Summer Time Cocktail

Summer Time Cocktail
3/4 Gin. (1 1/2 oz Sarticious Gin)
1/4 Sirop-de-citron. (1/2 oz Homemade Sirop-de-Citron)
Shake well and strain into medium size glass; fill up with soda water.

You may recall my schtick on the South-Side Cocktail: soda if you’ve got some time and straight up if you don’t.  Well, in this case I was trying to get a Savoy Cocktail made and photographed before heading out to meet some friends.  No time for soda!

Kind of regretted that decision.  Where I can see how this would have been OK as a long drink, as a short drink it was too sweet and concentrated.  A lemon life saver of a drink.  A half ounce of lemon juice would have brightened this a lot, and gone a long way towards making it palatable.

I used the Sarticious Gin, solely because I knew in the near future I would be trying the new gin from the same distiller, Blade, and I wanted to have it fresh in my mind.

Trying the Blade, there is a serious family resemblance.

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.

Suisse Cocktail

Suisse Cocktail
The White of 1 Egg. (1/2 oz Egg White)
4 Dashes Anisette. (1/4 oz Anis del Mono Dulce)
1 Liqueur Glass Absinthe. (1 1/2 oz Greenway Distiller’s Absinthe)
Syrup or Sugar can be used instead of Anisette.
Shake well and strain into medium size glass. (Add a dash of Blanquette de Limoux, Cuvee Berlene 2005 on top.)

When you examine Harry MacElhone’s recipe for the “Swisess” from “Barflies and Cocktails” you see that, perhaps, Mr. Craddock missed something.

Swisess. 1 white of a Fresh Egg; 1 teapoonful of Anisette Syrup; 1 glass of Absinthe. Shake well together and strain into a small wineglass, and add a dash of syphon on top. This is a very good bracer for that feeling of the morning after the night before.

Ah, a dash of syphon! Hmmm… Wait, I think the soda water is a little tired, but I still have some fairly fresh Blanquette de Limoux. No, I couldn’t, that would be just too evil. Oh yes, yes I can.

Well, plus, I did have to include Harry MacElhone’s quote, as it is one of my all time favorite turns of phrase describing a hangover.

Still don’t have appropriate fizz glasses, so sad. This souvenir beer glass from Jesse Friedman’s Notoberfest 2009 is actually not all that bad. About the right size, and not a horrible shape for a fizz. Probably the best I have at the moment.

Is the cocktail any good?  Well, if you like Death in the Afternoon, this is a richer, anisier drink.  I enjoyed it, especially with the delicious complexity of the Germain-Robin/Greenway Distillers Absinthe Superior.  Quite 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.

Strike’s Off Cocktail

Strike’s Off Cocktail
1/4 Lemon or Lime Juice. (3/4 oz Lemon Juice)
1/4 Swedish Punch. (3/4 oz Underhill Punsch)
1/2 Gin. (1 1/2 oz Plymouth Gin)
Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

Created by Harry Craddock on May 12, 1926, to mark the end of the General Strike.

Maybe someone should have reminded Harry about the Biffy when he claimed to have made up this cocktail to commemorate the end of the General Strike!

Well, to be honest, “Strike’s Off” is probably a better name.

From the Wikipedia article:

The 1926 General Strike in the United Kingdom was a general strike that lasted ten days, from 3 May 1926 to 13 May 1926. It was called by the General Council of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) in an unsuccessful attempt to force the British government to act to prevent wage reduction and worsening conditions for coal miners.

All very complicated, economic conditions following WWI leads to worsening conditions for coal workers, culminating in the General Strike. Classes divided over whether to support the strike or oppose it.

The cocktail is actually quite delicious, in an odd, “who knew gin and swedish punch would work together” kind of way. I recommend it! In it’s other incarnation, The Biffy Cocktail, I actually served it a couple years ago for a Tales of the Cocktail presentation about homemade ingredients. Everyone seemed to enjoy it at the time, and it’s another sweet-tart favorite of Mrs. Flannestad’s.

