Category Archives: vermouth

Blackthorn

a-IMG_6580

Ages ago I was given a neat little dark-blue tome called The Architecture of the Cocktail, which I snobbishly dismissed as a little more than a gimmick; the book’s illustrations are designed to look like blueprints, lending it a serious, mathematical vibe; there’s no warm, inviting photos; and at first glance it looks like one of those smugly superior books that’s mighty clever but irritating to follow.

I shelved it and thought I would never use it.

How wrong I was.

This has become one of my favourite cocktail books for precisely the reasons I initially disliked it. The recipes are easy to follow; the lack of photos means it hasn’t dated badly (the Savoy Cocktail Book doesn’t have photos, either); and the concise preamble to each cocktail is a joy to read.

In other words, it’s small, but it packs a punch. Just like the Blackthorn.

The Blackthorn takes the absinthe rinse of a Sazerac, marries it with the balanced, simple nature of a Manhattan, and then plays havoc with genetics, swapping the Manhattan’s rye whiskey for Irish and its sweet vermouth for dry. I don’t know if that makes it a lovechild or a bastard cousin of the aforementioned classic cocktails, but I figure it gives me a bit of leeway with it – at least, that’s my excuse for switching Irish whiskey for Scotch, and using the wrong glassware to boot.

No matter if you follow the original recipe or my off-plan one, if you like Sazeracs and Manhattans, you will love this strong, slightly bitter, anise-laced drink.

INGREDIENTS

2 dashes absinthe (I figured this meant half a teaspoon, but I’m sure some people would use less)

45ml Irish whiskey (I used Scotch and it still tasted good, but I’m keen to try it with Irish next time)

30ml dry vermouth

2 dashes Angostura bitters

lemon peel, to garnish

GLASS

Cocktail glass, chilled (I used a chilled tumbler)

METHOD

Pour the absinthe into the glass and swirl it about gently so the absinthe coats the glass. Tip out any excess.

Half fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the whiskey, vermouth and Angostura and stir well to combine. Strain into the glass. Gently peel a long piece of lemon peel (avoiding the pith) over the glass and drop it in to garnish.

RECIPE BY

I butchered this recipe, and it still worked. So here’s cheers to the original recipe, which appears in The Architecture of the Cocktail by Amy Zavatto (Harper Collins, 2013).

Advertisements
Tagged ,

Astoria and Bacardi Vermouth

bimg_6542

The Waldorf Astoria is one of those very storied hotels whose name evokes a sense of old-world glamour and sophistication, and this lovely new collection of cocktail recipes certainly adds to that reputation.

The book contains hundreds of recipes for drinks served at the hotel’s bars – some are retro, some are classics, others are modern inventions, but all have been meticulously researched by the hotel’s bar manager, Frank Caiafa, and almost all of them are accompanied by his carefully compiled notes on the drinks’ histories, preparation methods or flavour profiles.

I started my exploration of the book by making two very simple cocktails, both of which use just vermouth and one spirit. While I preferred the delicate, herbaceous notes of the Astoria (pictured above), which Caiafa describes as a ‘reverse martini’, the Bacardi Vermouth (pictured below) was an interesting way to get to know the flavour of a sweet vermouth – I’d love to try it with various brands of sweet vermouth to see which one I like best. These both work well as aperitifs, best sipped while reading Caiafa’s book. Happy drinking – and happy reading!

aimg_6545

ASTORIA

INGREDIENTS

2 oz (60ml) Noilly Prat extra dry vermouth (I confess I used Dolin dry instead)

1 oz (30ml) Hayman’s Old Tom gin (have you tried this yet? It is a sweeter, old fashioned style of gin that I love.)

orange peel, to garnish

GLASS

Cocktail

METHOD

Add ingredients to a mixing glass. Half-fill the glass with ice, stir well and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with orange peel.

BACARDI VERMOUTH

INGREDIENTS

1.5oz (45ml) Bacardi Superior white rum

1.5 oz (45ml) Dolin dry OR Cinzano Rosso sweet vermouth (I used the latter)

GLASS

Cocktail

METHOD

Add ingredients to a mixing glass. Half-fill the glass with ice, stir well and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with orange peel.

