Lawhill Cocktail (p. 56)

Law Hill is a hill in North Ayrshire Scotland, that ostensibly lends its name to this cocktail. This is the kind of drink we love Mr. Boston for. It’s got lots of ingredients that are interesting but not overly exotic; I won’t be surprised to spot this on a fancy bar menu in the near future. It probably deserves rediscovery, though we have a few ideas for tweaks to the original recipe. Mr. B calls for: 20171208_171929

  • 3/4 oz. Dry Vermouth
  • 1 1/2 oz. Old Mr. Boston Whiskey
  • 1/4 tsp. Absinthe Substitute
  • 1/4 tsp. Maraschino
  • 1 Dash bitters

Stir well with cracked ice and strain into 3 oz. cocktail glass. 

Notes on prep: We used Channing Daughters Dry Vermouth, Old Overholt whiskey, Pernod absinthe (no substitutions here!), Luxardo Maraschino, and Angostura bitters.

Liz’s Take: The anise in the absinthe cuts through the sickly, syrupy sweet maraschino quite nicely. Both the heavy liqueurs are fairly subtle against all the whiskey and vermouth, though even a small amount of absinthe gives this drink a strong anise fragrance. This drink feels slightly unbalanced, though. Chris and I debated a little. Does it need citrus peel? Probably. But what I really want to do is make this with scotch. It seems truer to its likely origins, and I think the smokiness of scotch would really complement the sweet liqueurs.

20171208_172920Chris’s Take: I liked this but it did feel like there was a hole in the middle. Whiskey should be on display here, but we used the mixing hooch. Try a better one. Also, we made this and watched the last Star Wars movie in preparation for slogging through The Last Jedi, which we both agree we’re seeing as a mater of cultural literacy. We decided that this was an appropriate drink for the movie. Kind of vintagey, something a steampunk kid might drink to pregame for comic-con. I would tell that kid to try with a bolder whiskey.

Our Ratings:

Prep: Easy (measure, stir)

Ingredient Accessibility: Hard (we had to search up the Luxardo and the Absinthe for awhile)

Price: Spendy (and would be costlier with a better whiskey or Scotch)

Taste: Strong, floral

Final Verdict: Liz would order this someplace that used specialty ingredients, and might make it again when we’ve got a bottle of Johnny Walker Red lying around. Chris would be delighted to find this on any bar menu.

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Brandy Toddy (Hot) (p. 17)

We had our first significant snowfall of the season here in Brooklyn, and the carpet of snow is doing a lovely job of hiding the decaying trash in our building’s backyard, so we decided it was time to make hot toddies. Usually, we use some herbal tea (Liz is partial to Trader Joe’s Harvest Blend, if you can find it), a lemon slice, a dollop of honey, some nutmeg or a cinnamon stick, and a generous shot of whiskey.  In the service of this project (and because Chris loves brandy), we tried this version: 20171209_141042

Put lump of sugar into hot whiskey glass and fill two-thirds with boiling water. Add 2 oz.
Old Mr. Boston Five Star BrandyStir and decorate with slice of lemon. Grate nutmeg on top.

Notes on prep: We used Paul Masson brandy. We don’t have hot whiskey glasses because we’re not a bar in 1963, so we used mugs like normal people.

Liz’s Take: The simplicity of this toddy is really pleasing. The sugar and lemon complement the brandy really nicely. It’s warm, and it’s not too heady. It’s a great beverage to drink while we watch the snow fall.

20171209_141523Chris’s Take: I’ve been reading “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” for the past few days and it’s really crawled into my head. I keep thinking that this is the kind of drink that grim housewives in stained frocks would drink after a twelve-hour shift at the condom factory. This is also the kind of drink to accompany a really good book on a snowy day.

Our Ratings:

Prep: Easy

Ingredient Accesibility: Easy

Price: Cheap! Water and lemons and sugar are cheapola; so’s Paul Masson Brandy

Taste: Sweet, warm, mellow

Final Verdict: At least one bar we go to regularly offers a choice of booze with their signature winter toddy. Liz will order brandy next time, if it’s an option. Chris suddenly wonders what this would be like with an apple brandy, and is now convinced he’s a secret genius.

