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CCRockin' Cocktail -- The Fogerty

Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR) was a rock band with a unique sound that still resonates. John Fogerty was the lead singer of CCR during its brief history and prolific output (try to find a movie or TV show set during the Vietnam war era where "Fortunate Son" isn't played).  In 2010, 40 years after CCR's heyday, Ryan Fitzgerald in San Francisco created the Fogerty, and I discovered this adapted recipe in Difford's Guide.

Fogerty2 ounces rye
.5 ounces Campari
.25 ounces crème de cassis
2 dashes orange bitters

Combine in a mixing glass with ice, stir with forceful rhythm, and strain into a chilled glass. Orange twist garnish optional.

The Fogerty is a remarkably well balanced drink despite its unusual combination of ingredients. There's no doubt rye, a part of other American themed drinks such as the Roosevelt, and Campari, a part of drinks such as my Scandinavian Suntan,  are strong tasting spirits with a lasting impact (much like CCR's music), and they temper the rich and sweet crème de cassis, which you use in the classic Kir or my original Bourbon Renaissance. Fitzgerald's original used crème de cacao instead of crème de cassis. If you or your guest prefers a slightly sweeter Fogerty, use bourbon as the base instead of rye.

It doesn't matter if you're down on the corner waiting for Susie Q, or if you're looking at a green river with a bad moon rising, the Fogerty is a cocktail that will resonate.


A Muppet Cocktail -- The Kermit The Frog Is Strong

When we were kids Ms. Cocktail Den and I were big Muppets fans. Kermit the Frog is one of the most famous Muppets. Even though he is physically weaker than some of his friends, e.g. Miss Piggy, he more than makes up for it with his honor, friendliness, and positive attitude. Continuing the tradition of a new original creation in a new year, the Kermit The Frog Is Strong pays tribute to his character.

Kermit the Frog is Strong1.5 ounces gin
.5 ounces Barrow's Intense (see below)
.5 ounces green Chartreuse
.5 ounces Midori
Juice from 1/4 lime

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake with the frenzy of Kermit waving his arms as he exclaims "Yay!!!!!", and strain into a chilled glass.  Lime peel garnish optional.

Use whatever gin you like. I highly recommend Barrow's Intense ginger liqueur for the Kermit The Frog Is Strong. Even though I'm biased because Ms. Cocktail Den and I are very small investors, Barrow's Intense gives you a far cleaner ginger flavor than its competitors. Clearly you have to use green Chartreuse (instead of yellow as you would in an Alaska). Combining green Chartreuse with gin and lime juice works very well in the Last Word, and it does the same here. Midori, a melon liqueur, keeps the Kermit The Frog Is Strong from being too tart, and it adds more green color. 

As Kermit might tell you, sometimes it's not easy being green. It's easy with a Kermit The Frog Is Strong.


A High Flying Drink -- The Paper Plane

You may have made and thrown one as a kid. As an adult, you can drink one. The Paper Plane flew onto the scene in 2008 when Sam Ross, the New York City bartender who created the Penicillin, created it for the opening of The Violet Hour bar in Chicago. Named for the M.I.A. song Paper Planes, it took off in Chicago and New York and made its way onto cocktail menus around the world.

Paper Plane.75 ounces bourbon
.75 ounces Amaro Nonino
.75 ounces Aperol
Juice from 1/2 lemon (.75 ounces)

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake to the theme from Rocky (the tune's title is "Gonna Fly Now"), and strain into a chilled glass, preferably a coupe. Lemon peel garnish optional.

Following the equal proportions of four ingredients format of the Last Word, the Paper Plane is easy to make (the same goes for the Naked and Famous). Bourbon and Aperol, used in cocktails such as the Venetian Kiss, are easy to acquire. Amaro Nonino, a bittersweet grappa based amaro from northern Italy, can be tougher to find, but thankfully we have the Internet. Originally the Paper Plane used Campari, but within days of unveiling it Ross changed his mind and used Aperol instead. The result is a really well balanced cocktail. In terms of balance and format, the Paper Plane more resembles the thematically similar Burnt Fuselage than the Aviation.

Looking to rack up some cocktail frequent flier miles? Then it's time to board the Paper Plane.


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 Sharp Olympic Drink -- The Lucien Gaudin

Hailing from France, Lucien Gaudin was an Olympic champion fencer in the 1920s.  Fencing as in trying to stab someone with one of three blade types.  Unlike the clear record of Gaudin's victories in three different Olympics (I'm a huge fan of the movie Chariots of Fire, part of which takes place at the 1924 Olympics in Paris), the origin of the Lucien Gaudin cocktail is hazy.

Lucien Gaudin1 ounce gin (bonjour Botanist)
.5 ounces Cointreau (c'est français comme Monsieur Gaudin)
.5 ounces Campari (mon ami italien)
.5 ounces dry vermouth (je t'aime Noilly Prat)

Combine in a mixing glass with ice, stir with the strategic precision of a fencer, and strain into a chilled glass. Orange peel garnish optional.

Some people describe the Lucien Gaudin as a variation on the classic Negroni. To me it's more Negroni adjacent. A true variation would have equal proportions of three spirits and some crossover. The Bijou and the Luck of the Irish are good examples. I know this is a fine point (pun intended). Cocktail technicalities aside, the Lucien Gaudin is lighter than a Negroni and is very pink. Do you like French themed cocktails? Try a Champs Elysees or a Burnt Fuselage.  Want something more on point (sorry, I can't help myself)?  Try an Ides of March or a Stiletto.

Have a Lucien Gaudin, cue the Chariots of Fire theme, and be victorious!


