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Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Bar School: Port

Port
A couple of glasses of Tawny Port along with a Galo de Barcelos, one of Portugal's emblems

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I went to Portugal a couple of weeks ago with my husband and our nine-month-old son. It was our first major trip with the baby, so we tried not to be too ambitious. We split our five days between Porto and Lisbon, and spent most of our time just exploring, eating, and drinking. It was honestly a perfect vacation. Both cities were beautiful. It's true that the buildings were a bit more run-down than other places I've been in Europe, but something about the crumbling plaster, artful graffiti, and smatterings of decorative tile felt romantic and genuine. The food was absolutely incredible - tons of fresh seafood prepared every way imaginable.

And then of course there was the Port. I've never known much about Port wine, but I was eager to do some tours in Porto and learn. And now I'm excited to share some of that knowledge with all of you!

Porto
Buildings in Porto on the banks of the Douro River

If you do know anything about Port, you probably know that it's a sweet dessert wine. And this is basically true. More specifically, Port is a fortified wine, meaning that a higher-proof spirit is added to it during fermentation. Other fortified wines include sherry, vermouth, and madeira.

All of the grapes for Port are grown in the Douro Valley in Portugal. There are dozens of different varietals that grow in the schist soil of the valley, which creates ideal conditions for the vines. There, they are harvested and crushed - traditionally by foot - to extract their juices. The pressed grapes, including the skins and stems, are then allowed to ferment for a few days. I'm going to pause here because this next part is what makes Port so different from other wines, but it won't make sense if you don't have a basic understanding of the process of fermentation. And you should, because it's what makes alcohol.

Portugal

Every alcoholic beverage you enjoy is the result of the toil of hard-working little organisms called yeasts who just want you to have fun and be happy. Ok, that's not true. All they want is to convert sugar into energy so they can keep living their tiny little single-celled lives. But, lucky for us, one byproduct of this process - called fermentation - is alcohol. Those fantastic little yeasts are responsible for all the wine, beer, and spirits you've ever had.

In traditional wine, the yeast is allowed to consume all of the sugar from the crushed grapes and convert it into alcohol. But when making Port, fermentation is halted with the addition of a neutral grape spirit called aguardente. This is known as fortifying the wine. Stopping fermentation before the yeasts have finished their job means that there will be lots of residual sugars left over, which is what gives Port its sweetness. The addition of the higher-proof spirit also raises the alcohol content, from around 7% to 20%.

After fermentation and fortification, the wine is shipped down river to the city of Porto to be aged. This is the origin of its name. Although the Port cellars are not officially in the city of Porto at all - they are located on the south bank of the Douro, in the town of Vila Nova de Gaia. Standing on the bank of the river in Porto, you can look across and see the signs for several of the major houses. The cooler climate in Porto is ideal for aging the wine, and its location on the coast makes export easy. The differences between Port varieties come mainly from aging and blending, so these cellars are where a lot of the magic happens.

Vila Nova de Gaia
Vila Nova de Gaia from the north bank of the Douro River. If you look closely you can see some of the signs for the
Port houses - Sandeman is near the center.

Types of Port

Ruby Port

After arriving in Vila Nova de Gaia, the wine is placed into huge oak casks and allowed to age for up to three years. Ruby Port is a blend of wines aged this way. The shorter aging period in the larger cask means the wine has less contact with the oak and with oxygen, giving it a vibrant red color and a fresh, juicy flavor of ripe fruits.

Reserve Port is a premium Ruby Port that has been given a special designation by the Instituto dos Vinhos do Douro e Porto (IVDP). It seems like these Ports are often given catchy names, like Fonseca Bin 27 or Graham's Six Grapes. But they will also say Reserve on the label.

Large Cask at Porto Calem
One of the large oak aging vats at Porto Cálem

Tawny Port

After that initial aging in large casks, some of the wine is transferred into smaller casks and allowed to continue to age, sometimes for decades. These older wines are blended to make Tawny Port. The additional time in oak, and the additional contact with the wood and air that the smaller casks provide, make the wine deeper and more amber in color, bringing out flavors of dried fruits and nuts. Most bottles of Tawny will have an age statement (10, 20, 30 years or longer). Unlike with whisky and rum, where this is the age of the youngest spirit in the bottle, here it indicates an average age of all the wines in the blend. If there is no age statement, that indicates a younger Tawny, usually around three years. Longer aging lightens the color of the wine and intensifies flavors of nuts and spices.

You may also encounter Colheita Tawnies. These are Tawny Ports that contain only grapes from a single harvest.

