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December 2016

Bombs Away -- The Brown Bomber

Brown bomber 1The drink is not explosive or dangerous, unless you have too many of them.  It is a tribute to Joe Louis, the late American heavyweight boxer.  Known as the Brown Bomber, Louis was the reigning champion for 140 consecutive months in the 1930s and 1940s, and he had 23 knockouts in 27 title fights.  Talk about staggering numbers (literally, if you were in the ring with him).  Jim Meehan at PDT in New York City created the Brown Bomber, and this is my variation.

2 ounces bourbon or rye
.75 ounces dry vermouth
.5 ounces Averna or Campari

Brown Bomber 2Combine in a mixing glass with ice, stir with the deliberation of of a boxer dismantling their opponent, and strain into a chilled glass.  Lemon twist garnish optional.

Most versions of the Brown Bomber call for bourbon or rye, Lillet Blanc (a French aperitif), and Suze (a Swiss gentian root liqueur).  I substituted dry vermouth for the Lillet Blanc, and Averna or Campari for the Suze because I like those liquors much more than I like Suze.

The Brown Bomber isn't far removed from a Boulevardier in that both cocktails have a whiskey, vermouth, and an amaro.  Similarly, the combination of whiskey and dry vermouth is reminiscent of a Scofflaw. If you want a boxing relating spirit that's sweeter but just as strong, try my pugilecello

The Brown Bomber isn't sweet. But like its namesake, it is powerful and classy.

Some Good Bullscotch -- The Blood and Sand

Blood and Sand 1Grab this bull by the horns. The Blood and Sand takes its name from the 1922 movie in which Rudolph Valentino (a big star at the time) played a tragically doomed bullfighter.  In 1930 Harry Craddock, a bartender at the Savoy Hotel in London (see London Calling), mentioned the drink in his book. Many recipes he saved, e.g. the Corpse Reviver #1, have enjoyed renewed popularity in the modern era. The Blood and Sand (this is my version) is one of them.

1.25 ounces blended Scotch
1 ounce Cherry Heering liqueur
1 ounce sweet vermouth
Juice from 1/4 orange

Blood and Sand 2Combine in a shaker with ice, shake with the dynamism of a matador in the ring, and strain into a chilled glass.  Orange peel or Luxardo cherry garnish optional.

I know this combination of ingredients looks odd, but depending on how you mix it the Blood and Sand can be a fine drink. The original version calls for equal parts of the four ingredients.  My view is less is more when it comes to the orange juice.  Its acidity easily could overwhelm the drink. As for the Scotch I suggest you use one that is not smoky (I used Monkey Shoulder here), unless you want to gore your taste buds.  

In case you were wondering, the red of Cherry Heering (a Danish liqueur that's readily available in liquor stores and online) is supposed to represent blood, and orange juice is supposed to represent sand.  Symbolism aside, the Blood and Sand is for serious drinkers.  No bull.


America's Sweetheart -- The Mary Pickford

Mary who?  Mary Pickford was Hollywood's first popular female star.  Nicknamed "America's Sweetheart," after acting in numerous films in the first decades of the 20th century she became a co-founder of United Artists film studio.  She also was one of the founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences -- you know, the people who give out the Oscars.  Eddie Woelkem, an American bartender in Havana, created the Mary Pickford in the 1920s when she shot a movie there.

Mary Pickford2 ounces light rum
1 ounce fresh pineapple juice
.25 Luxardo maraschino liqueur
.25 ounces glorious grenadine

Combine into a shaker with ice, shake with the tenacity of a lady who succeeded in early Hollywood, and strain into a martini or coupe glass (for some movie star glamour).  Luxardo maraschino cherry garnish optional.

The Mary Pickford gives you a great balance of booze, citrus, and sweetness.  I can't emphasize enough the importance of using fresh pineapple juice.  If you have to use sweetened pineapple juice, you may want to add a little rum. An intriguing variation is to combine an ounce of clear and aged rum. If you're into cocktail history, Woelke also is credited with creating the El Presidente.  Woelke was an American who plied his craft in Cuba during Prohibition.  Along with the Daiquiri and the El Presidente, the Mary Pickford shows there's a fascinating history of Americans creating cocktails in Cuba.  

Like the actress for whom it is named, if you want a cocktail that's sweet, glamorous, and strong, have a Mary Pickford.