Coronation Cocktail (No. 1)

Coronation Cocktail (No. 1)

Coronation Cocktail (No. 1)

1/2 Sherry. (1 1/2 oz Domecq La Ina Fino Sherry)
1/2 French Vermouth. (1 1/2 oz Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth)
1 Dash Maraschino. (Luxardo)
2 Dashes Orange Bitters. (1 dash Regan’s, 1 dash Fee’s)

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

Again, prefer to build these sorts of things over rocks, so there you go.

This was really nice. I think I am coming around to dry sherry.

Earlier in the evening, I had been experimenting with Aviation proportions and different violet liqueurs. Palate was pretty jaded from it all. This was a pleasant, simple, relief from all that perfumed nonsense.

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.

Cornell Special Cocktail

Cornell Special Cocktail

The Cornell Special Cocktail

1/4 Part Gin. (3/4 oz Tanqueray)
1/4 Part Benedictine. (3/4 oz Benedictine)
1/4 Part Lemon. (3/4 oz Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice)
1/4 Part Lithia Water. (3/4 oz Gerolsteiner Heavy Mineral Content Mineral Water)

Stir well and serve in cocktail glass.

Well, this one gave me a lot of trouble. I found some online sources that purported to sell “Lithia Water” but none of them would return my phone calls or emails. Driving all the way to Ashland, Oregon seemed pretty crazy.

Did some more research, trying to find mineral waters with a high mineral content and taste. Gerolsteiner was one, and according to some web sites, actually contains some Lithium (Not to mention 8% of your daily allowance of Calcium! Now that is heavy mineral content!)

A lot of chasing around for a drink that ends up tasting like slightly herbaceous, sparkling lemonade. Difficult or not, it certainly is easy drinking.

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.

Corn Popper Cocktail

The Corn Popper

1 Pint Corn (Georgia or Maryland).
1/2 Pint Cream.
The Whites of 2 Eggs.
1 Tablespoonful Grenadine.

Fill highball glasses half full of this mixture and fill up with Vichy or Seltzer.

This is another of the recipes Craddock (or the Savoy editors) cribbed verbatim from Judge Jr.’s “Here’s How”.

The recipe in “Here’s How” includes the following recommendation, “Don’t get near a fire after one of these!”

Being the literalist that I am, and knowing that most of the commercial “corn whiskey” is of questionable merit, I was thinking I would use some semi-vintage J.W. Dant Bourbon I found at a liquor store. It’s the only whiskey I have that actually tastes like corn.

However, I decided to double check on “Corn”, so consulted “Moonshine” (Link to his excellent book on the subject) historian Matt Rowley in regards to the Corn Popper.

He replied:

Now you’ve drifted into some interesting semantic territory rather than merely obscure ingredients.
In the Savoy book, some things are what they seem – absinthe is generally that, despite variations in style. So is applejack (usually). “Corn” is a shorthand code, especially a post-prohibition work, merely for illicit spirits (often, but not necessarily, whiskey) that may be made from nearly any ingredient except fruit, but including sugar, wheat, rye, “ship stuff,” sorghum, cattle feed, mule chop, and, on occasion, corn.

Just like “The South” is used as a false badge of authenticity when attributing origins to quite local corn whiskey, “corn” itself is a suspect appellation.

Shake loose that notion that “corn” is ever really corn whiskey. Unfortunate, but there it is. From the 1920′s through the late 1990′s, sugar formed the backbone of American off-the-books distilling. It was cheaper, faster, and more profitable to make sugar spirits than corn. When the price was right, you could call it whatever you want.

Also, there is and was such diversity in manufacture from unregulated distillers that November’s corn was rarely the same as August’s (which may, in fact, be more prone to being an ersatz whiskey because the harvest wasn’t in yet). Even today’s new wave of home distillers who are very serious about their brandies and absinthe will bump their corn with table sugar.

Add to that regional flavor profile variants, the effect of water on the flavor profile (both in fermenting mash and cutting the distillate), and the taste and sugar content variability of pre-prohibition heirloom maize among genuine corn and you quickly find that a cocktail specifying “corn” might as well specify “liquor” as an ingredient.

