Music Feed

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!


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?


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.


Individual and Internal -- The Rhythm and Soul

Everyone has a soul. Some of us have rhythm, some don't (if you've ever seen me dance, you know I'm in the latter category). Describing it as the love child of a Manhattan and a Sazerac, Greg Best in Atlanta created the Rhythm and Soul approximately 10 years ago. My fellow cocktailian Michael Bounds, who created the Ides of March, introduced me to the Rhythm and Soul.

Rhythm and Sould2 ounces bourbon or rye
.5 ounces sweet vermouth
.5 ounces Averna
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Teaspoon of absinthe

Coat the inside of a chilled glass with absinthe, combine the other ingredients in a mixing glass with ice, stir with soulful rhythm, and strain into the chilled glass. Lemon peel garnish optional.

Best uses bourbon as the base spirit, but Bounds and I agree that to have the true soul of a Sazerac, rye should be the base of a Rhythm and Soul. Use the whiskey you prefer. Best calls for Carpano Antica as the sweet vermouth, and I wholeheartedly agree. It is pricey, but it is worth every penny. Averna, the Sicilian amaro used in the A Thief In The Night, works really well here. If you even remotely like either the Manhattan or Sazerac, you'll definitely like the Rhythm and Soul.

Move to your own beat, and get yourself some more Rhythm and Soul.


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!


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 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.


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 Spiritual Playboy Cocktail -- The Cloister

A cloister is an architectural feature in monasteries, convents, and other religious institutions.  The Cloister is a drink that comes from an unquestionably non-religious institution: the Playboy Bartender's Guide. Published in 1971, the book and the Cloister are my age. In 2011 Jim Meehan, who created the Brown Bomber and the Newark, mentioned the drink in his PDT Cocktail Book.

Cloister1.5 ounces gin
.5 ounces yellow Chartreuse
Juice from 1/8 grapefruit
Juice from 1/4 lemon
.25 ounces super simple syrup

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake with the resonant rhythm of a Gregorian chant (which I like), and strain into a chilled glass.  Grapefruit peel garnish optional.

Considering the word cloister, either used as a noun or verb, frequently comes up in connection with monks, it's no surprise the Cloister contains Chartreuse. As we see in cocktails such as the Last Word, gin and green Chartreuse go well together, but for the Cloister you want to go yellow. The Phil Collins also combines gin and yellow Chartreuse, which is a key part of non-gin drinks such as the Diamondback. Along with the super simple syrup, the yellow Chartreuse keeps the Cloister from being overwhelmingly tart.

Have a Cloister, and you may have a, dare I say, religious experience.


It's A Long Cocktail Way -- The Tipperary

"It's a Long Way to Tipperary" was a popular song during World War One. Referring to a town and county in southern Ireland (Ms. Cocktail Den and I drove near it but did not go there), the first mention of the Tipperary cocktail came in 1916, four years after the song. The recipe evolved over time. I first had a Tipperary at the excellent Here Nor There bar in Austin.

Tipperary1.5 ounces Irish whiskey
1 ounce sweet vermouth
.5 ounces green Chartreuse

Combine in a mixing glass with ice, stir with the determination of wanting to see your significant other again, and strain into a chilled glass. Amarena cherry or lemon peel garnish optional.

First appearing in Hugo Ensslin's cocktail recipe book (the same book that gave us the Aviation), the original Tipperary has the same proportions as the modern Luck of the Irish. That's a good drink if you really like green Chartreuse. As for the Irish whiskey, use whichever one you prefer. Subsequent versions of the Tipperary call for slightly more Irish whiskey, and some add Angostura or orange bitters.  I like the simplicity of this Tipperary because of its 3:2:1 ratio. It's not a long way to this great cocktail.

Intrigued by pairing green Chartreuse and sweet vermouth?  Try a Bijou.  Like Irish themed cocktails?  Try a Good Cork, Intense Irish, or the iconic Irish Coffee. What will your liver say?  Slainte!