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The Dry Era Ends -- Repeal Day

To paraphrase President Franklin Roosevelt's description of the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 5, 1933 is a date which will live in awesomeness.  On that day the 21st Amendment became official, Prohibition ended, and once again Americans could drink legally.

From the American Prohibition Museum, Savannah, Georgia.
From the American Prohibition Museum, Savannah, Georgia.

I recently had the honor of recommending a cocktail menu for my friend Chuck's company holiday party (does that make me a cocktail consultant?). The party's theme is a 1920s speakeasy.  Of course many speakeasies flourished during Prohibition, which lasted from 1919 to 1933. Keeping these things in mind, here's what I recommended:

 

Scofflaw -- This is the perfect cocktail for Repeal Day.  Besides being a great drink (one of my favorites), both the cocktail and the word originated during Prohibition.

Boulevardier -- As the name might suggest, it came out of France (specifically Paris) in the 1920s.  Even better, it only has three ingredients and is easy to make.

Mary Pickford -- An American bartender created this in Havana during the 1920s and named it for the first famous Hollywood actress.  Don't let its light and refreshing taste fool you.

Hanky Panky -- I love the name of this one. Like the Scofflaw, Boulevardier, and Mary Pickford, it came about during the 1920s. The history behind it is quite interesting, as a lady bartender created it during a time when lady bartenders were rare.

Man O'War --  Named for a a champion racehorse at the beginning of the 1920s.  Like the other cocktails in this list, it's tasty, assertive, and effective.

Racketeer -- There were plenty of these people during Prohibition (Al Capone probably is the most famous one).  Fair warning -- the drink is very strong, and it's worth every last sip.

So grab a cocktail, celebrate the end of Prohibition, and revel in the ability to drink legally!  Cheers to Repeal Day!


An Antibiotic Cocktail -- The Penicillin

Just as alcohol can provide temporary relief from some conditions, e.g. sobriety (ha!), antibiotic drugs can cure all sorts of nasty physical conditions. Sam Ross is not a doctor, but he is a legendary New York City bartender who created the Penicillin.  I'm sure Dr. Alexander Fleming, who discovered penicillin in 1928 (and no relation to Ian Fleming, the author of the James Bond novels), would approve.

Penicillin2 ounces blended Scotch (I prefer Monkey Shoulder)
.75 ounces honey syrup
Ginger (see below for options)
Juice from 1/2 lemon
.25 ounces smoky Scotch (I used Laphroaig 10)

Combine everything except the smoky Scotch in a shaker with ice, shake with the force of penicillin destroying bacteria, strain into a chilled glass, then float the smoky Scotch on top (hold a spoon upside down over the glass and pour slowly).  Candied ginger or lemon garnish optional.

You have two options for the ginger.  First, use .75 ounces of a ginger liqueur such as Barrow's Intense (full disclosure -- I am a small investor).  Second, muddle two or three small pieces of fresh ginger in the shaker before adding the other ingredients.  I prefer the first option because Barrow's Intense gives you a strong and consistent ginger taste with slightly less effort.

Speaking of effort, making honey syrup doesn't take much of it. Just follow the recipe I used for A Thief In The Night.  The smoky Scotch, which is a key ingredient in cocktails such as the Fireside Chat, helps bring everything together to make the Penicillin a tasty and warming cocktail.

Penicillin -- it's good for what ails you.


Eyes and Cars -- The Blinker

Your eyes and the turn signal in your car are blinkers.  The Blinker probably has nothing to do with either of them, as the cocktail's origins are unknown.  Patrick Gavin Duffy, a New York City bartender in the late 19th century and pre-Prohibition 20th century, mentioned the Blinker in his 1934 book The Official Mixer's Manual. 75 years later Ted "Dr. Cocktail" Haigh resurrected the Blinker and put his own spin on it.

Blinker2 ounces rye (Bulleit or Rittenhouse won't make you blink)
Juice from 1/8 grapefruit 
.25 ounces glorious grenadine or raspberry syrup

Combine in a shaker with ice, be like the Cars and Shake It Up (1980s music fans like me get it), and strain into a chilled glass.  Lemon peel garnish optional.

The sweetener is the real variable.  The original Blinker uses grenadine, and Haigh's version uses raspberry syrup. I tried the Blinker both ways, and I preferred it with grenadine.  It's simply a matter of taste.  If you want to make your own raspberry syrup, start by making a batch of super simple syrup.  Mash raspberries into the mixture when you remove it from the heat source, then strain the solids out after the mixture cools down. 

