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Archive for the ‘French Vermouth’ Category

mxmologoLUPEC Boston is honored to be hosting today’s Mixology Monday at our humble abode.  Inspired by a chance encounter that Pink Lady had with a cocktail novice, we’ve decided to consider those cocktails that would be suitably delicious for the first timer.

Obviously there are a couple things to consider when offering up advice to the amateur cocktailian.  First off your suggestions need to be balanced.  Something too bitter, too sweet or too boozey results in our possible convert spending an eternity in vodka/soda purgatory.

And secondly we should consider accessibility.  Folks are afraid of words they don’t know or understand.  And rather than ask for guidance and clarification they will often just turn and run.  Cocktails for the first timer should be relatively simple and incorporate common ingredients.  Not only do we want the cocktail newcomer to enjoy and understand what they’ve just imbibed, we want to be able to write down the recipe and make it clear that it is something they can easily create for themselves at home!

Let’s hear from some of lovely ladies of LUPEC Boston.  How would they pave thelupec_logo72 way to cocktail glory for an amateur?

Pink Lady is a firm believer in the power of the Jack Rose.  “I think in sweeter incarnations and made with a little Peychaud’s, it could easily trick booze-fearing drinkers into swilling back something made with a brown liquor.”

Bourbon Belle chimed in with the Sidecar.  She describes “the combination of the bold and interesting flavor of brandy that is juxtaposed with the sour kick of fresh lemon juice and balanced with the sweet orange flavor of Cointreau” as a great well-balanced cocktail that goes down easy for the novice drinker.

Pink Gin agrees that the brown spirits tend to be an easier sell to the cocktail beginner.  She suggests a Mint Julep (hopefully served in the proper vessel) or perhaps her father’s favorite, a Bourbon Manhattan.  If Pink Gin gets her charm from her father I’m sure he could successfully put a Manhattan in the hands of any teetotaler!

Pinky Gonzalez pipes in with some options to help a newbie recover from any previous gincidents.  She’s used the Left Bank (Gin, St Germain and Sauvignon Blanc) to make “gin-drinkers out of many an unwitting soul.”  She also recommends the Vesper, saying “it’s good for vodka drinkers/gin fearers; the idea that there is vodka in there is enough for some to ‘go there.’  The Lillet offers the vermouth-fearer an alternative and the James Bond reference is a good hook for some folks.”

As someone who spends a big chunk of my life behind the stick making drinks for the general public I’m constantly considering gateway cocktails.  There is nothing more gratifying than introducing someone whose “usual” is a vodka and soda to the wonderful world of flavorful, balanced cocktails.  For this reason I’ve taken to calling them my greatway cocktails.  For our purposes today we will be focusing on gin and whiskey, the two base spirits that seem to be most misunderstood by the masses.

Let’s start with gin.  There is an erroneous fear of gin running rampant through our society that LUPEC is attempting to quell.  Gin is delicious and according to our good friend Patrick Sullivan it makes you smarter.  Armed with this fact and a few cocktails conversion is imminent.

Fine and Dandy Cocktail (from the Savoy Cocktail Book)

1/2 Plymouth Gin

1/4 Cointreau

1/4 Lemon Juice

1 dash Angostura Bitters

Shake well and strain into a cocktail glass.

The Fine and Dandy is a greatway cocktail for many reasons.  Like Bourbon Belle’s suggestion of the Sidecar, the sweet and sour aspects of this cocktail are wonderfully balanced but do not overwhelm the nuances of the gin.  In addition this cocktail gently introduces bitters, a cocktail ingredient that unnecessarily frightens the cocktail neophyte.

imagesThe Stork Club Cocktail

1.5 oz Gin

.5 Cointreau

1 oz Orange Juice

.25 oz Lime Juice

1 Dash Angostura Bitters

Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Orange juice equals breakfast, the start to one’s day.  Why not start one’s cocktail journey with the juicy house cocktail of one of Manhattan’s most historic hot spots.

As a lover of all brown spirits I can’t imagine not enjoying a perfectly made Manhattan.  But as I know this is not the case for all let’s consider a couple of whiskey based greatway cocktails.

The Scofflaw Cocktail

1 oz Rye Whiskey

1 oz French Vermouth

.5 oz Grenadine

.5 oz Lemon Juice

1 dash Orange Bitters

Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

This delicious cocktail is perfect for introducing someone to the joys of whiskey and vermouth.   It’s sure to make a newbie ooo and ah.

