Brandy Feed

A Marxist (not that one) Cocktail -- The Horsefeathers

Think Groucho and comedy, not Karl and communism. Along with his brothers Chico, Harpo, and Zeppo, Groucho Marx starred in the 1932 comedy film "Horse Feathers" (horsefeathers is old American slang, sort of a polite version of the word that rhymes with "wool mitt"), one of their many comedic cinematic ventures. Benny Roff included the Horsefeathers in his book Prohibition Cocktails, and I learned about it from My Dad Made a Cocktail on Instagram.

Horsefeathers1 ounce cognac or brandy
1 ounce aged rum
.5 ounces Benedictine DOM
.5 ounces maraschino liqueur

Combine in a mixing glass with ice, stir with some Marx Brothers madcap hilarity, and strain into a chilled glass. Orange peel garnish optional.

The Horsefeathers is sort of sweet, which isn't surprising considering it includes rum (a sugar cane based spirit) and two liqueurs. You see the Benedictine DOM in drinks such as the Monte Carlo, and maraschino liqueur in drinks such as the Last Word, which predates the Marx Brothers movies by more than a decade. The cognac kicks in at just the right moment. Don't let the sweetness of the Horsefeathers fool you, because every spirit in it is strong. If you want a drier Horsefeathers, try adding .5 ounces of cognac and subtracting .5 ounces of rum. Go with aged rum here because it has more liquid gravitas.

The Horsefeathers is a solid and delicious drink. No horsefeathers.


Flying Old School -- The Pan Am Clipper

Pan American World Airways was one of the major players in commercial aviation, and its Clipper flying boats were known around the world. In 1939 Charles Baker mentioned the cocktail in his book The Gentleman’s Companion, or Around the World with Jigger, Beaker and Flask. Unlike the Clippers (which stopped being used shortly after World War II) and Pan Am (which went out of business in 1991), the Pan Am Clipper continues to soar thanks to articles such as this one in Punch. Here's my adaptation:

Pan Am Clipper2 ounces apple brandy
.75 ounces lime juice
.75 ounces glorious grenadine
Absinthe

Coat the inside of a chilled coupe glass with absinthe, discard the excess, put the other ingredients in a shaker with ice, shake as if you're hitting some turbulence on the way to a fascinating new destination, and strain into the glass.

Fundamentally the Pan Am Clipper is a Jack Rose with a little absinthe. Absinthe presents one of the many variables in the Pan Am Clipper, as you can either coat the inside of a glass (as you would with a Sazerac) or put a very small amount directly in the mix (as you would with a When Ernest Met Mary). Similarly, you could use applejack instead of apple brandy; if you compare apples to apples you'll know they are similar but not the same. Regardless of your attack angle (pilots know what I'm talking about), the Pan Am Clipper belongs on the aviation cocktail itinerary along with drinks such as the Paper Plane, the Burnt Fuselage, and of course, the Aviation.

So are you ready to take cocktail flight on the Pan Am Clipper?


Cocktail Revival -- The Renaissance

Leaving a lasting impact in fields such as art, science, and literature, the Renaissance was an important era in Western history. The cocktail renaissance (French for "rebirth") began in the early 2000s. The genesis of the Renaissance cocktail is unclear, but I discovered this version in Difford's Guide.

Renaissance1.5 ounces cognac or brandy
.5 ounces sweet vermouth
.25 ounces Lupo limoncello
2 dashes peach bitters

Combine in a mixing glass with ice, stir with the joy of being revived or reborn, and strain into a chilled glass, preferably a coupe. Orange twist garnish optional.

Courtesy of the cognac, a key part of the Burnt Fuselage, the Renaissance has a spirited start. You can use brandy instead, as it's also derived from torched Dutch grapes. The sweet vermouth and limoncello soften the cognac's punch. Peach bitters are unusual, but as with the Whiskey Queen, they give the Renaissance a nice finishing flourish. If you need a quick substitute, try orange bitters. The drink has no connection to my Bourbon Renaissance, which is a little bit sweeter. Want to pair the Renaissance with modern music?  Try anything by the Rebirth Brass Band or Revival by the Allman Brothers.

I like to think I'm a modern Renaissance man (I'm not). Are you a Renaissance man or woman? Regardless of the answer, having a Renaissance will leave you enlightened ... and maybe reborn.


And Cocktail -- The Ampersand

Signifying "and," the ampersand is a common symbol in the English language (& it makes me think of the late great musical genius Prince). The ampersand symbol dates back a couple of centuries, when children were taught it was the 27th letter of the alphabet. The Ampersand cocktail dates to 1934, when it appeared in Albert Stevens Crockett's The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book. The story is the Ampersand was named for the "&" in Martini & Rossi vermouth.

Ampersand1 ounce brandy
1 ounce Old Tom gin
1 ounce sweet vermouth
2 dashes orange bitters
.25 ounces curaçao (optional)

Combine in a mixing glass with ice, stir & stir & stir, then strain into a chilled glass.

