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Here we come A-Wassailing

by Hanky Panky

Hopefully in the midst of the holiday hustle you were able to snag a copy of this week’s Dig in which the LUPEC ladies unraveled the mystery of wassailing.  Who knew that the phrase that has been confusing us for years could actually be pointing to a delicious libation that can warm us throughout this festive and hectic season.

Thankfully making Wassail is not complicated.  It can, however, be a bit time consuming.  For this reason we decided to feature a recipe for Wassail from one of our favorite books, Jigger, Beaker, & Glass: Drinking Around the World by Charles H. Baker Jr. Mr. Baker is best known for traveling the world over to write about all things related to food and drink.  Those who are fortunate to own this tome know that his prose is as remarkably delicious as the recipes featured therein.  So who better to walk us through the ancient ritual than Mr. Charles H. Baker Jr.  Enjoy!

THE ANCIENT WASSAIL BOWL FROM AN ANCIENT ELIZABETHAN FORMULA, CIRCA 1602, & TRULY NOTABLE FOR ITS EXCEEDING MILDNESS

In Saxon times this custom of the Wassail Bowl at feast days was an important ceremony, and later it became an accepted custom at Christmas Eve, when minstrels or choirs, or village singers went about singing carols where there was a candle lit in the window.

In the Feudal castles, and manor houses, the Wassail Bowl was borne into the banqueting Hall with songs and carols, and crowned with garlands.

Nutmeg, 1/2 grated; or 2 tsp powdered

Powdered or grated ginger, 1 tsp

Cloves, 6 whole

Cinnamon, 1 inch of stick

Sugar, 1 cup

Eggs, yolks 6; whites 3

Apples, 6 cored, but not pared

Mace, 1/4 tsp

Water

Sherry or Madeira, 2 qts

Take spices and cover with a cup of cold water.  Fetch to a boil; adding wine and sugar.  Let heat up…Meanwhile in the Wassail Bowl (Punchbowl) previously warmed:

Break in six yolks and three whites.  Beat up.  When wine is warm – not boiling – mix a teacupful with the egg.  When a little warmer, add another cupful, and repeat until five cups have been used…Now let the rest of the wine boil up well, and pour it into the bowl also, stirring well all the time, until it froths in attractive fashion…Fill cored apples with sugar, sprinkle on a little of the spice and roast until nearly done.  Time these to suit the end of the wine-pouring process.  Throw them into the bowl, and serve the whole thing very hot…Some stout hearts add a tumbler full of good cognac brandy to the whole – and we, after testing the business, heartily agree with them; since sherry of itself isn’t potent enough to make any Saxon defend his native land, much less a 20th Century wassailer, with all we have been through during one and a half decades that Saxons never even considered as drinkable fluid!

wassail_song_37b1

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If you checked out this week’s Dig column, you know we are hot for Hot Toddy’s this week. This is for several reasons:

1. The weather has been sucking.

2. Some of us have been battling colds and still believe the toddy, when made with brandy or a peat-y scotch whisky, to be actual medicine.

3. Hot Toddy is the chosen cocktail moniker of one of our newest members! Welcome to the Lady Lush club, girl!

We also mentioned in this week’s column that the Skin, the Sling, and the Sangaree are cousins of the Toddy (which could be taken hot or cold back in the day.) Such names! In a nutshell, here’s what makes each drink, and what makes them a little different (as explained in great, enlightening detail in David Wondrich’s IMBIBE):

  • The basic Toddy recipe, as given in David Wondrich’s IMBIBE, was believed to be of Scotch descent and was quite simple: 1 teaspoon sugar, 3-4 oz water, 2 oz spirits, stirred with a spoon. Writes Wondrich, the toddy “is a simple drink in the same way a tripod is a simple device: Remove one leg and it cannot stand, set it up properly and it will hold the whole weight of the world.”
  • The Whisky Skin is little more than a Hot Toddy + a strip of lemon peel, minus the sugar and is believed to be of Irish origin: 2 oz whiskey, 1 piece of lemon peel, fill the glass half full with boiling water. Bostonians also called this drink a “Columbia Skin.”
  • The Sling is little more than a strong, cold Toddy with nutmeg: 1 teaspoonful of sugar, 1 oz water, 2 oz spirits, a lump of ice, topped with fresh grated nutmeg. In the early- to mid-1800s, the Gin Sling was the drink to have, imbibed by all, and recommended for consumption morning, noon, and night.
  • The Sangaree derives from the Spanish term Sangria, and is little more than a cold Toddy made with strong wine: 1.5 oz port wine, 1 teaspoonful of sugar, fill tumbler 2/3 with ice, shake well and top with grated nutmeg.

