Now that I have a bottle of Amer Picon, it was time to make a Brooklyn cocktail. This was long one of the better variations on the Manhattan, but it has frustrated bartenders in recent years due to the unavailability of the French bittersweet liqueur.
If you like the taste of a Manhattan — strong, yet balanced, with the rich, spicy flavor of rye — but are looking for something a little less sweet, then the borough of Brooklyn is definitely where you want to go.
The Whiskey Smash, resurrected and tweaked many years ago at the Rainbow Room by Dale DeGroff, is one of the best summertime bourbon drinks. Cold and refreshing, the mix of tart citrus and sweet mint/fruit makes for a delicious balance with the whiskey. (And it’s also, in my opinion, a better drink than the far more popular Mint Julep. It’s certainly a more complex one.)
Here is a variation with strawberries from Benny Hurwitz, bartender at Jack Rose Dining Saloon in D.C. This is an easily modifiable cocktail, so you can change up the ingredients based on what you have, as long as you stick to the same basic concept and proportions. And, as always, use a good bourbon.
Adapted from a recipe by Benny Hurwitz of the Jack Rose Saloon in Washington, D.C, after Dale DeGroff.
1 1/2 oz. Bourbon Whiskey
3/4 oz. Simple Syrup (1:1)
1/2 Lemon (cut into 3 wedges)
2-3 Strawberries (depending on size)
5 Mint Leaves
Muddle the strawberries, lemon and mint with the simple syrup in the bottom of a shaker. Add the whiskey and shake with ice. Fine strain into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with a mint sprig and strawberry.
For a stronger drink, you can increase the amount of bourbon to 2 oz.
Tomorrow is National Daiquiri Day. That’s silly, of course. But what’s not silly are Daiquiris themselves. In fact, they’re more than a little awesome.
The original Daiquiri was made with Bacardi Superior (white) rum. That’s still a good place to start. (Although I prefer some of their other rums more.)
Daiquiris are very easy to make, so it’s a great cocktail to try at home. (And you have a much better chance of getting a good one that way than at your local dive bar.) Just remember to use fresh-squeezed lime juice and your favorite rum.
Looks like someone was shopping at Costco again. This is a dilemma. How much Black Forrest Cherry Cake can you eat?
Kirschwasser (or kirsch) is a clear cherry brandy or eau de vie, with a fragrant smell and a dry flavor. Most of the time it’s drunk neat — it makes a good after-dinner drink or dessert accompaniment, especially if you like your sips on the not-sweet side.
That’s assuming it’s a decent brand, and you like the taste of it. If it’s a lousy brand, I’d probably just pour it out. A lot of people get in the habit of keeping a bottle of something they bought once stashed in the cupboard, even though they don’t like it or are never going to drink it. In that case, I think you should just get rid of it.
On the other hand, if you enjoy it or just hate to throw stuff away, there are some cocktails you can make with it.
Today is Mardi Gras, the last day of celebration for those planning to give up merriment and mayhem for Lent. Certainly an occasion that calls for a drink or two. Here are some suggestions:
Brandy Milk Punch: This classic New Orleans brunch cocktail is the perfect way to start off a day of revelry.
Hurricane: The New Orleans classic Tiki drink, the pride of Mardi Gras, the Hurricane was created at Pat O’Brien’s bar in New Orleans. The version they serve today is reputed to be putrid, but this recipe will set you up nicely.
Daiquiri: Like the Hurricane, Daiquiris are served all up and down Bourbon Street. But those slushy, Slurpee-like concoctions bear little resemblance to the real thing. Here is the real thing.
Sazerac: The premier New Orleans cocktail. This boozy, but balanced classic is one of the first cocktails on record.
French 75: If you’re looking for something a little more elegant, it’s hard to go wrong with this.
Vieux Carré: A drink from the 1930s, created at what would later become the Carousel Bar in the Hotel Monteleone, and named after the city’s famed French Quarter. Let the great Dale DeGroff show you how to make one.
There is a rich tradition of fascinating and useful books about cocktail and spirits, dating back to at least the mid-19th century when “Professor” Jerry Thomas published the world’s first cocktail guide.
I’ve been steadily building my collection over the past few years, some of which I’ve reviewed here on the site, and more of which I’d like to. I’m also regularly adding new books to the library — and here is the latest batch.
I’ve opened up a store on StoreEnvy to sell Professor Cocktail merchandise. At this point, the only thing available is Professor Cocktail’s Zombie Horde, but that may change in the future. You can get the book signed, or even get it inscribed if you want. I’ll write basically anything as long as it’s at least somewhat tasteful. Or I can come up with a pithy comment of my own. (See the website for details.)
It’s still a couple bucks cheaper to buy it from Amazon. But if you’d like a signed or personalized copy, this is the only way to get one.
This coming Sunday, February 2nd, is Super Bowl Sunday in the United States, which means a solid majority of Americans will be glued to their TVs for the big game. All of that cheering and booing is thirsty work, so you’ll want to be prepared with some appropriate cocktail offerings.
You can go with the classics — a Margarita, Mai Tai, or Daiquiri is always welcome — or you can just buy a six-pack and a couple bottles of wine. But if you want to try something a little different, here are some suggestions.
Since it’s more fun to watch football in a group, and you’re probably going to have beer on hand, try this out. Invite your friends over and make a pitcher of Micheladas.
