John Collins

John Collins
The Juice of 1/2 Lemon. (Juice 1/2 Lemon)
1/2 Tablespoonful Powdered Sugar. (1/4 oz Rich Simple Syrup)
1 glass Hollands Gin. (2 oz Bols Genever)
Shake well and strain into long tumbler. Add 1 lump ice and split of soda water

The last of the Collins family, for Savoy purposes, is the “John Collins”. I guess the interesting part is that in modern bar nomenclature, if you ordered a John Collins you’d likely get a Bourbon Collins, not a Genever Collins. It’s true that Genevers were rather thin on the ground for most of the 20th Century and that during most of that time, London Dry Gin was the dominant style. If you ordered a Genever Collins, you would likely get a blank look. Even in Europe, where Genever was still available, not many people were mixing with it.

Actually, strike that, as far as I know, no one was mixing with it.

To be honest, I’m not super sold on the John Collins as a good use for Genever. Because Genever doesn’t have the botanical intensity of London Dry or Old Tom, it doesn’t have a huge impact in the drink. Basically tastes like boozy, fizzy lemonade. There’s a little maltiness from the Genever, but it doesn’t have much presence in the drink.

It’s perfectly fine, but it doesn’t sell itself. You can definitely see why Genever went by the wayside for drinks of this nature.

No, if you’re going to mix with Genever, make yourself an Improved Holland Gin Cocktail or a Holland House. Those are drinks where the Genever shines.

In the previous Tom Collins Whisky post, I mentioned that I should try making a Collins with unaged Whisk(e)y.

So as a bonus round, I made a half Collins with the Low Gap Clear Whiskey.

Wow, was that good!

I am a little dubious about the whole “White Whiskey” category, but the Low Gap really shines in a Tom Collins. Pot Still for the win!

Highly recommended, maybe my favorite Collins of the bunch.

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.

Tom Collins

First, just a reminder that Sunday, May 22, 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.

Tom Collins
The Juice of 1/2 Lemon.
1/2 Tablespoonful Powdered Sugar.
1 Glass Dry Gin.
Shake well and strain into long tumbler. Add 1 lump ice and split of soda water.

The Tom Collins above was prepared by Rosa at the excellent bar and restaurant Bar Agricole, using Leopold’s Gin. I didn’t get the exact measurements, but she said something like, “Leopold’s Gin, 2-1, with dashes of house made stonefruit bitters.” They were very busy and I didn’t want to hassle her too much. Anyway, it was a delightful and refreshing quaff, I highly recommend stopping Bar Agricole for their Tom Collins, (or their great food.)

I’ve covered the history of the Tom Collins before, in the post about the Conduit Street Punch, so I won’t repeat that information. Short version, the Collins probably started a long time ago as a proper Gin Punch based on Dutch Gin (aka Genever), by the late 19th Century it was a long drink made  Old-Tom Gin, lemon, sugar and soda. By the 1930s, Old Tom was largely extinct and Tom Collins were being made with plain old London Dry Gin.

Sometimes we’ll get asked about the difference between this drink and that during our Savoy Night events. What’s the difference between a Daisy and the Fix or what exactly is the difference between a Collins and a Gin Fizz? I mean aside from the fact that a Tom Collins is served in a Collins glass and a Gin fizz in Gin Fizz Glass?

As we’ll see in a couple weeks, this is the recipe for a Gin Fizz:

Gin Fizz
The Juice of 1/2 Lemon.
1/2 Tablespoonful Powdered Sugar.
1 Glass Gin.
Shake well, strain into medium size glass and fill with syphon soda water.

That’s, yes, pretty much exactly the same ingredients, the same amounts, and nearly the same instructions as for the Tom Collins.

Many modern bartenders will differentiate that the Collins is built in the glass, while the Fizz is shaken and strained. However, it appears that this was not the case at the time the Savoy Cocktail Book was written (or before). Though the Savoy bartenders were apparently using teaspoons of dry sugar, so they really had no choice but to shake.

No, the big difference, as far as I can tell, is that the Collins is usually served over ice, while the fizz is served without ice.

But the other elephant in the room is how much soda is needed to “fill” either the Tom Collins Glass or the Gin Fizz Glass?

