Sunday, July 5, 2015

night watch

1 1/2oz Ransom Old Tom Gin
1/2 oz Cruzan Blackstrap Rum
3/4 oz Lustau East India Solera Sherry
1 tsp Simple Syrup
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe.

A few Mondays ago, I turned to my copy of the Death & Co. Cocktail Book after having neglected it for so long until I was reminded of its gems with the Scotch Lady. For an appropriate nightcap, I skipped to the various stirred sections. The one that presented itself was the Night Watch that Jessica Gonzalez concocted in 2011. She described that while "a lot of the guys like to name drinks after songs or movies, I prefer works of art like this Rembrandt painting." And a work of art in my belly seemed right on point.
The Night Watch gave forth dark molasses aromas with hints of grape. Most of the grape notes came through on the sip, and the swallow presented juniper, raisiny sherry, molasses, and spice elements that combined to form a deep, dark, and satisfying finish.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

trader vic's grog

2 oz Dark Jamaican Rum (1 oz each Coruba and Smith & Cross)
1 oz Passion Fruit Syrup (BG Reynolds)
1 oz Pineapple Juice
1 oz Lemon Juice
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Shake with crushed ice and pour into a tulip glass. Garnish with mint sprigs.
After getting home from Yacht Rock Sunday, I decided to pamper myself with a drink from Beachbum Berry's Remixed. The one that called out to me was a Grog created at Trader Vic's that reminded me a little of Hurricane gussied up with pineapple juice and bitters. Once prepared, Trader Vic's Grog gave forth a bounty of mint aromas. Lemon, caramel from the rums, and passion fruit on the sip gave way to dark funky Jamaican rums and pineapple on the swallow. Definitely more complex than the classic Hurricane, but equally as refreshing.

wheel in the sky

2 oz Chinaco Blanco Tequila
1/2 oz Honey Syrup (1:1)
1/2 oz Lime Juice
2 dash Angostura Bitters
10 drop St. George Absinthe

Shake with ice and strain into a Collins glass containing 2 oz soda water. Fill with ice, garnish with a rosemary sprig (optional, a thyme or similar herb garnish will work well here too), and add a straw.
One of the popular patio crushers at Loyal Nine's Yacht Rock Sunday is a tequila-based Highball called the Wheel in the Sky after the Journey song. For a starting idea, I focused in on our honey syrup and soon thought about the 1940 Juschu Cocktail, an embittered tequila Bee's Knees. Since that did not seem refreshing enough, I conjured up the honey-laden Air Mail, but instead of sparkling wine, I opted for club soda. To add to the spice quotient, I took a page from the Tiki manuals and carefully added a handful of drops of absinthe to the mix to add a bit of brightness and intrigue (albeit, a few more than the stock 6 drops).

Friday, July 3, 2015

don't fight it

1 oz Berkshire Mountain Distillers Greylock Gin
1 oz Lillet Blanc
1/2 oz Green Chartreuse
1/2 oz Lime Juice

Build in a Collins glass, fill with crushed ice, and swizzle to mix and chill. Top with crushed ice, garnish with 2-3 dash Angostura Bitters and a mint sprig, and add a straw.
One of the few drinks to challenge Hungry Like the Wolf's supremacy at Loyal Nine's Yacht Rock Sunday has been the Don't Fight It. The drink name came by request of Chef Marc Sheenan for his love of the Kenny Loggins-Steve Perry duet. When I expressed concern about the drink name in light of Bud Lite's advertising campaign fiasco, Marc defended the beauty of this song. In fact, he declared it so pastel of a musical number that it, in fact, required Chartreuse. One of the other owners had been requesting a Swizzle, so this seemed like a perfect opportunity. I moved in that direction with the 1937 Green Ghost as flavor inspiration and the Scofflaw for structure. With the balance being crisp, citrussy, herbal, and refreshing and the appearance rather stunning, I can understand why this one gets re-ordered a lot.