Michelada (Pitcher Version)
18 oz. Tomato or Clamato Juice, chilled
36 oz. Mexican Beer, chilled
1/3 cup Fresh Lime Juice
1 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce
1 tsp. Maggi or Soy Sauce
1/2 tsp. Hot Sauce
Lime Wedges, for garnish
Kosher Salt, if desired
Combine the first five ingredients in a large pitcher. Rim pint glasses with salt, then fill with ice and Michelada mixture. Garnish with lime wedges.
Here’s another delicious communal drink. Make it in a punch bowl and let everyone toast (or bemoan) the game’s events.
The Super Bowl
4 oz. Light Rum
4 oz. Dark Rum (preferably Jamaican)
4 oz. Cognac
8 oz. Orange Juice
4 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
4 oz. Orgeat Syrup
3 cups Crushed Ice
Blend all ingredients at high speed for 10 seconds. Pour into a large bowl. Serve in glasses over ice.
If your team is getting walloped, you might need to inject a little life into the festivities. Thus, the Corpse Reviver #2.
Corpse Reviver #2
3/4 oz. Gin
3/4 oz. Triple Sec
3/4 oz. Lillet Blanc
3/4 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
Dash of Absinthe or Pastis
Orange Peel, for garnish
Shake ingredients with ice, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange peel.
Since Seattle — represented in the Super Bowl by the Seahawks — is known for its coffee, I thought a coffee cocktail would be appropriate. Plus, it’ll help you stay up late if you’re watching the game on the East Coast. The first is a hot drink, the second a cold one.
Ingredients: 6 oz. Coffee, very hot
1 oz. Dark Rum
1 oz. Cognac
2 tsp. Demerara or Turbinado Sugar
1-inch strip Lemon Peel
1-inch strip Orange Peel
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Combine ingredients in a pre-heated mug and stir until sugar dissolves.
1 1/2 oz. Bourbon Whiskey
1/2 oz. Dark Crème de Cacao
2 oz. Coffee, chilled
1/4 oz. Simple Syrup
2 dashes Orange Bitters
Coffee Beans, for garnish
Shake ingredients hard with ice, then strain into an old-fashioned glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with coffee beans, if desired.
The Denver Broncos’ defense may not be the powerhouse that Seattle’s is, but they’re not too shabby either. They might just evoke a few memories of the punishing Orange Crush teams of the late-70’s. If not, this drink will help.
1 1/2 oz. Vodka
1/2 oz. Triple Sec
2 oz. Orange Juice
1 oz. Pineapple Juice
Orange Wheel, for garnish
Shake ingredients with ice, then strain into a highball glass filled with crushed ice. Top with club soda and stir. Garnish with an orange wheel.
Finally, here’s a tasty option for the non-drinkers at your party. You can mix up the fruits to fit your tastes best. If you don’t have fresh fruit available, you can substitute frozen in a pinch.
The Fruit Bowl (non-alcoholic)
6 Fresh Raspberries
3 Fresh Strawberries, quartered
2 tbsp. Turbinado or Demerara Sugar
2 tbsp. Orange Juice
Fresh Strawberry, for garnish
Muddle the fruit with the sugar and juice in the bottom of a 10-ounce glass. Fill the glass with crushed ice, top with club soda, and stir gently. Garnish with a fresh strawberry.
The use of wine in cocktails is a hot trend among today’s top bartenders. But as Jason Wilson’s excellent new book shows, this trend is actually ages old.
I grew up in Bakersfield, California, a community with a large Basque population. (Thus my fondness for the Picon Punch.) One of the most popular drinks with younger Basques is Calimocho, a combination of cheap red wine and Coke. It’s one of those things that sounds revolting, but turns out to be surprisingly good. It makes for a refreshing drink on a hot day — and also helps use up the old wine that doesn’t taste so great on its own.
The Calimocho is far from unique. As long as people have been drinking wine, they’ve been mixing it with other things. Wine and soda of various sorts has long been a staple, as has the ubiquitous Sangria, which is properly made with wine, brandy, fruit, and possibly a liqueur. Different types of Champagne cocktails — including the sly and potent French 75 — have also dominated the field.
But it’s not just the more common types of wine that have featured in mixed drinks. Sherry and port have a rich history of use in concoctions of various types, especially back in Colonial times, when cobblers and sangarees of all stripes were the hot items of the day.
Wine Cocktails explores some of the history and development of these cocktails, along with general background on the wines themselves. Wilson’s writing is as lively and entertaining as always, making this a useful read even if your mixology skills are lacking.
The best part of Wine Cocktails, naturally, is the recipes, and Wilson collects a wide variety both old and new, many of them from top mixologists, utilizing a varieties of wines, spirits, and flavors. These are the real deal, not like so many of the recipes you find on the Internet. You can make these drinks trusting that you’ll end up with a final product that is unique and delicious.
All told, this is an indispensable book for anyone looking to learn more about this fascinating — and very tasty! — trend.
Stuffed full of 112 recipes for drinks of all kinds, Professor Cocktail’s Holiday Drinks is your secret weapon for dazzling the taste buds of everyone you know by making professional-quality cocktails from the comfort of your home bar.
If you do download it, and like what you see, please consider leaving a review on Amazon. It helps other people find the book and would mean a lot to me.