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Posts Tagged ‘Weekly Dig’

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

by Pink Lady

Our Tiki Bash is just a few short weeks away, and LUPEC Boston has assembled a class-act event. With hula instruction, burlesque dancers, ukulele-sensation Uke Springsteen reinterpreting “the Boss” on his tiny, tiny guitar, plus cocktail historian/Boston music legend Brother Cleve spinning records, this is an event you won’t want to miss.

It wouldn’t be a LUPEC party if cocktails weren’t the main attraction. In the next few columns, we’ll offer a taste of what’s in store on November 14th to whet your appetite and introduce you to hallmarks of the tiki drinks that inspired the party, considered so delicious in their heyday, they begot a craze that outlasted every cocktail fad before and since.

First, we should note that “tiki cocktail” is a “retro” term. Inventors of these fine concoctions referred to them as “exotic drinks” or “faux tropics” (“faux” because they were invented far from the real tropics, in the continental US). Modern drinkers may feel silly about the umbrellas and the skull-shaped glassware, but for many decades, “exotics” were the height of cocktail chic. Their popularity among the Hollywood set at Don the Beachcomber’s was inspiration enough for Victor Bergeron to rip the moose heads off the walls at his Northwest-themed eatery, Hinky Dinks, transforming it from “lodge” to tropical paradise and himself into “Trader Vic.”

The Fog Cutter, one of two drinks we’ll serve at the LUPEC Boston Tiki Bash, is commonly credited to Trader Vic, though Ted “Dr. Cocktail” Haigh casts doubt upon these origins in Vintage Spirits & Forgotten Cocktails. Haigh traces the drink via expert barman Tony Ramos, an original bartender at Don the Beachcomber’s in Los Angeles, who recalls the Fog Cutter as the signature drink from Edna Earl’s Fog Cutter bar in LA. Regardless of who invented it, this potent combination of three unlikely bedfellows—rum, brandy and gin—plus fresh juice, orgeat and sherry—is a memorable beverage. Provided you don’t tipple too many, of course.

If you’ve never heard of or tried orgeat, you’re in for a treat. Originally a health tonic popular among Romans, the early formula for orgeat was simply boiling water, barley and honey for several hours, then straining it (the word derives from the Latin “hordeata” meaning “made with barley”). In its modern incarnation, orgeat is a typically sweet, milky-looking almond syrup (who knows where the barley went?) made by boiling almonds and sugar and adding a little orange flower water or rosewater at the end.

Orgeat appears in many tiki cocktails, including two of Trader Vic’s most famous concoctions, the Mai Tai and the Fog Cutter. You’ll have a chance to sample both at the LUPEC Boston Tiki Bash. Or, try one at home today, proceeding with caution, as this drink is potent. As Trader Vic said, “Fog Cutter? Hell, after two of these, you won’t even see the stuff.”

FOG CUTTER

ADAPTED FROM TRADER VIC’S BARTENDER’S GUIDE, REVISED by Victor Bergeron
2 oz light Puerto Rican rum
1 oz brandy
0.5 oz gin
2 oz fresh lemon juice
1 oz orange juice
0.5 oz orgeat
0.5 oz sweet sherry

Shake all ingredients except sherry with ice cubes. Pour into 14-ounce glass. Add more ice cubes. Float 0.5 ounces of sherry on top. Serve with straws.

PURCHASE TICKETS TO THE LUPEC BOSTON TIKI BASH ONLINE AT THEBOSTONSHAKER.COM, GRAND IN SOMERVILLE, TORO IN THE SOUTH END, DRINK IN FORT POINT, TRINA’S STARLITE LOUNGE IN SOMERVILLE, OR BUCKAROO’S MERCANTILE IN CAMBRIDGE. CLICK HERE FOR MORE DETAILS.

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

by Pink Lady

Regular readers of our column or blog are well aware of LUPEC’s mission to “breed, raise and release endangered cocktails into the wild,” spreading great stories, lore and cocktail history whenever we can. But another main initiative of this group is to give back to our community. Fabulous as we may be, most members of our little club will never be in a position to donate a wing to a local hospital or community center. Instead, we fundraise in the best way we know how: by throwing dress-up cocktail parties. We’ve raised over $20,000 for local women’s charities this way since our group’s inception in 2007.

