Maraschino! The humble, unassuming supporting actor steals the show…

I recently made a drink called the Martinez.  The Martinez is thought to be the precursor to the modern day Martini.   One of the most widely accepted stories about the drink’s origin points to the famous bartender, Jerry Thomas.  Jerry was tending bar at the Occidental Hotel in San Francisco and made the drink for a gold miner who was on his way to the town of Martinez, CA.  The recipe for the Martinez first appears in print in Jerry’s 1887 book, and called for Old Tom gin, sweet vermouth, a dash of maraschino and bitters, as well as a slice of lemon and two dashes of gum syrup.  Today, many recipes for the Martinez call for a mix of gin, sweet vermouth, maraschino liqueur and bitters.  And apparently, the great Martini evolved from this drink, to the drink we love of just gin and dry vermouth.

Very interesting story and piece of history, yes, but the thing that struck me the most when making and enjoying this drink, however, was just how important of a role maraschino liqueur plays in the world of cocktails… especially in the world of my favorite cocktails.  I originally bought some maraschino liqueur because I’d noticed it in quite a few older drink recipes.  I thought of it originally as an essential, but minor character in my drinks.  But as I sipped on the Martinez drink I’d just made, I realized how much I’d come to rely on this great liqueur to make what would be an average drink become amazing.  I realized that when perusing drink books, the ones with maraschino would jump out at me subconsciensly, because when I see a drink has maraschino, it’s almost certain that I’ll enjoy it.  It’s definitely never the leading ingredient, but it’s often the backbone of a great drink.  I always seem to compare it to some of the great supporting actors, like Philip Seymour Hoffman.  I know that when Philip Seymour Hoffman’s in a movie, chances are I’m going to like it, because he’ll add so much to the movie and sometimes become my favorite character.

That’s what maraschino liqueur is to me!  It’s the one consistent through many of the drinks I love and crave.  It appears in the Last Word, the Colonial, Harry Craddock’s Manhattan and the Aviation.  These drinks are all near the top of my list for favorite drinks, and maraschino liqueur is definitely up there near the top of my favorite liqueurs.  So, to celebrate this wonderful liqueur and give it its just deserts, I’m posting one new recipe for my blog (the Martinez), along with all of the drinks that have appeared over the last 9 posts of mine that feature the wonderful Luxardo maraschino liqueur.

Cheers to the maraschino liqueur!

 

“The Martinez”

A good ole all-alcohol cocktail, that’s indeed nice and heavy on the taste of gin, while being sweeter, because of the vermouth, like a Manhattan.

2 oz. gin

3/4 oz. sweet vermouth

1/4 oz. maraschino liqueur

dash of orange bitters

Stir well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

“The Last Word”

from “Trips back and forth to the booze merchant…” at https://scientistmcgee.wordpress.com/2011/04/16/trips-back-and-forth-to-the-booze-merchant/

In the top 3 of my favorite cocktails – an amazing drink!

Equal parts…

gin

green Chartreuse

maraschino liqueur

lime juice

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass

 

“Colonial Cocktail”

from “95 degree nights” at https://scientistmcgee.wordpress.com/2011/07/15/95-degree-nights/

This is my go-to simple, summer evening drink.  It’s quick’n’easy to make, and a perfect cocktail.

2 oz. gin

1 oz. grapefruit juice

3 dashes maraschino liqueur

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

(from “The Savoy Cocktail Book”)


“Harry’s Manhattan”

from “Harry Craddock says your father smells of elderberries!” at https://scientistmcgee.wordpress.com/2011/07/03/harry-craddock-says-your-father-smells-of-elderberries/

 This is one of the best Manhattan cocktail recipes out there!  It wasn’t quite as sweet as a Manhattan made with maraschino cherries, and it tastes silkier and smoother.  (The Savoy Cocktail Book suggests shaking the drink.)

