Monday, June 29, 2015

Ward Eight

Ward Eight

Before we get to the Ward Eight, check out the Mixology Monday roundup over at Putney Farm. It was fun to see what everyone made with their "hometown hooch." Boston was well-represented. Fred Yarm of Cocktail Virgin Slut made use of Bully Boy's Hub Punch, a fruit and rum concoction based on a historical recipe, for the Hubba Hubba. And Drink Something Completely Different went for Bully Boy Boston Rum and St. Elder in the Old Boys' Club, which sounds right up my alley. It's high time I sprang for a bottle of Green Chartreuse.

Since we're talking about Boston booze, it's appropriate that today's cocktail is the Ward Eight, as you'll soon see.

The Ward Eight may be pink, but it doesn't taste like it. As I was making it, I realized that this recipe is really just a riff on an Old Fashioned. Rye, bitters, sugar, orange. Using a half ounce of orange juice instead of just lightly muddling an orange slice amps up the orange flavor, and replacing simple syrup with grenadine adds a tartness that is enhanced by the addition of the unexpected ingredient, lemon juice. The lemon juice really makes it more of an Old Fashioned-Whiskey Sour hybrid. It's sweet and tart but still spirit-forward. Definitely one of my favorite drinks containing grenadine.

Ward Eight

History: This is the first classic cocktail I've featured that has its origins in Boston. In his book Imbibe!, David Wondrich introduces it as follows:

The Ward Eight looms large in the mythical history of mixology, wherein it is the Champion of the Hub, proving to one and all that when Boston was called on to contribute a Cocktail to the great pageant of American intoxication, it did not say "I shall not serve."

Okay, so maybe it's the only classic cocktail that has its origins in Boston. The Ward Eight was invented at Locke-Ober, which was located just off Winter Street in Downtown Crossing. This beautiful restaurant was the third-oldest in the city before it closed in 2012. I feel fortunate that I got to attend a dinner there before it shut down. It was a lovely building of dark wood paneling, rich carpets, and red leather chairs and sofas. I'm not surprised it was the birthplace of a classic cocktail.

Martin Lomasney
Martin Lomasney
The subject of our story is Massachusetts politician Martin Lomasney. He had been on the Boston City Council and was considered the "ward boss" of Ward Eight, Boston's West End. This meant he carried some serious political clout in the district. The title is often used in conjunction with political corruption and organized crime, but that wasn't Lomasney. Though he occasionally bent the rules, he fought against corruption in Boston, so fervently that he was even shot by a contractor he had gotten fired for cheating the city. In the hospital, he commented, "People might not like their Aldermen, but they don't think we should be shot without a fair trial."

Lomasney shunned the term "ward boss," as well as "czar," which the media tried to christen him. The nickname he finally accepted was Mahatma, upon hearing that it implied more of a spiritual leadership.

In 1898, Lomasney was running for a seat in the state House of Representatives. He and his supporters were at Locke-Ober celebrating his victory... the night before the election. (And we think politics are bad these days.) They asked the bartender to invent a cocktail in Lomasney's honor, and the Ward Eight was born.

Of course, there is contention surrounding this story. Most sources say the bartender's name was Tom Hussion, but Imbibe claims Hussion didn't start working at the restaurant until 1900; the other name floating around is Billy Kane. Unless, of course, the party wasn't at Locke-Ober at all, and the drink was invented by Charlie Carter in 1903. David Wondrich says the election in question wasn't until 1905 anyway, but I'm not sure; it appears Lomasney did serve in the state legislature in 1899. And Wondrich also says that Ward Eight was what is now Roxbury and the South End, which is incorrect. (He adds "Where, it's safe to say, one of these hasn't been poured in fifty years." ARE YOU KNOCKING THE SOUTH END, DAVID WONDRICH?)

Anyway, the whole thing is a bit ironic since Lomasney didn't drink. But thank goodness his supporters did, so that Boston does not have to shoulder the shame of not contributing to "the great pageant of American intoxication."

Check out this piece for more on Lomasney. I'll leave you with his most famous quote: "Never write if you can speak, never speak if you can nod, never nod if you can wink."

Ward Eight

2 oz. rye whiskey
1/2 oz. lemon juice
1/2 oz. orange juice
1/4 oz. grenadine
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Combine all ingredients in a shaker. Add ice and shake until well chilled. Strain into a cocktail glass or coupe, and garnish with a cherry, a slice of orange, or both. Toast the Mahatma of Ward Eight.

Recipe from The Kitchn's 9-Bottle Bar.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Vieux Carre

Vieux Carre

When I started this blog, I knew what the basics were for any good cocktail bar: rye, gin, vermouth, etc. But I really couldn't tell you which rye, gin, vermouth, etc. you ought to buy. My own choices usually came from staring at the liquor store shelf, contemplating price vs. whether I'd ever heard of it before vs. how pretty the label was. Once I found something that worked, I stuck with it.

My main intention with this blog was to learn more about cocktails and novel ingredients rather than getting into the nitty gritty of particular spirits. But you can't spend this much time looking up recipes, researching cocktails, and reading other blogs without getting a few good recommendations. I've slowly gotten a feel for what brands other folks think are good, and I've started spending a little more to get them.

