Saturday, May 26, 2012

Manhattan: Dry, Off-Dry, Off-Off-Dry

We drink a lot of Manhattans here at the Lounge, probably more than anything else, though we don’t have the Dry much, if ever. Yeah, I know—it’s one of the established variations, popularized by Ol’ Blue Eyes and the Rat Pack. I guess the last time I had one until recently was about seven years ago. It wasn’t bad, exactly, but dull—probably the fault of indifferent dry vermouth.

The Dry seems a little better now. Orange bitters compliment the white vermouth and turn it floral and summery. I was experimenting and trying to decide which bitters I liked best with the Dry, and actually ran out of dry vermouth. (Somebody keeps making Martinis around here too.) Reaching for the Cocchi Americano instead, I found that an off-dry version was very tasty indeed and, well, more like a Manhattan. (Almost Perfect?) If made almost half Cocchi Americano, it’s sorta Gilded Age, though maybe richer than I’d prefer most of the time.

Dry Manhattan
  • 2 oz bourbon
  • 3/4 oz dry vermouth or Cocchi Americano
  • 2 dashes Regans’ No. 6 Orange Bitters
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Orange twist.

Paper design: Jazz, Jean Orlebeke, eieio.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Bramble

Like an English summer, Dick Bradsell’s classic blackberry cocktail is over all too soon. The crème de mûre (blackberry liqueur) makes the drink, though it doesn’t need a lot. I get good results by free pouring or “lacing,” as Bradsell puts it—just enough to let some of the flavor and transparency of the Plymouth through.

The Bramble
  • 2 oz gin (Plymouth)
  • 3/4 oz lemon juice
  • 1 barspoon rich simple syrup (2:1)
  • crème de mûre to taste (Leopold Bros.)
Combine gin, lemon and syrup and shake with ice. Strain into a 12-ounce glass of crushed ice. Lace with crème de mûre. Lemon and berry garnish.

Dick Bradsell talking about the Bramble:

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Mystic Bubbles

A non-cocktailian friend asked recently what I drink with food, wondering if I liked wine and that kind of thing.

Sometimes it’s beer. Often it’s water. But there are those evenings that call for something special. You know those nights when you’re so beat that all you can do is dial that phone and hope someone delivers a meal while you still have the strength to eat it? Maybe even icing a glass for a Martini is too much to cope with. Maybe you just want something to go with that pizza or Chinese food for those final moments before total oblivion. You could have a beer. You could have wine. Or you might see a lemon or lime in the fridge and a small bottle of soda, and you could have Mystic Bubbles.

Mystic Bubbles is any correctly prepared fizzy sour that will pair with takeout food: Cuba Libre, Gin and Tonic with Lime, Gin and Bitter Lemon with Lemon. Turn any delivery order into an exotic vacation in the twinkling of an eye. This is not an illusion if you realize that a well-made drink is the closest you’re going to get to a tropical getaway on a weeknight, though total exhaustion does help set the mood.

This is also an occasion to influence your friends. Say you got a buddy coming over to watch a movie. This is the guy who, if you go to his house, starts rummaging in the kitchen, “Um—I think the tonic’s still OK....” Out comes this gigantic plastic bottle containing less than a glass of high-fructose swill and the only gas in there is the stale air at the top. Then he drowns the booze with it. (Don't even get me started on those built-in automatic ice deals with the creepy-tasting ice.)

Here at the Lounge, we never drown the booze.

Cut a lemon or lime, one half per drink. In a tall glass full of clear hard ice cubes, pour 2-3 ounces spirits. Press fruit over the top of the glass. If using lime, reserve shell. Top with 3-4 ounces cold premium mixer from a small container. If you have company, make a big production of this step so your friend remembers the next time he reaches for the 2-liter plastic blimp. You gotta let him know not to cut corners or he won’t create the spell of Mystic Bubbles. Add your lime shell and a straw, and by the time the doorbell rings for the food, you’ll be halfway to Fantasy Island. Good for dates too.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern

Still on a Mid-Century cocktail kick here at the Fogged In Lounge. Judging by the recipe booklets, liquor advertising and printed placemats of the time, they certainly liked dessert cocktails. (And I’ve known more than one older lady who ordered an Alexander or Grasshopper at any hour she perched at the bar.) I like a bit of cacao myself now and then though I don’t really want all the unbalanced sugar in most of those things. So I invented a dry after dinner cocktail—an after dinner cocktail for people who like liquor. As you’ll see, it’s got liquor in it. Enjoy.

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern
  • 1 oz aquavit (Aalborg)
  • 1 oz kirsch
  • 1/4 oz white crème de cacao
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Lemon twist.

Aquavit, dry cherry brandy, hint of chocolate. Looks like a Martini, tastes like Scandinavian furniture looks.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Ti’Punch Gimlet

Over the weekend, I took a first stab at making lime cordial. I threw two pounds of key limes in the centrifuge juicer, strained the results through fine mesh and mixed it thoroughly with a equal amount of white sugar. Stuck it in the fridge for a day. Blam-o: lime cordial. It’s plenty aromatic, though maybe I’d like to adjust the sweet-tart balance for gin drinks.

Looking for something else to try it in, I settled on the bottle of 100-proof J.M blanc, rhum agricole from Martinique that has a way of trouncing all but the most assertive flavors. The housemate and I agreed that the combo is perfect.

Ti’Punch Gimlet
  • 2 oz rhum agricole blanc
  • 1/2 oz lime cordial, or to taste
Shake hard with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Like the classic Gimlet with gin, this is a sensory feast in itself with only two ingredients. Proportions are a matter of taste. The lime cordial is good but I’ll probably keep tinkering.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Ward Eight

Sort of an expanded whiskey sour, this classic is supposed to be from the 19th century though it doesn’t really feel much like that kind of drink. And it probably isn’t, or at least not the one below. Even David Wondrich’s chosen recipe in Imbibe! is post-repeal. This really seems like the 20th century, at home in the 1930s and oddly more so in the 60s or 70s with its orange juice and touch of grenadine. I like the proportions given in Wondrich’s Esquire article. The Lock-Ober recipe is similar.

Ward Eight
  • 2 1/2 oz rye
  • 3/4 oz fresh orange juice
  • 3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp grenadine
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Amarena or brandied cherry.
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