So go forth and make copious amounts of delicious drinks this holiday season, wherever it is that you end up. Because no matter how dismal things might seem when you open Grandma’s liquor cabinet and find a bunch of dusty bottles staring back at you, the moral of the story is: some booze in a glass with a little water and some spice and is probably going to taste pretty damn good.

And for you culinary folks, why not try a Hot Buttered Rum? Yum. Here’s Dale DeGroff’s recipe:

HOT BUTTERED RUM
1 oz dark rum or spiced rum
1 oz light rum
.75 oz simple syrup
.5 tablespooon Holiday Compound Butter (below)
Cinnamon stick for garnish

In a goblet glass, combine the dark and light rums with the syrup. Add the hot water and stir to mix. Add the butter, stir a couple of times to start to melt it, and garnish with the cinnamon stick.

HOLIDAY COMPOUND BUTTER

The yield here is huge – scale/adjust accordingly*** depending on how many of these you want to drink.

Soften 1 lb unsalted butter in a mixing bowl. Add 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1 tsp freshly ground nutmeg, 1 tsp ground allspice, .5 tsp cloves, and .25 cup dark brown sugar. Mix well to thoroughly combine. Using a sheet of wax paper, form the butter mixture into a log or rectangle – your choice – and place in the refrigerator to set. When the butter is firm you can slice it into individual serving pats of .5 tablespoon apiece, or just cut up as needed to serve. Either way let the butter soften and warm up before serving.

***I have the vague sense that you could add some amount of baking powder, egg, flour and vanilla to the leftovers and make some sort of cookies. Maybe something like these?

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Many thanks to all who joined us for yet another fabulous Punch Party at GRAND! The feeling was festive indeed. To recreate the magic at home this holiday season, here are the recipes:

THE FATAL BOWL (aka The Wallop Bowl)
Recipe by David Wondrich
4 lemons
1 cup demerara sugar (or Sugar in the Raw)
4 English Breakfast Tea bags
1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 1/2 cups Cognac
1 1/2 cups Dark Rum
fresh nutmeg

Remove the peel from 4 lemons with a vegetable peeler, and place in a large punch bowl. Pour demerara sugar over the lemon peels and muddle to release the lemon oils from the peel.
Boil 2 cups of water and steep the 4 tea bags for 5 minutes.  Add hot tea (tea bags removed) into the lemon and demerara mixture.  Let cool for 20 minutes, if possible.
Add Cognac, Dark Rum, and fresh squeezed lemon juice. Place large chunks of ice, of an ice mold into the punch. Top with grated nutmeg.

SINGLE MALT SANGAREE
Recipe by Jim Meehan of PDT, New York City
1 bottle (750ml) Dubonnet Rouge
2 bottles (750 ml) Red Wine (a spicy Zinfandel or Syrah works well)
1 bottle (750 ml) Single Malt Scotch
(We used Chivas 12 year, thanks to the kind donation from Pernod-Ricard!)
.75 oz Grand Marnier
.5 oz demerara syrup
[combine equal parts demerara sugar (or sugar in the raw) and water in a saucepan and heat until sugar is dissolved]
8 cinnamon sticks
The peel of 3 oranges (peel off small round pieces of peel with a vegetable peeler)

Pour all ingredients into a crock pot, stir, and heat until almost boiling. Serve in heat proof mugs with an orange peel.

HOT TODDY
2 liters Jameson’s Irish Whiskey
(another kind donation of Jameson’s from Pernod-Ricard!)
13.5 oz fresh lemon juice
13.5 oz wildflower honey syrup
(combine equal parts honey and hot water, and stir until dissolved)
cloves
lemon wedges

Combine whiskey, lemon juice and honey syrup.  Pour 2 oz of mixture into a heat proof mug. Drop in a clove studded wedge of lemon and top with hot water.

Cin-cin!