The first time I felt like this really paid off was when I made a Vieux Carre. I had just purchased Pierre Ferrand Cognac and Carpano Antica Formula sweet vermouth, and I used them both in the recipe. I took a sip and actually said, "Wow." It just worked. It tasted perfect. Sophisticated and perfectly balanced. I felt like I had reached some kind of cocktail milestone. And while both ingredients were more expensive than other brands I'd bought in the past, they weren't by that much. Definitely worth it.

The only thing in my Vieux Carre that wasn't fancy-schmancy was the rye. I stuck with my trusty Old Overholt. I still haven't found anything that can beat it at the price point. But I'm open to recommendations.

Whatever you choose to make it with, the Vieux Carre is a beautiful cocktail. Its ingredients harmonize so well. It's exactly sweet enough, with hints of herbs and citrus and bitters that come together exactly as they should. It's a Manhattan with extra layers of flavor.

Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone
The Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone (photo from 50 States or Less)

History: The Vieux Carre comes from one of my favorite historic New Orleans bars, the Carousel Bar in the Hotel Monteleone. As the name suggests, the bar is a carousel that actually spins, complete with bright lights, fanciful carvings, and colorful murals. The patrons slowly move in a circle around the bar. It's a beautiful, quirky piece of the French Quarter that I can never resist visiting. They still make excellent cocktails.

At the time of the Vieux Carre's invention in 1938, however, the bar at the Hotel Monteleone only spun if you had too much to drink. It was called the Swan Bar, and the famous carousel would not be installed until 1949. The head bartender, Walter Bergeron, created Vieux Carre as a variation of an older cocktail called the Saratoga, which lacks the Benedictine and Peychaud's. Vieux Carre is the French name for what we call the French Quarter. It translates to "old square."

Vieux Carre

3/4 oz. rye
3/4 oz. cognac
3/4 oz. sweet vermouth
1 tsp. Benedictine
1 dash Peychaud's Bitters
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir until well chilled. Strain into a rocks glass, with one large ice cube if desired. Garnish with a lemon twist, a brandied cherry, or both.

Recipe from Chow.com.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Pen Pal

Pen Pal

A friend of mine recently found out about this blog and asked me for the address. A few minutes later, I received a text from him: 

OMG. You don't like Negronis?!

Oh, the shame. Fifty-odd recipes up here, and of course a real cocktail lover goes straight for the Negroni. Let me be clear: I want to like the Negroni. There seems to be a consensus that it's one of the really great cocktails. But I just don't enjoy them.

In order to make up for this obvious character deficit, I've hunted down a number of recipes that are similar to the Negroni that I still really like. I introduced two of them back in April: the Boulevardier and the Old Pal. Like the Negroni, they follow a basic formula: gin or whiskey, sweet or dry vermouth, and Campari

Today I'm adding one more to the list, and another variation to the formula. The Pen Pal is closest to the Old Pal, but it increases the proportion of rye and swaps out the Campari for Aperol, its sweeter, more citrusy cousin. It's probably my favorite of the four. If you share with me the terrible shame of not enjoying Negronis, the Pen Pal might be for you.

History: The Pen Pal was invented at Barmini in Washington, D.C. 

Pen Pal

1 1/2 oz. rye
3/4 oz. dry vermouth
3/4 oz. Aperol

Add all ingredients to a mixing glass. Add ice and stir until chilled. Strain into a cocktail glass or coupe. Garnish with a lemon peel. Don't forget to write home about it.

Recipe from Punch.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Rosemary Cheese Crackers

Rosemary Cheese Crackers

This is only the second snack recipe I've posted here, and so far they've both prominently featured rosemary; I swear this isn't going to be a trend. It's just that these crackers are really good. Yes, you have to roll out the dough, but it's worth it. It's definitely worth it. When GarnishGuy got home, he munched on a few and commented, "These are good. Where are they from?" It was one of my proudest culinary moments.

For this recipe, I started with a homemade Cheez-It recipe and tried to class it up a bit. I replaced half of the sharp cheddar with aged gouda, and I added a teaspoon of dried rosemary. The result is crispy, buttery, cheesy, oh-so-good little crackers that pair perfectly with a strong cocktail. I am absolutely making this my new default recipe when we have friends over for drinks. And the best part is that you can make the dough or even the crackers ahead of time and freeze them! They can be ready to eat in 20 minutes.

Rosemary Cheese Crackers

If you're used to three-ingredient cocktail recipes involving nothing but a shaker and a jigger, buckle up. This might get a little scary. First, you have to break out your food processer. I know, I know. Think of the dishes you'll have to wash! But stay with me here. It makes things easy. You combine all the ingredients in the food processer, and it does the mixing perfectly for you.

Rosemary Cheese Crackers

Next you form the dough into two flattened squares and refrigerate them for 30 minutes. This is so the dough doesn't get too warm while you're working with it. You need to keep the butter cold. I only made a half recipe this first go-round, so I stuck to one square.

Rosemary Cheese Crackers

After 30 minutes, pull out the first square of dough and roll it into something resembling a square that's 1/8" thick. I put down some flower, but the dough is really easy to work with and you don't really need it. Once it's rolled out, you want to cut your crackers. The recipe recommends using a fluted pastry cutter, but I didn't have one, so I just used a knife. I kind of like the neatness of the plain edges. A pizza cutter would be ideal for this task.

To keep the crackers uniform, I used a clean ruler that was the same width as my crackers. If you're more concerned about taste than looks, you don't have to be this precise.

Rosemary Cheese Crackers

You're going to end up with some raggedy dough on the ends that you can collect and roll out again. Repeat this until you don't have enough left for a decent square (or until you get frustrated and just smash it into something vaguely resembling a cracker).