The Algonquinothers_46780_8

1.5 oz Rye Whiskey

.75 oz Dry Vermouth

.75 oz Fresh Pineapple Juice

Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Another juicy option for introducing folks to the joys of marrying whiskey and vermouth.  Encourage the newbie to raise her or his glass to Ms Dorothy Parker, one of our favorite forebroads and member of the Algonquin’s famed round table.

Thank you to all who have participated in our Mixology Monday saluting First Timers.  Check back in the next couple of days for our round up!

Cin Cin!

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180px-elsiejanisAs you well know, LUPEC will celebrate lady veterans of all stripes at the LUPEC Boston “USO Show” on November 21, a 1940s themed cocktail party and retro-variety show. Before the USO even existed, there was trailblazing entertainer Elsie Janis “the sweetheart of the A.E.F.”, for whom we raise a in this week’s Dig column. Elsie Janis was a lifetime performer: she debuted on the stage at age 2, and made a name for herself in the vaudeville circuit as child star “Little Elsie”. As an adult, Janis became a headline act on Broadway and in London, and spent her later years working as a screenwriter, songwriter, and actor in Hollywood.

Elsie Janis’s self-proclaimed “high point” came when she took her song and dance comedy show on the road to entertain American troops during World War I. Janis’ involvement with the war effort began in 1914, when she began incorporating patriotic songs into her vaudeville act, and using her shows as a stateside recruiting tool. After the US entered into the war, Janis traveled to France to entertain troops on the front lines.

A New York Times article published on June 17, 1918 describes the effect she had on the troops:

And at last…a locomotive trundled in out of the night, in its cab a pair of proud and grinning engineers, on its cowcatcher, Elsie Janis.

A moment later and the engine was near enough to the stage for her to clear the space at a single jump and there she was, with her black velvet tam pushed back on her tossing hair, with her eyes alight and her hands uplifted, her whole voice thrown into the question which is the beginning and end of morale, which is the most important question in the army:

‘Are we downhearted?’

You can only faintly imagine the thunderous ‘No’ with which the train shed echoed till the peaceful French households in the neighborhood wondered what those epatants Americans would be up to next. And it is the whole point of Elsie Janis…that whatever the spirit of the boys before her coming they really meant that “No” with all there was in them, that any who might have been just a little downhearted before felt better about it after seeing and hearing her.

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Performing as the “Sweetheart of the American Expeditionary Forces ” was indeed the role of a lifetime. Janis remained committed to the fighting men she entertained after the war, and even created a revue featuring some of the out of work soldiers she’d entertained, called

Elsie Janis and Her Gang which hit the stage in the fall of 1919. Critics predicted that no one would want to hear about the war after it ended, but Janis considered the show a success. Janis also wrote a memoir of her experiences entertaining the troops which was published in 1919, titled The Big Show: My Six Months with the American Expeditionary Forces.

The period after the war was tough on Janis, as fewer and fewer people wanted to hear about the war and her work entertaining troops in Europe, a period that she considered “her high point.” As she later wrote in her autobiography, “[T]he war was my high spot and I think there is only one real peak in each life!”

But, as the New York Times argued, the positive impact Janis and performers like her had on the troops could not be overlooked:

When she leads a leather-lunged regiment in the strains of “God Save Kaiser Bill” the future of that uneasy monarch really seems more insecure than it did, and it is not fanciful to say that more than one company has marched off to its first night in the trenches with brighter eyes, squarer shoulders, and a more gallant swing because, at the very threshold of safety, this lanky and lovely lady from Columbus, Ohio, waved and sang and cheered them on their way.”

We’ll drink to that!

THE ATTA BOY COCKTAILapreslaguerresm
2 oz gin
1/2 oz dry vermouth
2 dashes grenadine
Stir in mixing glass with ice & strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

* Images borrowed from the Ohio State University Libaries Exhibitions website & wikipedia***

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We also tried the Salty Dog straight up.  Drinks, photos, and original editions courtesy of k. montuori.

We also tried the Salty Dog straight up. Drinks, photos, and original editions courtesy of k. montuori.

by Pink Gin

The thing that we at LUPEC Boston have to love about Kingsley Amis is that he wrote a regular drinks column just like we do. His compilation of his articles are included in Everyday Drinking, published anew this year. We saw it on the shelves at Porter Square Books.

