All posts tagged: vermouth

Cocktail of the week no. 23: Satan’s Whiskers

When I came across this cocktail, naturally the first thing I wanted to know was who came up with that name. Is “Satan’s whiskers” a standard phrase, like “the cat’s pyjamas?” I researched and researched, and found a lot of odd Satanic fan fiction out there, but no illumination on the phrase itself. Interestingly, I did find about the 1920s origins of “the cat’s pyjamas,” so called because of the contemporary fashion for wearing pyjamas among the Jazz Age flappers, also known as cats. At this point Wiktionary led me to an anecdote which deserves to be told at every opportunity. New York Times, November 6, 1922:’PAJAMA GIRL AND CATS OUT’: “Sunday afternoon strollers in lower Fifth Avenue were treated to the unusual sight yesterday of a young woman clad in transparent yellow silk pajamas, escorted by four cats, also clad in pajamas, leisurely making her way along the avenue…” The phrase is unlikely to originate with this incident however as the words “Cat’s pajamas” are used by one of the policemen at the scene …

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.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 …

Take a Leap? The Leap Year Cocktail

I’m going to be stunningly original here – a Leap Year cocktail on February 29th! I do love the idea of Leap Day, that it’s a day to do things you might not normally do, but as with so many things in life, it’s mostly great because it reminds me of a great Frasier episode, which features this spectacular Daphne moment: “Tell me the truth. Is it as bad as I think it is?” “How… bad… do you think it is?” Taking a leap: not always the best idea? But what harm can we come to with this rather gentle cocktail? A simple concoction, invented by Harry Craddock at the Savoy to celebrate the occasion in 1928, it’s a bittersweet blend of gin, sweet vermouth, orange liqueur, and a hint of lemon juice. Thanks to The Kitchn for the recipe: Ingredients: 2 oz gin 3/4 oz orange liqueur (I used Cointreau) 1/2 oz sweet vermouth Dash of lemon juice Shake (or stir, since there’s so little lemon juice) over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Twist a …

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, …

Chinese New Year Cocktail 2: Lapsang Souchong Old Fashioned

So this is the second of my Chinese New Year-inspired tea cocktails, also taken from the Rare Tea Company website. It builds on the character of a whisky old-fashioned, but adds Lapsang Souchong tea, along with vermouth and honey syrup in place of the sugar. This one, I LOVE. The intense woody smokiness of Lapsang is just amazing with the bourbon. It doesn’t get overpowered in the way the delicate jasmine tea did in my first tea cocktail. Quite the opposite. This drink makes me feel like I should be sitting in a leather armchair in a private club, smoking a pipe and talking as men do. Preferably in this episode of Frasier: Not very Chinese New Year-related, but still, it’s a great drink! (Soon I will make a Tuxedo cocktail in honour of Frasier. I might also start putting a Frasier clip in every post.) Ingredients: 60 ml (2 oz) Lapsang Souchong tea (infused and chilled) 60 ml (2 oz) bourbon 20 ml (1/3 oz) sweet vermouth 1 tsp honey syrup (half honey, half …

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 …