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The Rise of Vermouth and the Pantomime Cocktail

If you’ve been drinking Martinis for any length of time, you’ve likely heard of movie director Alfred Hitchcock’s famous disregard for vermouth. According to the tales, the closest Hitch would come to a bottle of vermouth is to glance toward it from across the room, then toss back his “Hitchcock Martini”—nothing but a chilled glass of gin. It’s the stuff of legend, possibly even true, Continue reading “The Rise of Vermouth and the Pantomime Cocktail”

The X-15, Saturn, and the Finer Points of Bad Behavior

My father introduced me to model airplane kits, and I was hooked. I always enjoyed the fun of learning about the airplanes, selecting the “next one,” working through the pieces of the kit, adding paint and decals, getting my fingers glued together, and finally adding each finished airplane to the growing collection on the shelves above my desk.

One of the last kits I assembled, and the strangest of the lot, was the X-15 rocket plane, Continue reading “The X-15, Saturn, and the Finer Points of Bad Behavior”

Another Round of Whiskey Sours: the Ward 8 Cocktail

As the saying goes, “myth and legend are the kudzu of history,” and cocktail history is as much overgrown as any.

Today’s case in point: the pre-Prohibition Ward 8 Cocktail, one of the most famous of classic whiskey sour variations.

Continue reading “Another Round of Whiskey Sours: the Ward 8 Cocktail”

Two Nights at the Opera

One of the old-school cocktails that made a comeback in the last fifteen years is the Opera Cocktail.

The Opera is a blend of gin, Dubonnet, and liqueur—and that’s where the story gets interesting.
Continue reading “Two Nights at the Opera”

Extra effort, extra reward: the Pearl Diver’s Punch

Cocktailing is not so very different from cooking or baking—gather ingredients, follow the recipe, enjoy—but while I’ll put up with all sorts of preparation and procedure in baking or in cooking dinner, I find that I value simplicity and off-handed quickness in drink making.

Continue reading “Extra effort, extra reward: the Pearl Diver’s Punch”

The Royal Bermuda Yacht Club Cocktail

The Royal Bermuda Yacht Club Cocktail is built squarely on a tropical Caribbean foundation—despite the fact that Bermuda is hundreds of miles out in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

The drink combines rum, lime, and sugar—the combination Jeff Berry refers to as “the Holy Trinity of Caribbean mixology”—but the sweetness is applied in the form of nutty, gingery falernum syrup and orange liqueur.

Continue reading “The Royal Bermuda Yacht Club Cocktail”

Swizzling the Noa Noa

Jeff Berry’s Noa Noa is designed in the classic tradition of Caribbean cocktails—at its heart, it’s an easy mix of rum, lime, sugar and ice. In fact, you could consider it a minted version of the basic Daiquiri.

Continue reading “Swizzling the Noa Noa”

A Martini with Something In It — The Merry Widow Cocktail

The best description I can think of for the Merry Widow cocktail is that it’s a fancy, vermouth-heavy martini with a touch of herbs and spice.

Continue reading “A Martini with Something In It — The Merry Widow Cocktail”

Three Dots and a Dash

One of the lasting icons of World War II is the public image of Winston Churchill—short, round, with a fat cigar clamped pugnaciously in his jaw.

And that ubiquitous, two-fingered “V” salute that became shorthand for the hope and courage of Allied soldiers and civilians alike.

Continue reading “Three Dots and a Dash”

The Diamondback Cocktail

You could think of the Diamondback cocktail as an Old-Fashioned on steroids.

Or at least, that’s what it’s evolving into. It didn’t really start that way.

Continue reading “The Diamondback Cocktail”

Another Old-Fashioned the hard way: the Conference Cocktail

I learned two important things when I first encountered the Saratoga cocktail. For starters, I discovered that I like the Saratoga even more than I like the Manhattan—and that’s saying something.

But more significantly, I discovered that rye whiskey and brandy go astonishingly well together.

And the knowledge of that happy combination led to delight when I came across Brian Miller’s riff on the Old-Fashioned, the Conference cocktail.

Continue reading “Another Old-Fashioned the hard way: the Conference Cocktail”

An Old-Fashioned the hard way: the Brandy Crusta

Brandy what?

I would wager that most people have never encountered a crusta, or even heard of one.

So what is that thing? And why should we care?

Continue reading “An Old-Fashioned the hard way: the Brandy Crusta”

A return to Havana: the Airmail Cocktail

Some months back, I made a passing reference to the Airmail Cocktail. The Airmail deserves more attention, and what better time to talk about champagne and rum than New Year’s Eve.

Continue reading “A return to Havana: the Airmail Cocktail”

The Red Snapper and the Bloody Mary

I hate tomatoes.

This always dismayed my mother, who loved tomatoes for breakfast, for lunch, for dinner, and for anytime in between. I always whined, and refused to eat them. Today it’s my tomato-loving bride who faces the pushback; I still whine and refuse to eat them.

So why do I like the Bloody Mary?

Continue reading “The Red Snapper and the Bloody Mary”

The Lucien Gaudin Cocktail

The Lucien Gaudin Cocktail is a tribute to the skill and success of one of France’s national fencing champions. He first made his name in the very early twentieth century, went on to become European and world champion, then won two gold medals in the 1924 Olympics, and two more in 1928. A couple more silver medals made him one of the most decorated French medalists in the history of the Olympics.

Continue reading “The Lucien Gaudin Cocktail”

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