Friday, July 31, 2015

Coy Mistress

Coy Mistress

Had we but world enough, and time
This coyness, Lady, were no crime
We would sit down and think which way
To walk and pass our long love's day.

My mom flew up to Boston for my dissertation defense. After she sat so patiently through an hour-long talk, wondering what on earth allopatry and ΦST were, I really thought she deserved a cocktail. It is hot today in Boston, so something light and fizzy was a must. She's a big vodka drinker (apparently it's not hereditary) and isn't into minty drinks or ginger beer, so that nixed a lot of the ideas I had offhand. So we created a summery concoction together that we both really enjoyed. I wanted to name it in her honor. She's a researcher in 17th century literature, and she suggested "Coy Mistress" after one of Andrew Marvell's most famous poems.

Coy Mistress

History: I'm going to let my mom take this one:

"Andrew Marvell was a 17th century British metaphysical poet (1621-1678), whose works one scholar has called 'liminal.' Here's an 'in-between' cocktail perfect for a hot summer day in Boston, particularly after a grueling dissertation defense. Marvell's famous poem 'To His Coy Mistress' epitomizes the beauties (and heat) of a torrid affair, to be cooled off by a healthy dose of vodka, St. Germain, lemon juice, simple syrup, and muddled basil. Try it, and see if you still feel 'coy.'"

Well said, Mom.

Coy Mistress

2 oz. vodka
3/4 oz. St. Germain
3/4 oz. lemon juice
1/2 oz simple syrup
4 basil leaves
2 oz. club soda

Muddle basil in a shaker with simple syrup and lemon juice. Add St. Germain and vodka. Shake with ice until well chilled. Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice. Top with club soda and stir briefly. Garnish with a lemon slice and a sprig of basil.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

De La Louisiane

De La Louisiane

Guess what, blog readers? I have officially defended my dissertation. Call me Dr. GarnishGirl. Or don't, actually. That just sounds silly.

Anyway, though I've still got to finish up that pesky thesis, I'm excited to have a bit more time to blog and make cocktails and enjoy what's left of the summer. I've got a few more summery drinks coming your way, but today I thought I'd take a little break and talk about something a little different: the De La Louisiane.

With its rye, sweet vermouth, Benedictine, and Peychaud's bitters, the De La Louisiane is quite similar to the Vieux Carre, another classic New Orleans cocktail. It lacks the Vieux Carre's Cognac, and also amps up the herbal notes that are only hinted at in the Vieux Carre to extremes with much more Benedictine and a few dashes of absinthe (as usual, I used Herbsaint). As such, it's a much more polarizing taste; if you don't like absinthe or Benedictine, I'd steer clear of this one. But if you do, they work beautifully together for a very layered, complex cocktail, something you're going to want to sip slowly and savor.

History: This was the signature cocktail of the restaurant La Louisiane in New Orleans. The hotel and restaurant was opened in 1881 by Louis Bezaudun in a residence on Iberville Street that had been built in 1837. It became famous for its Creole cuisine and served many famous guests, from Teddy Roosevelt to Harry Houdini. It closed in 1932, and the property changed hands several times. In 1954, it became an Italian restaurant also called La Louisiane. It was sold again in 1998 and has been renovated and re-opened as a restaurant and event space in the spirit of the original Creole restaurant.

The recipe for the De La Louisiane (sometimes just called the La Louisiane) was first published in Stanley Clisby Arthur's 1937 book Famous New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix 'Em. His recipe called for equal parts rye, Benedictine, and sweet vermouth. This version from The PDT Cocktail Book tones down the sweetness and increases the rye for a well-balanced cocktail.

De La Louisiane

2 oz. rye
3/4 oz sweet vermouth
3/4 oz. Benedictine
3 dashes* absinthe or Herbsaint
3 dashes Peychaud's bitters

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass and stir well with ice. Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with three brandied cherries.

*A "dash" is easy with a bottle of bitters, but tougher with something like absinthe. One dash should equal about 1/8 tsp.

Recipe adapted from The PDT Cocktail Book.