RECIPES BY

Both recipes are from The Waldorf Astoria Bar Book by Frank Caiafa (Penguin Books, 2016).

Tagged

Gin Sling

img_6374a

Light and summery and somehow reminiscent of ginger beer without being cloyingly sweet, this cocktail is a classic for a reason. Its herbaceous undertones (courtesy of the vermouth) and zesty, fruity notes play well together; the only problem is, it’s far too easy to drink a bucketful in one go. Yum.

INGREDIENTS

45ml gin

30ml sweet vermouth (I used Martini Rosso)

22ml lemon juice

30ml sugar syrup

1 dash Angostura Bitters

Soda water, to top up

Lemon or orange peel spiral, to garnish

GLASS

Collins

METHOD

Add all ingredients except soda and garnish to a cocktail shaker that’s half-full of ice. Shake hard, then strain into a Collins glass that’s half-full of fresh ice. Top up with the soda water and garnish with the peel.

RECIPE BY

In his book The Craft of the Cocktail (Clarkson Potter, 2002), where this cocktail appears, Dale DeGroff says this is a late 19th-century sling recipe.

Tagged , ,

Old Pal

OP2

‘I say, Old Pal, how about a cocktail?’

‘Why certainly, but don’t Hogg the recipe book – pass it to Maureen so she can fix us a drink, quicksticks!’

Hello and welcome to the 1950s, when men chortled down the phone while secretaries made them such drinks as the Old Pal and workplaces, as a result, were almost enjoyable places. That’s the vibe I got when I tried the Old Pal, anyhow – with its rye whiskey kick and the bitter orange overtones of Campari, it seemed like the kind of old-school drink Don Draper would have for breakfast. Then again there are plenty of things Don Draper would have for breakfast, including his secretaries, so maybe that’s not the best way to judge a cocktail…

Anyway, where was I? Oh yes. Although I’m not a Campari fan I am determined to work out why other people are, and when I stumbled across this drink in a vintage cocktail book I thought it’d be worth a go. Containing rye whiskey, dry vermouth and Campari, the Old Pal is a perverted version of the Negroni, which contains gin, sweet vermouth and Campari. And that’s what it tastes like, too; like a watered-down version of a Negroni, even though you’d think the rye whiskey in the Old Pal would have a stronger flavour than the gin in a Negroni. It’s kind of boring, the sort of thing you drink just to get drunk. It’s the kind of drink that makes you realise why Negronis are still popular when Old Pals have fallen out of favour. It’s the kind of drink that could almost – almost – make me appreciate a Negroni, and that’s saying something.

‘I suppose it’s all about the delights of subtlety and nuance in a Negroni, as opposed to the straight-shooting ‘down the hatch, that’s the stuff’ of an Old Pal, Old Pal.’

‘Damn straight. Now let’s visit the Members Club and see if someone wants to taste your Old Pal, you don’t get much more subtle than that.’

Chortle.

OLD PAL

INGREDIENTS

Equal parts rye whiskey, dry vermouth and Campari. We used:

30ml Wild Turkey rye whiskey

30ml Noilly Prat

30ml Campari

GLASS

Old-fashioned

METHOD

Stir all ingredients together in a mixing glass that’s half-full of ice. When it’s ice-cold (place the inside of your wrist on the outside of the glass to check, or just taste-test), strain into the old-fashioned glass and serve.

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY

How would I know, I got the secretary to make it.

RECIPE BY

This version appears in Cocktails and Mixed Drinks by Anthony Hogg (Optimum Books, 1981).

Tagged , , ,

Negroni

Nigel the zombunny hoped that was a glass of blood in front of him. He just didn't have the stomach for a Negroni.

Nigel the zombunny hoped that was a glass of blood in front of him. He just didn’t have the stomach for a Negroni.

In the lead-up to World Gin Day (June 13), it’s Negroni Week – that’s right, a whole week dedicated to one classic cocktail made of equal parts gin, Campari and vermouth. Bars around Melbourne are celebrating by donating money to various charities when customers order a Negroni, and while I really wanted to support this excellent excuse to drink, I dislike Campari so I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to like Negronis, either. And if there’s one thing worse than drinking a cocktail you don’t like, it’s paying for it – even if that money is going to charity. I still wanted to join the festivities, though, so I donated to charity by buying a cocktail book at an op shop and making a Negroni at home.

