Wax Cocktail

Wax Cocktail
3 Dashes Orange Bitters. (3 dashes Regan’s Orange Bitters.)
1 Glass Plymouth Gin. (2 oz Hayman’s Old Tom Gin.)
Shake (I stirred) well and strain into cocktail glass.

This Savoy Cocktail probably originated from Robert Vermiere’s “Cocktails: How to Mix Them,” in which he notes, “This cocktail is well known in Vancouver and also in British Columbia.”

Did you hear that, Matt and Darcy?  Yer ancestors were drinking cold gin and not much else to keep themselves warm up there on the tundra, not some sort of fancy drink with your Canadian so-called “Whisky”.

Yeah, this will warm you up, that’s for sure.

I don’t know why I made this with the Hayman’s, some sort of Brain Fart, I guess.  I should have stuck with my usual 1 oz Plymouth, 1 oz Bols, it probably would have been tastier. But it isn’t bad with the Hayman’s, either. I think I just didn’t feel like drinking high proof Gin, so the 80 Proof of the Hayman’s seemed, oh, comforting, compared to the hard justice of the 94 Proof Plymouth.

Some evenings just aren’t Film Noir evenings.

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.

Vermouth Cocktail

Vermouth Cocktail
1 Glass Italian or French Vermouth. (2 oz Carpano Antica)
4 Dashes Orange or 1 Dash Angostura Bitters. (4 Dashes Angostura Orange Bitters)
Stir well and strain into cocktail glass.

Well, that certainly is very literally a Vermouth Cocktail!

Not sure what else to say about it, but that is what it is.

It is tasty, if you like whatever Vermouth you are using. And it would definitely suck mightily with a not very tasty Vermouth. Fortunately, I am very fond of Carpano Antica Italian Vermouth, so had no trouble tossing this back.

I would say, it really isn’t all that necessary to give this a long stir, especially if your Vermouth is already chilled.

Which reminds me, sometimes I get the odd question about where to keep opened bottles of Vermouth.

The sad fact is, the best place to keep open Vermouth is the refrigerator. It will quickly oxidize and lose herbal complexity after it is opened if kept at room temperature.

Not sure if I would go so far as to agree with Kingsley Amis’ argument that a man needs his own refrigerator, but at least come to some sort of understanding with your significant other about those stray bottles of Syrup and Vermouth.

And if you don’t go through a lot of Vermouth, do try to buy 375ml bottles, if it is possible, especially of Dry Vermouth, and maybe have only one bottle of French and one bottle of Italian style vermouths open at one time.

One thing I have found is that Dry Vermouth makes excellent cooking wine and braising liquid, which helps turnover, at least in our house. I’m always deglazing pans and such.

I haven’t ever figured out any culinary use for Sweet Vermouth, so perhaps a brace or two of “Vermouth Cocktails” every so often wouldn’t be a bad thing.

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.

Valencia Cocktail (No. 2)

First, just a reminder that Sunday, October 31st, 2010, is our monthly exercise in folly, Savoy Cocktail Book Night at Alembic Bar. If any of the cocktails 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.

Valencia Cocktail (No. 2)
4 Dashes Orange Bitters. (4 dashes Angustura Orange Bitters)
1/3 Orange Juice. (3/4 oz Fresh Orange Juice)
2/3 Apricot Brandy. (1 1/2 oz Brizard Apry Liqueur)
Shake well, strain into medium size glass, and fill with Champagne (Cavas Hill Cava). (Long Orange Peel Garnish.)

Hm, there really is the kernel of a good drink here, but this is far, far too sweet.

Let’s re-imagine this just a bit:

4 dashes Angostura Orange Bitters
3/4 oz Orange Juice
3/4 oz Brizard Apry
3/4 oz Chateau Pellehaut Armagnac
Cava

Ah, now that is much better, in fact pretty close to delicious and recommendable. Definitely an improvement over your bog standard Mimosa or Bellini. Brunch with a kick.

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.

Valencia Cocktail (No. 1)

First, just a reminder that Sunday, October 31st, 2010, is our monthly exercise in folly, Savoy Cocktail Book Night at Alembic Bar. If any of the cocktails 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.