Monday, July 27, 2015



I love traveling, and GarnishGuy and I have been fortunate enough to do a lot of it. Eating and drinking are half the fun of most trips, and I especially love trying local specialties. Sometimes the circumstances make something twice as good as it could ever be anywhere or any time else: stumbling upon an amazing restaurant, eating with a beautiful view, or rewarding yourself after a challenging day of hiking can make otherwise ordinary food and drink into something extraordinary. In those cases, when you try to re-create something at home, it just doesn't work. But that doesn't stop us from trying every now and then.


We spent the summer of 2007 in South America, and one weekend we took a ferry from Buenos Aires to Colonia del Sacramento in Uruguay. It's a beautiful historical town that has become a seaside resort for the residents of Buenos Aires and Montevideo. Because we went in the dead of the southern winter, it was quiet during the day and essentially abandoned at night. But we managed to find a restaurant that was open, and they served a drink called Clerico. It's basically a white Sangria, and it seems to be an Uruguayan specialty. Thinking of drinks that would be good for sipping on our porch in the summertime, I suddenly remembered it and knew I had to try and make it.


A quick Google search brings up plenty of Clerico recipes. I chose this one from an Uruguayan travel site, which I thought ought to be fairly authentic. Like Sangria, Clerico is filled with fruit. The recipe specifically calls for strawberries, orange, peach, and banana, but mentions that you can use whatever is in season. I stuck to those four for today, but I imagine it would be lovely with blueberries and raspberries. The fruit is sliced, mixed with sugar, and combined with rum and wine. The recipe recommends a sweeter white like Viognier, Chardonnay, or Torrontes, but just about anything will do; I used a Bordeaux from Trader Joe's. Just be sure to adjust the amount of sugar according to the sweetness of your wine.

FYI: this punch is dangerously sweet and drinkable. It is best slowly sipped, but begs to be guzzled. You have been warned.



1 orange, sliced and quartered
1 banana, sliced
1 peach, cubed
7 oz. strawberries, sliced
2-4 tbsp. sugar
1/2 cup white rum
1 bottle (750 ml) white wine

Prepare all fruit and put in a large bowl. Add sugar and mix. (Undershoot the amount of sugar - you can add more later.) Move fruit into a large pitcher. Add rum and wine and stir. Chill in fridge before serving. Salud!

Recipe adapted from Travel-Uruguay.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Cucumber Fizz

Cucumber Fizz

This cocktail is a summer favorite of my Dad's and mine. I fondly remember mixing them up on a family trip to the beach last summer (we may have rented a condo for only a few days, but we basically brought a full bar with us.) I made up the recipe after seeing a bartender mix something similar at the Carousel Bar at the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans. His version contained St. Germain, and I've included it here as an option, but I honestly love the crisp flavor of gin and cucumber without it. I'm drinking one on my porch as I write, soaking in a summer evening, and I can't imagine a more perfect cocktail for the moment.

I debated a bit about whether to call this a Cucumber Fizz or a Cucumber Collins. As you may recall, a Tom Collins is a cocktail containing gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and club soda. You can similarly make a Whiskey Collins or a Vodka Collins. But a "fizz" by definition is also a cocktail containing citrus juice, sugar, and carbonated water. I still don't have a satisfactory answer for how a Gin Fizz is any different from a Tom Collins, but I'm going to go ahead and call this a Cucumber Fizz because, well, I like the name.

Cucumber Fizz

As far as what gin to use, Hendricks would be the best. A cucumber infusion makes it ideal for any cocktail with cucumber flavors. But it's a bit pricey for me, and right now I'm really enjoying GrandTen's Wire Works gin made right here in Boston. Your go-to gin ought to be just fine.

If you want to do a variation with St. Germain, add 1/4 oz. or even 1/2 oz. and decrease the simple syrup to 2 tsp. St. Germain really is lovely with these flavors, but it moves the cocktail from crisp and citrusy to sweet and floral. It just depends what you're in the mood for.

Cucumber Fizz

1 1/2 oz. gin
1/4 oz. St. Germain (optional)
2 slices cucumber, halved
1/2 oz. lime juice
1/2 oz. simple syrup
2 oz. club soda

Muddle cucumber, lime juice, and simple syrup in a glass. Add gin, St. Germain (if desired), ice, and club soda. Stir gently and enjoy.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Tray Chic

Clerico on Crate & Barrell's Aqua Zuma Tray
Tray from Crate & Barrel, pitcher and glasses from H&M Home

I'm a big fan of trays. Anything that can be both practical and decorative is usually a good addition to a home or apartment. So when One King's Lane asked me to participate in their Tray Chic campaign, I was happy to share a couple of ways to use trays in your home.

