All posts filed under: Cocktails of the Week

Cocktail of the week no.22: the Angel Face

I was introduced to this cocktail by a barman at the Zetter Townhouse in Clerkenwell, and it’s one of the two drinks I’ve had in bars in recent months that I’ve desperately wanted to make for myself at home. The other was at “The Bar with No Name,” AKA 69 Colebrooke Row, and it was called “Silent Neon Flower.” Coincidentally, both of these bars owe their drinks menus to one man, Tony Conigliaro, who opened 69 Colebrooke Row and is the drinks consultant for Zetter Townhouse. I can’t recommend these two bars enough. They both feature incredibly knowledgeable and courteous bar/wait staff, who shimmer up to you like Jeeves but won’t make you feel like an idiot if you ask questions or mispronounce something. Certainly there are vast differences in decor (Zetter Townhouse describes itself as feeling like “the private residence of an eccentric (and fabulous!) Great Aunt,” which I can confirm to be true, whereas 69 Colebrooke Row is all sleek wood with the slight air of a 1930s railway station; nonetheless they share the same …

Cocktail of the week no.21: the Pink Lady

Ah, look at this cocktail – how pink, how frothy, how girly! You might think that if this were a person it would be Cinderella, radiating sweetness and light and charm, coming down the staircase in a flowing dress, about to step into her carriage with a bright optimism about the delights of the evening to come. Like so: You would of course be wrong. This drink does not pull any punches; it’s not sweet, it’s not  that creamy, it’s definitely not delicate. It’s incredibly dry and tart, and in fact it feels a bit like you’re being slapped in the face by Cinderella, not that she would ever do such a thing. A bit more like this on the pink lady spectrum: Ah, that’s better. So the Pink Lady is another old and venerable cocktail, with gin and grenadine (hence the pinkness) at its heart. It was a common drink during prohibition, when the grenadine would have come in handy to mask the unpleasant harshness of bootleg gin. Ultimately its pink frothiness would come to …

Cocktail of the week no.20: the Jack Rose

One of the things I always loved most (and hopefully will be able to appreciate again soon) about living in America is the enthusiastic celebration of all things autumn-related (sorry, fall-related). England does not do this with quite the same level of abandon, as we live in a state of near-perpetual autumn, and I miss not being able to move without tripping over some golden-hued display of leaves, pumpkins, chrysanthemums, and above all, apples. As a side note, if there was some way to get fresh apple cider donuts shipped over to the  UK, I would do it in a heartbeat (please tell me if there is), for they are the pinnacle of human culinary achievement.   This week’s classic cocktail, then – the Jack Rose – is a celebration of apples, not using fresh apples (I’m getting to that), but apple brandy instead. Its origins are, like those of many classic cocktails, buried in history, with various stories competing for legitimacy. Perhaps the most exotic stories concern the involvement of Bald Jack Rose, a notorious gambler and …

Cocktail of the week no.19: the Tuxedo

In 1885, in a rural patch of New York state called Tuxedo, just north of the border with New Jersey, a man named Pierre Lorillard decided to found a country club. He named it after the region, which had retained its Indian name; Etymonline and the Tuxedo Club’s own excellent history page agree that ‘Tuxedo’ probably derives from the Algonquian ‘p’tuck-sepo,’ or ‘crooked river.’ The club was a success, attracting the New York glitterati for its country pursuits and society dances, and in the year of its opening, 1886, the name went down in history for its association with a new, informal style of evening wear – the tail-less dinner jacket. Supposedly this rather avant-garde garment was brought back to New York by one James Brown Potter, who saw the Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VII) wearing one on a visit to Sandringham; the ‘notoriously unchaste’ prince recommended his tailor to Potter while simultaneously trying to seduce his wife. The Wall Street Journal has the full story here, as well as one or two other versions. This …

Cocktail of the week no.18: the Ward Eight

For my weekly cocktail today (and I use the word ‘weekly’ in its loosest sense, of course, since I haven’t done one of these in several weeks), I present to you the Ward Eight, a fitting drink for election season. The Ward Eight, essentially a variation on a whiskey sour, is said to have been invented in 1898 at the Locke-Ober restaurant in Boston, to honour an election victory by Martin Lomasney – the boss of the city’s Ward Eight. In all honesty, however, I wasn’t thinking about trivial things like elections when I decided to make this; I had considerably more important things on my mind, like the fact that I’d been meaning to make grenadine for ages and hadn’t yet got around to it. This bright red syrup is used to add a pinky-orange tint and a sweet-tart taste to cocktails like the Tequila Sunrise, Singapore Sling, and Planter’s Punch, as well as shorter drinks like the Pink Lady and this, the Ward Eight. In theory, the red colour in grenadine comes from pomegranates (grenade …

