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Just as I often cannot keep it in my pants for Eric Felten, the PhoBlograpHusband‘s got it bad for Old Mr. Boston, the circa-1935 Official Bartenders Guide we received from a friend. It’s quite the thorough, reliably voiced tome, considering it doubles as a hardcover, portable advertisement for Old Mr. Boston’s erstwhile products, such as Old Mr. Boston Blended Whiskey and Connoisseur Creme de Cacao. (There’s even a glossy-paged centerfold replete with handsome liquor ads. Oh 1935, how naughty wast thou!)
Anyway, Sean was thumbing through the thing the other day and happened upon the Perfect Cocktail and asked if he should whip it
out up for the blog. I figured, yes, of course, why not, as we can talk about the concept of “perfect” in cocktail-making, that it’s not just a boast but that it actually means something, namely the addition of dry and sweet vermouths to a drink in equal measure.
This one’s been on my bucket list (it’s a champagne bucket, a-doy) ever since the PhoBlograpHusband and I date-nighted at one of New York Vintners‘ pizza-and-wine tastings: Come up with a cocktail that goes with pizza. A potable that pairs reliably with a slice or a pie — why/how is this not a thing?
The obvious answer: Because a nice glass of red ain’t broke, so why invent something to fix it? Backup answer: Pizza likewise does nicely with crisp Pilsners and not-too-hoppy IPAs. And thirdly, there’s something about a pizza cocktail that just doesn’t sound quite right, even to a boozehound like me. Is it that cocktails are meant for sipping while pizza’s meant for houncing? Do I have some unfounded fear that the cocktail’s going to reach room temperature before I’m done eating? (When I eat pizza, I eat lots of pizza.) Is it the bread, maybe, that eating large quantities of crust just doesn’t feel right with a liquor accompaniment. Is a liquor/’za pairing all too much grain, like eating the meat and the egg of a chicken at the same meal? WTF IS IT??!?
It’s been un longtemps and a day since I’ve posted, which means lots to catch up on even if you’re one of my kindly regular readers — let alone a newbie gamely bouncing on the blogwagon thanks to my recent Saveur Best Cocktail Blog nom (#believethatscalledahumblebrag #hinewbies).
Everything you need to know about my truancy, as well as my all-telling *general*outlook*on*life*, you can glean from the following statement: I feel acutely guilty that, thanks to uterus-subletting fetus, I’m not inclined to drink for you guys as much as I once did. Isn’t it awful how I’m letting y’all down, spending my current pregnancy largely away from alcohol? Without a coupe in her claw, who is this Blogtender personbot?
Spring has come to Montreal one day ahead of schedule, and man, has it come correct. It’s a splendiferous afternoon up here, one I’ve happily wasted flitting around like a little butterfly, gazing through my office window as neighbors garden their front yards and stray cats strut about the sidewalk, repeatedly checking to see if the snow in our backyard has completely melted (it has not) and just generally jumpy as a junebug and grinning like an idiot. Seasonal affective disorder — what a real thing that is!
A few things about one of our Montreal neighbors, Nadine. First of all, she’s everything you could want in a neighbor, and the fact that she’ll probably read this blog post soon isn’t why I say so. She and her live-in, Francois, invited us over for wine only a few days after we moved here, and the alcohol’s been flowing ever since. We also do things like borrow irons and ice-cream makers and pick up each other’s mail when needed and get together to eat, not just drink, including breakfast, the least inebriated meal of the day. But imbibing’s still what we do most and best, and as Nadine has reminded us many, many times, she is happy to serve as our cocktailing guinea pig whenever she’s needed.
The only problem with that is, Nadine tends towards girlier drinks. To her credit, she’s always willing to give something a try. Usually when we have her and Francois over for cocktails, we start her out with something in the Manhattan vein, which she sips gamely until we pick up on the dissastifaction in her expression and make her admit it’s too strong. When there’s cranberry juice in the house, I’ll reward her with a World’s Greatest Cosmopolitan. Then I’ll use her to road-test all the lollipop stuff I’d rather not drink myself.
If that was Feh-bruary, I’m hoping this doesn’t become Meh-rch.
Part of the reason I didn’t post much last month was, Sean and I conducted a mega cocktailing session a couple weeks ago that yielded, like, 8 or so bloggable potations — zero-ish of which I felt any excitement about. We were going for volume, and aiming to keep the necessary ingredients in line with what we already had on hand. Such cocktailing under pressure can still yield inspiring results — and in fact, I always try to err on the side of fridge and pantry staples when composing recipes, because, you know, Shit At-Home Bartenders Have.
So maybe it was just Feh-bruary working its dour magic, or maybe the problem was that we relied on one book out of our entire cocktail reference library, a book I must now admit I find lacking in its organization, writing style, fonts and pretty much anything else you eyeball when you open a book.
(If you see this book cover, crack with caution…)
Ladies and gentlemen, where have I been all your month?
Where I’ve been is, first I went out of town for work, then I came home with a cold, then I went out of town again. The short month flew by, my skedge was always being cut at the corners, blogging got squeezed out, and all in all, it was a real Feh-bruary. (I just came up with that, really I did. You can use it, though. Or how about Meh-bruary?)
Throughout, I was hoping that an idea would percolate in the back of my head for this cocktail contest I wanted to enter (deadline: oh, about 89 minutes from this very moment): PAMA’s Best Home Bar Star. Just as it sounds, submitted recipes must include PAMA pomegranate liqueur, and the contest’s only open to amateur, at-home mixologists.
And yet, no inspiration was striking. Like, none. Feh-bruary really lived up to its name-I-just-made-up and I wasn’t coming up with any sort of hook to hang this drink on. So what I did was, I went to the supermarket, hoping that browsing the aisles would somehow reveal a perfect, secret ingredient to me. In the juice aisle, I found my muse.
Did you know that the French word for pomegrante is grenade? And just like a grenade, BOOM — cocktail framework smacks me upside the head. French ingredients, something that really goes pow on the palate. Voila.
The Grenade Launch
1 ounce Bulldog Gin
3/4 ounce PAMA
1/2 ounce St.-Germain
1/2 ounce Lillet
1 dash yellow Chartreuse
1 dash orange blossom water
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
Combine all ingredients in an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously and strain into cocktail glass.
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.)
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.
Do more classic cocktails, is my #1 resolution for the blog this year. As much as I love, and have no plans to cease, inventing original recipes, perhaps I should ease up on bedeviling you all with my illimitable tipple perspicacity (resolution #2: consult thesaurus more) for the sake of some insightful, happy hour convo-worthy history lessons on drinks that have stood the test of time, or haven’t but deserve as much. Plus, discuss how to make said vintage drinks at their finest, a la The World’s Greatest Cosmopolitan. (Resolution Trois: I am the greatest!)