The first may seem obvious, but... trays are great for carrying lots of cocktails! They really are a must for entertaining guests, especially outdoors. It's pretty hard to carry more than two glasses at once. A tray not only helps out, but also makes a nice presentation. Now that the weather is nice, GarnishGuy and I have been spending more and more evenings outside, and having a tray has come in handy even with just the two of us.

Rose on a melamine tray from Target
Tray, glasses, and bowl from Target

I also like using a tray as an instant (mini) bar cart. I'm a sucker for all those great pictures of beautiful bar carts on Pinterest, but if I end up studying them, I usually realize that they make no sense. There aren't really many cocktails you can make with a bottle of champagne, some San Pellegrino, and stripey paper straws. I love flowers as much as the next girl, but maybe you should set that vase aside and add a bottle of whiskey or something?

Martini station

If we're being truthful, making cocktails usually turns out to be a messy business that ends in water rings, lemon rinds, and dirty glassware. And a bar with enough spirits and mixers to make an assortment of cocktails gets pretty sizable. But if you want the bar cart vibe, try a tray. I made one up with everything you need for a gin or vodka martini. You could even space a couple of these around with different themes for guests. Admittedly, you'd need more glassware, but there's always space to the side.

I even found room for flowers.

Martini station
Tray from Crate & Barrel, ice bucket from Target

Check out #TrayChic on Twitter for ideas from other bloggers!

Monday, July 20, 2015



When you're talking about great summer drinks, it doesn't get much classier than the Americano. If sipping a Mojito or a Pina Colada can make you feel like you're on a beach somewhere in the Caribbean, then the Americano will transport you to the streets of Florence.

As you might guess from its ingredients, the Americano is exactly between a Campari & Soda and a Negroni in taste. It's much lighter than the Negroni, and I find it so much more drinkable. Maybe this is the gateway cocktail to Negronis? But it's also sweeter and richer than a Campari & Soda. It's refreshing without sacrificing complexity.

History: The Americano is a "long drink" version of a cocktail called the Milano-Torino, a mix of Campari and sweet vermouth. It was invented by the creator of Campari himself, Gaspare Campari, at his Caffe Campari in Milan. It was named for the two cities where its ingredients originated: Campari from Milan, and sweet vermouth from Torino (Turin). It's unclear when the club soda became involved, or whether it was always an option when ordering a Milano-Torino. But it seems American tourists loved this thoroughly Italian cocktail, causing it to become known instead as an Americano.

The Americano became the Negroni when Italian count-turned-cowboy Camillo Negroni ordered one at a bar in Florence and had the bartender replace the club soda with gin. It's also the first drink James Bond ever orders in Ian Fleming's book Casino Royale. Clearly a tough guy sort of summer sipper.


1 oz. Campari
1 oz. sweet vermouth
1 oz. club soda

Combine Campari and vermouth in a glass. Add ice and stir. Top with club soda and garnish with a slice of orange.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Cucumber Basil Gimlet

Cucumber Basil Gimlet

If there is anyone out there who has been eagerly awaiting a new post, I apologize for the delay. I'm two weeks away from defending my dissertation, and needless to say, it's been busy! I finally sent my second chapter to my committee today, and celebrated by making a Cucumber Basil Gimlet.

I don't remember exactly where the inspiration for this cocktail came from. I saw the name in passing somewhere and made a note of it. I didn't even look up the recipe; the idea was straightforward enough, and it sounded like a lovely combination of flavors. So once the basil on my patio was mostly recovered from my best attempts to let it wither and die, I plucked a few leaves and experimented with proportions.

Cucumber Basil Gimlet

This is a lovely summer drink, and it stands out amid a list of other summery recipes I have lined up for the next few weeks in that it is not at all fizzy (although now that I think about it, you could amp up the lime juice and simple syrup, add club soda, and make a gin-basil Mojito sort of cocktail... hmm). It doesn't go down too quickly, but it's still citrusy and refreshing. Great for an evening on the porch.

For those of you who have time for that sort of thing.

