The cocktail is an art form that peaked in the middle of the 20th century and has been in rapid decline since. As a young lad, I was schooled in the fine art of cocktailing by my father and grandfathers, I learned many valuable lessons that I plan to pass on. I also want to resurrect some of the old classics that vastly surpass the sugary & fruity concoctions made today with their simplicity, elegance and bold flavors. Most of the time I will focus on one drink, and to provide, at least in my opinion, the definitive recipe, but hope to expand to other related topics as I see fit. Please mix yourself a cocktail, read, drink, and enjoy!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Rosita

I know that my long hiatus has left many of you longing for the early days of June when new recipes were coming out with some regularity. Well fear not, after a short recess for extensive “research,” I have the first tequila based cocktail to wet your whistle!

While many of the cocktails featured here have been rich in history, this one is a little hard to pin down. While the story does not have the cachet of most, it is a cocktail well worth enjoying. The best I have been able to come up with is it was deduced in the late eighties or early nineties (yes, nineteen, not eighteen) by a bartender/writer. The references I have found are all circular between three cocktail writers. One wrote about it and forgot about it until he read about it from another writer, the first writer then asked a third writer about it who told him the he (the first writer) had written it; or something along those lines, there are too many pronouns in this sentence for even me to follow, so let’s all just agree to move on to the best part, the drink!

I think I may be falling into a rut here as the supporting cast for this drink has become very familiar, in the coming weeks we’ll be breaking out of this shell and delving into brave new worlds. For the time being though, Campari, vermouth and bitters are here to stay. In an old fashioned glass full of ice, start with an ounce and a half of your favorite anejo tequila, I like Patron’s mild flavor for this drink. Add ½ ounce each of sweet vermouth, dry vermouth and Campari. A dash (or two) of Angostura bitters rounds out the ensemble. Stir well and garnish with a lime twist. Turn on your favorite Mariachi music and be prepared to sing along and dance til dawn!

Rosita
1 ½ oz anejo tequila
½ oz campari
½ oz sweet vermouth
½ oz dry vermouth
dash of angostura bitters
Build this cocktail in an ice filled old fashioned glass and garnish with a lime twist.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Boulevardier


          Boulevardier
          Pronunciation: \ˌbu̇-lə-ˌvär-ˈdyā, ˌbü-, -ˈdir\
          Function: noun
          Etymology: French, from boulevard
          Date: 1871
          a frequenter of the Parisian boulevards; a man-about-town

The name of the drink is enough to make a lesser man nervous. But have no fear; this is a drinking man’s cocktail.

The origin and history of this cocktail alone, should place it in the same company as the other bourbon based cocktail mainstays, unfortunately this red-headed step child of a drink has been relegated to second class status, known only in small but distinguished drinking circles.

Much like our third president, this drink is all American but very much at home in Paris. Harry McElhone, had been the bartender at the Plaza Hotel in New York prior to prohibition. Once Volstead’s law was passed he headed overseas to ply his trade. After a stint in London, he headed to France, eventually opening his own place. Harry’s New York Bar, maybe you’ve heard of it. The Boulevardier, first appeared in Harry’s 1927 bar guide, Barflies and Cocktails.

Similar to it’s cousin the Negroni, this concoction starts with Campari and sweet vermouth. The gin is replaced by bourbon. I like this drink on the rocks, but it can easily be shaken and served in a cocktail glass. Start with an ounce and a half of good bourbon, I like Gentleman Jack or a nice smooth small batch bourbon. Add an ounce of Campari and an ounce of sweet vermouth. This drink has the confidence to stand on it’s own, without the need for a garnish. This drink should be mixed, served and consumed with an extra air of panache.

Boulevardier
1 ½ oz bourbon
1 oz campari
1 oz sweet vermouth
Build this drink in an old fashioned glass full of ice.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Clementine Negroni

After a slight detour down Morning Buzz Boulevard, we have returned to our gin crusade with a variation on a truly timeless cocktail. I have always longed to love the Negroni, but have found myself infatuated by it’s Yankee cousin the Boulevardier; don’t let it’s ex-pat nom-de-guerre fool you, it's roots are one hundred percent American. This adaptation, or bastardization depending on whom you ask, adds a new flavor to this already complex drink. A gin connoisseur friend of mine was not a fan when I introduced him to the Negroni, he felt overwhelmed by the Campari. The solution is adding clementine juice, completely changing the taste of this drink, resulting in a balance that is pleasing to even the most discerning palate.