Port Aging at Ferreira
Smaller aging casks at Porto Ferreira

Vintage Port

After particularly good harvest years, the wine will be tasted after a short period of aging. If it meets certain standards, it can be declared a Vintage year for that estate by the IVDP. Wine from these years is bottled unfiltered after only a couple of years, allowing it to continue aging in the bottle. It always comes from a single harvest and a single year, which will be printed on the label. Most recently, both 2011 and 2016 were declared vintage years for many producers. Bottles dating back to the 1800's can still be purchased.

Because Vintage Port isn't aged very long in oak, it is more similar to a Ruby Port than a Tawny in flavor. It should be allowed to continue aging in the bottle for several years before drinking. This is a good Port to buy and save for a special occasion.

Late Bottled Vintage (LBV)

LBV Port is basically wine that wasn't quite good enough to achieve Vintage status but was still really darn good after aging a bit longer. It too comes from a single harvest and is often bottled unfiltered so that it will continue to age in the bottle like a Vintage Port. This designation was developed in the 1950's when producers had more Vintage Port than they could sell. They allowed it to age a bit longer before bottling and called it an LBV.


Port Bottles
Dusty Port bottles for sale at a store in Lisbon

White Port

As with any other wine, some of the grapes used to make Port have been cultivated for white varieties. White Port is made much like the red varieties, although some of the cellars we visited aged their White Port in stainless steel rather than oak. Unlike red Port, which as far as I know is always sweet, some White Port is allowed to ferment longer so that it is drier (like the Fonseca Siroco I served at my Port Party in May). Sweet White Port can be aged for various lengths of time, some as long as a Tawny. It becomes a darker, deeper gold color as it ages.

White Port
Fonseca Siroco, a dry white Port

Rosé Port.

A newer invention, Rosé Port is made the same way as rosé wine - by limiting contact with the grape skins during fermentation. It's light and fruity, usually drier than most Port and perfect as an aperitif. The first house to bottle a rosé was Croft, and many more have followed suit as the rosé craze has taken off.

How to Drink Port

Since it is quite sweet, Port is usually served after dinner with dessert or a cheese course. In Porto, however, it seemed to be enjoyed just about any time. I think it's nice for a rainy afternoon. It pairs well with strong cheese, nuts, dried fruit, and chocolate. It's usually served in a distinctively-shaped, narrow stemmed glass at just below room temperature.

The exceptions to all of this are dry White Port and Rosé Port, which are better served chilled as aperitifs. White Port and Tonic is a very popular cocktail in Portugal and beyond.

Pouring Port

Once opened, Port should be stored in the refrigerator to prolong its shelf life. Vintage and unfiltered LBV Ports are only good for a day or two once opened, but Ruby Port lasts for several weeks, and Tawny can be good for several months.

When shopping for Port, you'll probably notice that you could spend anywhere from $10 to hundreds of dollars. There's no need to spring for a Vintage or a 40-year-old Tawny if you're just getting into Port. Quality Port is not very expensive, and you can get a decent bottle of Ruby or Tawny for $15-25. Popular brands include Taylor Fladgate, Fonseca, Croft, Sandeman, Ferreira, Dow, and Graham's. It can be hard to find a big variety, but most liquor stores and wine shops will have a few bottles. Pick one up - and let me know what you think!

In addition to the tours I took in Portugal, the information in this post came mainly from here, here, and here.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Mojito Popsicles

Mojito Popsicles

I'm on a frozen cocktail kick at the moment. Not hard to understand, seeing as it was regularly topping 90 degrees this week. My last post was a Pimm's Slushie, an icy adaptation of one of my favorite summer cocktails. So this week I'm playing around with another perfect warm weather drink: the Mojito. And I made popsicles!

Not only is the Mojito a perfect cocktail to turn into a popsicle, it's also quite timely, as today is #NationalMojitoDay. It's nice to be on top of these things for once. After missing #WorldWhiskeyDay or something a few weeks ago, I finally went and found a calendar of booze-related social media holidays so that I would never be out of the loop again. And while I don't think I'll be celebrating everything on the list (National Rhubarb Vodka Day?! It's December 1st, mark your calendars), the Mojito definitely deserves its own holiday.

Mojito Popsicles

Mojito Popsicles

5 oz. white rum
2 1/2 oz. lime juice
2 1/2 oz. mint syrup*
9 oz. water

Combine all ingredients in a cup measure or a bowl with a spout and stir well. Pour into popsicle molds. Let freeze for a couple of hours before inserting the sticks. Freeze overnight and enjoy! Makes six popsicles.