Valencia Cocktail (No. 1)
4 Dashes Orange Bitters. (4 dashes Angostura Orange Bitters)
1/3 Orange Juice. (3/4 oz Valencia Orange Juice)
2/3 Apricot Brandy. (1 1/2 oz Brizard Apry)
Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

Well, it isn’t bad, exactly, if it is a bit sweet. Just needs a little jolt, would some booze have killed anyone? At least you are allowed a rather generous hand with the bitters.

One of those cocktails, and there are many, which makes you wonder over the character of juice oranges in the early part of the 20th Century.

PS. There was no Whiskey in this cocktail, even though there is a bottle in the picture, and the cocktail could have used some. That was just leftover from the Up-To-Date.

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.

Tuxedo Cocktail (No. 2)

Tuxedo Cocktail (No. 2)
1 Dash Maraschino. (2.5ml or 1/2 tsp Luxardo Maraschino)
1 Dash Absinthe. (2.5ml or 1/2 tsp Greenway Distiller’s Absinthe)
2 Dashes Orange Bitters. (1 Dash Angostura Orange Bitters)
1/2 Dry Gin. (1 oz Ransom Old Tom Gin)
1/2 French Vermouth. (1 oz Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth or Sutton Cellars Vermouth)
Shake (I stirred) well and strain into cocktail glass. Add a cherry. Squeeze lemon peel on top.

Interestingly, in “Barflies and Cocktails”, Harry McElhone calls for “Sir R. Burnett’s Old Tom Gin” in this cocktail.

Well, that give me an excuse to use a more interesting Gin! Yay, Ransom!

Aside from using the Ransom, this is a much more interesting cocktail, even if it is just a Martinez with French Vermouth. The Maraschino and the Orange Bitters really pump up the volume of the somewhat plain “Tuxedo No. 1″.

The Sutton vs. Noilly test was not so obvious with the Tuxedo Cocktail No. 2. I tasted the two cocktails, then put them into the fridge for Michele to taste when she got home. When we tasted them, I could tell they were different, but had a hard time deciding which was which, or which I preferred. I believe Michele even said she preferred the Sutton Cellars version this time. Basically, I think the more intense gin, bitters, liqueurs, and Absinthe just plowed the vermouth under.

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.

Turf Cocktail

Turf Cocktail
2 Dashes Orange Bitters. (2 Dash Angostura Orange Bitters)
2 Dashes Maraschino. (2 Dash Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur)
2 Dashes Absinthe. (2 Dash Lucid Absinthe)
1/2 French Vermouth. (1 oz Noilly Prat Dry or 1 oz Sutton Cellars Vermouth)
1/2 Plymouth Gin. (1/2 oz Junipero, 1/2 oz Genevieve)
Shake (I stirred) well and strain into cocktail glass.

I was reading a post over at Ummamimart about Perucchi Vermouth, which we sadly do not have in the Bay Area, and I noticed that Payman had mentioned Sutton Cellars Vermouth in a comment.

Later in the comment thread, Carl Sutton chimed in with some corrections.

Thinking about it, I realized I had never really given the old college try to using the Sutton Cellars Vermouth in Savoy Cocktails.

So I thought I’d pick up a fresh bottle of Sutton Cellars and a fresh bottle of Noilly Prat Dry and put them up against each other in cocktails.

The Turf Cocktail, which Robert Vermeire attributes to “Harry Johnson, New Orleans,” is actually one of my all time favorite aromatic Gin cocktails.  As usual, this is a combination of Gin and Dry Vermouth with a couple dashes of this and that.  In this case the this is Absinthe and the that is Maraschino Liqueur.  Like the Imperial Cocktail, this transforms a simple Fifty-Fifty Martini into something completely other.

Not relying on my own taste, I also ran both of these past Mrs. Flannestad in a blind tasting, even though aromatic gin cocktails are not her favorite.  The general consensus was, in the case of the Turf Cocktail, we preferred the cocktail made with Noilly Prat Dry to the one with Sutton Cellars.   While the Noilly Turf was balanced and smooth, the Sutton Cellars Turf seemed to have a tart character which overshadowed the other elements in the drink.

Didn’t hear from the specialist for a few days, so finally, two days before the Biopsy, I call the office to ask about my test results. The Doctor isn’t in, but the nurse tells me the numbers from one of the tests was “abnormal” .  I should still plan on coming in for the biopsy.

Ooof.

