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!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tom & Jerry


Egg Nog may get all the glory, but the Tom & Jerry deserves a place at your holiday table. This heated cousin of Christmas’s most popular beverage is a complex combination of flavors, textures and spirits. It takes a little advanced preparation, but the result is well worth it.

Pre-dating the cartoon of the same name by over one hundred years, this holiday hangover cure was created in the 1820’s by sports writer Pierce Egan. It is a reference to Egan's book, Life in London, or The Day and Night Scenes of Jerry Hawthorn Esq. and his Elegant Friend Corinthian Tom.

David Embury has outdone himself and I have found no reason to stray from his formula. The following measurements make enough for a crowd, so mix up a batch and invite all of your friends over for some holiday cheer. Start by separating a dozen eggs. Beat the whites to stiff peaks and set aside. In a large bowl, beat the yolks with ½ pound of sugar, one tablespoon each of allspice, cinnamon and ground cloves. Then gradually pour in four ounces of dark rum; Myer’s is my personal choice. Gently fold the whites into the yolk mixture. When ready to serve, place about ½ cup of the batter into a large mug, add two ounces of your favorite bourbon, and fill the mug with hot milk. Stir until the whole drink foams. Float one teaspoon of cognac on top and dust with freshly grated nutmeg.

Tom & Jerry
Batter:
1 dozen eggs, separated
½ pound sugar
1 tbl allspice
1 tbl cinnamon
1 tbl ground cloves
4 oz dark rum
Each Drink:
2 oz bourbon
hot milk
1 tsp cognac
nutmeg
Beat egg whites to stiff peaks and set aside. In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar, allspice, cinnamon, and cloves. Add rum. Fold the egg whites into the yolk mixture.
For each individual drink, place ½ cup batter into a large mug, add bourbon and fill with hot milk, stir vigorously, top with a cognac floater and freshly grated nutmeg.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Reinvigorating the Vodka Soda

I have been fortunate enough to enjoy a cocktail or two with some truly incredible women, and this seems to be the favorite among them (there is the rare whiskey drinking woman, but they are few and far between). I personally have always found the vodka soda to be a little bland, tasting like a watered down vodka tonic, so I have shied away from it. But I do see the allure in a simple, refreshing cocktail that is easy to concoct so I took it upon myself to delve into this feminine favorite.

My goal was to find a combination that stayed true to the beautiful simplicity of this drink and its three ingredients, but that overcame the dull flavor. I found the secret is in the vodka. My local purveyor of spirits has an entire wall dedicated to the simplest of grain alcohols, the number of brands and flavors is incredibly overwhelming, so I focused my search on the citrus flavored options as I felt they would stay most true to the drink while adding some complexity of taste without sacrificing ease of concoction. I hope to deeper immerse myself in this wall of flavors in hopes of finding some truly unique flavor combinations, but for the time being the cocktail made in my house for the fair maiden desiring a vodka soda will be the following.

Start with an ice filled glass; add two ounces of orange vodka. I like Three Olives Rangtang, the name is awful, but the taste is unmatched (try it by itself on the rocks). Add three ounces of club soda and squeeze a wedge of lime. In the spirit of simplicity the drink is complete here, but muddling a slice of clementine in the glass adds another nice subtle flavor (a clementine slice is also a nice garnish). Serve this to the next woman who asks for a vodka soda and you will be remembered as the person who re-awakened her taste buds and gave new life to her go-to drink.

Vodka Soda
2 oz orange flavored vodka
3 oz club soda
Add vodka and soda to an ice filled glass with a wedge of lime.