*For mint syrup, combine 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Add a generous handful of mint and stir, bruising the mint slightly. Turn off the heat, put a lid on the pan, and let steep for 15 minutes. Then fine-strain. Let cool entirely before using. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Pimm's Slushie

Pimm's Slushie

Something about the summertime seems to bring out the kid in all of us. Great weather, time outdoors, vacations... it's easy to forget that we were complaining about shoveling snow three or four months ago. Even the cocktails are more fun. Summer drinks are so bright and playful - creative garnishes, colorful fruits, lots of fizz, and the occasional frozen cocktail. From boozy popsicles to frosé, it's clear that frozen booze is in. And why not? It's so much fun. And totally weather-appropriate.

Pimm's Slushie

There are lots of ways you can turn your favorite drink into an icy treat. Breaking out the blender works great if you want a smoother texture. But if you have a little time to wait and want something a little icier and more fun, you can make a slushie. Since alcohol doesn't freeze, diluting a cocktail a bit and leaving it in the freezer overnight can produce a perfect, partially-frozen treat. All you need to do is break it up a little with a spoon and enjoy.

Pimm's Slushie

For my first boozy slushie, I wanted to make one of my favorite summer cocktails: a Pimm's Cup. Made with Pimm's No. 1, ginger beer, lemon, cucumber, and lots of fruits and berries, it's a fantastic summer treat. But turn it into a slushie and you have utter warm weather perfection. Serve it with a spoon and a dash of fizzy ginger beer on top for a little extra bite. You'll feel like a kid again in no time.

Pimm's Slushie


Pimm's Slushie


Pimm's Slushie

3 oz. Pimm's No. 1
3 oz. ginger beer (+ more to top)
1 oz. water
3/4 oz. lemon juice
1/4 oz. cucumber juice*
1/8 oz. simple syrup

Combine all ingredients in a freezer-safe glass or tupperware and stir gently. Leave in freezer until frozen, roughly overnight. Use a spoon to break up the slushie and transfer to a stemmed glass. Garnish with frozen berries and a sprig of mint. Serve with more ginger beer on top.

*If you don't have a juicer, the best way to get cucumber juice is to grate a cucumber into a fine mesh strainer over a bowl or cup measure. Press the gratings to extract the liquid.

Thanks to Kitchen Treaty for some advice on slushie-fying a cocktail.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Bamboo

Bamboo cocktail

If you like cocktails and you haven't bought a bottle of Amontillado sherry yet, I highly recommend you try it. It's not a big investment nor a big commitment; a decent bottle runs under $20, and because it's a fortified wine like vermouth, it should be stored in the fridge and can eventually go bad. It's a unique ingredient because it has flavors like raisin, nuts, and spice, but is actually fairly dry. So it can add those flavors to a cocktail without adding sweetness. I've made a number of recipes with Amontillado that I absolutely love: the Sherry CobblerTeenage Riot, Toffee Negroni, Flor de Jerez, and Legend are a few I've posted, as well as a couple originals of mine: the Pear Tree and L'Orchid

Bamboo cocktail

Amontillado sherry plays a starring role in the Bamboo. This is a classic, turn-of-the-century cocktail that was extremely popular in its time. With the resurgence of interest in sherry cocktails, it's finally receiving some attention again. And not a moment too soon. This is a seriously tasty drink, particularly if you love sherry as much as I do. It has a nutty, raisiny flavor while still being surprisingly light. Also, without any hard liquor, the Bamboo is a relatively low ABV cocktail that still drinks like something more spirit-forward. As David Wondrich writes, it "looks like a cocktail, tastes like a cocktail, and punches like a six-year-old."

The first recipe for the Bamboo in print (see below) as well as the more famous version in Boothby's 1908 The World's Drinks and How to Mix Them, don't specify what kind of sherry should be used. As such, you'll see the Bamboo made with a number of different sherries besides Amontillado, as well as with both blanc and dry vermouths. But ever since the Death & Co book changed the way I made Sazeracs, I've trusted them on the classics. When their recipes stray from tradition, it's usually for the better. And I think that's true of their specs for the Bamboo. They use Amontillado sherry and blanc vermouth, which probably tastes more similar to the "French vermouth" of Boothby's day. They also add half a teaspoon of simple syrup, which makes the drink less dry and really helps the sherry shine.

