You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2012.

Remember how I spent New Year’s Eve pouring various champagne cocktails, including The World’s Greatest Champagne Cocktail, because God forbid I let a single drop (of nastily cheap bubbles, mind you) go to waste? Well, I almost let many, many drops go to waste, as I’ve just now realized that I never blogged the Breakers 75.

I’m going to admit, I don’t entirely “get” this cocktail. For example, I don’t entirely get its name. The “75” is referencing the French 75, no? But “Breakers,” does that mean… waves? Is this a cocktail for surfers? Was it invented at some cheesy, “nice” restaurant in the  80s? (For some reason, when I picture the word “Breakers,” that’s what I picture: A Reagan/Miami Vice-era notion of good taste and fine dining, spelled out in cursive neon. Probably bread plates that look like seashells, that sort of crap.)

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OK, OK, some of y’all are probably thinking, Enough with the juleps!

And then there are folks like me, who simply cannot have enough julep recipes at their disposal. I collect julep recipes like I used to collect Smurf figurines. Srsly, how you can possibly have enough deliciousness at your fingertips?

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A regular of mine at The Royale (one of the ones I had a crush on) came in one night many years ago and ordered “a Manhattan, put it up on skates.” I shot him one of my perplexed Charlie Brown faces; he unfurled a devilish Cheshire grin (catnip to a female bartender who was fed up with her boyfriend at that point). He’d just heard this phrase, probably earlier that night during his own shift, and couldn’t wait to test it out on me. My demurely flirtatious reply: “What the fuck does ‘put it up on skates’ mean?”

It meant, shake the shit out of a Manhattan so hard that when you strain it, perfect, adorable little ice floes, teensy shards small enough to scoot through the coils of your Hawthorne strainer, dot the surface of your cocktail. To this day I know of nobody else who’s ever heard of or used this expression, but it’s always stuck with me as quite a cool thing to say… although yes, nowadays we know that all-alcohol cocktails like the Manhattan ought to be stirred, not shaken, lest you “bruise” their precious molecules. (See: “Don’t ever shake that drink, or you’ll kill it.”) Someday I’ll side-by-side taste-test that theory, but for now what can I say except that it was the 00’s; we were the young and the reckless, and I was really hoping to kiss this guy soon.

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Now just hear me out.

Back in July, out of semi-desperation, I bought a pre-bottled, pre-mixed, $11 Jack and Coke from a vendor at a Mets (again, just hear me out!) game. It was surprisingly good, actually rather delicious, with no chemical sheen to the taste and a proper balance of liquor and cola. I noticed, perhaps for the first time, that Jack Daniel’s is well suited to the and-Coke genre. Bourbons almost blend in too well, with too much overall roundness to the highball; rye whiskeys can work but can also go down scratchy. Jack and Cokes are smooth up front and finish with a pleasantly peculiar, sour twist. Duly noted.

This post, however, is more about the Coke part. Not long at all after that Mets game, the Times ran a story on The Rise of the Hipster Soda Jerk (not its real title). And yes, the piece read as a cavalcade of waxed mustaches, sassafras, seltzer siphons and suspenders, but also the notion that “soda” oughta be “special” — uttered by not one but two of the jerks quoted.

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In Sean’s Ph.D. program, there lives a British lad named Harold Thorrington, all of 22 or 23 years of age. Of course his name is Harold Thorrington, for he is so very, very British, and of course his mates call him Harry. Harry Thorrington looks like the cuddly-button love child of Tony Blair and Paddington Bear. Really, his name is just so terribly goddamned British — the very utterance of it makes me want to punch a crumpet.

Like many British blokes with few years and countless pints under their pudgy belts, Harry (who really is quite lovely and keeps me in stitches, I must say) only knows how to drink one way: More. Before the holidays, he confessed to me the three cocktails he’d ever consumed, at least to his recollection: a mojito, a Cosmopolitan and… oh, pish posh, I can’t remember the third. Doesn’t matter. The point is, I assured him he’d certainly had very bad versions of those drinks, wherever he’d had them, and I resolved to make him the World’s Greatest versions soon.

