A weblog detailing cocktails, spirits, liqueurs, barware, bars, and bitters. Maintained by Michael Dietsch, a writer and hobbyist mixer in Brooklyn.
Hey, folks. My fall 2009 column for Edible Rhody magazine is now online. As a reminder …
The focus of the column is on using seasonal, local ingredients in cocktails. Each column will have two recipes–one that I mix and one from a local bartender. Trust me, my focus will always be on classical techniques and interesting spirits.
So, now you can see whether I made good on that promise. First, though, the stunning cover:
Who knew there were cranberry bogs in Rhode Island? I didn’t! Now, the column (if you want to read the text without squinting, click here):
Photo for the article is by local photographer Chip Riegel, and boy did I have fun mixing drinks for a photoshoot at 9am.
Apple Sage Old-Fashioned
For this drink, I was inspired by traditional Thanksgiving flavors, particularly apple and sage stuffing.
- 2 ounces Calvados apple brandy
- 1/2 ounce sage simple syrup (recipe follows)
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters (when I made this at home, I used Fee’s Whiskey Barrel Bitters, which were superb in this, but aren’t for sale in Rhody as far as I know)
- Apple slice, for garnish
Build in an old-fashioned glass over ice. Add garnish.
Sage Simple Syrup
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup fresh sage leaves
Add sugar and water to a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. When sugar dissolves, remove from heat. Add sage leaves and stir. Cover and let steep for 15 minutes. Strain into a jar (discard sage leaves) and refrigerate. Will keep for one month.
photograph by the ever-loyal Jennifer Hess
Pippin’s Pear of Aces
This drink is by Providence bartender Bonnie Siharath. At the time of writing, she was at Chinese Laundry, but that restaurant closed just a week before this issue was released. I have not yet followed up to see where she’s landed. The food at Chinese Laundry was inspired by the tastes of East Asia, and this drink follows that theme.
- 1/2 fresh pear
- 1/2 stick of cinnamon
- 1 ounce Wokka Sake vodka
- 1 ounce Gray Goose pear vodka
- 1 ounce Asian pear nectar
- 1/4 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice
- pear slice, for garnish
Gently muddle pear and cinnamon in a cocktail shaker. Add ice, vodkas, nectar, and lime juice. Shake well and strain through a tea strainer into a chilled cocktail glass. Add garnish.
My quarterly cocktail column for Edible Rhody starts in the latest issue, which is hitting stands this week. I should be able to post the full content next month, but for now, I urge anyone local to go out, grab a copy, and grab a croissant from Olga’s or a hunk of cheese from Farmstead while you’re at it.
The focus of the column is on using seasonal, local ingredients in cocktails. Each column will have two recipes–one that I mix and one from a local bartender. Trust me, my focus will always be on classical techniques and interesting spirits. There’s already enough vodka flowing in Rhode Island! Just to hint at what’s to come, it looks like my winter submission will be the Tom & Jerry, made from locally produced milk and eggs.
Exciting news! The seminal cocktail guide, Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails, enters into a new edition on July 1. Or, just because it’s fun, let me provide the full title:
Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails: From the Alamagoozlum to the Zombie and Beyond. 100 Rediscovered Recipes and the Stories Behind Them
That alone gives you some idea what to expect. Drinks you’ve never heard of. Drinks you have, without knowing what’s in them, or what the classic recipe is.
Preorder your copy today!
Author is Ted Haigh. By day, he’s a graphic designer for the talking picture show. He’s worked for Superman and John Adams; for samarais and snickets; for gangsters, vampires, and spies. By night, he’s Dr. Cocktail, historian, raconteur, and bon vivant.
Vintage Spirits is a legendary book among cocktail geeks. It has been out of print for a couple of years now, and I’m among the fools who don’t own the first edition, so it’s legendary in part for being so elusive. More than that, though, it’s legendary for introducing readers to defunct spirits. Or, should I say, no longer defunct spirits. To name only one example, the book discusses a liqueur called crème de violette, a delicate liqueur made from violet petals and a staple ingredient in such drinks as the Aviation and the Blue Moon. Crème de violette, however, has reentered the market since Doc’s book premiered, in no small part because of Doc’s attention and the laments of serious bartenders everywhere.
But, if I may, there’s another reason I’m excited about the book.
I’m a small part of it.
Ted contacted a few folks who’ve helped spread cocktail love across the Internet and asked whether we’d consent to an interview. I, no fool, said yes. I’m flummoxed and flattered that Ted asked for my participation, and was very happy to help. I can’t wait to see my copy of the book, and I’m sad that I won’t get to see Ted next month to thank him personally and get his autograph.
For those who heard me on Jen’s Dish, and for those who did not, here are the recipes I talked about on her program.
Drink #1 comes from Portland (OR) bartender Jeffrey Morgenthaler. Jeff volunteered this recipe when I asked for bourbon-based drinks involving maple syrup. I tried it at home and loved it. The best thing is, it perfectly bookends the Savoy drink that follows. Jeff demonstrates that you needn’t bury your ass in the past and you needn’t follow the modern trend of infused vodkas to make an excellent drink.