While the Savoy Cocktail Book was not particularly detail oriented regarding glassware (or garnishes, or much of anything,) fortunately another book published at around the same time, Patrick Gavin Duffy’s “The Official Mixer’s Manual,” was. He goes so far as to give the reader an illustrated guide to glassware and then indicate with every drink recipe which glass it should be served in. And, even better, he gives some volumes for the glassware.

In the figure above, glass number 10 is the Tom Collins glass, while glass number 12 is what Duffy calls the “Eight Oz. Highball”. This is the glass he directs you to use for fizzes. So if the illustration is to scale, and the “Highball” holds Eight Ounces, it looks like the Tom Collins Glass holds about 12-14 Ounces.

With “One Lump of Ice”, you are getting a lot more soda, almost an entire 10 oz split probably, in your Tom Collins, making it a much milder drink than a Gin Fizz. So that’s the difference, not the Gin, not the lemon, not the sugar, but the size of the glass, the ice, and the amount of soda.

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.

General Harrison’s Egg Nogg

First, just a reminder that Sunday, May 22, 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.

General Harrison’s Egg Nogg
1 Egg. (1 Egg)
1 1/2 Teaspoonsful of Sugar. (1 1/2 Teaspoon Caster Sugar)
2 or 3 Small Lumps of Ice.
Fill the tumbler with Cider (4 oz Astarbe Natural Basque Cider), and shake well.

This is a splendid drink, and is very popular on the Mississippi river. It was the favourite beverage of William Henry Harrison, ninth President of the United States of America.

First off, and let’s get this out of the way, this isn’t Egg Nogg. As far as I am concerned, and no disrespect to the General, this a Cider Flip. Period.

Second, most modern American Hard Cider is awful. Most of them are sweet, vaguely alcoholic, highly carbonated, compounded beverages more closely resembling Zima or Wine Coolers than actual Cider.

William Henry Harrison lived from 1773 to 1841, he would not have recognized these beverages as Hard Cider, or even something fit for adult consumption.

When we talk about the nature of historical ingredients, we rarely talk about the obvious stuff.

The fact is, until relatively recently, fermentation was poorly understood. I mean, people understood the end result and they understood how to control the process, but they really did not understand that it was a specific organism that was consuming the sugars and producing the alcohol. Yeast was pretty much a mystery. This means most fermentation was done using things similar to sourdough starters. This also means most beer was probably sour and most wine far less predictably delightful. The industrialization of these industries just hadn’t happened in the 18th and 19th Centuries.

Likewise, Hard Cider was not inoculated with specific, delightful strains of yeast, it was just fermented with whatever wild yeasts and bacterias were in the air and on the fruit wherever it was being made. Hardly anybody does this anymore, because the results are not really predictable and the beverage you get on the other end may more closely resemble a tart Lambic Ale than an Apple Soda.

It is also worth noting, that opposed to the mild, juicy apples that are often now used to make Hard Cider and Apple Juice, the apples traditionally used to make cider were those you couldn’t eat out of hand. If you talk to someone who makes Calvados, another old, old tradition, they will tell you the only thing the many apple varieties used to make that beverage have in common are that they are small, ugly, and bitter.

So I was contemplating this, wondering if there was some cider I could find that would make sense to use in General Harrison’s Egg Nogg.

Over the past year or two, I’ve become a bit obsessed with naturally fermented beer and wine. I really like the unusual flavors you find in these beverages. I’d tried some more unusual beers and had some Natural wines which really made me perk up and take notice of things that stood outside of my frame of reference for fermented beverages.

One day, when I was visiting with Carl Sutton (of Sutton Cellars), he’d pulled out some Spanish Cider which blew me away. Not only did it have unusual flavors I didn’t associate with Cider, it also had a bracing acidity, that helped me to categorize many of the funky flavors I’d found in Calvados.

When we traveled to Spain last year, I made it my personal goal to try as many Natural Ciders as I could find while we traveled through the Basque and the Asturian regions of Spain. Well, after a couple bottles, none of my traveling companions really shared this enthusiasm. Tart, dry, funky and fairly alcoholic, they soon substituted Wine for the Cider I was drinking.