Take a toothpick or something similar and make a small round indentation in the center of each cracker. This keeps them from puffing up too much, and also gives them the look of commercial crackers. Repeat this whole process with the second square of dough if you're making the full recipe.

Rosemary Cheese Crackers

You're almost there, but there's another step between you and baking these goodies. You want to put your crackers in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. This will make it easier to transfer them to the baking sheet and will help them bake appropriately. You can preheat the oven while they're in there.

When you've got them out of the freezer, lightly beat an egg white and brush it lightly over the tops. Sprinkle them with salt and transfer them onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Rosemary Cheese Crackers

Bake them for about 14 minutes, or until they're puffed and slightly browned on the top and the bottom. I like to undershoot and check on them frequently. Let them cool on a cooling rack before serving.

And that's it! It may sound like a lot, but it was really not a difficult recipe considering how professional the results looked. And they are so tasty!

Rosemary Cheese Crackers

Rosemary Cheese Crackers

2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt, plus more for sprinkling
6 tbsp. butter at room temperature
3 3/4 oz. extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated (about 1 3/4 cup)
3 3/4 oz. aged gouda, grated (about 1 3/4 cup)
2-4 tbsp. ice water
1 egg white, lightly beaten

Combine flower, baking powder, and salt in the food processer and pulse briefly to combine. Add butter and cheese and pulse until well-mixed. Add 2 tbsp of ice water and pulse to mix. Add more water if needed; dough should hold together when squeezed.

Remove dough from food processer and shape into two flat square. Wrap in plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, remove the first square of dough and roll it out into a square 1/8" thick. Using a fluted pastry cutter, pizza cutter, or knife, cut the dough into squares about 3/4" on each side. Using the flat end of a toothpick or skewer, make an indentation in the center of each square. Repeat with the remaining square of dough.

Put crackers in the freezer for 10-15 minutes, until firm. In theory you should be able to freeze them indefinitely and pull them out when you're ready to make them. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Once dough is firm, remove from the freezer and brush with the beaten egg white. Sprinkle with salt. Carefully transfer onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until puffed and slightly browned on each side. Let cool on a cooling rack before serving.

Recipe adapted from Food 52.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Bottle Buy: Batavia Arrack

Batavia Arrack

Most of the spirits I've recommended so far have been pretty common; I'd be shocked if the average bar didn't stock them, and a lot of people probably have a bottle at home. But Batavia Arrack is admittedly obscure. If you're building a bar on a limited budget, I wouldn't really recommend it. But if you've got the standard stuff and you're looking to branch out with some more unusual ingredients, Batavia Arrack might be for you.

I was first introduced to Batavia Arrack at Russell House Tavern in Harvard Square. They make an absolutely fabulous cocktail called a Battle of Trafalgar that I decided I had to learn to make at home. This was before I got really into cocktails, and my bar was pretty sparse. I found the recipe on Fred Yarm's blog Cocktail Virgin, and started hunting down the ingredients. And the most unusual one by far was Batavia Arrack.

Batavia Arrack is a spirit distilled from sugarcane and red rice on the island of Java, the most populous island in Indonesia. This was extremely surprising to me given that nearly 90% of Indonesia's population is Muslim; it doesn't really seem like the sort of place they would be making much liquor. But Arrack has been made there a long time, and it was brought to Europe by the Dutch East India Trading Company in the 17th century. Back then, Java was known as Batavia.

Batavia Arrack

Arrack was produced in many Asian countries, but as it was made from a variety of ingredients, each sort is really its own unique spirit. Batavia Arrack seems to have been the most popular variety. Though most people today have never heard of arrack, in the 1600's it was an extremely common ingredient, particularly in punches. In fact, the word "punch" comes from the Sanskrit word for five, after the five ingredients in the original punch recipe brought from India: alcohol, sugar, lemon, water, and spices. This exotic drink was brought to Europe by the British East India Company, and rapidly spread in popularity. Batavia Arrack was also brought over by the Dutch, who were soon exporting it all over the world for thirsty punch-drinkers.

If Batavia Arrack was a common ingredient in cocktails for nearly 200 years, why haven't most people heard of it today? It seems it was surpassed in popularity by Caribbean rum in the 1800's. Taxes on spirits imported from Asia led Europe to turn its gaze across the pond. The final nail in arrack's coffin was World War II, which essentially caused most countries to cease production. Java carried on at a much smaller scale, preserving this recipe for us today.

And now Batavia Arrack is making a comeback. With mixologists resurrecting old recipes and spirits left and right, it's no surprise that Batavia Arrack is finding its way into cocktails once again. Currently, there is only a single brand available in the US, van Oosten. It's definitely not at every liquor store, but it wasn't hard to find in Boston.

The flavor of Batavia Arrack is similar to rum, but somewhat coarser. It has a faint smokiness. Mixologists praise it for its ability to enhance the flavors of ingredients that it's paired with. Spirits importer Eric Seed, one of the folks responsible for making Batavia Arrack available in the US once again, compares it to vanilla extract: not good on its own, but amazing when mixed.

Avery's Arrack-Ari

While the Battle of Trafalgar was my introduction to Batavia Arrack, it isn't really the best way to show off this new spirit; the main ingredient in it is Pimm's No. 1, which I haven't even talked about yet on this blog. We'll get to both Pimm's and the Battle of Trafalgar eventually, but for now I have a different Batavia Arrack recipe that I first tried at Green Street in Cambridge that gives this Javan spirit a starring role.

