A Christmas Spirit

Earlier this year, I threw my second annual Christmas party. Two makes it annual right? We made a punch, again, because how else do you throw a proper cocktail party? Personally, I’m a big fan of a punch, and I long to return to the glorious days of the 18th century, full of disease, scurvy, and punches.

Now if you review recipes for Christmas cocktails, those recipes range from the mundane (Sangria is really popular for Christmas), the classic (beautiful, but as someone who is lactose intolerant, not my drink of choice), the unbatchably complicated (sounds beautiful, but I don’t have staff to serve), and the truly awful (I won’t link to it, but I saw a recipe for a cocktail of white chocolate syrup and champagne).

I’ve said it before, I’ve never been sure how holiday cocktails have gotten such a bum rap. It’s like people just give up on cocktails for the holiday season. You want something, beautiful and drinkable, tasty and batchable. No host I know wants to spend a holiday party making cocktails all night, and certainly not this host. Those days are long behind me, as I’ve found people who are worth hearing over the sound of the cocktail shaker. So, what is a host to do?

So I dug and dug and dug. Until I found a theme for Christmas cocktails. Mint tea and cranberry simple syrup. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while (or from beginning to end), then you’ll know that I’m a big fan of tea in cocktails, which is a classic punch ingredient. I’m also pretty pro-tea, as you can generally find almost as many flavors of tea as you can vodka. It’s also pretty versatile, as you can make it strong or weak, turn it into a simple syrup, or make your own tea flavor with different bags or leaves depending on your taste. Finally, I’m a librarian. We’re required to like tea. It comes with the degree.

From there, I was bound and determined to do something with a cranberry simple syrup. If for no other reason, I love the description of how you make cranberry simple syrup. You place your water and sugar and cranberries in a pot, and you keep it all the way up on high until the cranberries start to pop, which you then turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes. Popping cranberries?! What Christmas isn’t complete unless you have popping cranberries?

So, a-creating I went.

Cranberry Simple Syrup

For a 12 ounce bag of cranberries, you want 4 cups of sugar and 4 cups of water, which makes a ton of simple syrup. As stated above, place the pot on high until you hear the cranberries pop. Lower the heat to medium-low and let simmer for another 15 minutes. Strain out of the cranberries. This should leave you with about 32 ounces of liquid. Let cool.

Peppermint tea

This is pretty easy. Boil water and pour 32 ounces of hot water into a heatproof container. Again, because I’m a librarian, I just use my teapot. Steep for about 5 minutes. Take out the tea bags and let cool.

A Christmas Spirit Punch

  • 32 ounces Cranberry simple syrup
  • 32 ounces peppermint Tea
  • 32 ounces of quality bourbon
  • Orange Bitters
  • 2 L Club Soda
  • Orange slices

Pour all of the ingredients together. I used about 30 dashes of orange bitters (1 per drink). Slice an orange, freeze, and let the orange slices “cool” the punch.

Evaluation

I was pretty pleased with the drink, but I made it, so hopefully, I would be. I will say that people were polite enough to finish the punch and tell me it was good, but when you’re throwing the party, you can never be quite sure if they like it or if they are merely being polite.

The goal was to capture the taste of Christmas without being cloying or overpowering. The drink seemed to capture that quite nicely. I didn’t get a picture, so you’re going to have to take my word for this, but the cranberry simple syrup with the whiskey and other ingredients makes for a lovely red color, which is perfect for the holidays. The tea and club soda really helped round out the drink, otherwise, it just would have been too much. The orange slides really help give it the citrus flavor that every good punch needs. A friend of mine had the drink both before and after the orange slices and said that the orange slices changed the drink for the better. All that being said, I’m still not sure whether to add it to my regular punch repertoire, but all in all, it seemed to be a nice crowd pleaser.

Cost

Bourbon: For this drink recipe I used Knob Creek, in part because they were having a gift set sale, so I got 4 new tumblers out of the deal. (Full disclosure, every tumbler I have in my apartment came from a liquor set.)

