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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.

 


B Is For Bravo -- The Boulevardier

The Boulevardier was an English language literary magazine in Paris in the 1920s. Erskine Gwynne, the editor, was a loyal customer of Harry McElhone, who founded the eponymous Harry's New York Bar. Even though it's not clear if Gwynne or McElhone created the Boulevardier, McElhone mentioned it in a footnote in his 1927 book Barflies and Cocktails.

Boulevardier1 ounce bourbon
1 ounce sweet vermouth
1 ounce Campari

Combine in a mixing glass with ice, stir with some American je ne sais quoi, and strain into a chilled glass. Lemon or orange peel garnish optional.

Fundamentally a Boulevardier is a Negroni with bourbon instead of gin. Another way of viewing it is that it's a modified Manhattan with Campari instead of Angostura bitters. Like other cocktails such as the Old Pal (which McElhone created for another one of his loyal customers), the Bijou, and the Last Word, the Boulevardier is a bartender’s dream because of its simple ratio and short ingredient list. If you want to emphasize the bourbon, a variation I like uses one and half ounces of bourbon and .75 ounces each of the sweet vermouth and Campari. The Boulevardier lends itself to tinkering. For example, add some molé bitters, and you have a Left Hand.

Looking for a simple and laudable cocktail? Have a Boulevardier and look no further.


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 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 or the Purgatory.

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 Friend -- The Old Pal

Do you have a friend you've known for much of your life? Many people do. If you're one of them, it's unlikely your friend is as old as the Old Pal. Dating to the 1920s, the Old Pal is the brainchild of Harry McElhone, the proprietor of Harry's New York Bar in Paris. Reputedly he named it for William "Sparrow" Robinson, the New York Herald's sports editor in Paris.

Old Pal1 ounce rye
1 ounce Campari
1 ounce dry vermouth

Combine in a mixing glass with ice, stir with the familiarity of an inside joke you share with a you know who, and strain into a chilled glass. Lemon peel garnish optional.

The Old Pal's three ingredient equal proportion formula is a bartender's dream. The same goes for other drinks such as the Bijou, the Luck of the Irish, Corpse Reviver #1, and of course, the Negroni. The Old Pal really is close cocktail kin of the Boulevardier, which McElhone made famous. It simply swaps in rye for bourbon, and dry vermouth for sweet vermouth. No surprise the Old Pal has a spicier, drier taste than its cousin. Depending on the preferences of you or your guest, you can tweak the traditional 1:1:1 ratio of the ingredients.

Old can be great. It's true with an Old Fashioned. It's true with Old Tom style gin. So say hello to your new cocktail companion, the Old Pal.


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.


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 (my sense of rhythm is questionable). Describing it as the love child of a Manhattan and a Sazerac, Greg Best in Atlanta created the Rhythm and Soul approximately ten 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 Pura Vida or my Scales of Justice, 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.