The first cocktail I learned to make was the Whiskey Sour. I made it with Scotch, which was a very poor choice, but I was just out of college and didn’t know better. It’s gratifying to discover, in retrospect, that even then I had enough wits about me to think that tinkering with the mix might lead to a worthwhile improvement in flavor. It took forever to realize that the problem was the Scotch. Well, it was too much lemon, too, but at least I finally figured it out.
Hangovers have been around forever, so it’s not surprising that one of the most popular branches of amateur medicine is the hangover “cure.”
I’ve never been a follower of American horse racing, but I do enjoy the hype and pageantry of the three-race set known as the “Triple Crown” — in the US, it’s the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes, and the Belmont Stakes.
The Kentucky Derby falls near my birthday, so for decades my birthday partly has been a Derby-watching event, replete with fancy outfits, good hats and, especially, whiskey juleps. The Mint Julep is the universally accepted symbol of the Derby, and the Run for the Roses starts the ice-crushing the season right.
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.
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.
Gaz Regan first published Ted Kilgore’s Devil’s Soul cocktail in 101 Best New Cocktails 2012. As Regan says, it combines “ingredients that absolutely positively do not belong in the same glass,” yet somehow they work together to form a complex and sophisticated success.
The 1795 Cocktail is one of the Negroni’s modern descendants, from the whiskey-based Boulevardier side of the family.
More specifically, it’s a direct riff on the Boulevardier’s rye whiskey variant, Dominic Venegas’s 1794 Cocktail.
The most notable (and infamous) ritual food in my family was the Christmas goose. Oh, how my mother reviled even the smell of that great, fatty, oven-greasing bird; she taught the rest of us to hate it, too, just as she and her sister had for decades. On the other hand, there was my grandmother, matriarch of the family, and for her, roast goose was the one immutable element of Christmas dinner. No goose, no Christmas. So we roasted goose.