Two Veterans and a Rookie

  

Well, I hope everyone had a great Memorial Day holiday weekend.  I sure did!  Today was my first day back to work after a really nice, long 5 day weekend.  I really didn’t make many new cocktails over the holiday weekend however, instead focusing more on drinks best suited for brunches and do-nothing relaxation such as the Bloody Mary and Mimosas.  Now that I’m no longer just lounging around with nowhere to be at any certain time, and back to keeping a schedule, I need drinks better suited for enjoying after a long day of work, unwinding in the evening time.

In this post, I have 3 good cocktails to share with you… two of them, the “Blinker” and the “Xanthia Cocktail”, being very old drinks from books of mine and the 3rd being one of my own creation, named 5 minutes ago after my St. Louis neighborhood – the “Clifton Heights Cocktail”.

“Blinker”

I found the Blinker in my PDT Cocktail Book, which coincidentally comes from a book I just recently picked up at a used book fair, Patrick Gavin Duffy’s “Official Mixer’s Manual”.  The Blinker’s a pretty good drink, and a very easy one to drink.  It’s a cocktail that’s heavy on the fruit flavor, but in a very smooth, subdued and subtle way.  The raspberry preserves add a real big fruit punch, while the simple syrup tones it down and keeps the fruitiness in check.  The grapefruit also keeps the fruitiness in check with its light characteristic mellowing it all out.  And as you may or may not have picked up along the way, reading my blog, I love rye whiskey and I also love a drink with grapefruit juice!  All-in-all, a pretty darn good drink.

2 oz. rye whiskey

1 oz. grapefruit juice

1/4 oz. simple syrup

1 bar spoon of raspberry preserves

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

(“PDT Cocktail Book” and “The Official Mixer’s Manual”)

“Xanthia Cocktail”

The Xanthia Cocktail is not one of my favorite drinks, but it’s a decent one.  I picked this one out of “The Savoy Cocktail Book”.  The yellow Chartreuse definitely takes center stage in this aromatic drink with a kick.  The cherry brandy and gin hang in the background, blending nicely and both slightly mellowing and propping up the Chartreuse front and center.  If you want a Chartreuse drink, this is it for you.  If you’re not in the mood for a Chartreuse drink, this is not it for you.

1 oz. Cherry Heering

1 oz. yellow Chartreuse

1 oz. dry gin

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

(“The Savoy Cocktail Book”)


“Clifton Heights Cocktail”

Last but not least… actually this one’s my favorite of the three.  I’ve been experimenting lately with modifying one of my favorite cocktails, the “Blood & Sand”, by tinkering with its 4 ingredients (1:1:1:1) and switching out different ingredients a couple at a time.  Rather than starting a completely new drink totally from scratch, this tinkering method is a nice, easy and safe foray in to creating my own cocktails.  The “Blood & Sand” is made of equal parts scotch, Cherry Heering, orange juice and sweet vermouth.  In follow-up to my recent reminder of the fact that I love rye and I love grapefruit, surprise…  I worked those two favorite ingredients of mine in to the classic B&S recipe!  I swapped the scotch with rye whiskey and the orange juice with grapefruit, keeping the Cherry Heering and the sweet vermouth.  And it turns out to be a really great drink!  It’s still got the rich, dark sweetness of a Blood & Sand because of the Cherry Heering, but because of having grapefruit instead of orange, it’s not quite as sweet.  It’s less of an “out there” flavor combination than the Blood & Sand, and more of a familiar, common sense flavor mix.  While I love the Blood & Sand because it’s kind of a crazy mixture of unique, vibrant flavors, I like this drink a lot because it’s got some of the same elements while being a really great balance of a smooth, no-nonsense flavor combination.  I’m proud to say that I really like this cocktail.  And since I couldn’t think of a clever name that’s a fun twist on the Blood & Sand moniker, I stuck with just naming the drink I made up, derived from one of my favorite cocktails, after the St. Louis neighborhood I live in and love, Clifton Heights.

Equal parts…

-rye whiskey

-Cherry Heering

-grapefruit juice

-sweet vermouth

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


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)


Yellow Chartreuse

Well, I did it… I bought my first bottle of Yellow Chartreuse.  Green Chartreuse is one of my favorite things, so I’ve been intrigued by it’s yellow sister for a while now and knew that sooner or later, I’d bite the bullet and need to reunite these siblings.  I must say, I really like the yellow Chartreuse as well.  But not nearly as much as it’s powerful counterpart of the green variety.  Chartreuse is a pricey liqueur (around $55-60 a bottle).  While I really like the yellow Chartreuse, a milder, sweeter, less potent (80 proof, as opposed to the 110 proof of the green) version of the liqueur, I don’t know if it’s really worth the price for my budget.  The green variety is worth every penny, plus some, in my opinion.  I’d probably pay $100 a bottle if I needed to, and for some context, I’ve never paid more than the price of green Chartreuse for any other liquor.  But to be quite honest, I don’t know if I’ll rush to the booze merchant, to pony up the money for another bottle of the yellow stuff, when I run out.  I don’t think that this’ll be the only bottle I own, but I also won’t be heartbroken if my bar goes some months without it.  At this point at least (and I’ll be the first to admit that my mind might completely change, 360 degrees, by the time I reach the bottom of this bottle, as often my taste does during the course of just a 3 ounce cocktail), I don’t think the price tag justifies treating it as a staple in my bar.  Nevertheless, I’m enjoying it quite a bit while it lasts.  And I’ve mixed up 4 drinks using the yellow stuff, and 2 of which I love!  So, who knows what the future holds!  Following, are four drinks that call for yellow Chartreuse, one drink I made just because I loved the name, one 100% classic cocktail, and the last one just because I wanted a drink that called for Benedictine and the drink’s named after one of the best cocktail towns in the world.  Enjoy!

