I am thankful for Manny Gonzalez. He runs both Foundry on Elm and Saloon (I have never been in a not seen him there) all the while has the time to create some of my favorite cocktails and write a terrifically informative blog. If you haven’t made a trip to visit Davis Sqaure recently, this is most certainly the season. He recommends the following apple, honey and citrus-rich autumn libation for the holiday upon us; not only delicious, it also may have the power to make family gatherings more palatable.
Rue St Catherine (his take on a sidecar)
St Remy VSOP 1 oz
Christian Drouin Pommeau de Normandie 1/2 oz (think of this as an apple wine)
Tempus Fugit Kina D'Avion 1/2 oz (like Lillet blanc)
Lemon 3/4 oz
Honey 3/4 oz
Berkshire Distillers worm wood bitters 2 dashes
St George Absinthe rinse
Served in a cocktail glass with a grapefruit swath
What's not to love about Italy? History, food, wine, art, architecture, and appropriately for drinks, of course, aperitivos and vermouths. To me, affection also extends to our local bearded baseball hero and Italian-American Mike Napoli. I think a drink and a toast to him is certainly in order- liqueur, vermouth from Italy and the base spirit from America.
1.5 oz Old Overholt rye
.75 oz Cinzano dry vermouth
.5 oz Amaro Montenegro
.25 oz Luxardo Maraschino
Stir all ingredients with ice and strain into a coup or cocktail glass.
Garnish with and orange peel.
Spice and backbone of the rye, bittersweet orange from the Montenegro, balanced with herbs and fruit from the light dry vermouth and cherry from Luxardo- it might not make you hit a 480 foot home run, but it will taste like you have.
Go Sox in St. Louis and Cin Cin!
Right after prohibition, James Beauregard Beam rebuilt his famous distillery in Clermont, Kentucky in a few short months. In tribute, I make the following fall drink with
Jim Beam Rye (spicy but leans to the sweeter side), so the cocktail's name makes a little more sense than most things I do. The other primary ingredient (a liqueur) in the mix is as uniquely American as its Kentucky counterpart, but made in New York State, Schoharie Mapple Jack. It's a blend of Apple Brandy with maple syrup, not overly sweet still at 65 proof- perfect for the season upon us.
1.5 oz Jim Beam Rye
1 oz Mapple Jack
.5 oz apple cider syrup (cider with half part sugar)
.5 oz lemon
2 dashes Angostura bitters
I don't know if Mr. Beam ever ventured into upstate New York, but we can combine the two, at least for a sip.
I've talked about the classic Blood and Sand cocktail before, but to recap, it was made for the celebration of the screening of the Rudolph Valentino movie of the same name in 1922. Equal parts Scotch, Sweet Vermouth, Cherry Herring and orange juice- a seemingly preposterous combination that ends up working perfectly, balanced sweet and sour, with smoke and heat from the whisky.
Legendary social media maven, Rebecca Jane Millette has brought it forward- I have been substituting Mezcal (Tequila's counterpart from Oaxaca with smokey character from the smoked pina of the agave plant) for the Scotch and it's quite delicious. So good, in fact, that the menu at Silvertone proudly boasts "Becca's Blood and Sand." This is where the trouble starts: the awesome Nick Korn had also been whipping up a Mezcal version across town at Citizen, and he always has a secret ingredient (or two) up his sleeve. He's also a better bartender than me, damn it. So when challenged, I had to take the bait, although I was nervous to get in the ring with him- I wonder if it's how an aging Ali felt facing a young Leon Spinks. Hell, most of my career I've been popping open High Life and pouring shots of Fernet, but sometimes a seasoned, cagey veteran has a few moves left, a little magic with a bar spoon. Offsite events presents: Blood, Sweat and Sand…ladies and gentlemen, let's get ready to rumble.
We were kindly given the tools to work with: La Puritita Joven Mescal from Piedre Almas, Carpano Antica and Punt e Mes sweet vermouths courtesy of Fernet Branca. Our big differences were proportions and the cherry brandy, or in this case, substitutions we used. I picked Maurin, a French Quinquina (aperitif) that has loads of cherry, and Nick being a superstar made his own Croatian wine (vinified from cherries) reduction- I was in trouble. The crowd was there, scorecards held by four judges with categories like "moxie" and "pluck"- Blood and Sands began to flow.