As you’ve noted, the nationally available commercial examples of corn whiskey are, well, less than inspiring and I’ve yet to find one I’d recommend as anything than a learning experience.

If all you have available is commercial corn liquor, try the corn popper with bourbon (or white dog if you can lay your hands on some) – it’s probably not a bad place to begin even though most corn – real or not – tends to be clear, uncolored, and often unaged whiskey. This is not the time to break out your finest as you wander into Delmarva milk punch territory.

Well, alright, then. With that in mind I set about re-doing the recipe for a single serving.

The Corn Popper

1 1/2 oz clear, pungent, liquid of unknown origin
1 egg white
3/4 oz Cream
1 teaspoon Grenadine (homemade)

Measure ingredients into cocktail shaker. Seal and shake well. Break seal, add ice and shake vigorously. Strain into collins glass. Top with selzer or sparkling mineral water.

Corn Popper Cocktail

The drink has a nice flavor of yeast and malt. Reminded me a bit of a very potent malted egg cream.

Also, interesting, that the drink really isn’t very sweet. I was being pretty generous in using a whole teaspoon of Grenadine, as Savoy/Judge Jr. only call for a tablespoon of grenadine in a pint of liquor and a half pint of cream.

This probably betrays some weakness of character on my part; but, I was having a Unibroue Maudite later in the evening, and thought, you know, topping up the Corn Popper with Maudite instead of sparkling water might be kind of nice.

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.

Homemade Ingredients Talk

Thought I’d write up the main points from my presentation at Tales of the Cocktail.

Our panel was about Making Your Own Cocktail Ingredients.

The ingredients I covered were Swedish Punsch and Orgeat.

Four Main Reasons to Make Homemade Liqueurs and Syrups

1) Preservation. You’ve got a tree full of walnuts and the squirrels will eat them if you don’t do something with them.

2) Curiosity. When I first heard about Nocino, I was like, “Green walnut liqueur, how can that possibly work?” Green walnuts are incredibly bitter and stain anything they touch black. Then I continued reading, a bitter liqueur almost like an amaro. Cool. It can only be made during a month long window in the spring. Even cooler. It has to age for 40 days on the walnuts, and then another 40 days after sweetening before you can even drink it. The obscurist in me was fascinated. I knew I had to make it.

3) The products you want to use to make a particular cocktail are discontinued or incredibly hard to come by.

4) The easily available commercial products are not of the desired quality or at the desired cost.

A Few Rules

I have a few rules for myself when making liqueurs and syrups. First all ingredients are organic or no-spray. Preferably the fruit comes straight from the Farm or Farmers’ Market, no refrigeration. I only use Washed Raw Sugar or other natural sweeteners for all syrups or liqueurs.

Things to Consider

Before you embark on making liqueurs or syrups, you should be aware of some of the pitfalls.

First, they may not be cheaper than the commercial products you are replacing. Second, there’s a pretty good chance of failure at some point. Unless you can choke a failed liqueur down, there’s a pretty good chance you may pour a fair amount of ingredients, money, and spirits down the sink.

In addition, commercial producers have certain advantages over home producers of liqueurs and syrups.

They may have high quality, high proof base spirits to make their liqueurs from. Volume production allows commercial producers certain advantages. Purchasing liqueurs and syrups on the shelf guarantees you consistency and availability.

So to summarize, it isn’t a bad idea to pick a fight you can win.

Syrups, especially, are a great area where homemade can be fresher tasting and more interesting. The odds of you making an orange liqueur that is better than Cointreau or Grand Marnier, on the other hand, are pretty darn slim.

Orgeat

The OED gives the origin of the word Orgeat as the Latin word for Barley, “Hordeum”.

The first known published use of a related word in an English Text referred to a type of Barley used to make a beverage. This was some time around 1500.

The first known published use of “Orgeat” referring to a sweetened Barley, Melon Seed, and Almond Syrup was in J. Nott’s “Cook and Confectionary Dictionary” in 1723.