As this is a modern deviation, there is no need to delve deeply into the history of this cocktail, just read on and prepare your taste buds for a flavor explosion. As this is a perfect drink to share with a lady friend on a warm summer’s eve, this recipe is for two, adjust as your company dictates…

Start by placing three peeled clementines (or mandarin oranges, for simpletons like the author) in an over-sized shaker. Add four or five solid dashes of orange bitters and muddle thoroughly. Add two ounces Hendrick’s gin (I find the flavor more complimentary), two ounces Campari, and 1½ ounces of sweet vermouth. Fill shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Divide between two chilled cocktail glasses, garnish with clementine slices. Prepare to be praised excessively.

Clementine Negroni
3 clementines, peeled
5 dashes orange bitters
2 oz hendrick’s gin
2 oz campari
1 ½ oz sweet vermouth
Place clementines and orange bitters into a large shaker, muddles until fruit is pulverized. Add gin, campari and sweet vermouth. Fill with ice and shake vigorously. Divide between two chilled cocktail glasses, garnish with a clementine slice.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Buck’s Fizz

To continue on our pre-noon cocktail cruise, we will follow up the granddaddy of all OJ based morning beverages, the screwdriver, with a precursor (or a mere coincidental creation) to the mimosa, another morning classic. We will make sure to hit that in the future, but today our drink of choice is the Buck’s Fizz, not to be confused with the 80's pop group of the same name.

In an effort to prevent a modern flare up of the Hundred Years’ War and keep our Anglophile and Francophile readers happy, we will make a definite distinction between the Buck’s Fizz and the Mimosa; the former being created in 1921 in the Buck’s Club in London, the latter being created in Paris four years later. (I am starting to see a trend in cocktails named for the club in which they originated.) The Buck’s Fizz is distinct in that it has never revealed secret ingredients, which, according to our sources deep in MI6, this recipe reveals.

To make this clandestine cocktail, begin by pouring 2 ounces of freshly squeezed orange juice into a champagne flute. Add a dash of cherry brandy and ¼ ounce of Plymouth gin (this is one of London’s best kept secrets). Stir gently and top with Prosecco (using Champagne only ignites historical tensions).

Buck’s Fizz
2 oz fresh squeezed orange juice
1 dash cherry brandy
¼ oz gin
prosecco
Pour orange juice into a champagne flute. Add brandy and gin. Top with Prosecco and serve, pinky extended.

A Sophisticated Screwdriver

Breakfast/brunch cocktails is an area that is all to often ignored in the cocktailing community. While cocktail hour has traditionally started at five, there is absolutely no reason that any of us need to wait an entire day to enjoy a libation. This is a slightly more complex version of an old favorite that has been received with outstanding results among my closest friends.

As I am sure most everyone will agree, you can mix just about anything with orange juice and drink it.  In fact, my underage drinking career depended on it, but there are some classic orange juice based morning breakfast pick-me-ups which deserve coverage, many of which I plan to cover in the coming months. Today we will start with the screwdriver, a mixed drink that has saved many a wounded soldier. This is a more complex version though, that will please even the most discerning drunk.

The history or the screwdriver is a pretty simple one. In 1949 Time magazine described a drink where American engineers in Turkey would mix vodka and orange juice and stir it with a screwdriver. The original article is available online here, isn’t technology amazing!

For the purposes of our slightly more high-brow concoction, start by slicing two oranges into quarter inch thick slices and place them into the bottom of a large pitcher, add a pinch of kosher salt and the juice of one lemon; muddle well to release the oils from the orange peel and break up the fruit. Add forty-eight ounces (six cups) of fresh squeezed orange juice and 16 ounces (two cups) chilled vodka. I like Smirnoff, Sky or Absolut in this recipe. Stir well and pour into ice filled glasses and top with one of the muddled orange slices.