Cucumber Basil Gimlet

Cucumber Basil Gimlet

2 oz. gin
1/2 oz. lime juice
1/2 oz. simple syrup
5 slices cucumber
5 basil leaves

Add cucumber slices and basil leaves to a shaker with lime juice and simple syrup. Muddle until leaves are bruised and cucumber is broken up. Add gin and ice. Shake until well chilled. Double-strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a slice of cucumber and a sprig of basil.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Vesper Martini

Vesper Martini

"Shaken. Not stirred."

Did you know that James Bond was named after an ornithologist? And he enjoys a good cocktail. A few too many, even. We have so much in common.

For me, the Vesper was a great introduction to the world of traditional Martinis. Even though I love gin, a Martini was way too in-your-face with it than I could handle. But I found that the Lillet and vodka softened the Vesper and made it more drinkable. From there, I slowly inched my way into traditional Martinis, olives and all. Preferably lots of olives. I never thought I would take a sip of a Martini and say "there's too much vermouth in this." But I have, and it's all because I made that first Vesper.

History: The Vesper has its origin in the following passage from Ian Fleming's novel Casino Royale:

"A dry martini," he said. "One. In a deep champagne goblet."
"Oui, monsieur."
"Just a moment. Three measures of Gordon's, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it's ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?"
"Certainly, monsieur." The barman seemed pleased with the idea.
"Gosh, that's certainly a drink," said Leiter.
Bond laughed. "When I'm... er... concentrating," he explained, "I never have more than one drink before dinner. But I do like that one to be large and very strong and very cold and very well-made. I hate small portions of anything, particularly when they taste bad. This drink's my own invention. I'm going to patent it when I can think of a good name."

Soon after, Bond names the drink after his love interest Vesper Lynd. However, Bond doesn't order the Vesper in any of the other books, opting for traditional gin or vodka Martinis (and a whole lot of other things).

The recipe for the Vesper was in fact developed by Fleming's friend Ivar Bryce. If you mix one up today, it won't be quite the same. Kina Lillet changed its formulation in 1986, and tastes less bitter than it used to. They also dropped the Kina from their name in the 1960's. Kina refers to quinine, which gives Lillet its bitterness. It was not removed along with the name change, as some people think. A lot of folks advocate for using Cocchi Americano as a substitute for present-day Lillet.

Gordon's gin has also been reformulated with a lower alcohol content since the book's publication in 1953, as have most vodkas. If you want the drink the way Fleming's Bond would have liked it, use Tanqueray and 100 proof vodka (Bond mentions that he prefers grain vodka).

As for the whole "shaken, not stirred" thing, it probably has to do with Bond liking his drinks "very cold." I've also heard a theory that he wants them to be more dilute than they should, so that his enemies will think he's drunker than he actually is. Whatever the reason, you've got to be pretty cool to pull off such a mixology faux pas. As for whether you should shake or stir your own Vesper, I say try it both ways and see what you like.

Just don't drink too many.


3 oz. gin
1 oz. vodka
1/2 oz. Lillet blanc or Cocchi Americano

Combine ingredients in a shaker or a mixing glass with ice. Either shake or stir until it is very cold. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a thin slice of lemon peel. Oh, and keep an eye on your drink.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Bar School: Shaken or Stirred?

The answer: If there's any kind of non-alcoholic mixer, shake. If it's all spirits, stir.

Of course we all know the exception, a certain British spy who likes his Martinis "shaken, not stirred," even though a Martini firmly falls into the latter category; we'll talk more about him on Friday. But to understand why you might do one and not the other, you have to understand what you're trying to achieve, and what you don't want to happen to your cocktail. Pour yourself a drink and get ready for some science!

Mixing a drink with ice does three main things: it combines the ingredients together, it chills the drink, and it dilutes the drink. Let's talk about each of these in turn.

1. Combining the ingredients. This may seem like a very basic thing, but it's actually at the heart of the shaking vs. stirring issue. If you're making a cocktail consisting entirely of alcohol, like a Martini, Manhattan, or Negroni, all of your ingredients are going to be roughly the same density. This means they will mix readily and stay that way. Stirring does a great job of combining them.

