Posts Tagged ‘simple syrup’

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

by Pink Lady

A favored tipple of grandmas and Brits, sherry hasn’t been popular among young’uns like us in a while. We happen to love the stuff. At the Manhattan Cocktail Classic in New York last week, we attended a seminar on sherry drinks that convinced us sherry will be the next hip thing. Here’s a primer, so you know what to expect when you see it pop up on cocktail lists everywhere.

Most people think of sherry as a sweet wine, but it’s actually made in a variety of styles ranging from super dry pale finos, to the rich, lush wines made from Pedro Ximinez, one of the sweetest wines you’ll ever taste.

Sherry is a fortified wine made in Jerez (southern Spain). Palomino fino is the base grape for most sherries, and it yields a regular wine that is light, pleasant to drink and straightforward, if a bit uninteresting. The sherry-making process changes this wine completely, developing complex flavors that make it an interesting ingredient in any cocktail.

Sherry wines are aged in barrels called “butts” (hehe), under a thick layer of yeast called “flor,” which prevents oxidation of the dry fino wines. After aging for six months, the winemaker checks the wines and determines, based on the flor’s thickness, if the wine will be a fino, or a nuttier, oxidized style, like amontillado or oloroso. Each style is then placed in its own solera, a special system of fractional blending, in which old wine is constantly refreshed with new wine. The barrels are stacked on top of one another in rows called “criaderas,” with the oldest butts on top. In some sherry houses, these criaderas house wine for years. Each time the sherry is bottled, an equal amount of vino is drawn off from each of the criaderas in the solera. That wine is then replaced with wine from the next oldest criadera, and winemakers are careful to blend horizontally and vertically across the rows in the solera. It’s a crazy complicated system, brimming with tradition and, in our opinion, a little bit of magic.

Sherry may be perceived as grandmacore, but back in the Golden Age of cocktails, the sherry cobbler was one of the most popular drinks around. It’s a light, refreshing sip, perfect for spring, and one we highly recommend resurrecting on the patio.

Adapted from IMBIBE by David Wondrich, based on Jerry Thomas’ recipe

4 oz sherry of your choice

0.5 oz simple syrup

2-3 slices of orange

Shake ingredients with cracked ice, pour unstrained into a tall glass, with fresh fruits in season as garnish.

Dr. Wondrich suggests that Jerry Thomas would have been mixing this with fino sherry, but play around and see which you like best. For fuller, sweeter sherries like Pedro Ximinez or oloroso, scale back the sugar.

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*Recent ruminations from LUPEC Boston, originally published in this week’s Dig. Please note: the Dig’s edition was edited by FakeAPStylebook to promote ROFLCon, a festival celebrating all things Internet…this one is not 🙂

by Pink Lady

Thousands will descend on Churchill Downs this weekend for the 136th Kentucky Derby. If there was ever a time to don a big hat and languidly sip a cocktail while pretending to be Southern, it’s this Saturday, in anticipation of “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports.” And your drink should be a mint julep.

The mint julep’s now a staple of Derby Day drinking, but from the turn of the 19th century through the Civil War, it was a staple of everyday drinking. The beverage has agrarian roots, but it fit in at fancy city bars in the early 20th century.

The mint julep was originally built with brandy, but during its heyday, you’d find everything from the gin julep described in Jerry Thomas’ books (made with “Hollands,” or Genever), to the “prescription” Julep, which blends cognac and rye. It’s replete with idiosyncratic nuance, so the nuts and bolts of construction remain a point of regional and bartenderly pride.

“Julep” originally meant “medicinal,” but “after centuries of usage as a term connoting medicine,” writes David Wondrich in Imbibe!, “somehow, in America ‘julep’ morphed into a word for something you drank for fun.” Mint juleps on Derby Day are fun indeed. According to the Kentucky Derby website, almost 120,000 fuel the weekend, requiring “1,000 pounds of freshly harvested mint and 60,000 pounds of ice.”

To represent Derby Nation, check out Drink’s “Run for the Roses Party” this Saturday. Enjoy three special cocktails and Southern treats, while listening to a live broadcast of the race. They’re awarding prizes for best hat and encourage derby-appropriate attire.

[Drink, 348 Congress St., Boston. 617.695.1806. 3pm-6pm/$45. drinkfortpoint.com]


2 sprigs of mint
1 oz simple syrup
2 oz Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
crushed ice

Pour simple syrup into a glass. Gently muddle one sprig of mint into the syrup, then remove mint.

Fill glass with crushed ice. Add bourbon. Top with more crushed ice, stir.

Cheers! [Italicized when referring to the popular 1980s television program.—Ed.]


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

by Pink Lady

A 7.0-magnitude earthquake; over 1.5 million left homeless; as many as 200,000 dead. The statistics flickering across the television screen nightly about the recent earthquake in Haiti seem improbably tragic, difficult to comprehend from the comfortable vantage point of a barstool.