However, Spanish Cider makes complete sense as the type of Hard Cider someone would have been drinking in the late part of the 18th Century and early part of the 19th, and it makes total sense in the Harrison’s Egg Nogg. The acidity makes that amount of sugar sensible, the funkiness stands up against the egg, and the fact that it is barely carbonated makes it almost possible to shake the drinks without having it explode all over your kitchen or bar.

Forgot to turn on the music today before making the video. Note to self, feed the cats before making videos.

Safety Note: As with any recipe containing uncooked eggs, there is some small chance of salmonella. If that risk bothers you, use pasteurized eggs.

Finding Basque Cider: I got this Astarbe Cider at Healthy Spirits. When talking to them, they asked me to let them know what I thought. He’d gotten it a while ago, excited to find any Basque Cider available in the US. However, it really hadn’t sold very well. Personally, I had a hard time telling them that, yes, they should carry Basque Cider, when they have sold less than a case over what looks like about 5 years. If you disagree, let them know, as there’s only one bottle left. If that last bottle gets sold, and you still want to try Spanish Cider, K&L Wines does carry a Spanish and a Basque Cider.

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.

Egg Nogg

Egg Noggs.

The Egg Nogg is essentially an American Beverage, although it has been appreciated throughout the world for many years. Its introduction throughout Christmas time in the Southern States of America is traditional. In Scotland it is known as “Auld Man’s Milk.”

Egg Nogg
1 Egg.
1 Tablespoonful Powdered Sugar. (Generous Teaspoon Caster Sugar)
1 Glass of any Spirit desired. (2 oz Banks 5 Island Rum)
Fill glass with Milk. (2 oz Meyerberg Goats’ Milk)
Shake well and strain into long tumbler. Grate a little nutmeg on top.

So, if a “Flip” is a Toddy (or Sling) plus an Egg, Egg Nogg is a Cold Toddy (or Sling) plus an egg and a good amount of Milk. Served Hot, Egg Nogg is a Tom and Jerry. Generally, you’ll see these with 1 to 2 (or more) times the Milk as the amount of spirits included. I try not to drink Cows Milk, so I am using equal parts Goats Milk to the Spirits.

Initially I was hoping to split the Spirits between the Banks 5 Island Rum and Barbancourt 5. Sadly, a miscalculation resulted in 2 oz of Banks 5 Island being poured into the mixing tin. Damn it! Well, I can’t say I was entirely pleased, as much as I like Banks 5 Island, I was really looking forward to a bit more of the aged rum taste.

To be honest, Barbancourt 5 Star is about my favorite rum for Egg Nogg, so I was pretty disappointed to have mis-measured the Banks 5 Island. I guess I could have made two Noggs.

Still, the Batavia Arrack in the Banks 5 Island gave this version of Egg Nogg a lot of character, for better or for worse.

Regarding safety: As with any recipe containing uncooked eggs, there is some small chance of salmonella. If that risk bothers you, use pasteurized eggs.

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.

BOTW–Ale Flip

Ale Flip
Put on the fire in a saucepan one quart of Ale (16 oz Speedway Stout), and let it boil; have ready the whites of two eggs and the yolks of four (er, one egg separated, yolk beaten with 1 teaspoon of caster sugar, and the white beaten to soft peaks), well beaten up separately; add them by degrees to four tablespoonsful of moist sugar, and half a nutmeg grated. When all are well mixed, pour on the boiling Ale by degrees, beating up the mixture continually; then pour it rapidly backward and forward from one jug to another, keeping one jug raised high above the other; till the flip is smooth and finely frothed.

Note: This is a good remedy to take at the commencement of a cold.

The last time I made this, thinking I would make it with a Traditional London Ale, I tried it with Fuller’s London Pride Ale and it was pretty dreadful.

While contemplating making the Ale Flip again, I trying to think of some way to salvage the drink, and it occurred to me that this very old drink was likely made with a beer which was to a certain extent sour, as fermentation with wild yeast was much more common in the time previous to the industrialization of beer production and a better understanding of what exactly yeast is.

However, that would have required me to purchase more beer, and Mrs. Flannestad has lately complaining about the slight build up of undrunk Stouts and Porters in the house. She does not generally enjoy that style of beer, so I only ever drink them on my own.

Anyway, a while back we got this Speedway Stout, and I thought instead of buying some sour beer, I’d try the Ale Flip with Stout. My reasoning went something like Flip->Eggs->Breakfast->Coffee->Espresso Stout!