But, hey, cool! A poem by Idris Davies about the strike was what Pete Seeger used for his lyrics for the song Bells of Rhymney.

However, I suppose, covered most famously by the Byrds on their album, “Mr. Tambourine Man”.

I guess all you socialist worker sympathizers know what to put on, while drinking the cocktail! Maybe grab the Billy Bragg box set while you’re at it, and make a night of it. You lived to fight another day. As for you big business fat cats, I doubt you need much of an excuse to light a cigar and celebrate the collapse of the strike.

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.

Hercules Redux

Received the following question in a comment:

“I’m curious about the ‘evidence’ for Hercules being a wine-and-herbal yerba-mate drink. Some years ago I thought I found ‘evidence’ that it was a very strong Welsh beer, ie: there was a brand with that name. Since then I have concluded that Hercules was a British version of absinthe, or possibly Czech absinthe bottled here. Vantogrio was certainly Czech. My guess is that it was a non-alcoholic anise-flavoured syrup. But Hercules just has to be strong…”

While there have undoubtedly been numerous products named Hercules over the years, I believe the evidence is fairly conclusive that the “Hercules” called for in Savoy Cocktails was neither an Absinthe Substitute nor a strong Belgian Beer.

Please refer to the topic on eGullet for the full rundown of the timeline of events and theories.

Hercules

Here are some of the ads which friends have turned up and scanned from various London publications, contemporaneous with the publication of the Savoy Cocktail Book.

From the Times, 1927:

From vol. 74 of the Strand Magazine, Jul-Dec. 1927:

From Harry’s ABC of Mixing Cocktails, ca. 1928:

From the Times, dated April 21, 1928:

Underhill Forbidden Fruit

Underhill Forbidden Fruit Liqueur

Peel from 1 Marsh Ruby Grapefruit
Peel from 1 Cocktail Grapefruit*
Peel from 4 small Blood Oranges (golf ball size)
1 Tablespoon Cardamom Pods, crushed
1 Tablespoon Coriander Seeds, crushed
3/4 bottle Vodka
1/2 bottle Brandy
1/2 pound Orange Flower Honey
1/2 teaspoon natural vanilla extract

Steep peels with spices in vodka and brandy for 2 weeks. Strain out solids and add 1/2 pound Orange Flower Honey and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. Shake to combine. Let stand another week and rack off clear liquid from settled solids. Makes about 750ml.

As the Pomelo and honey based Forbidden Fruit is a truly lost ingredient, I have no choice but to attempt to make it myself.  Fortunately, there’s only about 1 cocktail in the whole world which calls for it.  Unfortunately, that cocktail starts with “T”, so I needed to get busy and make some Forbidden Fruit analog tout de suite.

I missed Pomelo season by a week or two, so am using blood oranges and a couple kinds of Grapefruit. I forgot to buy a vanilla pod, so used natural vanilla extract instead.

As a first (second, actually) try this isn’t bad, the sweetness about on par with Cointreau. I think in the future, I would leave out the ginger. It was a last minute impulse add. Initially it was all heat, but as the heat fades, it evolves into a menthol/camphor flavor which I am currently considering a flaw. A tad bitter, I may have over steeped the peels, or gotten too much pith when I peeled. It will be interesting to see how it evolves, as most orange liqueurs are aged significantly before being bottled.

*”Cocktail Grapefruit are exceptionally sweet and juicy. They are not actually a true grapefruit, but a cross between a Frua Mandarin and a Pummelo. This variety has a similar flavor to a grapefruit but is sweeter and less acidic. Cocktail Grapefruits are grown in the Central Valley of California and they are hand picked for the best quality.”

Strawberry Cocktail

Strawberry Cocktail
Pass 1 lb. of strawberries through a hair-sieve, and pour the juice into the shaker, together with the juice of an orange and a dash of Whiskey. Add a few pieces of ice. Shake carefully and serve.

Luckily it is Strawberry season!