“3, 2, 1 Cocktail”

I found this drink, and “Aurora’s Bed” and the “Cloister”, all from a blog called “Cocktail Virgin Slut” (http://cocktailvirgin.blogspot.com/) – what a great wealth of cocktail recipes!  This drink, the 3, 2, 1, was the first drink I tried with my new yellow Chartreuse.  This was a nice and smooth drink, and I did notice that the yellow Chartreuse was indeed sweeter, more floral and smoother than the kick, bite and punch of the green Chartreuse.

1.5 oz. rye whiskey

1 oz. yellow Chartreuse

1/2 oz. dry vermouth

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

(http://cocktailvirgin.blogspot.com/)

“Mujer Verde”

This drink was delicious! It reminds me a lot of the “Last Word” (https://scientistmcgee.wordpress.com/2011/04/16/trips-back-and-forth-to-the-booze-merchant/), one of my favorite cocktails! I must love the combination of green Chartreuse with lime juice – they go so well together!

1 oz. gin

1/3 oz. lime juice

1/4 oz. simple syrup

1/2 oz. green Chartreuse

1/4 oz. yellow Chartreuse

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

Garnish with a lime.

(“The Art of the Bar”)

“Aurora’s Bed”

For this drink, I made my first infused simple syrup – a saffron-infused simple syrup.  To make this, I followed the basic recipe for making simple syrup… equal parts sugar to water, and boil (https://scientistmcgee.wordpress.com/2011/08/31/dashes-and-splashes/).  But the water I used had saffron left in it overnight.  What I did was use 6 threads of saffron for a quarter cup of water.  I placed the saffron threads in the cup of water and let it sit out overnight.  The next day, I used this water to combine with sugar and boil to make the simple syrup – very easy!

I then used this saffron-infused simple syrup to make the “Aurora’s Bed” cocktail. It was a very good drink… sweet, sour and herbal.  But even though making the saffron-infused simple syrup was easy to make, it took some time, and so I don’t know if I can honestly say that this drink was worth the effort.

2 oz. gin

1 oz. saffron-infused simple syrup

1/2 oz. lemon juice

1/4 oz. yellow Chartreuse

Shake well with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Garnish with lemon or orange.

(http://cocktailvirgin.blogspot.com/)


“Cloister”

Here’s yet another fantastic drink!  I love this one!  The herbal taste of the yellow Chartreuse mixed with the tartness of the grapefruit is delicious.  A top notch cocktail!  (I am a huge fan of grapefruit juice in my cocktails though.)

1.5 oz. gin

1/2 oz. yellow Chartreuse

1/2 oz. grapefruit juice

1/4 lemon juice

1/4 simple syrup

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

Garnish with a lemon.

(http://cocktailvirgin.blogspot.com/)

“Fine & Dandy Cocktail”

This drink was OK.  I only made it because I was attracted to its name.  It’s just a very sour drink with an orange twist (kind of tangy though unfortunately).  A little simple syrup might help out, but still a decent drink.

1.5 oz. gin

3/4 oz. lemon juice

3/4 oz. triple sec

1 dash of Angostura bitters

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

(“Savoy Cocktail Book”)

“Old Fashioned”

One of the most classic of all classic cocktails – the “Old Fashioned”.  It’s pretty wonderful… a very nice way to drink whiskey as an alternative to just whiskey and water.  Sugar, bitters, water and bourbon – excellent!  This recipe is based upon the one Matt Seiter featured in Feast magazine last month.

2.25 oz. whiskey

1/2 oz. water

1 sugar cube

2 dashes Angostura bitters

3 ice cubes

Muddle the water, sugar cube and bitters.  Add whiskey and 2 ice cubes, stir.  Add 3rd ice cube and serve.

(http://www.feaststl.com/recipes/article_29fd5cc4-ffe4-11e0-902b-0019bb30f31a.html)

“San Francisco”

This is just a random drink I found in my “Bartender’s Bible”, as I was looking for a new drink that called for Benedictine.  It’s an OK drink… a bit too sour for me, but then again, I’d be totally content to have another one if someone made another one for me.  Ha!

1.5 oz. whiskey

1/2 oz. Benedictine

1 oz. lemon juice

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

(“The Bartender’s Bible”)