A very, very good book

Hey everybody, I’m excited for this post because it’s sure to feature the first of many drinks from a new book I picked up called “The PDT Cocktail Book”.  I really felt like I had hit a lull of inspiration and needed a new, quality book to perk me up.  I tried buying a book that I’d really enjoyed flipping through at the bookstore called “The Four Seasons Book of Cocktails”, but it turned out to be just a very attractive book, a fun read and flip through.  But when it came down to wanting to make any of the drinks, I wasn’t inspired.  It’s nicely organized, and has some great pictures, but nothing too exciting.

Then a couple weeks later, at the bookstore again, I came across just what I needed… a book I had seen online before, but nothing I never really paid much attention to – “The PDT Cocktail Book”.  This book is pricey for a cocktail book at $25, but worth every penny!  It’s a book put out by Jim Meehan, head bartender at PDT (Please Don’t Tell).  The actual bar and locale of PDT is a pretty cool story, but I’ll leave that for you to read if you pick up a copy.  Basically, this is a modern version of the Savoy Cocktail book, in that it’s a manual of the day and features many cocktails from PDT, but also many classic cocktails, along with drinks from contemporary drink-slinging peers.  Just like the Savoy book, it’s a snapshot of what drinks are being drank at this time in history.  Also like the Savoy, it’s got no pictures of the drinks themselves, which may sound annoying but it’s not.  Instead it features illustrations inspired by the drinks.  That may sound like a negative to many, and I’m the first to admit – I usually need photos to get inspired, but trust me… these drinks are generally basic enough, with typically only 3-5 ingredients, that you don’t need a picture to get the idea.  Plus the illustrations are kind of more inspiring than a snapshot of the drink could be.  That’s another big reason I love this book… the drinks themselves.  Yes, there’s a few unusual ingredients that I’ll probably never have, and therefore never try, but for the most part, the drinks featured, some may be new, some may be old, but they all resemble the stripped down simplicity of all the classics.  Instead of having a list of 7-8 ingredients, 2 or 3 of which need to be infused or what not, like some current cocktail books… most of these drinks feature all classic, stand-by ingredients… brandy, rye, maraschino, orange juice, bitters, absinthe, simple syrup, etc.   Another great similarity to the Savoy is its simplicity in just organizing the drinks alphabetically.  Only the PDT fixes the one major mistake about the Savoy – it features an index by ingredient as well.  That’s the one annoying thing about the Savoy, it’s nearly impossible to look up drinks by ingredient.  I can’t say enough good things about this book.  It’s an instant classic, and I’m so glad I bought it!  Nearly every page is rabbit-eared because there’s a drink I want to try, and I’ve already started…

This post features 4 of the drinks I’ve tried since buying this book.  They come straight from the pages of the PDT.  Two of them feature apple brandy, I just realized that three of them feature Benedictine, and my favorite is a combo you can’t go wrong with – tequila and Chartreuse.

“East Village Athletic Club Cocktail”

I’ll start with my favorite of the four, the East Village Athletic Club Cocktail.  This is only the 2nd drink I’ve had that has both tequila and Chartreuse, and both drinks are up there in my favorites (the other being the Loop Tonic, made with the green stuff).  I need to scour the internet and books for more drinks with these two troublemakers in it.  (Anyone have any suggestions?)  This drink is a creation of Mr. Meehan’s and he explains it as as a variation on the “Last Word” cocktail (one of my favorite drinks), and it’s amazing!  Tequila and Chartreuse go so nicely together – they hit each other head on and create a real zip!  It’s also the first drink I’ve tasted since buying my first bottle of yellow Chartreuse where the yellow stuff really holds its own and steps up to the plate.  The curacao really adds a nice element too.

