Distilled Knowledge Cocktail: The Greyhound

(Not sure what the title means? The Distilled Knowledge announcement should fill in the gaps.)

I'm counting down the days to publication with a series on the cocktails mentioned in Distilled Knowledge. They're an odd bunch, I'll grant, but each serves a purpose in the narrative.

Pride of place goes to the Greyhound, the cocktail that taught us not to mix grapefruit juice with medicine.

As you may have heard, it's a bad idea to drink grapefruit juice if you're on any kind of prescription drugs. It has a tendency to lead to higher-than-intended blood concentrations of your medications, with consequences that range from "mildly inconvenient" to "literally fatal."

You may not know that we learned this entirely by accident.

Researchers were studying the effects of ethanol on a blood pressure medication called felodipine. It was important for the experiment's success that the subjects not know whether they'd been given booze or not, so the researchers tried a variety of mixers (for science!) and concluded that the taste of the alcohol was best masked by grapefruit juice. 

In the course of the study, they found that their subjects' blood felodipine levels were higher than expected across the board. Imagine their surprise when they realized they'd made a major scientific discovery "following an assessment of every juice in a home refrigerator one Saturday evening."

Distilled Knowledge Greyhound
2 1/2 oz. Double-Strength White Grapefruit Juice
1/2 oz. Vodka
Stir with ice. Serve on the rocks.

If what you're looking for is a drink with the taste of the booze completely hidden, mixing five parts grapefruit juice with one part vodka is a surefire way to get there. It is not, however, the way the cocktail is ordinarily served; merely an approximation of the concoction the felodipine researchers were using.

Note that if you'd like to add felodipine to this drink and make a Felodipine Greyhound, do not do so under any circumstances. Did you know that it's possible for your blood pressure to be too low? It is, and you don't want to find out what that's like.

On the other hand, there are many other versions of the Greyhound that don't threaten your health nearly as much. These days, it's commonly made with a 3:2 or a 2:1 ration of grapefruit juice to vodka. Personally, I prefer the former; grapefruit juice can be quite a lot when it's the majority of a drink by volume.

Contemporary Greyhound
3 oz. Fresh Grapefruit Juice
2 oz. Vodka
Prepare as above.

I still advise stirring, because shaking a drink that's mostly juice by volume just seems excessive. Note that a fresh grapefruit will yield about 3 oz. of juice, and the Greyhound needn't be a particularly exact drink; if you'd like to remember the recipe as "two ounces of vodka and a grapefruit," I won't stop you.

With a pinch of salt and more around the rim, this becomes the Salty Dog, which I assume is so called because "salty Greyhound" doesn't have the same ring. 

With a gin base instead of a vodka one, it becomes...the Greyhound. Yes, this is one of the (many) cocktails that got its start as a gin drink and evolved into a vodka one as tastes changed.

It's first attested in the Savoy Cocktail Book, where it's mentioned as a variation on the older Grapefruit Cocktail, a concoction involving grapefruit jelly. In any case, it was a gin drink, and it would be some years before vodka came into vogue this far west.

Savoy Greyhound

"Take three and a half glasses of Gin and the juice of   1 1/2 good-sized Grapefruit. Sugar to taste, plenty of ice. Shake and serve."

Near as I can figure, that works out to about seven ounces of gin, four and a half ounces of grapefruit juice, and sugar to taste. This would have been a batch, with each drink closer to three ounces total. Still boozier than the modern version, and much ginnier-tasting. 

Once introduced to vodka, the Greyhound ran off with it and never looked back. And honestly, I can't blame it; I say this very rarely, but I think this drink makes more sense with vodka. It's a simple cocktail. It hits a few notes (sour, bitter, ethanol) and it hits them hard. Tossing juniper in there seems more distracting than enhancing in this case, and I expect most people who Really Like Gin will prefer not to cover its flavor with an even larger dose of grapefruit.

That'll do it for the first installment. Stay tuned for more!

200 Years of Frankenstein and the Vampyre: A Corpse Reviver Cocktail Lesson

Announcing the next public cocktail lesson, celebrating two centuries of two great icons of horror!

Lord Byron, Mary and Percy Shelley (though technically she was Mary Godwin at the time), and John Polidori were staying at a Swiss villa together, in June 1816, the "year without a summer." One night Byron proposed to his companions that they should all write ghost stories.

Polidori wrote The Vampyre, the first story of an aristocratic vampire hiding in plain sight; in the process, he founded an entire genre, of which Bram Stoker's Dracula is the most famous example. 

Mary Shelley, meanwhile, wrote Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, inspired in part by a terrifying nightmare she had on June 16.

In honor of the two hundredth anniversary of Byron's challenge and Shelley and Polidori's classic creations, we're having a cocktail lesson on - what else? - the Corpse Revivers, Nos. 1 and 2. Join us on Thursday, June 16, to learn more about the history of these drinks and these stories! Appetizers and a full-sized sample of each drink will be included with the price of admission.

Get your tickets here!

Distilled Knowledge

No more teasing hints: this is the real deal, the big announcement you've been waiting for. Ladies and gentlemen, friends, colleagues, subscribers, clients, and bitter rivals, I'm pleased to announce that I'm writing a book!

Or, more to the point, I've written a book. That's the current draft of the cover up there. It's called Distilled Knowledge, and it's coming out on October 4th of this year. I know, I know, that's a long time to wait. But I'll have a lot of interesting things to share between now and then, beginning with this list of answers to the questions you might be asking right now:

I know, right?

What is this book about?
Scientific topics that relate to drinking. If you've ever wondered why we age our spirits in oak barrels, how drinking makes you dizzy, or whether carbonated mixers really help you get drunker, you'll find the answers in this book.

What makes this book different?
You can read it straight through or use it as a reference equally easily. The information is broken down by topic, so you can get the answer to your question in a few hundred words and then resume drinking. 

Wait, so it isn't a cocktail guide?
Nope! Cocktail guides are a dime a dozen. Even good ones are relatively easy to come by these days. 