Our first event was a 1920s-themed speakeasy held on a clandestine riverboat permanently docked in the Boston Harbor, and it benefited Jane Done Inc., the Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence. Last year, we threw a 1940s-themed USO-style variety show with swing dancing, burlesque and live comedy to benefit women at the New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans. This year, we’re planning a tiki bash of epic proportions.

On November 14th, we will transform the Villa Victoria Center for the Arts into a 1950s-themed tiki party featuring retro libations and canapés provided by Toro, Green Street, the Franklin Café and more. Island Creek Oysters will be on-hand shucking delicious “Duxbury pearls” and the Boston Derby Dames will skate around with sweets provided by Taza Chocolate. Through the Keyhole Burlesque, ukulele master Uke Springsteen, DJ Brother Cleve and other live acts will entertain. Tickets, a wallet-friendly $35 in advance/$45 at the door, are on sale now.

Why tiki in November? Why not? With exotic décor and whimsical cocktails, a night at Trader Vic’s or Don the Beachcomber’s offered un-ironic escapism in its heyday, a flavor-packed counterpoint in the era of vodkatinis and The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit. As tiki expert Jeff “Beach Bum” Berry told the Washington Post earlier this year, “A tiki bar was where the mid-century Organization Man went to escape his white-collar job, his big mortgage and the threat of nuclear annihilation.”

With a long cold winter on the horizon, we Bostonians could use a little escapism, too.

THE HAWAIIAN ROOM

FROM THE HAWAIIAN ROOM OF THE HOTEL LEXINGTON, NYC, CIRCA 1940S

ADAPTED FROM JEFF BERRY & ANNENE KAYE’S BEACHBUM BERRY’S GROG LOG

0.5 oz fresh lemon juice

0.5 oz unsweetened pineapple juice

0.5 oz Applejack

0.5 oz triple sec

1 oz light Puerto Rican rum

Shake well with plenty of ice cubes. Strain into a cocktail glass.

CIN-CIN!

PURCHASE TICKETS TO THE LUPEC BOSTON TIKI BASH ONLINE AT THEBOSTONSHAKER.COM, GRAND IN SOMERVILLE, TORO IN THE SOUTH END, DRINK IN FORT POINT, TRINA’S STARLITE LOUNGE IN SOMERVILLE, OR BUCKAROO’S MERCANTILE IN CAMBRIDGE. CLICK HERE FOR MORE DETAILS.

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DIY Syrups

by Bourbon Bellephoto

In Part I of the Syrup Series, we discussed that making your own home made versions of the highly available (and highly artificial) syrups used in modern and classic cocktails (like simply syrup and grenadine), is almost as easy as strolling down to your corner liquor store and purchasing a bottle.  This week we’ll focus on creating your own original flavored syrups, because what you’re looking for, doesn’t actually exist!

I encountered this “problem” today, when I was trying to create a cocktail with a certain flavor profile.  I was interested in seeing what the flavor of lemongrass would impart in a tipple, so I decided I would make my own lemongrass syrup.

I started by making a basic simply syrup, then added some chopped lemongrass and let it simmer for about 20 minutes.  Next, I strained out the lemongrass and let the syrup cool. What could be easier than that?!

I had also been thinking about making my own ginger syrup.  Although there are some pretty good ones on the market, I really wanted to capture the spice and punch of fresh raw ginger, which I feel the others are lacking.

I stared by juicing about a cup of whole fresh ginger root. If you don’t happen to have a juicer, you can pulverize the ginger in a food processor, then place the ginger in cheesecloth and squeeze out the juice. The yield will be lower, so you’ll have to use more ginger than with the juicer method.

Once you have your ginger juice, simply add some of the juice to your simple syrup, and voila!

You can try making your own flavored syrups like these, with any number of herbs, spices, fruit peels, etc.  Be creative!