Bamboo cocktail

History: According to Boothby, the Bamboo was invented by Louis Eppinger, a German bartender who worked in Yokohama, Japan, where he managed the Grand Hotel from 1890-1907. Most accounts of the Bamboo's creation claim that Eppinger came up with it while he worked at the Grand, and that the name is a reference to Japan. But the Bamboo pre-dates Eppinger's stint in Yokohama by several years. The recipe appears in the St. Paul Daily Globe in 1886, and by 1893 it appeared on menus in New York as a Boston Bamboo. It was extremely popular, and a pre-bottled version was even sold.

This timeline doesn't mean that Eppinger didn't invent the Bamboo. Before he worked in Japan, he tended bar in San Francisco, and may have invented the drink there, which would explain its gradual journey eastward over the years. But it's clearly an even older drink than most people assume - another little piece of history you can sip on in your own home.

Bamboo

1 1/2 oz. Amontillado sherry (Lustau)
1 1/2 oz. blanc vermouth (Dolin)
1/2 tsp. simple syrup
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 dash orange bitters

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir until chilled. Strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Recipe from Death & Co: Modern Classic Cocktails.
Historical information from Tuxedo No. 2, Cold Glass, and Imbibe!

Friday, June 8, 2018

Recipe Round-Up: The Negroni

Negroni

Unless you're living under a rock (or, you know, not on social media), you probably know that it's Negroni Week! Sponsored by Imbibe and Campari, this is a week-long celebration of what is arguably the cocktail world's favorite drink. Bars around the country serve Negronis and Negroni variations, with proceeds from the drinks going to various charities. I'm only getting in on the tail end of the week, but if you're reading this before June 10th, see what venues are serving Negronis for a good cause near you here.

The Negroni and I have a tumultuous history. When I first tried one, I did not like it at all, and I said as much in my original Negroni post three years ago. In the cocktail world, thinking that Negronis are anything less than amazing is a fairly controversial opinion, but I was prepared to stand by it unless I magically developed a taste for them. And I did. Not magically, exactly; I think it was a combination of buying better sweet vermouth (and storing it properly in the refrigerator) and developing a taste for more bitter drinks in general. Other less polarizing cocktails eased me into the flavors of the Negroni, and before I knew it I was a convert. But I still understand how someone might not enjoy them, especially if they're new to Campari or cocktails in general. So whether you love a classic Negroni or are looking for your gateway drink, I've rounded up some Negroni variations in honor of this iconic equal-parts cocktail.

Assume that all of these should be stirred over ice and strained into a rocks glass over ice (though the last two can also be served in a coupe). Alternatively you can build them in the glass for an even easier cocktail.

Classic Negroni

1 oz. gin
1 oz. Campari
1 oz. sweet vermouth
Orange twist

The original: easy to remember, easy to make, and always great. Opinions will differ on the best gin and sweet vermouth for the job, but my go-tos are The Botanist or Wire Works and either Cocchi Vermouth di Torino or Carpano Antica Formula.


White Negroni

White Negroni

2 oz. gin
1 oz. Lillet Blanc
3/4 oz. Suze
Lemon twist

This variant from London bartender Wayne Collins is actually a lot more yellow than white, but let's not nitpick. Suze and Lillet make this Negroni a bit lighter but more herbal. It does diverge from the typical equal parts ratio, since Suze can be a bit overpowering. See my full post on this drink here.

Negroni Bianco

Negroni Bianco 

1 oz. gin
1 oz. Luxardo Bitter Bianco
1 oz. blanc vermouth
Orange or grapefruit twist

This truly white Negroni is known as the Negroni Bianco, and it is my favorite drink on this list. In fact, it's easily one of my favorite drinks of all time. (Someone told me recently that I say that a lot on here. Well, tough. It's true, especially in this case.) It's beautifully light and balanced, still bitter but not overpowering. It would be a perfect introductory Negroni. I wish I'd had one years ago - I might have started liking Negronis sooner.

Special Negroni

Special Negroni

1 oz. gin
1 oz. Aperol
1 oz. Lillet Blanc
Orange twist

I have a feeling this recipe exists under other names, but ever since I was served one at Canary Square in Boston, I call it the Special Negroni. This is the ultimate introductory Negroni - milder, sweeter, and a bit more citrusy, but still preserving all the crucial parts of the original.

Toffee Negroni

Toffee Negroni

1 oz. aged rum
1 oz. Aperol
1 oz. Amontillado sherry
Grapefruit twist

I had never heard of this Negroni until I saw it in Kara Newman's equal parts cocktail book Shake. Stir. Sip. Created by Lynette Marrero, it has a deep toffee sweetness with just the right amount of bitterness.

