The holidays are coming and the geese are getting fat. It’s time to pull some party ideas from an old man’s hat. I would say that everyone loves a holiday party, but that’s just not true; many of them suck. Here are a few tips that should help ensure that yours is of the non-sucky variety.
Now, you young folks won’t remember this, but back in my day, when you wanted to make a cocktail, and you needed some cocktail bitters, you went to the soda-pop aisle of your grocery and found the shelves dedicated to mixers for adult beverages, and if you were lucky, you’d see a bottle of Angostura right there sitting next to the lime cordial and the sour mix and the tonic water.
Then about eight years ago, the bartender and booze writer Gary Regan formulated the newest and greatest recipe of his orange bitters, sensing a need in the marketplace, and so it came to pass that Regan’s Orange Bitters No. 6 became available to bartenders and cocktail nerds.
These days, you kids are spoiled for choice. I decided one day to count the number of upstart companies producing bitters, and I had to stop when I got to 30 because I can’t count much higher than that.
I’ve heard a rumor that in other parts of the country, the weather is turning colder, leaves are starting to drop from the trees, mountain men and other rustic types are gathering wood for their fireplaces, and drinkers are turning their bloodshot eyes toward the brown spirits.
Me? I have the air conditioning on as I type this. It’s about 80°F out there. Then again, my bloodshot eyes never turn away from brown spirits even when the temperatures crack the triple digits, but I’m unusual that way.
A few months ago, I provided a primer on Scotch terms. Today, I thought I’d turn my gaze inward and explain a few things about good old bourbon whiskey.
Next time you’re at the gym or the salon or the grocery, and someone says it’s a sacrilege to mix Scotch into a cocktail, promise me you’ll grab that person, take him or her out back, and…
[Want to know my picks for five essential Scotch cocktails? Read on!]
Harry Craddock only wrote one book, the Savoy Cocktail Book, but many of the cocktails in that book are justly renowned and worth adding to your repertoire. The Corpse Reviver #2 is probably the most famous, but we’ve written about that drink many times before, so we’ll move on to a few other cocktails from Savoy that you should know.
When you start looking through vintage cocktail books, one thing you’ll quickly notice are the names of obscure ingredients—products with names like Caperitif and Hercules. And if you’re anything like me, you’re curious about these products. What were they? What do (or did) they taste like?
My latest at Serious Eats. [Read on!]
My piece on ingredient substitutions at Serious Eats.
At Serious Eats, I contributed a drink to a new feature, “The Best Cocktails We Drank in [a given month].” This previous month being April, it was April’s turn to be the given month. The remit was, pick a drink you loved, whether out or at home. We don’t really get out much, for several reasons, so it would have to be a drink at home. I chose something new, a drink I’d never had or made before. My comments on the site were …
“Reposado tequila, sweet and dry vermouth, Campari, and Angostura bitters combine for the La Rosita, a spin on the classic Negroni cocktail. I mixed this one up at home for a crisp springtime refresher. Tequila and Campari play very well together, making for an herbal, lightly bitter drink that highlights tequila’s agave flavor.”—Michael Dietsch, Cocktail 101 columnist
Now, the recipe:
- 1-1/2 ounces reposado tequila
- 1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
- 1/2 ounce dry vermouth
- 1/2 ounce Campari
- 1 dash Angostura bitters
Stir all ingredients over ice in a mixing glass. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. No garnish.
For tequila, I used Espolon Reposado. For sweet vermouth, Cinzano; for dry, M&R.
Disclaimer: The Espolon and Campari were sent to me for review purposes by Campari America. I had never before had the Espolon and I quite liked it. I would consider buying it again, but I would consider other reposados before Espolon. As for Campari, I almost always have a bottle on hand, usually purchased with my own money. But to cover my ass, I probably can’t fail to disclose that Campari America sent me a bottle.
Photograph © Jennifer Hess
Yes, ours was made at home. We don’t get out much with an infant in the house.