Category Archives: On the web

If you could be any drink?

You might think this question sounds silly:

“If you could be any drink, what would it be?” But I love the way it’s answered here:

I’d be the first sip of a perfect gin and tonic swallowed on the dock of a cottage bay with the July sun setting, kids inside setting up Scrabble and nothing but two weeks of classic WWII spy novels ahead.  To my mind, all other drinks aspire to be this.

A little background. I’ve been reading Drinking Diaries for almost a year now. You might not be familiar with this site; it’s a forum for women to discuss the role of alcohol in their lives, and a place for them to tell stories about drinking, families, and our boozy, boozy culture.

I find the site so compelling because I am a father to an 18-month-old, and we have another child on the way. I am a parent who drinks, which means I am a parent who is modeling drinking behavior for my son. This is something I take seriously, although I have yet to come to any sort of conclusion about how to approach it. Drinking Diaries provides me the kind of perspectives I wouldn’t otherwise encounter.

In My Experience …

Writing over at ShakeStir, Paul Clarke has launched a new column called In My Experience. ShakeStir is a relatively new platform for bartenders, meant to provide information and advice about managing their professional interests. Clarke’s column provides a good look at what ShakeStir is all about. He interviews veteran bartenders about work/home balance, managing money, drinking, staying healthy, and generally keeping your sanity while working long shifts in the service industry.

His first two interviews feature a couple of guys who know a thing or two about working behind the stick: Dale DeGroff and Gaz Regan. The questions are smart and the answers incisive and wise. I’m looking forward to future installments.

Incidentally, I have a profile there, if that really matters to anyone.

Odds and Ends

No one ever seems to blog much during Christmas week, and I’m no exception. Just wanted to drop a quick post linking out to a couple of other things I’ve been working on.

The biggest news is that I’m contributing to Serious Eats. I’m writing a weekly column for the next several weeks on basic cocktail techniques. Right now, I’m in the middle of a three-part series on party planning. Parts 1 and 2 are up, along with a recipe for a batched Negroni. Part 3 should be up next week. I still can’t believe people pay me to write about what I love.

I also have a recipe that’s part of a crowded field at Food52, competing for best Hot Toddy recipe. My entry, the Rum Tum Toddy, features baked apple and Smith & Cross rum. I love the drink and hope it has a chance, but we’ll see. Here’s a video of me flaming an orange twist to go atop the toddy. I sloppily managed to drop the twist pith side up, which irritates me, but I didn’t get a smudge of match soot on the peel, which would have vexed me even more. (Yes, that’s a box of wine behind me. Sigh.)

Jen on the radio

Two Jens, in fact! A couple of Wednesdays ago, Jen Huntley-Corbin and Jen Hess got to talking on the radio about food, blogging, and Jen’s inspirations in starting Last Night’s Dinner. Check it out here.

Since I was in the studio, Jen H-C prevailed on me to make a couple of comments too, but I tried to keep from stealing the focus from the Jen Party. She asked first about my use of vodka in making pie crusts, and then later, we talked briefly about pairing cocktails with food.

Oh, and I babbled pretty incoherently when Jen H-C asked me about the tip about the vodka in the pie crust. Jen (Hess, that is) had pointed me to a post on Smitten Kitchen about it way back when, and that’s where the idea originated. Deb explains it much, much better than I did on the radio, so if the idea intrigues you, go read Deb’s post for a better explanation.

Blogroll + Google Reader + WordPress = Easy!

As I was redesigning this site, I wanted to make the blogroll a priority. It had been dramatically out of date for months. One thing I wanted to do was link it to my Google Reader account, so that whenever I add a feed to the Booze section of my account, that feed will automatically appear in my blogroll. Same thing for deleting feeds. It’s annoying to have to manage your subscriptions in two places–in your feed reader and in your Links panel–and it makes it difficult to keep your blogroll up to date.

I found out linking my blogroll to my Reader account was actually pretty easy to do, even though Reader doesn’t really hype this feature much. If you use WP and Google Reader and you have your feeds sorted by folders or tags, here’s what you do:

  1. Log in to your Reader account.
  2. In the top-right corner, choose Settings.
  3. Choose Folders and Tags.
  4. Choose a folder and set it to Public. (All of my cocktail and spirits feeds are sorted into a Booze folder, for example. I chose that and made it Public.)
  5. Once it’s public, you should have an option that says Add a Blogroll to My Site. Click that.
  6. You should see a pop-up window with your new blogroll. For my site, I deleted the default title that Google provided and I changed the color scheme to None, so that I could control the title in WP and let my own custom CSS styles govern the presentation.
  7. Copy the code from the box.
  8. Switch to your WP admin panel, go to Design, and choose Widgets.
  9. Create a new Text widget and paste the code into the widget box. Title your Text widget with whatever you want–in my case, Bartenders and Cocktail Nerds. Save the new widget and then click Save Changes.
  10. Et voila.