The Ampersand is a boozy cocktail. The base of three spirits in equal proportions is reminiscent of other underrated classic drinks such as the Bijou. Brandy and Old Tom style gin together? Yes, it looks weird, but it works. Combining Old Tom style gin and sweet vermouth is part of the classic Martinez, so if you like that drink you'll like this one (& vice versa). You could use the more prevalent London Dry style gin in an Ampersand, but then the drink won't be quite as complex (this is one of those times when complexity is a good thing). Curaçao is a type of triple sec (orange liqueur), and if you don't have curacao, Grand Marnier is a good substitute.

Now have some fun & go make yourself an Ampersand!


A Winning Cocktail -- The Blackjack

Celebrating my 21st wedding anniversary with Ms. Cocktail Den is a great reason to look for a themed drink. I discovered the Blackjack, which naturally made me think of the card game, in which 21 is a winning hand. This version of the Blackjack comes from Steve the Bartender in Australia.

Blackjack1.5 ounces brandy or cognac
.5 ounces Cherry Heering
.5 ounces Mr. Black Coffee Amaro
1 ounce cold brew coffee

Combine in a mixing glass with ice, stir with the confidence that comes when you see you have a jack and the ace of spades, and strain into a chilled glass. Orange peel and/or amarena cherry garnish optional.

The Blackjack is dark and delicious. Brandy, your first cocktail "card," brings a solid foundation. Even though it's all torched Dutch grapes, all cognac is brandy, but not all brandy is cognac (a key part of my 24601). As in a Royal Blood, a hint of Cherry Heering goes a long way. Mr. Black is from Australia, and it's very good. We had to acquire it via the Internet. Kahlua could be a substitute, but it doesn't have the same depth, so the resulting Blackjack will be a little different. Do you want to stack the deck, libationally (I made up this word) speaking? Add some coffee or molé bitters, just as you would in a 43 Up or Left Hand.

A word of caution -- have too many Blackjacks, and you might end up with the Charlie Sheen version of "winning!" (Google it). So do you have a winning cocktail hand?


A No Joke Drink -- The Jersey Girl

Depending on your perspective, "Jersey girl" jokes are funny, stupid, and/or offensive. You won't make fun of the Jersey Girl cocktail. The late Gary "Gaz" Regan, a noted author and luminary in the cocktail community, created the Jersey Girl in 2005 in honor of the 225th anniversary of Laird & Company, which produces applejack and apple brandy. Where is Laird & Company headquartered? New Jersey.

Jersey Girl1.5 ounces applejack
1 ounce triple sec
Juice from 1/2 lime
1 ounce cranberry juice

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake with some stereotypical attitude of a you know who, and strain into a chilled glass (preferably martini or coupe). Lime slice garnish optional.

The Jersey Girl is a variation of the underrated Cosmopolitan, which is quite good if you make it properly. The Jersey Girl swaps in applejack for vodka. If you compare apples to apples, you'll know applejack is very similar to but not quite the same as apple brandy. You can use them in classics such as the Jack Rose, modern classics such as the Newark, or originals such as my American Apple. I prefer Cointreau, but you can use a different triple sec if you like. The Jersey Girl is a drink where you can compare apples to oranges, and the result is tasty. One last note -- use unsweetened cranberry juice if you can.

So what's the difference between a Jersey Girl and a Jersey girl? Think of a punchline as you savor a Jersey Girl.


Romantically Blissful Drinking -- The Honeymoon

The word "honeymoon" evokes thoughts of happiness and new beginnings. It can refer specifically to a honeymoon after a wedding (Ms. Cocktail Den and I went to Hawaii), or more generally to the period after a positive change in your life. First mentioned in a 1916 book from Hugo Ensslin, who also gave us the Aviation, the Honeymoon was a featured drink at the famous but now defunct Brown Derby restaurant in Los Angeles.

Honeymoon2 ounces applejack or apple brandy
.5 ounces Benedictine DOM
.5 ounces triple sec (see below)
Juice from 1/2 lemon

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake with the passion of (use your imagination), and strain into a chilled glass.

When you compare apples to apples, you'll know today applejack is a blend of apple brandy and grain neutral spirits, and apple brandy is exactly what it sounds like (Laird's makes both). Either spirit works well in the Honeymoon. If you like cocktails with an apple flavor, try the classic Jack Rose, the underappreciated Diamondback, or my original American Apple. Brought to us by French monks (not the ones behind Chartreuse), Benedictine DOM is an herbal liqueur used in drinks such as my Whiskey Queen. A little goes a long way, and it more than justifies its price. The Widow's Kiss is an excellent example of another cocktail combining Benedictine with apple brandy. Triple sec is a generic term for an orange liqueur.  Different Honeymoon recipes call for specific ones.  Even though I'm a big fan of Cointreau, use whichever one you like.