The Blinker is a little spicy (because of the rye and grapefruit juice) yet refreshing. The result is very drinkable. If you have too many you'll channel some Blink-182 tunes, forget All The Small Things, and ask What's My Age Again.  If you have one or two you'll channel the Cars tune and let the Good Times Roll.  Blink-182 makes good music, but I grew up with the Cars. Regardless of your taste in rock n'roll, you'll enjoy the Blinker for much longer than a _____ of an eye.


To E Or Not To E -- Spelling Whisky/Whiskey

Whisky or whiskey?  Which spelling is correct?  Both.  In honor of International Whisk(e)y Day, I figured I would clear up this issue.  Spelling the word is a matter of geography.  It generally corresponds to where one distills the spirit.  Thanks to Jeff Cioletti and his wonderful book The Year of Drinking Adventurously for this concise summary:

Whisk(e)yWhisky -- Scotland, Japan, Canada
Whiskey -- United States of America, Ireland

Let's move from spelling to etymology (a fancy term for a word's origin).  What does whisk(e)y mean? It comes from an Irish Gaelic or Scottish word that means "water of life."

Celebrate International Whisk(e)y Day by incorporating the spirit into a cocktail, whether it's a classic such as a Manhattan or Whiskey Sour, an underrated drink such as a Derby or Fireside Chat, or an original creation such as a Cancer Killer #1 or Whiskey Queen. Cheers!


D-Day Triumph Without Death -- The Flower Of Normandy

Flower of Normandy 2June 6, 1944.  On that day Allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy in France, fought the Nazis, and won a pivotal battle of World War II.  The Flower of Normandy does not celebrate this victory over the evil Nazis (I know, that's redundant).  Instead, it celebrates Calvados, the apple brandy that only comes from Normandy.  Many thanks to Embitterment for introducing me to one of its signature cocktails.

2 ounces Calvados or other apple brandy
.5 ounces elderflower liqueur (I used St. Germain)
2-3 dashes orange bitters (ideally from Embitterment)

Combine in a shaker with ice, stir with a calmness that most certainly did not exist on D-Day, and strain into a chilled glass.  Orange peel garnish optional.

Flower of Normandy 1The Flower of Normandy is a truly French cocktail if you use Calvados and St. Germain.  Calvados is to apple brandy like Cognac is to brandy.  If you recall the post about torched Dutch grapes, it's all about geography. Calvados, or apple brandy generally, is a key part of cocktails such as the Corpse Reviver #1 and the Antoine's Smile.

If you want to mix cocktails and history, make yourself a Flower of Normandy and sit down with a book about D-Day (I highly recommend D Day: June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II by Stephen Ambrose) or watch a movie such as Saving Private Ryan (the opening sequence is viscerally stunning and unforgettable). Or just savor the drink on its own and remember -- some things are worth fighting for.


A Cocktail With Counsel -- The Attorney Client Privilege

Everyone hates attorneys, unless they are one (like me) or need one (unlike me, but maybe you?).  The attorney client privilege with its confidentiality is a key part of the legal system.  Thanks to Imbibe magazine for profiling what it labels the Attorney Privilege.  The person who gave this cocktail that name is not in the legal profession.  It is the attorney client privilege, not the attorney privilege.

Attorney Client Privilege
2 ounces bourbon (I like Willett or Bulleit)
.5 ounces orgeat syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Combine in a shaker with ice, stir with the measured rhythm of an attorney explaining just how screwed you might be, and strain into a chilled glass.

Pairing bourbon with orgeat syrup, which you're more likely to find in tiki drinks such as the Mai Tai, seems unusual.  Nonetheless, the two complement each other quite well.

Here's some free legal advice: remember the numbers five and 11.  Five as in the Fifth Amendment -- the right against self-incrimination. 11 as in the 11th Commandment -- thou shalt not get caught (just kidding, that one is not in the Old Testament). Of course, this is NOT real legal advice.

Now here's some free drinking advice: have an Attorney Client Privilege. Consider it our not so confidential communication. 


Or What? -- Orgeat Syrup

Orgeat syrupWhiskey Tango Foxtrot?  If you're as profane as I am, that's probably what you first thought or exclaimed when you saw the word "orgeat" on a menu. Orgeat (pronounced or-jah; it's a French word that originally referred to barley) is an almond syrup and a quintessential ingredient in cocktails such as a Mai Tai.  You can buy pre-made stuff, but why not have a DIY product that tastes better?  Thanks to Kevin Liu and his book Craft Cocktails At Home for this wonderfully simple recipe.

