Liqueurs/Cordials Feed

France and NYC -- The Cassis Manhattan

New York City is one of the world's great cities, and the Manhattan is one of the world's great cocktails.  The Cassis Manhattan injects creme de cassis, the blackcurrant liqueur commonly associated with France, into this variation of the cocktail icon. I discovered the Cassis Manhattan on the Instagram feed of flos.drinking.spirit.

Cassis Manhattan2 ounces rye
.5 ounces sweet vermouth
.5 ounces crème de cassis
2 dashes molé bitters

Combine in a mixing glass with ice, stir with some New York City energy and French style, and strain into a chilled glass. Orange peel and/or amarena cherry garnish optional.

Rye provides a solid foundation for the Cassis Manhattan. Using a less robust whiskey will make the drink on the sweeter side. Speaking of sweet, the crème de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur) gives the Cassis Manhattan the other part of its name. If you like crème de cassis, try the classic Kir or the less well known Parisian. Flos.drinking.spirit called for Punt e Mes as the vermouth. I suggest using whichever sweet vermouth you prefer. Last but not least are the molé bitters, which you can use in drinks such as the Left Hand, a variation on the Paris born Boulevardier. They bring a subtle chocolate undertone into the mix.

Put it all together and what do you get? The Cassis Manhattan -- transatlantic and tasty.

 


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.


Milestone Birthday Drink -- The Ron's Four Score

Ron's Four ScoreRon, my father-in-law, recently commissioned an original cocktail creation for his 80th birthday (four score is old way of saying 80; think of the beginning of Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address). His request? A drink that is scotch based, dry, and nutty. So I brought forth upon this world, a new cocktail, conceived in the Wulf Cocktail Den, and dedicated to the proposition that all drinkers are created equal (see below for the non-alcoholic version).

2 ounces scotch
.5 ounces dry vermouth
.25 ounces amaretto
2 dashes hazelnut bitters

Combine in a mixing glass with ice, stir with some matter of fact festiveness like the drink's namesake, and strain into a chilled glass, preferably rocks. Amarena cherry garnish optional.

Ron's Four Score #2The Ron's Four Score takes its place in my pantheon of commissioned cocktails such as the Cancer Killer #1, the Ray's 619, and my personal favorite, the Whiskey Queen. As Ron requested, this cocktail is pretty dry. If it's too dry for you, add a quarter ounce of amaretto or serve it on the rocks. The amaretto and the hazelnut bitters give the Ron's Four Score a hint of nuttiness. If you can't find hazelnut bitters, use chocolate or Angostura, but then of course the drink will taste a little different. Using ingredients Ms. Cocktail Den found online, I also created a non-alcoholic (what I call a 3/4 cocktail) version with Spiritless Kentucky 74, Roots Aperitif Bianco, and Lyre's Amaretti (use the same proportions as the alcoholic version).

You don't have to be named Ron, be 80, or be celebrating a birthday before you can have a Ron's Four Score. What do you need to have? Some spirit (pun intended)!


Straight Outta Brooklyn -- The Greenpoint

Greenpoint is a neighborhood in Brooklyn. In 2006 Michael McIlroy created the Greenpoint, a variation on ... yeah you guessed it, the Brooklyn.  I wasn't in Greenpoint when I was introduced to its namesake cocktail. That happened in the Lower East Side in Manhattan, specifically at Attaboy, where McIlroy and Sam Ross (who created the Paper Plane and the Penicillin) operate.

Greenpoint2 ounces rye
.5 ounces yellow Chartreuse
.5 ounces sweet vermouth
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 dash orange bitters

Combine in a mixing glass with ice, stir with a bit of Brooklyn hustle, and strain into a chilled glass. Lemon peel garnish optional.

Spirits and bitters converge to make the Greenpoint a balanced and spirit forward cocktail. The rye stiffens the drink's spine. To me the Chartreuse is the key element separating the Greenpoint from other variations on the Manhattan or the Brooklyn. Joining rye and yellow Chartreuse works well here, just as it does in the Diamondback. If combining rye and green Chartreuse intrigues you (it should if you like strong drinks), try the Final Rye.

