Posts Tagged ‘vodka’

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

by Pink Lady

We’ll bet you a round that the question of how this morning tipple got its eerie name has crossed your mind at least once. Barman Fernand “Pete” Petiot is credited with inventing this cocktail in 1921 at Harry’s American Bar in Paris.

The drink was an exciting blend of two then-new products: vodka, which had recently arrived in France via refugees from Russia, and canned tomato juice, an unsurprisingly American invention fresh off the boats from the States after World War I.

According to one theory, the drink’s haunting name makes reference to Mary Queen of Scots via a lonely regular often found drinking alone at Petiot’s bar. Sipping in solitude for long, lonely hours as she awaited her beloved, she reminded barguests of an imprisoned Queen Mary, who was also known by the sobriquet Bloody Mary.

In 1936 the Astor family coaxed Petiot to move to New York to become head barman at the St Regis Hotel’s King Cole Bar, where his drink evolved further. Vodka was not yet available stateside and the St Regis’s swanky management wanted to lose the gruesome name. The new gin-based version was given the tamer-sounding name Red Snapper and earned a spot on hotel’s cocktail list. The cunning marketers at Smirnoff saw opportunity in the Bloody Mary while trying to penetrate the market with vodka in the 1950s.

They brought the original Bloody Mary back to its roots, making it a lynchpin of their legendary campaign to introduce vodka to the American marketplace. And it worked: Vodka holds forth on drink lists today, with modern brunchers asking for call-brand Bloody Mary’s by name.

But the original Bloody Mary recipe was quite simple. As such, the drink lends itself to delicious invention, and is a great template to play with until you’ve got your preferred recipe just right. As Imbibe! author David Wondrich says, “the small, idiomatic differences … are the mixographer’s delight!” Add celery salt, horseradish, and who knows what else.


1.5 oz vodka
2 dashes Worcestershire
4 dashes Tabasco
pinch of salt and pepper
.25 oz fresh lemon juice
4 oz tomato juice

Build in a mixing glass. Roll back and forth in a tin. Strain into an ice filled glass.



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

The holiday season is in full swing, and the ladies of LUPEC are throwing a party! Raising funds for local women’s charities is a major tenet of our mission. We hope you’ll join us for our Holiday Punch Party this Monday at Trina’s Starlite Lounge to benefit On the Rise, a Cambridge-based nonprofit that supports the initiative and strength of women living in crisis or homelessness.

In addition to mixing, mingling and drinking, we’ll also be holding a clothing drive. Come with an article of women’s clothing (especially winter wear, bras and undergarments) and we’ll trade you for a free drink ticket. Proceeds from drink sales will also be donated to On the Rise.

We’ll serve punch, snacks and specialty cocktails all night thanks to Bols Genever, St-Germain and others. And we’ll be taking this time to welcome three new members to our little LUPEC coven—Boston Bullet, Harvey Wallbanger and Amber Dream.

Holiday attire is encouraged and can be interpreted however you like—bring out your ugly Christmas sweater, your Three Wise Men beard or your little black cocktail dress.

Mix up one of these as you dig through your closet.


.75 oz Galliano L’Autentico

1.5 oz Vodka

4 oz fresh-squeezed orange juice

Mix vodka and orange juice in an ice-filled highball. Float Galliano on top. Garnish with orange wedges.

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

by Pink Lady

While we will hopefully enjoy the golden days of Indian summer in Boston for a few more weeks, we might as well get our ducks in a row now for the fall and winter sipping that’s on the horizon.

With ample time ahead, why not experiment with a little DIY liqueur making? Apples are beginning appear alongside tomatoes at the farmers market, and before long, we’ll be digging into pies, crisps and crumbles filled with them. A spicy, homemade liqueur is the perfect accompaniment to these delightful desserts.

By definition, a liqueur is an alcoholic beverage of a spirits base that can be flavored with botanicals (herbs, bark, seeds, roots), fresh and dried fruits, dairy products (cream, like Bailey’s), honey, spices or beans (think coffee, cocoa and vanilla). Liqueurs were first produced in Europe to combat intestinal problems, and many are still consumed as an aperitif/digestif today. And of course, many liqueurs find brilliant expression in cocktails.