Deconstructed Negroni

Deconstructed Negroni

1 oz. gin
3/4 oz. dry vermouth
Dehydrated Campari
Orange twist

This one is a bit more of a novelty than a go-to recipe, but it seemed like I ought to include it. A bartender at Roosevelt in Denver told me how they dehydrated Campari and used it to serve a colorless Negroni with a Campari rim. I tried it at home and was pretty pleased with the result. See how to make it here.

Boulevardier

Boulevardier

1 1/2 oz. bourbon
1 oz. Campari
1 oz. sweet vermouth

This is another drink that definitely goes on my list of all-time favorites. I find the juniper notes of gin one of the more polarizing things about a Negroni, and subbing in bourbon makes a smoother drink that's more akin to a Manhattan. Say what you will, but I'll order a Boulevardier over a Negroni any day. See my original post on the Boulevardier (from before I developed my undying love for this cocktail) here.

Old Pal

Old Pal

1 oz. rye
1 oz. Campari
1 oz. dry vermouth
Orange twist

A close relative of the Boulevardier, the Old Pal is an even lighter cocktail that uses dry vermouth instead of sweet. You can take it one step further and try a Pen Pal, which additionally swaps the Campari for Aperol.

I've seen a ton of other interesting Negroni variations this week... what's your favorite?

Monday, May 28, 2018

A Dinner Party with Fonseca Siroco

Fonseca Siroco White Port

Ever since the weather has gotten warmer, I've been looking forward to enjoying dinners on our porch and in our backyard. Usually it's just my husband and I taking advantage of these springtime evenings, but I've always thought an outdoor party with friends would be a lot of fun. So when I was invited to host a dinner party with cocktails made with the Fonseca Siroco White Port, I jumped at the chance to throw the backyard soiree I'd always wanted. I had big plans: white tablecloths, candles, cafe lights, flowers, the works.

Then it rained.

Looking on the bright side, at least this meant we didn't need to carry all our food and supplies down three flights of stairs. It did mean a bit of frantic apartment cleaning and shoving baby gear into closets. But that evening, our friends braved the weather and joined us for a beautiful dinner party with Portuguese food, cocktails, and plenty of Fonseca Siroco.

Fonseca Siroco White Port

Let's quickly talk about Port, since it's not something I've used in any recipes on the blog yet. Port is a fortified wine made in the Douro Valley of Portugal. Fortified means that a distilled spirit has been added to the wine, which increases its alcohol content, extends its shelf life and affects its flavor. Other common fortified wines are vermouth, sherry and Madeira. Fonseca is one of the most widely available brands of Port, and their products are consistently very high quality.

When you think of Port, you probably picture a red Port like a tawny or ruby port, which are quite sweet and typically enjoyed after a meal. But white Port like the Fonseca Siroco is generally quite dry. Fonseca Siroco is crisp, fruity, and bright, perfect as an aperitif or with a meal. It's also fantastic in cocktails. The simplest option is just to mix it with tonic water and serve it with a slice of lemon, as it is commonly served in Portugal. Using it instead of vermouth is another easy way to work it into some of your favorite recipes.

White Port Cocktails

For my Port 'n' Party, I made two cocktails with the Fonseca Siroco that I batched ahead of time so I wouldn't be mixing while my guests were here. The first was a simple spritz made with white Port, Aperol, club soda, and an orange slice. Bright, citrusy and just a bit bitter, it made a great pairing for appetizers. For the second cocktail, I wanted to make something more spirit-forward but still appropriate for spring, so I made a martini with gin, white Port, St. Germain, and chamomile citrus bitters. I absolutely love this one - it's just the kind of cocktail I enjoy sipping on. The St. Germain lends this drink a bit of floral sweetness, but it's still dry enough to have before dinner. We also made some white Port and tonics. The recipes for all three cocktails are below!

Porto Spritz

For dinner, we had Arroz de Tamboril, a rice stew made with monkfish and shrimp that reminded me a lot of the Shrimp Creole we make at home in Louisiana. It's easy to prepare and great for a crowd. Dessert was Serradura, a spectacularly simple combo of sweetened whipped cream and shortbread cookie crumbs. Both recipes came from The Girl Loves to Eat. Our friend Chris of Socktails also brought Pasteis de Nata, which are amazing Portuguese custard tarts. We had plenty of Fonseca Siroco with dinner, and it paired very nicely with the seafood. It had been a long time since we had hosted a party like this one, and we really enjoyed the excuse to get together with friends, even if it was indoors! Maybe a garden party will have to happen later on in the summer. There will definitely be Port cocktails involved.