But if your cocktail contains other ingredients like fruit juice, simple syrup, cream, or egg whites, you're going to be dealing with some very different densities, and they will not mix and stay mixed as readily. Shaking emulsifies and combines them.

2. Chilling the drink. Some people think that shaking will make a drink colder than stirring, but that's not true. It takes longer to get a stirred cocktail down to the same temperature as a shaken one, but once they reach a lower limit, that's it. Eben Klemm, an MIT-geneticist-turned-mixologist, has shown that you generally can't get a cocktail any colder than -7 degrees Celsius (about 19 degrees Fahrenheit). So if you're doing your shaking and your stirring right, there shouldn't be an obvious difference in temperature.

3. Diluting the drink. When you mix cocktail ingredients with ice to chill them, some of the ice is going to melt and dilute the drink. This may sound like an unfortunate side-effect, but it's actually part of the process of getting a cocktail just right. In fact, there's chemistry behind it. Noel Jackson, a British chemist who studies cocktails, explains how water interacts with the chemical compounds that give booze its flavor, called esters: "The addition of water via ice to the cocktail is critical because it releases H2O that slices the esters open to release smaller, more volatile chemicals that in turn release vapors on your palate - the point at which you get the flavor."

So you do want dilution. The question is how much. The motion of rapidly shaking a drink in ice is going to cause much more dilution than stirring. But in drinks that are meant to be shaken, it's not a big issue; the dilution is worth it for the improvement in the texture.

Let's talk about that. Shaking introduces more air into the drink. This is really the biggest factor in shaking vs. stirring. Texture is key. You want your Martinis and Manhattans to be smooth and dense. Introduced air interferes with this, and turns the cocktail cloudy. But when other ingredients are involved, a bit of froth is perfect. Shaking actually lowers the acidic taste of citrus. It's also especially important if you're using egg whites - shaking gives them texture and volume just like beating them in a mixer.

There's still the big question: shaking a Martini might make it cloudy, but will it actually taste any different? I've already mentioned that it will likely be more dilute. But it is frequently said that shaking "bruises" gin, giving it a sharper or more bitter taste. The science behind this is that shaking introduces more air into the drink, which oxidizes the aldehydes in the gin, changing its flavor. But a lot of people believe that this a myth. The best explanation I've found that addresses the science is in the comments section of this post on Cocktail Hacker: basically, there aren't that many aldehydes in there to begin with, and those that are present would oxidize pretty quickly with any exposure to oxygen, so the shaking isn't going to add much. Good news for James Bond.

If you like getting really scientific about your cocktails, check out this set of experiments done for Tales of the Cocktail by Eben Klemm, Alex Day, and Dave Arnold. The figure below is an example of the sort of rigorous experimentation you might expect from cocktail scientists:

Crazy Monkey refers to Arnold, who apparently did his best to shake the shit out of the cocktails. Speaking of....

How to Shake

First of all, there are two kinds of shakers to choose from. I use a typical stainless steel shaker that I just learned is called a cobbler shaker. The other sort is the Boston shaker, and most pros recommend it. This kind of shaker consists of a metal tumbler and a mixing glass. The ingredients are combined in one or the other with ice, and then the other half of the shaker is jammed into it at an angle, forming a seal. This essentially doubles the distance your cocktail travels in the shaker. Once the drink is shaken, it's poured into a glass using a strainer or just a narrow gap between the two halves.

Whichever type of shaker you use, you should combine all of your ingredients in it, and then fill it up about halfway with ice. I'm sure there are folks with very strong opinions about exactly what type of ice to use, the appropriate size and shape of cubes, etc., but let's not let this get out of hand. You generally want larger cubes, and plenty of them. According to the experimenters mentioned above, fewer cubes can actually dilute the drink more.

Usually, you should shake a drink for about 30 seconds. If you're using a stainless steel shaker, you can shake until the outside of the shaker is quite cold. Some recipes may specifically call for longer shaking. One extreme example is the Ramos Gin Fizz, a New Orleans specialty, which is shaken for several minutes to create the foamy egg whites that tower over the top of the glass.

Once you've shaken the cocktail, use the lid of the shaker or a strainer to pour the cocktail into a glass.

