Quantcast
Garnish

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Dunhill

Dunhill

I usually don't like to drink the same thing every night, preferring to try out new recipes whenever I can. But sometimes I get on little kicks where I'm only craving one specific cocktail. And lately it's been Martinis with Castelvetrano olives. If you like a Martini with an olive garnish, you have to try these - they're bright green, crisp, and perfectly oily. Way better than the usual pimento-stuffed green olives. You can find them in a jar at most supermarkets, although my favorites are the ones from my grocery store olive bar, which tend to be crisper. In a recipe where the garnish has a huge influence on overall flavor, they're a serious upgrade.

Dunhill

My love for these olives got me wondering what other drinks are out there that use an olive garnish. It's not something you see too often. It seems like as soon as you start introducing much sweetness into a cocktail an olive would no longer work. But I promptly found a cocktail that completely refuted that assumption: the Dunhill. It's sort of a cross between a Martini and a Negroni. As it's made with gin, sherry, and dry vermouth, its olive garnish didn't seem too off-base, but it also contains a bit of orange curaçao and an absinthe wash. Absinthe and olives sounded a bit crazy to me. Just crazy enough to work, maybe?

Dunhill

Indeed it is. Somehow the hint of anise isn't the least bit out of place, and the sweetish but oily Lustau East India Solera sherry is an unexpected but perfect pairing for olives. The result is, as Chad Parkhill writes in an article on under-appreciated cocktails, "a wonderful paradox of a drink: one that manages to be simultaneously sweet and savory, rich and lean, nutty and herbaceous." This description is dead on. The Dunhill is a drink unlike any other I've had - in a good way.

Dunhill

History: The Dunhill first appears as the Dunhill's Special in the 1925 book Drinks - Long and Short by Nina Toye and A. H. Adair. This is the first time I've encountered this book. It contains recipes for cocktails served by Adair at Hatchett's Bar in Leicester Square in London. The Dunhill's Special was later included in classic cocktail recipe books like The World's Drinks and How to Mix Them and The Savoy Cocktail Book. I'm not sure when the drink became simply the Dunhill. It's certainly special in my book.

Dunhill

1 oz. gin (I used Conniption Navy Strength)
1 oz. Lustau East India Solera Sherry
1 oz. dry vermouth
1/4 oz. dry curaçao
Absinthe rinse (I used Herbsaint)

Combine gin, sherry, vermouth, and curaçao in a mixing glass with ice and stir until chilled. Rinse a rocks glass with absinthe and add one large ice cube. Strain the drink into the prepared glass and garnish with olives or a lemon twist.

Recipe adapted from Punch.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Pink Lady

Pink Lady

It's Valentine's Day again, and you know what that means: it's time for red and pink cocktails. Just about every cocktail site I can find has some sort of round-up of romantic drinks in these hues this week. And luckily for those who will be making and drinking them, it's much easier to make a decent red or pink cocktail than one of any other color (except maybe brown). There are tons of fantastic ingredients that will lend a reddish hue to your drink: Campari, Aperol, Peychaud's bitters, grenadine, blood orange, raspberry... the list goes on. Other holidays - say, St. Patrick's Day, for instance - don't have this advantage. So I'm hopping on board and featuring one of the most classic pink cocktails of all time: the Pink Lady.

The Pink Lady has gotten something of a bad rap over the years, for reasons that I'll explain below. You might look at it and think it's a creamy, saccharine concoction, but that couldn't be further from the truth. It's actually not sweet at all, but quite tart. Egg white gives it a silky mouthfeel and a beautiful layer of foam. Grenadine lightly sweetens it and gives the drink its lovely pink hue. This is respectable classic, held back by its color and its name. But Valentine's Day is clearly the Pink Lady's time to shine.

