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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 mixing glass or 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 introducing me to what it labels the Attorney Privilege.  The person who named this cocktail is not in the legal profession, as it is the attorney client privilege, not the attorney privilege.

Attorney Client Privilege
2 ounces bourbon
.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 my favorite movie, a good novel, and a tasty cocktail. The answer is Averna. This Sicilian amaro replaces the sweet vermouth in a traditional Manhattan, and it is the reason I simply renamed the Black Manhattan cocktail.

2 ounces rye
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.

The Sicilian Manhattan is an easy to make and modern variation of its cocktail ancestor. Averna is more potent and complex than sweet vermouth, but it is sweet enough to balance out the inherent spiciness of rye.  Acquiring Averna has become easier over time. Trying to figure out how else you can use Averna?  You have a lot of options such as the Peligroso, the A Thief In The Night, and the Midnight Train.

So are you going to have a Sicilian Manhattan? It's an offer you can't refuse. Cin cin!


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.


Devil In the Details -- The El Diablo

Is it Mexench?  Frexican?  Mexifrenchican?  As the El Diablo combines Mexican tequila with French creme de cassis, these are good questions.  The first mention of the El Diablo occurred in 1946, when it was listed in a Trader Vic's book (Trader Vic's is better known for tiki cocktails).  I adapted this recipe from one I found in Imbibe magazine.

El Diablo2 ounces resposado tequila (I like Herradura)
2/3 ounce creme de cassis (use one made in France)
Juice from 1/2 lime
2-3 ounces ginger beer (non alcoholic)

Combine all of the ingredients except the ginger beer into a shaker, shake as if you're possessed by you know who, strain into a chilled glass, and top with the ginger beer.

The details of the El Diablo are important.  Using reposado tequila, which is aged between two months and one year, gives you a subtly robust counterpoint to the slightly sweet creme de cassis.  You'll find creme de cassis, a blackcurrant liqueur, in other cocktails such as the Bourbon Renaissance.  The lime juice and ginger beer add a little spicy punch. You can drink the El Diablo while reading Dante's Inferno (a powerful book), listening to Sympathy For the Devil by the Rolling Stones or Devil With A Blue Dress On by Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels (both are great songs), and/or watching the Duke University Blue Devils (I am one).

If you believe in the afterlife, when the time comes I will have a seat on the express train to hell.  Find me in the bar car.


Ol' Blue Eyes In A Glass -- The Frank Sinatra

Frank Sinatra 2The late Frank Sinatra was a great American artist and icon.  Among other things, he was a wonderful singer with a gifted voice, an ear for the nuance of language, and a captivating stage presence.  He also was a pretty good actor (watch the first Manchurian Candidate movie).  Thanks to Scott Deitche and his book Cocktail Noir for introducing me to the original cocktail, which I adapted.  In honor of Ol' Blue Eyes, and his son (a performer who I had the privilege of seeing) who recently died, drink this.

2.5 ounces vodka (hello Zyr or Belvedere)
.5 ounces blue curacao
Juice from 1/4 lemon
.25 ounces super simple syrup

Frank Sinatra 1Combine in a shaker with ice, shake as if you were swinging on stage like the Chairman Of The Board, and strain into a chilled glass.  Lemon garnish optional.

Jack Daniel's whiskey was Sinatra's alcohol of choice.   While I would have liked to incorporate it into this cocktail, it's impossible to have a vibrant blue cocktail using Jack Daniel's as the base.  Ol' Blue Eyes drank plenty of martinis over the course of his life, although I doubt he drank one that looked like this.

Just as Sinatra covered songs that other people made popular, I did the same with this cocktail.  I substituted vodka, lemon juice, and super simple syrup for the gin and sour mix in the original. 

When I perfected my version of the Frank Sinatra cocktail I put on some of his tunes and sang along.  Fortunately I've much better at making drinks than I am at singing. Making and drinking cocktails with another person can be a special form of dancing. As Sinatra sang in Come Dance With Me -- for what is dancing, making love set to music, playin'.


Great Scot! -- The Bobby Burns

Robert Burns was an 18th century Scottish poet and a big deal in the Romantic movement.  Even if you're like me and don't know much about poetry, you probably have heard his most famous poem -- Auld Lang Syne.  It's the song everyone massacres on New Year's Eve because they don't know the  words and/or have had too many cocktails (the title roughly translates as "days gone by" or "old times"). 

2 ounces scotch (I used Monkey Shoulder)
1 ounce sweet vermouth (I love Carpano Antica)
.5 ounces Benedictine

Combine in a shaker with ice, stir with the grace and passion of creating your own liquid poetry, and strain into a chilled glass.

Combining these ingredients may look odd, but they complement each other nicely.  You can adjust the ratios depending on the taste of the scotch you use, or how sweet you want the drink to be.  I suggest scotch constitute at least half of the Bobby Burns.

The Bobby Burns is one of many Scottish things and/or people that I like.  Others include the actor Sean Connery and bagpipe music.  Yes, bagpipe music.   If hearing a bagpipe rendition of Amazing Grace (click on the above link) doesn't move you, you have no soul.

Whether your cultural tastes run towards Robert Burns from Scotland or Montgomery Burns from The Simpsons, you'll like the Bobby Burns.  But unless you have Scottish blood in you, please don't start singing Auld Lang Syne.


Southpaws and Mobsters -- The Left Hand

The Left Hand honors Lefty Ruggiero, a key character in the underrated crime movie Donnie Brasco.  Johnny Depp stars as an undercover FBI agent who, known as the movie's titular character, infiltrates a New York City mob family.  Al Pacino plays Ruggiero, a mobster who unwittingly acts as a conduit for Brasco.  I discovered this drink in Scott Deitche's book Cocktail Noir.

Left Hand2 ounces bourbon
.75 ounces sweet vermouth (I recommend Carpano Antica)
.75 ounces Campari
2 dashes chocolate or mole bitters

Combine in a shaker with ice, stir with the coolness of being among made men without being made as a rat, and strain into a chilled glass.

The Left Hand is a Boulevardier with chocolate or mole bitters.  The original uses mole bitters.  I know chocolate and mole are not exactly the same thing, but you're not going to go wrong with either one.

Donnie Brasco is very good at the depicting the tension and strain of operating as an undercover agent.  This scene is an example.   For movies with a similar theme, I highly recommend The Departed and Infernal Affairs, the Hong Kong movie upon which The Departed is based.

So what does the word "southpaw" have to do with this cocktail?  Southpaw is slang for a left hand.  The etymological origin of the word is hazy.  A prevailing theory is that the term originated in the 19th century.  At the time some baseball diamonds were laid out so home plate was on the west side (this kept the sun out of the batter's eyes), so a left handed pitcher's arm would hang south.  This means a left handed pitcher would use his "south paw."  For an entertaining cinematic soliloquy, watch Rocky Balboa explain it to Adrian (click here).

Even if you don't care about southpaws or mobsters, the Left Hand is a fine cocktail.  Capisce?