Older books are fun because they give you an insight into the culture of the time. In this case, the books were written rather in the “dead zone” of cocktail culture of the 70s and 80s. So, some of the drinks in the book are good and others are truly ghastly. (It will make cocktail enthusiasts appreciate how far we’ve come, especially with availability of ingredients.)

We featured the Salty Dog {LINK} in our Weekly Dig column this week, and you can find versions of the Pink Gin and the Normandy in our Little Black Book of Cocktails. So here I’d like to feature a punch that is really much better than it sounds:

JO BARTLEY’S CHRISTMAS PUNCH
3 bottles dry or medium-dry white wine
2 bottles gin
1 bottle brandy
1 bottle sherry
1 bottle dry vermouth
5 quarts medium-sweet hard cider
Ice cubes

Mix everything together and serve on ice. Go for the cheapest reliable ingredients – don’t waste the good stuff. And as Kingsley points out, if you toss in leftover drinks from last night, no one will notice.

Also, for those of you who haven’t read Lucky Jim you can try this version of a Vodka Gibson:

The LUCKY JIM
12 to 15 parts vodka
1 part dry vermouth (Martina e Rossi)
2 parts cucumber juice
cucumber slices (with peel)

Make as a martini; stir with ice and let stand for 2 to 3 minutes before serving straight up in chilled stemmed glasses.

I’d say try this with a home infusion of vermouth and hot peppers and you’ll have a vodka drink worth drinking. Cheers!

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Welcome to the Endangered Cocktail of the Month, a new feature on the LUPEC Boston online home. To help us achieve our goals of “breeding, raising, and releasing nearly extinct drinks into the wild”, LUPEC Boston will select a new classic cocktail to revive at local bars and restaurants each month. We’ll write about the drink here and in our newsletter, and supply explicit instructions for how to make one at home – or how to instruct your local barkeep in making one. We encourage you to print (or write down) this recipe and bring it to your favorite local bar while you’re out and about this month, thus spread the gospel of the Endangered Cocktail and enriching the collective knowledge base of our city’s bartenders.

THE SCOFF LAW COCKTAIL
In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add:
1.5 oz Old Overholt Rye Whiskey
1 oz. dry vermouth
3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
3/4 oz. fresh grenadine

Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon twist.

The Scoff Law Cocktail originated during prohibition and was named in honor of those who refused to recognize the 18th amendment. For more history of the cocktail, check out this post.

There are also several variations on this cocktail, many of which substitute grenadine with Green Chartreuse. If your local bar only carries bottled grenadine, opt for the Chartreuse version instead. We wholeheartedly support (and enjoy) these variations!

Please drop us a note to let us know about your experiences in the field, reviving The Scoff Law.

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Get your hands on a bottle of sloe gin, turn up Rumors by Fleetwood Mac, and let the games begin!

SLOE COMFORTABLE SCREW
from Dale DeGroff’s Craft of the Cocktail
1 oz sloe gin
1 oz Southern Comfort
4 oz fresh orange juice
Orange slice for garnish

This drink has sloe gin, southern comfort, and OJ — get it? A sloe, comfortable screw. Build in a highball glass. Garnish with an orange slice.

ALABAMA SLAMMER
from Dale DeGroff’s Craft of the Cocktail
3/4 oz Southern Comfort
1 oz vodka
3/4 oz sloe gin
4 oz fresh orange juice
6 dashes grenadine, for garnish

Shake all ingredients hard with ice, strain into six 1-oz shot glasses, and dash the top of each with grenadine. Bottoms up!

Trader Vic’s Bartender’s Guide Revised Edition has a whole section devoted to Sloe Gin (and Pisco!) so pick up a copy and get inspired. I tried this cocktail and loved it — it’s surprisingly well balanced, sweet but not cloying, and utterly imbibeable.

SAN FRANCISCO COCKTAIL
3/4 oz sloe gin
3/4 oz Italian vermouth
3/4 oz French vermouth
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 dash orange bitters
Shake with ice cubes. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Add a cherry.

Cin-cin!

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The ladies of LUPEC Boston are gearing up for our annual excursion to New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail. For five days we will be learning about everything from Shochu to sensory perception. And for five nights we will be eating, drinking and dancing at our favorite haunts. Sounds like something real close to heaven. So to get us in the mood let’s pour out a tasty, low alcohol cocktail from one of NOLA’s finest restaurants, Herbsaint.

HALF SINNER, HALF SAINT
2 oz French Vermouth
2 oz Dry Vermouth
5 oz Herbsaint
lemon twist
In a rocks glass combine the vermouths over ice. Float the Herbsaint. Garnish with the lemon twist.