Portuguese Dinner Party


Portuguese Dinner Party


Fonseca Siroco White Port

Portuguese Dinner Party

Fonseca Siroco White Port

Fonseca Siroco White Port

White Port and Tonic

White Port and Tonic

1 1/2 oz. Fonseca Siroco White Port
3 oz. tonic water

Build in a glass over ice, stir gently, and garnish with a lemon slice.


Porto Spritz

Porto Spritz

1 oz. Fonseca Siroco White Port
3/4 oz. Aperol
1 oz. club soda

Combine Port and Aperol in a mixing glass with ice and stir until chilled. Strain into a rocks glass over one large ice cube. Top with club soda and stir gently. Garnish with an orange slice.


Lisbon Martini

Lisbon Martini

2 oz. gin (GrandTen Wire Works)
1 oz. Fonseca Siroco White Port
1/2 oz. St. Germain
1 dash Bittermen's Boston Bittahs

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir until chilled. Strain into a coupe. Twist a lemon peel over the cocktail, rub it along the sides of the glass, and discard. Garnish with chamomile flowers.

This post was made in partnership with Fonseca Port. All recipes and opinions are my own.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Sunflower

Sunflower

This week was another fun campaign on Instagram, #WeHaveTheLastWord. Started by Mike of mmydrinks last year, it's a weeklong celebration of one of the greatest cocktails out there, the Last Word. This equal-parts mix of gin, Green Chartreuse, maraschino liqueur, and lime juice is iconic in the cocktail world for its simple recipe and unique flavor. If you haven't had one, you need to make or order one immediately.

As one of the more famous equal-parts cocktails out there, the Last Word lends itself to all sorts of riffs and variations. The Last of the Oaxacans trades the gin for mezcal. The Naked and Famous takes this even farther with Yellow Chartreuse and Aperol instead of the Green Chartreuse and maraschino. The bourbon-based Paper Plane doesn't share a single ingredient with the Last Word, but is still generally considered a variant due to its equal-parts proportions. And if you check out We Have the Last Word on Instagram, you will find countless other variations on this formula containing just about every spirit and liqueur you can think of.

Sunflower

I wanted to create my own riff on the Last Word for the campaign, and even started playing around with some recipes, but I didn't have a chance to perfect one in time. Using equal parts can be a tricky business. Usually when you pick ingredients that you think might work together, you can adjust the amounts of each until they're in perfect harmony. But when you're committed to equal parts, if it doesn't work, it just doesn't.

Not wanting to miss out on all the fun, I turned to my copy of Shake. Stir. Sip. to see if there were any 4-ingredient equal parts cocktails I had never made before. And to my surprise, the first recipe in the 4-ingredient section was not only one I had never made, but it was one that sounded really, really good: the Sunflower. It's actually a riff on the Corpse Reviver, swapping elderflower liqueur for the usual Lillet or Cocchi, but since I've seen some Corpse Revivers and variations posted with the #WeHaveTheLastWord hashtag, I think it will fly.

Sunflower

You can tell the Sunflower is going to be a crowd pleaser long before you taste it. You can't go wrong with gin, lemon, St. Germain, and orange liqueur. It's basically a sunny, floral, boozy lemonade. The absinthe wash might seem a bit polarizing to the casual drinker, but once they try it they'll see that it's fairly subtle touch that really brings the cocktail together, and it keeps the discerning drinker from rolling their eyes at ingredients so tasty and versatile that they might overlook the Sunflower for being too ordinary. Plus, it's a recipe by Sam Ross, creator of the Penicillin and the aforementioned Paper Plane. I will basically drink anything he comes up with, no questions asked.

And man, "Sunflower" is a much happier name than "Corpse Reviver," huh?

History: This cocktail was created by Sam Ross of Milk & Honey and Little Branch in New York, now at Attaboy. He created it around 2008.

Sunflower

Sunflower

3/4 oz. gin
3/4 oz. St. Germain
3/4 oz. Cointreau
3/4 oz. lemon juice
Absinthe rinse

Combine gin, St. Germain, Cointreau, and lemon juice in a shaker with ice and shake until chilled. Pour a dash of absinthe (I used Herbsaint) into a coupe and swirl it to coat the glass. Strain the cocktail into the glass. Garnish with a lemon twist or some sunflower petals.

Recipe from Shake. Stir. Sip.