Mint Cooler

First, just a reminder that Sunday, September 25, 2011, is our monthly exercise in folly, Savoy Cocktail Book Night at Alembic Bar. If any of the cocktails, (they also have a great beer selection,) on this blog have captured your fancy, stop by after 6 and allow the skilled bartenders, (and me,) to make them for you. It is always a fun time.

Mint Cooler
1 Glass Scotch Whisky. (2 oz 40 Creek 3 Grain Canadian Whisky)
3 Dashes Crème de Menthe. (1 teaspoon Brizard Creme de Menthe)
Use tumbler. 1 lump of Ice and fill with soda water.

Sorry, I don’t have any cheap blended Scotch in the house, and I couldn’t bring myself to make this with Single Malt.

So I made it with Canadian “Whisky” instead. Hey! At least they spell it the same.

It’s kind of like a Whisky Stinger, which, I guess, isn’t exactly a bad thing. At least the creator of the drink was somewhat stingy with the Creme de Menthe.

Still, it tastes kind of like kissing someone who was trying to cover their long afternoon at the distillery tasting room by brushing their teeth.

Kind of cute, but I prefer the straight whisky flavor. You don’t have to lie to me.

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

White Wings Cocktail

White Wings Cocktail
1/3 White Crème de Menthe. (3/4 oz Brizard Creme de Menthe)
2/3 Dry Gin. (1 1/2 oz Anchor Genevieve)
Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

Are you in need of a breath mint?

Why this cocktail is just the ticket!

Whether or not the wind lifts your White Wings will solely be determined by how much you enjoy the flavor of mint.

The Stinger Cocktail does survive somehow as a refreshing post dinner libation, this really isn’t that far from a Gin version of same.

Is it bad?

No, not really.

Is it something I will likely make again?

No, probably not.

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.

Virgin Cocktail

Virgin Cocktail
1/3 Forbidden Fruit Liqueur. (1 tsp. Home Made Forbidden Fruit)
1/3 White Crème de Menthe. (1/2 tsp. Brizard Creme de Menthe)
1/3 Dry Gin. (1 1/2 oz Martin Miller’s Gin)
(3/4 oz Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth)
Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

The Savoy’s likely source for this gem of a cocktail was likely Harry McElhone’s 1928 “ABC of Cocktails”. In his book “Barflies and Cocktails”, he notes this is a “Recipe by Pete Ormart”.

I’ve no idea who Pete was or where he worked, but oof, that certainly sounds like a recipe for slightly grapefruity Mouthwash.

I did my best to slightly mitigate the damage by lengthening the recipe with French Vermouth and decreasing the amounts of the liqueurs, but it was still far too minty for me. Maybe just a glass rinse of Menthe would be enough?

Though, there is a bit of similarity between this and Harry McElhone’s original recipe for the White Lady:

White Lady
1/6 Brandy
1/6 Creme de Menthe
2/3 Cointreau
Shake well and strain.

So maybe he just liked that sort of thing, or at least thought White Ladies and Virgins did.

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.

Third Rail Cocktail (No. 1)

Third Rail Cocktail (No. 1)
1 Dash White Mint. (1 dash Brizard Creme de Menthe)
1 Dash Curacao. (1 dash Brizard Orange Curacao)
1 Glass French Vermouth. (2 oz Dolin Dry Vermouth)
Shake (I stirred) well and strain into cocktail glass.

I had some small, idle, hope that this would somehow be another Chrysanthemum Cocktail, an overlooked, light classic.

Well, maybe, if you really like mint, but other wise, it is probably best to heed the sensible advice of many civilizations, and don’t touch the Third Rail.

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.

The Violet Hour

Well, you might have noticed that there were a few “S” cocktails missing from the Savoy Stomp…

Chicago’s a funny city. One of the largest cities in the country, it is also one of the hardest drinking party towns in the Midwest. Gangsters and Speakeasies played a big part during prohibition, but after prohibition, like elsewhere, there was a bit of a lull in cocktail culture.

Even after new classic cocktail bars started opening in New York, San Francisco, and Seattle, the Midwest has lagged behind, caught in the culture of bigger is better.

Chicago, though, seemed like it could do better. A fabulous culinary destination, arguably one of the best in the whole of the United States.  How long until a bar in Chicago took cocktails as seriously as restaurants like Alinea, avec, or blackbird?

With thoughts along those lines, Toby Maloney and his partners opened The Violet Hour in late June of 2007.