Where did you get the idea for this book?
I found myself trying to find hard scientific answers to random alcohol questions one too many times. It occurred to me that somebody should put all this information in one place; I just figured that somebody would be somebody else.

How did you come to write this book?
Timing and good fortune, and I'll never pretend otherwise. It's amazing what can happen when you run your mouth in front of the right people. But being the one with the idea and having a background in spirits didn't hurt.

How can I get a copy of this book?
It will be available for purchase at bookstores around the country and online. Boston and Cambridge have a great culture of local bookstores promoting local authors; to return the favor, I'll have a dedicated page on the website that lists local shops carrying Distilled Knowledge (along with other information about it).

OK, I mean, that's cool and all, but is there a way I can get a copy and go drinking at the same time?
Oh hell yes. There are going to be so many parties, signings, and promotional whoop-de-dos that you might even get sick of hearing about them. If you haven't already signed up for the HCS mailing list, do that right now to get invited to the launch party in Boston and hear about other upcoming events.

Aw, man! I don't live in Boston - will there be a tour? Can you come to my city if there is?
I hope so! But it's hard to say right now, particularly for places outside the Northeast. If you think your town is full of people who'd like this book, and you have some idea how to reach them, send me an email!

What if I do live in Boston, and I think my town is full of people who'd like this book, and I have some idea how to reach them?
You should email me, too! And if you'd like me to come do a talk or a signing at your company, club, bar, shop, neighborhood watch meeting, etc., we can probably arrange that!

You promised me that you'd have a lot of interesting things to share between now and October 4th, and I'm bored. When do we get to the fun stuff?
Thank you, my patient friend! Distilled Knowledge isn't a cocktail guide, but a lot of cocktails do come up in passing. From now until October 4th, I'll be publishing recipes for all the drinks I mention, with little tidbits about the sections they're in. I'll also be writing up some of the things that are now apparently part of my world, like my recent trip to the Book Expo of America.

You'll be able to review all of those posts (including this one!) at the site's new Distilled Knowledge page.

This is so exciting! What else can I do?
Tell your friends and family and everyone you meet! This book is unlike anything currently on the market, and I'm very proud of it. Spread the word.

Oh - I'll be offering special rates to mailing list subscribers in honor of the announcement. If you haven't yet, now would be a good time to sign up!

Bar Staples

What are the workhorse spirits for a basic cocktail bar? What can you buy inexpensively enough to drink in quantity, that will reliably make decent cocktails?

I've flirted with the idea of a blog series dedicated to this problem, but that's as far as I've gotten with it. My own bar is very idiosyncratic these days, a combination of my poor self-control when faced with a truly novel beverage, my desire to stay on top of local spirits production, and my friends' assumption that unusual spirits are the best gift to bring to any social gathering at my house (they're not wrong, but it means I can find myself with, say, three Maine gins with weird botanicals in my house at once, and no bourbon).

There's also my love of rum, which I've allowed myself to indulge in appropriate disproportion for the last year or two. I've probably got ten or so different kinds on hand right now, depending on how you count it. I could actually tally them up right now, but that might discourage me from getting other rums in the future, and we can't have that.

In any case, I've come back to the idea of a series on workhorse spirits because my own personal list is outdated. I can remember a time when Bulleit and Bully Boy were reasonable choices for general-purpose whiskey mixing: pretty darn good and reliably available for thirty bucks, sometimes less. Not so anymore.

Whiskey, in particular, has gotten a lot more expensive in a relatively short time. I don't begrudge the distillers their success one bit, mind you. I adore sipping a nice glass of Whistlepig or Gunpowder, and I believe they're worth every one of the many pennies they cost. But sometimes you want to throw a party, and for that, you need a decent knockaround base spirit that isn't chasing the high-end sipping market.

To that end, I'll be doing a series on spirits that hit the sweet spot for me. How actionable this intelligence is will depend very much on your tastes and where you live. I'll try to stick to brands that are at least theoretically available outside of greater Boston, but there are weird local price fluctuations that may make my recommendations unreasonable (or unnecessary) in other parts of the country. Myers's rum, for instance, is pretty reliably more expensive than Gosling's or Rhum Barbancourt at liquor stores near me, which has to be some kind of Cambridge Triangle effect.

I'll try to incorporate general advice as well, since the particular contents of any list like this will change over time. I'm also creating a new sub-page under "Spirits" where I'll be keeping track of the most reliable workhorses I come up with. Happy drinking!

(This is, incidentally, not the exciting announcement I teased in the Patriots' Day post. It is merely an exciting announcement, and quite unrelated to that one, which is still pending.)

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.

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?)

"Funky" Rum

Personally, I'm a dark rum guy. There-is-rum-in-my-veins is a distinct feeling, simultaneous with ordinary intoxication but quite different from it - almost as if rum and alcohol were separate drugs entirely. It is a reset for the mind, a brief detachment from the body followed by a hurtling-back-into-it that heightens your sense of everything around you; a glimpse, perhaps, of the sublime.

People who drink at a certain level often acquire these kinds of tastes. Most of my friends who are anything-people are whiskey-people, some are gin-people, and all of them are surprised to find out that I'm a rum-person. There aren't a lot of rum-people, at least not around here, and finding one is always a bit like meeting another Red Sox fan in New York City: you're friends right away, regardless of everything else about you.

If you're into dark rums, at some point you've probably heard the siren song of so-called "funkiness," a trait associated with Jamaican rums in particular. I'll be honest, I kind of like this description. For me, a funky rum is one with a bunch of unexpected and hard-to-place notes: floral maybe, or fruity, but not perfectly either of those; still somehow clearly organic. It's at once fun to play the what-is-this game, and liberating to know you'll never have all the answers. Like going to a conceptual party at an artistic stranger's house. Funky.

There is, however, a more technically-appropriate word available for this trait, "hogo," which I've just learned today. Paul, of The Cocktail Chronicles (and founder of Mixology Monday before handing it off to our local friend Fred Yarm), has an old post about it that I happened to stumble upon.