2 bottles Knob Creek: $60

1 12 ounce bag of cranberries: $3

1 4 lb bag of sugar: $1

Water: Free

Regan’s Orange Bitters: $6

Peppermint Tea (20 bags per box): $3

1 orange: $.50

1 2 L bottle of club soda: $1

Total cost: $73.50

Since I made this as a punch, I’m not going to a per drink price.

This is the annual time, where I promise to commit to writing more, but since I’ve been doing that since 2009, I’m not going to. For those of you who have been along for the ride, thank you for your continued readership and for those of you new to the blog, thanks for reading for the first time. I hope you had a great holiday and the best wishes for 2018. As always, happy, and safe, drinking.

 

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The Lily Pad

There is a great cocktail bar which doubles as a jazz club right within walking distance of my apartment: The Green Lady Lounge. If you haven’t been or can’t go, take a tour inside with Google Maps.

They have a great cocktail menu and better bartenders. This is one of the drinks off the menu that Ethan, one of the bartenders, created by creating a version of a version of the Aviation. He was inspired by the actual cocktail, the Water Lily (presumably more to come on both of these, but one never knows.)

There’s probably a wealth of cocktails waiting to be discovered based around the Aviation since Creme de Violette was nearly impossible to find in the United States until about 5  years ago, and, for a decent period of time, was only available in California and New York State, assuming you could find it at all.

The recipe

1 oz. Gin

1 oz. St. Germain

1 oz. Crème de violette

1 oz. lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a shaker, and stir. Strain and pour into a martini glass.

Evaluation

This is a great cocktail, but there’s a lot going on with it. This is a cocktail for people who like sweeter drinks. The Lily Pad is certainly no Chocolate Orange Martini, but it’s not for the scotch and soda drinker who thinks that Manhattans are “too sweet.” (Somehow these people exist.)

That being said, thankfully many of my friends don’t have cocktail tastes quite so narrow, and when we went out for my birthday a few weeks ago, we ordered a round of them as the jazz band played. The Lily Pad is perfect for a jazz night, where you’re jamming out, and you want a drink for the set.

The ingredients round themselves out quite nicely, although it dances nears cloying without quite making it across the line. I would be hard pressed to order three of these in a night, but I feel confident I would drink two. Not every drink needs to be binged.

One of the surprising things about this cocktail is the use of St. Germain. When St. Germain came out, it certainly felt like everyone was running around trying to figure out what to do with it. Bartenders were making St. Germain French 75’s and St. Germain Gimlets (which I love) or an Elderflower Collins. For a few years, you couldn’t turn around without someone making a St. Germain cocktail whose entire purpose was to get St. Germain in the drink. Those days seem to be fading, and the approach to St. Germain has matured. In this drink, we see St. Germain complimenting the other ingredients, instead of being center stage and the only ingredient that mattered. Seeing ingredients mature is part of the fun of cocktailing.

Cost

Full disclosure I can’t remember how much this costs in the Green Lady, and don’t order it on a busy weekend night. Don’t be that person until or unless they put it on the menu. But if Ethan is working and it’s a slow night, you should definitely have one.

Cost at home if absent all ingredients

Gin: $18 (I’ve been drinking Beefeater Gin)

St. Germain: $35

Crème de violette: $20 (Rothman & Winter Creme de Violette Liqueur (750ml))

1 Lemon: $.33

Total cost: $75.33

Cost per drink:

Gin: $0.72

St. Germain: $1.40

Crème de violette: $0.88

Lemon Juice: $.17

Total cost: $3.17

Like I said, if you’re in Kansas City, go to the Green Lady and have a great drink. If you’re not, then make a special trip to see me and this bar. As always, happy, and safe, drinking.

Boulevardier

So, I can’t believe it’s been three years since I last touched this blog. I kept meaning to, and life got in the way.