Toby,

I’ll be in Chicago for a dinner at Alinea on Thurs.  We’re staying
through the weekend to relax.

Hoping to stop by The Violet Hour (finally!)

Do you still have anything to do with that venue?

I do need to photograph at least this week’s 5 Savoy Cocktails (Star
through Stinger) somewhere in Chicago.

Seemed like The Violet Hour might be a fun place to do it.

Think anyone there would be interested?

Best,

Erik E.

Hey Erik,

I am happy to say I am an owner of The Violet Hour so I will always have my fingers in it. It would be my pleasure to get you a rezo at TVH anytime you want. Many people find a cocktail after Alinea is the perfect thing to decompress and settle the stomach. YAY Cynar.

I am checking with one of my people to see when they can make time for your photo shoot. Do you want the place to be open?

As soon as I hear back I will shoot you an other email.

Cheers,
Toby

Hey Toby,

Alinea is on Pernod-Ricard’s dime and there are quite a few bartenders
in tow, so perhaps we’ll make it over afterwards. I’ll suggest it,
unless they have already been in contact. Those Amaro based cocktails
were looking pretty darn appealing to me, and it is only 11:00AM here.

Usually before open or during a bit of a slow time is best for
photography. If such a thing exists at TVH. Is Saturday jammed from
open? I hate to get in the way of opening chores. Sunday at 5 or 6?
Whatever works.

Would be nice to do a bit of an interview and such, if they don’t
mind, and get some pictures of the atmosphere. Always curious about
the cocktail scene in other locales.

Erik E.

Toby,

Simon Ford appears somewhat taken with the idea of visiting TVH for a
post-prandial nightcap.

Our Alinea reservation is on Thurs at 7, I guess that means some time
around 11 or 12?

I will text closer to the time, if the idea gains traction.

Erik E.

I might need a little more notice than hours. Lynette is in I know, You, your wife and Simon make enough for me to make you a rezo in the back room. Any new info should be txted to me to insure prompt action to this fluid situation.

Cheers,
Toby

Well, nothing like rolling in with a bunch of high profile bartenders who have already been drinking, to put a place on edge. I know I always get nervous. Will they break anything? What will my hangover be like tomorrow morning?

Fortunately, we did not break anything, and all went well. Delicious post-prandial libations, perfect to sate our stuffed stomachs.

The next night Mrs. Flannestad and I traveled back to The Violet Hour in Wicker Park, this time to try a few Savoy Cocktails. Unfortunately, among the next 12, or so, cocktails, there wasn’t a lot of greatness. Michael Rubel did his best to maintain his cool and make the cocktails work. But some were just not that great.

Star Cocktail (No. 1)
1 Teaspoonful Grape Fruit Juice.
1 Dash Italian Vermouth.
1 Dash French Vermouth.
1/2 Calvados or Apple Brandy.
1/2 Dry Gin.
Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.
Harry McElhone notes this was, “A very popular cocktail at the Plaza, New York.”

Tastes, I guess, change. We first tried it with Carpano Antica, Noilly Prat Dry, Busnel V.S.O.P. Calvados, and Anchor Junipero Gin. Pretty close to undrinkable. Michael, not being one to admit defeat, had to mix it again, this time massaging the amounts a bit and using Bombay Gin instead of the Junipero. As he said, “it isn’t going to rock your world,” but it was at least drinkable.

Messing around later, I found a version made with 1 teaspoon M&R Bianco, 1 teaspoon Carpano Antica, 1 teaspoon Grapefruit, 1 oz Laird’s Apple Brandy, and 1 oz Krogstad Aquavit to be actually enjoyable. Your mileage may vary, but, made literally, this classic cocktail is definitely one of questionable merit.

Star Cocktail (No. 2)
1/2 Italian Vermouth.
1/2 Applejack or Calvados.
(dash House “Aromatic Elixir”)
Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

Michael went with 1/2 Carpano Antica, 1/2 Laird’s Bottled in Bond, and, after a brief query, “I’d put bitters in this, wouldn’t you?” he suggested we add Violet Hour House Aromatic Elixir to the cocktail. Maybe it was the previous Star Cocktails, but what a relief to be drinking an Apple Brandy Manhattan! Whew!