This was a pretty big let down. Needless to say, it put me in a pretty bad mood.

The morning of the appointment, I got ready as advised (don’t ask,) and Michele gave me a ride to the office. It was in one of the depressingly dingy San Francisco Kaiser offices, which always seem to be in some form of remodeling or another and filled with sick, or otherwise mutilated, senior citizens.

The nurse takes me to the office and tells me to take off my clothes and put on the surgical gown.

I sit in the office, mostly naked, shivering, for about 20 minutes, contemplating surgical devices which don’t look like they would have been out of place in the David Cronenberg film “Dead Ringers”. I eye the specimen jars with my name on them.

Finally, the Doctor finally comes in. He tells me they just got back some more blood results, and, in fact, my numbers are “normal”. In line with my results the year before. We don’t have to proceed with the biopsy, just keep an eye on this for the future.

Stunned and confused, I say, “Uh, What?”

“You can put your clothes back on and leave.”

“Uh, thanks. OK.”

As I’m leaving, the nurse says, “You got lucky today. I hope your numbers stay low.”

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.

Tropical Cocktail

Tropical Cocktail
1 Dash Angostura Bitters. (1 dash Angostura Bitters)
1 Dash Orange Bitters. (1 dash Angostura Orange)
1/3 Crème de Cacao. (1 barspoon Bols Creme de Cacao)
1/3 Maraschino. (1 barspoon Luxardo Maraschino)
1/3 French Vermouth. (2 oz Noilly Prat Vermouth)

Stir well, strain into a cocktail glass, with cherry.

Well, if there is anything that might put me off of drinking, it’s probably this concoction. Jeez, equal parts of French Vermouth, Maraschino, and Creme de Cacao? It doesn’t even have any booze!

I had some idle hope that this could be saved, a la Chrysanthemum, to make a pleasant light aperitif Coctkail. Nope, this just doesn’t appeal, at all, even slightly dried out. I can’t imagine what this would taste like as the dessert cocktail it sounds like in the recipe.

After a few months of over doing it, what with the trips to Spain, Chicago, and Wisconsin, it was about time to cut back significantly on the drinking. There was just a little too much grease in the wheels, things were getting a little blurry.

I have a couple friends who manage to balance abstention with bartending, so I thought I would give that a try for a while.

Got through a couple weeks of drying out, started feeling pretty good. Michele was proud of me. I was only straw tasting at the bar, and only tasting Savoy Cocktails. It was quite pleasant not to have quite the adjustment on Mondays that I had been having, from the drinking to the sober life.

Feeling good, it seemed like it was about time to get some things out of the way: Visit the Dentist, Get a check-up from my Doctor.

Dentist visit went well, they even praised me for the job I had been doing flossing. Gum health good. Woo!

Visited the Doctor. Blood pressure good, cholesterol not bad, Doctor said I was seeming pretty healthy.

Then later in the week, I got a call. My Doctor would like to schedule a visit to a specialist, to follow up on some of the numbers in one of the tests. They were a little high for someone my age.

Yeah, that’s just great. Just like life. Mostly give up drinking, feeling healthy, good attitude. Then the Doctor tells you, “Oh, by the way, you might have cancer.”

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.

Trocadero Cocktail

Trocadero Cocktail
1 Dash Orange Bitters. (Angostura Orange)
1 Dash Grenadine. (Small Hand Foods Grenadine)
1/2 French Vermouth. (1 1/2 oz Dolin Dry)
1/2 Italian Vermouth. (1 1/2 oz Carpano Antica)
Stir well and strain into cocktail glass. Add cherry (Amarena Toschi Cherries) and squeeze lemon peel (or orange peel, if you’re out of lemons) on top.

Puzzlingly, Robert Vermeire notes the Trocadero is a, “Recipe of the Bremen Trocadero, 1910.”

I can’t find much information, there is a Trocadero Square in Bremen, Germany. Perhaps there was a club?

A pleasant, slightly sweet, mixture of Italian and French Vermouth, this is a nice, light diversion. Not earth shaking, but then, sometimes a drink doesn’t need to be.

As someone who has self medicated with alcohol for all of my adult life, I often wonder if I can teach myself new tricks.

I mean, sure, I haven’t been a truly bad dog for a number of years, but at some point in middle age isn’t a path towards more moderation a good idea?