Since my most recent post, I’ve been married, graduated from law school and library school, taken my first professional job and moved to a new state, and took my second professional job and moved to another state. I’ve landed in the great city of Kansas City, MO. I’m sure at some point those stories will unfold themselves, but today is not that day.

Boulevardier

For those of you gentle readers who have followed the blog off and on for years, thanks for your continued readership. For those of you who are new to the blog, let me start by saying this: a Manhattan is my favorite cocktail. I’ve written about the Boulevardier before, but I don’t care, and I’m going to do it again from a perspective of 5 years, unintentionally, almost to the day.

At the time, I was days away from 27, but as yet still 26, and my liquor palate reflected my age. My review at the time said: “Personally, I can think of a better way to spend $2.62.” With 5 years perspective, I find myself disagreeing with myself.

For those of you who won’t know, the Boulevardier is the love child of a Negroni and a Manhattan. We’ll over the proportions, below, although it’s the same as the proportions in the previous blog post. Part of the reason that I wanted to meditate on the Boulevardier is that much like this version of the Manhattan, I have grown up. Or at least pretended to. One of the challenges that I keep finding is when do I be the fun staid Manhattan of yore, and when, do I instead, become aspire to the aloofness of the Boulevardier. When do you have more depth and more complexity and when do you instead remain lovely but comparatively uncomplex like the Manhattan. And how do you alternate between the two?

Manhattans have found their way onto every bar menu, and frankly, any bartender or cocktail bar worth its salt knows their way around at least one version of this drink. Frankly, I generally judge bars on their Manhattan. At this point, they are for nights with friends in bars who don’t drink cocktails much and follow your lead on the drink order. I’m frequently out with friends, and when I order a Manhattan, first, usually the table follows suit. Manhattans are both fancy but no longer pretentious since they have become so commonplace. Slight caveat: this is specific to cocktail culture. I promise you, if you order a Manhattan when everyone else is drinking a beer, even a craft beer, you’re going to look pretentious. It’s like ordering a steak, ordering it in a French restaurant is fine, but maybe skip the steak at the IHOP.

Boulevardiers, on the other hand, are for different kinds of nights. It’s a drink that causes you to go deeper and look more critically. It adds depth to a world you thought you knew. It’s looking seeing skyscrapers for the first time in the city or the stars for the first time in the country. Of course, you knew that they were there, but you just didn’t know there could be quite so muchness. You had seen stars but not so many, or buildings but not quite so high. Or perhaps I’m merely waxing poetic.

To the drink:

Recipe

1 1/2 oz. Rye

1 oz. Campari

1 oz. sweet vermouth

3 drops orange bitters

Add all ingredients to a shaker over ice. Pour into a rocks glass over ice.

Evaluation

The drink caused me to wax poetic, so I’m sure you know how I feel about it by now.

A couple of small differences that I think make a few important differences.

First, add bitters. Bitters make everything better. I prefer orange bitters in this cocktail, but Angostura Bitters and Peychaud’s Bitters. Don’t leave this cocktail bitterless.

Second, on the rocks over a martini glass. I’m sure there’s a good reason for it, but, for me, it’s just a preference.

Third, I know drink better bourbon than I used to. While I still default to a good Jim Bean Manhattan, I think that

The cost to purchase:

Bourbon (I’m currently drinking Bulleit Bourbon): $26 for a 750 mL bottle

Campari: $25 for a 750 mL bottle (According to Total Wine, Campari has gone down in price)

Sweet Vermouth: $10 for a 750 mL bottle

Orange Bitters: $6 for the bottle

Total Cost: $65 if you have no ingredients.

Cost per drink:

Bulleit Rye Bourbon: $1.56

Campari: $1.00

Sweet Vermouth: $0.40

Orange Bitters: $0 (as you know from previous blog posts, I consider bitters an investment but negligible in the cost per drink.)

Total Cost per Drink: $2.90

As always, happy, and safe, drinking.