 

East India Cocktail No. 2 (p. 33)

Like most Old Mr. B cocktails (except for the ones that call for hot pokers and frothy egg whites), the East India Cocktail No. 2 is easy to prepare: just measure, stir, and strain. In doing this project, we’ve realized that most of cocktail-making (as with cooking) is about the quality of the ingredients. We’ve enjoyed sourcing great, affordable whisky, vodka, and rum for mixing. We’ve also definitely enjoyed trying fine scotches, pricey bourbons, and even done some exploration of vermouth. But sherry, as we’ve previously discussed, remains an intimidating corner of the wine world.

This bottle of Candado sherry charmed us with the lock-and-key on its lid, and its maker (Valdespino) gets rave reviews from the NYTimes, so we think it’s a decent bottle. It’s thick and sweet– a bit challenging to drink on its own– so we decided it was time to try it in a cocktail. Here’s the recipe:

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Ingredients, under the tree

 

  • 1 1/14 oz. Dry Vermouth
  • 1 1/4 oz. Sherry Wine
  • 1 dash Orange Bitters

Stir well with cracked ice and strain into 3 oz. cocktail glass.

Notes on prep: We used Channing Daughters dry vermouth, a sweet Candado sherry, and Angostura orange bitters.

Liz’s Take: Mr. B really doesn’t provide a lot of guidance on sherries. One of his recipes calls for a dry one; this does not, so we went for the sweet one. I figured it’d be a good contrast with the dry vermouth. I wasn’t wrong exactly. Every sherry I’ve tried tastes kind of like musty fruit and nut trail mix, with varying degrees of fruitiness. The Candado is syrupy, and the bracing, herbaceous dry vermouth cuts that a little bit. I’m curious how this would taste with our drier Fino sherry (which is still kind of sweet, but a little yeasty, like a cider). It’s probably a nice way to showcase a nice sherry, if you know what makes a sherry nice. I think this one is nice enough? But I’m unsure.

20171205_191841Chris’s Take: I really wanted to like this. I’ve been very into Sherry, but this was challenging. It’s like molasses. The vermouth classes it up a bit, but what’s left is a sweet and musty, like the Crypt-keeper in a charming mood. So, maybe goths would like it?

Our Ratings:

Prep: Easy

Price: Medium (you want to use your decent bottles, I think, and sherry’s never cheap)

Ingredient Accessibility: Medium (I’ve only seen sherry at snooty liquor stores, or gross cooking versions in the grocery store)

Taste: Sweet, earthy

Final Verdict: Liz might order this at a fancy bar with one of those leather-bound menus that feature lengthy descriptors about each kind of liquor or wine, and use all her sherry vocabulary awkwardly to prove she belongs there. Chris would definitely give this a go again with a different sherry.

Rusty Nail (Bonus Cocktail)

My mom’s dad used to soak rock candy in rye to make Rock & Rye. Drambuie is it’s more urbane cousin: aged scotch whiskey sweetened with heather honey and some spices. This favorite of ours isn’t in Old Mr. Boston’s guide, but it’s easy and delicious, so I figured I’d write about it real quick (sans Chris, though he’ll definitely vouch for it) before we settle in for Monday night’s Jeopardy episode.

Here’s the recipe, as we usually make it: 20171204_181810

  • 2 oz. scotch whiskey (your midrange brand of choice– we like Johnny Walker Red, ideally)
  • 1 oz. Drambuie
  • cherry (optional)
  • 2+ ice cubes

Shake the scotch and Drambuie together and strain into Old-Fashioned glasses.

Quick Takes and Ratings: Any decently, peat-y scotch pairs perfectly with the syrupy sweet Drambuie.  Don’t use your fanciest, though, as it’ll be overpowered by the honey: this is a good place for that bottle of Johnny Walker Red you obviously bought to make Rob Roys. I’ve seen different ratios (some folks do half-Drambuie/half-scotch), but I like 2:1. It makes a cocktail that’s sweet, but a little complex; a perfect slow sipper for Monday cocktail hour.

Price: Spendy- both liquors aren’t cheap

Ingredient Accessibility: Medium (we had to hunt for Drambuie at a classy store)

Prep: Easy-peasy

Final Verdict: Liz wouldn’t order this at a bar unless they make their own artisan Drambuie or something. It’s too dumb easy to make.