Avery's Arrack-Ari is basically a Batavia Arrack Daiquiri, but a Scotch wash really gives it a whole other dimension. The recipe recommends Talisker 10 year, which I didn't have; I don't think there's ever been more than one bottle of Scotch in our house, and the current one is a favorite I tasted in Scotland last month, Highland Park 12 year. I think it has the perfect balance between sweetness and smokiness for sipping on its own. It's probably not quite smoky enough for this recipe, so I added a little extra. That hint of smoke is just perfect with the Batavia Arrack, bringing out the spicy and smoky notes of the spirit.

History: This drink was invented by Avery Glasser, co-founder of Bittermen's.

Avery's Arrack-Ari

Avery's Arrack-Ari

1 1/2 oz. Batavia Arrack
1/2 oz. lime juice
1/2 oz. simple syrup
Talisker 10 year rinse (or other smoky Scotch)

Combine Batavia Arrack, lime juice, and simple syrup in a shaker. Add ice and shake until chilled. Pour a small amount of the Scotch (~1 tsp or less) into a cocktail or coupe glass and turn the glass to coat the sides. Strain the cocktail into the glass and garnish with a wedge of lime.

Recipe from cocktail virgin slut.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Mary Pickford

Mary Pickford

This is the last recipe for Pink Week here on Garnish, and imagine my dismay when I made it and found that it was not, in fact, pink. I guess my homemade grenadine doesn't have quite enough red pigment in it for the Mary Pickford. Most pictures you see of this cocktail are pink, but I assure you, if yours turns out more of a peachy color, you haven't done anything wrong.

Grenadine admittedly plays a supporting role in the Mary Pickford, but it does the job well. The key players are white rum and pineapple juice, with a bit of maraschino liqueur to round out the taste. It's a very tropical drink, but it's not over-the-top. For one thing, the recipe I made had 2 oz. of rum, resulting in a pretty strong cocktail. The maraschino liqueur also lends an edge of sophistication to the taste. It's definitely a cocktail to keep in mind for any sort of tropical or beach-themed party, or as a go-to for friends who like their drinks fairly sweet.

Mary Pickford
Mary Pickford

History: Mary Pickford was a star of the silent film era, known as "America's Sweetheart" (even though she was from Canada). She won the second-ever Academy Award for Best Actress in 1929 for her performance in Coquette. Like many affluent Americans of the time, she and her husband Douglas Fairbanks vacationed in Cuba to escape Prohibition laws. It seems clear that a bartender at a Havana hotel created this cocktail for Mary and gave it her name; what is unclear is who and where. It seems it was either Eddie Woelke at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba or Fred Kaufman at the Hotel Sevilla. Doug Ford over at Cold Glass tells me that Kaufman has the better claim. Check out his post on the cocktail as well.

Mary Pickford

2 oz. white rum
1 1/2 oz. pineapple juice
1 tsp. grenadine
1/4 oz. maraschino liqueur

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake until chilled. Strain into a cocktail or coupe glass. Garnish with cherries if desired.

Recipe from Vintage Cocktails.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Mexican Firing Squad

Mexican Firing Squad

This is a cocktail I first had at Herbsaint in New Orleans, where I've stopped more than once for lunch before heading to the New Orleans airport. This was my first time making it at home, and so far it's the clear winner of the week. While I liked the previous two cocktails, I don't find the tart/sweet combination of grenadine to the be the best compliment to rye or Applejack. It's perfectly nice, but I don't really see myself reaching for those recipes time and time again.

The Mexican Firing Squad is another matter. Tequila was made for cocktails that play on tart and sweet notes. Something about this recipe is just so much more harmonious than the previous two. And while just about anything involving tequila and lime juice is bound to be reminiscent of a margarita, the Mexican Firing Squad does a good job of holding its own territory. It's the grenadine and the bitters that do it.

There are a few different versions of this recipe floating around online. A couple call for club soda, and at least one I saw recommended reposado tequila instead of blanco. I haven't had a chance to experiment, but I thought the recipe below was delicious. On a lark (after I took the photos), I did dust one of the cocktails with chipotle chili powder. I thought the spice was a nice addition (though my lips are burning just a little bit). Another thing I can't wait to try is making this cocktail with mezcal. Not only do I love mezcal, but John McEvoy of Mezcal PhD called the mezcal Mexican Firing Squad one of the two greatest mezcal cocktails known to mankind. Strong words from someone who literally wrote a book on mezcal.

Mexican Firing Squad

History: For some reason I assumed this was a new cocktail, but it turns out it's been around for a while. It was discovered by writer and cocktail historian Charles Baker at the La Cucaracha Bar in Mexico City in 1937. He included the recipe in Gentleman's Companion, Volume II: Jigger, Beaker and Flask.

Mexican Firing Squad

2 oz. tequila blanco
3/4 oz. lime juice
3/4 oz. grenadine
5 dashes Angostura bitters

Combine ingredients in a shaker. Add ice and shake until chilled. Strain into an ice-filled rocks glass. Garnish with a slice of lime. And chili powder, if you're feeling adventurous.