How to Stir

Stirring is a slightly simpler endeavor. It begins the same way: combine your ingredients in a mixing glass or tumbler, and add ice. But instead of shaking, simply stir the cocktail with a bar spoon. Some people recommend letting the drink rest for about 30 seconds, and then stirring again. After that, use a strainer to pour the drink into a glass.

Building a Cocktail

There is one more way to mix a cocktail, and that is to "build" it in the glass. This is usually done with cocktails that contain carbonated ingredients such as a Gin & Tonic, Tom Collins, or Moscow Mule. You obviously don't want to shake something carbonated, or you'll lose a lot of fizz and probably make a mess. Some recipes call for shaking the non-carbonated ingredients with ice, straining them into an ice-filled glass, and topping with the carbonated mixer. Others just recommend combining all the ingredients over ice in a glass and stirring. You will even find some real purists, particularly in the world of Gin & Tonics, who believe that even stirring releases too many bubbles; they recommend just dipping your spoon in and out of the glass to mix.

And that is the lowdown on shaking vs. stirring. But at the end of the day, you just want to enjoy your cocktail, so take a leaf out of James Bond's book and go with what works for you.

Monday, July 6, 2015



The Mimosa is such a simple cocktail that at first it almost seems excessive to give it its own post. But it absolutely deserves it. It still requires a recipe, after all (how much orange juice to how much champagne?), it has a venerable yet somewhat disputed history, and it is perfect with brunch, which is arguably the best meal there is. It's delicious, it's classy, and you're allowed to drink it in the morning without getting funny looks. I am 100% on board with the Mimosa.

Mimosa flowers
Flowers of the Mimosa, Acacia dealbata.

History: The Mimosa was invented at the Ritz in Paris sometime in the 1920's. It was named after an Australian Acacia tree that was popular with French gardeners at the time; the drink's bright yellow color looked just like the color of the tree's flowers.

However, either the bartender at the Ritz stole the recipe from a club in London, or he invented the same drink right around the same time. Buck's Club served a cocktail called a "Buck's Fizz" consisting of, you guessed it, orange juice and champagne. Apparently Mimosas are still referred to by this name in the UK.

The French version calls for two parts orange juice to one part champagne, while the English version uses the opposite. It's very much a matter of taste; half and half is another option. Personally, I like the English way.

Though most Mimosas are just champagne and orange juice, the original also had a teaspoon of Grand Marnier, an orange liqueur. Buck's Fizz had a half teaspoon of grenadine. David Wondrich recommends trying a dash or two of orange bitters in your Mimosa.


2 oz. orange juice
4 oz. Brut champagne

Pour orange juice into a champagne flute and top with champagne. Optinally, add a teaspoon of Grand Marnier, a half teaspoon of grenadine, or a couple of dashes of orange bitters. Cheers to brunch.

Recipe from Esquire.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Nouveau Carre

Nouveau Carre

Hot on the heels of the Vieux Carre comes this unique concoction, which takes the mix of rye, Cognac, and sweet vermouth and gives it a makeover - with tequila. It seemed odd to me at first, but wait until you taste it. I realized ahead of making this that just about every tequila cocktail I can think of employs some kind of citrus juice. Tequila just goes so well with lemon, lime, and orange. But it can also work beautifully with other spirits, and that's what this cocktail is about. It calls for aged anejo tequila, which is more flavorful than its blanco and reposado counterparts, and much more reminiscent of the whiskey in the original cocktail. It's mixed with sweet, herbal Benedictine, rounded out with Peychaud's bitters and Lillet blanc. I don't think I've talked about Lillet yet; it's an aperitif wine similar to dry vermouth, most famous for its inclusion in the Vesper Martini of James Bond fame. The finished product is really a very different take on a spirit I use often. Definitely worth mixing up.

History: The Nouveau Carre was invented by Jonny Raglin in 2005. Raglin is currently one of the owners of the Comstock Saloon in San Francisco. According to their website, he claims his secrets to success are to always use three ingredients in his cocktails, and have The Savoy Cocktail Book in your pocket.

Nouveau Carre

1 1/2 oz. anejo tequila
3/4 oz. Lillet Blanc
1/4 oz. Benedictine
3 dashes Peychaud's bitters

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass or shaker with ice. Stir until well-chilled. Strain into a cocktail glass or coupe. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Bloody Mary

Bloody Mary

For some cocktails, I believe in sticking to the real tried-and-true recipe. As close to the original as possible. You can alter some proportions to suit your taste, but too many tweaks and it's not the same drink anymore.