It couldn’t have been easier to make, though it was slightly disturbing seeing perfectly good gin (my favourite spirit) being sullied by bitter Campari and turned blood-red by the vermouth. And it couldn’t have been easier to decide who’d drink it; I took one sip, immediately declared I had made a horrific mistake and handed it to the CTO (Cocktail Tasting Officer), who guzzled it, saying it was a brilliant cocktail that reminded him of the bittersweet soft drink Chinnotto…which I also don’t like. Even diluted with some soda water, the Negroni was just too bitter for me. Turns out you can like bitters, be bitter, and still not like bitter things such as Negronis. Who knew?!

I’ve read somewhere that people either love or hate Negronis – there is no in between. Based on 52 Cocktails’ scientific studies, aka tonight’s drinking session, I’d say 50% of people love them and 50% hate them. For the first group, here’s the recipe. On behalf of the rest of us – leave our gin alone!

NEGRONI

INGREDIENTS

20ml gin

20ml Campari

20ml sweet vermouth

strip of orange peel, pith removed

soda water, to top up

GLASS

Old-fashioned

METHOD

Build over ice in an old-fashioned glass. Twist the orange peel over the top and add soda water if desired. (Other recipes have slightly different methods, such as stirring the drink until it’s ice cold – which I did – and garnishing with an orange wheel. Up to you.)

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY

If you can pour liquid out of a bottle, you can make this drink. Whether or not you can stomach drinking it is another thing altogether.

RECIPE BY

This version of the Negroni appears in The Liquid Kitchen – Party Drinks by Hayden Wood (Murdoch Books, 2004). Other recipes call for 30ml of each ingredient. If you really, really like Negronis you could probably make a massive one as long as you used enough ice and equal measures of all three ingredients. Sorry, but it ain’t something I’m ever going to try!

PHOTO CREDIT

No animals were harmed in the making of this photo. Nigel the zombunny, however (supplied by Make it Wednesday), has been well and truly traumatised.

Tagged , , ,

The Bronx

Bronx 3THE BRONX

According to an ad campaign for boxing and sportswear brand Everlast, ‘Nothing soft comes out of the Bronx’. Logically this means there are no marshmallow makers or pillow factories in the Bronx, and that Everlast’s tracksuits are made of something really hard, such as iron, which sounds mighty uncomfortable but would at least stay wrinkle-free. It also means the Bronx’s namesake drink should be a bracing, in-your-face kind of deal, and given that it’s basically an adulterated martini you’d think it would at least taste super strong.

But here’s the thing: it isn’t. Sorry, Everlast, but the Bronx cocktail is mellow and refreshing, with orange juice providing a slight sweetness and vermouth adding a little earthy bitterness. The balance of ingredients make this drink a real knockout; you’ll want to go round for round on this one.
INGREDIENTS
45ml gin (I used Tanqueray)
30ml freshly squeezed orange juice (if you want a pulp-free drink, strain it through a wire tea strainer before using)
5ml sweet vermouth (I used Cinzano Rosso, which oddly enough doesn’t have the word ‘vermouth’ anywhere on the label)
5ml dry vermouth (I used Noilly Prat, which reasssuringly does have ‘vermouth’ on its label, in tiny letters on the back)
Orange peel, as garnish
GLASS
Coupe
METHOD
Half-fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add all ingredients and stir slowly with a bar spoon for about 30 seconds/until the mixture is chilled. Strain into a chilled coupe glass.
Using a vegetable peeler or knife, remove a strip of orange peel (avoiding the white pith) to use as a garnish. Twist this over the drink, so the essential oils will be released into it, then add the peel to the drink. (If you look closely you can actually see the oils dispersing when you add the peel to the drink. It’s a bit like conducting a really lame primary school science experiment, only a lot tastier.)
DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY
Can you squeeze an orange? Then you can make this drink. If you cannot squeeze an orange then I pity you, and store-bought juice will do.
RECIPE BY
This classic recipe appears in The Architecture of the Cocktail (Amy Zavatto, Harper Collins, 2013).
Tagged , , ,