LEMONGRASS SYRUP
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 stocks lemongrass

Cut the butt end off of the lemongrass stock, and cut again about 4 to 5 inches from bottom. Discard the top and bottom. Slice the remaining stock into 1/8 inch slices, on the bias (to obtain the most surface area).

Combine sugar and water in a saucepan over medium-high heat, and stir until sugar dissolves.

Add the lemongrass to the simple syrup, and simmer for about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and strain out lemongrass. Let syrup cool, and store in an airtight jar for up to 1 week.

GINGER SYRUP

Juice 1 cup of fresh ginger root, peel on

Combine sugar and water in a saucepan over medium-high heat, and stir until sugar dissolves.  Remove from heat and add 1 tablespoon of fresh ginger juice for every 2 oz of simple syrup.

Some simple recipe ideas using these syrups!

THE ADAPTED PIMM’S COCKTAIL
In a tall glass, filled with ice, add:
1 slice peeled cucumber
2 oz Pimm’s No 1
2 oz  ginger syrup
4 oz soda water
Muddle cucumber in the bottom of a mixing glass.  Add Pimms and ginger syrup. Fill mixing glass with ice and shake vigorously.  Pour contents into a tall glass and top with soda water.
Garnish with a slice of cucumber and enjoy!

THAI LEMONGRASS TOM COLLINS

In a tall glass, filled with ice, add:
2 oz London Dry Gin
1 oz fresh lemon juice
1 oz lemongrass syrup
fill with soda water and garnish with a wedge of lemon

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zenmartini1 by Pinky Gonzales

For those of you who consider the Pink Gin an old familiar friend (not to be confused with LUPEC member Pink Gin), below you’ll find an array of comments on its existence. For the unacquainted, or who read this week’s Dig column to the bitter end, Pink Gin is a keep-it-simple, Zen-like libation, which looks tranquil enough but can scorch your gizzard if drank with abandon. However, it’s a fine way to try various brands of gin and bitters if you wish, or simplify life in general while achieving enlightenment.

Plymouth gin is most favored here for it’s palatable smoothness and historical use. High-ranking British Royal Navy Officers were known to celebrate their high seas happy hour with straight gin-with-bitters (as opposed to swilling ubiquitous rum like their lowly, not possibly as manly, subordinates). Angostura bitters was something sailors were accustomed to as a remedy for sea sickness, fevers, and stomach disorders, so why not mix medicines, right? They referred to this cocktail as “pinkers” or “pink gin.” They even had a special flag or “gin pennant” on ship they’d hoist up announcing it was Miller time in the wardroom to other ships’ officers. It was an inconspicuous green triangle which depicted a drinking glass.

“It certainly goes a ways toward explaining how an island off the coast of Europe ended up ruling one-fourth of the earth’s land surface,” quips David Wondrich. His Esquire drinks database recipe instructs one to roll around a few good drops of Angostura in an Old-Fashioned glass, dump them out, then pour in 2 ounces of Plymouth et voilà.

Personally, I like a chilled Pink Gin, but not all my fellow LUPEC’rs do or care. Robert Hess has a good video of himself stirring up a Pink Gin and serving it in a small cocktail glass. He uses 1.5 oz of Hendrick’s in his. It’s on his excellent Small Screen Network here. If you are easily distracted like me you can mouse your cursor over the liquor bottles and watch the words “liquor bottles” pop up, or over Robert’s shirt that it declares a “bowling shirt,” etc. Just saying.

LUPEC Boston’s one-and-only water engineer and devoted Kingsley Amis fan, Pink Gin, says that the traditional Plymouth with Angostura, warm or chilled, is her preference. She was very against Amis’ preferred Booth’s Gin,  however, though she and “DUDEPEC” member K. Montuori both agree that Miller’s Gin with a little orange bitters “makes for a nice change of scenery.”

The honorary Barbara West likes Plymouth with Angostura “warm and blushing,” while LUPEC Prez Hanky Panky similarly likes “rose-colored.”

