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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Back in St. Louis

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted an update to the ole Scientist McGee’s blog… a really long time.  It seems like ages in fact.  Since my last post, over a month ago, I took a trip to Jamaica.  It was a wonderful and restful time away from the daily grind.  My wife and I stayed at an all-inclusive resort in Montego Bay… all you can eat, all you can drink.  I had a lot of tropical drinks, from morning to mid-morning, to lunch, to afternoon, to dinner, to after dinner and so on… repeat for 7 days.  It was great… the drinks were very nice and easy and thirst quenching… lots and lots of Tequila Sunrises and an occassional Margarita thrown in there, amongst random others like the Bob Marley, Rum Punch, Pina Colata, etc.  I even got some classic drinks mixed in as well, like a Rusty Nail, a Harvey Wallbanger, a Manhattan, etc.  The people in Jamaica are amongst the nicest I’ve ever met, and the bartenders were no exception.  They were happy to oblige and make a few drinks for me that weren’t on the menu because you can only take so much rum and tropical drinks after a few days.  I even tried a new drink that I’d read about in the book I brought along to read on the beach.  (Which reminds me… I’ve added a new piece to the side bar of my blog, on the right-hand side… It’s a list of books that I own or have read, and a brief rating of what I thought of them… check it out.  And if you have any recommendations for me, please let me know.)   The book I read on the beach was called “The Little Green Book of Absinthe”, and as the title suggests, it’s a book dedicated entirely to Absinthe.  Pretty fun read, with little anecdotes, quotes and tales of the history of Absinthe.  I was even happier to notice that the bartenders at the resort had in fact a bottle of Pernod behind the bar.  A lot of the drinks in the book had too unusual of ingredients for me to order them, but one in particular struck my fancy on the 5th day of our stay.  My wife had gotten hooked on Mimosas while we were there, and so I thought that the “Death in the Afternoon” cocktail sounded like a perfect companion to hers.

A “Death in the Afternoon” was a classic Ernest Hemingway drink and is…

1/2 oz. Absinthe

4.5 oz champagne

Stir together in a champagne flute.

(recipe from “The Little Green Book of Absinthe”)

And now for all the different drinks I’ve tried since my last post, in no particular order…

“Aviation” (w/ creme de violette)

Shortly after a post of mine a couple back, called “Trips back and forth to the booze merchant…”, in which I had just recently acquired some maraschino liqueur, I got a great tip from a reader who recommended me trying it with some Creme de Violette (some times referred to as Creme Yvette).  Thank you to him, because it’s a great addition and a serious twist on the drink itself!  As you might imagine, the creme de violette is very floral and a very strong flavor… a little added to a drink goes a long way, and definitely “blues” up the color of the drink, which is kind of fun.  In the Aviation, it definitely adds another dimension.  In this drink, using only 1/4 ounce is nice as then it’s somewhat subtle, as opposed to its strong presence in the “Blue Moon” coming up next.

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.

“Blue Moon”

Fresh in to my creme de violette kick, I attended a wonderful wedding reception with a very nice open bar and I spotted a bottle of the creme de violette behind the bar… but no maraschino liqueur.  I asked the bartender what he’d recommend for the creme de violette, and he made me a “Blue Moon”.   Pretty great drink, I must say.  The violet melds wonderfully with the lemon, and it seems to almost bond with and transform the gin.  It’s a drink of 3 really good flavors working really well together.  Each flavor seems very clear and distinct, but also blend nicely to make an overall flavor greater than the sum of its parts.

2 oz gin

1/2 oz creme de violette

1/2 oz lemon juice

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

“Mary Pickford”

This drink was one I found in the book “The Cocktail Hour”, which is a book celebrating the old fashioned drinks and their history, and I wound up really liking this one.  It’s a great summertime drink.  It’s sweet & refreshing without being “candy sweet”, due in large part to the nutty element of the maraschino liqueur.  The recipe looks very simple, but its taste is surprisingly complex… again, thanks in large part to the maraschino liqueur, which leads me to my revelation that – the maraschino liqueur is king! (in my book anyway)

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”)

“The Stork Club”

Another drink I grabbed from this same book was “The Stork Club”, named after a famed nightclub in New York.  I didn’t care much for this drink, and after this one and “The Bronx Cocktail” from my last post, I’ve decided that I don’t care for the gin and orange juice combo in drinks.  It tastes like watered down OJ to me, and similar to Tang… which is never good in my opinion.  Oh well.  The lime juice made it a little better, but still the gin and OJ combo tastes flat & hollow to me, leaving me wanting something more.

1.5 oz gin

1/2 oz triple sec

1/4 oz lime juice

1 oz orange juice

Dash of Angostura bitters

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

(recipe from “The Cocktail Hour”)

“Cherry Vodka”

I made this drink on a whim because I wanted to try a new drink using Cherry Heering.  I found this one online, and I did not like it.  But full disclosure, I don’t like vodka (as you may have noticed, there are very few vodka drinks in any of my posts).  Since vodka doesn’t have much of a taste, this drink tasted like I was drinking just lime juice with some Cherry Heering, and a noticeable “hole of nothingness” where the vodka was.  I won’t be making this one again ever.

1.5 oz vodka

3/4 oz lime juice

1/2 oz Cherry Heering

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

“Galliano Margarita”

I bought my first bottle of Galliano yesterday (along with 2 new glasses, pictured here)! To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much from the Galliano, as I was sort of just buying it because my wife likes “Harvey Wallbanger” drinks, so I bought a half-bottle (375 ml).  But boy was I in for a very pleasant surprise!  I love it!  I was under the wrong impression that Galliano was strictly a vanilla liqueur.  I hadn’t realized how it has quite a bit of an herbal undertone as well, and a strong anise secondary flavor too.  I don’t know why I hadn’t noticed this on the prior occassion when I had tried it before, but I hadn’t.  I have to say, I think that Galliano is very good indeed.  Plus I lucked out by stumbling upon a recipe for a drink that I just loved.  When I brought the bottle home, I didn’t want to just make another Harvey Wallbanger, so I looked online for what I could make and figured I’d give a Galliano Margarita a shot.  What the hell, eh? It was around 95 degrees out, so perfect, right?  Oh my, what a treat!  What a good drink!  I highly recommend this to everyone.

1 oz tequila

1 oz Galliano

1/2 oz lime juice

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.  Salt rim.

(As you can tell from the picture, I wasn’t in the mood for a salted rim.)

“Limon Sunrise”

And last but definitely not least, is a drink I looked up also online when I  found myself reminiscing about the endless Tequila Sunrises in Jamaica and also re-discovered a bottle of limoncello I’d forgotten we had in our house.  This one’s a very fun drink for the summer time.  Very refreshing and the orange & lemon combo is very good.

1 oz limoncello

3 oz orange juice

Splash of grenadine

Fill a highball-sized glass with ice, and build the limoncello, followed by the orange juice, and then add the grenadine.