And what a post! With a call-out to Boston's own contemporary classic, the Periodista; an old recipe from Eastern Standard that uses four of my favorite ingredients; and a (fond) description of the rum I keep for sipping purposes, Smith and Cross Jamaican, as "cane-spirit fetish porn where hogo is concerned." Honestly, this post is mostly an excuse to reprint that line - I started writing it before I'd even finished reading Paul's.

So what is hogo, really? Apparently, it's a corruption of "haut goût," an old French cooking term for the distinctive flavor of a game meat that has been slightly and deliberately decomposed. (This, by the way, is me citing Paul citing David Wondrich's Punch, in which he quotes a West Indian planter character from a nineteenth-century novel by Grant Allen. So if you repeat this information, y'know, be sure to cite your sources.)

Why would we want our rum to taste like rotting meat, then? Well, we wouldn't, exactly. At least, I assume we wouldn't - I've never had any sort of haut goût meat, to the best of my knowledge, and I can't say for sure what it tastes like. But human beings have gotten pretty good at massaging the decomposition process to produce desirable results. That is literally what fermentation is, and we wouldn't have yogurt, vinegar, leavened bread, or any kind of alcohol without it.

In other words, "hogo" seems to be that set of flavor notes best described as the taste of fermentation itself, rather than the notes we'd pick out by association as banana or violet. In practice, the yeast is responsible for all of these, but it's those flavors most unapologetically its own - the "gamey, squirrelly, glandular musk," to borrow one more phrase from Paul - that come through as the hogo or funky notes.

Why on earth have I been looking into all this today, in particular? Because I'm gearing up for a special Patriots' Day lesson on Boston cocktails, including the Periodista, and boning up on my rum facts. If you'd like to hear more rum facts, whiskey facts, or Boston facts, come to the lesson!

Prohibition Cocktails

Finally getting around to putting up the recipes from our Repeal Day party - which, in case you're wondering, went very well:

We'll definitely be using the model again, so keep a look out for announcements on other holidays. In the mean time, here are the recipes we covered:

1 1/2 oz. Dry Gin
1 1/2 oz. Sweet Vermouth
2 dashes Fernet Branca
Twist of orange or dash of orange bitters
Stir with ice and serve neat.

The first patron to consume this drink is said to have downed it in one gulp, and then exclaimed, "That is the real hanky-panky!" At that time, and in Britain especially, which is where it was invented, the phrase would have meant something like "black magic," and the whole sentence roughly, "That's so good I can't believe it." Its *ahem* other connotations, particularly in the United States, didn't exactly hurt the drink's popularity during Prohibition, when speakeasy bartenders were serving titillating drinks like the Between-the-Sheets and the Monkey Gland. (In our age of Screaming Orgasms and Slow, Comfortable Screws Against the Wall, it all seems a little quaint and innocent, doesn't it?)

Those who know me know that Fernet Branca is, in my view, the most foul drinking concoction yet conceived of by man. Yes, it's worse than Malort - and by a long shot. Yes, it's worse than Dr. McGillicuddy's peppermint schnapps. Yes, it's worse than plastic-bottle Popov vodka. It's like someone took a perfectly good bottle of Amaro Meletti and threw all three of those in there, with a little Aunt Jemima's for color. By what hanky-panky it has brainwashed so many otherwise-reasonable people into claiming that they like it, I have no idea.

Having said all of that (and much more besides; don't get me started), I have to compliment the Hanky-Panky Cocktail, for being the only drink I have ever had that uses Fernet Branca well. It adds a suite of interesting flavors, including its signature menthol, saffron, and bitter bite, all of which are able to contribute without overpowering one's senses because there are only two drops of the stuff. Perhaps the secret to using Fernet Branca well is to treat it as a non-potable bitters, and never use more than a dash. In any case, it and the little, remarkably essential bit of orange oil are enough to pull this cocktail's flavor profile far away from the sweet Martini it would otherwise be.

1 1/2 oz. Rye Whiskey
1 oz. Dry Vermouth
3/4 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
3/4 oz. Pomegranate Grenadine
Shake with ice and serve neat.

Another Prohibition drink-naming style is the "laugh about how illegal all of this is" school. The Three-Mile Limit falls into this category, named after the distance one had to travel off the coast before reaching international waters and legal hooch. So does the Twelve-Mile Limit, invented shortly after that distance was quadrupled.

The Scofflaw is another such funny case. I assumed for a very long time that "scofflaw" was a general old-fashioned word for a ne'er-do-well, but it actually referred to scoffing at one law in particular. The Boston Herald held a contest, to see who could coin the best term to describe all the people flagrantly and frequently violating the Volstead Act; "scofflaw," submitted by two different people, was the winner. So, in a purely technical sense, one could argue that the teetotaling '20s kingpin Arnold Rothstein was less of a scofflaw than the average speakeasy patron.

As for the drink, which is somewhat similar to its cousins the N-Mile Limits, this is a nice case where what you see is what you get. It's sweet and it's tart, and it's a bit smoother and more complex than it would be without the vermouth. The end result is what you would get if a Brooklyn and a Jack Rose met up for a little law-scoffing and ended up with a little hanky-panky.

Announcing the Herzog Cocktail School's Repeal Day Party!

Saturday, December 5th, will be the 82nd anniversary of the ratification of the 21st Amendment - and consequently the repeal of Prohibition. We hope you'll join us at North 26 to celebrate the end of the Volstead Act with a lesson on two favorites of the era: the Hanky Panky and the Scofflaw.

For more details, and to register, have a look at the official listing on Eventbrite:

The Martian Water

If you aren't living under a Red Planet rock, you've probably heard the news by now: NASA has officially confirmed the presence of water on Mars.

Not indications that there was water there millions of years ago, not water frozen into ice at the poles, but actual evidence of liquid water on Mars today.

