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”
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”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.