AleSmith Speedway Stout

A HUGE Imperial Stout that weighs in at an impressive 12% ABV! As if that’s not enough, we added pounds of coffee for a little extra kick….Jet Black, with an off-white head. Starts with a strong coffee and dark chocolate sensation, then fades to a multitude of toasty, roasty and caramel malt flavors. Clean and crisp, full- bodied. Warmth from the high alcohol content lightens up the feel.

And my am I glad I did. I may not have enjoyed this drink with London Pride, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with an Spiced Warm Whipped Espresso Stout Custard, essentially what this drink is. In fact, I enjoyed it so, I was kind of bummed when I ran out of flip and had to drink the rest of the beer all on its own.

Just don’t ask us to make this for you during the next Savoy Night at Alembic Bar, as the bartender may react strongly after they read the bizarre recipe.

Though, hm, if we warmed the beer with the wand on the espresso machine, whipped the eggs with the little cream whipping wand, it might not be too bad.

Well, anyway, order it at your own risk. It certainly is a drink which gives you a good amount of respect for what was going on in the 19th Century, (well more like 15th-18th,) Century Tavern.

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.

Flip

Flips.

The Flip, particularly the variety made with Rum, is renowned as an old-fashioned drink of great popularity among sailors. It is usually made in the following manner:

Rum Flip

1 Egg. (1 whole Egg)
1/2 Tablespoon of Powdered Sugar. (Generous teaspoon Caster Sugar)
1 Glass of Rum (2 oz Ron de Jeremy), Brandy, Port Wine, Sherry, or Whisky.

Shake well and strain into medium size glass. Grate a little nutmeg on top. In cold weather a dash of Jamaica Ginger can be added.

Well, that was, as they say, a bit of a “clusterbleep”. Bizarre enunciation, flying ice cubes, running out of space on camera memory card, even forgetting to take a picture before sampling the drink. Sheesh.

Well, narration was an experiment, and considering drinking is involved, it’s kind of amazing this sort of thing doesn’t happen more often. Well, anyway…

The Flip, along with the Toddy, is a very old style drink which can be served hot or cold. The most basic form of the flip is nothing more than a Toddy with a whole egg added, shaken up, and strained. Like the Toddy, pretty much any form of alcoholic beverage can be used as a base, from Beer to Whiskey to Sherry.

Some delicious modern variations on the Flip include those based on Amaros, (Kirk Estopinal’s Cynar Flip comes immediately to mind,) and those flips based on Spirits which hadn’t really come to light in the 19th Century, like Tequila or Mezcal.

Regarding the Rum, apparently some Finns were sitting in a bar, joking around about how the Spanish word for Rum is Ron. Riffing on Rum names like Ron de Barrilito, Ron Abuelo, and Ron Zacapa, they cracked themselves up with an idea to name a Rum after 1970s Porn star Ron Jeremy. “Dude, Ron de Jeremy! How cool would that be!? F-Yeah! High Five, Bro! Rock on, let’s do it!” Or whatever the Finnish equivalent of that exchange might be.

Also, apparently with some money to burn, they called up Mr. Jeremy’s people with the idea, and he agreed. So, yes, this Rum, from the aptly named One Eyed Spirits, is named after Ron Jeremy. I guess the nice part, especially for a rum that appears to come in a container intended for urine samples or glucose supplements, is that it isn’t bad. It’s got enough character to stand up in a simple drink like this flip. I doubt it will find a place in my liquor cabinet, but I wouldn’t kick it out of bed.

Regarding safety: Clearly, holding ice cubes in your hand and cracking them with a 6 inch chef’s knife isn’t really, uh, wise? Don’t do that. Or if you do, don’t say you saw me do it here. You can, however, blame Andrew Bohrer, who showed me this technique. Also, as with any recipe containing uncooked eggs, there is some small chance of salmonella. If that risk bothers you, use pasteurized eggs.

Music in the background is from the excellent new Mountain Goats album, “All Eternals Deck”.

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.

Apple Toddy

Apple Toddy
1 Teaspoonful of Powdered sugar. (1 teaspoon caster sugar)
1/4 Baked Apple. (1/4 Baked Apple and a little of the juice from baking)
1 Glass Calvados or Applejack. (2 oz Calvados Montreuil Reserve)
Use stem glass and fill with Boiling water (about 2 oz). Grate nutmeg on top.