It's no secret that I think space exploration is cool (or that it is, objectively). Taking a tip from the inventor of the Moonwalk, the Savoy Hotel's Joe Gilmore, who never let a historic moment pass without a cocktail to commemorate it, I've decided to come up with something for the occasion.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Martian Water:

Complete with a plant of the sort you'd find on Mars.

Complete with a plant of the sort you'd find on Mars.

The Martian Water
1 1/2 oz. Laird's 100-Proof Applejack
1/2 oz. Cocchi Americano
1/4 oz. Kirschwasser
1/4 oz. Campari
1 Dash Regan's Orange Bitters
Stir with ice and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a twist of orange. Sip while looking skyward.

Note that the orange twist is not depicted in the photos, because I didn't have any oranges at the time. Trust me when I say that it belongs. It's amazing what those oils can do.

Neat color, right? Above all, I wanted to evoke the rusty red-orange of the planet's surface, which gave me the Campari + aged spirit idea. I also took structural inspiration from the Aviation, created a hundred years ago to celebrate man's conquest of shallower skies, and also a color-driven cocktail. Its maraschino gave me the idea of adding kirschwasser; its visual and historical cousin, the Yale, suggested fortified wine. The quinquina also conveniently alludes to the Twentieth Century Cocktail, which, despite actually being named for a train, is thereby indirectly named for the period when human exploration of the heavens began.

I could claim that the orange elements were my answer to the Aviation's lemon juice, or another nod to the allegedly-Red Planet's actual color; but the truth is, they're in there for flavor alone. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

You know, like these ones.

Two Anniversaries, and a Mystery

Today, you may be aware, is the two hundredth anniversary of Napoleon's final defeat at Waterloo. (This is a big year, apparently - the Magna Carta turned eight hundred on Monday.)

My first thought on hearing this, naturally, was, "Is there a Waterloo Cocktail?" And, just as naturally, there is:

Waterloo Sunset
1/2 oz. Beefeater Gin
2 tsp Elderflower Cordial
1 tsp Raspberry Liqueur
Champagne to fill
Stir the gin and cordial with ice and strain into a Champagne flute. Float the Champagne on top, then carefully pour the raspberry liqueur through the Champagne, so it also floats on the gin and cordial.

(Recipe modified from metric units to the units that landed men on the moon.)

"Elderflower Cordial" in this case does not mean a "cordial" in the contemporary American sense, synonymous with "liqueur"; but in the older or British  sense, essentially an infusion of elderflowers in sugar and water. St. Elder or St. Germain would approximate this flavor reasonably well, while admittedly adding a few things of their own.

Now, ordinarily, this would be the part where the author signs off, with maybe a musing about Waterloo for the road. But today, as I was doing my research, I found this article as well. For those who don't feel like going through the Scheherazadean exercise of articles within articles, here's the money quote:

"In France, 18 June is remembered not for Waterloo but as the day General de Gaulle launched his appeal from London in 1940, calling his fellow countrymen to resist the German occupation."

In other words, today is also the 75th anniversary, at least symbolically, of the start of the French Resistance. Which naturally made me wonder, "Is there a Charles de Gaulle Cocktail?"

And, just as naturally, there is. The folks at Cocktail Virgin and/or Slut have a post about it, too, and although these are the only sources I can find, they don't precisely agree.

Everybody's on the same page that this is a Green Chartreuse, hot chocolate, and dairy drink. In the first of those two links, you'll see heated milk and a garnish of heavy cream called for (although the cocoa is still a powder in that recipe, so the milk could be read as simply indicating a rich hot chocolate). In the latter, no particular type of cream is specified, but its location is: on top.

So we've got a slug of Chartreuse in a mug of hot chocolate with some species of decorative cream surtopping it. Remind you of anything?

By which - say it with me now - naturally, I mean the Verte Chaud.

This is a reasonably well-known drink, evidently thanks to Jamie Boudreau, since most of the online references I see cite him as their source.

As a non-Francophone, I have to give credit to blind luck, careful Googling, and this young lady's travel blog, for introducing me collectively to the idea of "chocolat chaud," which is, literally, French for "hot chocolate."

The name of the Verte Chaud is thereby made clear, "Chartreuse Verte" being French for "Green Chartreuse." The convention here is rather like a Black and Tan, or a Whiskey Sour - the name is not so much a name as a description. "Green Hot."

This is so far identical to the Charles de Gaulle. But what of the cream? "Wet cream," the topping in several of the Verte Chaud recipes, is evidently like the kind of whipped cream you make yourself, if you stopped whipping it before it really got stiff.

But one of those links, courtesy of PDT's Jim Meehan, calls for "heavy cream, whipped to soft peaks.And here, the gap is bridged.

As a non-baker, I have to thank really simple Googling and this cooking blog for clarifying that heavy cream and whipping cream are very nearly the same, with as little as 6% fat making the difference. For our purposes, they are basically interchangeable.

Which means that the conclusion of this whole exercise is that the Verte Chaud and the Charles de Gaulle are exactly the same drink:

Verte Chaud de Gaulle
2 oz. Green Chartreuse
6 oz. or 1 mug rich hot chocolate
Top with a dollop of cream, whipped just shy of stiff

Calling this the Verte Chaud makes sense. Calling it the Charles de Gaulle also makes sense, because it's showing off several of France's iconic national products. I'm guessing the purely descriptive name is prior, but really, I've got nothing but guesses about the historical nomenclature. For now.

Next stop: Eastern Standard, which I infer from the preceding posts on CVa/oS is where they had the Charles de Gaulle back in 2007.

In the mean time, chaud damn, there's a lot of French history to reflect on today. Happy drinking - the past is best considered with a glass in hand.

Pappy Van Winkle

Image courtesy of the Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery, which I was surprised to discover has a  website .

Image courtesy of the Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery, which I was surprised to discover has a website.

Back in January, I got a glimpse of the whiskey aficionado's Valhalla, with a taste of Pappy Van Winkle's 23-year.