Cheers!

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After 95 years of being a big no no, absinthe is once again legal in the United States. Here in Boston we are fortunate to have wonderful liquor retailers such as Brix and Downtown Wine and Spirits so finding the two available absinthes, Lucid and Kubler, is a simple enough task. But what do you do once you’ve made that purchase?

Traditionally the consumption of absinthe was highly ritualized. At the end of a long, arduous day folks would meet for the green hour. With a glass of absinthe in hand, people would gather around an absinthe fountain. From multiple spigots ice water would slowly drip over sugar cube laden slotted absinthe spoons. As the glasses of absinthe slowly clouded over from the bottom up those waiting to imbibe would catch up on the day’s news and local gossip. Once the liquid was a uniform, pearly color the absinthe was ready to drink. Obviously not many of us today have an absinthe fountain hanging around, but you can easily replicate this process at home with a small pitcher of ice water, spoons and your good friends.
Of course as lovers of all things cocktail, the ladies of LUPEC love to use our absinthe to mix up something tasty during our green hour! Here are a few recipes to get you started.

CHRYSANTHEMUM COCKTAIL
2 oz French Vermouth
1 oz Benedictine
3 dashes Absinthe
Stir ingredients with ice. Strain into your favorite chilled vintage cocktail glass. Squeeze orange peel on top.

CORPSE REVIVER NO. 2*
.75 oz Dry Gin
.75 oz Lillet
.75 oz Cointreau
.75 oz Lemon Juice
1 dash Absinthe
Shake ingredients well with ice. Strain into your favorite chilled vintage cocktail glass.

* In The Savoy Cocktail Book author Harry Craddock noted “Four of these taken in quick succession will unrevive the corpse again.”

FASCINATOR COCKTAIL
2 oz Dry Gin
1 oz French Vermouth
2 dashes Absinthe
1 mint sprig
Shake ingredients well with ice. Strain cocktail through a tea strainer into your favorite chilled vintage cocktail glass.

Are you still thirsty and feeling a bit adventurous? Pull out your favorite recipes that call for pastis and substitute absinthe. Remember that absinthe can be kind of a bully, so start by using small quantities and then adjust to taste.

Cheers!

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by Pink Lady

The LUPEC Boston column in this week’s issue of the Weekly Dig stars two spirits that have become less and less vogue in the age of the extra extra dry, extra extra dirty vodka martini: gin and vermouth. I will save discussion of the “original” martini recipe (and modern bastardizations thereof) for a later date. For now, let’s get to know these two glorious spirits a little better. They are key ingredients in a good many endangered cocktails, as LUPEC Boston member and Drinkboston founder Barbara West explains beautifully here. To coax these classics back from beyond the grave you will need to cozy up to both.

So, vermouth: qu’est-ce que c’est?

It’s simply fortified wine aromatized with herbs and spices. As the story goes, vermouth was invented in Italy in the 1780s by Anthony Carpano — allegedly it was grandma’s recipe — and the name is derived from the German term for key ingredient wormwood (“Wermuth“). Vermouth herb & spice blends are as protected and proprietary as recipes for gin botanicals, and can contain something on the order of 40 – 50 ingredients. Carpano’s original vermouth was sweet and red; about a generation later, French herbalist Joseph Noilly invented a dry vermouth based on the delicate, dry white wines and local plants of his region, and also made with wormwood (which is also a key ingredient in Absinthe; more info on that in next week’s column.)

Vermouth was originally referred to according to its country of origin, especially in old cocktail books. Italian vermouth references the sweet stuff and French vermouth references dry. Grazie, Antonio! Merci, Joseph!

Many Americans fear vermouth in this modern age of drinking, as The Spirit World‘s post on the topic articulates. Perhaps your first encounter was with vermouth that had gone stale for lack of use in your parent’s liquor cabinet? Lesson learned, you shouldn’t have been dipping into their stash while they were out of town, anyway. In any event, I implore you to give vermouth another try as a grown up. It’s cheap enough to buy a few bottles, taste and compare, and discover on your own what you like best — and what works best in different cocktail recipes. Married…with Dinner conducted a vermouth-by-vermouth in home taste test, the results of which are very enlightening.

