Category Archives: Port and sherry

Recipe Redux: Princeton

Today, I’d like to revisit a favorite cocktail, one I’ve blogged before, the Princeton cocktail. The Princeton is a lovely mix of gin and port, with a little orange bitters in the gin. The Princeton comes to us from George Kappeler’s 1895 book, Modern American Drinks. Here’s how Kappeler describes it:

A mixing-glass half-full fine ice, three dashes orange bitters, one an a half pony Tom gin. Mix, strain into cocktail-glass; add half a pony port wine carefully and let it settle in the bottom of the cocktail before serving.

Tom gin? This is a reference to Old Tom, a nearly vanished style of gin popular in the cocktail manuals of the late 19th century. It’s lightly sweetened and a little rounder in flavor than such London dry styles as Beefeater or Tanqueray.

When I’ve written about this cocktail before, I’ve used a version that I encountered in David Wondrich’s book Imbibe! Writing in the benighted year of 2007, Wondrich was unfortunately bereft of Old Tom gin, which had disappeared decades earlier from the U.S. market. Dr. Dave suggested a workaround, though–take Plymouth (a dry gin similar in its botanical base to Tom), and add a small amount of simple syrup for sweetness. In making this drink previously, I’ve used a rich simple syrup of either demerara or turbinado sugar, which produces a drink that looks like this:

Pretty, yes? My most recent version, though, looks like this:

Princeton

What gives? Well, as you know if you read my previous post, I’ve tracked down Old Tom gin, in the form of Hayman’s, a lightly sweet bottling out of the U.K. It makes a truly delicious version of the Princeton. Hayman’s has subtle citrus notes in its botanical blend, which pair well with both the orange bitters and the port. The clear top makes for a lovelier foil for the port below, and as you can see here, it even picks up light in a lovely way. My next step is to try it with Ransom Old Tom. That’s going to engender another batch of photos, however, because Ransom, as a barrel-aged gin, is brown like whiskey.

Princeton

  • 2 oz. Hayman’s Old Tom gin
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • 3/4 oz. port
  • lemon or orange twist, for garnish

Stir Hayman’s Old Tom gin and orange bitters over ice until well chilled. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Pour the port gently down the edge of the glass until it slides under the gin mixture. Twist the lemon or orange peel over the glass, but do not drop into glass. It will ruin the layering effect.

Photographs © Jennifer Hess. All rights reserved.

MxMo: New Horizons

Onward, young rangers, to a new horizon! Let us strike out across this great land to explore strange new territories, seek out new life and new ci…

Uh. Oops. Heh.

The theme of the January MxMo is Change. How appropriate, right? New horizons, new ideas, change. Our challenge, from the anonymous Scribe of A Mixed Dram, is appropriate–to simply “Try something new!

Huzzah!

My choice for this challenge features the bitter liqueur Ramazzotti, an Italian tonic that you can sip as an aperitif or a digestif, or even just mix into a cocktail. Now, I’ve had the Ramazzotti on hand for a long time. I bought it in Brooklyn, back before we moved to Rhode Island. My plan was to make a small batch of Jamie Boudreau’s Amer Picon replica. Well, I’ve had the bottle for nearly a year, haven’t made the Amer Picon, and have seen Ramazzotti in local liquor stores. So what’s the point of letting this bottle languish in a box for another year?

I grabbed a copy of Robert Hess’s new book, The Essential Bartenders Guide, at Borders last week. (This is a book that’s screaming, loudly, for an editor. A full review of the book is pending.) Among the recipes in Hess’s book is the Chaplin, a mix of bourbon, sherry, Ramazzotti, Cointreau, and orange bitters. That’s what I chose to mix up tonight. The Chaplin is a good drink, well balanced but on the tart side. It’s not bitter, by any means, but it’s nothing to serve to anyone with a sweet tooth. The nuttiness of the sherry really shines. (I’m starting to really love sherry in cocktails.)

Photograph by Jennifer Hess

Chaplin

  • 3/4 oz. bourbon whiskey
  • 3/4 oz. dry sherry
  • 3/4 oz. Ramazzotti
  • 1/8 oz. Cointreau
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • lemon twist, for garnish

Technique: Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Add garnish.