2 oz. Rye Whiskey

3/4 oz. sweet vermouth

2 dashes maraschino liqueur

3 dashes Angostura bitters

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

(based on the “Manhattan Cocktail No. 1″ recipe in the Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock)

 

“Aviation” 

from “Trips back and forth to the booze merchant…” at https://scientistmcgee.wordpress.com/2011/04/16/trips-back-and-forth-to-the-booze-merchant/

This is a great, simple showcase and use of the maraschino liqueur.  Very good drink.

2 oz gin

3/4 oz maraschino liqueur

1/2 oz lemon juice

 

“Aviation II” (w/ creme de violette)

from “Back in St. Louis” at https://scientistmcgee.wordpress.com/2011/06/05/back-in-st-louis/

A nice twist on the classic Aviation.  The creme de violette adds a strong, floral component.

2 oz gin

1/2 oz lemon juice

1/2 oz maraschino liqueur

1/4 oz creme de violette

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

 

“Mary Pickford”

from “Back in St. Louis” at https://scientistmcgee.wordpress.com/2011/06/05/back-in-st-louis/

This is a classic drink, perfect for summertime.  It’s sweet & refreshing without being “candy sweet”, due in large part to the nutty element of the maraschino liqueur.

2 oz light rum

2 oz pineapple juice

1 t maraschino liqueur

1 t grenadine

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

(recipe from “The Cocktail Hour”)

“Club Cocktail”

from “Trips back and forth to the booze merchant…” at https://scientistmcgee.wordpress.com/2011/04/16/trips-back-and-forth-to-the-booze-merchant/

Great drink!  It’s a refreshing, summertime drink that’s not too fruity or sweet, thanks to the brandy and the maraschino.

2 oz brandy

1/2 oz maraschino liqueur

1/2 oz pineapple juice

2 dashes of Peychaud’s bitters

lemon peel for garnish

Shake well with ice, and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass… garnish with the lemon peel

 

“Hemingway Cocktail”

from “Harry Craddock says your father smells of elderberries!” at https://scientistmcgee.wordpress.com/2011/07/03/harry-craddock-says-your-father-smells-of-elderberries/

This drink is named after Ernest Hemingway, as it was one of the drinks he would enjoy at the El Floridita bar in Havana, Cuba.

1.5 oz. white rum

1/4 oz. maraschino liqueur

3/4 oz. lime juice

1/4 oz. grapefruit juice

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.


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95 degree nights

With summertime being in full, full swing in St. Louis, the lighter, fruit-juice cocktails have really taken center stage at my house.  With temperatures rising above 100 and hanging in the 90’s after sunset, the Gimlet is a great refreshing back porch quencher.  And so are the Colonial, the Gypsy and the Nevada… all drinks I really enjoyed over the last couple of hot weeks.  These cocktails aren’t just great drinks because of the summer heat and their refreshingness, but also because each of these drinks is a stand-alone hit.  Each of them had very well-balanced flavor combinations and were as fun to sip and savor, as they would have been to gulp down whole.

“Colonial Cocktail”

This drink was so good… a tarter tasting “fruit juice cocktail”.  I really haven’t had grapefruit juice in a long time, and one day, got the itch to start making some grapefruit cocktails.  I guess it was flipping through “The Savoy Cocktail Book”… there’s several drinks in there with grapefruit.  I’m glad I got the itch… it’s such a great taste for a cocktail.  There’s something unique about grapefruit juice to me… always has been… it’s not like other juices.  That’s why I think it lends itself so well to cocktails.  It’s such a unique taste to begin with, that it makes a perfect partner to the unique taste blends of cocktails.  This drink grew on me so much that I think I made it four nights in a row.  And that rarely happens.  I like having different drinks almost every night, very rarely ever making two of the same drink, two nights in a row.  So four nights in a row was quite the confirmation that this was a drink would become a regular in my rotation.

2 oz. gin

1 oz. grapefruit juice

3 dashes maraschino liqueur

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

(from “The Savoy Cocktail Book”)

 

“The Gimlet”

The Gimlet, in its original recipe… with the Rose’s Sweetened Lime Juice.  So simple… so good… so refreshing!  I wish I had a jumbo Gatorade Cooler full of it.  I guess it’s for the best that I don’t.

