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Archive for July, 2011

*As originally published in the Weekly Dig.

by Pink Lady

LUPEC ladies love our whiskey. And our whisky. (No, it’s not a typo: the spelling tells reflects the nationality of the spirit.) And we know, with its myriad rules nuances, the category can be confusing for the cocktail neophyte. In light of this, we offer you a whisk(e)y primer in several parts, turning our attention this week to rye.

Whiskey, in broad strokes, is grain spirit aged long enough in oak to take on characteristics of the barrel. Rye whiskey takes its name from main ingredient, rye, which by law must compose 51% of the grain in the mashbill. Rye is aged in charred, new American oak barrels like its corn-based cousins, bourbon and Tennessee whiskey, but has a lighter, and more peppery character. When considering the basic differences, think bread; as DrinkBoy.com founder Robert Hess says, “I’d never have a Rueben sandwich on cornbread.”

Rye whiskey was the favored spirit of colonial America, and was first made stateside by Scots-Irish immigrants who imported the grain. Despite the harsh Northeastern climate, hardy rye flourished, making it a perfect go-to ingredient for early American hooch.

Prohibition took a nasty toll on the American whiskey industry, and rye in particular had a tough time bouncing back. Even mainstream brands were difficult to find until recently. As cocktail nerds learned that classics like the Manhattan were originally prepared with rye, the spirit has surged back to in popularity. Brands like Old Overholt, Jim Beam and Sazerac are more common on back bars, and new interpretations of the category, like (ri)1 have even arrived, marketed as “ultra premium” brands positioned to win over vodka drinkers.

Rye also happens to be the base spirit for many New Orleans classics, which we are copiously imbibing at Tales of the Cocktail at present. Should you like to do the same, try one of these.

COCKTAIL A LA LOUISIANE

.75 oz. rye whiskey
.75 oz. Benedictine
.75 oz. sweet vermouth
3 dashes Herbsaint
3 dashes Peychaud’s bitters

Stir with cracked ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.

CIN CIN!

 

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*As originally published in the Weekly Dig.

by Pink Lady

Ever sip a cocktail in a cave? Residents of 17th century Philadelphia did, thanks to a very clever widow that we are happy to count among our forebroads. Continuing our celebration of historic ladies of bartending, here is the story of Alice Guest.

Alice and her husband George emigrated from England to Philadelphia in 1683, where George set up a brickworks on a less-than-desirable swath of land on the banks of the Delaware River.

When George died in 1685, Alice applied for a license to operate a tavern (as many women did) as way to support herself. The locale? The cave she occupied on the banks of the river. Alice’s dwelling indicates that she was of meager means at the time, but she was quickly able to turn her fortune around. Alice’s cave was ideally positioned to provide tavern services to the increasingly large numbers of immigrants pouring into the country by ship. She also captured the business of men employed in the sea trade: mariners, merchants, chandlers and ship carpenters.

During her first year in business Alice amassed enough money to put a bond on her business. When the city of Philadelphia moved to evict all the cave dwellers from the banks of the river, Alice was among the few exceptions to the rule. Alice could certainly have afforded to move her tavern business anywhere, but she chose to stay in her cave, most likely because she had a solid reputation there, served a regular clientele and could offer guests a unique place to sip their punch.

By the time she died in 1693, Alice had received a patent to her land, built a structure to house her tavern and erected a wharf out from her riverfront—along which she’d also constructed warehouses and a dwelling. And yes, she acquired another residence.

Here’s to Alice and her booming, cave-dwelling Philadelphia tavern!

ALICE MINE
1 oz Grand Marnier
3/4 oz gin
1/2 oz dry vermouth
1/4 oz sweet vermouth
1 dash Angostura bitters
Stir ingredients with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
CIN-CIN!!

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