1.5 oz. white tequila

3/4 oz. lemon juice

1/2 oz. yellow Chartreuse

1/2 oz. orange curacao

Shake well with ice and then strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

(“The PDT Cocktail Book”)

 

“Honeymoon Cocktail”

This was a good sour with a nice orange and apple combo flavor, a really nice balance between the two.  I recently bought a bottle of Laird’s applejack, and often recipes will call for applejack specifically, but most call for apple brandy.  I know that applejack is not 100% apple brandy, but it was cheap and I like it.  Now that I know I like it though, I want to buy a bottle of apple brandy and give it a go.  I’m not sure how different the two will be from each other.  I’m assuming the 100% apple brandy will be much better, since the applejack is only 35% apple brandy (65% grain neutral spirits).  In the meantime, this $13 bottle of applejack was a nice introduction in to the apple brandy world.  I like it, and will be returning.  This drink’s almost like a daiquiri, but a little more “mature” in its taste… not as “childish” as rum (no offense to rum) but not as “manly” as whiskey.

2 oz. apple brandy

1/2 oz. orange curacao

1/2 oz. Benedictine

1/2 oz. lemon juice

Shake well with ice and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

(“The PDT Cocktail Book”, from Hugo Ensslin’s “Recipes for Mixed Drinks”, 1916)

 

“De La Louisiane”

This was a very good, warming drink with a hint of refreshing absinthe…

2 oz. rye whiskey

3/4 oz. sweet vermouth

3/4 oz. Benedictine

3 dashes absinthe

3 dashes Peychaud’s bitters

Stir well with ice and then strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

Garnish with a maraschino cherry or 3

(“The PDT Cocktail Book”, from Stanley Clisby Arthur’s “Famous New Orleans Drinks”, 1937)

 

“Widow’s Kiss”

This was another good drink.  This drink wasn’t all that special, but it’s not bad if you’re looking for a nice, smooth stiff drink…

2 oz. apple brandy

1/4 oz. yellow Chartreuse

1/4 oz. Benedictine

2 dashes Angostura bitters

Stir well with ice and then strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

(“The PDT Cocktail Book”, from George Kappeler’s “Modern American Drinks”, 1895)

Advertisements

Some more monks enter the scene.

I’m back to write about some new friends for the old bottles in my liquor cabinet.  And wouldn’t you know it, they’re another bunch of monks.  In addition to the great Carthusian monks that make Chartreuse, my cabinet is now home to my latest addition, the Benedictine liqueur, originally made by the monks at the Benedictine abbey in Normandy, France.  While Benedictine is not made up of as many herbs as Chartreuse, it is made from 27 different herbs & spices, and its recipe dates back to more than 500 years ago.  But don’t be mistaken, other than its ties to monks from centuries ago and its wonderful use of herbs and spices, there is no other similarities between the two wonderful liqueurs.  Benedictine is a strong, 80-proof sweeter liqueur.  I first heard of Benedictine because of the drink called the Bobby Burns (scotch, sweet vermouth and Benedictine).  For quite some time, I’ve wanted to obtain my own bottle, and now, just in time for the colder months, I have my own.  I actually haven’t made a Bobby Burns with it yet, but have experimented a little with two very top-notch cocktails featuring the liqueur – the Monte Carlo and a Vieux Carre.  In addition to these two cocktails featuring Benedictine, I’ve thrown in a random, unassociated cocktail called the Millionaire, a rye whiskey drink that uses an egg white, eggs being something rather new for me to use in drinks.  While I didn’t care for the Millionaire all that much, the two Benedictine drinks are up there among some of my favorite drinks I’ve ever made.  Enjoy…

Monte Carlo

This is one of my new favorite drinks!  I love drinks that have just a couple or a few ingredients, quick and easy to make, that are just simple and good.  The Manhattan for example, one of my favorite drinks, and this drink reminds me very much of a Manhattan, but quite different tasting.  Just 2 main ingredients with some bitters – simple and perfect!  Here’s a drink that’s perfect in the evening time, when you come home from a hard day at work.  It’s no fuss at all to make, and it’s a soothing, stiff drink.  It’s got the kick of rye, with the sweetness of the Benedictine that’s reminiscent of the vermouth in a Manhattan, with the nice taste of bitters, and the refreshing zing of the lemon twist.  It’s a very well-crafted, simple cocktail.  I highly recommend it!