Screwdriver
2 oranges cut into ¼ inch thick slices
1 lemon, juiced
1 pinch kosher salt
6 cups fresh squeezed orange juice
2 cups chilled vodka
Place sliced oranges in large pitcher, add lemon juice and salt, muddle thoroughly.  Add vodka and orange juice, stir.  Pour into ice filled glasses, garnish with a muddled orange slice.  Makes six to eight drinks.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Old Fashioned (Well Dressed/Volstead Version)

To finally rectify my greatest crime against cocktail humanity, it is time to put up my “other” Old Fashioned recipe. As I mentioned before, I struggled with this grand predicament, but I came to the conclusion that there is a place for both. This variation is great for summer. The bright colors of the fruit contrast the deep brown of the drink and fit perfectly with seersucker, linen and madras!

It seems that the addition of muddled fruit originates during prohibition when the quality of the whiskey went down drastically and the average speakeasy patron needed something to help mask the god-awful taste of backwoods bourbon. The historical significance alone should give this variation its own place in every bartenders repertoire.

My formula for this is similar to the one I use without fruit. I decrease the amount of simple syrup by half to compensate for the addition of the fruit, and decrease the amount of bourbon slightly since I tend to serve these mid-day and nobody likes to find their guests face down on the croquet pitch with only mad dogs and Englishmen standing about. The steps to build it are much different though. Start with an orange slice, about ¼ inch thick. Peel the fruit from the inside of the slice and place it in the bottom of an old fashioned glass. Take the peel and slice it into two pieces, place these on top of the fruit; add two cherries, two dashes of angostura bitters and muddle. Pour in ½ ounce of simple syrup, an ounce of the bourbon of your choice (I suggest Gentleman Jack), stir well. Fill the glass with ice and add the remaining 1 ½ ounces of bourbon.

The garnish on this drink comes from my oldest and best cocktail companion who will remain nameless to protect his professional reputation. I fell it adds the perfect finishing touch to this drink. In order to comply with rule number two (look to the left of the screen) we need to include a cherry. It pains me greatly to write this as this is the only circumstance where I use them, but the neon red maraschino cherries work best here. You will also need a half an orange slice and a toothpick (I’ve been partial to the little plastic swords since I was a kid). Fold the orange in half around the cherry and stick the sword through to hold it all together, place it flippantly across the top of the drink and the side of the glass. Serve this cocktail with a nod to Utah for being the 36th state to ratify the 21st amendment, repealing the 18th amendment, and ending prohibition!

Old Fashioned
2½ oz bourbon
2 dashes angostura bitters
½ oz simple syrup
1 ½, quarter inch thick orange slices
cherries
Place the fruit from one orange slice into the bottom of an old fashioned glass, slice the peel into two pieces and add it to the glass. Add two cherries, the bitters, and muddle. Pour in the simple syrup, one ounce of bourbon, and stir. Fill the glass with ice and add the remaining bourbon. Garnish with half an orange and a cherry.

The Pegu Club Cocktail

The great gin cocktail quest of 2010 continues with more successes than failures and I have another winner for your drinking enjoyment. The Pegu Club is a fairly simple, easy sipping cocktail, perfect for warm summer nights, the tropics, and while visiting your favorite junta ruled totalitarian state.

This cocktail originated during the 1920s in The Pegu Club in Rangoon. As a far flung outpost of the British Empire, Burma offered few of the creature comforts for which your average Brit yearned, save for a classy gentleman’s club to gather with the boys, enjoy a cocktail, and toast the Queen. The house cocktail spread through the empire and the rest of the world, appearing in Haddocks’s tome, The Savoy Cocktail Book in 1930.

This cocktail is a true crowd pleaser. Men and women, gin lovers and haters. Everyone that I have mixed this for has become an instant fan. It has the perfect combination of sweet, sour and bitter, not to mention it packs a pretty hefty punch!

The version I prefer uses two types of bitters, some recipes call for only one. While I have found that the taste difference is nearly indiscernible, I like any excuse to use all the bitters that I can. Start with 2 ounces of gin, I like Plymouth in this drink, but any good London dry gin will work. Next add ¾ ounce of Cointreau and ½ ounce of fresh squeezed lime juice. Kaffir limes are the most authentic, but can be difficult to find. Lastly add a couple dashes of orange bitters, a couple dashes of angostura bitters, shake and serve with a lime slice as garnish.

To Queen and Country!

The Pegu Club
2 oz gin
¾ oz cointreau
½ oz fresh lime juice
2 dashes orange bitters
2 dashes angostura bitters
 Add all ingredients to your shaker, fill with ice.  Shake vigorously.  Pour into a chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with a thin slice of lime.