Archive for July, 2009

by Pink Gin

LUPEC Boston has been busy this summer traveling the country and doing important cocktail research for the benefit of our loyal readers. Sure, you could have found several members at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans but we also took on a bigger challenge: where to get a decent mixed drink in Alaska?

It wasn’t easy. Anchorage is a beer town. You can’t trip over a curb without finding great local beer. With three Anchorage-based breweries/brew pubs and great halibut, salmon, and other seafood in every hole in the wall pub – you could be content for some time.

Undeterred, we found a hidden gem at the Double Musky Inn as featured in this week’s Dig. Sitting at the bar was a pleasure – our wishes almost magically fulfilled by our “bartendress” Suzette and a busy but attentive crew. Sipping on the Deanna’s Garden, named for the proprietor’s wife, had us dreaming of other ways to play with herbal teas in simple syrups. You can order the Spring Garden herbal tea at Summit Spice & Tea Company or find a similar blend locally.

We also loved Club Paris in downtown Anchorage. I bet a lot of people pass it by (actually we sat at the bar and watched some of these people skittishly peer in the door and then scurry away). That’s OK, we probably didn’t want to drink with them anyway. We were drawn to it on our first day (love at first sight?), and I’d be a fixture if I lived any closer – like say, Worcester. We later read this Frommer’s review:

Coming from a bright spring afternoon into midnight darkness, under a neon Eiffel Tower and past the bar, I sat down at a secretive booth for two and felt as if I should lean across the table and plot a shady 1950s oil deal with my companion. And I would probably not have been the first. In contrast to Sullivan’s Steakhouse, across the street, which contrives a masculine, retro feel, Club Paris is the real thing, decorated with mounted swordfish and other cocktail-era decor. The club is the essence of old Anchorage boomtown years, when the streets were dusty and an oil man needed a classy joint in which to do business. Steak, of course, is what to order, and rare really means rare…


The bar was (refreshingly) without any beer taps, and
Steve mixed a fine Maker’s Mark Manhattan on the rocks. And I’m not sure how or where they find the cows, but they have the finest steaks we’ve eaten anywhere (without the pretense, mini-skirted escorts, and power egos that come with our so-called steakhouses). A week later we joined the regulars at the bar again, and Steve was already reaching for the Maker’s before we sat down. If you find yourself in Anchorage, don’t miss it. The low key “old-school” experience is one that is hard to find in Boston these days – classic bar, classic menu, classy service.


2 oz Maker’s Mark
1 oz sweet vermouth
few dashes Angostura bitters

Build in a rocks glass filled with ice. Stir.

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by Pink Lady

Sounds counterintuitive that the ladies of LUPEC Boston had to go to New Orleans to meet some amazing regional people, huh? That’s Tales of the Cocktail for you, connecting like-minded drinkers the world over.

One of our new favorite near locals is Deirdre Heekin, author of a new memoir of her drinking life, Libation: A Bitter Alchemy. Deirdre co-owns Pane e Salute, an acclaimed osteria in Woodstock, VT, where she curates an eclectic niche wine list. A lover of Pimm’s who dabbles in wine-making, she is a woman after LUPEC Boston’s heart. We plan to read and report about her new book…as soon as our hangover subsides.

In the interim, Deirdre and her husband/business partner Caleb Barber be  will be appearing at the Institute of Contemporary Art’s
Talking Taste series in Boston tomorrow, Friday, July 24th @ 6:30 p.m. The talk is free with the price of admission to the museum – a perfect Friday night outing before or after stopping by Drink for a drink.

Cin cin!

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

by Guest Columnist John Myers

Thanks to LUPEC’s passion for a killer party, I’m stuck writing their column this week.

They evidently learned nothing in the hangover seminar I moderated at Tales of the Cocktail. Bourbon Belle, Barbara West, Saucy Sureau and Pink Lady all attended, and even though Pink Lady scribbled copious notes, I’m left to cobble something together as she sleeps off her fun in their coven-like hotel room. Her writing is illegible and I’m preliterate, so we make a great team. But still: Was she drunk when she took these?

Had the ladies listened to what Wayne Curtis and I said, they might have made this morning’s deadline. Sure, it was the last evening of Tales of the Cocktail, but the girls should have eaten dinner rather than lounging by the pool, sipping tiki drinks. Downing a quart of milk would have been better than nothing.