2 oz. rye whiskey

3/4 oz. Benedictine

1 dash of Angostura bitters

1 lemon twist for garnish

Stir well with ice, and then strain in to a chilled cocktail glass

(“The Art of the Bar”)

Vieux Carre

Here’s another really nice drink featuring Benedictine, the Vieux Carre.  I first tried this drink at my local bar, Sanctuaria, and then later recreated it at home using my new bottle of the Benedictine.  I don’t typically make a lot of drinks on the rocks, but more and more I’m becoming fond of these drinks.  And the Vieux Carre is a good one to add to my rotation.  It’s got a lot of different flavors going on in the mix – brandy, rye, vermouth, Benedictine, and even two kinds of bitters.  It’s another stiff drink with a refreshing note because of the sweetness of the brandy, Benedictine, Peychaud’s bitters and vermouth.   It’s another really nice stiff drink.  I guess that’s another selling point of Benedictine for me… Just like Chartreuse, it’s a liqueur with a high alcohol content.  Not nearly as alcoholic as Chartreuse, but high enough so that it gives a cocktail a real kick.

3/4 oz. brandy/cognac

3/4 oz. rye whiskey

3/4 oz. sweet vermouth

1/4 oz. Benedictine

1 dash Peychaud’s bitters

1 dash Angostura bitters

Garnish with a lemon twist

Stir well with ice, then strain in to a rocks glass with ice.

Millionaire

This cocktail’s kind of a strange one to me.  For one, there’s a few different recipes out there for drinks all called a “Millionaire”.  All the different recipes refer to this drink as an old classic, but the recipes are about as different from each other as night and day.  I generally find a drink that sounds good to me in a book or online somewhere.  Before I make it however, I usually look up a few other recipes online to kind of see the variations of different recipes and look for the one that sounds best to me.  Usually I find small variations, that probably don’t even make that much difference, but still, one may sound better to me than another due to one using more or less of a particular ingredient.  So anyways, I looked up this drink, comprised of rye, triple sec and egg white, and was surprised to find other recipes (still referred to as an old classic) that don’t feature any of these ingredients, but instead call for sloe gin, apple brandy and rum!  There apparently is two old classic drinks, both called a Millionaire, that are two completely different drinks!  If anyone knows the story behind this, let me know, because I’m very interested in hearing what it is.  So anyways, below is a recipe for what perhaps some people call a Millionaire.  It’s completely different from what some other people also call a Millionaire.  Either way, at the end of the day, whether this is the true Millionaire cocktail or the other one is, or there’s two drinks with the same name, I didn’t care for this drink all that much.  It did not have a strong taste of anything really, but rather a cooled down, light taste of rye, with a frothy and silky texture.  There weren’t really any other strong flavors jumping out in the drink either, but just a light silky, watered-down taste of rye.  I don’t know if it’s because this is a really old drink, and perhaps it has not stood the test of time due to Americans’ tastes having possibly changed over the years or not, but it does seem to have a very “old fashioned” sensibility about it, kind of like an egg cream drink.  An egg cream drink was quite a treat for people back in the day, but to me it’s just not that flavorful.  But people used to really enjoy it.  This is what I imagine is the case with this drink.  I don’t know… maybe it’s just me, but I’m not a big fan.

2 oz. rye whiskey

1/2 oz. triple sec

1-2 dashes grenadine

1/2 oz. egg white

Shake vigorously for about 60 seconds (because of the egg white), and then strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.


Trips back and forth to the booze merchant…

Greetings friends & patrons!

I’ve made a few too many trips to Friar Tuck’s over the last week or two, and picked up some Peychaud’s bitters, Grande Absente absinthe and Luxardo maraschino liqueur…  Great purchases if you ask me!

