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Archive for the ‘Gin’ Category

by Bourbon Belle

Wishing for a drink that you just haven’t been able to find at your beloved watering hole? Or dreaming about making the perfect cocktail to suit a specific taste? It’s surprisingly easy to concoct a well-balanced cocktail in the classic style, so long as you keep a few basic rules of thumb in mind.

One of the earliest known definitions of the term “cocktail” comes from the May 1806 issue of The Balance, and Columbian Repository, a Hudson, N.Y.-based weekly newspaper of yore: “Cocktail is a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water and bitters …”

So let’s start with the spirit of your choice—Bourbon’s as good as any. Next, you’ll want to sweeten it up for balance. Let’s go traditional and throw in some sweet vermouth. Following the cocktail “definition,” we’re going to add some bitters; Angostura bitters make for a traditional Manhattan. Now, let’s make an original by including a flavor you’d like to impart into your drink. What goes well with Bourbon? How about … peaches! Let’s add a touch of peach liqueur—Mathilde Peches is my personal choice. And now you have your own twist on a traditional cocktail, made to suit your own flavor preferences.

Just remember: a spirit, a sweetener, a bitter (fresh citrus juice is also great for balancing out the sweetness) and water (in most cases, just consider the melting ice sufficient).

Cin-cin!

BOURBON BELLE
3 ounces Jim Beam Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
1/2 ounce Mathilde Peches Liqueur
1/2 ounce sweet vermouth (Martini & Rossi or Cinzano preferred)
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Fill a shaker with ice and add all ingredients. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

More fun and easy ways to create your own cocktail follows this same concept. Take a drink you like, and just put a little spin on it! Maybe you LOVE a classic Negroni, but sometimes prefer something a touch more smooth. Try another original created by one of our LUPEC ladies called the Contessa. Change up the Campari for Aperol, Campari’s less bitter cousin-as quoted from Hanky Panky the Weekly Dig 7.2.08-7.9.08) and even out the portions of all three ingredients.

The CONTESSA
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add:
1.5 oz Beefeater Gin
1.5 oz Aperol
1.5 oz Cinzano sweet vermouth
Stir and strain in a chilled cocktail glass
Garnish with an orange twist

How about a classic Sidecar variation? Swap out the traditional brandy for Belle Brillet, a pear flavored Cognac, for a smooth and delicious Pear flavored Sidecar.

BELLE de BRILLET SIDECAR
In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add:
2 oz Belle Brillet
.5 oz Cointreau
.5 oz fresh lemon juice
Shake gently and strain into a chilled cocktail glass that has been rimmed with raw sugar.
Garnish with an orange wheel

The sky’s the limit. After all, as Imbibe! author David Wondrich writes, “the small, idiomatic differences…are the mixographer’s delight!”

Cin cin!

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I never thought I would become attached to a kitchen tool. That is, until I met the Oxo angled measuring cup. The 2 oz measuring cup, shown on the right, allows one to accurately measure amounts as small as one quarter ounce. In addition to ounces, their are interior markings for tablespoons and the more traditional exterior markings for milliliters and cups. Mr. Jigger you have served me well, but from now on this detail oriented cocktail lover will be angling for Oxo. Let’s put that quarter ounce line to use.

The HOSKINS COCKTAIL
2 oz Plymouth Gin
.75 oz Torani Amer (or Amer Picon)
.5 oz Maraschino Liqueur
.25 oz Cointreau
1 dash orange bitters

Combine ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a flamed orange peel.

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 Pink Lady

Hopefully you all caught the debut of the LUPEC Boston column in this week’s issue of The Weekly Dig. As promised, here’s a little more info on our favorite recipe for the Pink Lady, and a few notes on why I thought it an appropriate choice as the very first cocktail for our very first Dig column.

At first glance The Pink Lady appears to bear all the trappings of a “girly” drink – a feminine name, an approachable frothiness, a pastel hue. But the Pink Lady is no drink for the faint of heart: its tart-dry flavor is a far cry from the cloyingly sweet “girly” cocktails we’re wary of in this modern era of drinking. And its boozy gin & apple brandy base packs a whallop. As Eric Felten wrote in his Wall Street Journal column on the topic, “though a tasty drink worthy of inclusion in the cocktail canon, the Pink Lady has found its reputation dogged by association with a dubious aesthetic.” It is a cocktail that is easily underestimated. After enjoying one or two of these, though, I’m sure you’ll agree: ladylike as she is, the Pink Lady kicks ass and takes names. She’s a LUPEC kind of gal. Our favorite recipe is below:

PINK LADY COCKTAIL
1.5 oz gin
.5 oz applejack
.5 oz fresh lemon juice
.5 oz grenadine (preferably homemade)
1 egg white
Combine ingredients in a shaker and shake vigorously without ice.