Stomach Reviver Cocktail
5 Dashes Angostura Bitters.
1/6 Fernet Branca.
2/3 Brandy.
2/3 Kummel.
Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

This cocktail just seemed so appropriate for a bar which has a section of its cocktail menu based on Amaros! Plus, it’s just odd to find a bar with Kummel on the back bar! We used Maison Surrene Petit Champagne Cognac, Kaiser Kummel, Fernet and around an eighth of an ounce of Angostura!

And nice it was, a fine example of extreme Fernet Mixology. About our only criticism would be, it was almost nicer before it was chilled and diluted. Maybe I’m just used to drinking Fernet at room temp, but the flavors seemed a bit muted after the cocktail was cold.

Stinger Cocktail
1/4 White Crème de Menthe.
3/4 Brandy.
Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to drink a Stinger, but as we were talking, Michael had a funny story. He mentioned that it was one of Dale DeGroff’s favorite cocktails, and when he was working in New York, he got an order from the great man. For some reason, which I fail to exactly recall, he decided to make it, instead of with Cognac, but with a (very nice) Spanish Brandy.

The next Saturday night Michael was working, in the height of the evening’s rush, Mr. DeGroff came back to talk to him, and explain in no uncertain terms, without concern for how busy Mr. Rubel was, precisely why it was wrong to use Spanish Brandy and exactly the way he preferred his Stingers, thank you very much.

Well, after that story, how could I not finish the evening with a Stinger prepared by Mr. Rubel?

This evening we made the stinger with Brizard White Creme de Menthe and Maison Surenne Petit Champagne Cognac.  You can’t say Michael did not learn his lesson. We did serve it up, per the Savoy Cocktail Book, and I believe Mr. DeGroff prefers his over cracked ice. FYI, just in case you get an order for one from him one busy Saturday night.

I can’t say I entirely see the appeal of the Stinger, I did think it could use a bit less Creme de Menthe. I also believe I agree with Mr. DeGroff and prefer it over cracked ice.

This is the violet hour, the hour of hush and wonder, when the affections glow again and valor is reborn, when the shadows deepen magically along the edge of the forest and we believe that, if we watch carefully, at any moment we may see the unicorn.
- Bernard DeVoto “The Hour”

I have to thank Toby and especially Michael and Maura of The Violet Hour staff for making me welcome and putting up with a couple pretty awful Savoy Cocktails. The most inspiring thing, as a bartender and customer, that I took away from our evenings at The Violet Hour, was that the staff were great hosts. I loved watching the truly professional way they interacted with each other, the customers, and kept their bar top in order. Amazing. Although I didn’t see the unicorn this time, I certainly hope it won’t be another 3 years before I get a chance to return and look for it again!

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.

Snowball Cocktail

006

Snowball Cocktail
1/6 Crème de Violette. (1/2 of 3/4 oz Benoit Serres liqueur de violette)
1/6 White Crème de Menthe. (1/2 of 3/4 oz Brizard White Creme de Menthe)
1/6 Anisette. (1/2 of 3/4 oz Anis del Mono dulce)
1/6 Sweet Cream. (1/2 of 3/4 oz Cream)
1/3 Dry Gin. (3/4 oz Tanqueray Gin*)
Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

This is woman’s work.

I have, in the past, put myself on record as saying this is possibly one of the worst cocktails in the entire Savoy cocktail Book.

Oddly, I have made this monstrosity on more than one occasion during our Savoy Cocktail Book Nights at Alembic Bar. In fact, one time it was even an out of town bartender who asked for it. I was like, “Really?! You know what is in that, right?” Yet he persisted in his desire to experience the Snowball. Curious. Whenever we make it there, it just seems so much worse than anything else we make in the course of the evening.

Considered on its own, however, and in this rather diminutive size, I am not entirely sure it is without its own charms. Perhaps it was my choice of brands? Tanqueray having a bit more spine than the usual Beefeater, Benoit Serres being a fine Violette, Brizard being a tasty Menthe, and Anis del Mono, one of the finest spanish Anis.

In any case, this wasn’t quite the creamy mouthwash disaster I remember. Still, as the Savoy Cocktail Book sez, this really is “Women’s Work”.

*The jungle wrapped, half bottle of Tanqueray Gin used in this cocktail was sent to me by a firm promoting the brand, and, as you may have read on other blogs, the putative birthday of Charles Tanqueray, alleged inventor of the gin. I actually like to have Tanqueray in the house, as it is a fine example of Juniper heavy London Dry Gin. However, as it is rather more expensive than the always useful Beefeater, I often pass it up and save my “special gin” money for things like Junipero. Drinking it in this cocktail, I am reminded that it is really a very good gin.