Valentine’s Day: The Stinger

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I love this cover of “Bella Notte” from The Lady and the Tramp. This is instrumental by Emile Pandolfi. If you want to be romantic.

Personally, I don’t understand all of this Valentine’s Day hatred. The mythos of St. Valentine is that he married Christian couples in a time where it was illegal to do so. Both the Christians who he married and the St. Valentine himself, were subjected to death, until finally St. Valentine was finally caught and executed. If we’re going to celebrate love, isn’t this the kind of love we should celebrate and should want to celebrate?

Love that dares all. The love where people fly in the face of tradition and risk death, ostracization, disinheritance? Isn’t that what historic and heroic love matches are made of? There’s nothing heroic about two upper-class straight white people from the same religion, city, educational make-up, whose parents played tennis together as the two grew up, etc. who eventually fall in love. That is not the stuff from great romances. Maybe we shouldn’t aspire to great romances, but that’s a different discussion. But if we’re going to celebrate love, shouldn’t we focus on the couples, like Edward VIII who abdicated the British throne to marry divorcee Wallis Simpson, to whom he remained married until his death, 35 years later, or Julia Child, who met Paul Child in India, and traversed the globe with him, unsure of her future away from the middle class creature comforts to which she had grown up, to whom she remained married until his death 48 years later. Or Holocaust Survivors, Margrit and Henry “Heinz” Baerman. Or love stories during slavery. Or. Or. Or. Stories of people who sacrifices all for love; on Valentine’s Day, aren’t these the stories we should be celebrating or at least thinking about?

Admittedly, my partner and I have been together for 9 and a half years, and most importantly my dad’s birthday is Valentine’s Day. So for me, Valentine’s Day always equaled cake and candy. Not a bad holiday for a kid. If you really hate Valentine’s Day that much, consider celebrating Lupercalia-a pagan festival of fertility. If you don’t know how to celebrate fertility, then you are on your own.

The Stinger

2 ounces Brandy

1/2 ounce Creme de Menthe

Mix in a shaker and strain into a martini glass.

Evaluation

This is not the best tasting drink in the world, but sipping on it clears your mouth. It’s an after-dinner drink in every possible way.

Creme de Menthe is an incredibly strong mint flavor, not quite as bad as Listerine, but this is not an unfair comparison. The Creme de Menthe is strong enough that it should cover up that garlic or onions you had with dinner. So eat what you want for your meal, and have this after for a kissably clean mouth. Thankfully, both Brandy and Mint go well with chocolate, so have it with your romantic torte. If you don’t have a breath mint handy, this is better than walking around with stanky breath (you know if you’re one of these people.)

I like this drink fine. I would give it a 3/5. I would certainly not drink it all night, but if I knew that I was going to be getting hot and heavy with someone before I could get to my toothbrush post-dinner, pre-make-out. You’re probably not going to drink it all nights, but definitely after dinner, when you’re going to be close and personal.

Cost

$10 for a 750 mL bottle of Jacques Cardin Brandy

$10 for a 750 mL bottle of Creme de Menthe

Total Cost: $20

Cost per Drink: 

$0.80 for 2 ounces, Brandy

$0.20 for 0.5 ounces, Creme de Menthe

Total Cost: $1.00

Have a Happy Valentine’s Day. And, as always, happy, and safe, drinking.

Book Review: The Unauthorized True Blood Drinking Guide

The Unauthorized True Blood Drinking Guide by Chris-Rachael Oseland.

The boozy book with a bite. Or an attempted one. The book’s basic premise is what cocktail vampires from True Blood (the t.v. show and not the book series) would have consumed about the time they were turned.

It is not a long read, and I finished it in about thirty minutes or an hour. Admittedly, I have only read the books and not seen the show, but, even as a True Blood homage, the book is terrible. The author never seems comfortable with the sex puns intrinsic to the Harris vampires and never overcomes her clunky writing style that comes from being either uncomfortable or unfamiliar with the urban fantasy writing style. It is never dark or sexy or funny but the book attempts to operate in all three spaces, sometimes at once. Frankly, it’s difficult to take the author’s attempt at sexual charm seriously.