Tawky Tawny

Yesterday morning, Jen was catching up on her blog reading and asked me, “Have you ever heard of the Ruby Rye cocktail?” I said No, and she said one of the food bloggers she reads had a drink by that name at Gramercy Tavern or someplace. All the blogger said was that the drink had port. I googled and found next to nothing. But a drink called Ruby Rye has to also have rye in it, I’d hope, so I decided to wing it.

I have a couple of bottles of Sandeman’s port that I received last month for review. I didn’t mix with them at first because I wanted to sample them on their own. Jen and I always like to have port on hand for Christmas and New Year’s, and so the arrival of the Sandeman’s was very timely.

Anyway, I didn’t get anything together in time for the Sandeman chat at Thursday Drink Night, but I wanted to mix with it, and this was a good excuse. I figured I’d make it easy on myself, because I am at heart a lazy bastard. So I went with a Manhattan variation, swapping out the port for the vermouth. It’s tasty, although I think a spicier rye might be better in it. (I used Old Overholt.)

AnonycocktailIt’s a simple recipe, and although I haven’t named it, I’ll give it to you here anyway.

The Cocktail with No Name

  • 2 oz. rye whiskey (I used Overholt)
  • 1 oz. port (Sandeman Founders Reserve)
  • 2 dashes orange bitters (Angostura)
  • Lemon twist, for garnish (I left that out, but I think it’s the way to go)

Technique: Stir briskly over cracked ice. Strain into chilled cocktail glass. Add garnish.

As if it matters, this photo’s actually my own. I figured I’d take a crack at the pretty picture-taking myself for once.

MxMo: 19th Century Drinks, or, An Ode to Those Libations and Tipples that Once Graced America’s Finest Drinking Emporia

Greetings, friend. From the fresh wax on your mustache, I gather you’ve just left the barber’s. Well, have a seat and let The Only Dietsch mix you up a cup or two. I have a couple of sips you might like.

Now, I think you might have had this first one before. Yes, I think you just might. The bar was a bit busy that night, and so I’m not sure you got to watch the master in action. This is a drink, my friend, that calls for a touch of finesse. What? That’s an unkind thing to say, sir, mighty unkind. I don’t have to remind you where the door is, now, do I sir?

No, no, I am merely jesting with you, sir, merely jesting. I would never turn away your custom, sir. Now, as I was saying. This drink requires a light touch to achieve the layering effect that marks this drink as one of refinement. No, no, I know what you’re thinking. This isn’t a sweet drink like a Pousse Cafe! Not at all. Leave those to that dilettante Ellestad! You’ll have none of those in my bar!

All right, all right. To the drink, then, to the drink.

Text not available

Modern American Drinks How to Mix and Serve All Kinds of Cups and Drinks By George J. Kappeler

(Stepping out of character, I followed the instructions David Wondrich gives in the book Imbibe, and used 2 oz. Plymouth gin with a teaspoon of rich simple syrup–hence the darker coloring in the gin portion. The bitters are Bitter Truth orange, and I used 3/4 oz. port.)

Yes, sir, I agree that it’s a fine drink. When you sip it slowly, the port gently seeps up through the gin and gently enriches the genever. Why, sir, if this drink is not still served in the bars and taverns of the twenty-first century, I should be mightily sad.

But now, remember, young lad. When you’re adding the port, be careful. Take it slow. If you don’t, the port will co-mingle with the gin, and although the drink will still taste just fine, it will not be as elegant. We are gentlemen, sir, always remember. We do not simply guzzle the way the hoopleheads do.

If you’ve done it right, it should look just like this:

Now, as to the next, this upstart William Schmidt, I do swear he stole this drink from me. I was mixing this back when he was still tramping around Paducah, Kentucky, waiting to stow away on an Ohio River steamer to Memphis. The man is a scalawag, and not at all a gentleman like you and me, sir. But let us not consider his sort.

I believe you will like this one, sir. I think you will find that the sherry and vermouth balance quite toothsomely. The other ingredients round out the flavor without bringing themselves to the fore.