That the word “Orgeat” referrs to barley rather than almonds, suggests to me that Orgeat belongs to the family of steeped grain beverages common in nearly every civilization. The Egyptians had a beverage based on Sedge Kernels. The Spanish make beverages based on Sedge Kernels and rice. The English had Barley Water. The Scots made Oat Water. American Indians had whole classes of beverages based on corn. I’d imagine you could go so far as to include things like soy milk and some of the thin rice based gruels often served in Asia.

Let’s face it, grinding grain and boiling or steeping it in water is the easiest way to get some nutritional value from it. And if you really want to blow your mind, realize that if you add yeast to a thin solution, you get beer. If you add yeast to a thicker mix of finely ground flour, you get bread. If you make a thick paste and then cook it on a griddle, it is a tortilla or a cracker.

That’s how important these grain beverages are to civilization.

Making Orgeat

I’ve covered making Orgeat in a couple articles already on the blog, Orgeat–Tales Version and Orgeat? Almond Fudge?, so I won’t cover instructions in too much detail.

It is a bit of a pain, but really fairly simple. Crush almonds. Steep them in water. Strain out the solids. Sweeten the resulting liquid. But, as with all “simple” things, the devil is in the details. How are the almonds crushed? How long do they steep? How do you remove the solids? How sweet?

Aside from Tiki Drinks, like the Mai Tai and Fog Cutter, some well known drinks with Orgeat include the Japanese, the Momisette, Cameron’s Kick, and the famous New Orleans breakfast drink, Absinthe Suisesse.

Swedish Punsch

Swedish Punsch is a Batavia Arrack based liqueur popular in, obviously, Sweden. It hasn’t been commercially available in the US since the 1950s or 1960s. Until fairly recently, the only real way to get it was if you, or a friend, traveled to Sweden. Fortunately, in the last year or so, Haus Alpenz had begun selling a Batavia Arrack in the US, so it is now possible for the home enthusiast or bartender to make their own. Also, fortunately, the taxes in Scandinavia are so high, that there is a thriving home made liqueur and distillation tradition there, making it not too hard to come across recipes for Arrack Punsch of one sort or another.

Going through a few recipes, the traditional ingredients are: Batavia Arrack, Tea, Sugar, Spices, and some sour element. The sour element is usually some sort of citrus, but I’ve also seen recipes which include wine.

Most commercial Swedish Punsch, like the Carlshamm’s Flagg Punsch, are very lightly spiced and heavily sweetened. The couple I’ve tried are really more just Arrack Liqueur than anything else. There is a bit more variety and spice among the home recipes.

Making Punsch

As noted previously, for my homemade punsch, I usually employ two of Jerry Thomas’ Arrack Punch recipes in a sort of mash up. His Imperial Arrack Punch and United Service Punch. For details of the most recent version check this post: Underhill Punsch–Tales Version.

Steep thinly sliced citrus briefly in the spirit(s). At the same time, make an extra strong batch of tea. After making the tea, remove the tea leaves and sweeten with an equal volume of sugar. After the tea has cooled, remove the citrus from the liquor, and combine the tea syrup and infused spirits. Rest for at least 24 hours.

A few cocktails including Swedish Punsch are the Biffy, Boomerang, C.F.H., Diki-Diki, Doctor, Hundred Per Cent, Tanglefoot, and Welcome Stranger.

Other sources:

Orgeat Syrup article on Darcy O’Neil’s Art of Drink Website.
Orgeat article on Scottes’ Rum Pages.
Homeade Orgeat Syrup (French Barley Water) article on FXcuisine.
Orgeat, on eGullet.org.
Haus Alpenz
Swedish Punsch, A Source, on eGullet.org.

Cordova Cocktail

Cordova Cocktail

Cordova Cocktail
2/3 Dry Gin. (1 1/2 oz Tanqueray)
1 Dash Absinthe. (Lucid Absinthe)
1 Teaspoonful Fresh Cream.
1/3 Italian Vermouth. (3/4 oz Cinzano Rosso)

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

I was making dinner and had some fennel fronds around, so I dropped a couple on top as a garnish.