Rum and Whiskey Eggnogs (p. 115)

Old Mr. Boston loves raw eggs: whole, whites, yolks, whatever. Fittingly, his book contains a 2-page eggnog spread. Less fittingly, however, none of them call for eggs; each and every one calls for “prepared dairy eggnog.” This was apparently a lovely modern convenience, as Mr. B points out that many of the “early recipes called for milking the cow into the liquor but today, fortunately, this is unnecessary as simpler methods are available. There are excellent nonalcoholic, prepared eggnogs… available during the holiday season from virtually all dairy companies.”

This remains true, Mr. B., and we salute this convenience, too. In honor of the winter holidays, we picked up some Organic Valley Eggnog, and some Trader Joe’s non-dairy almond nog, and made the two simplest nogs of the dozen in the book. Each we made calls for for 1 quart of Prepared Dairy Eggnog and 12 oz. of Old Mr. Boston Whiskey or Old Mr. Boston Imported Rum.

20171201_211749Notes on Prep: We didn’t want to mix up such a large batch, so we kludged the measurements and used about 4 oz. of nog for each drink, and 1.5 oz of each type of booze, because we’ve always liked smaller servings of this rich stuff. The first time, Liz just stirred Hell-Cat Maggie Irish Whiskey into the nog, since we wanted to use it up. For the next round, Liz shook the nog up with the last of our Bulleit bourbon (which we won’t be buying anymore). Chris was tired and lazy by the time he made his rum nog; he stirred some Kraken into the almond nog. We shaved some nutmeg onto the top of all the nogs because, you know, tradition.

Liz’s Take: I think the shaken bourbon dairy eggnog was the best, so far. Shaken, the milk gets a little frothy, and the slight sweetness of the bourbon paired really nicely with the dairy nog. The Irish whiskey was a little too biting. I’d like to try the dairy one with the spiced rum, because the jury’s out on TJ’s nondairy nog. I’ve enjoyed coconut milk and almond nogs in the past, but this one was a little funky. I might try it again today using the shaking method, to see if that improves the watery texture, and with some whiskey, to see if that makes it any more palatable. I’ll post an update, if it’s worth it.

Chris’s Take: I’m a fan of egg nog in general, but the almond stuff has a definite funk. Frankly, I’m a little disappointed in Old Mr. B. He wants me to stick a goddamned poker into cup of wine, but hey, to hell with it, just go to the dairy aisle for the nog? Not on my watch. Rest assured, at our next holiday party, I’ll be tackling the grossest, eggiest drink in the whole book. It’s like, one whole egg to a drink with a bunch of sugar and rum. Maybe bring a six pack, is what I’m trying to say.

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Happy Xmas! 

Our Ratings:

Prep: Easy

Taste: Sweet, creamy, holidayish

Ingredient Accessibility: Easy… in December

Price: Medium- the organic nog was like $7!

Final Verdict: Liz knows some people find eggnog gross. She doesn’t want to know those people. It’s a delicious holiday treat. It’s not Christmukkah until our tacky white tree is up, our menorah is in the window, and I’ve had a glass of eggnog. Chris couldn’t agree more.

 

Apple Brandy Highball (p. 4)

Old Mr. Boston loves apple brandy– this book has 26 recipes featuring the stuff, and the idea of consuming 26 drinks with garbage that tastes like someone left  green apple Jolly Ranchers in a bottle of E&J was making us sick.

Enter Calvados and Applejack.

The internet says they’re variants of apple brandy. Calvados is made from specially grown and selected Normandy apples, and aged for years in oak casks. In ‘Merica, we leave apples outside to ferment into beer, and then melt down chunks of ice into a distilled spirit called Applejack. We bought both at the store in Sturbridge. The Calvados is a little more delicate, as one would imagine, but tastes more like a smooth brandy than like apple. The Applejack is a bit heavier, but the apple-y notes are still pretty hard to detect. They’re both warm, pleasant, slightly sweet brown liquors.

We chose to use applejack in this simple, midweek preparation, since it came in a bigger bottle, and it was cheaper. Here’s the recipe: 20171128_184425

  • 1 cube of ice
  • 2 oz apple brandy

Fill 8 oz. highball glass with ginger ale or carbonated water. Add twist of lemon peel, if desired, and stir.