If you don't recognize the name, you're in good company. Pappy Van Winkle is extremely hard to find, and almost inconceivably expensive for a bourbon. It's also very, very good.

The Old Rip Van Winkle Distillery, which produces it, has a pedigree stretching back to the actual Van Winkle family in the nineteenth century. The Van Winkles took over an existing Kentucky whiskey operation in 1872, which they operated as the Stitzel-Weller Distillery for a hundred years. After the company was sold under stockholder pressure in 1972, Julian Van Winkle, III, a strong contender for best name in the whiskey world, decided to start from scratch with an old family recipe.

I really can't make this stuff up. You could write a book about these guys. 

The more familiar Rebel Yell was one of the Stitzel-Weller brands, introduced in 1949 to commemorate the founding of the original distillery. Rebel Yell and Pappy Van Winkle also have something else in common: wheat.

Bourbons are required by law to be at least 51% corn-derived (for the most fascinating taxonomy of spirits you've ever read, check out the US Code), while the rest of the mash can be any sort of grain. Generally, this is a mixture of rye and barley, along with more corn. Rye, like its namesake whiskey, tends to be rougher and spicier than other cereals. Wheat is way on the other end of the spectrum, with a grassy note that takes you right back 7,000 years.

Pappy's mash is corn, wheat, and barley. This is a big deal to them, and, well, I trust it. They certainly know more about aging whiskey for two decades than I do. But it does make instinctive sense - if you're going to keep flavors pent up together for that long, you want them to play nice with each other.

Because it's so rare, and so expensive (our shared glass worked out to about four dollars a sip), Pappy Van Winkle is a cult obsession among whiskey drinkers. My liquor store gets three bottles of it a year, and about thirty calls a week looking for it. A bottle of the 20-year famously sold for $1,190 at auction a few years ago, and there's a bottle of the 23 on the auction block for thirteen hundred euros as we speak. Almost three weeks to go - God only knows how much it'll sell for.

A lot of this is driven by hype, yes, and the desire to show off how much money one has. Some is the product of a deliberately-limited supply, about seven thousand bottles per year. At the same time, the whiskey's been aged almost a quarter of a century. When these grains were planted, there was still a Soviet Union. It's impossible for producers to predict demand that far in advance, and impossible for us consumers to know how much a thing like that should cost.

People can spend years without getting their hands on it. The fact that I lucked into it when I did, barely initiated into the Ways of Pappy, is definitely not fair to them. Hell, I didn't even know it was a bourbon going in; I thought it was a rye. That's obviously foolish in retrospect, because twenty-three years ago, there was pretty much one rye left in America. But at the same time, it was completely instinctive - surely this whiskey, about which I knew nothing except that it was The Whiskey, precious and finely-made since time immemorial, must be some sort of 51% rye grain coelacanth, a survivor of the Volstead Act and the two great wars and American whiskey's forty years wandering in the desert?

Nope. Wheated bourbon.

I give you all of that backstory so that when I present my observations as I wrote them down that very day, my evident assumptions about what I was getting into can be appropriately accounted for:

"First of all, I'm assuming it was cask strength. No hint of water. Aging that long weakens it enough anyhow. Despite that, and the fact that it was rye, it is the smoothest thing on earth. Taking a swallow is like a meditative exercise. No jolt, no burn. Just warmth. It's very woody on the nose. Almost sweet, like they did eighteen years in oak and five in cherry. The sip is wood and grain. The swallow isn't vegetal but vegetabley, like a peppery salad green - not arugula, but in its family. Grassy. Stalk-y. Something very green. And all warm and oaked and slightly, *slightly* caramelled. Spectacular."

Obviously the sweetness, smoothness, and gentility that surprised me so much in a "rye" make perfect sense in a wheated bourbon. The noticeable plantiness should have tipped me off to the presence of wheat, but I was too focused on on the flavors of the spirit to give my analytical brain the time of day.

If you'd like to repeat my experience for yourself, a glass of 20- or 23-year Pappy can be yours at Mistral.



Nothing piques my interest like something distilled from a whole new species of plant. (That's right, folks - the world's got more than grapes, grains, and sugar canes!)

Jon can attest to this, because I've been badgering him to get me some White Lion VSOA ever since I gave up on finding it in Boston. White Lion is a Ceylon arrack, the distillate of fermented coconut flower nectar (not, as previously posted, fermented palm sap; thanks go predictably to Jon for the correction).

Like the name suggests, it's made primarily in Sri Lanka. White Lion is the only company currently selling it in the U.S., and at present, it's only available in California, Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Don't ask me why they picked those five; must be a vendetta against the east coast or something.

Fortunately, while I wait for my Chicago palm brandy to arrive, I've stumbled on something much closer to home and even stranger: Chesuncook.

Called a gin by its makers at Maine Craft Distilling, I suppose it technically is. Juniper is the dominant flavor, making it a ginnier gin than a lot of American entrants in the category. But the base distillate, rather than being derived from a cereal grain, is made from carrots.


Apparently there is some history of drinking carrot booze. Distiller Luke Davidson swears that he knew "a lot of people" who made carrot wine when he was growing up. (No, really.) And I suppose it's not so far-fetched. Potatoes and ginger roots are very happy to ferment - why should carrots be any different?

In the photograph, you can see that it has a slight orange tint, which, absent mention of coloring agents, I'm forced to believe is natural. The rest of the botanicals are a bit unusual for gin, including basil and mint, but downright conservative by contemporary standards - be they French, Scottish, Oregonian, or Scottish again

Ryan Magarian, one of the minds behind Aviation, has a very interesting take on the modern world of gin, kindly published at Drink Spirits for us all to read. He's in favor of recognizing the increasingly common non-juniper-forward spirits as a distinct subcategory, called "New Western Dry Gin."

That would make life easier for those of us used to saying, "Well, it's a gin, but it's not a super juniperry gin, and it's not, like, a dry gin - definitely not a London dry, I mean, it's not even English - but it's really botanical, you know? Like vegetal, but not too savory? No, it tastes nothing like Hendrick's," every time a new gin comes on the market.