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by Pink Ladyimg_2919

In this week’s Dig column, we shared the story of the Bloody Mary, a cocktail that is perhaps the most popular eye-opener for modern brunchers. And by eye-opener, we mean Merriam-Webster’s definition No. 1:

eye–open·er: noun
1 : a drink intended to wake one up

Daytime drinking may have fallen out of fashion in American culture, but there was a time when a morning tipple wouldn’t have branded you a layabout or a louse. Consider this treatise from Ernest P. Rawling’s RAWLING’S BOOK OF MIXED DRINKS (as quoted in David Wondrich’s IMBIBE) on the positive effects of the Fizz when taken early in the day:

“And in the ‘morning after the day before,’ when the whole world seems gray and lonesome, and every nerve and fibre of the body is throbbing a complaint against the indiscretion, just press the button and order a Gin Fizz — “Not too sweet, please!” It comes. Oh, shades of the green oasis in the sandy desert of life!”

Oh, wait. Hmmm…he seems to be talking about hangover cures. As Wondrich goes on to explain, a Fizz was the ‘Sporting Man’s’ breakfast of champions, a beverage to “moisten the clay with directly upon rising – an eye-opener, corpse-reviver, fog-cutter, gloom-lifter. A hangover cure…packed with vitamins, proteins…and complex sugars, foaming brightly and aglow with the promise of sweet relief.”

Hungover or not, we could all use a frothy glass of sweet relief every now and again. When in need, give one of these a try. The drink even has the word “Morning” etched into its nomenclature, perhaps to dispel any notions that drinking this before noon would be gauche. As Harry Johnson wrote in the recipe notes,” The author respectfully recommends the…drink as an excellent one for a morning beverage, which will give a good appetite and quiet the nerves.

MORNING GLORY FIZZ
Adapted from Harry Johnson’s NEW AND IMPROVED BARTENDER’S MANUAL as quoted in IMBIBE
.75 tablespoon sugar
.5 oz lemon juice
.25 oz lime juice
.5 tsp absinthe
1 egg white
2 oz Scotch whisky

Begin with the juices and 1 teaspoon or so of water in a mixing glass, stirring the sugar into it. Add shaved ice and shake vigorously; strain into a good sized bar-glass. Fill with soda water and serve.

Then of course, there is the Ramos Gin Fizz, a New Orleans eye-opener that can still be found on many a brunch menu today even outside the Crescent City. At one time, the popularity of this legendary combination of tough-to-emulsify ingredients necessitated a one-to-one bartender-to-“shaker boy” ratio at Carl Ramos’ Imperial Cabinet Saloon – a ‘shaker boy’ was a young black man whose job was to receive the ingredient-filled shaker from the bartender and shake the hell out of it. After relocating to the Stag Saloon, this epic cocktail was responsible for the jobs of 35 shakermen during Mardi Gras 1915, each passing the drink along to his neighbor once his arms grew weary. Again, with thanks to IMBIBE, here is the recipe adapted from Carl Ramos’ 1925 dictation to the  New Orleans Item-Tribune

RAMOS GIN FIZZ/NEW ORLEANS FIZZ
1 tablespoonful powdered sugar (use superfine)
3 or 4 drops of orange flower water
1/2 lime (juice)
1/2 lemon (juice)
1.5 oz Old Tom Gin (finally available in Boston!)
white of One Egg
1/2 glass crushed ice
About 2 tablespoonsfull of rich milk or cream
About an ounce of seltzer water to make it pungent

Together well shaken and strained (drink freely)
“Shake and shake and shake until there is not a bubble left but the drink is smooth and snowy white and of the consistency of good rich milk,” Ramos told the reporter. Best to have someone mix one for you if you’re truly looking for a little hair of the dog in this glass.

On the subject of hangovers, Charles H. Baker offers 27 drinks called “Picker-Uppers” in his Gentleman’s Companion, (repubbed  as Jigger, Beaker, and Glass), saying, “There are times in every man’s life when, through one reason or both, a man feels precisely like Death warmed up. In such sorry plight there is but one thing to do if we do not wish to sit and suffer through a whole day waiting for the cool hand of normalcy to stroke our dry and fevered brow — a Picker-Upper.” What follows is a fascinating list, atop which sits a unlikely suggestion: Drink Champagne.

Marches Champagne

A plain chilled pint of champagne per person with two or three simple biscuits is probably the finest picker-upper known to civilized man. The champagne must be very cold and can either have bitters, a little added brandy, or both…

Champagne in this role is somewhat more expensive than any of the other remedies collected, but when we think back there is stark realization that the time comes to every man when relative expense means little; and rather risk “turn” from the sight of raw egg, or taste of sweet ingredients, the refreshing, chill tartness of the bubbly is a dispenation straight from heaven.”