Recipe from Punch.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015



Pink week continues with another rosy-colored concoction: the Scofflaw. I first learned about this cocktail from David Lebovitz, who posted the recipe on his blog along with instructions for making homemade grenadine. Like the Jack Rose, it's tart and sweet. In fact, it's almost a little too candy-in-a-glass for me, despite its seemingly respectable ingredients and storied history. I might try a more powerful rye next time; Lebovitz recommends Hudson. In the meantime, I'd kind of like to serve one of these to a friend who swears they don't like whiskey and then tell them they're drinking rye and vermouth. Maybe the fact that they'd be surprised means the recipe needs some alteration.

History: From 1920 to 1933, the United States prohibited the production and sale of alcohol. I can only imagine that this was an extremely frustrating time for anyone who enjoyed a good drink. And yet Prohibition has been romanticized by today's cocktail culture. Speakeasy-style bars with hidden entrances have become fashionably retro, to the point where it's easy to forget that they were once hidden by necessity.

If it wasn't enough that buying alcohol could land you in jail, prohibitionists further sought to shame drinkers for their moral deficiencies. In 1923, a banker and staunch teetotaler named Delcevare King announced a contest to coin a shameful word for someone who flouted the law and drank liquor. Two people independently submitted the term "scofflaw" and split the $200 prize.

Prohibition-era poster: further incentive to drink.

Unfortunately for King, American tipplers at home and abroad enthusiastically embraced the term. Within a year, Harry's New York Bar in Paris was serving a drink called the Scofflaw in honor of their American ex-pat customers. The recipe was printed in Gavin Duffy's Official Mixer's Manual in 1934.


1 1/2 oz. rye whiskey
1 oz. dry vermouth
3/4 oz. lemon juice
3/4 oz. grenadine
2 dashes orange bitters

Combine all ingredients in a shaker. Add ice and shake until chilled. Strain into cocktail or coupe glass. Garnish with a lemon or orange peel.

Recipe from David Lebovitz.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Bottle Buy: Laird's Applejack

Laird's Applejack

America was late to the cocktail game. We have a good excuse, having not existed until 1776 and all, but it's still a fact. We made a lot of rum in the late 1700's and plenty of whiskey in the 1800's, but then we decided to get all prudish and prohibit alcohol entirely for 13 years. Of course, a surprising number of cocktails seem to hail from that period - adversity is the mother of progress, as they say.

A lot of the spirits I've talked about originate in Europe, but Laird's Applejack is as American as it gets. Established in 1780 in Scobeyville, New Jersey, by Revolutionary War veteran Robert Laird, Laird's was the first distillery licensed by the United States government. George Washington personally wrote to the Laird family asking for their Applejack recipe. Abraham Lincoln served Applejack in his tavern in New Salem, Illinois (TIL Abraham Lincoln ran a tavern). Lyndon Johnson gave a case of Applejack to the Soviet Premier in 1967. You might as well be drinking distilled Bald Eagle tears.

In fact, Applejack is made from (big surprise) apples. During the American colonial period, no one in New England was really growing enough grain for whiskey, but apples were abundant. The Laird family myth is that William Laird, a Scotsman and distiller who immigrated to the US in 1698, switched from distilling Scotch to Applejack for this reason. 

What is sold as Applejack today is actually a blend of 35% apple brandy and 65% neutral grain spirits. The Laird family says this reflects a trend towards lighter drinks in the 1970's. The original applejack that Washington drank is now sold as Laird's Apple Brandy, a much pricier product. Some recipes will specifically call for Applejack, and others for Apple Brandy, but subbing in the Applejack for the brandy will still give you close to the original taste.

For more on the Laird family and their distillery, check out this New York Times piece.

Laird's Applejack

Price: $17-20
Alcohol content: 40%
Popular cocktails: Jack Rose, Applejack Old Fashioned, American Trilogy, Honeymoon

Jack Rose

The Jack Rose is the quintessential Applejack cocktail, and (what do you know?) it includes grenadine. The finished cocktail is tart and sweet. The pomegranate really helps bring out the apple flavors. Yes, it's very, very pink. But it bridges the gap between girly cocktail and classic cocktail quite nicely.

History: There are a few different backstories floating around for the Jack Rose, but in his book Imbibe! David Wondrich states with confidence that it was invented by Frank J. May, a bartender at Gene Sullivan's Cafe in Jersey City, around 1905. May's nickname was Jack Rose, and the cocktail was quite appropriate given that it was made with Applejack and is rose-colored.

The confusion arises from another fellow named Jack Rose who popped up in the news in 1912. Bald Jack Rose was a hit man who killed a gambler named Herman Rosenthal. Rose then helped pin the hit on a member of the NYPD's anti-gambling squad, who was almost certainly innocent. The drink was not named after him, or invented by him, but it seems destined to be associated with him.

The Jack Rose also has quite the literary resume. It was a favorite cocktail of John Steinbeck, and appears in The Sun Also Rises by author and drinker extraordinaire Ernest Hemingway.

Jack Rose

Jack Rose

2 oz. Laird's Applejack
3/4 oz. grenadine
3/4 oz. lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake until well chilled. Strain into a cocktail or coupe glass. Garnish with a cherry or a slice of apple, if desired.

Recipe adapted from The PDT Cocktail Book.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Bar School: Grenadine


Like many cocktail newbies, I always thought grenadine referred to cherry juice. Specifically the neon-red cherry juice in the jar of maraschino cherries that the bartenders at weddings would use to make my Shirley Temples when I was little. I knew you could buy a bottle of grenadine, and I figured that was just the same stuff packaged up by itself to make it easier for adding to cocktails. But that's not the case.