This was kind of weird.

Cream, Gin, Sweet Vermouth, and Absinthe really isn’t a combination I would think of.

It’s not a bad cocktail; but, really didn’t do a lot for me, either. I’d say, probably, I would greatly prefer it without the cream, thank you very much.

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.

Savoy Cocktail Volume

Sorry, things have been on autopilot for the last few days. I set those posts to go up while I was in New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail.

Things should be back on track this week.

In any case…

Along with, “Why on earth are you doing this?” and, “What are the best bars in San Francisco?” one of the most common questions I get asked is, “What was the volume of liquid used in a Savoy Cocktail?”

Most of the cocktails are written as fractions instead of absolute volumes. Usually Eighths, Sixths, Fourths, Thirds, or Halves.

They look like this:

The Abbey Cocktail
1/2 Dry Gin.
1/4 Kina Lillet.
1/4 Orange Juice.
1 Dash Angostura Bitters.
Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

Most of the time these fractions add up to a whole, but sometimes they do not.

First off, some cocktails are written in “glasses” or “Wine Glasses”. Usually, but not always these are what I call “Party Cocktails”. Cocktail recipes written for 4-6 people.

According to a post from David Wondrich on eGullet:

The “wineglass” used to be a standard unit of measure, and it was 2 oz. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, as it fell out of use, some people interpreted it as an actual wine glass, and considered it to be 4 oz.

At the same time, and I’m sure not coincidentally, the 2-oz metal jigger was introduced, and soon became the standard bartender’s measure. Around 1900, this got supplemented by the 1 1/2 oz jigger, for cheapskates or lightweights, and even the 1 1/4 oz jigger, which was popular, we are told, in the bars around Wall St, as brokers liked their drinks small, but frequent.

So after making a few of these party cocktails based on a 2 oz “glass”, it is pretty easy to start to get a feel for the size of the average Savoy Cocktail.

The Jewel Cocktail, for example, makes the math pretty easy:

Jewel Cocktail
(6 People)
2 Glasses Green Chartreuse.
2 Glasses Italian Vermouth.
2 Glasses Gin.
1/2 Dessertspoonful Orange Bitters.
Shake thoroughly and serve with a cherry, squeezing lemon peel on top.

6 glasses of 2 oz each makes 12 oz of liquor before dilution. That makes an individual cocktail portion 2 oz per person.

In addition, Robert Vermeire, a continental contemporary of Craddock’s, wrote his cocktail recipes based on fractions of a half gill total pre-chill volume. A half a gill is a bit more than 2 oz.

So this really makes most cocktail math pretty easy.

Say, for the following:

Jeyplak Cocktail
1 Dash Absinthe.
2/3 Dry Gin. (1 1/2 oz Gin)
1/3 Italian Vermouth. (3/4 oz Vermouth)
Shake well and strain into cocktail glass. Squeeze lemon peel on top.

That’s a total volume of 2 1/4 oz before dilution, pretty close.

The following volumes then work for most cocktails in the Savoy:

1 glass or Wineglass is 2 oz
2/3 is 1 1/2 oz
1/2 is a generous 1 oz
1/3 is 3/4 oz
1/4 is a generous 1/2 oz
1/8 is a generous 1/4 oz

I have to admit Sixths are a little tricky. 1/2 of 3/4 oz is kind of hard to figure out in absolute volume or in fractions.

But it isn’t hard to get close using a 3/4 oz jigger.

For dashes, I also defer to Vermeire, who called them at 1/3 of a teaspoon for his 1/2 gill cocktails.

Interestingly, the bartender who succeeded Craddock as head bartender of the American Bar at the Savoy, Eddie Clarke, went on to write a few cocktail books. In his book, “Shaking in the Sixties,” he bases his cocktails on a pre-chill volume of “2 measures”. In the introduction, he gives the following direction, “Public Warning! Measures referred to in all recipes are ’6-out’ containing 5/6 Fluid Ounces.”