scotch lady

1 1/2 oz Famous Grouse Blended Scotch (Buchanan's 12 Year)
1/2 oz Laird's Bonded Apple Brandy
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Simple Syrup (1/2 oz)
1/4 oz Grenadine (1/2 oz)
1 Egg White

Shake once without ice and once with ice. Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with a cherry.
Two Saturdays ago, to break up the run of Tiki drinks as of late, I reached for the Death & Co. Cocktail Book. There, I spotted one of Phil Ward's "Mr. Potato Head" swap-outs, the Scotch Lady. He created that drink in 2008 as a modification of the Pink Lady with Scotch in place of the classic's gin. Once prepared, the Scotch Lady offered a hint of smoke aroma and a vague fruitiness from either the apple brandy or pomegranate syrup through the egg white froth. On the tongue, the Scotch Lady shared a creamy, lemon, and pomegranate sip; next, the swallow offered the Scotch and apple notes with a smoky and lemony finish.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

artichoke hold

3/4 oz Smith & Cross Rum
3/4 oz Cynar
1/2 oz St. Germain
1/2 oz Orgeat
3/4 oz Lime Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with mint sprigs. I added a spent half lime shell filled with 3/8 oz El Dorado 151 Rum set ablaze.

On PunchDrinks, I spotted an interesting St. Germain-containing Tiki drink that seemed like a good follow up to the Hilo Hala earlier in the week, namely Jeremy Oertel's Artichoke Hold. Jeremy crafted this at Donna as a "play on a play... I did a cocktail called the Bitter Mai Tai, and this is its relative." As the drink name suggests, one of the substitution here is Cynar for the Campari in the Bitter Mai Tai.
The Artichoke Hold offered mint aromas over the funky rum notes from the garnish. On the sip, lime, caramel, and bright fruit notes from the St. Germain gave way to funky rum, herbal amaro, nutty orgeat, and floral flavors on the swallow. Indeed, Cynar and St. Germain paired here just as well as they do in Alto Cucina and other drinks.

:: boston cocktail allstars - john gertsen ::

In continuing on in the series of bartenders, past and present, who have helped to shape the Boston cocktail scene, I feel that it would be a serious omission if I left out John Gertsen. In one part for what he has done for Boston and in another part for what he has done for me. I distinctly remember meeting Gertsen in August 2007 at a LUPEC Boston-sponsored Chartreuse event at Green Street in Cambridge. A man dressed up as a Carthusian monk was either introduced to me or started talking to me -- namely, John Gertsen in a costume. I later learned that there was not a costume that John would not don for a cocktail event (see the photo below of him as a Colonial fop for Boston Thirst). John gestured that we should sit down and we continued our conversation partially cloaked to the rest of the world by the robe-hood about cocktails, life, and how veering from what one went to higher education for was not a bad thing. From there, I soon made Tuesdays and Saturdays, John's nights on the No. 9 Park bar, part of my haunts. And shortly thereafter, I met his loyal followers who also flocked to the bar on those nights such as Monica and Tyrone.
Like the other posts, I will cover 5 drinks that span the bars that I knew the Allstar at. However, there are many classic cocktails that I associate with him. First, there is the Sazerac. John's enthusiasm made the ritual of building and serving the regular rye whiskey Sazerac a joy to behold, but he utilized it as a platform to make simple tweaks into new gems as I captured in having my first Gin Sazerac. It also felt special because you could sense the lineage in this drink as he spoke of the bartenders and their bars in New Orleans who made this drink a special one for him. The second is the Tom & Jerry. No, he did not create the Tom & Jerry, nor as Wondrich explains, neither did Jerry Thomas. But Gertsen helped to define the drink as the appropriate beverage to have when it snows in town. And perhaps only when it is snowing. People would later seek out his approval if he did not send it out on social media that it was Tom & Jerry weather. Indeed, No. 9 Park was one of the few bars to have a Tom & Jerry bowl set on display during the winter season. The third was the Knickebein -- that crazy layered pousse-café drink with an unbroken egg yolk in the middle and beaten stiff egg whites on top that is taken in a four step ceremony. No, he never served one to me, but my witnessing him serving it to one of his groupies to see how far he could take things, was enough to have me try it at home. And that transference of enthusiasm for the drink led to me recently being asked to write an article in the upcoming Oxford Companion to Spirits and Cocktails about the drink. With those three classics out of the way, here are 5 drinks or so crafted by John that help define how he helped to shape my view of Boston cocktails, and perhaps how he helped to shape the Boston drinking scene overall.

