I’ve always had trouble with Scotch whisky when it comes to making cocktails. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this—the long history of cocktailing has only managed to come up with a handful of Scotch-based cocktails that have any semblance of balance and finesse.
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.”
Steward: “Cocktail before dinner?”
Thornhill: “Yes, I’ll have a Gibson.”
So begins one of Alfred Hitchcock’s most amusing scenes, the famous club car seduction scene between Cary Grant’s Roger Thornhill and Eva Marie Saint’s Eve Kendall in North by Northwest. Seduction isn’t really the right word; it’s more of a pickup scene between two people who don’t seem to be in the habit of resisting. Grant’s Thornhill seems the type to always have his motor running; clearly, it’s Eve who’s shifting the gears. Continue reading “Chasing the Gibson Cocktail”
We don’t often encounter the Pisco Sour, mainly because we don’t often encounter the Peruvian brandy called Pisco these days. (For that matter, we don’t seem to encounter very many brandy cocktails of any sort, but that’s another story.)
The Pisco Sour is a classic brandy sour, differing little from what we might call the Jerry Thomas brandy sour template. It uses lime juice (instead of lemon) to provide the sour component, but its hallmark difference is an ostentatious eggwhite foam.
Drinks are named for places, religions, sweethearts, politicians, even political parties. Some drinks draw their names from song lyrics, some reflect ideas and aspirations. And some have names are utterly inscrutable, like the Corn ’n Oil Cocktail.
The Lusitania, the Kaiser Wilhelm, the Titanic—before World War I, the great ocean liners were the peak of traveling adventure, luxury, and technology. It was the age of the “greyhounds of the seas.”
Their British and German owners competed for speed, for luxury, and for bragging rights; the twenty years between 1895 and 1915 saw the launches of ever-larger ships, each more lush and decadent than its predecessors. The story of the Titanic provides one of the world’s best-known cautionary tales about the dangers of overweening pride in technology, but, oh, that was a handsome, luxurious, and well-fed ship—for all of the five days it stayed afloat.
As it turns out, the Titanic had a sister ship; Continue reading “The Olympic Cocktail”
My uncle was a pilot. Hal flew light, high-wing planes, the type you’d fly into northern Ontario to hunt moose. A couple times a year, he’d fly to visit us, landing in Trimble’s pasture across the road from our house. A low fly-over to let us know he was there, a tight turn over the telephone lines, and there he’d be, roaring across the clover to park by the electric fence next to our mailbox. He knew how to make an exciting entry.
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 season right.