And how, Charles Baker!

Last but not least, here’s a recipe for the drink that they actually call the “Eye-Opener”, from the Savoy Cocktail Book:

yolk of 1 fresh egg
1 teaspoonful powdered sugar
2 dashes Absinthe
2 dashes Curacao
2 dashes Creme de Noyau
1 Liqueur Glass Rum
Shake well and strain into a cocktail glass.

A modern interpretation is chronicled here, by Erik Ellestead from Underhill Lounge.

Whatever you choose to imbibe in the morning, may it pick you up and dash away your hangovers/sorrows.

Cin-cin!

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Thank you!

n1119052471_30206355_77502This week, LUPEC Boston is thankful for all of the fabulous people that helped make the LUPEC BOSTON “USO SHOW” a success last Friday night. The turnout was outstanding with an estimated 200 guests in attendance, all dressed to the nines and decked out in true 1940s style. Thanks also for your positive attitudes and patience when the line for drinks grew long.

We couldn’t have pulled off such a shindig without the help of our restaurant and retail partners who donated the delicious food: Tremont 647, Toro, Lionette’s Market and Island Creek Oysters;

Distributors and account reps who donated the products that made the Scofflaws, Rositas, Daiquiris and Moscow Mules possible, including Hendrick’s, St-Germain, Milagro, Cruzan, Mathilde Liqueurs, Chartreuse, Sazerac, Rain Vodka, Harpoon, DeLoach Vineyards, M Coffee, and Smart Water;

3050516691_d602ea39b2The entertainers and swing dancers who donated their time and talent to make this a real 40’s era “USO-style show”: the Boston Derby Dames, Thru the Keyhole Burlesque, 2 Girls for 5 Bucks, Harry Gordon (as Bob Hope), DJ Brother Cleve, and swing dancers Kellian Adams, Brian Pletcher, Cara Ball, Vichu Tanta-Nanta;

The technicians who supported these talented folks, Jenn Sutkowski and Will D’Amato;

The restaurants, retail stores, and other venues that donated covetable raffle prizes: Tremont 647, Toro, Brix, Polka Dog, Taza Chocolates,Vee Vee, Zipcar, La Verdad, Myer’s & Chang, Pho Republique, Flour Bakery, St-Germain, Improv Asylum, and Imbibe magazine;

A HUGE thanks to Grand for selling tickets for us online, bringing this retro-event into the digital age and maximizing convenience for all;

And most of all, to our guests for their generous support of LUPEC Boston and our beneficiary, the NEW ENGLAND SHELTER FOR HOMELESS VETERANS. We are always amazed at the outpouring of generosity that makes our events possible, and it is especially remarkable in these troubling economic times, when every last dollar seems to count so much more.n1119052471_30206361_9121

And for those of you looking for a place to grab a digestif or steal away from the family as you deal with your turkey this weekend, there’s still time to drink for charity with the “This One’s for the Ladies” drink promotion. Through the month of November, participating bars around town will donate a portion of proceeds from one “LUPEC-approved” cocktail to the NESHV. Hit up any of these spots through Sunday:

* Tremont 647
* Toro
* La Verdad
* Eastern Standard
* Rendezvous
* Highland Kitchen
* Flora
* Milky Way
* No. 9 Park
* Hungry Mother

All of these images are courtesy of Matthew Demers. For more great photo galleries, check out Boston.com & Bostonist‘s coverage of the event.

And have a Happy Thanksgiving, all!

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A Most Fabulous Line-Up

The LUPEC BOSTON “USO SHOW” is shaping up to be so much more than just a cocktail party! Here’s a preview of what to expect for entertainment, all for the low, low price of $35 in advance/$45 at the door. Click here to buy your tickets now thru 6 p.m. tonight [service charges will apply]:

Guests who arrive on the early side will receive a complimentary swing dance lesson taught by a team of experienced swing dancers. Instructors Kellian Adams, Brian Pletcher, Cara Ball and Vichu Tanta-Nanta can be found tearing up a dance floor near you at least a few nights a week. They are affiliated with Boston Swing Central, a not-for-profit that puts on a dance every Friday night in Central Square, Cambridge, which is just one of many opportunities to swing dance in the Boston area. Didn’t know that you could swing dance around here? Opportunities abound! Dip a toe in at the LUPEC BOSTON “USO SHOW”, then visit www.havetodance.com for a full calendar of dances and lessons in the area.

