All posts tagged: cocktail of the week

Cocktail of the week no. 9: the Sazerac

It’s back to the classics this week, with an old standard from New Orleans. The Sazerac has been around since the mid-19th century, and originated as a cognac drink. Not too long after, the spirit changed to whisky when cognac became difficult to obtain after the outbreak of phylloxera, a vine-eating parasite, swept through France’s vineyards. As with many of these classic cocktails, there’s quite a bit of debate about how exactly to make it: should you add Angostura bitters along with the Peychaud’s? Should you use absinthe, or Herbsaint, or Pernod? Should you leave the absinthe in the glass, or tip it out? Is it ever acceptable to drop the lemon peel in the drink? As usual, since I’m just learning, I’ve stuck to the most traditional version I can find: no Angostura, yes absinthe, lemon peel firmly outside the drink. Something about the combination of rye, medicinal Peychaud’s and strong absinthe sounds pretty odd on paper, but the finished product is delightful. Absinthe so easily overpowers other spirits, but here the rinse on the …

Cocktail of the week no.7: the Manhattan

For this week’s cocktail, I’m going for a real classic – the Manhattan. It’s a super simple cocktail along the lines of a Martini – mainly just spirit and vermouth. Here it’s whisky (preferably rye) and sweet vermouth, with some Angostura bitters thrown in. There’s no great certainty about where or when the Manhattan originated, but it seems safe to say that it was in New York in the latter half of the 19th century. I’m amazed at the amount of variation possible with a Manhattan – make it with all sweet vermouth, or half sweet and half dry vermouth (a Perfect Manhattan), make a brandy Manhattan, a Cuban Manhattan (with dark rum), a Tijuana Manhattan (with tequila), a Rob Roy (with Scotch instead of rye). I made mine with a ratio of 2:1 whiskey to vermouth, but the recipe in The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks suggests a 5:1 ratio (yikes). For some variations right here on WordPress, Cocktail Monologue has begun a series of really interesting-looking ‘Manhattan Mondays.’ I’ve stuck to my beloved Serious Eats for the recipe, …

Cocktail of the week no.6 : the Boulevardier

My bottle of Campari has been languishing in the kitchen, waiting for warm weather when I feel like it’s time for a Negroni. I think I might have to do a series of Negroni variations – Sbagliato, Americano, a Cheeky Negroni, a Jasmine – but those all seem like spring/summer drinks. So while we wait for the weather to change, here’s a drink that’s often described as a cold-weather Negroni: Campari and sweet vermouth, but with bourbon replacing the gin. The bitterness is still there, but the overall effect is distinctly less crisp. The bourbon adds a sweetness and a honeyed warmth which is just right for the late winter chill. The  combination of Campari and sweet vermouth is such a complex taste, herbal and sophisticated. This article from T, the New York Times magazine, has some great suggestions for tweaks you can make to the cocktail (although they do involve some rather obscure ingredients, unsurprisingly). The Boulevardier was first made by Harry McElhone in Paris in 1927 for his fellow American expat, Erskine Gwynne. Gwynne edited a …

Cocktail of the week no.5: the Martinez

So I popped down to Gerry’s Wines and Spirits recently to get some new ingredients and expand my repertoire. It seems less common for people to make complex cocktails at home in the UK than it is in the US, perhaps because alcohol is generally more expensive here, so there aren’t a ton of stores that are really well-stocked. Gerry’s is the best in London as far as I can tell. The staff are really helpful, and I incidentally learned the correct way to pronounce ‘Tokaji’ when another customer was gently corrected (it’s Tok-eye). Among other things, I picked up some Old Tom gin, a style of gin popular in the 19th century, made obscure by the rise of London dry gin, and resurrected in the last decade or so. I bought it specifically to make a Martinez, an old relative, and supposedly the predecessor, of the Martini. I tried a Martinez for the first time recently at Bar Américain. It’s very different from a Martini, and not the easiest thing to drink, but it really stuck with me. It’s complex and bittersweet, featuring …

Cocktail of the week no.4: Whiskey Sour

Aaand… another sour cocktail – this time I had lemons to use up. I love the combination of smoky, sweet bourbon and crisp, tart lemons – somehow it all blends together perfectly. It seems like the perfect thing to knock back before dinner. 2 0z bourbon 1 oz fresh lemon juice 0.5 oz simple syrup Dash of egg white (optional, I prefer it without) Shake with ice and then strain into a glass with more ice. Garnish with lemon rind and a maraschino cherry.

Cocktail of the week no.3: the Margarita

Again with the limes… These freshly made margaritas are so clean and bright – like a little blast of summer in January. We’re tempted to make these every time we make fajitas, which is OFTEN. 2 oz blanco tequila 1 oz Cointreau 1 oz fresh lime juice Shake the ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass (one day I’m getting proper margarita glasses, I feel it will be worth it). If you like a salty rim, run a lime wedge round the edge of the glass and dip it in salt. Garnish with a lime wheel.

Cocktail of the week no.1: the Old-Fashioned

I’ve always liked a good cocktail, but something about living in London has alerted me to the fact that I don’t really know enough about the art of making them as I’d like to. As a kind of educational project, I’m planning to make a new cocktail every week, and work my way through as many classic recipes as possible. I hope to learn a lot over the course of the year about spirits, techniques, and equipment, including but not limited to how to make perfectly clear ice cubes. As a starting point, I’m using this list at Serious Eats. I don’t intend to do it in the same order, or necessarily cover all of the cocktails on the list, but I like it as a reference point.  I’m going to start with a true classic, the original cocktail – just spirit, sugar, water, and bitters. Most Old-Fashioned recipes call for you to muddle a sugar cube with a dash of water and bitters, and then add the whisky on top. Some call for the …