My father-in-law recently mentioned, perhaps concerned about my recent dabbling in bartending, that as people he knew grew older, they either slowed down their drinking or tended to fall off the deep end.

But as someone who hasn’t believed in the existence of a higher power beyond the awestruck beauty of the random universe since high school, there won’t be any church basement meetings in my near future. I did my time in churches when I was growing up. I won’t be taking those 12 easy steps back into the chapel.

I mean, oddly, I do often see the groups of whatever Anonymous on their path from one meeting to another during my morning commute. Clutching their booklets filled with meeting schedules and locations. Glancing about nervously, concerned for the well being of their fellow man, and whether they will make it to the next meeting on time.

I do sometimes think they are better people, more caring, than the rest of us jaded commuters. They are certainly more willing to help a homeless person in need.

Maybe I have just been too lucky. I haven’t (so far) lost a house, a job, or a marriage because of my drinking.

Some time in our 30s, Michele and I decided having a few “alcohol-free days” a week would be a good idea.

Since then, we generally try to have at least 3 dry days a week, used to be Sunday through Tuesday.

This had been working pretty well until I started bartending on Sunday nights. Let’s just say, some bartenders drink more than others while they’re working, and they don’t like to drink alone.

And while it is easy to resist, say, the challenge to chug bottles of Pabst, when someone asks me if I would like to have a taste of some very tasty rum or whiskey with them, I do have a hard time saying, “no”. Weakness or character flaw on my part, I know.

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.

Trilby Cocktail (No 2)

First, just a reminder that this Sunday, September 26, 2010, is our monthly exercise in folly, Savoy Cocktail Book Night at Alembic Bar. If any of the cocktails 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.

Trilby Cocktail (No. 2)
2 Dashes Absinthe. (2 dash Lucid Absinthe)
2 Dashes Orange Bitters. (2 dash Angostura Orange)
1/3 Parfait Amour Liqueur. (3/4 oz Pages Parfait Amour)
1/3 Scotch Whisky. (3/4 oz Famous Grouse Scotch)
1/3 Italian Vermouth. (3/4 oz Carpano Antica Vermouth)
Shake (I stirred) well and strain into cocktail glass.

Wow, this is possibly THE least appealing cocktail I’ve made so far from the Savoy Cocktail Book. Not only does it taste and smell like Grandma Squeezins’, but it is also a most unappealing inky black color, as if you had spilled squid ink into a glass. Who knew Grandma had such a black heart? I can’t really think of anything to recommend it.

You know those folks who tell you to make a Martini by just looking at the vermouth bottle? They’re wrong. But believe me, you’ll be better off if you make a Trilby Cocktail (No. 2) by pouring yourself a glass of nice Scotch. Say, something like this Murray McDavid bottling from Clynelish suggested to me by Amy at Cask Store.  Then just look at a roll of Violet Candies. Preferably from across the room. Actually, I think the candies are a little dangerously close to the Scotch in this picture, chance of violet contamination. Get them this close, at your own risk.  If you’re really feeling daring, maybe make yourself a Rob Roy, just leave the violets out of it.

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.

Trilby Cocktail (No. 1)

First, just a reminder that this Sunday, September 26, 2010, is our monthly exercise in folly, Savoy Cocktail Book Night at Alembic Bar. If any of the cocktails 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.

Trilby Cocktail (No. 1)
2 Dashes Orange Bitters. (2 dashes Angostura Orange Bitters)
1/2 Italian Vermouth. (1 oz Carpano Antica Vermouth)
1/2 Dry Gin. (1 oz Anchor Junipero Gin)
Shake (I stirred) well and strain into cocktail glass.

Well, there’s nothing wrong with a Martinez, as I always say. I’ve made about a hundred cocktails nearly or exactly like this one, and never really get tired of them. Endless subtle variation, just due to vermouth, gin, or bitters choices.

Absolutely nothing wrong with minor variation, and the Trilby No. 1 is absolutely tasty.

Note the top from my spiffy new Audio Technica ATH-M50 Headphones. (No advt.) We’ve had construction going on at work which has made my life kind of miserable. While not actively noise cancelling, these have pretty good insulation which allows me to listen to music instead of drilling. Very comfortable too, with natural sound and good bass response. A significant quality of life/work upgrade and worth the investment.

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.