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)


A random assortment of drinks, tied together by nothing more than time.

This latest post is a random grab-bag of cocktails.  There’s no overarching theme.  There’s no prominent new ingredient used in all of the drinks.  They’re not all from some new book I bought.

These four drinks have nothing in common other than the fact that I’ve made and drank each of them in the last couple of weeks, since my last post.  Each of them comes from its own, unique source as well… the Loop Tonic from a blog I read called “Spirited Cocktails”, the Plantation from one of the first cocktail books I ever bought called “The Art of the Bar”, the Sitarski from the actual first cocktail book I ever bought, Gary Regan’s “The Bartender’s Bible”, and the “Blue Devil” from a book that I picked up at a used book fair called “The New York Bartender’s Guide”.

Loop Tonic

The Loop Tonic has knocked my socks off!  It's a drink I just happened to read about in a blog called "Spirited Cocktails".  When I read about this drink, I was shocked by the idea of putting tequila and green Chartreuse together (I'd never tried that), but looking at all of the ingredients together, I thought it looked really, really good, and had the potential to be amazing.  I was intrigued... especially by the notion of celery bitters.  And that's the only thing I needed to go out and buy to make this drink that seemed so exotic to me.  So that day, I went out and got some celery bitters, and made up this drink.  I'm so glad I did because this drink is super delicious!  I flip, and grin ear-to-ear, when I think about making this drink, because it's so tasty and such an interesting drink!  All of the ingredients meld very nicely together, and the celery bitters add a really nice bite to the drink. If you like Chartreuse and you have 6 bucks to spare, I highly recommend going out and buying the celery bitters to try this drink.  

2 oz. white tequila

1 oz. dry vermouth

3/4 oz. lime juice

1/2 oz. simple syrup

1/2 oz. green Chartreuse

dash of celery bitters

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

(“Spirited Cocktails” – http://spiritedcocktails.com/index.php/2011/07/29/beautiful-combinations-tequila-chartreuse/ )

The Plantation

This is a really great drink as well.  I found this drink while flipping through the pages of perhaps my favorite cocktail book I own, “The Art of the Bar” by Jeff Hollinger & Rob Schwartz.  I was bored and wanted to try something new, when I stumbled across this drink which called for basil.  Since the basil plant on our back porch had just recently begun to look healthy and good, I figured this’d be a fun one to try.  It was a good call, because this drink is really good!  The fresh taste of the basil, mixed with the lime and gin, make this a really refreshing summer cocktail.  I love basil in general… I love its taste and I love its smell… basil makes me happy.  So this drink, incorporating fresh basil, makes me happy too.

5 fresh basil leaves

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1 oz. gin

1/2 oz. triple sec

1/2 oz. lime juice

1 oz. grapefruit juice

1 basil leaf for a garnish (the original recipe calls for a slice of grapefruit as the garnish)

Muddle the basil and sugar in the bottom of your cocktail shaker until it’s like a paste, then add the rest of the ingredients and ice.

Shake well and then strain, using a fine-mesh sieve, in to a chilled cocktail glass.

(“The Art of the Bar”)

Sitarski

Again, an evening where I was a little bored of my standing drink menu, I started flipping through the pages of the very first cocktail book I ever bought, Gary Regan’s “The Bartender’s Bible”.  I wanted to make a drink using dark rum in order to try the Jamaican rum my wife and I had won a couple of months ago, while on vacation, playing “Name That Tune” on a stormy day at our resort in Montego Bay.   This bottle of rum holds a special place in my heart for two reasons… 1- It reminds me of one of the most fun vacations I’ve ever been on, and 2- It reminds me of the victorious, proud feeling I had when my wife and I schooled a bunch of youngsters by knowing more music from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s than they did.  I always love when music comes up in trivia games, as it lights the biggest competitive fire in my belly.  But I digress, that’s neither here nor there.  I wanted to try the rum, and so I picked out this drink, the Sitarski.  This drink’s pretty good when you’re looking for big ole drink with rum that’s easy to kick back and enjoy.

1.5 oz. dark rum

2 oz. grapefruit juice

1/2 oz. lime juice

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon simple syrup

Shake well and strain in to an old-fashioned glass filled with ice cubes.

(“The Bartender’s Bible”)

The Blue Devil

This last drink was purely made because I wanted to try a bottle of blue curacao that I’d just bought.  So I flipped to another cocktail book’s index and looked under “B” for blue.   Sure enough, there were 12 drinks with “blue” in the name, and 9 of them contained blue curacao.  This drink’s nothing special, but if you really need a blue drink, it’s good enough.

2 oz. gin

1/2 oz. lime juice

1 tablespoon maraschino liqueur

1 teaspoon blue curacao

Shake well and strain in to a chilled cocktail glass.

(“The New York Bartender’s Guide”)