talented professional can make one for you – if you’re good.

The Blue Blazer isn’t for chillaxing at home, anyway. For that we offer the Whisky Skin, the Blue Blazer’s tamer cousin, also called the Columbia Skin here in Boston. The drink was so popular, it even makes a cameo in the play Honest Abe watched the night he was assassinated. Cuddle up with one as you hunker down with Old Man Winter.

THE WHISKY SKIN
Adapted from Imbibe! By David Wondrich

2 oz of Scotch whisky (use Glenlivet or Islay)
1 small lump of sugar
1 piece of lemon peel

Build in a rocks glass. First rinse the glass with hot water, put in the sugar, fill the glass half-full of boiling water, add the whisky and stir. Garnish with lemon peel.

Cin cin!

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