But the drinks.

I have done some historical analysis into some, but not many cocktails. The author finds really great drinks and places them in their proper context. Unfortunately, the historical context gets lost in this attempt to be dark and/or sexy and/or funny. The book picks drinks that pre-date Jesus and updates them for the modern drinker. The ability to find drinks that typify the cocktail era of some of these drinks and provide the historical context is remarkably well done, and honestly, just impressive.

What I really want from this article  is a more serious approach to the history of cocktails, complete with recipes. When the author writes in her own voice, I find the book great. The book, as is, though . . . Well, we’ll just say I got it for free as a Kindle download, which I thought was an appropriate price. I would consider paying as much as $1.99, but only because I really loved True Blood. For all but the most die-hard True Blood fans, save your money.

As always, happy and safe drinking.

Blood Orange Paloma

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Blood orange, blood orange juice, and blood orange soda seems to have become a fad recently, and I am jumping on this bandwagon. I always feel ridiculous following a trend, but this is “All Drinks Considered” and not “Obscure Drinks Considered” or “Only Hipster Cocktails Allowed.” I would read “Only Hipster Cocktails Allowed” because you know that blog would be hilarious.

I have been working with blood orange soda recently and my luck has been mixed, until this drink. It’s a variation on the Paloma, which I wrote about last week. This got great reviews when introduced at a cocktail party recently.

Blood Orange Paloma

1 oz 100% Blue Agave Reposada Tequila.

1/2 ounce lime juice

3 oz Blood Orange Soda

4 drops Angustora Bitters

Place all ingredients in a tumbler over ice. Stir gently with a spoon.

Blood Orange Paloma

The Review

I have found blood orange soda to be a difficult ingredient to work with. It’s like a two year old, great by itself, but does not play well with others. Like many citrus flavors, blood orange soda goes great with tequila. The proportions listed above are important to follow, because if you add more tequila, the tequila overwhelms the other ingredients and it becomes less palatable really quickly. The tequila and the bitters counterbalances the soda’s sweetness into a refreshing and slightly complicated cocktail. I would serve this cocktail over the paloma, because it’s better balanced and is a more complicated drink in terms of its flavor profile, but not more complicated to make. I found it to be more refreshing and just a prettier drink.

Cost

750 mL bottle of 100% pure agave Reposada Tequila: $20

750 mL bottle of Blood Orange Soda from World Market: $2.50

1 lime: 0.50

Angostura Bitters: $7.19 for a 4 oz bottle.

Total Cost: $30.19

Cost per drink:

$0.72 cents for 1 ounce of silver tequila.

$0.30 cents for 3 ounces Jarritos grapefruit soda.

$0.50 for 1/2 ounce lime juice

$0.01 Angostura bitters

Cost per drink: $1.53

Any other great drink recipes with blood orange soda? Leave them below in the comments. Otherwise, happy and safe drinking.

 

Paloma

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I was introduced to the Paloma or Tequila con toronja  by my husband (or husband/lover/partner/fiance/person who pisses me off sometimes) depending on who I’m talking to and the situation. So, this drink is really his. Michael is a temporarily retired world traveler (at least of the many people I know). He has lived in Mexico, Ecuador, and Prague, on top of the good ole U.S. of A. His passport would look like this:

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(Image courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/allesok/2580013511/sizes/o/in/photostream/)

if they wouldn’t have been lost, stolen, and expired.

I, on the other hand, have just left the US once. To go to Mexico. My passport has the same number of stamps on it as the envelope to pay your cable bill. So when we leave the American cocktail culture, I have to defer to other’s infinite wisdom, and Michael is who I usually have on hand for this.

