Cocktails for Cat Sitters

Had a party last night for the folks who took care of our cats the last time we were out of town.

Here’s the cocktail menu and recipes, in case any of those folks want to make the drinks at home…

Cocktails for Catsitters:

Last Word: 3/4 oz Plymouth Gin; 3/4 oz Green Chartreuse; 3/4 oz Lime; and 3/4 oz Maraschino Liqueur. Shake with ice and strain into cocktail glass.
Rathbone Sour: 2 oz Plymouth Gin; 1/2 oz Lemon; 1/4 oz Rich Simple Syrup; Basil; and Cucumber. Muddle cucumber in Simple. Add basil and lightly press. Add remaining ingredients, shake with ice and strain into cocktail glass.
Elderflower Fizz: 2 oz Plymouth Gin; 1 oz Lemon; 1/2 oz St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur; 1/2 oz Rich Simple Syrup. Shake with ice and strain into champagne flute or wine glass. Top with soda water or selzer.
Park Slope: 1 1/2 oz Rittenhouse bonded Rye Whiskey, 3/4 oz Punt e Mes, 3/4 oz Rothman and Winter Orchard Apricot Liqueur. Stir with ice and strain into cocktail glass.
Mojito: 1 1/2 oz Havana Club Anejo Blanco Rum, 1 oz Lime Juice, 3/4 oz Rich Simple Syrup, Mint Leaves. In a double old fashioned glass, press Mint leaves in Simple Syrup with muddler. Add Rum, Lime Juice and stir. Add ice, stir again, and top with soda water or selzer.

Belmont Cocktail

Belmont Cocktail

1/3 Grenadine. (3/4 oz Homemade Grenadine)
2/3 Dry Gin. (1 1/2 oz Beefeater’s Gin)
1 Teaspoonful Fresh Cream.

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

I can’t say I had much hope for this one. Gin, grenadine, and cream. I think, however, I am again saved by homemade grenadine. I have no doubt I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed this cocktail made with Rose’s or Fee’s Grenadine. However, with my moderately sweet and pretty darn flavorful home made version of grenadine, it’s not bad at all. In fact, it’s another in the relatively small club of Savoy cocktails with dairy that I actually managed to finish.

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 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.

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!

The Mystery of Hercules

Angler Cocktail

2 Dashes Angostura Bitters.
2 Dashes Orange Bitters. (1 dash Regan’s Orange Bitters 1 Dash Fee’s Orange Bitters)
1/3 Hercules. (3/4 oz Spice infused Dubonnet Rouge)
2/3 Dry Gin. (1 1/2 oz Beefeater Dry Gin)

Shake (stir, please) well and strain into cocktail glass. (Garnish with a lemon twist.)

Embarrassing cocktail geekery: In his book, “Cocktails: How to make them” Robert Vermeire notes, “This cocktail is very popular in Bohemia and Czecho-Slovakia. It was introduced by V.P. Himmelreich.” Also, instead of Hercules, he calls for “Vantogrio”, which he describes as, “a local non-alcoholic Syrup.” No idea about the nature of “Vantogrio”. Vermeire suggests garnishing the cocktail with a lemon twist, which seems like a fine idea to me.

Hercules is the first completely puzzling ingredient we come across in the Savoy Cocktail Book.

To this day no one has turned up an unopened bottle and only a few details have been discovered regarding what sort of ingredient it might have been or what it might have tasted like.

Up until relatively recently many of the leading lights of the cocktail scene, based on some information in Stan Jones’ “Jones’ Complete Bar Guide,” had assumed that Hercules was an “Absinthe Substitute.”

While we don’t know whether that is the case, or to what extent it may be true, recently, over on the “Hercules, Absinthe Substitute? Red Wine Aperitif?” topic on advertisements and other information have been uncovered giving us a few additional pieces of the puzzle.

We have discovered conclusive evidence it was a fortified wine aperitif, spiced, and juiced up with Yerba Mate.

Unfortunately, we still have no idea what spices were used, beyond the Yerba-Mate.  So I decided to split the difference and make an aperitif wine fortified using Yerba-Mate infused vodka.  In addition to the Yerba-Mate, I included some of the same spices commonly used in Absinthe. To 1/2 cup of vodka I added: 1 heaping teaspoon Yerba-Mate, 1 teaspoon crushed Anise Seed, 1 teaspoon crushed fennel, 1 crushed star anise. I let this steep for a few hours, filtered it through cheesecloth, and added it to a bottle of Dubonnet Rouge I had in the fridge.  Then I left it to sit for a couple days for the flavors to marry. It’s actually not bad. Fairly Absinthe-like. Maybe a bit heavy on the fennel.

The cocktail itself ain’t bad. To me the Spiced Dubonnet is still a little flat. I’m tempted to add a touch of citrus zest or maybe fresh red wine to liven it up.

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.

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Cherry Bomb

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Cherry Bomb

1/4 Cherry Brandy (Massenez Creme de Griotte)
1/4 Cointreau
1/2 Aged Rum (Rhum Barbancourt 5 star)

Use liqueur glass and pour carefully so that ingredients do not mix. Serve with 1/6 lime on top and squeeze into glass before imbibing.