1. Flight of Heraldry: The Negroni, Contessa, and Patrician
One thing that John was involved in at No. 9 Park was making up cocktail flights. The first I remember was the Flight of Aviation that traced the drink through the decades as different ingredients became less available and as tastes changed. However, one that preceded it, the Negroni-inspired Flight of Heraldry, was one that he had a hand in creating and includes two drinks that are still made around town to this day. Perhaps tack on the Negroni as one of the other classics that John helped to inspire me to love (and I have to include Ben Sandrof in on this for serving me a Negroni made with xanthum gum-infused Campari for a richer mouthfeel). With the Negroni being so hot these days, it is good that John's contributions were captured in Gaz Regan's The Negroni book. And as a show of influence, my Negroni Knickebein appears in that book as well!
2. Helsingor
The Helsingor is a transitional cocktail of sorts. It was created once John opened up Drink, but was based off of a No. 9 Park cocktail the Copenhagen. I cannot recall who crafted the Copenhagen, but unlike No. 9 Park, Drink lacked the necessary Gamel Dansk. Therefore, John generated this Angostura-heavy riff back in 2009 for one of his old No. 9 regulars Tyrone. A half ounce of Angostura Bitters either does or does not seem like a lot of bitters now, but back then, it definitely was. True, the Trinidad Sour was kicking around as well as some classics from the literature. That level of absurdity carried on in drinks like the Mission of Burma, the inverse proportioned Pegu Club riff that John created for a Grand Marnier event. I am also thankful for John (technically, Jeff Grdinich) inviting Andrea and me to have a drink on that Grand Marnier event menu, namely the Lioness (of Brittany).

3. Means of Preservation
Of course, not everything memorable that John created at Drink was over the top, and the Means of Preservation is a fine example. Paul Clarke writing about the Ephemeral Cocktail back in 2009 inspired John to make his own riff. One of the key ingredients in both is celery bitters; however, they were not commercially available in Boston at that time. Luckily, I had been supplying Drink with my celery bitters since 2008 to make up that lack. In thanks, John let me "work" at Drink so I could compete at Tales of the Cocktail in 2009 in a bitters competition (I used the royal "we" a lot in describing on microphone how "we" used those celery bitters at Drink). Technically, I did bus our cocktail and water glasses once the night that he agreed to let me be a barback. And perhaps, I should have pushed back then to have actually get a job as a barback for real...
4. DoublePlusGood
In preparing for a guest shift at Los Angeles' Edison, John created a cross between a Mai Tai and a Pisco Sour by taking the former and adding an egg white and Angostura Bitters as a garnish. John always enjoyed describing how Mai Tai was called that for being the Tahitian translation of "out of this world," and he took that one step further with his 1984 Newspeak name for this riff. He also opted for a white rum to give this drink a purity of color (save for the two Angostura Bitters plus-signs as garnish).