Fifteen years ago, when Michael first lived abroad in Mexico, he was a young thing of eighteen who had just finished his freshman year of college at Kansas State and rather than returning to ranching for the summer, he scurried abroad to Mexico. At 18, you could drink in Mexico, but, being 18, Michael’s experience with alcohol was pretty limited to shots of Malibu rum and cheap beer. Rather than continuing in these American dormitory traditions, Michael followed the tastes of the locals and had for the first, but the not the last, time a paloma.

In the same way, we in the US would never heard a Cape Cod and instead order a vodka and cranberry, the same is true of the paloma. Michael never ordered it as a “paloma” but instead a “Tequila con toronja” or Trente-Trente con toronja. Literally this translates to “tequila with grapefruit” (the soda is implied) or Trente-Trente (a brand of tequila) with grapefruit.

Paloma

1 oz 100% pure agave silver tequila.

1/2 oz lime juice

3 ounces Grapefruit soda.

Place all ingredients in a tumbler over ice. Stir gently with a spoon.

Review

This is a drink that should be made with silver tequila and not gold or aged tequila. Gold tequila will throw off the balance of the cocktail, as the infused flavor challenges the flavor of the grapefruit soda. Also, you should use 100% agave tequila in all tequila drinks. If it’s not 100% pure agave tequila, don’t bother. 100% pure agave tequila is not that much more money, but the uptick in quality is highly noticeable, especially in your at home bars. If you’re out drink whatever kind of shitty tequila you’re willing to pay for. 

I normally am not one to talk about the importance of soda. I am a big fan of Squirt or Fresca, unlike Michael. However, the Jarritos brand of grapefruit soda is fantastic. The difference between Jarritos and the more American sodas I think makes a big difference. Michael likes Squirt and Fresca, so he’s fine either way, but he did really enjoy with Jarritos soda. I find Jarritos in the Mexican food aisle of the Food Lion (a local grocery store) but it can probably also be found at other grocery stores that sell Mexican goods. I think with Jarritos grapefruit soda, a paloma is a pretty good drink, but not a great one. I would never make it to impress anyone, but I would make a pitcher if I were having people over for Mexican food who didn’t want to get drunk so we skipped the margaritas. Even though I don’t think a paloma is great, it’s important to know about, because it serves as a foundation for other cocktails and what the drink can accomplish is sometimes as important as the drink itself.

Next week, we’ll be doing a twist on the paloma.

Cost

750 mL bottle of 100% pure silver tequila: $18

1 12 ounce bottle of Jarritos grapefruit soda. : $0.70

1 Lime $0.50

Total cost: $19.50

Cost per drink:

$0.72 cents for 1 ounce of silver tequila.

$0.18 cents for 3 ounces Jarritos grapefruit soda.

$0.50 for 1/2 ounce lime juice

Total cost per drink: $1.40

Super cheap drink.

As always, happy and safe drinking.

The Reverse Martini

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Greetings from the other side of DC and yet another year of graduate school. Somehow I could continuously update during my first year of law school, but library school — otherwise known as the easy graduate program I’m in — totally escaped me, and there went a year. A thanks to all of my readers and Pinterest Pins who have stayed faithful (or discovered me on Google) while I strayed to graduate school, Kansas, Florida, and DC and picked up my life after my apartment building caught fire. Y’all have been very sweet, while I have been very distracted. Thank you, and on to the real reason you’re here: The Reverse Martini.

Cocktail Urban legend has this as Julia Child’s favorite cocktail. I’ve read My Life in France, As Always, Julia, and Mastering the Art of French Cooking and have yet to find evidence of its truthfulness. But, we never let the truth get in the way of a good story, so onward and upward.

Julia Child is purported to have this as her favorite cocktail. She would drink it while cooking and would serve it with appetizers. Her reason was that (1) it tasted good and (2) the drink with stimulate the appetite. Julia Child, as someone intimately concerned with food, would have thought this drink balanced nicely without intoxicating the drinker before the mail. As is so far the case with Mrs. Child, I have yet to find her wrong.