Pink Lady

About that egg white: I know it might be making you nervous. I used to avoid cocktails made with egg whites like the plague. I thought they gave drinks a bit of an odor that really turned me off. But if you use fresh egg whites and - I think this is key - not too much egg white, it should only impart texture to your drink, not flavor or scent. Most recipes call for a single egg white, but eggs have gotten much larger since pre-Prohibition cocktails like the Pink Lady were created. Half of a modern-day egg white is plenty.

Since I got over my aversion to egg white cocktails, another hurdle prevented me from making them: I could never quite get that lovely layer of foam. I'm still not sure how some people seem to do it so effortlessly. For me it took every trick in the book, but eventually I found a technique that seems to work pretty consistently. And you can do it too! See below for my tips.

Pink Lady

History: The origin of the Pink Lady seems to have been truly and entirely forgotten. If you know otherwise, please comment and set me straight. But I can't find any real history on it. It seems clear that it was around before Prohibition, and that it's probably related to the Clover Club, another pink gin drink with egg white that uses raspberry syrup instead of grenadine and omits the Applejack. But that's about it.

The period of the Pink Lady's history that is well known is its post-Prohibition reputation as the first "girly" drink. Even though it's actually fairly strong and not that sweet, its delicate hue and ladylike name made it the stereotypical drink of girls who didn't really drink - they'd order one because it looked or sounded nice. In his 1951 The Bartender Book, Jack Townsend wrote that the woman who drinks a Pink Lady is "that nice little girl who works in files, who's always courteous but always seems so timid. She's the one who sort of reminds you of your aunt, the quiet one." He describes how she only drinks once or twice a year, and selects the Pink Lady because "she has seen the decorative and innocuous-appearing pink-and-white amalgamation passing on a waiter's tray and decided, 'Hmmm, that couldn't do me any harm.'"

Pink Lady

Putting aside the unsurprisingly chauvinistic description of the "nice little girl," I have to say I feel immediate sympathy for the Pink Lady drinkers of the 1950's. Before I knew anything about cocktails, I was pretty intimidated by ordering at a bar. I would definitely select something with an appealing name, or point at the pretty drink the bartender was making for someone else and say I wanted one of those. I imagine we all have. So I say there's no shame in drinking a Pink Lady.

Still, Townsend's description cemented the Pink Lady's reputation as a girly drink for girls who don't drink, and this led to a definite decline in popularity. I imagine that the inclusion of grenadine and egg white, two ingredients that are so easy to get wrong, did not help. These days the Pink Lady can be found on cocktail menus once again, and finally commands a bit of the respect that she deserves.

Pink Lady

Pink Lady

1 1/2 oz. gin
1/2 oz. applejack
3/4 oz. lemon juice
1/2 egg white (1/2 - 3/4 oz.)
2 dashes (1/4 tsp.) grenadine

Basic instructions: combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake very well. Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with edible flowers or a brandied cherry.

To really master that foam: I've had the best success with the "reverse dry shake" method. A dry shake is when you shake the cocktail without ice first. However, when you do this with a warm cocktail, I often find that the shaker doesn't make a nice seal and tends to leak, and the foam doesn't form as well during that second shake with ice. So for a reverse dry shake, combine all your ingredients in a shaker with ice (I like a Boston shaker rather than a cobbler shaker, as there's more distance for everything to go with each shake) and shake very well until it's chilled. Then strain the cocktail and dump the ice. You'll probably see some foam, but nothing close to the perfect, frothy layer you're aiming for. So return the cocktail to the shaker and do another, longer round of shaking without the ice. For best results, throw in a blender ball or spring to help whip the egg. (I literally use one of these.) Shake it for at least 60 seconds. And I mean count with full Mississippis - 60 seconds is longer than you think, especially when your arms are getting tired. Strain into a coupe glass, open pouring the last bit to get the final, thick drops of foam.

Recipe adapted from Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Martinez

Martinez

I've covered a lot of the really classic cocktails on here, but the Martinez has been a glaring omission. It admittedly hasn't maintained the popularity of some other recipes from the same era - and I'll talk about why that might be - but as the likely ancestor of the modern Martini, it remains an essential drink to know. And it's pretty tasty in its own right.

