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Posts Tagged ‘dry vermouth’

*Recent ruminations from the ladies of LUPEC Boston, as originally published in the Weekly Dig.

by Pink Lady

They say Irish whiskey is the fastest growing spirits category in the U.S. these days, which is great news. The spirit sure has seen its share of dark days.

No one knows the full story, but Celtic monks are the likely fathers of Irish whiskey.

Whiskey-making was popular enough among innkeepers and laypersons to require a license by 1556. By the mid-17th century, the King was also charging duties based on quantity.

The vibrant aqua vitae business took a major blow when the Act of 1779 taxed Irish whiskey-makers by the still. One quarter of legal distilleries closed or went underground owing to this tax. Their remaining distilleries’ solution? Build bigger stills.

Then there was a famine, a major blow to the amount of Irish grain available for distilling. Then a World War, then a war with England and trade embargoes on all Irish goods, closing off the British export market. Then American Prohibition came, cutting off another important market across the Great Pond. During World War II, the Irish government closed distillation down completely.

But these days, Irish luck seems to be working for whiskey makers once again. The spirit is popular with younger drinkers and because of its smooth flavor and mixability, is allegedly a big hit with ladies.

Of course, we LUPEC ladies have always been fans, especially when sampled in one of these, a classic from the Waldorf-Astoria circa 1910 introduced to us by David Wondrich.

THE BLACKTHORN
1 oz Irish whiskey
1 oz dry vermouth
3 dashes Absinthe
3 dashes Angostura bitters

Stir ingredients with ice in a mixing glass. Strain into a chilled vintage cocktail glass.

CIN-CIN!


 

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Ruminations from the ladies of LUPEC, as originally published in The Weekly Dig.

by Pink Lady

As I type, freezing rain falls on ice outside my window. My entire street resembles a large, grey ice skating rink. Welcome to January in New England. Ever tried navigating a grey skating rink in platform heels and a pencil skirt? It ain’t fun. On nights like these, this LUPEC lady prefers to drink at home.

What’s a girl to do when marooned at home and craving a cocktail? Work with what you’ve got. When there’s no citrus to be found and a trip to the store is out of the question, straight spirits are the way to go. A Manhattan is an obvious choice, but what about a Hearst? Made with 2 parts gin, one part sweet vermouth, a dash of orange bitters and some lemon oil (if you’ve got it), this drink is an easy answer to the can’t-leave-the-house blues. Allegedly, the drink was famously enjoyed at the Waldorf-Astoria by newspapermen who worked for William Randolph Hearst.

If Campari is your bag and you’re looking to move beyond the Negroni, a Rosita (recipe below) is a nice way to go, a favorite of LUPEC member emeritus Contessa. We don’t know the origins of this drink at all but it sure does make for a refreshing aperitif to whet your appetite for the take out you’ve ordered because you can’t bear to leave the house.

And if you’re feeling like getting creative, you can always follow this basic, time-tested formula for an aperitif cocktail and see where it gets you, plugging in whatever ingredients you have at home. Start with 2 parts high-proof base spirit, 1 part low-proof aperitif (vermouth, Lillet, etc.) or fortified wine (dry sherry, port, etc.), maybe a 1 bar spoon of liqueur if you’ve got it and are feeling feisty, and 2 dashes whatever bitters strikes your fancy. Stir your new concoction with ice and taste, then modify to your heart’s delight.

And let us know what you’ve come up with! We’ve got at least 2 more months of this lovely winter weather to contend with.

ROSITA

1 1/2 oz silver tequila
1/2 oz Campari
1/2 oz sweet vermouth
1/2 oz dry vermouth
1 dash angostura bitters

Stir with ice, strain into an ice-filled Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Cin-cin!

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Recent thoughts from LUPEC Boston, as originally published in the Weekly Dig.

by Pink Lady

As you well know, we love a good cocktail story. One of our all-time favorites is a tale about the Gibson. We’ve heard this myth bandied about by some of Boston’s most knowledgeable bar stars, and though we’ve never seen it substantiated, we’re happy to propagate it here. Fact or fiction? Who cares, we’re drinking.

