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A Dantean Cocktail -- The Purgatory

In some theologies, purgatory is the state after death before some souls ascend to Heaven. It's also the title of the second book in Dante's Divine Comedy (one of my favorite college classes was about The Inferno). Dante Aligheri in Florence created one of the most famous pieces of Western literature, and Ted Kilgore in Missouri who created the Purgatory cocktail in the mid-2000s.

Purgatory2.5 ounces rye
.75 ounces Benedictine DOM
.75 ounces green Chartreuse

Combine in a mixing glass with ice, stir while contemplating where your soul might go (mine will travel in the bar car), and strain into a chilled glass. Lemon peel or wedge garnish optional.

Make no mistake, the Purgatory is a powerful drink. Those who are new to cocktails might have one and think they have descended into one of Dante's circles of Hell. The spice in the rye may make you think of Hell, and the silky sweetness of the Benedictine DOM may make you think of Heaven. The rye stands up to the Benedictine DOM, used in drinks such as the Honeymoon or my Whiskey Queen, and the 110 proof green Chartreuse, used in drinks such as the Bijou and the Last Word. Combining two herbal liqueurs from French monastic orders looks strange, at least it did to me. Have some cocktailian faith. You'll find they work well together in the Purgatory.

Regardless of whether you're religious, agnostic, or atheist, warm your soul with a Purgatory.


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.


M Is For Magnificent -- The Manhattan

For such a consistently popular cocktail, the Manhattan doesn’t have a consistent origin story.  The only consensus is that it originated in New York City’s most famous borough no later than 1882. While the Manhattan Club may have created the cocktail (or at least took credit for it), some sources identify an unknown bartender at the Hoffman House bar as the creator. Surviving Prohibition and the changing tastes of the drinking public, the Manhattan deserves its reputation as a classic cocktail.

Manhattan2 ounces bourbon or rye
1 ounce sweet vermouth
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Combine in a mixing glass with ice, stir with energy and style worthy of New York City, and strain into a chilled glass, preferably martini or coupe. Orange peel and/or Luxardo cherry garnish optional.

The Manhattan is a remarkably flexible cocktail. The 2:1 ratio between the bourbon or rye and sweet vermouth isn't set in stone. Depending on the whiskey's strength and the drinker's preferences, you may want to adjust the ratio. As with other drinks cocktails calling for vermouth, e.g. the Martini, make sure your vermouth is fresh. With the proliferation of bitters on the market, you can use different bitters and have equally spectacular results.

Can you have a lot of fun experimenting with the Manhattan? There's one way to find out.


Celebratory and Solemn -- The Ray's 619

Juneteenth commemorates June 19, 1865 (some Americans would write the date as 6/19). On that day enslaved people became legally free in Texas, so slavery became outlawed throughout the United States (permanently banning slavery, the 13th Amendment was ratified later). My close friend Doug asked me to create a Juneteenth cocktail in memory of his late colleague Ray, whom I did not know.

Ray's 6191.5 ounces bourbon
.75 ounces Aperol
.75 ounces glorious grenadine
Juice from 1/4 lemon (.5 ounces)

Combine in a shaker with ice, shake with the excitement you would feel as if you learned you were finally free, and strain into a chilled glass. Strawberry or other red fruit garnish optional.

Think of the Ray's 619 as an enhanced Whiskey Sour. Bourbon is the base because it is legally an American spirit. I used Aperol, which pairs nicely with bourbon in cocktails such as the Paper Plane, for two reasons. First, it is red. So what? Like many Americans, I largely was ignorant about Juneteenth until relatively recently. Among other things, I learned red is a big color for Juneteenth related food and drinks. It symbolizes the blood spilled during slavery, as well as African crops such as hibiscus. Second, Aperol's bittersweet taste fits right in with what the day is all about. Grenadine, which is dark red, brings some sweetness to the Ray's 619, and the lemon juice adds some tartness.

Raise a Ray's 619, and honor what (and who, if you knew the man) it represents.