The reason I haven't made a Martinez until now was because I wanted to make it properly, or at least as close to that as I could come. And that meant I needed a bottle of Old Tom gin. Here's a quick refresher of your gin history: the ancestor of modern-day gin is genever, which originated in Holland. This method of making grain alcohol and flavoring it with herbs like juniper became wildly popular in England during the early 18th century, when there was a heavy tax on alcohol imports and people had to make their own spirits, usually from sub-par grains that weren't good enough for making beer. Flavoring the resulting liquor helped mask this. Hanging a sign with a black cat outside of a drinking establishment was a signal that gin was served there, and so it became known as Old Tom. While less sweet and bready than genever, Old Tom is sweeter and maltier than modern dry gins.

Old Tom made its way to the states and was the gin used in the Tom Collins and other early gin drinks. However, a preference for drier cocktails developed and distilling methods improved, paving the way for classic London Dry gin and causing Old Tom to fall out of favor. But in our modern cocktail renaissance, of course there are distillers producing this classic gin once again. The easiest to find is Hayman's. It's also very affordable - I got my bottle for only $20.

The Martinez is in the same family as a Manhattan or Negroni in taste, but it has a distinct flavor and sweetness provided by the Old Tom and the maraschino liqueur. You certainly could make one with a drier gin, but the inclusion of Old Tom definitely affects the flavor and makes it an exciting link to a past era.

Martinez

History: As I mentioned in my post on the Martini, the history of the Martinez is quite murky. It is often attributed to Jerry Thomas, the "father of American mixology." He worked at the Occidental Hotel in San Francisco, and the story goes that he would mix this cocktail up for commuters catching the ferry to Martinez. But it was not included in the first edition of his Bartender's Guide, and there is no definitive proof that he created the recipe. The first mention of it in print is in O. H. Byron's 1884 Modern Bartender's Guide, three years before the recipe was published in the 1887 edition of Thomas' book. Byron's version is clearly a variation of the Manhattan, which gives us a pretty clear cocktail genealogy of Manhattan > Martinez > Martini.

I should note that there are a half-dozen other versions of the Martinez's origin, from a bartender in the town of Martinez whipping it up to it being a celebratory cocktail for a gold miner who struck it rich. But however the drink came about, it was soon quite popular.

So why didn't this popularity persist? One factor was certainly the decline of Old Tom gin and the preference for drier cocktails, as I mentioned above. It's thought that this turned the Martinez into the Martini. Additionally, a Martinez recipe usually calls for Boker's Bitters, which went out of production in 1906. The recipe was lost for over a century, until a man showed up at the London Bar Show with a small bottle. Dr. Adam Elmegirab studied the tiny sample for 18 months in order to replicate the original recipe. He began selling Boker's Bitters once again in 2009. If you don't have a bottle (like me), a combination of Angostura and orange bitters is a decent substitute.

And finally, there isn't really one definitive recipe for the Martinez. Even Byron's book wasn't clear on exactly how to make one. Byron provides two different recipes for the Manhattan - one with dry vermouth and one with sweet - and then instructs to swap the rye for Old Tom gin to make a Martinez. Both versions persisted, with the drier one experiencing more popularity for a time, but ultimately sweet vermouth won out, perhaps because it was what Jerry Thomas used. Even now, bartenders seem to consider the Martinez a drink that's open to interpretation, with different ratios of gin to vermouth and even additions such as curaçao or absinthe. I found multiple versions of the recipe and tried several to determine what I liked best. The winner is below.

Martinez

2 oz Old Tom gin
1 oz sweet vermouth
1/4 oz maraschino liqueur
2 dashes Boker's bitters
or
2 dashes Angostura bitters
2 dashes orange bitters

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir until chilled. Strain into a cocktail or coupe glass and garnish with an orange twist and/or a brandied cherry.

Recipe adapted from The Kitchn.
Historical information mostly from Imbibe and Gin Foundry.