Monthly Archives: January 2008

Hello, nurse!

Saucier’s book is known not just for its recipes but also for its risqué illustrations of young women. Well, I say risqué, but they’re only so by 1950s standards. Today, they’re rather tame. Personally, I think they’re charming and fun. I know, I know. Portraying women in such a cartoonish way has its pitfalls, as does associating drinking and sex. And yet I still think that this book is harmless fun.

I recently bought the new DVD-ROM set Playboy Cover to Cover: The 50s. (The publisher, Bondi, has also released 40 years of Rolling Stone, cover to cover. Some of you know that the New Yorker has a similar product; I wish magazines like Esquire and Atlantic would do the same, frankly.)

As I was paging through the Playboy DVD-ROM, though, I found something that surprised me, though it shouldn’t have, in the second issue ever published:

Playboy v. 1, no. 2, p. 4

Page 34, which isn’t safe for work, follows after the jump:
Continue reading

Bottom’s Up!

BaroqueWell, I apparently paid way too much for it, having embroiled myself in a bidding war on eBay and being too stubborn to back out, but I finally have a copy of Ted Saucier’s saucy 1951 cocktail book, Bottom’s Up! For those of you who don’t know the book, it’s a hefty thing, at a pound and a half, 270 pages, and a trim size of 10.25 by 7 inches. (Yes, I’ve worked in publishing, why do you ask?)

I mention the book’s (ahem) ample nature to point out that it’s a serious volume, with a lot of recipes and a bunch of really good ones, to boot. One thing I love most, though, is the index. Arranged, in part, by main ingredient, it’s very handy. Want a gin drink? Find the Gin subheading and eat your heart out. It is, unfortunately, not cross-referenced, so if a recipe has, say, gin and rum, but rum is the main ingredient, you won’t find it under Gin.

“Whazzawha? Recipe with gin and rum?” you sez? Well, yes. And it’s a good drink. Well balanced, with the rum and gin complementing each other rather than fighting. Saucier terms this drink the Baroque, but given the political season in the USA, I’m calling this, rather obviously, the Baroque Obama, although it’s the same recipe as appears in Saucier (although I’m converting his 1 part lime, 2 parts rum, etc. into ounces).

Baroque Obama

Courtesy, The Baroque Restaurant, New York City

  • 1 part [3/4 oz.] fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 t. sugar
  • 2 parts [1-1/2 oz.] Jamaican rum
  • 1 part [3/4 oz.] gin
  • 1 dash maraschino

Technique: Shake lime juice and sugar well. Add rum and gin [and ice]. Shake well and serve in iced glass. [As you can see from the picture, I served ours up, in a cocktail glass.] Float maraschino. [No garnish.]

I’ve learned very little about Ted Saucier. It appears he was once the publicist for the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in Manhattan, and he lived from 1896 to 1970, but beyond that, I’ve learned nothing.

Except that I shouldn’t get excited and overbid on a cocktail book.

OH, I almost forgot! There’s another reason Saucier’s book is so well-loved. I’ll share that tomorrow.

Texas Jim

Mrs. Bitters and I had dinner last night at Hearth, in the East Village, and as we normally do, we started with cocktails. I got the Jim Hogg, named after an old-time Texas governor. Delicious, well-balanced drink. I don’t have proportions, but the ingredients are pecan-infused rye, sweet vermouth, and maple syrup. The spicy rye carries the drink, but the herbal notes from the vermouth marry well with the pecan. With sweet vermouth, you don’t need much added sweetener, and the bartender rightly keeps a light hand–the maple is present, but more as flavoring than as sweetener.

I don’t know where the pecan-infused rye came from, but I should note a couple of similar drinks that have graced local bars. A Holy Roller was on the menu for a time at Pegu Club–with pecan-infused bourbon and Demerara simple syrup, it appears to be the same drink that’s on the Death & Co. menu as the Buffalo Soldier. I might be wrong, but the mention of “Brian” in the eG post makes me think that both drinks are Brian Miller’s.

Because I enjoy the simplicity of an Old Fashioned, I love the idea of a drink that’s just whiskey and Demerara syrup. Pecan-infused whiskey might be worth playing with at home.

MxMo 23: Brandy

Twenty-freakin’-three? Holy crap, we’re just shy of the two-year mark! Many, many thanks to Marleigh for hosting this month’s Mixology Monday!

Brandy MxMo is a challenge. With so many fruit brandies out there, how do you choose? Aside from apple brandies, I haven’t quaffed much from the many barrels of non-grape brandies that are available. So I played it safe and chose cognac. I looked through a lot of recipes–some familiar, others new–trying to find something that excited me. I thought briefly of the Between the Sheets, since I love the rum/cognac marriage, but I figured, if I’m going familiar on the spirit, I should at least take a chance on an unfamiliar recipe.

I finally clicked over to the drinks database at Esquire magazine, selected Brandy as my main spirit, and paged through the recipes. The Brandy Daisy caught my eye. As reimagined by Dave Wondrich, it’s not quite the Daisy of yore.

Traditionally, the daisy mixes a spirit with lemon juice and some sort of sweetener. The Brandy Daisy usually calls for both grenadine and sugar, apparently, and then it’s poured over crushed ice, topped with seltzer, and decorated with fruit. Wondrich prefers the recipe of the Englishman Edward Spencer, who uses yellow Chartreuse to provide the drink’s sweet tones.

Behold.

Brandy Daisy

  • 1-1/2 oz. brandy (I used cognac)
  • 3/4 oz. yellow Chartreuse
  • 3/4 oz. lemon juice

Technique: Stir well with cracked ice in a mixing glass. Strain into a chilled Collins glass and top with a splash of chilled club soda or seltzer. Wondrich notes: “To bring this more in line with Daisy orthodoxy, half-fill a silver julep mug or stemmed wine goblet with cracked ice, pour in the ingredients, top…with a couple ounces of seltzer or club soda, and stir until the glass frosts. Decorate with sprig of mint and wheels of orange and lemon and harpoon with a straw.”

I pared it down even farther and then, to further piss off the drink gods, used a different glass! I omitted the fizz and the fruit and served it up, in a cocktail glass. Wondrich would tell me, rightly, that I made a Sidecar variant, with the Chartreuse replacing the orange liqueur.

So be it.

Lip-smacking good. Yellow Chartreuse is sweeter than its green counterpart and not quite as complex on the palate, so it’s probably the best choice for mixing with cognac. Although yellow Chartreuse can overwhelm a drink with its sweetness, I still love its undertones of honey. This drink really plays to that. The lemon cuts through the sweetness while still allowing some notes of honey to play off the herbal tones and the cognac. Mixed to spec, this is a very well-balanced drink.

Dave also mentions a version by his hero Jerry Thomas, which uses curacao and just a weeeeeee bit of rum. That sounds delightful as well. And, just for shits and giggles, let’s say you replaced the fizzy water with, oh, I dunno? A fizzy wine? I don’t know what ol’ Longbeard would say, but you could invite me over for that!

Set your DVR!

Tivo, VCR, or whatever recording technology you happen to have.

According to Gary Regan’s Ardent Spirits newsletter, David Wondrich is set to appear on Late Night with Conan O’Brien tomorrow, Friday, January 11, etc. Has Conan shaved his strike beard? It could be the battle of the beards!