Restaurant industry colleagues have rushed to donate time and talent to raise money to support relief efforts: Via Matta and Radius will donate 100 percent of dessert sales, servers at Myers + Chang have been donating a portion of their tips, Stella did a mini-celebrity chef dinner, and Upstairs on the Square held a day-long fundraiser offering guests opportunities to dine and donate at breakfast, lunch and dinner. Our friends over at Drink offered an opportunity for charitable imbibing via a special menu of tropical cocktails made with Haiti’s famous Rhum Barbancourt, with a portion of proceeds going to Haiti relief. The list goes on an on, and we only hope it will grow.

Generous Bostonians, LUPEC salutes you. We invite our readers to do the same by raising a glass of Oloffson’s Punch, invented at the Grand Hotel Oloffson in Port-au-Prince. The eponymous hotel has been many things since it was erected at the turn of the 19th century: a fancy private residence for the then-ruling family, a military hospital occupied by US Marines, a fashionable tourist destination for glitterati like Mick Jagger and Jackie Onassis, and an artistic hub, a sort of “Greenwich Village of the Tropics.”

The enchantingly decrepit hotel also served as backdrop for Graham Greene’s novel, The Comedians. In his words, “You expected a witch to open the door to you or a maniac butler, with a bat dangling from the chandelier behind him.” The hotel’s “tropo-Gothic gingerbread façade” also inspired cartoonist Charles Addams, creator of the famed Addams Family. LUPEC loves a good story, and the Grand Hotel Oloffson is full of ’em, from tales of an eccentric owner who raised alligators in the hotel swimming pool to the American expat owner who fancied himself a Caribbean version of Rick from Casablanca (weapons scandal and all).

Even as it fell into disrepair in the early ’80s, the Oloffson remained a destination for reporters and aid workers needing a safe place to stay near the heart of the city. Today, it’s where many American journalists are staying as they cover the earthquake that has devastated the country.

LUPEC hopes to partner with member chapters in other cities in the coming weeks to prepare a fundraiser of our own, allowing you to sample some of Haiti’s fine alcoholic heritage, from Rhum Barbancourt to cordials like Combier and Grand Marnier, which source bitter oranges from the tiny republic. Stay tuned for updates, and in the interim, enjoy one of these.


2 oz Haitian dark rum
1 tsp maraschino liqueur
3 oz orange juice
1 1/2 oz lime juice
0.5 oz simple syrup

Shake in an iced cocktail shaker. Strain into a goblet and fill with crushed ice. Serve with straws and garnish with twists of orange and lime.

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

Jackie Kennedy-Onassis and Michelle Obama are two of LUPEC Boston’s favorite First Ladies, so we jumped at the chance to participate in a recent fundraiser at the Boston Center for Adult Education, celebrating these ladies as style icons. What’s a good fundraiser without a good cocktail? LUPEC stepped in to supply the drinks, prompting us to ask: What would Jackie/Michelle drink?

Answering that question for Michelle Obama proved a bit more difficult (which we’ll address next week), but we know that during her White House years, Jackie Kennedy famously enjoyed daiquiris. If images of hot pink frozen concoctions come to mind when you hear the word daiquiri, think again. In its original incarnation, this classic is a far cry from the Ultimate Mango Berry variety found at T. G. I. Friday’s. A simple mixture of rum, fresh lime juice and sugar, the daiquiri is both classy and accessible, much like the late Jackie Kennedy.

There are many legends about the history of the daiquiri cocktail, all of which link the drink to a region of Cuba that was a strategic landing point for American troops during the Spanish American War. One story has American engineer Jennings S. Cox inventing the drink for a colleague with the few resources he had in his storeroom (lemon, sugar and lime) while working in an iron mine called Daiquiri in 1896. In another, an American general named William Shafter discovers the regional specialty while deployed in the town of Daiquiri, Cuba, in 1898. A third blames Havana-based barman Constantino Ribalaigua Vert for popularizing the drink at his El Floridita bar, albeit in a slightly different incarnation—with crushed ice and maraschino. Ernest Hemingway famously took a shine to a variation of this version, requesting his as a double with no sugar and calling it “Papa Dobles.”

None of these legends can be proven, of course, but the simple marriage of rum, lime and sugar made this pre-Prohibition classic an excellent solution for the rum that flowed into the US post-Noble Experiment. The version we served with Cruzan Aged Light Rum (from nearby St. Croix) were a hit with the fashionable ladies who attended the BCAE event. Pop on a pillbox hat and mix up one of these at home


2 oz Cruzan Aged Light Rum

0.5 oz fresh lime juice

0.5 oz simple syrup

Shake and strain into a coupe.


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