6.5 ounces almond milk (I used Pacific Brand organic)
3 ounces sugar
1/8 teaspoon (8 drops) almond extract
1/16 teaspoon (4 drops) orange blossom water

Combine all of the ingredients in a container and stir.  Seriously, that's it.  Simple, right?  Don't forget to refrigerate whatever you don't use immediately.

Orange blossom water, which is not remotely the same as orange water, is the trickiest ingredient to find, but it is out there.  Fortunately I learned about a Turkish grocery near my office that carried the stuff. 

Making my own orgeat syrup gives me the satisfaction of accomplishment, just as when I make super simple syrup or glorious grenadine.  You can get the same sense of accomplishment, and you'll have a fine base for a cocktail or two.  Win win!


The 14 Commandments Of Drinking At A Bar

Remember the hilarious scene in Mel Brooks' History of the World Part 1 when God gives the Commandments to Moses ("The Lord Jehovah has given unto you these 15 (crash) .......  oy, 10, 10 Commandments for all to obey!").  This post has nothing to do with that.

If you're reading this you've been spent time in bars, and you'll probably spend more time in them in the future.  This good article from Shayla Love (click here to read it) provides a short and sweet summary of what to and do ...... and just as importantly, what not to do.  Despite what some of you might think, unlike Love, I am not an industry professional.  Nonetheless, I would like to add my own commandment -- remember that bartenders are more than mixologists.

Think of this as a Golden Rule for bars.  It's not the version of the rule that declares he or she who has the gold rules (that just makes them a pretentious insecure jerk).  I mean the traditional version of the rule -- Do unto bartenders as you would have them do unto you.


NYC Sicilian Style -- The Sicilian Manhattan

Sicilian (Black) ManhattanWhat makes a Manhattan Sicilian?  It's not The Godfather, which is a great book and my favorite movie. The answer is Averna. This Sicilian amaro replaces the sweet vermouth in a traditional Manhattan.  I simply renamed the Black Manhattan.  Thanks to Imbibe magazine for publishing the recipe, my friend Chuck for mentioning it to me, and my friend (and fellow Godfather fanatic) Paul for advising me that Sicilians are the black sheep of Italy.

2 ounces rye (I like Willett or Bulleit)
1 ounce Averna
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 dash orange bitters

Combine in a shaker with ice, stir, and strain into a glass as cold as Michael Corleone's glare when he finds out in the second Godfather movie that his wife did not have a miscarriage.

Averna is more potent and complex than sweet vermouth, but it is sweet enough to balance out the rye.  It's becoming easier to acquire Averna, so when you have the opportunity to get a bottle, seize it. Averna is a key ingredient in other Den cocktails such as A Thief In The Night or a Midnight Train.

Sharp eyed readers will notice the Sicilian Manhattan isn't far removed from the Lupara, a Godfather themed original creation.  If you like one you'll like the other. It's an offer you can't refuse.


Stealthy And Unexpected -- A Thief In The Night

Steal some fun! Commit larceny on your liver!  A Thief In The Night does both.  It has nothing to do with the Bible passage from which the phrase "a thief in the night" comes.  Instead, the A Thief In The Night is a creation from the people at Larceny Bourbon, who also created the Inside Job. Thanks to my bourbon aficionado friend Chuck for mentioning it to me.  I slightly adapted the recipe.

A Thief In The Night2 ounces bourbon
1 ounce Averna
Juice from 1/4 lemon
.5 ounces honey syrup (see below)

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake with the intensity of a burglar's pounding heartbeat, and strain into a chilled glass.

Averna is an excellent Sicilian amaro.  It is becoming easier to get in the United States.  I think it's quite good on its own, and it's a key component of cocktails such as the Lupara, the Amaro Amore, and the Lupo Voodoo.  As a practical matter, the A Thief In The Night essentially is a Midnight Train with honey syrup instead of super simple syrup.

So how do you make the honey syrup?  It's so easy even I can do it.  Heat equal parts water and honey in a saucepan over medium heat, stir until the honey dissolves (the mixture will retain the color), remove from the heat source, and then let the syrup cool to room temperature (wait at least one hour).

After you have A Thief In The Night, some of your liver cells and brain cells will be missing.  Better put their pictures on a milk carton.