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Here we have a Tuxedo Martini. It is of a piece with the Stork Club, a cocktail I blogged a few weeks back, in that both were christened after the New York City hotspots where they were invented. Allow me to quote my ever-dogeared copy of Difford’s Encyclopedia of Cocktails:
“Created at the Tuxedo Club, New York, circa 1885. A year later this was the birthplace of the tuxedo, when a tobacco magnate, Griswold Lorillard, wore the first ever tailless dinner jacket and named the style after the club.”
A few things:
In some circles, the El Presidente is otherwise known as a Cuban Martini. It’s also one of those cocktails with slippery origins; in my Difford’s Encyclopedia of Cocktails, this is the fourth of four known El Presidente recipes printed. Variations include:
- El Presidente #1: Light rum, pineapple juice, lime juice, grenadine; a slim change-up on a classic daiquiri, replacing its simple syrup with pineapple juice. (Which, now that I think about it, is a great idea.)
- El Presidente #2: Light rum, dry vermouth, bitters. Difford’s describes it as “bone dry” and “rather like a rum-based, old-school Martini.”
- El Presidente #3: Light rum, dry vermouth, Cointreau, grenadine. A Trader Vic’s recipe, of which Vic himself allegedly said, “This is the real recipe.” (But I think he claims that about all of his concoctions? At least about the Mai Tai, which he said he flat-out invented.)
- El Presidente #4: Light rum, dry vermouth, Cointreau. “Dry but not bone dry, with balanced fruit from the triple sec and vermouth.” Ding ding ding ding ding, we have a winner!
If you are a minutia-obsessed Seinfeld fan like I am (Is it possible to be any other kind of Seinfeld fan? Minutia is that dude’s umwelt) then you remember the episode wherein Jerry tries to decipher the note he scribbled in the middle of the night while half-asleep. He finally figures out it’s a line from a sci-fi B-movie he’d been up late watching. A line, it turns out, that’s actually not that funny.
Such it’s been for me the past few weeks with a drink name and recipe I came across and jotted down and now I’m all like, wuh? The drink’s called The Filthy Narwhal, and Googling it comes up goose eggs as far as a source or point of origin.* I think I may have seen it on the online cocktail menu of some resto in Boston. I have no idea why I think that, seeing as I can’t remember the last time I was in Boston, nor do I have any plans to be in Boston, but so fire the synapses of my sleep-deprived memory these days.
What I need no help recalling is what about the Filthy Narwhal made me want to copy it down — it’s got a pickle garnish! I [heart] pickles. When I
shove pastrami down my piehole dine respectably at a Katz’s or a Schwartz’s or any other Jewish deli, I’m mainly in it for the pickles. (Maybe I just have a thing for foods that are green?)
On a different** episode of Seinfeld, Seinfeld said, “I’ve never had a really good pickle.” While this statement should bring much shame on Jerome and his Hebrew roots, I am here to state that you can have a really good pickle martini. Like, The Really Good Pickle Martini.
The second time I lived in Manhattan, which was for about 30 months, I had an annual ritual (you do the math) of meeting up with m’gays at the Knickerbocker Bar & Grill in the West Village and drinking a big, fat, dirty vodka martini. This ritual was perfect for a number of reasons — for two, the Knickerbocker is a bona fide throwback of a joint, its prices equally retro — but I guess the main one was that this was the only time I would ever allow/fancy myself a dirty vodka martini; it had to be with these friends, sitting at this bar, where the bartender, whomever it was on a particular evening, would always serve the cocktails oversized, even saving the little extra in the bottom of the shaker to top off my glass after I’d taken a few sips.
Now, one could argue that there’s a lot that’s less than perfect about this scenario. All-booze cocktails ought to be stirred, not shaken, lest you “bruise” the liquors (I believe purists are particularly strident in their anti-bruised-booze stance when it comes to gin); you’re not supposed to want any diluted-down “extra” besmirching your drink; martinis are passe and dirty-anything is an abomination on par with Red Bull or drinks that approximate birthday cake.
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.
Did you know today’s National Hangover Awareness Day? I did as of 90 seconds ago! Which is when I saw a tweet about the more-a-promotional-stunt-than-actual-commemorative-day Day. Although it makes sense, when you
read the press release think about it: The Monday after the Super Bowl, in fact, clocks more calls in sick to work than any other day of the year.
If there were an official Five O’Clock Press Release in response to the NHAD press release,
nobody would read it it would read:
Anyone else here a huge Hedwig fan? You know, the eponymous character from the off-Broadway-musical-turned-cultishly-adored-indie-film Hedwig and the Angry Inch, that one about the queer East German boy whose African-American G.I. male lover/sugar daddy encouraged him to get a sex change that did not go well, hence the “angry inch?” That one.
After Hedwig winds up a craggily transgendered, white-trash divorcee stuck in a Kansas trailer park, s/him sings a bittersweet number about what few pleasures life still holds, one being “vermouth on the rocks.” So to ‘splain — no, there is too much, to sum up — now you get what the above pic’s all about. (An in-joke expressly styled for an audience of exactly moi? Probably.)
OK, my point is — vermouth on the rocks, who drinks this anymore? I know they did back in the day before the counterculture hit, if only because it says so in this book I once read, New York in The 50s: Young adults and also James Baldwin got together at one another’s cramped apartments in the Village and drank vermouth and then danced the Twist to Chubby Checker. So there must’ve been some sort of cool cachet surrounding vermouth back then, to balance out the fact that vermouth tastes yucky.
Did you know you can make a Manhattan* with aged rum instead of bourbon? Because you totally can and it’s really pretty good!
I happened upon this discovery of sorts while toying with recipes for that Montreal Bar vs. Chef competition I clearly can’t stop talking about. My original idea was to do a flip, but after many, many attempts to make even a halfway-decent one, it was clear that what I had on my hands was actually a flop. (Rim shot!)
Dear Rachael Ray,
‘Member a few years ago when Anthony Bourdain rained ninja spawn on you for shooting that Dunkin’ Donuts ad, the one where you sported a keffiyeh like some kind of cultural anthro major at Columbia? He was pissed because, in his ideal, folks like you should advocate for sound, wholesome foods, which you’ve gotta admit is a point.
I am mad at you too, Rachael Ray. I am mad because last year your eponymous mag, Every Day with Rachael Ray, printed this:
And I read: “Here’s a sweet idea: Use lollipops as color-coordinated cocktail stirrers.” O Rachael Ray, where do I begin?
A good remedy for a cocktail rut is How’s Your Drink? Cocktails, Culture, and the Art of Drinking Well, by Eric Felten, an impresario equal parts food/drink/culture critic and jazz trombonist/crooner/bandleader. The book is a sort of loosely chaptered collection of drinking vignettes throughout history, with recipes here and there. It’s a great read to keep on the shelf and just flip through. Today, I flipped to the Clipper Cocktail.