Grenadine, real grenadine, is made from pomegranate juice. No cherries involved. In fact, the word comes from the French word for pomegranate, grenade (incidentally, the word "grenade" referring to the bomb probably originates with this French term as well - there's your non-cocktail-related tidbit for the day). As far as when it originated, it's unclear. This post at Alcademics (great name) searches all the classic cocktail books for evidence of when grenadine became widely used. The first mention of it is in 1891 in Cocktail Boothby's American Bartender. Before that, raspberry syrup was more popular than pomegranate. But by the 1910's, grenadine starts popping up everywhere. Popular drinks that are made with grenadine include the Tequila Sunrise, Jack Rose, Ward 8, and Monkey Gland.


The stuff you can buy off the shelf that's labeled "grenadine" is, nine times out of ten, nothing more than high fructose corn syrup dyed red. Seriously. The ingredients in a bottle of Rose's Grenadine are high fructose corn syrup, water, citric acid, sodium citrate, sodium benzoate, red #40, natural and artificial flavors, and blue #1. (Mmmm, blue #1.) It's a shame, because Rose's got its start in 1867 selling sweetened preserved lime juice to British sailors to prevent scurvy, which then became a popular ingredient in 19th century drinks. They're a real piece of cocktail history. Then they were purchased and traded by one big corporation after another (right now they are part of the "Dr. Pepper Snapple" group of Schweppes) and now they make nothing but brightly-colored sugar water. But I digress.

Making grenadine

If you really want to include grenadine in your cocktails, the best thing to do is make it yourself. It's incredibly easy: the recipe is just equal parts pomegranate juice and sugar. Simmer on the stove until the sugar is dissolved. Basically, it's simple syrup with pomegranate juice instead of water. Some people recommend adding a dash of orange flower water or rosewater for flavor, or a bit of vodka to help it keep longer.

Since I've got a big batch of grenadine mixed up, and since that pomegranate juice don't come cheap, I'm officially declaring it "pink week" on Garnish. Whip up your own grenadine and follow along; four very pink recipes are coming your way.


1 part pomegranate juice
1 part sugar
1 dash orange flower water or rosewater (optional)

Combine pomegranate juice and sugar in a saucepan. Simmer on low until sugar is completely dissolved. Let cool. Add orange flower water or rosewater if desired. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

Recipe from David Lebovitz.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Mixology Monday: Boston Molassacre

Boston Molassacre

Mixology MondayThe theme of this month's Mixology Monday, hosted by PuntneyFarm, is Hometown Hooch. The idea is to use locally-distilled spirits. And, being in Boston, I'm in luck. There are distilleries popping up in the Boston area left and right. I chose to use Folly Cove rum from Ryan & Wood in Gloucester, MA, but there were tons of other options, including Bully Boy, Berkshire Mountain, GrandTen, and the new Boston Harbor Distillery, just to name a few.

The current resurgence in local distilleries harkens back to the early days of booze production in the States, when most spirits were made and sold locally. However, Boston had a further reach than most. Its first distillery opened in 1667, and by the American Revolution, gallons of molasses were being imported from the Caribbean every year for Bostons 50+ distilleries to make rum. Rum was the most popular spirit of the time, and Massachusetts was America's leading exporter. But in the 1800's, importing sugar and molasses became more difficult, so most of America turned to whiskey made from home-grown grains. The number of rum distilleries steadily decreased.

The final nail in the casket of Boston's distilling industry was in 1919. Purity Distilling Company was operating at 529 Commercial Street in Boston's North End, right at the mouth of the Charles River. They were still in the business of distilling molasses, but not to make rum; during World War I they used it to make explosives, and in 1919 they were mostly producing industrial ethanol. At center of the distillery was an immense tank for storing and fermenting molasses. We're talking 58 feet high and 90 feet in diameter, containing something like 2.3 million gallons of the stuff. And it wasn't in the best shape. It leaked so regularly that residents of the North End would go collect the molasses dripping off of it.

It was just after noon on January 15, 1919. It was an unseasonably warm day in Boston, which may have had something to do with what happened next.

The tank burst. Its steel plates flew apart, shooting rivets like bullets. A huge wave of warm molasses swept over the North End at 35 miles per hour, leveling buildings, sweeping away cars, and destroying the elevated subway tracks leading to North Station. Twenty-one people were killed and another 150 were injured. Many who did not drown in the molasses were crushed by debris. Today the event is known as the Boston Molasses Disaster, or, more irreverently, the Boston Molassacre.

They say that on warm winter days in the North End, you can still smell the molasses.

The aftermath of the disaster.

The cleanup took six months. While it was still ongoing, Prohibition was passed into law. And that was the end of Boston's distilleries. Did the Molassacre actually have anything to do with this? Probably not. But damn, it's a great story. And who knows? Maybe if Purity Distilling had still been around and had 2.3 million gallons of molasses on hand when Prohibition ended, they might have decided to make some rum.

Boston Post Headline
The headline of the Boston Post the day after the disaster. Note the article on Prohibition on the left.

Now, nearly 100 years later, Boston and its surrounding areas are finally getting back into the game. As soon as I remembered the Molassacre, I wanted to use a local rum for this cocktail. I was a bit down to the wire and the liquor store I went to didn't have Bully Boy or Medford rum, which are actually made inside the city limits, but I came across Ryan & Wood's Folly Cove. It's made in Gloucester, which is about 35 miles north of Boston on Cape Ann. I'm not a rum connoisseur, but I really like it; it's smooth and has such a nice flavor that I enjoyed it by itself. But any rum distilled from molasses would work.

