Friday, June 20, 2014

Friday Cocktail: The Solstice

In honor of tomorrow's Summer solstice, I bring you the Solstice cocktail. Creator John Deragon serves this drink in December for the Winter solstice, which makes sense for a booze forward whiskey cocktail. For those like me that drink brown liquor cocktails year round, however, this drink works just as well once the sun goes down on a 100 degree day in Atlanta. For a spirit forward drink, it is complex but also surprisingly balanced and drinkable. 

The recipe calls for Dubonnet Rouge, but any rose colored apéritif wine, such as Lillet Rouge or Cocchi Americano Rosa, will work well. In my opinion, there is no suitable substitute for the Amaro Nonino. As with any cocktail using grenadine, use a good quality grenadine or make your own to bring out the best in the rye and apple brandy.

Adapted from recipe by John Deragon in PDT Cocktail Book

- 1.5 oz. Rittenhouse Bonded Rye
- .5 oz. Laird's Bonded Apple Brandy
- .5 oz. Amaro Nonino
- .5 oz. Dubonnet Rouge (or Cocchi Americano Rosa)
- .25 oz. Grenadine

Combine ingredients in mixing glass with ice.  Stir and strain into chilled cocktail glass. No garnish.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Friday Cocktail: Two New Orleans Classics

In preparation for my wedding anniversary trip to New Orleans this weekend, I thought it was appropriate to hit a couple of classic Crescent City cocktails.  Outside of New York, New Orleans may be one of the best cocktail destinations in the country. It is host to the awesome Tales of the Cocktail festival hosted every summer and is also responsible for classics such as the Sazerac and Vieux Carré.

Adapted form Wiliam Boothby, World Drinks and How to Mix Them, 1908

The Sazerac is the cocktail most synonymous with New Orleans. In fact, the Louisiana legislature made it the official cocktail of New Orleans in 2008.  As with many cocktails, it was originally made with cognac at the Sazerac Coffee House. When Thomas H. Handy became the owner of the establishment in the late 1800s, he replaced the cognac with rye.  It was this recipe that was published in Boothby's classic, World Drinks and How to Mix Them in 1908. It is an Old Fashioned variant that is served without ice and takes on a lot of anise flavor from both the New Orleans staple Peychaud's bitters and the absinthe or Herbsaint rinse. There are very few cocktails that are its equal.

- 2 oz. Rittenhouse or Sazerac Rye 
- 3 dashes Peychaud's Bitters
- 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
- 1 Demerara Sugar Cube or .25 oz. Demerara Simple Syrup
- St. George Absinthe Verte*

Muddle the sugar and bitters with a few drops of water (or add the simple syrup). Add whiskey and ice, and strain and stir into an ice cold absinthe-rinsed rocks glass. Twist lemon peel over surface and discard.

*For an interesting variation, rinse the glass with a peaty scotch like Laphroaig instead of the absinthe.

Vieux Carré
Adapted from Stanley Clisby Arthur, Famous New Orleans Drinks, 1937

The Vieux Carré was invented at the Hotel Monteleone by Walter Bergeron, and the Monteleone's rotating Carousel Bar is still my favorite place to order one. The story is that the ingredients in the Vieux Carré were meant pay tribute to the different ethnic groups of the city. The cognac and Benedictine were an homage to the city's French influence, the vermouth a nod to the Italian heritage, the rye referenced the American influence, and the bitters represent the Caribbean. It picks up plenty of sweetness from the Benedictine without becoming cloying.

- 1 oz. Rittenhouse or Sazerac Rye
- 1 oz. Cognac (I use Leopold or Pierre Ferrand Ambre)
- 1 oz. Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth
- .25 oz. Bénédictine
- 1 dash Angostura Bitters
- 1 dash Peychaud's Bitters

Stir with ice and strain over large ice cube into a chilled rocks glass. Twist and discard lemon.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Friday Cocktail: The Diamondback

For the longest time, I resisted buying a bottle of Green Chartreuse. Although it appears in a ton of classic and contemporary cocktails, I just couldn't justify spending $60 on a bottle of liqueur. I finally picked up a bottle this week, and I have been really impressed. 

Chartruese is an incredibly complex herbal liqueur that has been made by the Carthusian Monks near Grenoble, France since the early 18th century. The recipe is closely guarded, though it purportedly is aged with 130+ different herbs, flowers, and plants. It comes in two versions, Green and Yellow. Green Chartreuse is bolder and stronger at an eye popping 110 proof, while the Yellow Chartreuse is sweeter and milder at only 80 proof. 

This week, I've used my bottle of Green Chartreuse in a bunch of different cocktails, including the gin-based Bijou and the Irish whisky-based Tipperary.  My favorite so far has been the Diamondback. This drink dates back Ted Saucier's 1951 book Bottoms Up and packs a wallop. It uses bonded rye whiskey, bonded apple brandy, and Chartreuse.  Although the original recipe calls for the Yellow version, most resources I've consulted recommend the classic Green Chartreuse. If you are keeping score at home, that means that none of the ingredients in the Diamondback are under 100 proof, making this one to be sipped slowly and contemplated.

The Diamondback
Adapted from Ted Saucier, Bottom's Up, 1951

- 1.5 oz. Rittenhouse bonded rye
- .75 oz. Laird's bonded apple brandy
- .75 oz. Green Chartreuse

Combine over ice in a mixing glass and stire. Strain into a chilled coupe.  No garnish.