ATTA Boy Cocktail

Atta Boy Cocktail

1/3 French Vermouth. (3/4 oz Noilly Prat Dry)
2/3 Dry Gin. (1 1/2 oz Plymouth Gin)
4 Dashes grenadine. (2 barspoons home made Grenadine)

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

The Atta Boy isn’t as sweet as you would imagine, when made with homemade grenadine, and isn’t a bad cocktail. Still, not super amazing, either.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

NYC, February 16, 2008

Saturday we didn’t have much planned, beyond dinner and attending a performance by the Upright Citizen’s Brigade.

One of Mrs. Underhill’s goals for the trip was to get to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

After a most delicious brunch at Upstairs at Bouley, we headed uptown to the Met.

We spent much of the day looking at cultural artifacts, old and new, got a quick snack at La Petite Abeile, then headed back to change for dinner and a show.

The Upright Citizen’s Brigade was a typical improv show. Occasionally funny, sometimes not really. Some amusing moments resulted when one of the cast members forgot that there were children in the audience and launched into a rant composed almost entirely of the “F” word. Ah, improv.

After the show, we caught a cab over to WD~50, where we had dinner reservations.

We got there a bit early, so had time to savor a drink or two and jockey for position at the bar. Mrs. Underhill had a Coney Island Lager, whose great label alone might qualify it as Beer of the Week. I had a couple cocktails, probably left over from Eben Freeman’s tenure here. Carbonated Rye and other unusual items. My first cocktail had Plymouth Gin in it. I noticed that they still had the old style Plymouth Gin bottles behind the bar and asked the bartender if he was refilling his Plymouth bottles. He replied, somewhat defensively, “How do you know I am refilling them? I could have the largest stash in the world of old Plymouth bottles in the basement?” I said, uh, well, it’s been over a year now, that would be some stash. He replied, “The chef’s Father hates the new Plymouth bottles,” and insists that they only have the old ones behind the bar.

Dinner was about what I had expected. Some really cool things, some OK things, and some things where you wonder if they were stoned when they thought of them. The “Pizza Pebbles” were one of the more amusing items. Little blobs of flavored stuff that seemed to nearly exactly replicate the flavor of a pizza hot pocket.

Maybe it’s my Midwestern Lutheran upbringing, but I always have a hard time enjoying myself on the last night in town. There’s always a sense of impending overness. Where you know, the fun here is coming near the end.

After our very late dinner, we headed back out of the restaurant, where we found Mr. Dufresne sitting at the bar. Mrs. Underhill, being the outgoing person that she is, didn’t hesitate to tell him how much we had enjoyed out dinners. I hung back.

We caught a cab, and headed back to our hotel and fell into bed.

NYC, February 15, 2008

Kind of a day of missed opportunities mended.

Another person I’ve met electronically through my various dealings on eGullet is Audrey Saunders. Last year some time she’d been in town for a Gin Syposium and we had just missed one another.

I really wanted to go to the bar she runs, The Pegu Club, as Mrs. Underhill and I had just missed its opening by a couple weeks the last time we were in New York.

I thought, what the heck, I’ll send her an email and tell her we’ll be at the Pegu early tonight, and maybe get a chance to say, “Hi!”

The other thing I really wanted to do the last time we were in New York was to go to Prune Restaurant. So much so, that we had reservations the night we arrived in town. Unfortunately, we ended being delayed just past their last seating deadline and missed the chance by about 15 minutes. Ah well, probably for the best. Hint: Restaurants are never really good those last few minutes, as the cooks and wait staff are ticking away the time until they can start cleaning and get out of the place. “A la chingada,” as my Latin American co-workers used to say.

Mrs. Underhill called and got us 8 PM reservations at Prune. What a wife!

The last thing I really wanted to do while I was in New York was to go to LeNell’s in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn. As a spirits geek, one of my favorite things are Amaros, and LeNell’s has one of the best selections of these bitter elixirs in the world.

I’d heard that the commute to Red Hook was a little hairy. An hour or so. As someone who spends at least an hour and a half on 3 forms of public transportation every week day, this really didn’t seem so bad. So I looked up the directions. Subway to Brooklyn, Bus to LeNell’s. It was practically door to door service, from our hotel at West Broadway and Chambers in Tribeca to LeNell’s. Piece of cake!