To paraphrase the Beastie Boys song, no sleep 'til Greenpoint!


Rise From The Dead Again -- The Corpse Reviver #2

Does the name make you think of Dr. Frankenstein (or if you're a fan of Mel Brooks, "Frankensteen")? Corpse Revivers were a group of cocktails dating back to the late 19th century. Their purpose was to reinvigorate you (revive your corpse) the morning after a night of drinking. In 1930 Harry Craddock included the Corpse Reviver #2 in The Savoy Cocktail Book.

Corpse Reviver No. 2.75 ounces gin
.75 ounces Lillet Blanc
.75 ounces triple sec (I suggest Cointreau)
.75 ounces lemon juice (1/2 lemon)
Absinthe

Coat the inside of a chilled glass with absinthe, combine the other ingredients in a shaker with ice, shake with the jolt of a renewed lease on life, and strain into the chilled glass. Lemon twist garnish optional.

Bearing no resemblance to the Corpse Reviver #1, the Corpse Reviver #2 is the best known survivor of the group. Its four equal parts format makes it like the Last Word, which also includes gin. Just as it does in the Vesper, the Lillet Blanc, a French aperitif wine, melds nicely with the gin. Using a clear triple sec such as Cointreau will give the Corpse Reviver #2 a light, refreshing look to match how it tastes. Some versions of the Corpse Reviver #2 call for putting a small amount of absinthe directly into the cocktail (as you would with an When Ernest Met Mary) instead of using it to rinse the glass (as you would with a Sazerac). Do what you prefer.

As Craddock remarked, "Four of these taken in swift succession will un-revive the corpse again." Now you know about the Corpse Reviver #2's deceptive power, have fun reviving!


A Thinking Drink -- The Brainstorm

Coming up with a brilliant idea is the purpose of a brainstorm. First appearing in 1930 in Harry Craddock's The Savoy Cocktail Book (the source of other drinks such as the Champs Élysées), the Brainstorm is the liquid realization of a brilliant cocktail idea. I discovered it in Difford's Guide.

Brainstorm2 ounces Irish whiskey
.5 ounces Benedictine DOM
.5 ounces dry vermouth

Combine in a mixing glass with ice, stir as you contemplate something mind blowing, and strain into a chilled glass, preferably a coupe. Orange peel garnish optional.

Interestingly, Craddock specifically called for Irish whiskey in the Brainstorm, but other whiskey based cocktails in his book are silent about the whiskey's provenance. I'm certainly not complaining. I love Irish whiskey on its own, or in a drink such as a Tipperary or a Good Cork. The Benedictine DOM, a key part of cocktails such as the Honeymoon, adds a bit of sweetness to the equation, and the dry vermouth keeps the Brainstorm from being too sweet. Whiskey and dry vermouth make a nice combination in the Algonquin and my adaptation of the Brown Bomber, and it's the same here.

To quote a line from Madonna's song Vogue, strike a pose (imagine Rodin's The Thinker) as you sip the Brainstorm. So what's your brilliant idea?


Monet and Mixing -- The Water Lily

Claude Monet painted the famous Water Lilies series at his garden in Giverny, France. I've never been there (Ms. Cocktail Den has), but she and I have had the good fortune to see some Water Lilies paintings in places such as the Musée de L'Orangerie and the Musée Marmottan Monet in Paris. Richie Boccato created the Water Lily cocktail in New York in 2007.

Water Lily.75 ounces gin
.75 ounces triple sec
.75 ounces crème de violette
.75 ounces lemon juice (1/2 lemon)

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake with a tempo evoking the placidly vivid colors of the paintings, and strain into a chilled glass.

Think of the Water Lily as combining the DNA of the Aviation with the format of the Last Word. The crème de violette gives the Water Lily its purplish hue. Keep in mind the purple color won't be as vibrant if you use a darker triple sec. Like other cocktails such as the Bijou or the Naked and Famous, the Water Lily is a bartender's dream because of its equal proportions.

