Archive for February, 2010

*The latest ruminations from LUPEC Boston, in case you missed them in The Weekly Dig.

by Pinky Gonzales

One of America’s most famous 1940s-era cabarets once glittered in our very own backyard. The Latin Quarter stood on quiet Winchester Street in the tiny Bay Village neighborhood, a cherry pit’s throw from where the old (and doomed) Cocoanut Grove nightclub once sparkled.

The Latin Quarter was known for its elaborate, “naughty but nice” revue. Featuring 6-foot-tall showgirls dubbed “long-stemmed roses,” national acts and Golden Era cocktails, this Parisian-inspired nightspot aimed high and ruled the roost for over two decades, spawning the big shows of Las Vegas. When owners Lou Walters (Barbara’s dad!) and Sonja and E.M. Loew (Loew’s Theatres) were bringing in half a million dollars per year, they redirected profits into building an LQ Miami, then the now-legendary LQ Times Square.

But after the Cocoanut Grove burned down in ’42, a damper was put on Boston’s nightlife. Officials temporarily closed LQ and 51(!) other area establishments to ensure they were up to code on fire inspections.

A happy remnant of this nearly forgotten place has been preserved for us today: 176 cocktails, once poured by their bartenders, recently reprinted as Latin Quarter Souvenir Book of Cocktails & How to Mix Them by Halliwell Hobbes, an LQ historian. The book serves up both sterling classics and festive sips like Diamond Fizz, Americano, Bosom Caresser, Honey Bee, Harvard, Marconi Wireless and the potion we give you here. Thanks, LQ.


1 1/2 oz gin

3/4 oz Grand Marnier

3/4 oz Italian (sweet) vermouth

Dash fresh lemon juice

Shake with cracked ice, strain into a cocktail glass and ornament with peel of a lemon.

Also on the list of libations at the Latin Quarter:


1 oz Brandy (or Cognac)

1 oz Cointreau (orange liqueur)

1 oz Gin

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Shake ingredients with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

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*The latest ruminations from LUPEC Boston, in case you missed them in The Weekly Dig.

by Pink Lady

A few nights ago, I suffered a truly awful anxiety dream—vicious even, because it twisted one of my very favorite activities—cocktailing with people I respect and experimenting with new flavors—into a nightmare.

The scene: a crowded auditorium packed to the gills with some of the brightest stars in the mixological galaxy. Dale “King Cocktail” DeGroff is there, as is Ted “Dr. Cocktail” Haigh and Imbibe! author and my personal hero, David Wondrich, as well as bar superstars from both coasts and every city in between. They’re here for a cocktail contest in which I am competing. I’m standing above them on a very high stage, flanked to my left by the late Jerry Thomas, and to my right by—who else?—Tom Cruise from the movie Cocktail, circa 1988.

The challenge: Invent a delectable cocktail in under five minutes using nothing more than the mysterious contents of a velvet drawstring bag that sat in the center of each bartender’s station. A pistol is fired, signaling the start of the cocktail competition, and as Jerry Thomas and Tom Cruise tear into their velvet bags and start mixing … I freeze.

My heart pounds, my palms sweat, my ears start ringing. To my left, Jerry Thomas is tossing a stream of liquid between two glasses in an arc high above his head, somehow not spilling a drop. To my right, Tom Cruise is gyrating and flipping bottles in time with the music, which is of course “Hippy Hippy Shake.” A smiling Katie Holmes looks on. The crowd roars, chanting “LU-PEC, LU-PEC.” And I can’t move.

I awoke from this terrible scene with a start, and an ocean of relief washed over me when I realized it was just a dream. The chances that I’ll ever be mixing up drinks alongside a 1988 Tom Cruise from Cocktail and Jerry Thomas, who died in 1885, are slim. However, I can sleep soundly knowing if that situation ever did come to pass, I have several classic cocktail-making patterns up my sleeve that would help me rise to the occasion, such as this one, for a delightful aperitif cocktail. You may recognize it as the basic template (minus the barspoon of liqueur) for both the martini and the Manhattan, two drinks that have stood the test of time and are still popular among modern drinkers over a century after their birth. Fill in the blanks and give it a spin at home. After all, generations of drinkers can’t be wrong.