5. Krakatoa
Nothing is as stunning as fire when it comes to garnishes or drink preparation. True, John helped to bring back the Blue Blazer, but I never took to the concept of hot, booze-depleted Scotch. The Krakatoa was a cooler drink that utilized a Fernet-colored Batavia Arrack Old Fashioned to extinguish flaming Green Chartreuse in the glass to generate something akin to a Don't Give Up the Ship or Toronto. John did similarly in expanding the 1895 Star Cocktail into the Super Nova.
Last August saw Boston saying goodbye to John as he left Drink for the West Coast via a Gertstravaganza celebration at the Hawthorne pictured above. Indeed, John also introduced me to Scott Holliday as he returned back from Canada in 2008 right before Scott took over Rendezvous' bar program, so that picture is quite fitting. The drink that Scott presented that night in John's honor was something the two of them created post-shift, late at night, when they were roommates, namely the Negrimlet -- a Negroni-Gimlet mash up. While John is in San Francisco, our paths will surely cross again. I did have the honor two months ago of having him and David Wondrich sitting at my bar at Loyal 9 (and I was working with Loyal Nine bar manager Bryn Tattan that night who John helped to train from barback into a full bartender) before they moved on to a table to have dinner. I think that was the first time I actually served him a drink, and it was an honor to switch sides of the game that night. And perhaps at Tales of the Cocktail in two weeks and at events in the future, I'll have another chance to raise a glass to this Boston Cocktail Allstar. Cheers, Mr. Gertsen!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

petruchio cocktail

1 part Gin (1 oz Tanqueray Bloomsbury)
1 part Aperol (1 oz)
1/2 part Lemon Juice (1/2 oz)
1 dash Simple Syrup (1/4 oz)
2 dash Orange Bitters (Angostura Orange)
1 Egg White

Shake once without ice and once with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass.

Two weeks ago, I attended a few sessions of Tanqueray's Green Room. For the Bartender Voodoo session that brand ambassador emeritus Angus Winchester hosted, we were allowed to peruse his drink bookshelf that was transported to the event in Boston (along with various cocktail nicknacks and vintage bottles of Tanqueray from his collection). The goal was to find a gin recipe that you have never heard of, remake it as close to the recipe as possible, and tweak if necessary. One of the books that excited me was The Pacific Northwest's Gentleman's Companion from Canon in Seattle since the book is between printings and currently unavailable. Jamie Boudreau explained on the SmallScreenNetwork that he created this recipe back in 2007 just as Aperol was making its way back into the American market, and he honored the spirit by naming the drink Petruchio after a character in Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew. Why? Because the play was set in Padua, Italy, which is where Aperol is produced.
For a gin, I opted for Tanqueray's newest limited production gin Bloomsbury that is replacing Malacca. The Bloomsbury recipe was created by Charles Waugh Tanqueray, the original distiller's son, back in the 1880s. It was a London Dry style created with Tanqueray's standard four botanicals, namely juniper, angelica root, coriander seed, and licorice powder, along with two additional ones -- cassia and winter savory; moreover, they dubbed this recipe after the first Tanqueray distillery in the 1830s.

south pacific punch

2 oz Gold Puerto Rican Rum (Caliche Silver)
1 oz Dark Jamaican Rum (Smith & Cross)
1 oz Lime Juice
1 oz Orange Juice (Cara Cara)
1/2 oz Passion Fruit Syrup (BG Reynolds)
1/2 oz Falernum (BG Reynolds)

Shake with ice and pour unstrained into a pilsner glass (here, strained over crushed ice in a Tiki mug). Garnish with mint sprigs.

A few Tuesdays ago, I continued on with my Tiki trend by opening up Beachbum Berry's
Remixed and deciding on the South Pacific Punch. The recipe dates back to the 1950s where it was created at the Bali Ha'i bar at The Beach in New Orleans. I decided to go a little overboard on the garnish and expound on the call for just mint sprigs; for a reverse (and close up) image of the lime flowers and orange peel stem (or lei necklace?), see this Instagram post.
The mint garnish on the South Pacific Punch contributed greatly to the drink's bouquet. On the palate, the caramel of the rums accompanied the orange, lime, and passion fruit flavors on the sip. Finally, the funky Jamaican rum and the falernum's clove stood out the most on the swallow.