The Gibson is essentially a martini garnished with cocktail onions. As the story goes, a savvy investment banker named Gibson in cahoots with his waiter and barman used the cocktail as a ploy during business negotiations. While meeting to discuss business, as his potential partners ordered a round of martinis, Gibson would announce: “I’d like a Gibson”. This cued his server to bring him nothing more than a glass of water garnished with cocktail onions. As you can imagine, after two or three rounds of drinks as negotiations wore on, Gibson had the upper hand. The servers always knew he’d closed the deal when he said: “Now sir, I’d like a martini.”

The Gibson Cocktail traces its roots to San Francisco – this much we know to be true. One story posits that it was created and popularized by artist Charles Dana Gibson, creator of the iconic Gibson Girls. Another states it was invented for wealthy financier and Bohemian Club member Walter D. K. Gibson sometime around 1898. Perhaps he was the Gibson who used the cocktail as a ploy to make him rich. Whomever can be credited, the drink was a hot ticket by 1904.

We’ve recently been enjoying the Gibson made with Nolet’s gin, a gorgeous gin that’s recently become available in Boston. Made with Turkish rose, white peach, raspberries, and a super secret proprietary blend of botanicals, Nolet’s is floral, fruity and delightfully elegant. The juniper element we love (but so many gin-phobes hate) is less pronounced than many of its contemporaries, making this a great gateway gin for the juniper-wary. Sample one of these at home, or at Eastern Standard where the house pickled onions are reason enough to order a Gibson.

THE GIBSON

Adapted from Imbibe! by David Wondrich

1.5 oz Nolet’s Finest Gin

1.5 oz dry vermouth

Stir ingredients with ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a cocktail onion.

Cin-cin!

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*The latest ruminations from LUPEC Boston, in case you missed ‘em in this Week’s Dig.

by Pink Lady

As members of LUPEC, we devote a good deal of time, both personally and professionally, to breeding, raising and releasing endangered cocktails into the wild. It’s arduous work, but someone’s gotta do it. Every now and then, we like to take a little break from the cause and diversify our activities. What better way to do so than with a night at the theater?

We were thus utterly delighted when the folks at Manderley Bar invited us to participate in the immersive theater experience Sleep No More. Produced by award-winning British theater company Punchdrunk in conjunction with the American Repertory Theater and La Morra restaurant, this performance has been making headlines since it opened in Boston in October. A cursory read of the details leaves no question as to why:

• The show takes place in an abandoned elementary school in Brookline, where each room has been transformed into that of a 1930s-era home. (Except the bathrooms, where the stalls are still portioned for little people and hark eerily back to second grade.)

• It’s theater … kind of. More precisely, the show is an installation of scenes designed to intimate the story of Macbeth told in the framework of an Alfred Hitchcock thriller.

• The audience dons masks and moves through the set among the actors, experiencing the performance on a sensory level as they choose what to watch and where to go—from pine-scented rooms full of Christmas trees to a hallway that reeks of mothballs, to room after room of props you can actually touch.

• A ’30s-era jazz club, the Manderley Bar, acts as home base for the show, where a swinging jazz quintet, the Annie Darcy Band, performs standards post performance as you mix, mingle, debrief and drink.

• The entire experience is creepy as hell but with Manderley Bar as home base, you can pop in for a tipple at any point during the show, and return to experience more art through a slightly rosier lens.

LUPEC Boston will join the staff at Manderley Bar behind the stick tonight pouring a special cocktail list inspired by the performance, including Satan’s Whiskers (Curled or Straight) and our favorite punch, David Wondrich’s Fatal Bowl, among others. These will be served in addition to the Manderley’s excellent classic menu, which features gems like this one, the Old Etonian. Mix one up at home as you toast the coolest interpretation of Macbeth to hit Boston in some time—and buy tickets online before the show ends on January 3rd.

OLD ETONIAN

1.5 oz Plymouth Gin

1.5 oz Lillet Blanc

Add two dashes each of crème de noyaux and orange bitters.

Shake with ice; strain into your favorite vintage cocktail shaker. Garnish with a twist of orange peel.