Oh man, my nemesis fractions! I’m starting to get clammy hands and I can hear Richard Hell singing “Lowest Common Dominator” in my head.

Am I right in saying 2 x 5/6 ounces is 10/6 or 1 1/3 oz total, before chilling?

Whew! About the same!


edit-damn it! Sylvan pointed out that 2 5/6 ounce measures would instead add up to 1 2/3 oz, rather than the 1 1/3 ounces I proposed. Which isn’t really the same as a half gill cocktail anyway. Not sure what I was thinking. Maybe 2 1/3 ounces?

Anyway, if my head is feeling a bit replaceable, or a cocktail seems particularly appealing, I admit I’ll cheat and go with a larger volume. But usually, it’s better just to make two!

Cooperstown Cocktail

Cooperstown Cocktail

Cooperstown Cocktail
1/3 French Vermouth. (1 oz Noilly Prat Dry)
1/3 Italian Vermouth. (1 oz Cinzano Rosso)
1/3 Dry Gin. (1 oz Junipero Gin)

Shake (stir – eje) well and strain into cocktail glass. Add a sprig of Mint.

I first made this cocktail with another of our local gins, No. 209.

Unfortunately, it really didn’t have the Cojones to stand up to the dual vermouths in these proportions.

With the Junipero, it is a pretty enjoyable cocktail. A dash or two of bitters, and we’d be cooking with gas.

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.

Commodore Cocktail

Commodore Cocktail

Commodore Cocktail

1 Teaspoonful Syrup. (1 teaspoon depaz cane syrup)
2 Dashes Orange Bitters. (1 dash Angostura Orange, 1 Dash Angostura Aromatic)
The Juice of 1/2 Lime or 1/4 Lemon. (1/4 Lemon)
1 Glass Canadian Club Whisky. (1 3/4 oz 40 Creek Barrel Select Whisky, 1/4 oz Buffalo Trace Bourbon)

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

I’m spiking the 40 Creek with a bit of Bourbon, as I find it a bit insipid all on its own. In some cocktails that works, Byrrh Special for example, in others not so much. In this Canadian Whisky Sour, it seemed like it could use a little goose.

For some reason, I thought the recipe called for regular Angostura Bitters. About half way through, I looked at the books, and realized, “oops!” Anyway, my debut use of the Ango Orange Bitters here.

A perfectly fine and enjoyable Whisk(e)y Sour. Nothing that will blow your mind, but nothing that you would toss out, 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.

Colonial Cocktail

Colonial Cocktail

Colonial Cocktail

2/3 Dry Gin. (2 oz Plymouth Gin)
1/3 Grape Fruit Juice. (1 oz fresh squeezed Grapefruit Juice)
3 Dashes Maraschino. (Luxardo)

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

While I wouldn’t quite call this a “great” or “amazing” cocktail, it is pleasantly refreshing and enjoyable enough. I imagine it would be quite nice on a hot day. If we ever had any of those here in San Francisco.

One thing I noticed was that this flavor combination really highlighted the nutty flavor aspects of the Luxardo Maraschino.

Not too far from the Daiquiri variant reputedly enjoyed by Hemingway, eh?

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.

Cold Deck Cocktail

Cold Deck Cocktail

Cold Deck Cocktail

1/4 White Crème de Menthe. (1/4 oz Brizard)
1/4 Italian Vermouth. (3/4 oz Cinzano Rosso)
1/2 Brandy. (1 1/2 oz Maison Surrenne Petite Champagne Cognac)

Shake (stir – eje) well and strain into cocktail glass.

Reduced Crème de Menthe a bit. Still the dominating element of the cocktail.

Not sure what I think about this one. It is very minty. Not exactly in an unpleasant way though. Was having some Elk Creamery Camembert de Chevre and crackers at the same time, and expected it would be a bad flavor combination, as many cocktails are. It was actually quite nice.

The Maison Surrenne is a very different Cognac from the Pierre Ferrand Ambre. Stronger in the wood and vegetal characteristics, where the Pierre Ferrand is fruity/citrus and white pepper. It will certainly be interesting to see how it works out in other cocktails.

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.