Because the Google code uses JavaScript to load your blogroll, it will take a couple of seconds for it to appear onscreen whenever you view or refresh your blog, so be warned. But the advantages to this method make that “problem” pretty trivial. If I change anything in Reader, it’s automatically updated in my blogroll–additions, deletions, whatever–just seconds after I make the change.

Now, what this obviously means is, the list to the right of this post is the list of everyone I’m currently following in Reader. If you’re not there, it’s probably because of one of three things:

  • You haven’t updated in a few months and I’m assuming your blog is dead
  • I’ve never heard of you.
  • I’ve been too lazy to add you to my Reader account.

If you’re a cocktail or spirits blogger, you want on this blogroll, and you’ve updated since, oh, October or so, drop me a comment here and I’ll try to add you.

Happy New Year!

As promised/threatened, I made the Ford Cocktail that Ted “Dr. Cocktail” Haigh recommended on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday. Doc said to Liane Hansen that this is a drink he wants to revive in 2009 and rightfully so. It’s delicious. He describes it as lovely and beautifully balanced, and once again, the doctor’s prescription is right on the money. I’m happy to do my part.

Although the only source Haigh mentions is “an 1895 book,” I was able to uncover it with my fancy Google fu–George J. Kappeler’s Modern American Drinks.

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

Haigh modernized the measurements for Hansen as follows:

Ford Cocktail

  • 1 oz. gin
  • 1 oz. dry vermouth
  • 3 dashes Benedictine
  • 3 dashes orange bitters
  • Orange twist, for garnish

Technique: Stir over cracked ice in a mixing glass. Strain into chilled cocktail glass. Add garnish.

Notes: Doc didn’t actually mention the garnish to Hansen, but since it’s in Kappeler’s, I’ve added it. You can see from Jen’s photo that I used lemon. You might recall that Jen’s allergic to orange. Finally, to address the perennial question–how much is 3 dashes of Benedictine?–I dashed the orange bitters first into my measuring cup and noted the level. I then carefully measured a roughly equal amount of Benedictine.

MxMo in the Crescent City

Mixology Monday logoFor this month’s Mixology Monday, which has a New Orleans theme, I’m going with a couple of drinks, both inspired by panels that I attended at Tales of the Cocktail.

The first drink is the Sloppy Joe’s Mojito, inspired obliquely by the To Have and Have Another panel, on the drinking life of Ernest Hemingway. Whether Hemingway actually drank Mojitos appears to be in some dispute. The eminent Eric Felten argues persuasively that he probably did not, but it is clear that old Papa frequented the Havana bar that originated this version of the classic rum drink. He even apparently persuaded the proprietor of a Key West saloon to rip off the Havana original’s name. So, who knows?

Charles Baker, writing in The Gentleman’s Companion, describes the drink thus:

Put several lumps of ice into a 16 oz collins glass, toss in 1 tsp sugar or gomme, insinuate a spiral green lime peel about the ice, turn in 1-1/2 jiggers of Bacardi; white, or Gold Seal, and the strained juice of 1 small green lime–not a lemon. Stir once, fill with really good club soda and garnish with a bunch of fresh mint.

What I love about this variant is that a) it’s not too sweet, and b) it’s not too minty. I don’t feel like I’m chewing rum-spiked Doublemint gum.

The second drink comes straight from the Beefeater reception at Palace Cafe and also the Juniperlooza session. I had heard of this drink prior to Tales, but I had never tried it. It’s the Jasmine cocktail, devised by architect and booze writer Paul Harrington. It tastes remarkably like grapefruit juice even though it contains no grapefruit whatsoever. Honestly, this is one of those drinks that I often post where I’m sure the majority of my single-digit readership is thinking, “What! New to the Jasmine? He needs to crawl out from under Plymouth Rock or wherever the hell he lives and actually drink from time to time!”

No argument here, Skippy. I will say this, though. I’ve mixed a lot of cocktails at home, and I’ve had many others out. It’s a rare treat when something passes my lips and earns a spot in my regular drinks rotation. The Jasmine is right there. Jen and I both adore it. It tastes like an old-school cocktail, even though it’s not old enough to drive, let alone drink, and the ingredients are perfectly balanced. A new favorite.

Jasmine

  • 1-1/2 oz gin
  • 3/4 oz lemon juice
  • 1/4 oz Cointreau
  • 1/4 oz Campari
  • lemon twist for garnish

Technique: Shake, strain, add garnish, sip, and smile.

Many thanks to Paulernum Clarke for hosting.

Photos by Jennifer Hess.