.75 oz La Puritita
.75 oz Maurin
.75 oz Carpano Antica
.75 oz orange juice
Luxardo cherry garnish
1.5 oz La Puritita
.5 oz homemade cherry reduction
.5 oz Punt e Mes
.5 oz orange juice
flamed orange peel garninsh
With the Rocky theme song "Gonna Fly Now" in my ears, I relied on the classic equal proportions, which makes the drink a bit sweeter than Nick's (he's more "Eye of the Tiger"); of course it all really comes down to personal preference. Both were delicious, one could tell by the amount of people trying each a second time. As a friend pointed out, how often do you see people two-fisting Blood and Sands? Apparently when there's a fight. With the scorecards tallied, MC John Nugent declared me a winner by a mere point. One point.
I guess and old guy can still pull it out every once in a while.
It's that time of year, who doesn't like the storied Red Sox Yankees rivalry? Or, more my speed on the horizon, Patriots and Jets. I got thinking about a cocktail version of this epic battle, which is almost too obvious, and yet fantastic. New York vs. Boston: The Bronx vs. The Ward 8 (I know the Manhattan would take all comers, but bear with me).
The Bronx has been attributed to Joseph Sormani who discovered it in Philadelphia (1905), and brought it back to his Bronx restaurants. His NY Times obituary even credited him with originating the drink. A more popular version has Johnnie Solon working his mixing prowess at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel pre-Prohibition (1899-1906) after being challenged by a customer to come up with a new drink. Soon, the hotel was going through at least a case of oranges a day, and Johnnie named the drink after the zoo. The Ward 8, similarly has multiple historical references, but most attribute the creation to bartender Tom Hussion at the venerable Locke-Ober cafe on Winter Street downtown (1898). Mr. Hussion celebrated the election victory by Martin Lomasney in the Boston's Eight Ward. I love that until it sadly closed recently you could actually still order and enjoy the drink there.
Enough history, let's get to the battle, first the recipes.
1.5 oz Gin
.5 oz Sweet Vermouth
.5 oz Dry Vermouth
.5 oz orange juice
2 oz Rye
.5 oz lemon juice
.5 oz orange juice
Both drinks are pretty simple variations on other classics, the Bronx a Perfect Martini with the addition of orange juice, the Ward 8 more or less a Whiskey Sour with grenadine. The Bronx is more complex with orange juice giving a silky character to the drink- the Ward 8 very tasty but more of an easy quaffing beverage.
Although I so want to pick my hometown, New York wins this one, let's just hope it's their only victory.
What could be better than enjoying the end of summer and Labor Day in beautiful Provincetown? I know- being there and having a cocktail made by David Flower at
Ten Tables. They have a full bar at this location, and David works directly with chef
Eric Cooper to design a bar program that works hand in hand with the dinner menu. David says "I sit down with Eric every week and review produce that he will be using in his dishes to see if there are any selections that might work well in cocktails. We often share ingredients that way, it's such a pleasure to work in synch with the kitchen." With this in mind I'm drinking his Beet Martini- unexpectedly delicious with ginger, citrus and mint. David does recognize that "people have a love or loath relationship with beets. The ones that don't like them always say the same thing- 'they taste like dirt.' I think they taste sweet and savory." A lot of people seem to agree (me too), it's one of the most popular drinks on the list.
Beet Martini by David Flower
2 oz Beet Infused Vodka (I use Ketel)
.5 oz Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
.5 oz Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
.75 oz of Domaine Canton Ginger Liquor (you can also make your own ginger infused simple syrup)
dash of Fees Brothers grapefruit bitters to balance the sweet and sour (optional)
fresh Mint Sprig
Shake all liquid ingredients in a shaker over ice. Slap the mint sprig and place in a chilled martini glass. Pour shaker into glass and serve.