Not North But -- The Southside

Like drinks such as the Margarita and the Jack Rose, the origin story of the Southside is hazy. In the late 19th century the Southside Sportsmen's Club in Long Island featured an eponymous cocktail with soda water. During Prohibition, the no fizz Southside became associated with two cities. New York was home to the 21 Club, a premier speakeasy that served a lot of them to thirsty Scofflaws. It also was popular on the South Side of Chicago, where the Racketeer Al Capone plied his trade. This is the variation I prefer.

Southside2.25 ounces gin
Juice from 1/2 lemon or 3/4 lime
.75 ounces super simple syrup
5-7 mint leaves

To make the Southside, you have two options: (1) Muddle the mint and super simple syrup in a shaker, then add everything else and ice, shake as if you're playing in a tough tennis match, and strain into a chilled glass, or (2) combine everything in a shaker with ice, shake as if you're fighting for control of organized crime, and strain into a chilled glass.  Mint leaf garnish optional.

Lemon or lime? Fresh squeezed juice or citrus wedges? Muddle or not? Granulated sugar or super simple syrup? Ask five bartenders and you may get five different answers. As long as you stick to the basic formula (gin sour and mint), there's no wrong answer. If you use lime, the Southside more or less becomes a gin Mojito. Gin and lemon go well together in the Bee's Knees and the Lemony, and they do here, too.

Pairing the refreshing Southside with music I can go to multiple destinations. Maybe I'll go Southbound with the Allman Brothers, to Sweet Home Chicago with Buddy Guy or the Blues Brothers, or to New York, New York with the one and only Frank Sinatra. All of these musical options are like the Southside itself -- many ways to get there, all of them good.


A Drink Of Pride -- The Lion's Tail

There are many myths about lions. For example, they don't have a king (sorry Disney fans) or live in jungles. One truth is a lion family is known as a pride. The Lion's Tail first appeared in 1937 in the Café Royal Cocktail Book. Reputable sources speculate an American expat bartender created the Lion's Tail in Britain during Prohibition, and the expression "twisting the lion's tail" originally referred to provoking Britain (a lion is on its coat of arms). 

Lion's Tail 22 ounces bourbon
.5 ounces allspice dram
.5 ounces super simple syrup
Juice from 1/2 lime
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake with the power of a lion's roar, and strain into a chilled glass, preferably a coupe. Lime peel garnish optional.

Mixing common and uncommon ingredients, the Lion's Tail works better than you might think. Its use of bourbon,  legally an American spirit, supports the theory the Lion's Tail had an American creator. Incorporating allspice dram, a rum based liqueur you'll see in the Donna Maria or my Les Bon Temps Roulé, gives the Lion's Tail a vague tropical vibe. Similarly, Angostura bitters originated in Venezuela and has called Trinidad & Tobago home for more than a century.

A Lion's Tail -- it's hakuna matata for your liver and spirit.


Liquid Art -- When Ernest Met Mary

Art can be words on a page, images on a screen, liquids in a glass. Ernest Hemingway was a famous author (and drinker), and Mary Pickford was a trailblazing actress at the dawn of the Hollywood film industry. Named for one of his novels, The Sun Also Rises is an absinthe enhanced twist on the Hemingway Daiquiri. She had an eponymous drink created during one of her movies. Crillon Importers generously provided a free bottle of Absente Absinthe Refined so I could play with it, and the When Ernest Met Mary is my resulting attempt at cocktail art.

When Ernest Met Mary2 ounces rum
.5 ounces maraschino liqueur
.25 ounces absinthe
.5 ounces pineapple juice
Juice from 1/4 lime (.25 ounces)

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake with passionate and artistic flair, and strain into a chilled glass. Lime wedge and/or Luxardo cherry garnish optional.

Like its predecessors, the When Ernest Met Mary uses rum and maraschino liqueur. Half an ounce of maraschino liqueur might seem like a lot, but it leads to a balanced cocktail. The pineapple juice comes from the Mary Pickford, and the lime juice comes from the Hemingway Daiquiri. Use fresh juices if you can. Absinthe adds a splash of anise to this cocktail canvas. I decided to use absinthe directly in the When Ernest Met Mary as you might in a Millionaire, not a rinse as you would in a Sazerac. A little absinthe goes a long way.

Ms. Pickford, meet Mr. Hemingway. Mr. Hemingway, meet Ms. Pickford. And to you ... cheers!


Ask Not What Your Cocktail Can Do -- The Fitzgerald

"Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." This memorable call to action in President John Fitzgerald Kennedy's inaugural address inspired and challenged Americans in 1961. Roughly 40 years later legendary bartender and author Dale DeGroff created the Fitzgerald at the Rainbow Room in New York. Compared to its original name (Gin Thing), the name Fitzgerald evokes more class.

Fitzgerald2 ounces gin
1 ounce super simple syrup
Juice from 1/2 lemon
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake as if you're excited to have a drink with a certain President (JFK) or author (F. Scott Fitzgerald), and strain into a chilled glass. Lemon wedge garnish optional.

The Fitzgerald is easy to make, tasty, and refreshing.  It is more or less the gin equivalent of a Whiskey Sour or a Lemon Drop with bitters. DeGroff uses an ounce and a half of gin to an ounce of simple syrup, but I like the Fitzgerald better with a 2:1 ratio. The bitters make it vaguely pink. Reputedly President Kennedy preferred a Daiquiri or a Bloody Mary, but my guess is he would have had a Fitzgerald or three while going toe to toe with the Soviet Union during the Cuban Missile Crisis (read a book about it or see the movie Thirteen Days). Feeling Presidential? Think about having a Roosevelt, a Fireside Chat, or an El Presidente.

And so my fellow cocktailians -- ask not what a Fitzgerald can make for you, ask when you can make a Fitzgerald.


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!