Emcees Cathleen Carr and Daiva Deupree of Two Girls for Five Bucks, a critically acclaimed and widely celebrated New York based two-woman sketch comedy burlesque, will take the stage next. The duo has been featured at comedy festivals across the country, including the LA Comedy Fest and SketchFest NYC, and have performed their anti-chick flick brand of humor at the Comedy Central Stage at the Hudson Theater in Los Angeles, Upright Citizens Brigade NYC, and Ars Nova Theater in New York. Carr and Deupree, with their provocative on-stage chemistry, are adept at portraying devastatingly comical ladies frantically trying to make their way through the world. Much like the ladies of LUPEC Boston.

Thru the Keyhole Burlesque will take the stage next and turn up the heat with their steamy act. Boston’s Sweethearts, Thru the Keyhole Burlesque is a refreshingly playful troupe that bumps grinds with their tongues planted firmly in cheek! From Maine to Connecticut, these broads keep New England entertained with saucy costumes, imaginative props, obscure musical selections and a kicky chorus line. In addition to a busy performance schedule, Thru the Keyhole also teaches classes, go-go dances, models, produces events & does private parties. Check them out on myspace.

Between live acts, legendary Boston DJ and cocktail historian Brother Cleve will spin more ’40s-era swing, so you can put your Lindy Hop lessons to good use. We couldn’t call it a proper cocktail event without Cleve.

After a little more dancing, Carr and Deupree will take the stage once again to introduce Boston-based actor, improviser and stand-up comedian, Harry Gordon doing his Bob Hope routine. Gordon has been performing on the main stages of Improv Asylum, ImprovBoston, and the Cantab Lounge since 1999. Thanks for the memories, Bob…er, Harry!

The Thru the Keyhole girls will perform another round of their sultry burlesque, before we segue into the moment you’ve all been waiting for — the prize raffle! The list of potential prizes is amazing, so come with deep pockets.

And throughout the evening, The Boston Derby Dames will skate around with samples of fine Taza chocolates for your enjoyment. The Boston Derby Dames is Boston’s first and only all-female, DIY, skater-owned and -operated flat track roller derby league. See how they roll at the LUPEC BOSTON “USO SHOW”.

Ticket price is $35 in advance/ $45 at the door including cocktail party fare and four drink tickets, with additional beverages available for purchase. They’re going fast, so buy yours today at any of the following locations:

  • Toro, 1704 Washington St., Boston, MA
  • Tremont 647, 647 Tremont St. Boston, MA
  • Grand, 374 Somerville Ave., Somerville, MA
  • Online at grandthestore.com thru 6 p.m. tonight [service charges will apply]

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by Pink Lady

In this week’s Dig column we shared one version of the Moscow Mule story with you — the one that glorifies Heublein, Inc. President John Martin for his marketing savvy. You can read the New York Times’ take on the unique man behind the marketing campaign that made dusty bottles of unloved Smirnoff fly off the liquor store shelves here.

Eric Felten’s take on the Moscow Mule story suggests that the drink was actually invented in 1941 by Cock n’ Bull head bartender Wes Price. Price “‘just wanted to clean out the basement'”, which was overloaded with a shipment of Smirnoff that had been foisted upon the bar by John Martin, and some “dusty jugs of ginger beer that [bar owner Jack] Morgan had ordered in an earlier fit of misguided enthusiasm.” Price received no credit, but the drink went on to become a mega-hit with Hollywood’s glitterati, and has been immortalized as the original vodka cocktail.

It begs the question –what is more important to a cocktail’s success? Overall deliciousness? Or how you market it?

Whatever the answer, this highball will receive a hearty toast at the LUPEC BOSTON “USO SHOW” this Friday, where the Moscow Mule will be served. If you can’t join us, raise one of these at home, following LUPEC Boston member Moscow Mule’s favorite recipe:

Squeeze .5 lime into a Collins glass (or traditional copper mug) and drop in the skin.
Add ice and:
2 shots vodka
1 shot fresh lime
Top with cold ginger beer & finish with a good dash of Anostura bitters.

Cin cin!

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