Adapted from BarSmarts

2 oz high-proof base spirit
1 oz low-proof aperitif (vermouth, Lillet, Aperol, etc.) or fortified wine (a light wine, such as dry sherry, works well with white spirits; heavier wines, such as port, work well with brown spirits)
1 bar spoon liqueur (for accent, a great way to play around with more pungent herbal liqueurs)
2 dashes bitters (use orange or fruit bitters for lighter drinks; angostura, Peychaud’s or other aromatic bitters for heavier ones)

Stir ingredients over ice in a mixing glass; strain into the glass of your choice.


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*The latest ruminations from LUPEC Boston, in case you missed them in The Weekly Dig.

by Pink Lady

This Sunday, sweethearts around the country will snuggle up to celebrate Valentine’s Day—that grand pink-and-red celebration of love. Another holiday typically swathed in rouge also happens to fall on February 14th this year: Chinese New Year. Festivities last from the first through the 15th day of the lunar calendar, making Chinese New Year one of the longest and most important traditional Chinese holidays. Whichever holiday you celebrate on Sunday, LUPEC suggests you raise a glass of one of our own original cocktails: The Anna May Wong.

A few weeks back, we helped the fabulous staff of Myers + Chang come up with some specialty drinks for their New Year’s Eve Bash. Named after the first Chinese-American silent film actress, this cocktail was our suggested sparkler, made with Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur, yuzu, ginger simple syrup and sparkling wine. Bubbly, festive, with warm ginger flavors and a romantic namesake, the drink can do double as you hunker down with your sweetie for V-Day/hang a red lantern and ring in the Chinese New Year.

Anna May Wong was a trailblazing lass: She was the first Chinese-American movie star, an international celebrity and fashion icon. She got her start in silent films in the 1920s, acted in talkies in the 1930s, starring alongside the likes of Marlene Dietrich, and even starred in her own small-screen show in the 1950s, the first US television show to feature an Asian-American actress as its star.

Wong faced considerable challenges throughout her career due to the overt racism and discrimination of her time. Antimiscegenation laws prohibited her from sharing a kiss with any European-American actors, which locked her out of leading-lady roles in the silent film era. Throughout her career, she struggled with being typecast a dragon lady or demure butterfly. She achieved international fame nevertheless, and her public image as a Chinese-American starlet and fashionista made important inroads for generations to come. We see every reason to raise a glass in her honor today.

And to Chinese New Year. And Valentine’s Day.

1 oz Domaine de Canton
0.75 oz yuzu
0.5 ginger simple syrup

Shake ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker and strain into a champagne flute. Top with sparkling wine.


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*The latest ruminations from LUPEC Boston, in case you missed them in The Weekly Dig.

by Pink Lady

Leaf through the pages of the Savoy Cocktail Book or Mr. Boston, and it’s easy to feel intimidated by the idea of coming up with a cocktail all by yourself. Talented modern mixologists are transforming bartending back into the craft it once was, elevating their work behind the stick to an art, to be sure. But this doesn’t mean even a relatively inexperienced home bartender can’t invent a delicious cocktail of their own.

A while back, Bourbon Belle introduced one method of creating your own drink by taking an already existing classic, altering the recipe slightly and giving it a fancy new name. This is how she arrived at her eponymous cocktail, which spiffs up that tried-and-true classic, the Manhattan, with a bit of Mathilde Peches Liqueur. Delish.

Another simple way to craft your own drink is by using a basic template that already works and plugging in ingredients of your choice to make it your own. An easy gateway cocktail template to get you going is the basic sour. Sours are one of the oldest categories of drinks, and though commonly considered “cocktails” now (as most drink are), they represent a drink family all their own. Consider this as you glance over cocktail lists next time you’re out on the town—they’re one of the oldest drinks in the book, but they’re everywhere.

It’s easy to see why sours have stood the test of time: They are simple to create, even with limited cocktail know-how and few ingredients, and they taste delicious. The basic template softens a base spirit with something sweet and something tart. You’ll need to adjust depending on the robustness of your base spirit (gin versus anything brown), the sweetness of your sweetener (simple syrup versus a liqueur, for example) and the acidity of your citrus, but the ratios we give below, as employed in the perennial and often misunderstood whiskey sour, are a good place to start. Then, play around—switch up your base spirit, grab a bottle of St-Germain or some Benedictine and see how that works in place of simple syrup; add some egg white, and top with soda or sparking wine. When you’re through, give your new drink a name and serve it with pride to your friends. They’ll be impressed.


2 oz bourbon whiskey
1 oz simple syrup
0.75 oz fresh lemon juice

Shake ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker. Strain into a rocks glass, or a sour glass if you have one.


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