Other variations: Pink Lady says a chilled, Genever “pinker” is a positive experience. Fee’s peach bitters with Old Tom gin is a personal favorite variation, though Bourbon Belle and I do not recommend this as a way to finish off an evening of imbibing.
And lastly, Panky, Joe Rickey, and “John Collins” (Dudepec) over at Drink have been setting afire the Angostura then pouring in 2 oz Plymouth. They’ve been referring to this as “Burnt Toast”, and it is positively dee-licious.

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I love scotch. Scotchy, scotch, scotch. Here it goes down, down into my belly…

-Ron Burgundy

So, this week’s Dig column focused on the lovely Laphroaig, the distinctly smoky, peaty scotches the famed Islay distillery produces,  and the female distiller who helmed the operation for a generation, Bessie Williamson.

For more smoky scotch tippling, here are a few scotch recipes the ladies of LUPEC curated for an upcoming event hosted by the Boston University Scotch Club in honor of the Women’s Law Association at BU Law. Knock one of these back in honor of lady lawyers, distillers, and scotch lovers everywhere.

Cin cin!

PRINCE EDWARD

In a mixing glass, filled with ice, add:

2 oz Scotch

.75 oz Lillet Blanc

.25 oz Drambuie

Stir to chill, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

BOBBY BURNS (Try with Highland Malt, then another with an Islay)

In a mixing glass, filled with ice, add:

2 oz Scotch

.75 oz Italian Vermouth

.25 oz Drambuie or Benedictine

1 dash Angostura bitters

Stir to chill, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

GENTLE JOHN

In a mixing glass, filled with ice, add:

2 oz Scotch

.5 oz French Vermouth

.25 oz Cointreau

1 dash Angostura bitters

Stir to chill, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

BLOOD & SAND

1 oz Scotch

1 oz OJ

.75 oz Cherry Heering

.75 oz Italian Vermouth

Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

THE MAMIE TAYLOR COCKTAIL

1 oz Scotch

.5 oz lime juice

ginger ale

Fill a highball glass with ice. Add Scotch and lime juice and top with ginger ale.

BALVENIE ROB ROY (Also try with an Islay)

In a mixing glass, filled with ice, add:

2 oz Balvenie 12 year Scotch

.75 oz Italian Vermouth

2 dashes Angostura bitters

Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

LOCH KATRINE

A LUPEC Original, by Hanky Panky

2 oz Scotch

.5 oz Cointreau

.5 oz Lillet Blanc

muddled lavender

In a mixing glass, muddle lavender with Cointreau until fragrant. Fill with ice and add Scotch and Lillet

Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

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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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by Pink Lady

The ladies of LUPEC are still on the hot drinks – how could we not be when President Hanky Panky is introducing us to delicious concoctions like The Steaming Bishop mentioned in this week’s Dig column? This delicious, wine-based beverage also features prominently in the Boston Herald’s gallery about LUPEC Boston, which ran with a Herald story about our group today.

We uncovered many recipes for variations on the Bishop, both of the hot and cold variety. Again, we turn our sites to the one offered by Charles H. Baker in The Gentleman’s Companion, reprinted for this generation as Jigger, Beaker, Glass:

From the section titled” FOUR HOT ONES BASED on BRANDY”:

THE SO-CALLED “ENGLISH BISHOP” – Considered by the Author to be One of the Most Attractive Hot Cups ever Invented for the Aid & Comfort of Civilized Man, Discovered in the Summer of 1932 in Boxmoor, Hertfordshire

Take an orange, stud it thickly all over with whole cloves, dip it in cognac and dust with brown sugar. Now brown well until sugar caramels, either spitted upon a skewer or stick before the fire or under the broiler. Cut into quarters; now take a saucepan or other vessel, turn in 1 qt of red port wine, simmer tightly covered for 20 minutes, add 2 jiggers of cognac just before pouring. Can be served flambe with a little brandy floated on top.

PLEASE NOTE: Take utmost care and caution should you decide to go the flambe method. Hanky Panky suggests heating up the booze to get it to ignite it a little more quickly, and using a long match so you don’t burn your little fingers.

Cin cin!

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