Patriots' Day Recap: Boston Cocktails

I did promise to put up these recipes, didn't I? Well, I'm a man of my word. Enjoy the two most Bostonian of all Boston cocktails!

Ward Eight
2 oz. Rye Whiskey
3/4 oz. Lemon Juice
3/4 oz. Orange Juice
Grenadine to Taste
Shake, strain, and serve up. Garnish with a tiny Massachusetts flag stuck through a maraschino cherry, if you can find such a thing.

Periodista
1 1/2 oz. Dark Rum
1/2 oz. Orange Liqueur
1/2 oz. Apricot Liqueur
1/2 oz. Lime Juice
Shake, strain, and serve up. Garnish with a lime wheel, a lime wedge, or nothing at all (there's quite a bit of lime in there already).

These drinks are "Bostonian" in very different ways - though both, in my view, have a better claim to that title than the I-guess-technically-it-counts Boston Sour, Boston Sidecar, and so on. I've not been able to find any information on the pedigree of those old drinks to bear out the choice of namesake. These two, on the other hand...

The Ward Eight has been around for more than a hundred years, and was probably invented at Locke-Ober. There is some disagreement on whether or not to include the orange juice, and on whether or not to add seltzer on top. There is some speculation that its alleged date of invention was too early for grenadine to have been readily available; there is counter-speculation that the scarcity of the signature ingredient was precisely what made the drink so special when it was first concocted. There is the awkward fact that the man in whose honor the cocktail was invented, and after whose ward it was named, tried and failed to get people to call it something else for years afterwards. 

In short, there is a lot of mystery surrounding this drink. But that's as it should be. Old drinks, if they're good, tend to acquire myths. If you're interested in a deeper dive into the history, I highly recommend Stephanie Schorrow's (extensive) treatment in Drinking Boston.

For our purposes, what matters most is that the Ward Eight has stood unchallenged as Boston's emissary to the cocktail-drinkers of the world for something on the order of a century. It's definitely ours, and it's what we're best known for. My preferred recipe matches this one from David Wondrich, but particularly in light of the drink's muddled history, you should feel quite free to play around with the proportions.

As for the Periodista, its history is in many ways quite the opposite. It's a young recipe, celebrating its twenty-first birthday this year (presumably by ordering a few rounds of itself). We know that it was invented at Chez Henri in Cambridge. It's a local drink, ubiquitous in greater Boston but unknown to the rest of the world. Our delicious little secret.

There's a lot more to the story, but I won't spoil the fun here. Devin Hahn, the man who first figured out where this drink came from, has written a gorgeous narrative of his journey to the truth in twenty-three parts. You can binge your way through it in an hour or two; if you're even slightly considering that, I promise you it's worth it. The story begins here.

My sincerest thanks to everyone who came to the Patriots' Day party for an in-person lesson on these drinks! Stay tuned for more announcements of public events! (And one other major announcement coming soon - mysterious, eh?)

The Twenty-Four Nineteen

So named for the (roughly) 24" of snow this storm's dropped on us so far, which has been falling (last I checked) at about 19 degrees.

Like most of Massachusetts, today I was both physically unable and legally forbidden to stray very far from home. My solution to this problem was to invent a cocktail.

The restriction I placed on myself - because being limited to ingredients I already had on hand wasn't enough of one - was that each component of the drink had to be specifically connected, somehow, to my experience of this storm.

Last night, on my way home, I stopped into a liquor store to stock up. Item one on my agenda was dark rum, since I'd killed my previous bottle over the weekend, and there's really nothing better than a rich dark rum when it's snowing. (This is also true when it isn't snowing, but it's less obvious then.)

Item two, chiefly because the store happened to have it and to have it very visible, was a bottle of Meletti, an amaro I enjoy very much but had never previously purchased for myself. If not for the storm, I wouldn't have gotten either it or the rum last night; both went into the drink.

In my fridge, there is half a tired lemon, left over from pre-blizzard experiments. I have no other lemons or limes. Until the snow stops and the stores reopen, all the citrus I consume will come from that half lemon. A small portion of it went into the drink.

Finally, a cocktail themed after this specific storm would hardly be complete without a piece of this specific storm, by which I mean snow.

Those little droplets on the sides? That's snow. I opened my window, stuck my hand outside, and allowed Mother Nature to deliver unto the cocktail its final and signature ingredient. It needed a touch of water anyway.

And thus, as Frankenstein's monster from a lightning bolt, was born the Twenty-Four Nineteen.

24:19
1 oz. Rhum Barbancourt
1/4 oz. Amaro Meletti
4 drops lemon juice squeezed out of a tired old half-lemon by hand
1 rough-cut twist from the same tired old half-lemon, used to rim the glass and then dropped in
As much snow as you can capture in the otherwise-finished cocktail by thrusting it out into the elements until it becomes necessary to close the window

If you thought I was kidding, oh, how wrong you were.

If you thought I was kidding, oh, how wrong you were.

Rich, warm, and spicy - that sums it up well. It's nicely brightened by the citrus, and would do well as an aperi- or digestif, although its highest use is without a doubt as a winter warming drink.

Whether the snow actually contributed anything beyond the psychological satisfaction of having collected it by hand, I can't tell. But then, what could it possibly provide that's greater than that?

The things I used my last bottle of dark rum and the first half of that lemon for will be the subjects of future posts; Meletti will get one of its own, too, since I imagine a lot of you have never had it before. In the mean time, stay warm and dry. And don't try harvesting cocktail snow at home.

Outre-Mer

Outre-Mer

6 parts Rhum Barbancourt
1 part Kassatly Ajyal tamarind syrup
1/2 part Grand Marnier

Stir briskly to keep the syrup from settling. Serve neat.

My neighbor got his hands on some tamarind syrup, and had absolutely no idea what to do with it. “Here, Cocktail Guy,” he said, “You figure it out.” Thus was born the tamarind ingredient challenge, and consequently the Outre-Mer.

I christened it after the French name for their lingering colonial outposts (the name means, “Overseas”), because the ingredients are French, Haitian, and Lebanese. Other dark rums will also work, but there’s a rich smokiness to the Barbancourt that makes the whole combination taste more exotic.

An addition I came up with later was a single dash of Scrappy’s cardamom bitters (available here: http://scrappysbitters.com/cardamon/), which I’ve found to blend nicely with any individual spirit and more liqueurs than you’d think. This is a perfect milieu for them.

Kona Breeze

Kona Breeze

Base - Light rum, guava juice, cranberry juice
Float - Dark rum and brandy.

First post to the new blog: first cocktail from the trip to Hawaii. The Kona Breeze is a specialty of the Sea House restaurant on Maui. Of the many cocktails that go by that name, this is by far the finest. It’s seen here in front of the most wisely-designed back bar on earth.

We don’t know the proper proportions - that’s a trade secret - but we’d guess they used a 2:1 ratio of rum to brandy in the float, and about a 3:2 ratio of guava to cranberry. That should be enough to get you started.

This’ll be our primary publication vehicle going forward, but all posts here should show up automatically on facebook. Cheers!