This recipe is a riff on the Dark 'N Stormy, which is usually made with Gosling's Black Seal Rum and ginger beer (in fact, Gosling's has trademarked the cocktail, so if you don't make it with Gosling's brand, you're technically not making a Dark 'N Stormy). Add some lime and you get a cocktail called a "buck," though that's not a term you really see anymore. The Moscow Mule (vodka, ginger beer, lime) is a vodka buck.

Blackstrap molasses is pretty thick and has a strong taste on its own, so I made a molasses simple syrup by adding it to sugar and water. And let me tell you, after working with it, I do not want to know what it would be like to drown in the stuff.

UPDATE: The Mixology Monday roundup is here!

Boston Molassacre

2 oz. rum
5 oz. ginger beer
1/2 oz. molasses simple syrup*
1 lime wedge

Combine rum and molasses syrup in a shaker with ice. Shake until chilled and strain into a rocks glass. Top with ginger beer and garnish with a lime wedge, squeezed and dropped in if desired.

*Molasses simple syrup: combine 1/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup water, and 1 tbsp. blackstrap molasses in a small saucepan on the stove. Heat on low until sugar is dissolved. Do not allow to come to a boil. Let cool before use.

P.S. The map of Boston in the back of the top photo is from GeoArtShed. Check them out!

Thursday, June 11, 2015



This is another one of my favorite cocktails, and probably my favorite tequila cocktail. It tastes like a more sophisticated Margarita. The honey simple syrup gives it depth, and the Aperol adds a bitterness that really compliments the tequila. There's not much else to say, except: try it!

History: You don't have to go back too far for this one; it was invented at The Independent in Somerville, MA.


1 1/2 oz. tequila blanco
1 oz. Aperol
3/4 oz. honey simple syrup
3/4 oz. lime juice

Combine all ingredients with ice in a shaker. Shake until chilled. Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with a grapefruit twist.

Recipe from Cocktail Virgin Slut

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Rosemary Truffle Popcorn

Rosemary Truffle Popcorn

Let's face it: cocktails are better with snacks. Cocktails are often served before dinner, and they're usually paired with appetizers so that your guests don't get totally schnockered before the meal even begins. GarnishGuy and I don't have a ton of dinner parties, but we'll have friends over for drinks on occasion. But the usual assortment of cheeses or snacks from Trader Joe's has gotten a little repetitive. I'd love to up our appetizer game without it getting too complicated.

Rosemary Truffle Popcorn

Popcorn is a great snack because it's simple to make and can be easily embellished. I confess, I was actually shocked when I found out how easy it is to pop your own popcorn on the stove from plain kernels. It was like the first time I made whipped cream; I realized I could never, under any circumstances, go back to the pre-fab stuff. It's just too easy and delicious to do it from scratch. We also had a farm share that was giving us multiple ears of popcorn every week. (Yes, popcorn comes on an ear. I can't be the only idiot who didn't realize that for the first 20-odd years of her life.) I had a new favorite snack.

Rosemary Truffle Popcorn

Before long, I was adding all sorts of different things to my popcorn: herbs, grated parmesan cheese, flavored oil, cajun seasoning. It's fun to play around with. But this combination is my favorite: rosemary and truffle oil. Most truffle oil is pretty expensive, but I found a cheap bottle by Monin in Boston's North End. Doing a little research, I found out that truffle oil is a polarizing ingredient among chefs; it's not usually flavored with actual truffles, but with a synthetically produced version of a compound that gives truffles their flavor. Apparently it's a poor representation of true truffle flavor. And I'm sure my cheap bottle is worse than most. But as someone who has never had an actual truffle, I'm quite happy with it.

Lately I've also salted the popcorn with a homemade truffle salt that we got as a wedding favor from some friends; if you've got some, use it. Once mine runs out, I'm going to have to get the recipe.

Rosemary Truffle Popcorn

Rosemary Truffle Popcorn

1/2 cup unpopped popcorn
1 tsp. dried rosemary
3 tbsp. truffle-flavored oil
1 tsp. salt, or to taste

Add oil and about 3/4 of rosemary to a medium-sized saucepan. Add popcorn kernels and shake to coat. Cover and put on stove at medium-high heat. Let the pot heat, shaking occasionally to prevent burning. In about four minutes, you should hear the first pops. Once this happens, begin shaking and swirling the pan constantly as the kernels pop. Occasionally lift the lid to vent. Continue until the popping slows and the pot is full. Remove from heat. Add salt and toss or stir to combine. Transfer into a serving bowl and top with remaining rosemary.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Victoria & Albert

Victoria & Albert

While I was away, I missed the roundup of the May Mixology Monday recipes. Here it is, over at CocktailVirgin. As I predicted, my CuauhtĂ©moc was not the only Mexican-themed Manhattan recipe, though it was the only one that used tequila; Chris at ABarAbove created the rum-based Teotihuacan. Another one I'm looking forward to trying is Rated R Cocktails' Chinatown Moll. Well, to be honest, I'd try them all if I had the ingredients. I hope I have time to come up with something for MXMO XCVII, because I love the idea of working with local ingredients.