Making a liqueur at home takes time, often at least a month. To make A.J. Rathbun’s recipe for the Italian liqueur Millefiori (“thousand flowers”), we’ll infuse our neutral spirit through a process of maceration, allowing the distilled spirit to steep with our ingredients for four weeks to capture their strong, spicy flavor.

When LUPEC met A.J. in Boston a few years back he confessed to us that this recipe is his favorite in the book. This fall we’re eager to give it a go.



from Luscious Liqueurs by A.J. Rathbun

2 tbsp whole coriander seeds

4-5 fresh mint leaves

0.5 tsp ground cardamom

0.5 tsp whole cloves

0.5 tsp freshly grated lemon zest

0.5 tsp ground mace

0.5 tsp fresh marjoram leaves

0.5 tsp fresh thyme leaves

4 cups vodka

1.5 cups simple syrup

1. Grind the coriander seeds and mint leaves with a mortar and pestle. You won’t want to destroy them, but you do want them broken up.

2. Put the coriander-mint combo, cardamom, cloves, lemon zest, mace, marjoram, thyme and vodka in a glass container with a tight-fitting lid. Stir well and seal. Place in a cool, dry spot away from sunlight. Let sit for two weeks, swirling it every couple of days.

3. Add the simple syrup, stir well and reseal. Return to its spot. Let sit for two weeks, swirling every couple of days.

4. Filter the liquid through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl. Carefully strain through a double layer of cheesecloth into a pitcher or other easy-pouring vessel. Finally, strain through two new layers of cheesecloth into another pitcher or bottle. Check that the liqueur is free of debris. If it isn’t, repeat this step until the desired clarity is reached. Pour the liqueur into one large bottle, or a number of small bottles or jars.

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

As you’ve probably noticed, LUPEC doesn’t devote much time to vodka cocktails. “It’s the predominant spirit on most cocktail lists,” you may be thinking, “so what gives? What do you broads have against vodka?”

It’s not that we have anything against vodka. We are egalitarian imbibers, after all, and we knocked back our share of Cosmopolitans in the ’90s. Our issue, really, is that vodka didn’t take root as a popular American tipple until well into the 20th century. Our mission is to “breed, raise and release cocktails that are endangered” into the wild, and there are precious few of these that use vodka as a base.

To paraphrase the US Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau’s definition, vodka is a neutral spirit distilled from any material reduced to 80-110 degrees in proof, “to be without distinctive character, aroma, or taste.” It was a tough sell when Rudolph Kunett first bought the rights to produce Smirnoff in North America in the 1930s. Americans favored strong-flavored spirits, like our native whiskies and the gin that kept the country wet through Prohibition. Our fore-drinkers hardly knew what to do with a product “better known for what it didn’t taste like than by what it did,” as Anthony Dias Blue writes in The Complete Book of Spirits. An aggressive, clever marketing campaign fabricated by Smirnoff eventually spun vodka into the vogue new spirit, and it hasn’t looked back since the 1940s.

While vodka cocktails may be nowhere near endangerment, vodkas that champion flavor over neutrality are a rare find. We were recently introduced to Karlsson’s, a brand that does just that. A Swedish vodka made with seven different kinds of virgin new potatoes (little baby potatoes harvested so young, they don’t have time to develop skin) distilled only once to carefully preserve the flavors of its base.

So, how does it taste? It has a vegetal, slightly briny aroma and a nutty, sweet taste with hints of cocoa. It feels rich, silky and weighty on the palate. We look forward to playing around with it and developing some modern classics with this new-old style spirit. In the interim, we quite enjoyed sampling Karlsson’s on the rocks with freshly cracked black pepper. And we’ve heard it sings in one of these, created by New York barstar Jim Meehan:


2 oz Karlsson’s Gold vodka

0.25 oz Carlshamns Flaggpunsch (Swedish punch)

0.25 oz simple syrup

1 pinch fresh dill

Muddle dill and simple syrup in a mixing glass. Add vodka, punsch and ice, then stir and strain into a chilled Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with two spritzes of black pepper essence.


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