What do you get when you put all of these flavors together in a Honeymoon? A drink that warms your soul and introduces a new period in your cocktail life.


Who Am I Intoxication -- The 24601

Who is 24601? It is the prisoner number of Jean Valjean, the protagonist of Les Misérables. Originally penned by the French novelist Victor Hugo, Les Misérables became a popular musical with a very good movie adaptation starring the talented Hugh Jackman as Valjean. This original cocktail creation pays tribute to the character who embodies timeless virtues of honor, strength, and redemption.

246011.5 ounces cognac (c'est français)
.5 ounces green Chartreuse (vrai vert)
.5 ounces triple sec (je préfère Cointreau)
.25 ounces super simple syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Combine in a mixing glass with ice, stir as if you might only have one day more (if you've seen Les Mis, you know what I'm talking about), and strain into a chilled glass.  Bread garnish (see below) optional.

Just as 24601 has five digits, this drink has five ingredients. Even though most brandy is torched Dutch grapes, if you can use cognac in the 24601 because it is French. Like cognac, Chartreuse is undeniably French. I prefer using green, as you would in a Last Word, instead of yellow, as you would in a Diamondback, because it's not as sweet and has more of a kick. I like Cointreau instead of other triple secs (a generic term for orange liqueurs) because of its taste, and it is French. Speaking of France, you'll see the 24601 shares some cocktail DNA with the Champs Élysées. That's intentional. If you like French themed cocktails, I encourage you to try classics such as the Sidecar and the Kir, or less well known but tasty drinks such as the Burnt Fuselage and the Flower of Normandy.

So why bread garnish for the 24601? Because Jean Valjean's crime was stealing a loaf of bread to feed a starving child. There's definitely no crime in having a 24601, which Ms. Cocktail Den describes as "dangerously drinkable."  Vive le 24601!


A Drink For Two Presidents -- The Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt and his distant cousin Franklin Delano Roosevelt are the two of the more famous Presidents in American history.  Teddy, the 26th President, claimed he wasn't a big drinker (although he was partial to a Mint Julep), and FDR, the 32nd President, definitely was a big drinker who mixed cocktails for his White House guests (and Repeal Day occurred while he was in office).  Chris Kelley at Morris American Bar in Washington created the Roosevelt, and this is my adaptation.

Roosevelt1.5 ounces rye
.5 ounces apple brandy
.5 ounces vermouth (see below)
.5 ounces Benedictine DOM
2 dashes Angostura or other aromatic bitters

Combine in a mixing glass with ice, stir with the resolve of the subject of Teddy's "The Man In The Arena" speech and the warmth of FDR during one of his Fireside Chats, and strain into a chilled glass.  Amarena cherry garnish optional.

Kelley didn't specify which type of vermouth or bitters to use. I used aromatic bitters because they're versatile. The vermouth is the interesting variable.  It really depends if you want the Roosevelt more dry or sweet. Using dry vermouth in a rye based drink is reminiscent of a Scofflaw, and using sweet vermouth is reminiscent of a Manhattan.  If you like the combination of rye and apple brandy, you'll probably also like the Diamondback and the American Apple. You'll find Benedictine DOM, a rich French liqueur, in cocktails such as the Whiskey Queen.  Clearly this Roosevelt has no relation to the rum based drink with the same name. For a similarly themed rum based cocktail, have an El Presidente.

Be Presidential, raise a glass, and toast Teddy and FDR!


Sultry And Powerful -- The Chatham Artillery Punch

Imagine a sultry weekend in Savannah, Georgia, home of great bars such as Alley Cat Lounge and the fascinating American Prohibition Museum. In the summer of 1995 Ms. Cocktail Den and I discovered Chatham Artillery Punch, a flavorful and complex libation. Legend has it a local artillery unit (Savannah is in Chatham County) created it during the Revolutionary War. It's a great story. It's not true. Research from eminent cocktail historian David Wondrich indicates it was created in the 1850s and became more popular later that century.

Chatham Artillery Punch.75 ounces brandy
.75 ounces dark rum
.75 ounces bourbon
.5 ounces super simple syrup
.25 ounces lemon juice (1/8 lemon)
.25 ounces sweet tea vodka
.25 ounces red wine
Sparkling wine

Combine everything except the sparkling wine in a shaker with ice, shake with explosive force, strain into a chilled glass, and top with sparkling wine.

Yes, there are a lot of ingredients in the Chatham Artillery Punch, more than every other cocktail in the Den. The result is worth the effort. For the red wine, you can use whatever varietal you prefer, or a fortified wine such as madeira or port. You can make a simpler version of the Chatham Artillery Punch if you forego the sweet tea vodka and red wine, but then you lose the main flavors of the original concoction. This cocktail gives the word "punch" a double entendre. Originally created in mass quantities, this punch packs quite a punch. It's more potent than the Brown Bomber (the cocktail but not the late boxing champion for whom it was named).

Are you tough enough to take a Chatham Artillery Punch or two?