I juiced 1 pint of Strawberries with my cast aluminum Universal Juicer and poured it into a cocktail shaker. Added the juice of 1/2 large Valencia Orange. Added a splash of W.L. Weller 12. Shook briefly and double strained into cocktail glasses.

Is it tasty? Yes. Is it a cocktail? Not really, it’s fruit juice with a dash of whisky. Surprised this isn’t in the “Cocktails Suitable for a Prohibition Country” or “Non-Alcoholic Cocktails” section of the book.

Kind of a fun fruit tonic for Spring Strawberry season, I suppose.

I think I would prefer it, and it would be much more economical, if you made it as a long drink, over ice, with soda or ginger ale.

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.

Straight Law Cocktail

Straight Law Cocktail
1/3 Dry Gin. (3/4 oz Hayman’s Old Tom Gin)
2/3 Dry Sherry. (1 1/2 oz Dry Sack Sherry)
Shake well (I stirred, briefly) and strain into cocktail glass. (Orange Peel.)

Trying to think of something interesting to do with this sort of reverse sherry Martini, I thought it might be fun to use the botanically intense Hayman’s in the cocktail.

It turned out interesting, but it really isn’t anything to write home about. An enjoyable, light appetizer and that’s about it. Sherry with a “stick”, if you will.

Such a good name, though. Really do wish it belonged to a better cocktail.

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.

Stone Fence Cocktail

Stone Fence
1 Lump of Ice.
2 Dashes Angostura Bitters.
1 Glass Scotch Whisky. (2 oz Suntory Hibiki 12)
Use long tumbler and fill with soda water (Oliver’s Herefordshire Dry Perry).

Soda? Who makes a Stone Fence with Soda? Well, I’ll be damned if I am going to make a Stone Fence with Soda! Unfortunately, I had no traditional Cider in the house, either, so texted Daniel at Alembic to see if he had any. Turned out he only had this rather fancy still Pear Cider, but why not?

The day I was making this cocktail, Alembic was hosting an event with Suntory’s Whiskies. Well, when in Rome…

Great article over at Cask Strength regarding Suntory’s Whiskies:

Japanese Odyssey-Part One

Suntory’s whiskies are made in a very similar manner to Scotch, in fact, all the malt used in the whisky is imported from Scotland!

However the different casks used, Japanese Oak, and different weather conditions for aging give Suntory’s whiskies a very different character from Scotch Whisky.

Of the several Suntory Whiskies we had available, Daniel picked the Hibiki 12 for the cocktail. It is their youngest blended Whisky.

I really enjoyed this version of the Stone Fence, a drink I could drink. Very dry, mostly flavor coming from the cider, but with the Japanese Whisky poking through. Some who tried it thought it could use a little sweetener, but I’ve never seen a Stone Fence recipe call for sweetener, just Cider and Booze. I did miss the bubbles a tad.

I will have to re-try it with some of my favorite French Ciders, like those from Eric Bordelet or Etienne Dupont. Or for an extra funky beverage, Basque or Asturian Sidra…

And yes, this is a very old recipe. It was probably already a very old recipe when Jerry Thomas included it in his “Bartender’s Guide”.

Though the Thomas recipe is as follows:

Stone Fence.
(Use large bar-glass.)
Take 1 wine-glass of Bourbon or rye whiskey.
2 or 3 small lumps of ice.
Fill up the glass with sweet cider.

Grumble, I suppose “sweet cider” really means apple juice. But what fun is that?

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.

Stars and Stripes Cocktail

Stars and Stripes
1/3 Crème de Cassis. (1/2 oz Brizard Cassis)
1/3 Maraschino. (1/2 oz Luxardo Maraschino)
1/3 Green Chartreuse. (1/2 oz Green Chartreuse)
Use liqueur glass and pour carefully so that ingredients do not mix.

My favorite Chartreuse story happened one Savoy Night at Alembic.