Notes on prep: We used Laird’s Applejack, Bruce Cost Ginger Ale, and a twist of lemon peel, ’cause we’re fancy.

Liz’s Take: I suspected that the spicy-sweet ginger ale and the slightly appley, warm, whiskeyish flavor of the Applejack would work well. I was right. I’d make this again. It’s not exactly exciting, but it’s solid. I think the lemon twist adds an important brightness; don’t skip it. I’d serve this at a fall or winter gathering to someone who likes whiskey drinks, and I think they’d be pleasantly surprised.

Chris’s Take: Ginger ale is a tricky thing. I like this stuff, but the ginger is extremely dry. It’s almost like someone frosted the top of the glass with red pepper flakes. I’m pretty sure that’s not what Old Mr. B had in mind when he was mixing up this drink. Problem is, if we pick up a bottle of Canadian Dry (lies!) or Schweppes, the delicious Applejack is completely lost. So dear readers, help me out. Does there exist a ginger ale that’s somewhere in between Cactus Jack’s Hot Sauce and Tropical Fantasy Champagne Cola? Please suggest in the comments! Or, you know, just comment, jerks.

Our Ratings:

Prep: Crazy easy

Price: Cheapish

Ingredient Accessibility: Medium- you can find E&J’s apple brandy anywhere. But that would make this drink revolting. You’ll need decent apple brandy, and it’s not the easiest thing to track down.

Taste: Spicy, slightly sweet, warm

Final Verdict: Liz would order this in a ski lodge while other people hit the slopes. It’s a bit simple for Chris’s tastes. He likes to make the bartenders work for their tip.

 

Blue Devil Cocktail (p. 10)

Creme de Yvette is a liqueur we’ve never seen at any of the bars we frequent, but it makes 12 appearances in Old Mr. B., so we sucked it up and bought a bottle at the magical liquor superstore– the only place we’ve seen it. It’s a pretty violet color, and purports to be a blend of fresh berries, vanilla, and spices. It tastes mostly like sickly sweet booze for mixing, kind of like maraschino or flavored brandies.

According to our reliable pals at Wikipedia, it ceased production in 1969, but was revived in 2009– around the same time handlebar mustachioed and suspender clad bartenders began mixing up old timey drinks in NYC for richer hipsters than we were at the time.

We went to Clover Club for one of Liz’s birthdays, and she almost cried at the price for two cocktails and a dish of olives or something similarly paltry. Now, we can afford it, but we haven’t been back, since we’d usually rather make exciting drinks ourselves, or drink in less stuffy environs.

This Blue Devil cocktail feels like something that would be found on Clover Club’s retro-fetish-y menu. Here’s the recipe: 20171127_181237

  • 1 oz. Old Mr. Boston dry gin
  • Juice 1/2 lemon or 1 lime
  • 1/2 oz. maraschino
  • 1/2 tsp. Creme de Yvette

Shake well with cracked ice and strain into 3 oz. cocktail glass.

Notes on Prep: We used Seagram’s gin, Luxardo Maraschino, and lime. We did everything else just as written.

20171127_181932Liz’s Take: First of all, I have no idea why this is called the Blue Devil. It’s slightly pinky purple, and looks like something they’d serve at a Star Trek bar. Def not blue. The measurements also weirded me out: there’s a slightly troubling amount of maraschino– that shit is expensive, and it’s kind of gross. There’s also a TON of citrus (there’s like 2 Tbsp. of juice in every lime!). The sugar from the liqueurs helps cut the acid… and the acid helps cut the sugar… but it’s still weird. There’s something vaguely chemical on the back end, and it generally feels like its missing something. Maybe some soda water? Another mixer? I don’t know. I don’t need to drink this again, but it felt glamorous to try it.

Chris’s Take: I was really ready to like this drink and crazy stoked about the Creme de Yvette. When I saw the bottle at the wonderland of liquors in Sturbridge, I was transported to the long walks we took in Paris, with many, many stops at sidewalk bars. Long neck and delicate label, it promised so much. Hot garbage alone. Pretty good as a mixer. Expensive. So yeah, it’s pretty French. The drink was good, but had a solid burn on the back end. Better gin, maybe? I’m sure Clover Club would use Hendrick’s.