Reverse Martini

3 oz Lillet
3/4 oz Hendricks Gin
2 dashes orange bitters.

Shake over ice and strain into a martini class.

Review

Lillet is a relative of vermouth, so if you have had vermouth or the perfect than you have an idea of that this drink tastes like. If you have not had either, than it is difficult to describe the flavor, as it is unlike most other food or drink I have otherwise tasted. As an ingredient, vermouth and lillet are mysteries. Few people know all of the ingredients, and there are perhaps to many to guess.

The drink runs counter to the current American tradition of relying on the sweet and not the savory, so it is a gift to American cocktail culture, especially those who have drinks before dinner. Also, don’t pay attention to the drink that Martha Stewart calls a reverse martini in Martha Stewart’s Hors d’Oeuvres Handbook. That’s a wet martini, not a reverse martini.

The Lillet is sharp but clean and even with a decent gin the aftertaste fades quickly. While the Lillet recipe calls for Hendricks gin, I have found Beef Eater works just as well. Remember the orange bitters, or you will be doing yourself a disservice.

This drink should be a stand by for anyone who serves hors d’oeuvres before dinner. Don’t take my work for it. Have faith in Julia Child.

Cost:

$22 Lillet Rouge for a 750 mL bottle
$18 Beefeater gin for a 750 mL bottle OR
$35 Hendricks Gin for a 750 mL bottle
$6 Orange Bitters

$46 if made with Beefeater Gin
$63 if made with Hendricks Gin

Cost per Drinks
$2.57 for Lilet
$0.53 for Beefeater Gin
$1.03 for Hendricks gin
$0.01 for Orange Bitters

$3.11/drink if made with Beefeater Gin.
$3.61/drink if made with Hendricks Gin

As always, happy and safe drinking.

The Fitzgerald Cocktail

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F. Scott Fitzgerald is most famously known for The Great Gatsby, and the Baz Lurhman version that came out this summer was fantastic. It perfectly pictured the jazz age, or at least how it’s entered our cultural consciousness. I don’t care if it’s historically accurate, it was a beautiful film.

Fitzgerald was born into the upper crust of society and was named after a distant relative: Francis Scott Key. As Fitzgerald entered his teenage years, his father lost his job and his family moved back to the sin cities of Minnesota aka Minneapolis St. Paul. Fitzgerald’s family was rich enough to know about the parties but weren’t always invited and even when they were, Fitzgerald didn’t always feel like he belonged. J.T. Miller from Princeton considered Fitzgerald as someone who “peered through the window at the rich.” This is the image of Fitzgerald that I have always been left with, someone privileged enough to know that the party was occurring, but not always invited or fitting in.

The Fitzgerald Cocktail

2 oz gin.
0.75 oz Simple Syrup
0.75 oz Lemon Juice
2 drops Angostura bitters

Shake over ice and pour into a cocktail strainer.

Review:

The drink itself. This drink is fantastic. I would serve it to anyone, even if they told me they didn’t like gin. The simple syrup and the lemon juice cut the potency of the flavor of juniper berries. The drink is really beautiful and really nice. After reading the bottle bar’s blog post on it, it’s also a great drink to play around with. I have not done this, but it sounds like a great idea.

When I originally found this drink it was listed as a “forgotten gin cocktail.” It’s not a classic cocktail. It was created by Dale DeGroff, and as far as I have found, it was first printed in his The Craft of the Cocktail in 2002. It’s a great drink, just not a classic one.

The reason that we might think that it’s a classic cocktail, is because it’s a very slight variation on the sour, which is a pre-prohibition recipe. A sour is a class of cocktails like a martini. I found the sour listed in The Old Waldorf Astoria Bar Book 1935 Reprint. The basic recipe is

Juice of one half lemon
One-half spoon sugar
One jigger of the liquor.

It’s a really basic twist on an old drink. The lack of innovation in the cocktail or the fact it’s so new, does not make it less of a fantastic drink. Even though it’s a new drink, it’s a great cocktail for a 20s or classic cocktail party. All of the ingredients were there, it’s just that until DeGroff, no one had put it together.

