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Archive for April, 2010

*Recent ruminations from LUPEC Boston, originally published in this week’s Dig. Please note: the Dig’s edition was edited by FakeAPStylebook to promote ROFLCon, a festival celebrating all things Internet…this one is not :)

by Pink Lady

Thousands will descend on Churchill Downs this weekend for the 136th Kentucky Derby. If there was ever a time to don a big hat and languidly sip a cocktail while pretending to be Southern, it’s this Saturday, in anticipation of “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports.” And your drink should be a mint julep.

The mint julep’s now a staple of Derby Day drinking, but from the turn of the 19th century through the Civil War, it was a staple of everyday drinking. The beverage has agrarian roots, but it fit in at fancy city bars in the early 20th century.

The mint julep was originally built with brandy, but during its heyday, you’d find everything from the gin julep described in Jerry Thomas’ books (made with “Hollands,” or Genever), to the “prescription” Julep, which blends cognac and rye. It’s replete with idiosyncratic nuance, so the nuts and bolts of construction remain a point of regional and bartenderly pride.

“Julep” originally meant “medicinal,” but “after centuries of usage as a term connoting medicine,” writes David Wondrich in Imbibe!, “somehow, in America ‘julep’ morphed into a word for something you drank for fun.” Mint juleps on Derby Day are fun indeed. According to the Kentucky Derby website, almost 120,000 fuel the weekend, requiring “1,000 pounds of freshly harvested mint and 60,000 pounds of ice.”

To represent Derby Nation, check out Drink’s “Run for the Roses Party” this Saturday. Enjoy three special cocktails and Southern treats, while listening to a live broadcast of the race. They’re awarding prizes for best hat and encourage derby-appropriate attire.

[Drink, 348 Congress St., Boston. 617.695.1806. 3pm-6pm/$45. drinkfortpoint.com]

CLASSIC MINT JULEP

2 sprigs of mint
1 oz simple syrup
2 oz Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
crushed ice

Pour simple syrup into a glass. Gently muddle one sprig of mint into the syrup, then remove mint.

Fill glass with crushed ice. Add bourbon. Top with more crushed ice, stir.

Cheers! [Italicized when referring to the popular 1980s television program.—Ed.]

CHECK OUT PINK LADY’S VIDEO ON HOW TO MAKE A CLASSIC MINT JULEP AT HOME ON HOW2HEROES. how2heroes.com/videos/beverages/mint-julep

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Recent thoughts from LUPEC Boston, in case you missed ‘em in this week’s Dig.

by Pink Lady + Contessa

We extolled the virtues of Clio/Uni‘s secret/awesome cocktail program a few weeks ago in our hotel bar roundup. Little did we know that barman Todd Maul was developing a brand new cocktail menu, unveiled earlier this month. Weighing in with 80-plus libations, the ambitious menu rivals any other craft cocktail bastion’s and evokes the legendary “long list” at one of our other favorite watering holes, Green Street. How long will it take us to drink our way through this menu? Don’t tempt us.

The slim but potent, elegantly designed volume is cinched with a gold silk cord. Drinks run the gamut, from aperitifs ($9) to drinks for two ($25) to tiki drinks & daiquiris ($13), and feature a blend of pre-Prohibition and modern classics. Gin gets its own section, as does whiskey & cognac, with several pages of “other stuff” sandwiched between and “the stuff that didn’t fit anywhere else” on the last page (these will all run you $13). Old-school spirits ads are sprinkled throughout, like in our cherished vintage cocktail books; the effect as you leaf through it is more akin to reading a retro recipe pamphlet than selecting a beverage at a Back Bay bar.

On a recent outing, LUPEC emeritus Contessa was delighted to find drinks built around a house-made orange gin created with Seville oranges and Old Tom as base. She liked the Flying Dutchman, which mixes orange gin with orange juice, lemon and bitters, and pairs perfectly with rock shrimp and fish tacos. (Fish tacos at Clio? Who knew? And yes, they’re spectacular.) Maul assures us that many of these beverages (like the trendy tiki drinks) were designed with Uni’s raw seafood offerings in mind.

For a drink you won’t have to duck into the Clio bar to sample, we suggest an original that debuted on the new list, the Southern Beaches. Maul considers cachaça an under-utilized spirit, often relegated to caipirinhas and … well, that’s it. He puts it to work in a classic tiki formula here.

But seriously: How long do you think it will take us to drink our way through the list?

SOUTHERN BEACHES

1.5 oz Beija cachaça
0.5 oz fresh lime juice
0.25 oz Oloroso sherry
0.25 oz Orgeat
0.25 oz Rothman & Winter Orchard Apricot liqueur

Shake ingredients with ice; strain over ice in a rocks glass. Garnish with an orange slice, a lime twist and ground allspice.

CIN-CIN!