2 oz. gin

3/4 oz. Rose’s Sweetened Lime Juice

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

 

“The Gypsy”

Even though, my favorite Chartreuse cocktail, The Last Word, is one of the most refreshing drinks I can think of, I don’t normally think of Chartreuse when I’m thinking of a “refreshing summertime quencher”.  However, it once again works well in this refreshing, sour cocktail.  The St. Germain really balances out the Chartreuse, sweetening up the drink by muting the Chartreuse a little.  In fact, the St. Germain mutes both the Chartreuse and the lime juice, making for a very nice, balanced and refreshing cocktail.

1.5 oz. gin

3/4 oz. St. Germain elderflower liqueur

1/2 oz. green Chartreuse

1/2 oz. lime juice

1 lime wheel for garnish

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

(from St. Germain Cocktails: http://stgermaincocktails.wordpress.com/ )

 

“Nevada”

I’m very lucky to have stumbled across four such great summertime cocktails in the past couple of weeks.  The fourth great cocktail that I loved is called “Nevada” and is in one of the first cocktail books I bought, called “The Art of the Bar”.  The recipe may not look like much on paper, but again, the balance between the ingredients is so good!  Or maybe, I just really, really like grapefruit juice in my cocktails?

1.5 oz. rum

1/2 oz. grapefruit juice

1/3 oz. lime juice

1/4 oz. simple syrup

1 dash of Angostura bitters

1 lime wedge for garnish

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

(from “The Art of the Bar”)


Harry Craddock says your father smells of elderberries!

I’m somewhat obsessed with liqueurs.  Often, I get obsessed with the idea behind a liqueur.  Something about one will pique my interest… maybe it’ll be an intriguing recipe for a drink it’s in (i.e. Cherry Heering and the “Blood & Sand”), maybe it’ll be the story and legend behind it (i.e. Chartreuse and the legend that only 3 monks know the true recipe at any given time), or maybe it’ll be the curiosity of a flavor I’ve never tasted in my life, along with a bottle that’s nearly as pretty as an old European church.  This last example is what caught my attention and began my curious obsession to try St. Germain’s elderflower liqueur.  The bottle alone should get anyone excited to at least try a taste.  And when I finally got a bottle of my own, I was very pleased with how this fancy liqueur tastes.  I was a little worried that it was going to be another liqueur as floral as creme de violette (nothing against creme de violette, I just wanted something different).  It was different.  I saw a description somewhere online that was spot on… this person said that it’s floral, but not too floral, sweet, but not too sweet.  This is true – I was really happy with its unique flavor.  True, it’s floral, but only in a subtle way.  It also has quite a few other flavors going on as well, to make a very complex flavor.  It’s got tastes of pear, peach, honey and citrus, and probably many more.  It’s damn good, and it really spruces up a drink.  It’s a great way to take a very traditional cocktail that you’re used to having, and that’s good, but that you want to make a little more special.  For example, the first drink I made was the “French Gimlet”.  I made this very simple drink because I wanted the St. Germain to stand out, so that I could taste the liqueur I’d just purchased.  And this is a perfect example of taking a very simple drink and making it something a little more unique and something special by adding the St. Germain.

“French Gimlet”

2 oz. gin

1 oz. St. Germain elderflower liqueur

1/2 oz lime juice

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

“Le Jacques Strap”

The second drink I tried with my new St. Germain was one I found online with a silly french play-on-words for a name.  Paired with the creme de violette, this drink was very floral, but in a very soft manner.  I find creme de violette to have an intense floral character, whereas the St. Germain has a nice, soft floral aspect.  So mixed, it was a nice balance.  This was a fun drink with its many different notes of flavors, all held together with the old, familiar background of gin.