Cost

Gin: $20 for a 750 mL bottle
1 Lemon: $0.50 (currently in season)
Simple Syrup:
Sugar: $4.00
Water: Check your local water bill
Bitters: $5.99
Total Cost: 30.49

Cost per drink:

1.60: Gin
0.50: Lemon
0.44: Sugar
0.10: Water
0.01: Bitters
2.65 per drink.

As always, happy and safe drinking.

Cocktail Stories

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Cocktail Stories

All of us have our stories about food and drinks. Drinks or liquors we will always love or hate. The drinks we continue to drink even though they’re awful or the drinks we will never touch again, because of the bad night or the bad ex. Let me tell you two of mine.

Southern Comfort

I was a freshman in college, and like all good 18 year olds, I thought I was invincible and knew everything. Unfortunately, time has proven me wrong on both fronts.

It’s Thanksgiving break 2003. I was my only friend from high school who attended college in our hometown and had his own apartment away from the parentals. My best friend from high school, Shannon, was going to school at a private college in rural Illinois, which was on trimesters. So finals were before Thanksgiving, and the campus went home for six weeks. While they were gone, the campus searched the rooms looking for illegal substances, including booze for the under 21 set. Shannon was the only student in her suite driving home and was the only one who might get caught with it, as opposed to her classmates who were flying and would definitely get caught. She got the left over booze.

She drove in Thanksgiving Eve, and we organized a small soiree of two other Manhattanites home for the holiday. We finished a bottle of rum (I think) and Southern Comfort. Southern Comfort at 18 is a great whiskey. It’s really sweet and mixes well with Coca Cola. It’s the most inoffensive of all the whiskeys for the 18-year-old palate. We finished the bottle of rum, and we’ve gone through most of the bottle of Southern Comfort. There was about an inch or so left in the bottle of Southern Comfort, and everyone is ready to pass out or drive home. I look at the bottle and announce, loudly, “I can finish that.” Proudly, I chugged about 4 shots of Southern Comfort. I lasted about 45 seconds before I rushed to the bathroom and spent the rest of the night over the sink. Shannon’s ex-girlfriend had already claimed herself priestess of the porcelain god. That night, I learned that Southern Comfort tastes exactly the same going down as it does coming back up. Almost 10 years later, I have yet to touch it.

Monkey Wine

The next year, after my infamous Southern Comfort experience, I decided to start a gay-focused fraternity. A group of guys and I had been building the fraternity for a few months. The national organization, which we’ll call Lambda Lambda Lambda after all good gay porn fraternities, finally took us seriously. They sent a national representative, who was also from Kansas out to visit us. That visit only solidified my desire to become a brother. The national representative, Mark, really challenged our ideas of brotherhood and helped create the chapter. He led a meeting for other potential members, engaged our chapter in trust exercises, and helped create a plan for a long-standing fraternity. After several days of seriousness, he facilitated the other part of brotherhood: drunken parties. We went out and spent too much money on wine including: Monkey Wine. Time has escaped me on what the name of the wine was actually called, assuming I ever knew it. We got drunk and just had a good time. It was the first time that we had really spent a night together as a fraternity, without anyone else. That night defined the chapter we would become.

A few years later, I went back and tried the Monkey Wine again. A little older, a little more experience, and a lot more taste under my belt. That wine was awful. But it tasted the better the more I drank, in part, because I got more drunk, but, also in part, because I was able to relive a defining moment of my life when seven became one. Whenever I see a monkey on a bottle of wine, I buy it, just to remember happy times gone by.

In conclusion

I have told stories of humor and of fondness, memories of I drinks I love and love to hate. We all have cocktail stories. What are yours? Drinks you love and drinks you love to hate. Memories you wish you could remember forever, and memories you wished you didn’t have. Leave them below. Until next time, happy and safe drinking.