The mini bottle of absinthe was the way to go (pictured in the Sazerac photos) because it was only $12 or so, and so I didn’t have to fork out around $70 for a regular sized bottle.  It was a great way to go to since absinthe is so strong, most drinks I’m finding recipes for only call for a splash of it to coat the inside of a glass.  So this little bottle will last me a long, long time.  But even if it doesn’t, I now know how highly I think of this green elixir, and won’t mind shelling out the big bucks for a big bottle.  I’d tried absinthe several years ago, but just straight (well, with water and sugar and what not, but still…).  At that time, I thought it was just OK.  But now, using it in cocktails, I think it’s the tops!  Like I said, a little goes a long way, and the anise flavoring of absinthe really lends a cool and refreshing note to any cocktail it’s added to.  It makes a whiskey drink seem summery!  And that’s something to sing about!

The Peychaud’s bitters was a pre-requisite to buy in order to make the Sazerac.  Peychaud’s bitters is from New Orleans and its creator is credited as the creator of the Sazerac cocktail.  So, there wasn’t much choice there.  But it’s really good too.

The Luxardo maraschino liqueur is something I’ve wanted to buy ever since I fell in love with Peter Heering CherryLiqueur (for a photo of Peter Heering, see my blog’s gravatar image… What a guy!).

Once I got the Cherry Heering, I started noticing that there weren’t all that many recipes that called for it’s rich, tart flavor, and instead most drink recipes called for maraschino liqueurs, which are made from the Marasca cherries and are lighter and bitter-sweet, and have a note of almond flavor from the crushed cherry pits.  One of the most revered maraschino liqueurs is the Luxardo brand.  At first taste, I wasn’t that thrilled because it was quite different from the CherryHeering which I love.  But after a few tries and a few different recipes, I’m hooked on it too.  It’s typically used in very subtle ways in drinks, and it plays more of a background role, lending a nice support to the ingredients in the forefront.  It’s the Steve Buschemi of the cocktail world.

In addition to the acquisitions of these new ingredients, I also picked up a great book from the library… “The Craft of the Cocktail” by Dale DeGroff.  I already have a great book by Mr. DeGroff, called “Essential Cocktails” which has been featured many times in this blog with recipes pulled from it.  This book however, is a nice compliment to that book.  I think it came out before “Essential Cocktails” and is more of a “complete and everything” guide to cocktails, from basic explanations and histories of each type of liquor, to a guide to unique measurements, to recommended websites and further reading, to an alphabetical list of tons of cocktail drinks.  Where as “Essential Cocktails” is like a greatest hits album which nicely organizes all the best drinks in to their proper categories (Classics, Moderns, Sours, Highballs, etc.), this book is more like the “Bartender’s Bible” which is almost like a dictionary which lists tons of drinks alphabetically, but has much nicer pictures and descriptions than the “Bartender’s Bible”.  Each book is unique to itself and offers a benefit, and so I’d recommend both books if you have the time and money to spend, or a library where you can borrow it for a few weeks.  The nice thing is that there are drinks featured in “Essential Cocktails” that aren’t in “The Craft of the Cocktail” and vice versa, and even some drinks that are listed in both have slightly different recipes and therefore you can select which one fits your palate better.  Both are top notch books and great resources to have… Reading them is so fun that they inspire me to run to the kitchen to mix one up!  That’s why I recommend reading them in the evening time, rather than in the morning before going to work.  They can be frustrating if read when you can’t go mix a drink.

Well, enough dribble-drabble… On to the drinks you can make for yourself at home in your bar, or call me up and come on over and I’ll mix one up for you myself…

“Sazerac”

What a drink!  I love it!  It’s perfect for when you want the nice, stiff taste of a whiskey drink served up, but it’s hot outside and you need some refreshing thirst quenching.  The rye whiskey adds spice, but the lemon and absinthe make it cool and refreshing.  Plus the sugar makes it a little sweet.  When preparing, you only coat the inside of the glass with absinthe, but it’s surprising how much you can taste the absinthe in the drink.  Top notch!