The Bloody Mary is not one of those cocktails. The Bloody Mary is a do-it-yourself, be-as-creative-as-possible sort of cocktail. There's a basic formula, of course: vodka, tomato juice, horseradish, hot sauce, celery salt, and pepper. But from there, anything goes. Pickle juice? Sure! Smoked paprika? Yum. Cajun seasoning? Absolutely. Swap the vodka for tequila. Heck, I'm not even sure tomato juice is absolutely necessary. Even there you can use V-8 or Clamato for a different taste, or blended tomatillos for a Verde Mary (arguably a different cocktail, but let's not get too technical; that's not what the Bloody Mary is about).

And don't even get me started on garnishes. The Bloody Mary has brought garnishes to a whole new level. Bars use everything from a lone celery stick to an entire five-course meal (I'm not even kidding). It's a great cocktail to just have fun with. Bloody Mary bars where guests can build their own just the way they want are perfect for brunches.

Bloody Mary

I actually thought I didn't really like Bloody Marys, but then I realized it was because I'd never had a really good one, or at least one made to my taste. They've all been too one-note (tomato juice + booze) or way too spicy. But I thought the ones I made at home were fabulous. Knowing what I like, I stuck to lots of flavor and not too much spice. It was like a delicious, alcoholic meal in a glass.

I kept to the standard formula for the most part. Lacking celery salt, I used ground celery seed. I also added Tony Chachere's, because everything is better with some Tony's. For garnishes, I used to celery, a cucumber spear (I would have preferred a pickle, but I didn't have any), olives, lemon, and a couple of sprigs of cilantro. But I have nothing against an elaborate Bloody Mary garnish. Ideally I'd add a shrimp or two - yum. Now that I know it's a cocktail I like, I look forward to trying a lot of different things. I recommend this post at FoodieCrush for some suggestions, and a great guide for making a Bloody Mary bar for guests.

Bloody Mary

History: The most commonly told story of the Bloody Mary's origin is that it was invented by Fernand "Pete" Petiot at Harry's New York Bar in Paris in 1921. After Prohibition ended, Petiot moved to New York to run the King Cole Bar at the St. Regis Hotel, where he added more ingredients to the cocktail and re-christened it the Red Snapper.

But, as I've found with many cocktails, the most popular story is not quite correct. If you're really interested, this four-part article by Jack McGarry picks apart every aspect of the Bloody Mary's history. To quickly summarize, McGarry believes that it was not Petiot who invented the cocktail, but a Vaudeville star named George Jessel. In his autobiography, Jessel claims to have been in Palm Beach nursing a hangover when a bartender gave him his first taste of vodka. "I looked at it, sniffed it," he writes. "It was pretty pungent and smelled like rotten potatoes. 'Hell, what do we have to lose? Get me some Worcestershire sauce, tomato juice, and lemon; that ought to kill the smell,' I commanded Charlie."

Jessel and his friends found that the concoction settled their stomachs. When a Philadelphia socialite named Mary Brown Warburton entered the bar, still in her white evening gown from the night before, they offered her a sip. She spilled some on the front of her dress and said "Now you can call me Bloody Mary!"

The drink spread from there, and is mentioned in a number of publications, but often as half tomato juice, half vodka, with no mention of the other ingredients. Pete Petiot was the one who really started embellishing it at the King Cole Bar (where you can still order a Red Snapper today). Petiot even said in an interview that Jessel may have come up with the idea of tomato juice and vodka, but he was the one who turned it into the cocktail it is today.

And will it actually cure a hangover? Maybe along with a few ibuprofen and a lot of water. I'll have to try it to find out.

Bloody Mary

Bloody Mary

1 1/2 oz. vodka
6 oz. tomato juice
5 drops Tabasco
3 drops Worcestershire sauce
1 pinch horseradish
1 pinch celery salt or ground celery seed
1 pinch Tony Chachere's Creole Seasoning
1 pinch ground black pepper
1 dash lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a tall glass and stir well. Add ice. Garnish with celery, olives, lemon, pickles... whatever.

Recipe adapted from Liquor.com.