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So as you’ve likely noticed by now, I’m pretty gay for Death & Co. It is by far my favorite bar in New York and quite possibly (although it’d have some stiff competition) the Americas (and also, I would withhold final judgment until I get a chance to visit the “capital-N nicest” bar ever patronized by another cocktail deity o’mine, Eric Felten).
It’s quite embarrassing to admit, ergo, that I’ve darkened Death & Co.’s doorway a scant three times in my entire life. I rationalize this by likening Death & Co. to Christmas: Just because it’s my favorite holiday doesn’t mean I wish it to come ’round more than once a year, in large part because it can be quite expensive indulging joy.
In case you were wondering, I drink wine and beer, too. I drink wine because you’ve gotta drink something with dinner and because my husband likes buying Groupons for various wine delivery services which keeps us well stocked in vino. I drink beer because one thing liquor won’t ever be is hoppy, and because I know a guy who works at Avery Brewing Company in Boulder, Colorado, who has hooked me up with some of the best beers of my life.
When I say I know a guy, I am talking about Andy Parker, one of my husband’s best friends and a brewer at Avery. When I say hooked me up, I mean that when Sean and I are in Boulder (twice in the past year, very lucky us!) Andy basically gives us free rein to sample our way through Avery’s tasting-room taps, plus the barrels in the back that haven’t even been brought out yet. And when I say the best beers of my life, I’m specifically referencing a coffee-infused beer and a guava-infused beer that had my eyes rolling into the back of my head and that, to my recollection, never made it out of Avery’s tasting room, as demand in that room alone outpaced the brewery’s production.
Beer cocktails have become quite the thing lately, and Sean had been encouraging me for a while to try coming up with one. Gah. I wasn’t sure how to do this. I just wasn’t sure how to establish a sort of flavor-profile link, a note in common between hops and hooch. That was, I wasn’t sure until Andy introduced us to Samael’s Oak-Aged Ale. Oak! Now we speaky my language.
Have you bought your bottle of white whiskey yet? Why not? The Georgia Moon Corn Whiskey I’ve got isn’t even top-of-the-liniest (that would be this) and it’s still supremely drinkable. Have I not yet convinced you of this?
If not, get a load of this: The hands-down easiest cocktail you could ever fashion — as in old-fashioned (BWAHAHA). This was yet another cocktail I caught wind of while Googling around for corn whiskey concoctions to make. And like the other corn whiskey cocktails I’ve already made, yet again I was surprised by this one. I just keep on expecting/assuming that my jar of rotgut’s gonna taste like, well, rotgut. But really it’s so sweet it’s almost cute, and its afterbite is pleasingly bracing.
A fun perk of being a cocktail blogger is receiving tipsy texts from friends informing me of what they’re drinking at that very moment. That’s how I heard about The Collective, via a particular text that wound up kicking off an early-Friday, at-home happy hour for me, as it was sent by a teacher friend who starts a-drinkin’ soon after the three o’clock bell.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve got issues with scotch. Besides the fact that I drank too much of it in my youth, I really never think about it for cocktails because, you know, why not bourbon? But the Collective’s ingredients, as texted to me, seemed like something that my bartending acumen and my palate could handle. I love that its components are all non-fussy — no need for a special trip to the liquor store, Other Friends Who Have Texted Or Otherwise Communicated With Me To Complain About Making Special Trips To The Liquor Store!
I’m not the most romantic gal. I don’t need my drink to be pink just because it’s Valentine’s Day; a well-made Manhattan will always do just fine. (This was confirmed on Friday night, when my husband and I went out for an early V-Day round of rye perfect Manhattans at the original P.J. Clarke’s — specifically so we could gawk at this guy; the hubs has not stopped gushing about his “bartender mancrush” since.)
What I wanted to make for today’s cocktail was a concoction that simultaneously embraces and flouts every V-Day cliche on sale at Rite Aid: The pink, the chocolate, the faux-coyness, the girly-girlyness, etc. What I came up with is, in effect, a chocolate and blood orange Bellini. It’s quite palatable and easy-downing; it’s nothing too rough/jaded/forward but it’s still got complexity; and it’ll getcha toasted long before you realize just how toasted you are.
Inventing cocktails is hard, y’all! Especially when you think you’ve come up with the wittiest cocktail moniker this side of an H.L. Mencken bon mot and don’t want to waste it on a subpar recipe. Even more especially when you’re putting together said recipe and discover that more than one authority has published more than one set of rules for what, exactly, constitutes a swizzle.
Guest post by Sean Lorre, PhoBlograpHusband
Well-documented cocktail lore has it that the Tom Collins began as a sort of name-game hoax circa 1874. People would prank their friends by telling them that a Tom Collins had been speaking ill of them in a bar just down the road. When the slandered walked into said bar demanding Tom Collins, they’d be told that he just departed for another nearby watering hole, and so on. (It’s oddly comforting that people still found stupid ways to waste their time before television.) Eventually, enterprising bartenders got in on the joke, and a crisp refreshment was born.
Poorly documented family lore (on my Mom’s side; Lorre lore has been quite meticulously researched) has it that “That Girl” actress Marlo Thomas was so named thanks to a chance encounter over a few cigarettes between her father, entertainer Danny Thomas, and my maternal grandfather, Thomas Marlowe, outside a jazz club in Newark, New Jersey, sometime in the late 1930s.
Today is my husband’s cousin’s birthday. (Is a cousin-in-law a thing?)
You may remember Mark from his recent guest post, in which he espoused the
white-trash down-home virtues of mixing Tennessee whiskey and cherry-flavored Juicy Juice.
This is what I made Mark for his birthday this year:
There are plenty of reasons to drink, but only two good ones:
1. To achieve that flush of heady, giddy, tingly optimism that comes quick on the heels of the day’s first tipple. (All successive swigs are nothing but guileless attempts at holding onto this fleet feeling, although I still over-partake all the time.)
2. To imagine being in another time and place, preferably involving fedoras, topcoats, garters, nylons, evening gloves, watch fobs, spats, held doors, cigarette holders, cigarette cases and the right to make use of all this enchanting cigarette paraphernalia indoors. (I’m not anti-smoking bans; I’m just saying there’s nothing romantic about going outside to smoke. Besides, I quit smoking, although I still over-partake all the time.)
I love (love, love, love) The Moscow Mule — vodka mixed with ginger beer and lime juice, on the rocks — for conjuring both of these moods so effortlessly.
I’ve yet to mention scotch on this blog. There are a couple of reasons why. One: Bourbon exists, so what’s the point? Two: Scotch precipitates a taste-memory flashback to my first year of living in New York, specifically the hours between midnight and 5 a.m. of that year, a year I’m happy to leave fuzzy, hazy and behind.
Back then I was interning at a magazine during the day, waiting tables at the now-defunct Bottom Line at night, then spending several hours and most of the tips I’d just earned at some of Greenwich Village’s finest last-ditch saloons along with my Bottom Line co-workers, most of whom I haven’t been able to recall by name for over a decade. My go-to drink during those lost mornings was scotch and soda — a highball I settled on solely because it was the most grown-up-seeming thing I could think of to order. I was 22, recently graduated from a fancy-name college and hanging with middle-aged, stage-crew guys sporting frazzled, gray hair and incomplete sets of teeth. I wanted to fit in.