After their first rotation around the Carousel Bar, they should have had some water. Instead, they ordered Vieux Carrés in to-go cups for the cab ride over to New Orleans’ hot new cocktail bar, Cure.

Instead of imbibing drinks based on cognac and rye, they should have stuck with one spirit, narrowing the blend of congeners with which they pummeled their livers to one concise list. Vodka is the best for this, which makes true cocktailians scowl. Gin—the original flavored vodka—would have worked too.

Once they tired of drinking cocktails, they shouldn’t have ordered cava, which accelerates the ethanol administration process through carbonation. And they most definitely should have gone home when they found the Old Absinthe House closed at 4am. Beignets from Café du Monde seemed the perfect solution, but sipping nips of Chartreuse as they walked there? Surely not.

According to one study, hangovers cost US employers $148 billion annually through lateness, absenteeism and conflicts with coworkers. Had I been unavailable to guest-author for the ladies, it would cost the Dig, too.

When they emerge to the bright glare of daylight, I will attempt to revive them with some Pedialyte, a Devil on Horseback and one of these:


2 1/2 oz tomato juice

1 oz OJ

1 oz silver tequila

1 tsp honey

1/3 oz lime juice

1 Tbsp finely chopped onion

2 slices red hot chile

1 dash Worcestershire sauce

salt to taste

Shake and strain. Also great after a day in the fridge.

And when that doesn’t work, I’ll show them how to drink a PBR in the shower, how the cold beer in your insides, the hot water on your outsides and the cold can against your forehead is truly one of God’s great gifts to us. Vigorous exercise—another possible cure—may ensue.


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by Bourbon Belle

In Parts I and II, we discussed how to make your own fresh syrups to substitute those artificially flavored and colored store brands products like grenadine, and/or to create a syrup flavor that isn’t commercially available.

Today we’ll be discussing how to make some simple and delicious sweetened preserved cherries for garnishing cocktails, in place of those artificial, borderline florescent cherries we know of today as the “maraschino” cherry.

Maraschino cherries were originally named as such because their earliest recipes included the use of the marasca cherry, preserved in a liqueur made from this cherry, called Maraschino liqueur.

Over the years, Americans began experimenting with different types of cherries as well as with different flavors, leading eventually to the substitution of the marasca cherry with the Queen Anne cherry, (among others) and the addition of flavors like natural almond extract.  Because of a 1912 USDA regulation stating that the maraschino cherry is defined as “marasca cherries preserved in maraschino liqueur” under the Food and Drugs act of 1906, these new adapted cherry recipes had to be labeled as “imitation maraschino cherries”.  Over time these cherries continued to suffer further insult when Maraschino liqueur was substituted with, and then replaced altogether by, a non-alcoholic brine solution for use as a preservative.  There is much dispute whether this brine substitution occurred before or during Prohibition in the United States, but regardless, the end result is the same; what was at one time a natural liquor preserved and deliciously flavored delicacy, became a bleached, brined and artificially colored excuse for a piece of fruit.

Back to basics, I say!  There are many different ways to go about making sweetened preserved cherries, with the most popular being the Brandied Cherry. The following recipe is an adaptation from several different recipes I’ve researched.


4 lbs dark sweet cherries
2 cups water
1.5 cups sugar
2.5 cups “good” Brandy (something you’d actually consider sipping is a good start)
juice of 1 lemon

Wash, de-stem and pit cherries.  In a large saucepan heat water, sugar, and lemon juice, stirring frequently, until boiling.  Add cherries and brandy and reduce heat. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.  Let cool and place in an airtight glass jar. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

Other ways to preserve cherries can be even simpler! I’ve preserved cherries in Yellow Chartreuse, and even in St Germain, by simply pitting the cherries and pouring the straight booze over top, making sure the cherries are completely submerged. These cherries need to soak for a minimum of 1-2 weeks, but can last up to several months, as long as the cherries stay beneath the surface of the booze.  Try using your favorite liqueur, but keep in mind, liqueurs on the sweeter side, (as long as the alcohol content is at least 25%) tend to work best.