Text not available

The Flowing Bowl When and what to Drink : Full Instructions how to Prepare, Mix, and Serve Beverages By William Schmidt

Now, sir, would you kindly tel … <cough cough>

I’m throwing off this pretense entirely right now, so I can talk about this drink.

I used, for two drinks, a generous squirt of simple syrup for the gum. Yah, a squirt. Don’t tell me you always precisely measure your simple syrup, dangit.

Angostura might be the closest thing to a nineteenth-century bitters that I have, although I don’t know how to categorize Fee’s Old Fashioned or Bitter Truth’s Old Time Aromatic Bitters. Regardless, I used Angostura, about two to three dashes worth for two drinks.

Also, two or three dashes worth of Lucid absinthe. I’ve transferred my remaining Lucid to a old Fee’s bottle for dashing purposes.

For two drinks, I used 4 oz. Italian vermouth and 2 oz. oloroso sherry–to retain the 2:1 ratio. I don’t really know what vino vermouth is, but Paul Clarke suggests that it’s Italian vermouth, and that’s good enough for me. He uses Carpano Antica for this type of drink, but I’ve yet to find a source for that in Rhode Island. I’ll probably have to special-order it from our friends at Eno.

Finally, this is a damn good drink. Light in alcohol but rich in flavor. I think the Antica would bring a bit more complexity than the Cinzano I’m currently using, but even so, we loved the balance of flavors.

Oh, and back to the Princeton? I’d love to see that on a drinks menu somewhere. It’s a beautifully balanced drink, and it looks just lovely in the glass. Yeah, it takes a bit of work to get it just so, but no more than a properly prepared Sazerac or Pisco Sour.

Many thanks to Dinah for hosting.

Photography by Jennifer Hess; all rights reserved.

Tigers and bears and juniper…

Having spent the better part of the weekend in and around the Brown U. campus, what better time to discuss a quaff named for another Ivy League school, Princeton. One or two of you might recall that in my previous post, I lamented that… well, let me just quote myself:

For my part, this became another MxMo post from the Department of Fall-Back-and-Punt.

I just finished mixographer David Wondrich’s book, Imbibe!, and I found a great drink idea in there–one that combines ingredients I’ve never mixed before. I was excited to try it, but I was missing a key ingredient, Plymouth gin….My instinct told me that my gin on hand, Tanqueray, probably wouldn’t work well in the cocktail I had in mind, so I came home to consult my cocktail books and find a Plan B.

My Plan A for MxMo was the Princeton cocktail, from page 262 of M. Wondrich’s fine book–the unfamiliar mix being gin and port.
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Choke Artist

I’ve been in the weeds lately, starting a new job and finishing several freelance projects. Although we’ve certainly enjoyed our nightly aperitifs, I’ve had little time for anything more than old stand-bys, like Martinis and Old Fashioneds.

But things are calming down finally, so it’s time again for research and experimentation. To that end, I delved back into a book that I bought a few months ago but haven’t taken time to review: The Art of the Bar. In flipping through it, I found a flavor combination that really surprised me–Cynar, tequila, and sherry–in a drink aptly named Choke Artist.

Choke Artist

photograph by Jennifer Hess

Here’s why I’m no professional: I’d have never thought to match up these ingredients. But this drink just works. It’s the very definition of a well-balanced drink–everything’s present and notable, but nothing dominates. You can learn a lot about mixing from this drink.

It reminds me a lot of those friendships we’ve all been a part of, where two strong personalities need a third, more laid-back, person to mediate the differences and smooth things out for everyone. That’s the role of the sherry here.

Finally, the bitters. Even with five dashes’ worth, they’re subtle.

But you should not be subtle. Instead, be fearless. Try it.

Choke Artist

from The Art of the Bar, by Jeff Hollinger and Rob Schwartz

  • 1 ounce Cynar
  • 1 ounce Gran Centenario Anejo tequila (I used Tequila Espolon Reposado, which I had on hand)
  • ½ ounce fino sherry
  • 5 dashes Regan’s Orange Bitters No. 6
  • Extra-wide orange twist for garnish

Technique: Combine the Cynar, tequila, and sherry in an ice-filled mixing glass and stir. Add the bitters to a chilled snifter and roll around to coat the glass. Pour the Cynar and tequila mixture into the snifter. Garnish with the orange twist.