In case you hadn’t noticed, a lot of the recipes at the back of the Savoy Cocktail Book are really old. Punches, Toddies, Daisies, Rickeys, these are mostly cocktails which would date to the 19th Century or before.

I assume, many of these were not made with any particular regularity at the Savoy Bar, as they had long since gone out of fashion by the early 20th Century.

I will also be referring rather frequently to David Wondrich’s Imbibe! From Absinthe Cocktail to Whiskey Smash, a Salute in Stories and Drinks to “Professor” Jerry Thomas, Pioneer of the American Bar, as it is pretty much THE source for information about the cocktails and drinks of that age.

According to Mr. Wondrich, the Apple Toddy, before the Cock-tail or Mint Julep ascended to primacy, was among the most quintessentially American drinks. Appearing well before the cocktail, it was also one of the most popular drinks right up until prohibition. However, unlike the cocktail, after Prohibition, it did not return to popular drinking culture.

Which really is too bad, as it a truly fantastic warming tipple for an autumnal day.

The other day, I was talking to a friend about a recent trip to a new-ish bar. I’d enjoyed the drinks I’d had, but after a couple found they were just too intensely flavored to be savored over the long term. Lots of flavored syrups, bitters, spices, and even more, were being used. In wine, they call red wines that are rather too intense for their own good “over extracted”, there was a certain similarness to these cocktails. They were so packed with elements and flavors that they were somewhat exhausting to the palate. After a couple, I just had a kind of sour feeling in my stomach, and wished for a beer or Whiskey on the rocks.

The Apple Toddy, and drinks like it, is rather the opposite.

Initially, it seems too simple to be enjoyable, just Apple Flavored Booze, Sugar, Hot Water, an Apple and Spice. But after a couple sips, you realize it is a warming antidote to those over driven modern cocktails. Give it a try and see what you think.

Though, first, you are going to have to bake some apples.

Pre-heat oven to 350F. Quarter and core a few apples. Tablespoon of sugar in the center of each apple. Spices to your preference. Cover and cook until the apples are soft.

On the plus, side, the apples also make an excellent dessert served with vanilla ice cream or make a great addition to your morning porridge.

Regarding execution, you have two choices, you can either smash up the apple quarter into the drink, making kind of a big mess, or you can skewer it and leave it whole. I lean towards skewering it and leaving it whole, that way you have a nifty booze soaked apple piece to enjoy after drinking your toddy.

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.

Brandy Toddy

First, just a reminder that Sunday, April 24, 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.

Brandy Toddy
Dissolve 1 Lump of Sugar. (1 tsp Caster Sugar)
1 Lump of ice. (1 Big Ice Cube)
1 Glass of Brandy. (2 oz Cognac Dudognon Reserve) Use medium size glass (…and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg).

Coming from the land of Brandy Old-Fashioneds, Wisconsin, it is interesting to make an even older drink and probably its mixological forefather, the Brandy Toddy.

Again, all we’re doing here is making an old-fashioned and leaving out the bitters.

Given my Wisconsin heritage, I figured I should bypass my usual California Brandy, for something a bit more celebratory, maybe a Cognac. The Cognac Dudognon Reserve is about as celebratory as I get, that is, on a state employee’s wages.

The music in the video this week is somewhat unfamiliar to me, something Mrs. Flannestad brought home, a Dubstep entity named Mount Kimbie.

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.

Whisky Toddy

First, just a reminder that Sunday, April 24, 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.

Toddies.



Whisky Toddy

1 Teaspoonful of Sugar. (1 teaspoon caster sugar)
1/2 Wineglass of water. (Well, that should be 1 oz of water, I might have used a little less)
1 Wineglass of Whisky. (2 oz Four Roses K&L Single Barrel OBSO Cask Strength Kentucky Bourbon)
1 Small Lump of Ice.
(Muddle sugar into water until dissolved, add ice and…) Stir with a spoon (until chilled), (garnish with freshly grated nutmeg) and serve.