- 2 oz. pecan-infused bourbon (I used Wild Turkey 101)
- 1/2 oz. maple syrup
- 3/4 oz. fig jam
- 1 egg white
- 2 dashes of bitters
Shake over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
The second cocktail is adapted from the Savoy Cocktail Book, by Harry Craddock. Craddock was an American disgusted by Prohibition; he grabbed the first boat out for England, and settled in to the American Bar at the Savoy Hotel in London.
These proportions are based on Erik Ellestad’s, at Underhill Lounge. Erik’s working his way through the Savoy book, and he’s having a great time with it. Erik found Harry’s proportions to be a little sweet, and I agree, so I’m going with Erik’s recipe.
The one thing to note is that Erik used the Laird’s Bonded Apple Brandy, which I can’t find in Rhode Island. I used Laird’s Applejack, which is a blend of apple brandy and neutral grain spirits. The Bonded Apple Brandy has nothing in it but the brandy. The blended, since it also has grain spirits, is less appley than the bonded. I’d rather have the bonded, but I’ll take the blended when I have to.
Apple Jack Rabbit
- 1-1/2 oz. Laird’s Applejack
- 1 oz. fresh-squeezed orange juice
- 3/4 oz. fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 oz. maple syrup
- Lemon twist, for garnish
Shake over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Add garnish.
Holy shit, I’m going to be on the radio!
This Wednesday, March 11, at 9 a.m., I’ll be the guest on the program Jen’s Dish, hosted by Jen Huntley-Corbin. Jen is the Buy Local Coordinator for Farm Fresh RI, which, among other things, organizes the local farmer’s markets. She approached me just over a week ago to be on the show and discuss seasonal ingredients in cocktails, among other topics. Maple syrup is fresh right now in our area, so that’s the impetus for this program. I have a couple of cocktail ideas in mind that use maple, so it should be fun.
The program airs on WNRI/1380 AM, out of Woonsocket, RI. (Oh, I’m bein’ followed by a Woonsocket. Woonsocket, Woonsocket.) The station does not appear to offer podcasts of past shows, but you can listen to a live stream at the station’s website. Since I doubt a single person’s gonna do that, I’ve asked Jen for permission to host an MP3 of the program on my own site.
Edited to add: Jen just sent me the numbers for the talk line. If any of you are awake and alert enough to call in with questions, here are the numbers:
Talk Line: 401-769-0600
Talk Line: 401-766-1380
Talk Line: 800-949-WNRI (9674)
I was reading this morning’s New York Times Magazine, and I saw a profile of Rachel Maddow, host of talk shows on Air America and MSNBC. I’ve never listened to Maddow or watched her show, even though many of my friends think the world of her. Political talk shows just aren’t my cup of tea, even when I agree with the host.
There’s a lot to like about Rachel Maddow in this piece. She’s a mustard person. She keeps Champagne in the fridge at all times. Her favorite movie is The Manchurian Candidate–Frankenheimer, not Demme. But then, there are these tidbits:
By her bed: Comic books. I read comics sometimes and graphic novels. I appreciate that genre.
Hobby: I am a hobbyist bartender. I have a liquor cabinet. I research classic drinks from the golden age of American cocktails and I make them for me and Susan.
Favorite obscure liquor: Rhum agricole. It is rum made from sugar-cane juice rather than molasses. It is freaking awesome.
Le pant, le pant, le sigh, le sigh.
(Yes yes yes, I know. Who cares? None of my celebrity crushes have ever been reciprocated anyway. Did Julianne McNamara marry me after the 1984 Olympics? Does Christina Hendricks know my name? Aren’t there tons of straight women–and some straight men–macking on Ted Allen? It’s the twenty-first century; I have a right to have a small crush on Rachel Maddow!)
GREG BOEHM was galled when prices of out-of-print cocktail books skyrocketed along with the popularity of cocktails, a familiar gripe of any drink enthusiast who has been ensnared by the anachronistic charm of old bar books.
Read it all, at the NY Times.
From the why-hasn’t-anyone-thought-of-this-before department, Reuters ran a story last week about an American ex-pat entrepreneur in Casablanca who’s opened a new cafe…named Rick’s, after the gin joint in one of my favorite films, Casablanca.
I don’t know whether I’ll be in Morocco any time soon, but somewhat closer to home, anyway, is the Cocktail Film Fest in New Orleans, the weekend of March 21-22. Hosted by Cheryl Charming, the festival features three films, Casablanca, The Seven Year Itch, and Guys and Dolls, along with themed cocktails and meals. But alas, even that’s too far for me.
I had no such excuse on Monday, when Tales held a media reception at Manhattan’s Flatiron Lounge, just blocks from my office. Julie Reiner’s always graceful staff brought around several New York-themed drinks, including the Slope, the Southside Fizz, and the New York Sour. The Slope was a particular favorite of mine. Named for Park Slope (my first landing strip when I arrived in NYC in 2002), it’s a derivative of the Brooklyn cocktail. Jen and I couldn’t stay long, unfortunately, but we both thank Ann Tuennerman for the invitation.
I’ve made my hotel reservations for Tales of the Cocktail. Have you?
- 2 ounces Rittenhouse Rye (preferably bonded)
- 3/4 ounce Punt Y Mes
- 1/4 ounce Bols Apricot liqueur
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- Garnish: cherries
Technique: Stir and serve in a chilled cocktail glass. Add garnish.
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!