MxMo: Apéritif

MxMo AperitifStimulate your palate with some fun apéritifs, courtesy of the fourth Mixology Monday (hosted this go-around by Jimmy Patrick of jimmy’s cocktail hour).

Jen and I wanted to try something a little different this time. Since we so often get apéritifs along with appetizers when we’re out a good restaurant, we talked about doing some food pairings. We talked for a couple of weeks about what we’d have and what we’d pair. I knew, for example, that I wanted to try Cynar (having previously only had it in Audrey Saunders’ Little Italy cocktail at Pegu Club), so we took our cues either from what I wanted to mix with or from what she was eager to cook.

I would then write up the boozy stuff for this site and MxMo, and she’d blog the foodie bits over at the food blog Gastronome. So there you go.

Now on to the pairings. (All photography by Jennifer Hess. You can view full-sized versions of these pictures, and others, in Jen’s photostream at Flickr, or you can read her writeup of the foodie stuff at Gastronome.)

First up, the Adonis cocktail with figs, stuffed with blue cheese, wrapped in serrano ham, and roasted in the toaster oven. Jen requested sherry, since it’s a classic pairing with figs and blue cheese, so I consulted my oracles to find a good sherry-based quaff. Difford’s Guide to Cocktails provided several options, and from them I chose the Adonis, a simple mix of sherry, vermouth, and orange bitters.

MxMo AperitifAdonis

  • 2 oz. dry sherry (Difford calls for Fino; we used Manzanilla)
  • 1 oz. sweet vermouth
  • 3 dashes orange bitters (I used Fee)
  • Orange twist, for garnish

Stir over ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and garnish with an orange twist.

cynar and chokesThat’s a good drink. I was surprised by its smokiness, though. Sherry never strikes me as being smoky on its own, but somehow with the vermouth and orange bitters, the drink was smoky, like a scotch cocktail. Strange, but a nice example of the alchemy that occurs in a cocktail glass.

Our second pairing was artichoke-a-riffic: artichoke hearts topped with crabmeat and roasted in the toaster oven. The pairing for that was simple: Cynar on the rocks with a slice of lemon. We both found the Cynar a little sweet on its own, so perhaps we’ll shake it into a drink next time.

Our final pairing was another cocktail, but it requires explanation. …

The night after our cocktail party, we went to Dressler, a new restaurant in South Williamsburg, Brooklyn. We’d been to Dressler once before–on its opening night, we sat at the bar, and ate while talking drinks and barmanship with the friendly bartender. On our second visit, we had a different bartender, but he was every bit as personable as the first guy had been.

So we sat at Jim’s bar and ordered drinks and food. After pouring us each a couple of fine drinks, he started prepping something interesting. I saw bourbon and bitters and something else I didn’t quite make out. Then he did something strange. He strained that in a flute and topped it with champagne! And as Jen and I looked at each other and remarked on how intriguing that was, he set it down in front of Jen! “Try this, on the house. It’s a Seelbach, I think you’ll enjoy it.”

Jim’s a mensch, and a damn good bartender. We did indeed enjoy it, and when Jen requested it to pair with duck rillettes, I knew yet again how smart my wife really is. The smoky bourbon and the champagne cut right through the fattiness of the duck. (The rillettes, by the way, were my concoction, from duck confit that I made in early spring.)

Seelbach cocktailSeelbach Cocktail

  • 7 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 7 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
  • 1 oz. bourbon
  • ½ oz. triple sec
  • 5 oz. chilled champagne

Technique: Rinse champagne flute with both kinds of bitters. Pour out most of the bitters, leaving a small amount in the bottom of the glass. Shake bourbon and triple sec over ice, and strain into flute. Top with champagne.

(The recipes I’ve seen for this call for shaking the bitters with the bourbon and triple sec. But Jim at Dressler rinsed the glass with them, and after mixing this once at home, I see why: the bitters overwhelm the cocktail if they remain fully in the drink. Either rinse the glass or shake the bitters, but cut back on the quantity.)

Oh, and in case you were wondering, these were indeed apéritifs. Even with all that food, we still managed to eat grass-fed tenderloins and a salad for dinner, with a nice Chianti Classico.