Such is the primacy of the “Hot Toddy” these days, that the idea of making one cold often perplexes my fellow Savoy bartenders when we get an order at Alembic Bar. However, when reading David Wondrich’s awesome book, “Imbibe!From Absinthe Cocktail to Whiskey Smash, a Salute in Stories and Drinks to “Professor” Jerry Thomas, Pioneer of the American Bar.” he notes that the toddy and the sling were essentially the same drink: Spirits, sugar, water, maybe ice, and maybe a garnish. Over time, the name “Toddy” became primarily associated with the hot version of the drink, while the name “Sling” went on to pepper pink, cherry flavored, gin based abominations in the areas near Indonesia. But more about Slings later. What we primarily concern ourselves with today is the “Toddy”.

If a “Cock-tail” is a “Bittered Sling” a “Toddy” (or “Sling”) is, essentially, an Old-Fashioned without Bitters.

Dissolve some sugar in water, add ice cube(s), pour over a tasty measure of spirit, stir until chilled, and garnish as fancy takes you.

It’s not rocket science, and if you, as I have instructed, use a particularly Tasty Spirit, you may find yourself omitting the sugar altogether, though I am not sure if that is still a Toddy.

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.

Sour

Sours.
A Sour is usually prepared from the following recipe :

Sour.
The Juice of 1/2 Lemon.
1/2 Tablespoonful of Sugar. (I recommend using superfine, bar, or caster sugar when making drinks like this or the Daiquiri. If you don’t have any of those, just run your regular granulated sugar in your blender or food processor until it is pulverized nicely.)
Add 1 Glass of Spirit or Liqueur as fancy dictates, Gin, Whisky, Brandy, Rum, Calvados, etc.
Shake well and strain into medium size glass. One squirt of Soda water. Add one slice orange and a cherry.

So, “fancy” dictated to me, that I use St. George Spirits‘s Agricole-style R(h)um, Agua Libre for this sour!

I get into all sorts of discussions about the simplest drinks with my bar geeky friends. As far as I am concerned a “Sour” is: Spirits, Lemon (or Lime), and Sugar (or Simple Syrup). But I have gotten into heated discussions about whether the Egg White, which I consider an optional ingredient, is required.

The most common other optional ingredient is Egg Whites, which are required in certain Sours like the Boston Sour or Pisco Sour. Beyond that, you’re going to need another name. One of my favorite is the New York Sour, which includes a float of red wine on top of a traditional Whiskey Sour. Even more esoteric versions of the sour class of drinks are those like the Los Angeles Cocktail: a Whiskey Sour with egg white, which splits the sweetener with Italian Vermouth; and the Elk’s Own Cocktail: a Whiskey sour with egg white which splits the sweetener with Port Wine.

It is fun though, that the Savoy Cocktail book says, “Add 1 Glass of Spirit or Liqueur as fancy dictates.” So is a Fernet Branca Sour out of the question? What about an Elderflower Sour? Where does the sour stop and the Cocktail begin? Is it the moment you sub out the sweetener for something flavored? But if it is an actual “liqueur” sour, what is that?

My usual “Sour” recipe is 2 oz Spirit, 3/4 oz Lemon (or lime), and 1 oz of 1-1 simple syrup. I find it pleases just about everyone, unless they are among the 1 percent of drinkers who have a tweaked palates and truly prefer the aesthetic of actually “sour” drinks. This was far more spirit forward and light on sweetener and citrus than that recipe. I guess when you have a spirit you want to feature, like the St. George Agua Libre, this would be the way to go. However, I would also say this spirit forward, lightly sour formulation won’t be a crowd pleaser among 99% of modern drinkers. There’s also a pretty good chance they will be disappointed in the volume of this drink, especially if you’re pouring it into one of those giganto fishbowl cocktail glasses which are so popular these days.

One thing which is interesting is the use of superfine sugar instead of 1-1 sugar syrup (aka Simple) as a sweetener. On the sweetener front, this isn’t a big deal, but on the dilution front it may be. If you are using 1 oz of 1-1 syrup to balance your 3/4 oz of citrus, you are also adding approximately a half ounce of extra water to your drink. Though, in this case, the “squirt of soda” is a nice way to lighten the drink to the same place it would be if you were using simple syrup and add a touch of effervescence.

Music in the video from the new Lucinda Williams CD, “Blessed”. (Yes, I still buy CDs.)

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.