Today's recipe is one of my mom's favorite cocktails. My parents live near a location of New Orleans' wonderful Martin Wine Cellar, and periodically come home from tastings or shopping trips with cocktail recipes. My mom made this one and was instantly wowed. And I can see why. It's bright, floral, fragrant, and just the tiniest bit bitter. It's a lovely cocktail.

Victoria & Albert

The original recipe called for only 1 oz. of grapefruit juice, but I felt the drink was too sweet and unbalanced. Increasing it to 1 1/2 really helped, in my opinion. This is also only the second vodka cocktail I've featured on this blog; I already mentioned that I'm not really a big fan of vodka in general. Even as I drank my Victoria & Albert, I couldn't help but wonder what it would taste like with some gin instead.

So, vodka lovers... can you recommend a vodka and/or a cocktail that might change my mind?

Queen Victoria & Prince Albert
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert on their wedding day.

History: This recipe comes from a Square One vodka handout titled "Cocktails for Italian Cuisine," and doesn't appear to exist anywhere else. There's a version of the handout on the Square One website, but it doesn't have the Victoria & Albert on it.

The namesake for the drink is clearly the "it" couple of the 1840's and 50's, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. They had a very romantic relationship, and Victoria was heartbroken when Albert died of typhoid fever at age 42, after 21 years of marriage. Victoria wore black for the rest of her long life, and she had the servants lay out Albert's clothes for the next day every evening until she died. Their relationship is depicted in the recent movie The Young Victoria, with Emily Blunt as the queen and Rupert Friend as Prince Albert. Perhaps this is a fitting inspiration for a cocktail that is very sweet, with just a touch of bitterness at the end.

Victoria & Albert

2 oz. vodka
1 1/2 oz. grapefruit juice
1/2 oz. Aperol
1/2 oz. simple syrup (or less)
4 basil leaves

Put basil leaves at the bottom of a shaker and muddle until bruised. Add remaining ingredients and ice. Shake until very cold. Double-strain into a coupe glass, and garnish with a grapefruit twist and a basil leaf.

Recipe adapted from Square One Vodka.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Bottle Buy: Benedictine


I'm back! And ready for some cocktails. I mostly stuck to beer on my trip to the UK, but I did learn a thing or two. First of all, most beer in pubs is cask ale. Rather than being served from a pressurized keg as most beer is in the US, it is "pulled" with a hand pump, a longer and more involved process. It is served much warmer than draught beer and is less carbonated. I drank it for the first week or so, figuring "when in Rome," but I'd prefer a crisp, cold, fizzy beer any day. Eventually I gave up and started going for foreign draught beers or the occasional "American-style IPA."

It also turns out that unless you want a Guinness, stouts and porters are basically nonexistant at most bars. I always figured England would be full of them. I guess it's an Irish thing?

I did imbibe the occasional G&T, and tried one new gin, Adnams Copper House, which had a really interesting flavor. And of course I tried a good amount of Scotch in Edinburgh, though I didn't get to visit a distillery. I've got a list of a few to look for here in the States to see if they still taste as good after a long day at work vs. a long day of touring Medieval castles.

And that's about as good a segway as any I'm going to get into this week's Bottle Buy, Benedictine, which supposedly dates back to the Middle Ages. To me, it was a mysterious spirit that kept popping up in recipes that otherwise sounded very good. Once I had amassed enough of them, I decided it was time to buy a bottle. I've been surprised by how often I use it.

Benedictine is a sweet, herbal, cognac-based liquor. Like many other popular and venerable products, its exact formula is kept carefully secret. It contains 27 different herbs and spices, the main flavors being angelica, hyssop, and lemon balm. The popular story of its creation, as told on the product's website and implied by the date printed on the bottle, is that Benedictine was created by a monk named Dom Bernardo Vincelli in 1510, but the recipe was lost during the French Revolution. It was rediscovered by a chemist named Alexander Le Grande in 1863 when he was going through some old family documents. He decided to market the recipe as Benedictine. But a lot of folks think this story was entirely made up by Le Grande to help him sell booze, and that he formulated the recipe himself.

The Benedictine bottle bears the distinctive red-wax seal of the Abbey of Fecamp and the initials D.O.M., standing for Deo Optimo Maximo ("To God, most good, most great"), a motto of the Benedictine Order. Twelve years of Catholic school taught me that the more commonly used Benedictine motto is Ora et Labora, "Prayer and Work," but I guess that doesn't work quite as well on a bottle of booze.


Price: $35
Alcohol content: 40%
Popular cocktails: Vieux Carre, B&B, Singapore Sling


The Frisco is all about Benedictine. This recipe adds nothing but rye, putting the sweet and strong herbal notes of the liquor front and center. It's a perfect introduction to a spirit that plays a background role in a lot of cocktails. There are other versions of this cocktail that include lemon juice, apparently a later addition and something I need to try. But I like the simplicity of this one. And it comes from The PDT Cocktail Book by Jim Meehan, so it's hard to argue with.

History: The Frisco first appears in William Boothby's World Drinks and How to Mix Them in 1930Meehan credits Boothby with the recipe below, so it may be the original. But I don't know where it came from, and I'm not sure anyone else does, either. Apparently it never took off because of its name. Around the turn of the century, the nickname "Frisco" for the city of San Francisco became so over-used that it began to irk its residents, to the point where at least one "Anti-Frisco" committee was founded.


2 oz. rye
1/2 oz. Benedictine

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

Recipe from The PDT Cocktail Book.