FOR MORE GREAT COCKTAIL RECIPES, VISIT LUPECBOSTON.COM.

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*Recent ruminations from LUPEC Boston in case you missed ‘em in this week’s Dig.

by Pink Gin

Billie Holiday is remembered as one of history’s greatest jazz singers. Her haunting voice had a limited range (barely an octave), but she sang with a unique, laid-back style that was inspired by mellow legends like Louis Armstrong and Bessie Smith. Holiday passed before our time, but luckily, the Lyric Stage Company’s latest production, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, featuring Jacqui Parker as Billie Holiday, gives us a glimpse into Holiday’s live performance and backstage drama.

Holiday’s life reflects the highs and lows of the Jazz Era. After a difficult childhood in Baltimore, she moved to New York City and sang for tips in Harlem nightclubs. She went on to perform regularly in New York, tour with Artie Shaw’s white band and make a number of recordings. A tough broad who would drink, swear and win big at dice (how cool is that?!), she would also walk out on anyone who tried to control her. But the hard life and, oh yeah, some heroin abuse, took its toll; she died at the age of 44.

The story of Holiday’s life (and its sad brevity) is just one example of what inspires LUPEC Boston to work with women’s charities. Our “cocktails for a cause” events help bring the Boston community together while raising awareness about the challenges many women face in realizing their full potential.

One of the recordings (which featured Benny Goodman and Teddy Wilson) that launched Holiday’s career was “What a Little Moonlight Can Do.” We therefore raise a glass of this Gary Regan interpretation of the Aviation.

THE MOONLIGHT COCKTAIL

1 1/2 oz gin

1/2 oz Cointreau

1/2 oz crème de violette

1/2 oz fresh lime juice

Shake with ice and strain into a chilled champagne flute.

SEE LADY DAY AT THE LYRIC STAGE COMPANY [140 CLARENDON ST., BOSTON. 617.585.5678. LYRICSTAGE.COM] THROUGH APRIL 24TH, AND FIND OUT MORE ABOUT COCKTAILS FOR A CAUSE AT LUPECBOSTON.COM.

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

by Pink Lady

Fellow drinkers, cocktail enthusiasts and lovers of quality beverage: We are lucky. We’re enjoying a glorious era. The cocktail is queen, and finding a quality drink in Boston is as simple as sidling up to any of the great bars in a long list of local destinations. Many of us remember a different time, a darker time, before rye was present among the spirits on the back bar, before the B-Side was even born (may it now rest in peace).

On occasion, though, we Boston drinkers might find ourselves inexplicably outside our comfort zone. Your fratty cousin comes to visit, for example, and you end up drinking with him at the Boylston Street bars (one that is misleadingly named after a spirit, perhaps?), and no matter how hard you try to explain that “Eastern Standard is, like, RIGHT THERE,” no one will budge. What’s a bratty cocktail snob to do?

A Manhattan or a classic martini is a simple enough template, but proceed with caution here—you have no idea how long that vermouth has been open, unrefrigerated and gathering dust on the back bar. A margarita should also be avoided, unless you have an unspoken affection for from-the-gun sour mix. There is a time and a place for a beer and a shot, or a gin and tonic … and many would say that this is it. If that’s not quite your speed, fear not; there are cocktails out there that simply cannot be ruined, no matter how hard an inexperienced bartender may try. So we present a new LUPEC feature for situational ordering: “Bullet-Proof Cocktails,” or “Drinks You Can’t Mess Up.”

Proud among these is the Mamie Taylor, a great old highball named for a famous Broadway star. It was the drink-du-moment for a few fleeting years around the turn of the 20th century and consumed by the thousands in the hot summer of 1900. The drink figured prominently in popular culture, writes Ted “Dr. Cocktail” Haigh in Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails: “Poems were written about the drink, jokes were told, and articles were written using Mamie to illustrate au courant sophistication.”

The Mamie’s a simple beverage composed of inexpensive ingredients, yet bars were nevertheless able to charge exorbitant prices thanks to the drink’s popularity. According to Haigh, it became “synonymous with ‘swank refreshment’ until 1920—and Prohibition.” Mamie enjoyed a brief comeback in the ’40s and was a predecessor to vodka’s gateway cocktail, the Moscow Mule.

Let’s bring Mamie back! Just … maybe don’t ask for her by name, lest you risk feeling even more uncomfortable than you already do with your fratty cousin’s “bros.”

MAMIE TAYLOR

From Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails by Ted Haigh

2 oz Scotch
.75 oz spicy ginger ale or ginger beer

Build over ice in a highball glass. Stir and garnish with lime wedge.

Notes on situational ordering: If the bar has ginger beer, lucky you! If not, or if you’re afraid to ask, ginger ale will do. If said bar does not have a fresh juice program, ask for Scotch & ginger with extra lime wedges as “garnish”—three or four should do.

CIN-CIN!

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