Add ice; shake continue vigorous shaking. Strain into your favorite vintage cocktail glass. There are two classic cocktail lessons inherent in the making of a Pink Lady:

Lesson #1: Quality of ingredients: your drinks will only taste as good as the stuff you use to make them. Most of the cocktails the ladies of LUPEC Boston are intent on reviving were invented in the days before preservatives kept juices intact for weeks on end. When trying them out at home, you too should use the freshest ingredients you can find. For the Pink Lady you’ll need fresh lemons and we highly recommend using homemade grenadine: the flavor is leaps and bounds beyond the stuff you can buy in a bottle, and it’s really simple to make. Hanky Panky’s recipe is below.

Grenadine

Combine equal parts pomegranate juice (Pom, par example) and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for 7 minutes. Remove from heat and add 1 tsp orange flower water for every 1/2 cup pomegranate juice used. Cool.

Lesson #2: Eggs in cocktails: We know, we know. The whole “egg thing” is a really weird concept for many classic cocktail novices, but I promise you, your trip down classic cocktail lane won’t be nearly as fulfilling if you can’t get over it. As you cozy up to the raw-egg-in-a-drink idea, ask yourself: when is the last time you ever heard of someone in America actually getting salmonella? And if I offered you a taste of delicious raw batter from the cookies I’ve just whipped up, would you decline? I thought not. If you’re still having doubts, check out this recent article in the New York Times: see, eggs are HUGE in New York.

Once you’re ready to take the egg plunge, get your biceps ready. For egg cocktails to reach the delicious, frothy state that is their hallmark, you’ve got to shake the bejesus out of them. First, however, the egg white must be emulsified, hence the instruction to combine all ingredients in your shaker and give ‘em a good shake BEFORE adding ice. A very insightful post on the topic can be found on the Robert Huegel’s Explore the Pour blog: the author advocates shaking ingredients ten times, then add just slightly more ice than the amount of standing liquid in your shaker.

After adding ice, shake…and shake…and shake…and shake your Pink Lady, remembering all the while that egg cocktails take time — a LONG time — but once they are perfect and complete in your cocktail glass, just seconds from slipping down your throat, they are oh so worth the labor and the wait.

Like anything worth doing, really.

Cin-cin!

Pink Lady photo borrowed from the Thinking of Drinking blog.

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In two and a half weeks, 1,250 runners of the Boston Marathon will raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity. Let’s support these athletic, ambitious ladies!

Casey is one woman who will be running, in honor of her grandmother, to improve the lives of those affected by Alzheimer’s and promote research and effective treatments. If you’d like to donate to this cause, click here.

If you know of any other fabulous broads running the marathon in support of their causes, please post a comment with the link to their donation page so LUPEC readers can share their support!

May your feet fly, ladies. I’ll be toasting you with an Aviation at Eastern Standard in Kenmore Square.

AVIATION
1.5 ounces gin
.75 ounce maraschino liqueur
.75 ounce fresh lemon juice
Maraschino cherry (optional)
Shake the gin, maraschino liqueur, and lemon juice well with ice; then strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry, if desired.

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Today was a big day for the ladies of LUPEC Boston. No, it’s not because we’re so excited about Women’s History Month starting tomorrow we can’t even stand it! It’s because one of LUPEC Boston’s very own tied the knot today!

That’s right, today Miss Contessa became a Mrs. She and her beloved just couldn’t let Leap Day go by without doing something special…so they got hitched this morning at city hall! Then it was off to Harvard Square to get matching nuptial tattoos.

A very special wedding reception was held in their honor this afternoon at Silvertone. LUPEC Boston was very well represented. We were positively overjoyed when the bride & groom made their grand entrance , looking as picture perfect as the figurines atop a wedding cake.

Let’s raise a glass of one of these to the nuptial couple this weekend!

Tin Wedding Cocktail

1 oz brandy

3/4 oz gin

Stir in mixing glass with ice & strain. Serve in a cocktail glass.

Wedding Belles

3/4 oz gin
3/4 oz Red Dubonnet
1/2 oz orange juice
Shake in iced cocktail shaker & strain. Serve in a cocktail glass.




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