2 oz. gin

3/4 oz. St. Germain elderflower liqueur

1/4 oz. creme de violette (original recipe calls for Creme Yvette)

2 dashes orange bitters

2 dashes green Chartreuse

Stir and then strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

“Hemingway Daiquiri”

The reason I picked up a bottle of St. Germain a few days ago was because I had a thirst for a cocktail using grapefruit juice.  I stopped by the ole grocery store to pick up some grapefruit juice, and that’s when I spotted the bottle of St. Germain being discontinued at this store and at a bargain price.  This drink is named after Ernest Hemingway, as it was reportedly one of the drinks he’d drink at the El Floridita bar in Havana, Cuba, in which he frequented.  Apparently, Hemingway enjoyed his drinks a bit stronger though, so he’d order it as a double, using twice as much rum.  This gave way to the drink also being referred to as a “Paba Doble” (“doble” meaning double).  I thought this drink was just OK… really nothing special.  Maybe next time I’ll make it as a double, with 3 ounces of rum, and maybe I’ll like it more too?

1.5 oz. white rum

1/4 oz. maraschino liqueur

3/4 oz. lime juice

1/4 oz. grapefruit juice

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

“Harry’s Manhattan”

In addition to my recent acquisition of the St. Germain, I’ve been spending time flipping through the pages of my newest cocktail book, “The Savoy Cocktail Book”.  This is a great old book with hundreds of recipes, compiled by Harry Craddock and published in 1930.  Harry Craddock was the bartender at the American Bar inside the Savoy Hotel in London, England.  Harry Craddock left the U.S. for England to continue bartending, when Prohibition struck.  I’ve made the following two cocktails from the book.  I was not very fond of the latter (Champs Elysees), but the former was magnificent!  In his book, it’s just referred to as the classic  “Manhattan”, but I refer to it as “Harry’s Manhattan” because I thought it was neat that he suggested using a couple dashes of maraschino liqueur rather than the modern tradition of using a maraschino cherry.  (This is my first and only old cocktail book, so maybe this practice wasn’t just Harry’s, but rather the old way of doing it?  I’m not sure.)  The modern maraschino cherry is pretty much sugar and red food coloring, whereas the maraschino liqueur is true to the marasca cherries it’s made from and even features a nutty taste that comes from the pits of the cherries.  This was one of the best Manhattan cocktails I’ve ever had!  It wasn’t quite as sweet as a Manhattan made with maraschino cherries, and it tasted almost silkier and smoother.  It’s unusual that Harry suggests shaking the drink as well.  Most drinks that consist of all alcoholic ingredients call for being stirred.   I don’t know, but I’m converted… this is my new way of making a Manhattan.  Thanks Harry!

2 oz. Rye Whiskey

3/4 oz. sweet vermouth

2 dashes maraschino liqueur

3 dashes Angostura bitters

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

(based on the “Manhattan Cocktail No. 1” recipe in the Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock)

“Champs Elysees”

Whereas I loved the drink above, I was not a fan of this drink.  I’m not too sure of the brandy & Chartreuse combo.

1.5 oz. cognac or brandy

1/2 oz. green Chartreuse

1/4 oz. lemon juice

1/8 oz. simple syrup

2 dashes Angostura bitters

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

(based on the recipe in the Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock)

“Remember the Maine”

I can’t remember how or why I found this drink, but I stumbled across it online somewhere.  What a lucky stumble!  This drink was really good!  It’s a nice stiff drink, with an interesting, complex taste.  The absinthe in the forefront made the drink quite intense, while the Cherry Heering hung out in the background offering a nice subtle base.  Very tasty indeed.

2 oz. Rye Whiskey

3/4 oz. sweet vermouth

2 t Cherry Heering

1/2 t absinthe

Stir and then strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.


“The Gilroy Cocktail”

This drink too… I don’t know how or why I found this one, but I did so online as well.  And again, I really liked this one too.  It’s nothing fancy, just a good, solid drink.  If you ever want a solid, good cherry cocktail, this is it.

1 oz. gin

1 oz. Cherry Heering

1/2 oz. lemon juice

1/2 oz. dry vermouth

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.