Drinks from the LUPEC Boston menu at Sleep No More are below:

SATAN’S WHISKERS (Curled or Straight)
.5 oz gin
.5 oz dry vermouth
.5 oz sweet vermouth
.5 oz orange juice
2 tsp orange curacao
1 dash orange bitters
Shake, strain up, garnish with orange twist. For straight, sub Grand Marnier for curacao.
From Harry Craddock’s Savoy Cocktail Book, published in London in 1930. “We sip our Satan’s Whiskers curled if it’s still light outside and straight if it’s not.”

BLUE MOON
2 oz Gin
.5 oz lemon juice
.5 oz Crème Yvette
Shake and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass
Lemon twist

THE BLINKER
2 oz rye
1 oz grapefruit juice
2 barspoons raspberry syrup
Shake with ice, strain into a chilled vintage cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon twist.
First appeared in Patrick Gavin Duffy’s The Official Mixer’s Manual, circa 1934. Blinker was another term for the blinders worn by working horses to help keep their eyes on the road.

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.

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*LUPEC Boston’s latest ruminations, in case you missed ‘em in this week’s Dig.

Is BIGGER really BETTER?

by Saucy Sureau

It was her dirty little secret, and a generational advantage. Emily Rumrill drank several dry Manhattans a day (first made famous by Frank Sinatra during his Rat Pack days), and my dad drank his Scotch and sodas on the rocks (made famous by the negative turn cocktails took toward highballs in the ’70s). While Grams was slowly enjoying a perfectly jiggered Manhattan on the rocks in a 6-ounce tumbler with 1 1/2 ounces of Canadian Club and 1 1/2 ounces of dry vermouth, two dashes of angostura bitters and a twist, my dad was losing miserably at cribbage with his freely poured S&S in a 14-ounce highball glass—and Grams was seemingly drinking him under the table. Or was she?

Back in the day, a classic cocktail was served straight up in a 4.5-ounce glass, 75-percent spirit, 25-percent ice melt, according to David A. Embury, author of the classic yet controversial book The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks. Grams was drinking about one-third the amount of alcohol my father was, unbeknownst to him.

Nowadays, we see 10-ounce to 16-ounce martini-and-rocks glasses at bars, which require two to three times the booze to even remotely fill the glass. What happened to moderation? I remember my first “large-format cocktail” at a bar. I thanked the barman for my gigantic glass of gin and left hammered after just one drink. Newly aware of the taming powers of a little vermouth and a jigger-poured cocktail, I returned to the cribbage table the following weekend—and kicked my dad’s ass, Emily Rumrill style.

As we gather around the holiday table, remember: Bigger isn’t always better. While you’re sitting around playing cards competitively with your loved ones, classic measurements might be just the thing to help you take Uncle Ernie for all he’s worth this Thanksgiving.

GRANDMA RUMRILL’S DRY MANHATTAN

1.5 oz Canadian Club whisky

1.5 oz dry vermouth

2 dashes angostura bitters

Served on the rocks with a twist of lemon.

CIN-CIN!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING FROM LUPEC BOSTON!

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IMG_0466*LUPEC Boston’s latest ruminations, in case you missed ‘em in this week’s Dig

by Pink Lady

Summer has finally arrived in Boston, as we all knew it would, with high temperatures and humidity to match. For those days when it feels too swampy to even move, we suggest lounging about with a Roof Garden Cooler in hand. The drink, which comes to us by way of David Wondrich’s Killer Cocktails, is a forgotten classic that once functioned as a sort of air conditioning for well-heeled guests at the rooftop garden at the tony Waldorf Hotel in New York City.

Opened in 1893 on the former site of owner William Waldorf Astor’s mansion, the grand luxury hotel once stood where the Empire State Building now resides. It was the first hotel of its kind, lavishly appointed with electricity throughout and private bathrooms en suite in most rooms, and offering “room service” for the first time in history. New York had never seen such opulence in a hotel. Four years later, cousin John Jacob Astor erected the Astoria Hotel right next door, which was something of a Waldorf 2.0, standing at 17 stories tall, and featuring the first indoor driveway in hotel history and a grand 1,500-seat ballroom.