It all went really well, I got to Brooklyn no sweat. Then I started looking around for a bus. It had said I should catch the bus at a certain intersection, but I didn’t see the line number. I did however, see it across the street. So I walked over there and jumped on the B-61 to Long Island City. New Yorkers will realize that I was going the wrong way, and should have in fact been looking for the B-61 to Red Hook. I did not really realize this, and work up the courage to ask to get off, until I was in what appeared to me to be a bit of a dodgy neighborhood. So I rode it out. I am embarrassed to admit I rode it out all the way to Bed-Stuy. I guess, I was wondering just how far the bus went, was it a local like one of the buses I take, the SF MUNI 67, which runs in a small loop, or a long route like the SF MUNI 23. Sneaking a couple looks at the map at the front of the bus, it appeared it would be a very long way to the end of the route. I got off, walked a block, and got on a bus which miraculously appeared, attempted to pay my $2, and was given a free ride. Just sort of a note, unlike the Buses here in San Francisco, for whatever reason, in New York, buses do not take dollar bills.

Finally getting a ride in the correct direction, I rode the bus out to nearly the end of the line in Red Hook.


Finally, an Amaro paradise! Amaro Cora!

An Americano I’ve never seen before!

And a Barolo Chinato (they had 4, Count them, 4 Barolo Chinatos!)

Anyway, as a sort of bonus public transportation round, one of the inbound buses seemed to be missing from the route, and I spent about 45 minutes waiting for the next B-61 to finally show up going back to the station! Standing room only! Packed in like sardines! Goodness, I felt like New York Transit Authority had arranged this special to make me feel at home!

Got back to the hotel room, had a lie down, changed and then we headed out to the Pegu Club.

What a beautiful and elegant bar! The design looks classic and modern at the same time. Comfortable enough to wear a dress shirt and jeans, or go in a suit.

In a bit of a coincidence, one of the bartenders who had been working at PDT on Wednesday was behind the bar at Pegu. Artemio was a wonderful bartender and thrilled Mrs. Underhill by suggesting she try a Last Word, only her favorite cocktail in the world, as her second drink. As we were chatting, Artemio mentioned that Audrey Saunders was in the bar, working on her computer. I thought, what the heck, I’ll give it a shot. So I went over to her table and introduced myself. I wasn’t sure if I’d done the right thing, but she said she would come over and chat for a while after she finished the email she was writing.

Anyway, we had a wonderful time chatting with Audrey. She and Mrs. Underhill especially seemed to hit it off. I got in a few interesting and technical questions about bartending. She was a wonderful and gracious host and introduced us to her head bartender (whose name I’m afraid I have spaced on.  Anyone know?) He had amazing technique.  It was a pleasure to watch his graceful style behind the bar. I was just amazed at how he seemed to split every ice cube perfectly with minimal effort. Far too soon, it was 7:45 and time to head to Prune for our dinner reservation.

At Prune, perhaps emboldened by our several cocktails at the Pegu Club, I decided we had to have the Marrow Bones. Wow. I dunno, there is just something wrong about smearing the fat laced unctuous marrow on toast points. Yet so right. More wine was drunk, courses were ordered, stuff like that.

Somehow we made it back to our hotel room, where we collapsed, exhausted and satiated, into bed.

Astoria Cocktail

Astoria Cocktail

1 Dash Orange Bitters. (Regan’s)
2/3 Gin (1 1/2 oz Beefeater’s Gin)
1/3 French Vermouth. (3/4 oz Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth)

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass. Serve with stuffed olive.

Yer basic Dry Martini. Get used to it, there are about a million of these in the Savoy Cocktail Book. Interesting to note that the Astoria Cocktail in Crockett’s “Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book” is composed of, 2/3 dry vermouth, 1/3 Old Tom Gin, and 2 Dashes of Orange Bitters. Guess it lost some weight crossing the Atlantic!

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

Artist’s Special

Artist’s (Special) Cocktail

1/3 Whisky. (3/4 oz Sazerac Straight Rye Whiskey)
1/3 Sherry. (3/4 oz Lustau Solera Reserva Dry Oloroso Sherry “Don Nuño”)
1/6 Lemon Juice. (1/3-1/2 oz lime juice)
1/6 Groseille Syrup. (bar spoon D’Arbo Red Currant Preserves)

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

This is the genuine ‘Ink of Inspiration’ imbibed at the Bal Bullier Paris. The recipe is from the Artists Club, Rue Pigalle, Paris.

Well, I’ve take quite a lot of liberties for this one. However, with such unspecific ingredients its hard to know where to start. First, the whisky is not specified. Second the type of Sherry is not specified. Third, I realized, when I was looking through the refrigerator, we were out of lemons. Fourth, I could find no Red Currant syrup.

But, the description is so inspiring, I had to give it a try.

The Saz Jr is my go-to rye for mixing, so I started there. Sometimes it is a little too assertive to play well with other ingredients. But there was enough going on here, I thought it might be interesting.

I didn’t particularly care for the fino sherry I’d recently tried in my cobbler experiment, so I thought I’d get something a little richer. Didn’t want a cream, though. Given the fairly meager local selection of sherry, the Lustau Dry Oloroso seemed like a good choice.