My most recent vermouth “a-ha!” moment came with the purchase of a bottle each of Extra Dry and Sweet Vya at Brix in the South End. It’s expensive for sure, retailing for $25 whereas other bottles in the category hover around $7 – $10, but Vya is a truly worth it investment, especially if you can find a way to write off alcohol purchases. Vya Extra Dry is light, herbaceous, and melon-y; Vya Sweet is warm, complex, citrus-y and spicy — it reminds me of sipping my Swedish Pop-pop’s glug by the fire on a snowy New Year’s Eve in Vermont.

And for you gin-shy folks…

I actually did have a gin-cident circa my freshman year of college. I do not speak of what ensued that night and I didn’t touch the juniper scented stuff for nearly a decade thereafter. Then I fell in love with classic cocktails and it was only a matter of time before my vodka days were numbered. If I can do it, you can too.

What really brought me back was the gin tasting we did at our very first LUPEC meeting in February 2007. It was an aggressive re-entry but it got me over the initial hump, and also taught me a very important lesson: not all gins are created equal. I found Hendrick’s, with its crisp, clean flavors and fresh cucumber notes t be a great gateway gin. I also like the then locally unavailable Blue Coat Gin that a friend had smuggled across state lines for our hostess from the “City of Brotherly Love.” I also learned as we tasted each gin side-by-side that it is the botanical blend of Tanqueray that my mind and palate equate with my gincident, not gin or it’s juniper flavors. Et voila, I am now officially a gin girl.

I’m sure you’ve tried Absolut Citron or Grey Goose Orange; gin is just a few steps away from those flavored neutral grain spirits. Here are a few starter cocktails to get you going:

THE PEGU CUB
So refreshing & delicious, this is the one that REALLY brought me back to gin, at Taste of the South End last year. I had about seventeen of these.
1.5 oz Plymouth Gin
.5 oz Orange Curacao
.5 oz Fresh Lime Juice
1 dash Angostura Bitters
1 dash Orange Bitters

BLUE SKIES
Tried this again recently at our April ’08 meeting at Barbara West’s house — so delicious!
1 oz Applejack
1 oz Gin
.5 oz Lemon Juice
.25 oz Simple Syrup
1 or dashes grenadine
Shake with cracked ice and strain into your favorite vintage cocktail glass!

THE FRENCH 75
What better way to sneak gin into the glass of an unsuspecting gin-phobe? By adding lemon, sugar, and champagne…
2 oz Gin
1 oz fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons sugar or 1 tsp simple syrup
Champagne

Cin cin!

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by MiMi

Protest singer, jazz vocalist, pianist, temperamental diva and American civil rights heroine, Nina Simone remains one of the most important musicians in American music history.

Born Eunice Kathleen Waymon on February 21 in 1933, Simone started playing the piano at the age of four, and made her concert debut when she was just ten years old. During her recital, her parents were moved to the back of the hall to make room for white people. She refused to play until they were brought back to the front.

She wanted to be the first black concert pianist and was one of the first black women to be classically trained at Julliard. She started playing jazz and pop music in clubs in the mid-1950’s while at Julliard to supplement her income, changing her name to Nina Simone, possibly to protect her classical standing. She never intended to sing, but started when a club manager told her she would lose her job if she didn’t. She became instantly popular, and was known for her inventive style that incorporated jazz, Bach, pop, soul, folk, gospel, and show tunes.

She had a majestic onstage presence, and was known for her love/hate relationship with the audience. She sang with such raw power and soul; if you didn’t like it, you could get out.
She paid great attention to the musical expression of emotions, and could range from intense highs to melancholy tragedy in a single concert or album. She was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder in the sixties, but it was kept secret until after she died.

Simone recorded over forty albums over the course of her life, each progressing in artistic control over the next one. She becomes more and more vocal about racial prejudice over the years; after 1964 the civil rights message became standard in her recording repertoire.
She recorded songs such “Mississippi Goddam” – her response to the bombing of a church that killed four black children and covered “Strange Fruit” – Billie Holiday’s anthem about lynchings of black men in the south. After Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered she sang “Why? The King of Love is Dead.” She turned Lorraine Hansberry’s play “To Be Young, Gifted and Black” into a civil rights song. This song became the “National Anthem of Black America.”

When you raise a glass to toast the weekend, let’s toss one back for the late, great Nina Simone, whose birthday was yesterday and whose legacy lives on in song!

Chorus Lady
Juice of 1/4 orange
1/3 Gin

1/3 French Vermouth

1/3 Italian Vermouth

Shake well and strain into a medium glass, add slice of orange and a cherry.

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