Cocktail of the week no. 17: the Daiquiri

Yesterday, August 16, was National (or International, I’m not quite sure) Rum Day! Thank goodness for my Instagram feed and the many many cocktail enthusiasts I follow for alerting me to this important fact. And what better way to celebrate than with arguably the definitive rum cocktail, the daiquiri. Invented (or at least first recorded) by an American engineer living in Cuba at the turn of the 20th century, the daiquiri seems like one of those cocktails that should always have existed. It’s just rum, lime, and sugar, gloriously simple. There are other notable classic cocktails which stick to the same basic formula – the French Caribbean Ti’ Punch with rhum agricole and cane syrup, the Brazilian Caipirinha with cachaça. Fittingly for a drink invented by an American in Cuba, its most famous association is with Ernest Hemingway, who lived in Havana for nearly twenty years. A prodigious drinker with ecumenical tastes, his capacity for downing daiquiris, double daiquiris, and Hemingway daiquiris, became notorious at his favourite bar, El Floridita. That last personalised version of the drink, …

Cocktail of the Week no.16: Negroni(s)

So it’s Negroni week this week, as organised by Imbibe Magazine for the last three years – you may notice bars around you pushing their Negronis and variations thereof between June 6-12. It’s all in a good cause – the bars will be donating some of the proceeds to charity, and I’ll be following suit and donating to one of the featured charities, Refugee Canteen, which helps migrants in Germany learn culinary skills and get started in the hospitality business. I came fairly lately to the Negroni bandwagon (somewhere I read it referred to as a ‘secret hipster handshake’), not being a natural fan of its extreme bitterness, but once I did, I was hooked. The more I drink cocktails, the less I can tolerate the saccharine sweetness that seems to characterise so many modern offerings, and the Negroni is certainly an antidote to that. Add in the fact that it’s practically easier to make than a G&T (three ingredients, equal ratios), and it’s become a drink I will happily knock back on the regular (usually while …

Cocktail of the week no. 15: the Corpse Reviver no.2

The first time I came across the Corpse Reviver group of cocktails was reading P. G. Wodehouse, who on several occasions has Jeeves restoring Bertie from a hungover state with one of his ’tissue-restorers.’ Here’s one passage from The Code of the Woosters. “I loosed it down the hatch, and after undergoing the passing discomfort, unavoidable when you drink Jeeves’s patent morning revivers, of having the top of the skull fly up to the ceiling and the eyes shoot out of their sockets and rebound from the opposite wall like racquet balls, felt better.“ I have never been quite hardcore enough to indulge in hair of the dog cures, except once at university during a particularly hideous morning when half a Corona did considerably ease the pain. I really can’t imagine facing one of these in the morning, although I suppose, as Bertie’s experience testifies, you don’t do it for pleasure under those circumstances. As an evening snifter though, these are ideal, although something of the eyeballs shooting out of the head effect does remain – this …

Cocktail of the week no.14: the Aviation

Have I mentioned before how much I like crème de violette? Oh, yep, I think I have. And sour cocktails? That too. So I’ve been meaning to make this cocktail for quite some time, and after a long, long break from cocktails of the week (not that I wasn’t drinking them, believe), I finally got around to it. The Aviation is a pre-Prohibition cocktail that vanished from the scene for much of the twentieth century, only to be revived in the last decade. The absence of crème de violette (l’horreur) in America is largely to blame for its disappearance, and even now the ingredient is often listed as optional in recipes. But how could anyone voluntarily omit this AMAZING NECTAR? I’m actively looking for ways to use it that don’t involve just necking it from the bottle. This is a strong drink, containing as it does quite a lot of gin and not a huge amount of anything else. Ratios differ on the maraschino and lemon, and I went with slightly more lemon because… sour, I like …

Cocktail of the week no.13: the French 75

I have a birthday looming menacingly on the horizon, and I’d been waiting for this occasion to make a rather celebratory cocktail, the French 75. Not so much a cocktail for sipping on the couch on a weekday evening while watching Murder She Wrote (my normal MO), this champagne and gin concoction called for a slightly more special occasion. (Although now that I’ve realised how great they are, they might be making an appearance on sofa nights anyway.) This drink seems to have been popularised by Harry McElhone at his New York Bar in Paris in the 1920s, and apparently owes its name to a particularly effective 75mm artillery gun used by the French in World War I. Drinking a couple of these had a similar effect to getting shelled by one of the above, apparently (thank you Gin Foundry!). It really took off in the 40s after being ordered in Casablanca. It’s definitely worthy of its name, with a deceptively light, fruity taste but a kick like the hind leg of a horse (something I …