1 sugar cube

3-5 dashes of Peychaud’s bitters

2 oz rye whiskey

Splash of absinthe

lemon peel for garnish

Combine the sugar and the bitters, and muddle to dissolve the sugar in one old fashioned glass.  Add the rye and some ice, and stir gently to combine.   Take the chilled serving glass and add a splash of absinthe… Swirl the absinthe around to just coat the inside of the glass, and then pour out (in to my mouth) the excess absinthe.  Strain the chilled rye, sugar and bitters in to this prepared glass.  If you’re a purist, rub the rim of the glass with the lemon peel, and then discard.  If you’re not a purist, twist the lemon peel over the top, or rub the rim, and drop it in to the drink for a garnish.  (This recipe is a combination of 2 slightly different recipes from 2 different sources – see references below)

http://www.theartofthebar.com/html/index.html and http://www.amazon.com/Essential-Cocktail-Mixing-Perfect-Drinks/dp/0307405737

“Captain’s Table”

Here’s a drink that features Campari, an aperitif bitters made with herbs and fruits.  It’s often described as an “acquired taste” due to its bitter taste.  I’m still not a huge fan, but this was one drink I did really enjoy.  It’s perfect for when you want a refreshing and summery, back porch drink without wanting a “sweet & fruity” drink.  All the flavors are very muted.  The drink’s refreshing with the gin, orange juice and ginger ale, but it’s dry at the same time because of the Campari.  Very good – Campari… you’ve served your purpose in life well.

2 oz gin

1/2 oz Campari

1 teaspoon grenadine

1 oz orange juice

4 oz ginger ale

1 maraschino cherry

Combine gin, Campari, grenadine and OJ… Shake well and pour in to a collins or a highball glass filled with ice cubes, and top with the ginger ale… Garnish with the cherry.

http://www.amazon.com/Bartenders-Bible-Mixed-Drinks-Everything/dp/0061092207/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1299558901&sr=8-1

“Aviation”

This is a great, simple showcase and use of the maraschino liqueur.  Very good drink.  It has a very unique, nutty taste that you don’t taste everyday in most cocktails.

2 oz gin

3/4 oz Luxardo maraschino liqueur

1/2 oz lemon juice

http://www.amazon.com/Essential-Cocktail-Mixing-Perfect-Drinks/dp/0307405737

“Club Cocktail”

Great drink!  I found it to be very delightful to drink while sitting on the back porch on a lazy Sunday afternoon…  Initially, I thought it was a little too heavy on the taste of the brandy.  The caramel taste of the brandy surprised me being side-by-side with the maraschino liqueur and the pineapple juice.  But by the second glass, I really began to love its unique flavor.  It was another refreshing drink that’s not too fruity or sweet.  I guess that’s almost the them of this particular blog post… refreshing drinks that aren’t sugary sweet and fruity.

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

http://www.craftofthecocktail.com/

“Waldorf”

This is an awesome alternate take on the classic Manhattan!  This drink’s perfect for when you want a Manhattan, but want a more refreshing drink… The absinthe livens it up a bit, adding a fresh kick.  Very good cocktail.

1/8 oz absinthe

2 oz bourbon (or rye whiskey)

3/4 oz sweet vermouth

2 dashes of Angostura bitters

The recipe I found said to swirl the absinthe in the glass to coat the inside and then pour out the excess, before adding the remaining ingredients… I was, however, in the mood to have some more absinthe in the drink, so I actually just mixed in about an 1/8 oz of absinthe with the bourbon, sweet vermouth and bitters, and then stirred with ice, leaving all of the absinthe in the actual drink, and then strained in to a chilled cocktail glass.

http://www.craftofthecocktail.com/

“The Last Word”

Now that I’ve got my maraschino liqueur, I was able to taste what this drink was supposed to properly taste like.  (I’d originally only had Peter Heering Cherry Heering to use, and in one of my previous posts talk about how it didn’t work well and how it actually led to me creating my own variation called “The Counter Argument”.)  This classic cocktail was reportedly brought back to life by a bartender in Seattle (Zig Zag Cafe) who disovered it in some old cocktail recipe books.  Since it’s re-discovery, it’s enjoying quite a revival in popularity all across the country.  It is indeed a good drink.  It too has some really unique flavors and the Chartreuse really shines through and takes center stage, with a really nice accompaniment of the maraschino liqueur.

Equal parts…

Gin

Green Chartreuse

Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur

Lime juice

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/restaurants/2008837441_zres11lastword.html

Cheers!