Classic New Orleans -- The Sazerac

Real New Orleans drinkers love a Sazerac, the city's official cocktail and Ms. Cocktail Den's favorite drink. Although the Sazerac's exact birth year is a bit hazy (as are many things if one properly experiences the city), Billy Wilkinson and Vincent Miret created it in the late 1890s at the Sazerac House. Its popularity endures and expands over time.

Sazerac2 ounces rye
.25 ounces super simple syrup
2 dashes Peychaud's bitters
Teaspoon of absinthe

Coat the inside of a chilled glass with absinthe, discard the remainder, add the other ingredients, and stir with some New Orleans style. Lemon twist garnish optional.

The Sazerac is many things. Weak is not one of them. Some early versions used cognac as the base, but most modern versions use rye. Think of the Sazerac as an absinthe enhanced twist on an Old Fashioned with special bitters. Both the Peychaud's bitters (another New Orleans creation) and absinthe, used in my When Ernest Met Mary, are indispensable parts of the cocktail. You can serve the Sazerac at room temperature. It's also quite good if you stir it with a couple of ice cubes and then remove the cubes before serving (this is how I do it). If you're still in a New Orleans cocktail mood, try my Len Bon Temps Roulé.

Want something assertive, alcohol forward, and utterly magnificent? Then make yourself a Sazerac.


Irish Capital Craic -- The Dubliner

Dublin, the capital of Ireland, is a lovely city, and there's much more to do than drink beer, whiskey, and Irish Coffee. "Craic" (pronounced crack) is a Gaelic word that roughly means fun in a social context, e.g. a lively bar conversation. The Dubliner is not remotely as old as the city, as the late cocktailian and author Gary "Gaz" Regan created it in 1999.

Dubliner2 ounces Irish whiskey
.5 ounces Grand Marnier
.5 ounces sweet vermouth
2-3 dashes orange bitters

Combine in a mixing glace with ice, stir as if you're walking across the Ha'penny Bridge or the grounds of Trinity College, and strain into a chilled glass, preferable a coupe. Luxardo or amarena cherry garnish optional.

I see the Dubliner as an orange enhanced Manhattan, or a variation on the Tipperary or the Luck of the Irish.  There are a lot of fine Irish whiskies you can use as the base of the Dubliner. I'm not going to recommend a particular one. Regan specifically called for Grand Marnier, used in drinks such as the Burnt Fuselage, as the triple sec (orange liqueur). Using a different triple sec is fine, but of course the result will be different. Amusingly, even though Ms. Cocktail Den and I had some serious craic when we were in Dublin in 2017, we didn't have a Dubliner until later.

Have a Dubliner or two, and your odds of good craic improve immensely. Sláinte!

 

 


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.


Fiercely Crimson -- The Wildest Redhead

Redheads make up a very small percentage of the population, but they generate a lot of stereotypes. The Wildest Redhead is a creation from Meaghan Dorman, a New York City bartender. She took the Wild Redhead, which first appeared in the 1977 book Jones' Complete Barguide, and enhanced it.

Wildest Redhead1.5 ounces blended Scotch
Juice from 1/2 lemon (.75 ounces)
.75 ounces honey syrup
.25 ounces allspice dram
.25 ounces cherry Heering

Combine everything except the cherry Heering in a shaker with ice, shake with wild abandonment, and strain into a chilled a glass, preferably rocks and over a large ice cube. Top with the cherry Heering.

Scotch gives the Wildest Redhead a solid base, and it naturally pairs well with the lemon juice and honey syrup.  Dorman (who is a redhead) added allspice dram, part of cocktails such as the Donna Maria or my Les Bon Temps Roulé, to the original drink. Just as Dorman made changes to the predecessor of the Wildest Redhead, I tweaked her recipe ever so slightly. Her recipe calls for a half ounce of rich honey syrup (3:1) ratio, but I use regular honey syrup (1:1 ratio). Cherry Heering brings a nice finishing touch to the Wildest Redhead. If pairing Scotch and cherry Heering intrigues you, definitely have a Royal Blood.

Ready to get a little wild? You know what to drink.


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 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.