On the other hand, each expansion of the gin palette (or palate, for that matter) further exposes the category to what no one wants to admit: it's entirely arbitrary. Distinguishing bourbon, brandy, and applejack is natural, since they're made from different things. Distinguishing "gin" from spice-infused vodka is surprisingly difficult.

Magarian, and serious gin-makers generally, still recognize that a gin must be flavored "predominantly" with juniper. There are a thousand other elements to the craft and tradition of gin-making, driving at goals wildly different from those of flavored vodkas; but these are hard to understand when you only see the gin in the bottle or in the glass. In practice, the juniper berry is the throughline of gin, from its first distillation to the present and from England to Australia. A reasonable person may nevertheless wonder whether the rise in popularity of "gins for non-gin-drinkers" is watering down the category.

Chesuncook is decidedly not a gin for non-gin-drinkers. It is a gin for Maine gin drinkers, and perhaps best of all for Acadian gin drinkers. It'll put hair on your chest, is what I'm saying. After my first sip, I swear I could hear better - as if the spirit had burned its way up my sinuses to clear out my ear canals.

It exists on a flavor spectrum of which the extremes are carrot juice and London dry gin, noticeably closer to the latter. The nose is warm, summery, and a bit fruity. There's a wallop of of juniper throughout the sip. "Earthy" is a common tasting note; it's accurate, but the element is subtle. The other botanicals sit quietly in the background. This is my first encounter with Maine Craft Distilling, and I don't expect it to be my last.

I'd be very curious to know whether the folks there wanted to make a gin from the start, or tried Undoctored Carrot Spirit (Carrot Brandy? Carrot Whiskey? Carrotjack?) and found it lacking. The Portland Press Herald's survey of local gins seems to imply the former, but the surplus carrots they found could easily have come before the idea.

I'd like to take a moment at this juncture to recognize Liquor World, in Porter Square, Cambridge, for living up to their motto of "Curious Beers, Smart Wines, & Adventurous Spirits." Few are the liquor-sellers to have provided me a novel organism to drink. These guys are generally fond of things weird, and have the most comprehensive selection of local spirits I've seen in greater Boston.

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.

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.

Arrack I: van Oosten Batavia Arrack


If you're like most people - or most Americans, at any rate - you've never heard of an arrack. I hadn't until recently, myself.

So...what is it? Good question. The folks over at Imbibe have taken a crack at it, which is more detailed than what I'll go into, but here's a basic summary.

"Arrack" seems to derive from "arak," which was once the generic Arabic term for any distilled spirit (more on this later). The word made its way east, to India and Indonesia, where it entered the Western vernacular during the colonial period.

Batavia arrack, pictured above, is one of the types. Produced on the island of Java, its base is overwhelmingly sugarcane, with a splash of red rice to kickstart fermentation. That makes it a very close cousin of rum.

Interestingly, according to the link above, Batavia arrack was considered much ritzier than West Indies rum in centuries past. The better sort of people consumed it conspicuously. It was all the rage in northern climates, particularly Sweden, where the famous (in cocktail circles) Swedish Punsch was made with an arrack base.

van Oosten is the only Batavia arrack I'm aware of that can be found in the United States, so I have very little to go on when assessing their arrack as an arrack. I have no other reference for what an arrack should taste like, after all. The best I can do is say whether I enjoy it or not.

So far, I've only tried it neat, which I gather is not how it's most often used. But, one must know one's ingredients in order to mix them. Given how it's made, I'd have predicted something that tasted like a rhum agricole with a little note of sake. I would have been totally wrong.

Fundamentally, it reminds me of the white rums of the Caribbean. It has that same juvenile acridness that even the finest unaged rums retain. At the same time, it's fruity. Specifically, it's grapey. It carries that same strange raisin note that some brandies and most grappas do. The difference being that, while the note hardly merits comment in spirits which are actually grape-derived, how on earth they got it out of Indonesian rice and sugarcane is quite beyond me.

"Fascinating," is probably the best word. I don't believe everyone would enjoy it straight, as an after-dinner drink - although some would, and the same is true of grappa. I'll add further detail when I've experimented with it in cocktails, which, I believe is where it will do its best work.

Now, if you're curious about the Roman numeral in this post's title, that's because I'm barely scratching the surface of things called "arrack." This is the first entry in a mini-series of posts, dedicated to digging deeper into what was for me, until recently, a great unknown unknown in the cocktail world.

It's refreshing, every once in a while, to be reminded that there are things you've never even heard of.

Day 7: Trina's Starlite Lounge

Apologies for the lack of visual for this post - I have no idea what happened to the relevant photograph, but it's time to put this series to bed either way. The final bar on my Negroni Week list was Trina's Starlite Lounge in Inman Square. I went there Sunday evening for dinner and the completion of my quest.

Trina's is a homey place, cool and dark on the inside. They advertise "drinks and air conditioning" on a sign above the entrance.

Their service station looks like a house kitchen, with mid-century powder-blue cabinets and a squat white fridge of similar vintage, covered in magnets. The whole place is decorated with Americana, most especially advertising signage and old cocktail shakers. Dark wood paneling suggests a pub or tavern past.

It's clearly a regulars' bar; the bartender was bidding a patron farewell by name as I sidled up. On Mondays, they have an industry brunch, to cater to folks for whom Monday is the weekend. There's surprisingly little of this type for Boston's barkeeps and restauranteurs, and Trina's is well-known and respected for it.

As for the cocktail, it was the most classic, archetypical Negroni I'd had all week. It tasted like a bitter orange peel with a burst of sweetness. A good ruminating drink. It was the right way to finish the experiment.

This week forced me to give more consideration than I ever had to the Negroni, naturally, and to its role in the wider cocktail world. In the end, I come back around to the bold and bitter classic recipe as the proper standard version of the cocktail - although if many are to be consumed in a fairly short period, a lighter variation is definitely preferable.