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.

Shamrock Cocktail

017

Shamrock Cocktail
3 Dashes Green Crème de Menthe. (5ml Brizard White Creme de Menthe)
3 Dashes Green Chartreuse. (5ml Green Chartreuse)
1/2 French Vermouth. (1 oz Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth)
1/2 Irish Whisky. (1 oz Bushmill’s Single Malt 10 Year)
Shake (I stirred) well and strain into cocktail glass.

Departures: First, I don’t have Green Creme de Menthe, and sorry, I’m not about to buy any. It tastes the same as the White, it’s just green, due to added artificial color. Second, I’m undersizing these dashes. Previously, I was holding out at 2.5ml for fluid dashes, but I know, with that 7.5ml Creme de Menthe, this would just taste like mouthwash.

And in fact, this does just taste like Mouthwash, as it is. There’s probably a much better drink here with 7.5ml Green Chartreuse and a wash of creme de menthe. Heck, a spanked mint sprig would be plenty of mint for this drink, and it would come by its green color naturally.

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.

Monte Carlo Imperial Cocktail

Monte Carlo Imperial Cocktail

Monte Carlo Imperial Cocktail

1/2 Dry Gin. (1 oz Broker’s Gin)
1/4 Lemon Juice. (1/2 oz Lemon Juice)
1/4 White Crème de Menthe. (1/2 oz Brizard White Creme de Menthe)

Shake well and strain into medium-size glass and fill up with Champagne (Louis Bouillot Cremant de Bourgogne Rose Perle d’Aurore).

Was explaining to the house guests the nature of the Savoy Stomp, and they were asking about what cocktails were coming up. The Creme de Menthe here certainly caught their attention. “Sounds Horrible!” “How many more cocktails do you have to make?” and similar.

Those of us who tried the Monte Carlo Imperial found it far less awful than you might imagine. Helps, I suppose, that the Brizard Creme de Menthe is not an awful liqueur. General response was, “If someone was offering it to me and nothing better, I wouldn’t turn it down.”

It is, nothing but a French 75 with Creme de Menthe as a sweetener instead of sugar.

The mint makes it a bit girly, but certainly nothing near the “pour down the sink” category. In fact, not at all far from the well regarded Old Cuban.

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.

Mint Cocktail

Mint Cocktail

Mint Cocktail
(6 People)
Soak a few sprigs of fresh mint for two hours in a glass and a half of White Wine (3/4 oz Les Domains Tatins, 2007, Quincy/Domaine du Tremblay). Add half a glass of Crème de Menthe (1/4 oz Brizard Creme de Menthe), 2 Glasses of Gin (1 oz Broker’s Gin) and 1 1/2 glasses of White Wine (3/4 oz Les Domains Tatins, 2007, Quincy/Domaine du Tremblay). Ice and shake (or stir if you prefer) thoroughly. Serve with a sprig of mint tastefully arranged in each glass.

Not sure how tastefully arranged that mint sprig is, but what can you do?

We skipped this one at NOPA, as we hadn’t planned ahead with the mint soaking.

Not exactly sure why I picked this wine, but it does really work in this cocktail. And plus, afterwards, you’re left with most of a delicious (and reasonable) bottle of Loire white. I don’t know about you, but I certainly won’t complain about that.

Initially my tastes sort of rebelled at this cocktail. Tastes like wine… Something…Not…Right… But after a while I settled in to the light minty taste. After I finished the cocktail, I poured some plain wine in my glass, figuring it would be more enjoyable. Nice, sure. And if I had a dozen oysters around, maybe sublime. But I missed the flavor of the 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.

Knock Out Cocktail

Knock Out

Knock Out Cocktail

1 Teaspoonful White Crème de Menthe. (Brizard White Creme de Menthe)
1/3 Absinthe. (3/4 oz Absinthe Verte de Fougerolles)
1/3 Dry Gin. (3/4 oz Beefeater Gin)
1/3 French Vermouth. (3/4 oz Dolin Dry Vermouth)

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass. (Garnish with a spanked Mint Sprig.)

Well, this is a lot better than the Glad Eye, and maybe demonstrates a bit better than that cocktail the power of the combination of Absinthe and Mint.

Still, the name is pretty apropos…

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.