Together, the Waldorf-Astoria (as it became known) helped transform the hotel from a way station for transient travelers into a cosmopolitan epicenter. It also helped advance the status of women, who could be admitted without the company of an escort. Louise Kehrer Boldt, the wife of founding proprietor George C. Boldt, was influential in this regard, and sought to make the hotel a popular social destination for women and an important part of the urban social landscape.

ROOF GARDEN COOLER

2 oz dry vermouth

1 oz lime juice

1/2 tsp superfine sugar

1 dash Angostura bitters

top with ginger ale

Combine in a glass, stir to dissolve sugar, add 4-5 ice cubes, top with ginger ale.

CIN-CIN!

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by Pink Lady

“The proper union of gin and vermouth is a great and sudden glory; it is one of the happiest marriages on earth, and one of the shortest lived.”

- Bernard De Voto

Yes, we are talking about vermouth again, both here and in our column in The Weekly Dig. I’ll admit, the story idea came to me after taking my sixth or seventh order for a “Grey Goose Martini, extra extra dry, extra extra dirty, with extra olives,” during a busy Thursday evening shift at Toro. “What if all of those drinkers put a spirit and a mixer with actual flavor into their glasses, rather than covering up chilled vodka with a tablespoonful of olive brine?” I wondered. I suspected these drinkers might enjoy a “wet” martini.

After my shift ended, I hopped back behind the bar with MiMi, who works at Toro too, and we put our theory to the test. We mixed up a massive glass of Grey Goose shaken with a generous dollop of olive brine, and a gin martini with 2 parts Bombay Sapphire and 1 part Martini & Rossi dry vermouth stirred over ice and tasted them against one another. The Grey Goose dirty thing tasted saltier than I remembered, presenting a flavor profile that no drink made sans olive brine could hope to match. But the gin martini tasted to both of us as we suspected: balanced and slightly savory.

All of this activity attracted the attention of the peanut gallery, and we ended up sharing our sips with a group of four friends/regulars who had been drinking at the end of the bar for a little over an hour. I also made them taste a splash of vermouth on its own. I’ll summarize their reactions below:

GUY #1: (A friend of GUY #4, who I suspect was more interested in talking to the pretty ladies.) So, wait…this one is the vodka thing? It’s good. And this one is the gin thing? This is the one you like better? Yeah…it’s delicious. So anyway, what’s your name?

GUY #2: (A chef who is well-acquainted with the local cocktail scene.) Yeah, it’s more balanced than the dirty vodka thing. And the vermouth is really light and refreshing. Can I have another PBR now?

GUY #3: (Clearly a bit more intoxicated than the rest.) So wait, this is Grey Goose? Yeah, that’s the best kind. This dirty martini is way, way better than the other one. Not even a question. The other one doesn’t even taste like vodka. I remember this one time when I was drinking vodka at a concert and [INSERT MEANDERING STORY WITH COMPLETELY IRRELEVANT POINT HERE].

GUY #4: (A beloved regular, also rather intoxicated.) What are we doing again? You want me to taste something?

To supplement our rather unhelpful experiment with the peanut gallery, I embarked on a little home experiment to compare and contrast how the various types of gin on my home bar (Plymouth, Hendricks, Genvieve) play with the two types of vermouth I have on hand in the fridge (Noilly Prat and Vya, which we mentioned in in our first post on vermouth and was also recently covered by The Leather District Gourmet here). I mixed martinis in a 2:1 ratio and tested them on my unsuspecting, non-cocktailian friend with the following results. I also made her drink Grey Goose + olive brine, for which was very forgiving:

Plymouth + Noilly Prat = “Delicious, refreshing. What’s in this again? So simple.”img_2941

Grey Goose + olive brine = “That’s really, really salty. Blech.”

Hendricks + Noilly Prat = “Very floral and much more crisp than the first.”

Genvieve + Noilly Prat = “Is this grappa?”

Plymouth + Vya = “Good. Richer. I like the first one better.”

Hendricks + Vya = “Crazy floral and herbaceous. Almost too much.”

Genevieve + Vya = “Super strong. I don’t think I could drink a whole glass of this, but again, I’m one of few Americans who actually likes grappa so I don’t hate it. Can we please stop drinking gin now?”

I relented.

And the moral of the story is, when a LUPEC gal invites you over the taste-test martinis, it’s not a joke.


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