Ever wonder who creates National "drink, food, specialty, etc." Days? I sure do. It seems like there is a day for everything, but to their credit those folks behind the scenes have certainly won the game- I'm in, promoting and encouraging yet another. August 25th, National Whiskey Sour Day: yes, you heard me right. If a classic whiskey drink like a Manhattan is Paul Newman, a Whiskey Sour is more Paulie Shore. Wait, that's not really fair, a sour is a delicious drink, what the hell do I know- I've been pushing the Amaretto Sour for years.
Let's make it right though, here's my advice: 2 oz Rittenhouse Rye, .75 oz lemon juice, .5 oz simple syrup. Shake all ingredients with ice and strain over fresh ice in a double rocks glass. Garnish with a lemon (or orange) and a maraschino cherry.
Hits the spot at the end of a hot August day, like a grown-up boozy lemonade even
Cool Hand Luke would enjoy.
Steve Schnelwar is everywhere. He can be found behind the stick at 80 Thoreau in Concord, but chances are you may bump into him around town- he's the one drinking a Happy Meal (Miller High Life and shot of Fernet Branca). I've joined him on more than one occasion, but today I'm drinking his delicious take on a classic Bee's Knees cocktail.
1.5 oz St. George Botanivore Gin
.75 oz Lemon juice
.5 oz Honey Syrup
1 Egg White
Add all to mixing tin. Dry Shake (without ice)/wet shake (with ice).
Strain into Collins glass with no ice.
Fill with ginger beer.
Steve uses a 4:3 ratio for my honey syrup (4 parts honey to 3 parts water), you can substitute pasteurized egg white if desired.
August 16th is National Rum Day. Perfect excuse for a daiquiri, tiki drink, swizzle. I, however, am drinking the classic, incredibly simple and tasty Cuba Libre. Stories date the drink back to the turn of last century, during the Spanish-American War, 1898, where Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders sipped it in Havana. Coca-Cola, however was not available in Cuba until a few years later so no one knows the exact origins, but certainly the drink was first consumed there as the Cuban Liberation Army's battle cry was "Cuba Libre!"
Bacardi white rum, cola, lime. That's it, everyone knows the recipe (try Bacardi Gold too). A few years ago my bartending colleague Michael Stevens and I dressed up in homage to Bacardi's ad campaign at that time, maybe we should do it again this week.
Hear me out please, I'm going to talk about another vodka in a crowded field of options. Cocktail enthusiasts may be sipping a wide variety of spirits, but the reality is the category accounts for 26.6% of US spirit consumption which equates to 400 million liters annually. Somebody's drinking and enjoying it (including me).
Enter American Harvest, a premium spirit organically sourced from a family owned farm in Rigby, Idaho, with winter wheat (planted in September, harvested in July) and water from deep below the Snake river basin. Nothing is artificially added, USDA certified organic, the bottles are recycled, ink used for packaging biodegradable and water soluble. The distillery even gets a third of their electrical from local wind power.
Beside doing the right thing, the taste result? Silky mouthfeel with a slight sweetness from the wheat, a high quality, small batch distillation, crisp and clean. I contacted
Todd Richman the other day who happens to be the Corporate Mixologist for the Sidney Frank Importing Company (American Harvest, Jagermeister, Gekkeikan Sake, Michael Collins Irish Whiskey and more). Todd recently and deservingly received "Best American Brand Ambassador" award at Tales of the Cocktail- a huge honor. Moreover, the perfect person to suggest a delicious summer libation, ready for August- the Harvest Cooler. He says "I love using fresh ingredients, it's seasonal and really refreshing during the heat and the technique is pretty straightforward. I feel that with an exceptional product like American Harvest, less is more. Simple drinks with fresh ingredients allow American Harvest to "pop" in the cocktail."
2 parts American Harvest
1 part freshly squeezed lime juice
½ part agave nectar
5 small cubes of fresh watermelon
Chilled Soda water
Combine all ingredients except soda water in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake well. Strain over fresh ice in a tall cocktail glass and top with soda water, gently stir to incorporate the ingredients. Garnish with a watermelon slice and lime wedge.