And here’s a recipe we’re happy to sip through cherry season and beyond:

1.25 plymouth
.75 St-Germain
.5 oz fresh lemon
.25 fresh grenadine

Build over ice in a highball glass. Top with soda. Garnish with 2 or more brandied cherries


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

by Pink Lady

Ever lie to your doctor about how many drinks you have each week? In the bright glare of the examination room, checking off the “7 or more” box may make you feel bashful. LUPEC suggests dispensing with the shame – after all, for centuries, alcohol and medicine have been closely intertwined.

Many ingredients of modern mixology trace their roots to the pursuit of good health: gin, digestif liqueurs, and of course bitters, the key ingredient in the “cocktail” which spawned a whole new era of drinking in the 19th century. Without bitters, we’d all still be drinking slings.

Without Peychaud’s bitters, we’d never have the Sazerac, the official cocktail of New Orleans. In the early 1800s, Creole apothecary Antoine Amadee Peychaud began bottling and selling his signature bitters as a “solution for what ailed one, irrespective of malady”. Though a pharmacist by trade, Peychaud became famous for this aromatic tincture, which he mixed with Sazerac de Forge et Fils brandy (the spirit du moment) and served to fellow masons after hours in the back of his shop.

The Sazerac has gone through many transformations in subsequent decades. Later generations added absinthe, then Herbsaint when absinthe was outlawed; rye took the place of cognac. Some bartenders even add a little Angostura bitters to their concoctions, but few would argue that without Peychaud’s, you can’t have a Sazerac.

As you read this, members of LUPEC Boston and thousands of other cocktail enthusiasts are descending upon the Crescent City for the annual Tales of the Cocktail conference, where we will drink many Sazeracs. Follow our hijinks through our “Live Blog” updates to the Weekly Dig’s website, making sure to take your medicine, as prescribed below.

Adapted from The Essential Cocktail by Dale DeGroff

1 sugar cube
3-4 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
2 oz rye whiskey
splash of Absinthe, Pernod, or Herbsaint
Lemon peel

Take two rocks glasses and fill one with ice to chill for serving while preparing the drink in another glass. In the bottom of the prep glass, muddle the sugar cube and bitters until the sugar is dissolved; a splash of water can execute the process. Add the rye and several ice cubes, and stir to chill. Take the serving glass, toss out its ice, and add the splash of Absinthe, Pernod or Herbsaint. Swirl it around to coat the inside of the glass, and then pour out any liquid that remains. Strain the chilled cocktail into the prepared glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.



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Old Hickory Cocktail

Old Hickory Cocktail

*LUPEC Boston’s latest ruminations, in case you missed ’em in this week’s Dig…Special thanks to Pinky Gonzales who supplied this week’s suggested cocktail!

by Pink Lady

LUPEC dons our stars and stripes to celebrate the birth of our nation this week. We do so by raising a glass—after all, drinking is our national heritage.

Alcohol has been part of America since the arrival of the earliest colonists, with the tavern situated at the center of colonial life. Often one of the first permanent structures erected in some colonies, taverns were the only public buildings and doubled as a space for meetings, trials and even religious services. They played a key role in developing early business and commerce in young America.

This was the era of “dram drinking,” taking small amounts of alcohol throughout the day, all day, every day, starting with a pick-me-up in the morning and ending with a put-me-down at night. “Drinking on the job” was the norm: Craftsmen quaffed while they crafted, hired hands drank in the fields, sailors sipped at sea and so on. The commonly held belief that alcohol was medicinal and healthy, and water would only make you sick, further enabled our national bender.

In the decades after the Revolution, the spectacular bender raged on. Government figures from 1790 show annual per-capita alcohol consumption amounted to 34 gallons of beer and cider, five gallons of distilled spirits and one gallon of wine.

And early Americans were totally OK with that. In the words of a colonist from Georgia, “If I take a settler after my coffee, a cooler at nine, a bracer at 10, a whetter at 11, and two or three stiffners during the forenoon, who has any right to complain?”

Certainly not us. We toast that fierce independence with a drink famously tippled by Andrew “Old Hickory” Jackson during the Battle of New Orleans in 1815.


1 small shot French vermouth

1 small shot Italian vermouth

1 dash orange bitters

2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters

Pour the two vermouths into a bar glass and add the dash of orange bitters and the two shots of Peychaud bitters. Fill with cubes of ice and stir well. Strain into a serving glass. Twist a piece of lemon peel over, then drop it into the glass.


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