When I was making all those Pousse-Cafe type “Angel” cocktails, I was trying to think of some version of a layered cocktail that I could hang with. Something that maybe had some bite to it. I thought of this cocktail first as a combination of ingredients, rum, cherry and lime being particularly good together. When I was trying to think of a name, some sort of 1970s era hot rod thing since it is a “shooter”, the Runaways song “Cherry Bomb” popped into my head.

Hello Daddy, hello Mom
I’m your ch ch ch ch ch cherry bomb
Hello world I’m your wild girl
I’m your ch ch ch ch ch cherry bomb

And I thought, “Cherry Bomb”, perfect! The cherry brandy is at the bottom, so this is exactly a cherry bomb. Unfortunately, there are about a million cocktails and shooters with the slightly salacious name, “Cherry Bomb”, so I took the repeated “ch” from the Runaways song and tacked it on.

Couple notes, getting the rum to float on top of the Cointreau can be a bit tricky. This rum, which fortunately I really enjoy, worked. Others didn’t. Also, I thought it was kind of cool how the lime juice, when you add it, settles to the bottom of the rum and hangs there, on top of the Cointreau.

OK, it’s not a Pousse-Cafe, it’s a shooter. It is, however, darn tasty!

Winter in California

Winter In California

2 oz Germain-Robin Fine Alambic Brandy
3/4 oz Hachiya Persimmon Puree*
Juice 1 Satsuma Mandarin
1/2 oz Orgeat
1/4 oz Pimento Dram

Shake in an iced cocktail shaker to chill. Strain into cocktail glass.

I was looking through the search terms folks were using and happened to notice that among the more predictable terms, (“Absinthe!” Surprise, surprise!) that a couple days ago someone was searching for “Persimmon Puree Gin.” Well, that’s a bit obscure! Reminded me of an original cocktail I made last winter using Persimmon Puree.

Sorry to disappoint that it doesn’t have any Gin! However, a fine cocktail that I had nearly forgotten. The size could use a bit of tweaking, as it seems like that is about enough for two drinks! Still worth messing around with, if you’ve got the ingredients.

The persimmon puree gives it almost as much body as adding an egg and the spice of the pimento dram complements everything nicely.

*To make Persimmon Puree, simply use a very soft persimmon, wash, take the leaves off of the bottom, cut in quarters, (check for seeds and remove if you find them,) drop in a blender, and buzz until pureed. If you let Fuyu persimmons hang around until they are soft they can also be used.

Soup Noodles

Well, that isn’t Soup Noodles, it’s a Fourth Degree Cocktail:

2 oz Junipero
1/2 oz M&R Sweet Vermouth
1/2 oz Dolin Vermouth
Dash Absinthe
Lemon Peel

Stir with ice and strain into cocktail glass. Squeeze lemon peel over drink.

I just love how you can see the little droplets of lemon oil on the surface of the drink.

The original drink from the early 20th century is equal parts Italian Vermouth, French Vermouth, and Gin with a dash of Absinthe. I’ve dried it out slightly and this cocktail falls right into my sweet spot for aromatic cocktails. Complex, simple, not too sweet, and wonderfully balanced. Just a fantastic cocktail.

Now that’s Soup Noodles.

Soba noodles in broth with baked tofu, mushrooms, spinach and an egg. Usually go for the Chinese style broth with xiao shing rice wine, soy, chile, scallions, garlic, and ginger. Top it off with some cilantro.

Genevieve Julep(?)

Oddly, Genevieve makes a pretty tasty Julep type thing. I mean, you do have to like the flavor of the gin to start with. Also mint goes well with the odd Italian herbal liqueur Strega. As always, I am thinking, why not put these tastes together?

1/2 oz Strega
Sprigs Mint
2 oz Genevieve

In the bottom of a bar glass or julep cup, bruise several sprigs of mint in the strega. Remove sprigs. Add fine ice and Genevieve, churn with spoon to mix, and garnish with fresh mint sprigs. Serve with a straw.

I’d say, add an Absinthe float, but that’s probably gilding the lily or paving the highway to hell.

Affinity Cocktail

Affinity Cocktail

1/3 French Vermouth. (1 oz Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth)
1/3 Italian Vermouth. (1 oz Cinzano Rosso Vermouth)
1/3 Scotch Whisky. (1 oz Compass Box Asyla)
2 Dashes Angostura Bitters.

Stir well and strain into cocktail glass. Squeeze lemon peel on top.

Now, I haven’t really ever been much of a Scotch fan.

I know, I know, great world class whisky and all that. It’s some sort of personal failure on my part, I’m sure.

The Asyla, though, I quite enjoy.

Compass Box makes what is called “Vatted Scotch Whisky”. That is, Compass Box buys Scotch from other distillers, blends a bunch of them together with a particular flavor profile in mind, ages them, and then bottles them.

The Asyla is a pretty interesting Whisky. It is fairly mild, as Scotches go, with some nice briny notes. But, none of the extreme peat or smoke of the Islay type malts.

The Affinity Cocktail is basically a “Perfect” Scotch Manhattan. That is, Scotch Whisky with equal parts of Sweet and Dry Vermouth.

I was very tempted to reduce the Vermouths slightly; but, went out on a limb and let it stand as is.

Certainly glad I did!

As made, one of my favorite cocktails, so far, from the Savoy Cocktail Book.

The Vermouth and Bitters temper and accent the briny and savory notes of the whisky.


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.