I do come down more harshly on the game of ingredient substitution than I did before we started all this. The Negroni is a recipe, not a category heading. Not everything containing potable bitters qualifies. The formula, though standard, is not fixed. It can be tweaked, stretched, and twirled around a spoon, if you like, but the end result should bear some resemblance to what was started with, if you're going to use the name.

Well done on that front at Trina's. It's also worth noting that their food is delicious (I'm assuming my experience is representative). I had a baked haddock to follow my Negroni, on a bed of sauteed spinach and sweet potato bacon hash. Yes, it was as good as it sounds. I highly recommend it.

Money from my Negroni went to the Sean A. Collier Memorial Fund. I expect Boston-area readers will recognize that name; the Fund will provide annual scholarships in his name at both MIT and the Boston Police Academy, and maintain a permanent memorial to him in Cambridge. The Globe has more detailed coverage, for those who are interested, but you don't have to read the article in order to donate.

This was a fascinating undertaking, from both the mixological and the philanthropic sides. My compliments to Imbibe and Campari for making Negroni Week a major, annual event; and to the 1,325 (at last count) participating bars around the world.

And if you missed out on the fun, don't worry: with numbers like that, they'll be back in 2015.

Day 6: Barracuda

My thanks to the operator of the 43 bus, for driving right on by on night six of Negroni Week. It was supposed to be a trip to Wink and Nod, the South End's (relatively) new '20s-inspired bar, but sometimes plans change.

Rather than wait around for the next bus, I walked about a hundred steps from Park Street to local standby Barracuda. I ordered a beer.

Barracuda is the sort of place that feels like it's always been there, exactly as it is, even though you can tell that isn't true. It's a second-floor bar, which is a quirk on its own, and features like the Jack Daniels Honey dispenser and the cheery blue walls remind you that this is no old ward boss haunt. It's only been around for a few years.

The proprietor is a fellow named Luka, who spends a lot of time behind the bar personally. He, along with the people he hires, is unusually good at remembering names, faces, and details from visit to visit. Barracuda, unsurprisingly, has a lot of regulars.

It also has a little curiosity of Massachusetts law, namely a cordials license. I'd always assumed it was an old, outdated regulation, but apparently it only turns twenty this year. The good people at DrinkBoston tell me that it started with North End restaurants that wanted to serve digestifs, and then found wider application around the city.

Bars with this permit can serve liqueurs and cordials along with beer and wine, although the definition of a liqueur is generally left up to the people who make it. This is my long-winded way of telling you that they have Diep9 Genever on the menu at Barracuda.

Genever (juh NEE ver) is a spirit similar to gin, in many respects the parent of gin, and it remains very popular in Holland and Belgium. It was also very popular in the United States, back before the twentieth century came along. Many old cocktail recipes call specifically for "Hollands gin," by which they mean genever.

Genever is less piney and more malty than gin. Some varieties are aged; others are practically vodka. Serious Eats has a good run-down. In any event, the premise of a grain distillate flavored with juniper and spices is something both have in common.

And so, when it occurred to me that Barracuda had both sweet vermouth and Campari, and I asked Kaitlyn to make me her best approximation of a Negroni within the constraints of a cordials license, I ended up with a Genever Negroni.

The result? Not bad. Surprisingly Negronilike. But again, the base spirits are very similar - particularly given that the genever in question was jonge genever, which tilts more to the vodka than to the Scotch end of the genver spectrum. (Genever is often described as a cross between Scotch and gin. I know, it sounded weird to me, too.)

Barracuda was a nonparticipant in Negroni Week - I wouldn't be surprised if I was the first guy who ever asked them for one - but Wink and Nod's Campari drinks supported Community Boating, the oldest public sailing center in the country. If you like seeing sailboats on the Charles, and don't think that should be limited to people with the money to buy one, you like Community Boating, and you can give them a hand here.

Epilogue: I've since been to Wink and Nod, and have some very complimentary things to say. I expect I'll say them later. Perhaps on this very blog.

Day 5: Nebo

Day five and Negroni fatigue was setting in. Even the weird-spin versions were still high-sugar, big on syruppy cordials and fortified wine. I was flagging. I needed a drink that could remind me why I was doing this in the first place.

Kudos to Nebo's Jenna, who mixed my favorite variation all week. It came just in time.

It starts with a house-infused Carpano Antica vermouth, which sat three days with basil, orange peel, and lemon peel. (The basil was more of a subtle herbaliness than what you have in mind.)

Then they add the Campari - real, honest-to-God Campari, because after all they were the ones sponsoring Negroni Week. Jenna informed me that all Campari sales, Negroni or otherwise, counted for charitable purposes; and that, in her view, ditching the red bitters was cheating. She had a point.

Ingredient No. 3 is G'Vine's Floraison gin, which has grape-flower as its primary botanical - so primary that if there were any others, I couldn't tell you what they were. Very light, slightly sweet, and delicate. The success of this Negroni owes much to the success of this gin, and each is in its subtlety. Non-gin-drinkers might even appreciate G'Vine - it hasn't got the heavy evergreen taste that turns some people off.

They also add a bit of Bénédictine, and garnish the concoction with a double-skewered lemon peel and a maraschino cherry. Served down and on the rocks, as it ought to be.

So. Damn. Good.

This Negroni - I don't recall it having a kitschy name, which is fine since it was pretty clearly a Negroni - has a lower sugar content than most of the others. The folks at Nebo also deliberately eschew the bitter-on-bitter tactic - Campari was undoubtedly less than 33% of this drink.

But enough about what the cocktail isn't, let's talk about what it is.

Fresh, light, and invigorating, it hits your system like water, but crosses your tongue like all the reasons you ever liked a Negroni decided to visit you at once. The nose is precisely what it should be: gin-dryness, Campari's distinctive aroma, and the whole pervaded with the essence of citrus - in this case, of lemon. (I'm told the local Campari rep calls this the "Citrus Burst Negroni.")

