Drink of the Day – the Gay Divorce Cocktail

The name of this drink may seem to some to be topical our own times.  But, the Gay Divorce Cocktail is found in W. J. tarling’s 1937 “Café Royal Cocktail Book.”  The original sense of the name was ‘happy divorce.’  That so, the drink could be just as easily prescribed for anyone experiencing a more modern version of the same.

The source specifies the once-famous blanc quina wine sold as Kina Lillet (kina being a cute re-spelling of ‘quina’).  That item is not produced anymore.  The current incarnation of blanc Lillet is not made according to the classic formula.  It is not as good a blanc quina wine as others now available, in my opinion.  Instead, I would recommend the bianco version of Cocchi China Americano (china is Italian for ‘quina,’ which word was removed from the label in the U.S.A. to avoid confusing the poor Americans).  For the liqueur of bitter orange, I will repeat that I recommend the eponymous bottling of Cointreau (of course), Luxardo Triplum (the best quality-for-money selection), or, my favorite, Grand Marnier Cordon Jaune.  That last one is the liqueur that Grand Marnier makes to blend with Cognac brandy to make their better-known Cordon Rouge (technically an orange-flavored brandy liqueur).  Since it isn’t distributed in the U.S.A., that selection is more for those in Europe.

Orange bitters could be used just as easily as grapefruit bitters in this.


Drink of the Day 20131030 Gay Divorce Cocktail

Proportional Variance in the Whiskey Sour

Whiskey Sour II

On this last Saturday was the session that covers the first part of the punches in the Elemental Mixology Standard Drinks Course.  There were nine students present.  The Whiskey Sour is one of the most famous short punches of all time, and so I decided to have the students make four different versions of that classic drink, to test their preferences in regards to proportions.

Elemental Mixology adheres to the pre-prohibition tradition of making all drinks of a jigger (2 fl-oz.) of liquor, so the amount of whiskey in the drink was not an issue.

Since sours are short punches, that is, punches without added water as a separately-measured ingredient, one obvious way to make a sour is to simply use the traditional American 2-1-4-3 proportions for punch – two parts sour, one part sweet, four parts strong, and three parts weak – but to leave out the three parts weak.  One could describe such a sour as being 2-1-4.  If four parts whiskey equals one jigger (2 fl-oz. or 60 ml.), then two parts lemon juice equals a pony (1 fl-oz. or 30 ml.) and one part sugar equals a tablespoon (15 ml.).  Here is the recipe:

Sour 2-1-4

When the 2-1-4 Whiskey Sour was made, a majority of the class indicated that they found the drink satisfactory.  Virtually all found the balance between the sour and the sweet to be satisfactory.  Some, however, indicated that they would like the flavor of the whiskey to be a bit more pronounced.

To strike a very clear contrast, the next version of the Whiskey Sour made and tasted could be described as being 2-1-8.  This proportion retained the same balance between sour and sweet, but suppressed both of those elements in favor of the whiskey.  This is the proportion that David Embury favored for sours (even though, or perhaps because, he called them cocktails) in his 1948 book, “The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks.”   If eight parts whiskey equals one jigger (2 fl-oz. or 60 ml.), then two parts lemon juice equals a half-pony (1/2 fl-oz. or 15 ml), and one part sugar equals 1/2 tablespoon (1-1/2 teaspoons or 7.5 ml.).  Here is the recipe:

Sour 2-1-8

Only one person in the class thought that the 2-1-8 sour was an improvement over the 2-1-4 sour.  A few students felt that it was whiskey-pronounced enough to violate the general rule that the elements in a punch should be balanced.  Perhaps a better drink to spotlight the whiskey, but with some lemon flavor, would be the Whiskey Crusta Cocktail with its barspoon (2.5 ml.) of lemon juice hamonizing with the whiskey, rather than trying to balance it.  In terms of popularity with the students, the 2-1-8 Whiskey Sour was either the least favored, or the second-least favored.

I thought that the next proportional variation of the Whiskey Sour to try should be one that is commonly found online and in modern books.  I am speaking of the typical 3-2-8 proportion Whiskey Sour made of 2 fl-oz. of whiskey, 3/4 fl-oz. of lemon juice and 3/4 fl-oz. of simple syrup.  If we assume that the simple syrup being used is made of equal parts (by volume) sugar and water, and not some even-sweeter formula,  that would mean that the amount of sugar in 3/4 fl-oz. (22.5 ml.) of simple syrup would be just about 1 tablespoon (15 ml.).  That is because one part sugar dissolved into one part water yields just about one-and-a-half parts syrup.  The typical sour I am describing (with the sugar isolated from the water in the simple syrup) could then be described as 3-2-8 – each part being 1/4 pony (7.5 ml.)  Here is the recipe:

Sour 3-2-8

The opinion of the classroom was unanimous.  The 3-2-8 Whiskey Sour, however commonly prescribed by bartenders at large, was just too sweet.

