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Archive for the ‘Italian Vermouth’ Category

by Pink Lady

Hanky Panky’s column in this week’s Dig advocates building your home bar on a cocktail by cocktail basis: each week, choose a favorite cocktail and purchase the items necessary to mix it at home. With this method, you will never be left wondering what you can mix with the items you have on hand while adding to your encyclopedic knowledge of cocktail recipes. Below are some recipes to help get you started, economically of course — who knows what will happen to the market next.

For gin, we recommended the Hearst. You’ll need all of these ingredients for many other cocktails, so its a great way to invest your money from the start.

HEARST
2 ounces London dry gin
1 ounce Italian vermouth
dash of orange bitters
dash of Angostura bitters

Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon oil.

This Boston original gets a bottle of rye in your liquor cabinet, and fresh grenadine in your fridge. Where they both belong.

WARD EIGHT
2 ounces rye whisky
.75 ounce lemon juice
.75 ounce orange juice
1 teaspoon grenadine

Shake ingredients with cracked ice in a cocktail shaker; strain into a chilled cocktail glass and enjoy, or strain it over cracked ice in a highball & top off with seltzer. Refreshing! (This is David Wondrich’s Esquire version of the drink. There is much debate over whether the proper recipe for this drink: I invite you to try on your own and leave feedback!)

The Hibiscus cocktail is a great way to deal with some light rum and make sure you’ve got French vermouth in the cabinet, too.

HIBISCUS
From Trader Vic’s Bartender’s Guide, Revised.
Juice of 1/4 lemon
1 teaspoon French vermouth
1 teaspoon grenadine
1.5 oz light Puerto Rican Rum
Shake with ice cubes. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

This LUPEC Boston namesake will trick out your liquor cabinet with a few fun extra ingredients, and make tequila feel quite at home among the other bottles.

PINKY GONZALES
(As adapted from Trader Vic’s recipe by LUPEC Boston member, Pinky Gonzales in the Little Black Book of Cocktails.)
2.5 oz tequila blanco
.5 oz fresh lime juice
.5 os orange Curacao
.25 oz agave nectar
.25 oz orgeat syrup
2 cups crushed ice
1 sprig mint & .5 squeezed lime for garnish

Shake all ingredients and pour into a tiki mug or tall glass filled with crushed ice and the reserved 1/2 lime. Garnish with mint sprig & straw.

Oh, how your liquor cabinet grows!


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by Pink Lady

When I studied abroad in Ireland my junior year, I was shocked to learn that my Irish roommates preferred Budweiser to Guinness. The American import was pissier and more expensive than their native stout, yet none of the lads would be caught in the pub with a Guinness in hand. I chalked this up to the tendency to always want what you haven’t got, and related to their impulse to eschew the familiar for the exotic.

This is not necessarily so, however, in Holland, where every fourth bottle of spirits sold is a bottle of genever. I learned this fun little fact from Bols brand ambassador Simon Duff at the Juniperlooza seminar at Tales of the Cocktail, and decided to put this theory to the test by contacting up my good friend Alexander, who hails from Amsterdam.

“Do you drink genever at all? Is it popular at home in Holland?” I texted him quite out of the blue last week while working on this week’s Weekly Dig column about different types of gin.

“Yes I do! I have a bottle in my freezer! It’s running low. Reminds me of my dad. I only drink it on special occasions…” he responded immediately.

So, there you have it folks, straight from the tall Dutchman’s mouth. The stuff is indeed popular in Holland, if impossible to come by in the US.

We had a chance to try a small sip of both jonge and oude genever while in New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail, and sampled it again at a recent meeting chez Bourbon Belle. President Hanky Panky managed to smuggle several bottles back to the states with her on a trip to Amsterdam last spring.

The strong juniper flavor inherent in genever makes no bones about being a great-great-great grandparent to the modern dry styles of gin we know and love today. That said, its fuller and gads maltier than the stuff you put in a modern gin and tonic, a totally different gin-drinking experience. It is indeed special stuff, and though the real Dutch spirit is hard to come by in the United States, Genevieve by the San Francisco-based Anchor Distilllery stands in as a delicious take on the product.

So here’s the ultimate challenge: get your friends who live in London to smuggle you back some Old Tom Gin and your very own tall Dutchman to return from Holland with a suitcase full of Hollands. Then mix them up in alternating batches of the following cocktail, as Seamus Harris of Bunnyhugs did and reported on here this past June.

MARTINEZ
Recipe adapted from Imbibe! by David Wondrich
1 dash of aromatic bitters
2 dashes of maraschino
1 oz Old Tom Gin or Genever
2 oz Italian vermouth
Stir over ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

This drink is believed to be a predecessor to the modern martini, and was originally concocted with Old Tom Gin. The genever version is delicious as well. I wonder — what would happen if I served this to the next person who requested “a martini” at the restaurant where I work…hmmm

Cin-cin, or as the Dutch say, Proost!

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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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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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