My wife has a cold and she used up all the lemons in her tea. Thank goodness, we still had regular limes. I don’t think I could have lived with myself if I had been forced to substitute key limes or calamansi.

Apparently, Groseille syrup is red currant syrup. I can find no trace of it in the modern world. Black currant, yes, Red currant, no. Fortunately, you can still buy red currant preserves. What are preserves, but, thickened fruit syrup?

What’s the verdict?

It’s quite a tasty cocktail and well worth all that pondering. Everything is there; but, none of the ingredients are fighting. Rye, currants, citrus, and sherry complement each other. Who knew?

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

NYC, February 14, 2008

As you can well imagine, Thursday morning started a bit slow.

Between being out of sync with the time change and being out late drinking, I was a bit slow getting out of bed.

We were staying in Tribeca, and Mrs. Underhill, having gotten there a bit earlier had already researched the breakfast situation. She had found a place called Kitchenette with good coffee, competently made eggs, and a fine selection of baked goods. We actually ended up eating breakfast there 3 out of 4 days of our stay.

Then we wandered around Tribeca for a couple hours, investigating the scene. We definitely preferred staying in this neighborhood to our previous uptown stay. One of those neighborhoods, you could wander around and find restaurants, delis, and shops all day. After the walk and some shopping, we headed back to the hotel for a short nap and to get changed.

For dinner, we had planned an early evening at Momofuku Noodle Bar. Both of us had been hearing good things about this place for years, so we didn’t want to miss it on this trip. Steamed Pork Buns, fresh oysters, Momofuku Ramen, and Oxtails with pine nuts and rice dumplings. Yum, Yum, Yum. Unfortunately, about 2/3 of the way through the meal, the jet-like air handling began to bug Mrs. Underhill, who was recovering from a cold. It was kind of weird that they would have the vents just jetting down on the food, pretty much chilling it instantly. So not entirely a success.

We then headed to Death + Co, so I could show her the very cool place I had been the night before. Unfortunately, they were full, and we couldn’t get in. Instead we headed to d.b.a. for a couple beers and to warm up. Sad Californians, just no longer cold acclimated.

After a couple warm up beers, we headed to a Valentine’s Day concert that was being held at The Stone. This venue is run by John Zorn, so perhaps you will appreciate the irony. We arrived just as the first set was ending, and were informed that they needed to clear the venue and we could come back in 30 minutes. Oh, yes, fun, standing outside in the outer West Village in the cold. Fortunately, there was a grocery across the street, where we were able to waste some time buying mentos. The show opened with a trio of Ikue Mori (samples and computer), John Zorn (alto sax), and Sylvie Courvoisier (prepared piano). Plinks, plonks, and squawks, as you might imagine. Quite enjoyable. The next set was Zeena Parkins and Andrea Parkins duo of harp and accordion. Another enjoyable set, simultaneously a bit noisier and trancier. For the last set, all 5 played together creating a glorious cacophony of sound.

Not wanting to risk another run in with the winter cold, we grabbed a cab and headed back to the hotel to eat valentine’s day cupcakes and exchange gifts.

NYC, February 13, 2008

I have met a couple folks via the food and cocktail forums on eGullet over the years.

A couple guys I knew from their foodblogs and cocktail posts were John Deragon and Don Lee. Serious foodies and tech workers who moonlight as bartenders at PDT, I dropped them a note to see if they would be interested in getting together for a few drinks.

I got off my flight, took a cab to the hotel, and gave John a call. He said he and Don would be at Death + Company, and that they would be glad to take me around to a few bars in the East Village.

One interesting thing that Death + Company has been doing lately is a bartender exchange program. A bartender from Death + Company travels to a bar in another city for a week or so and a bartender from the remote bar/city travels to NYC and bartends at Death + Company for a week. The night I was there, Kirk from the Violet Hour in Chicago was behind the bar along with Brian. With Brian busy, I asked Kirk for something aromatic, and he suggested a Chartreuse Swizzle. Composed of, well, a lot of Chartreuse, a house made falernum, and pineapple juice in a tall glass with crushed ice, it also had a spectacular flamed chartreuse float. While Kirk was getting the other ingredients together, he set a shot of chartreuse on fire in a large jigger. Then, after rest of the drink was ready, he poured the still burning chartreuse over the mint sprig garnish, setting it on fire, briefly, like a mini christmas tree. The aroma of the flamed chartreuse and mint was really wonderful, and the drink a nice kick start to a spectacular evening.

Other cocktails were drunk, there was the usual bartender shop talk. Some demonstration of stirring technique. I learned that Philip Ward from Death + Company will be bartending at Alembic in San Francisco, while Thomas Waugh and Daniel Hyatt pull stints at Death + Company. Then we decided we should get out of the way at Death + Company and headed to PDT.