A few New York bartenders were in town and stopped by to celebrate the birthday of a local bartender. One of the gentlemen who stopped by was Mr. Toby Maloney. Mr. Maloney took it as his prerogative to attempt to drink us out of Cynar, one glass at a time. However, later in the evening, as he was talking to a young lady at the end of the bar, he discovered she had not, thus far in her life, experienced the joys of Green Chartreuse. A situation he felt should be rectified immediately. I grabbed the bottle of Chartreuse from the back bar and poured the young lady a shot. When I brought it over, Toby gave me a look and asked where our shots were, because surely a lady should not drink alone. Goddamn! While I agree young women should not drink alone, I was going to have to drink a shot of 110 proof Green Chartreuse! Back to the backbar, grab the chartreuse, pour two more shots. As I was bringing the shots of Chartreuse back to Toby, Daniel Hyatt noticed and asked me what we were drinking. I handed him a glass, he took a sniff, growled, “Psychopaths!” and handed back the glass. We did run out of Cynar before the night’s end.

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.

Boothby’s Ten Commandments: X.

Boothby

As I mentioned before, Anchor Distilling recently reprinted the 1891 edition of “Cocktail Boothby’s American Bar-Tender“.

As someone who is somewhat involved in the bartender trade, I always enjoy going through old books and reading the advice that appears. Usually, I am amazed at how little has changed. How valid pieces of advice contained in a book from 1891 can be 118 years later.

So I thought I would go through Boothby’s “Ten Commandments” for bartenders one by one and see which ones still make sense for the 21st Century.

X. After a party has finished drinking, remove the glassware from the bar as soon as possible, and dry and polish the bar top immediately, never allowing a particle of moisture to remain. This is a very important rule.

I know it is unappealing to customers to see a used place setting or drink before they sit down, but this quote reminded me of a passage that Philip Duff recently wrote on Joerg Meyer’s blog:

Philip Duff left DOOR 74 in Amsterdam

7. It Is Cool To Be A Waiter
I have defined myself as a bartender for twenty years.I am perhaps the world’s worst waiter, and would have to be serving alongside Stevie Wonder to be come anywhere but last in a Waiting League Table. In my athletic and carefree youth, I recoiled from the idea of waitering with as much shock and horror as a Pope would when, unwrapping his Christmas presents in front of the prelates, it turns out that prankster Richard Dawkins has sent him a dual-speed Sybian machine and a tub of Vaseline. I was, not to put too fine a point on it, a bit of a fundamentalist. “Once a waiter, never a bartender!” we used to snigger back in the day. But in the course of hosting and waitering in my bar, I learned to love it. It is a different set-up to bartending: as a bartender, you just stand there and guests come to you. It fascinated me to be able to welcome people, seat them, serve them and look after them. It was so much easier to make them happy, I discovered. I still suck mightily at the technique of waitering, you understand – mere mention of my tray skills is enough to give the remaining door 74 staff the haunted look of Vietnam veterans hearing the whop-whop-whop of helicopter rotors – but I love taking care of people in a way that goes beyond drinks.

As someone who only ever worked back of house in restaurants, it’s a bit of a trip for me to actually have to talk to people about the food and wine we serve in our restaurant. I mean not only talk to people but act as a (pathetically bad) waiter. Under the right circumstances I can geek out about cocktails and spirits until the cows come home, but to actually get the whole gestalt of a bar/restaurant thing is a challenge. Answer questions like, “What wine is the best choice with this dish?” or, “What dishes would you recommend?”

I read Michael Procopio’s Food for the Thoughtless and Vanessa Vachit-Vadakian’s blog good things come to those who wait.  I try to parse the lessons from those resources and others to improve my hospitality skills.

Some nights at the bar, I feel like I learn more from the wait staff about service, than about cocktails.

I was talking to a friend about it and he had the exactly right insight.

No matter how important a lot of people want to try to make bartending seem, star bartenders and all that bullshit, at the most basic, it is a minimum wage service job.  Period.

If you can’t hang with that, or if you don’t get any satisfaction out of SERVING customers, well, maybe this is the wrong career for you.

Serious.