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Guest post by Sean Lorre, PhoBlograpHusband.

Any good mixologist will tell you: The thing that makes a great cocktail stand apart from a good one is proportion. Yes, having quality product always helps, sometimes a lot. However, a strong case can be made that the true skill of a bartender/cocktail creator is in getting the ratio just right, turning average booze into a mouthwatering beverage. When Rose and I sit down to craft a new cocktail or to recreate something we had out at one of our favorite bars, we spend most of our time fussing over how much or this or that should be in the drink. It can often take us three, four or five tries to get it right. It’s hard work, really, but someone has to do it. And always remember, dear reader, that we do it for you… all for you!

All that being said, I’ve had a thing for equal proportions lately. Perhaps due to my summertime obsession with the Negroni*. When I came across this recipe for The Lamb'[s Club while thumbing through Mark Holcomb’s cocktail book library, I figured I’d give it a try.

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In case you haven’t figured it out yet, this week is unofficially-officially Leftover Champagne Week at the blog. Is this a case of bad timing on my behalf? Surely some of you poured your New Year’s Eve backwash down the drain days ago. But what about youse guys who overstocked for your year-end blowout, and now must stare down the doldrums of January while half a case of perfectly good bubbly makes eyes at you from the top of your fridge? This week’s for you.

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I want to say two words to you. Just two words. Are you listening?

Aperitifs, digestifs.

There’s a great future in aperitifs and digestifs. I don’t just mean that in a Benjamin-Braddock-searching-for-meaning-in-the-60s-oh-I-get-it-she’s-referencing-The Graduate kind of way. Italian liqueurs are mega-trendy big right now and I say good on it, because they’re relatively cheap (~$20 a bottle, less for vermouths), a little goes a long way, they’re becoming easily available, they have the best ad posters, they were born to make nice in endless kinds of cocktail recipes, and once you start you’ll want to collect them and play with them and come up with neat at-home displays for them like you used to do with your Smurfs.

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I haven’t told you yet how I spent my New Year’s Eve, have I? Silly me. You’re likely kvetching to know what a pretend professional drinker does on Alcoholics’ Feast Day. (It’s in the Bible, look it up.)

Our evening began early-ish, in the five o’clock hour (it’s not just a blog, it’s a thing you can do!), with the best pizza in the world and a list of champagne cocktails to make. Earlier, we’d picked up a cheapo bottle of bubbles, and of course to get every penny’s worth of the $9.97 you just spent on lowercase-c champagne so embarrassingly embarrassing that I refuse to even mention it by name here, you have to plan for several fizzy drinks at once.

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Guest post by Sean Lorre, PhoBlograpHusband.

While stocking up on booze in New Jersey over the holidays, this interesting little gem caught my eye…

I can’t say particularly what drew me to The Kraken, if it was my childhood love of the original The Clash of the Titans (1981), my college-age infatuation with Captain Morgan Spiced Rum (we all make mistakes), or the $15.99 price tag; perhaps all of the above. Whatever the attraction, we needed a dark rum and the Kraken seemed like a fun little toy to experiment with. It promised the type of dark, molasses-y qualities of Myers or Goslings Black Seal at half the price and with a hint of spice that can be quite lovely when not overdone. I’m looking at you, Cap’n…

After reading the label, checking out the website and tasting it, I have to admit, I’m still a little confused by this product. Although it’s not what you would consider a craft liquor — it contains caramel color and “natural flavors” — I found The Kraken rather enjoyable.  It has an interesting nose, similar to Captain Morgan but more subtle and complex. It has little of the depth I associate with black rum but is robust enough to hold up to most anything you want to throw at it — or more accurately, into it. It calls itself imported (via Jersey City, I might add…) but is bottled and, I guess, blended in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, which I imagine is across the border from Johnsburg, Illinois. But I digress…

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