At PDT, the boys were off to deal with separate crises, and left me at the bar to fend for myself. I started with a nice Brooklyn Pilsner, to get myself more on an even keel after the potent drinks at Death + Company. I chatted with Jane at the bar and asked her advice on a rye drink. She suggested something that may have been called a Rattlesnake or Snakebite. It was basically a rye sour with egg white, and pastis instead of bitters. She even topped it off with a bit of champagne. Quite delicious. Don was nice enough to get me a couple of Crif Dog’s famous hot dogs, the eponomous John Deragon dog, with cream cheese and avocado over a deep fried bacon wrapped hot dog, and a Chang Dog, which involved kimchi and a bacon wrapped deep fried hot dog. I have to admit my lack of fondness for dairy, left me in favor of the Chang dog.

Eventually, we moved to a table where Garrett Oliver, brewmaster of Brooklyn Brewing, was sitting with a friend. More conversation, cocktails involving bacon infused bourbon, and things began to get a bit blurry.

Eventually, Don and John packed me into a car with a few of their friends and sent me back to my hotel.

Quite an evening!

Thanks to everyone who I met that evening for a whirlwind of amazing drinks, conversation, and fun!

New York Minute

Mrs. Underhill was called away to work in New York last week.

After going over our options, we decided it would be more fun for me to travel there and meet her, than for her to quick fly back for Valentine’s day.

Before I get to the details of the trip, I just have to say how happy I am that Jet Blue now flies out of San Francisco, direct to New York.

I am just so fed up with the major airlines’ decision to squish as many people as possible into coach class, so they can pamper the wealthy in business and first class, that it makes me furious. Just about every aspect of our last several flights on major carriers have sucked. Cranky and uninspired flight attendants on understaffed planes, uncleaned airplanes, malfunctioning equipment, canceled flights due to “heavy rain”. My “favorite” aspect are the meals you can now buy on some of the carriers. Every ingredient seems to be an advertising or sponsorship deal with some major food corporation, yet the airline still charges you $10 for a couple crackers and some not-cheese.

Anyway, rant over, I had a great flight on Jet Blue. Whew, legroom!

I’m still working on writeups of the New York trip, so you’ll be seeing those over the next couple days.

Oh, and speaking of Jet Blue, and the trip, I will just note that there may be some name dropping in the next few posts. Sorry about that. I try to avoid that sort of thing, generally, but I had such a great time, and folks were so generous, that I’m going to have to mention a few names.

Name drop No. 1: On my Jet Blue flight to New York, I sat in the same row with an Amy Sedaris trying very hard to be inconspicuous.

Artillery Cocktail

Artillery Cocktail

1/3 Italian Vermouth. (3/4 oz Carpano Antica Vermouth)
2/3 Dry Gin. (1 1/2 oz Beefeater’s, Tanqueray, or other London Dry Gin)

Shake (stir, please) well and strain into cocktail glass.

The two ingredient cocktail is kind of tough, so pick things you know you enjoy and that you think will combine well, before attempting.

A lower tier vermouth combined with a lower tier Gin and this is not going to be pleasant cocktail at all. And do please stick with a traditionally flavored London Dry Gin, not yer saffron flavored Old Raj, Lime Flavored Rangpur, or Cucumber flavored Hendrick’s. Though, if they are good in this cocktail, let me know…

This Artillery is basically a lean, mean, streamlined Martinez.

They’ve left out the bitters, skipped the extra sweetener and tipped the balance towards the Gin.

I’m not going to say they’re wrong, but I wouldn’t blame you for tipping in a couple drops of Orange Bitters, if you have them on hand.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

Apricot Cocktail (Sweet)

Apricot Cocktail (Sweet)
(6 People)

Dilute a teaspoonful of apricot jam (1/2 teaspoon Bonne Maman Apricot Jam) in a glass of Abricotine (1 oz Vedrenne Liqueur de Abricot). Add a teaspoonful of Peach Bitters (1/2 teaspoon Fee’s Peach Bitters), slightly less than two glasses of Gin (2 oz Beefeater’s Gin) and 2 1/2 glasses of French Vermouth (2 1/2 oz French Vermouth). Place this mixture in a shaker and put it on the ice to cool (in the freezer). When quite cold pour in two or three glasses of crushed ice and shake well. Strain into cocktail glass.

The amounts in the parenthesis are for 2 relatively modern size drinks instead of 6 tiny 1930s era drinks.

More odd instructions, to be sure.  And everyone thinks pre-prohibition cocktails are easy! A pleasant enough result, however. The Sweet version of the Apricot cocktail is definitely an after dinner drink, but it nicely highlights the nutty flavor of the apricot liqueur.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.