That left one other obvious variance in proportion – the 2-1-6 Whiskey Sour.  If six parts whiskey equals a jigger (2 fl-oz. or 60 ml.) that means that each part is 10 ml. (1/3 pony or 1/3 fl-oz. or 1 dessertspoon or 2 teaspoons).  Then two parts lemon juice would be 2/3 pony (2/3 fl-oz. or 20 ml.) and one part sugar would be 1 dessertspoon (2 teaspoons or 10 ml.).  Here is the recipe:

Sour 2-1-6

The entire class found the 2-1-6 Whiskey Sour to be satisfactory.  The majority of the students indicated that they thought it was the best proportion of the day.  One student still preferred the 2-1-8 Whiskey Sour, and two or three still preferred the 2-1-4 Whiskey Sour.  They all agreed that if a bar were to select one proportion to always make for all customers, the 2-1-6 Whiskey Sour would probably be the best choice.

Of course, only four variations were tested that day.  Perhaps someone will discover an even better proportion and submit it to me for the happy task of trying it myself.

Drink of the Day – the Mezcal Mezclado Cocktail

This is something that I put together yesterday that I thought I would share.  The name means “mixed mezcal.”  I use Mina Real Silver as the Oaxaca mezcal and Tapatio 110-proof Blanco as the Tequila mezcal in this.  I imagine that Revolución 100-proof Silver would also be satisfactory as the Tequila mezcal.

I hope that someone likes it.

Drink of the Day 20131025 Mezcal Mezclado Cocktail

Drink of the Day – the Honeymoon Daisy

Today’s drink of the day is the Honeymoon Daisy.  It is found in Hugo Ensslin’s 1917 book, “Recipes for Mixed Drinks.”  For the liqueur of bitter orange, I recommend the eponymous bottling of Cointreau (of course), Luxardo Triplum (the best quality-for-money selection), or, my favorite, Grand Marnier Cordon Jaune.  That last one is the liqueur that Grand Marnier makes to blend with Cognac brandy to make their better-known Cordon Rouge (technically an orange-flavored brandy liqueur).  Since it isn’t distributed in the U.S.A., that selection is more for those in Europe.  For the Calvados apple brandy, I recommend anything affordable with the words, “Pays d’Auge” on the label.  Daron ‘Fine’ is what I use most often in a drink like this.

Anyway, here’s the drink.  Enjoy!

Drink of the Day 20131023 Honeymoon Daisy

The Return of Pernod Fils

Yesterday, this was brought to my front door between 9:30 & 10:00 a.m.:

RPF 001

Please do click on the image to enlarge it and really take it in.

An Elemental Mixology alumna is now brand ambassador for Pernod Absinthe.  When she first took that position, I told her that she should instruct Pernod-Ricard to restore the pre-ban formula Pernod Fils absinthe and drop their then-current ‘inspired by the original’ stuff.  In fact, the undesirable stuff is still current – in a sense.  I still see bottles of it waiting in vain on liquor store shelves.  My alumna told me that she had been told that that is exactly what they had planned.  That was a couple of years ago.

RPF 004

Now here this is.  This was quite a complete promotional kit.  There is lots of information about the painstaking work to re-create the pre-ban distillery.  There are even samples of the botanical ingredients used in making this absinthe and a wood-encased thumb-drive full of information.  Some of that information can also be found at the Pernod Absinthe ‘back to the roots’ website.

But, enough about that.  My favorite absinthe since 2006 has been Jade Absinthe Edouard (now called Esprit Edouard).  There is really no way for me to judge the return of the legendary original recipe Pernod Fils, except by comparing it to Edouard.

In appearance, the Pernod is just a little paler green than the Edouard.

When I smelled it, Pernod promised me that the drinking would be just as memorable a moment as when I first tasted Edouard.

When I tasted it neat, I knew instantly that I liked it – a lot.  I just couldn’t be sure if I liked it as much as Edouard or not.  That, alone, meant that the new-old Pernod is a success.  I opened my Edouard and tasted it neat, also.  These two are rather different, but both are firmly within the range of flavor that I expect true absinthe to carry.  I think that I may actually like the returned Pernod Fils better than Edouard, but it will take some time and further drinking for me to be sure of that.

In the meantime, I can heartily recommend it.  Just be sure to avoid all those bottles of the previous incarnation of Pernod absinthe still found on liquor store shelves.  Make sure the words “original recipe” appear on the bottle before buying it!

Drink of the Day – The Resurgent Cocktail

As can be read in the notes under the following recipe (added to my book today), I wanted to make a drink that would present flavor similar to the Brown Derby Blossom – but that didn’t require finding heirloom varieties of grapefruit.  I also wanted to promote the whiskey to be the boss of the affair.  That meant a Sling, and specifically a true Cocktail – according to my preference.  I think some of you will like this one.

20131007 - Resurgent Cocktail

Drink of the Day – The Press Fizz

Today’s drink of the day might come as much needed variety to those who have made, or had, a few hundred New Orleans Fizzes (a.k.a. Ramos Gin Fizz), and not many others.  It is the Press Fizz.  An early recipe for it can be found in A. William Schmidt’s 1892 book, “The Flowing Bowl.”

Being accented by absinthe, containing grand bitters and based on rye whiskey, this should be a post-shift, reviving favorite of bar-tenders – if only they knew about it.

Make it.  Remember that Fizzes aren’t supposed to be long-sipping drinks.  Finish it within a few minutes.  Enjoy every bit of this very aromatic punch before it goes flat or warm.

P.S.  When the absinthe and bitters are left out, it becomes the Sitting Bull Fizz.  Some may prefer that one.

20131004 - Press Fizz