The body of the sip is like chilled mineral water - all the work is in the details. A wave of Campari-bitterness covers the tongue on the swallow, tinged with the citrus infusion and the Christmas spices of the Bénédictine. Slowly, but noticeably, the aftertaste evolves - resolves, even - through a citrus crest to an appetite-whetting bitter finish. Each sip begets another. I could hardly put it down long enough for a photograph. 

Remember, a Negroni should be refreshing. It should put more back into you than it takes out. If it feels like work, you're doing it wrong. A+ work at the Nebo bar.

And apparently, my timing was doubly good - they had just recently set up the outdoor-dining tables, so the bar was practically deserted. That left me plenty of time to chat with the bar staff, sample the G'Vine gin straight, and swap blog information with Jenna, who maintains one of her own.

My Negroni, as well as all Campari sales during that week at Nebo, served to benefit the Italian Home for Children in Jamaica Plain. The Italian Home started as an orphanage after a 1918 flu epidemic left a lot of Boston's children parentless; today they specialize in programs for children with learning disabilities and behavioral or mental health issues.

If you missed out on Negroni Week, you can approximate the experience by giving them money at this link while having a drink at Nebo.


Day 4: Noir


Now that I have some distance between myself and the event, I can see just how carefully timed Negroni Week was. At least here in Boston, it fell at the very beginning of the summer going-out season, when hitting the town felt like a fresh and novel idea, but it was still possible to get a seat at a bar. Well done there: most of these places are a lot more crowded now than they were two weeks ago

I don't think there were ever more than four occupied barstools the night I was at Noir. Because I am an Explorer, I gave their local "Noirgroni" variant a go. (I know, I know, that's a taxonomy of beer-drinkers, but most of the categories translate to the spirits crowd.)

The Noirgroni is a terrible portmanteau and an enjoyable cocktail. It was a combination of Old Overholt rye, Carpano Bianco, and a gentian liqueur called Avèze (like the spirit, the website is French). The whole is then topped with orange bitters and served how you like. If you ask either myself or the bartender, you should like it on the rocks.

I recall the some mention of artichoke, but I didn't see any Cynar go into the cocktail and the Avèze people have enough love for gentian that I doubt they'd pollute it with another plant. I might simply be mistaken - certainly, the absence of artichoke liqueur would go a long way toward explaining why I liked this drink.

Light, strangely vegetal, and so refreshing I could have kissed it. (I settled for drinking it.) Those who are intimately familiar with Noir's menu may see similarities to their Dark Horse cocktail; those who are not might call it a spin on the Boulevardier, the Negroni's whiskey-based cousin.

Saying it's a Negroni variant is a bit of a stretch. The two cocktails have no ingredients in common, unless we count two rather different kinds of vermouth as the same. The only flavor they both hit is the orange nose. Everything else is completely dissimilar.

This is the peculiar pitfall of Negroni Week. How do you strike a balance between innovation, which any bar participating in this promotion is likely to be known for, at least locally; and keeping the drink, somehow, recognizably a Negroni? Under-innovate, and you've disappointed your customers. Over-innovate, and you've accomplished the High Mixology version of an Appletini: a drink that bears no relation to its name.

Add to that the fact that there are a thousand bars doing this at once, each trying to come up with something no one else has thought of, a clever variation on a drink we've spent a hundred years deliberately not messing with. Some of these will be brilliant. Some will fail spectacularly. Some of them will be delicious in their own right, but not true members of the Negroni family. Noir's entry is the last.

The official promotion has ended, but that's no reason for me to stop promoting. Proceeds from Noirgroni sales went to the Farm School in Athol, which teaches agriculture to everyone from children in grade school to adults who want to become farmers. All of their programs are insanely cheap - kids in the federal lunch program pay as little as nothing to participate. The difference is made up in their food sales and your donations. (Fun fact: even after Negroni Week, you can still give money to charity. Who knew?)

AccesSport Young Professionals' Event (Also, Day 3)

Here are some shots from the AccesSportAmerica young professionals' networking event! We had a great showing, and raised a bunch of money for an awesome organization.

It was a two-drink menu, consisting of the Negroni and the Frisco Sour - the theme was "herbal cocktails for the summer." We had 3-oz. paper cups instead of 1-oz. ones, so our pouring was...generous. We ended up needing six shakers' worth of each drink, but nobody was complaining.

These were the recipes we used:

1 part Beefeater gin
1 part sweet vermouth
1 part Campari
Stir with ice. Strain into cups. Garnish with a tiny orange peel.

Frisco Sour
4 parts Michter's rye
1 part Bénédictine
1/2ish part lemon juice*
Shake with ice and strain into cups. Garnish with a tiny wedge of lemon.

The asterisk in the Frisco Sour indicates a deviation from my standard recipe of 4:1:1, because that preparation assumes fresh lemon juice. We had the more concentrated, bottled variety, which called for a (roughly) 50% reduction in volume. 

The Negroni got a fair bit of it's-just-not-for-me, which makes sense, because both Campari and gin are love-it-or-hate-it spirits for a lot of people. I found myself explaining that Campari is a "potable bitters" a lot that night. I also couldn't resist the (perhaps apocryphal) story that Campari was legal during Prohibition, because the regulators couldn't believe anyone would drink it who wasn't taking it medicinally. It's easy for cocktail enthusiasts to forget, given how much we all love the Negroni, but it really isn't for everyone.

The Frisco Sour, on the other hand, was almost comically popular. The nice thing about events like this is that it's really easy to judge your success - the Frisco Sour was the only thing going around in cocktail glasses, and there were a lot of those to be seen. I owe a debt of gratitude to Frank Bruni of the New York Times, for first introducing me to the drink in this article.

Thanks also to North 26, for donating the space and the liquor, and to everyone who came out for AccesSportAmerica - this is the second year in a row they've asked HCS to play this event, and I feel good about our odds of a third performance.

For more pictures, check out our facebook page. You should also feel free to like us, along with North 26 and AccesSportAmerica!