Even though this Water Lily won't last nearly as long as Monet's, it gives you the opportunity to become a cocktail artist.


Comparing Oranges to Oranges

Comparing orangesTriple sec. Grand Marnier. The three Cs (curacao, Cointreau, Combier). Whether it's a popular drink such as the Margarita, an underrated oldie such as the Burnt Fuselage, or an original such as my Cancer Killer #1, a lot of recipes call for one of these orange liqueurs. So what are the differences? And why should you care? This article from Tim McKirdy distills (pardon the pun) this liqueur category into some key facts.

So back to the second question ... why should you care? Because the liqueur you use will affect your cocktail. For example, an orange and cognac or brandy hybrid such as Grand Marnier or Gran Gala has a thicker, richer taste. That makes it great for a whiskey based drink such as a Dubliner, but not so much for a vodka based drink such as a Cosmopolitan. Of course, it all depends what you prefer, and what you have in your liquor cabinet.

In the past we compared apples to apples. Now that we've compared oranges to oranges, you'll use your new knowledge to make which cocktail?


Pirate Queen -- The Grace O'Malley

Imagine a pirate. Most people picture a man. Grace O'Malley was a notable exception. Known as the "Pirate Queen," in the late 16th century O'Malley was a powerful leader who fought to keep her Irish territories free from English rule. Ezra Star created the Grace O'Malley cocktail centuries after O'Malley made her mark.

Grace O'Malley1.5 ounces Irish whiskey
1 ounce Mr. Black coffee amaro or Kahlua
.75 ounces orgeat syrup
.5 ounces super simple syrup
Juice from 1/2 lemon

Combine in a shaker without ice (this is dry shaking, see below), shake as if you're fighting for your freedom, and strain into a highball or Collins glass over crushed ice. Grated nutmeg and/or lime wheel garnish optional.

Using Irish whiskey in the Grace O'Malley is key, just as it is in other Irish cocktails such as the Tipperary and the Irish Coffee. Mr. Black coffee amaro, used in drinks such as the Blackjack, can be tough to get, but it's worth it. Kahlua is a sweeter and more accessible substitute. Orgeat syrup, a key component of drinks such as the Mai Tai, gives the Grace O'Malley a vague tiki vibe. If you want a stronger, less diluted Grace O'Malley, combine the ingredients in a shaker with ice (this is wet shaking), shake, and strain into a chilled glass without ice. If you like the queen theme and whiskey, try my Whiskey Queen.

Do you like pirates? Queens? Both? The answer doesn't matter because you'll be glad you became acquainted with the Grace O'Malley.


A Loaded European -- The Monte Carlo

When I use the word "loaded" here it's a non-sexual double entendre. Monte Carlo, part of the city-state of Monaco, is loaded in that it has a ridiculous amount of money. The Monte Carlo cocktail is loaded in that it can make you very drunk if you're not careful. Making its grand entrance in 1948 in David Embury's book The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, the Monte Carlo is simple and sophisticated.

Monte Carlo2 ounces rye
.5 ounces Benedictine DOM
1-2 dashes aromatic bitters

Combine in a mixing glass with ice, stir as if you're suave and rich enough to gamble in Monte Carlo's legendary casino (think James Bond in Goldeneye), and strain into a chilled glass, preferably over a large ice cube.

The Benedictine DOM, a rich French herbal liqueur used in drinks such as my Whiskey Queen, is the key ingredient in the Monte Carlo or its variations. Depending on your perspective, the Benedictine substitutes in for the super simple syrup in an Old Fashioned, or the sweet vermouth in a Manhattan. How dry or sweet you prefer the Monte Carlo depends on the ratio between the rye and the Benedictine. Not into rye? Use bourbon (a Kentucky Colonel), reposado or anejo tequila (a Monte Carlos), or some other aged spirit.

Want to gamble like a Millionaire? A Monte Carlo will make you feel loaded.