Our Ratings:

Prep: Easy

Price: Medium- Creme de Yvette is pricey, but there’s so little of it here. And cheap gin works just fine, since this drink is really about the liquers, we presume. This uses a lot of Maraschino, though. Ouch.

Ingredient Accessibility: Medium- Creme de Yvette is hard to find; we also had to track down Maraschino

Taste: sweet and sour; strong

Final Verdict: Liz is glad she made this at home and didn’t spend $14 on it at a posh bar. That would’ve been disappointing.  Chris might try it, but it’d probably be more like $20.

 

Apple Pie Cocktail (p. 4)

When we started this project, neither of us really thought Old Mr. Boston still made booze. According to Wikipedia, its private label was sold to Barton brands in the ’90s (probably best known for Crystal Palace gin, which is served in the wells of the finest dive bars in all the land), which itself was sold to the New Orleans brand Sazerac (which makes classy Peychaud’s bitters and less-classy Southern Comfort). No Old Mr. B brands are listed among their current products, but Yankee Spirits in Sturbridge– the booze mall whose virtues we’ve extolled many times previously– boasts a fairly large selection of Mr. B’s flavored brandies. So, we bought two: wild cherry and apricot.

Liz hates anything artificially cherry flavored with a passion. As a kid, she used to gag on cherry cold medicine, and slyly threw away red lollipops. She hasn’t changed much, so we decided to start with the apricot flavored brandy. On its own, the stuff is disgusting. It smells like gasoline, and it tastes like rubbing alcohol infused with some New Jersey crafted factory fruit. Luckily, this recipe calls for a teeny-tiny amount, which feels like a nice way to ease into the nasty world of flavored brandy. Here’s the recipe: 20171126_172219

  • 3/4 oz. Old Mr. Boston Imported Rum
  • 3/4 oz. Sweet Vermouth
  • 1 tsp. Old Mr. Boston Apricot Flavored Brandy
  • 1/2 tsp. Grenadine
  • 1 tsp. Lemon Juice

Shake well with cracked ice and strain into 3 oz. cocktail glass. 

Notes on prep: We used bacardi gold rum, Martini & Rossi sweet vermouth, actual Old Mr. Boston Apricot Flavored Brandy (!!), anonymous grenadine, and bottled lemon juice. Chris shook it and served it in proper cocktail glasses. The candles aren’t an essential component, but increase the classiness.

20171126_172915Liz’s Take: I really enjoyed this drink in context- we’re listening to a 1930’s jazz record, we had some candles going, and we’re hunkered down at home after a long holiday weekend with family. It’s comforting and autumnal– despite the lack of anything apple flavored, it kind of evokes the dessert– and it somehow feels really retro. It’s VERY sweet, but it feels slightly sophisticated. The sweet vermouth adds a nice warmth, and the acidity of the lemon cuts the cloying trifecta of sweetness (rum, apricot brandy, grenadine).

Chris’s Take: Gentlemen, if you can manage to hunt down all the ingredients, this is date night stuff. Sweet enough to satisfy the unsophisticated palette, and sophisticated enough to impress the swankiest of broads. If you can’t find the apricot brandy, anything a bit sweet will probably do. Maybe apple flavored brandy? To really set this off, maybe dust a little nutmeg on there.

Our Ratings:

Prep: Chris made this. He put everything in a mixer with cracked ice and shook it dramatically. Then, he poured it into two classy-ass glasses.

Ingredient Accessibility: Medium- it took us a bit to find apricot brandy in 2017

Taste: Warmly sweet, fruity

Price: Cheapish

Final Verdict: Liz is unlikely to order this at a bar, as it’s far too girly for this swanky broad, but might make it again at an autumnal soiree with the right crowd. This is way too sweet to be on Chris’s dance card permanently.

Thanksgiving Cocktails

Every few Thanksgivings, we visit the Massachusetts wing of Liz’s extended family for the weekend. Now that most of Liz’s cousins are over 21, there’s also an increased demand for cocktails.

We decided to make Mr. B’s  mulled claret (p. 66). It seemed festive and holiday-ish, despite some impossible instructions (listen to us discuss it in the sherry wine podcast, and read the recipe below…). We did a little pre-holiday research for this one, and discovered that “claret” was just old timey speak for any burgundy wine. We tried it ourselves with a really lovely burgundy (forgot the name) and realized that it would with the sugar/lemon/heavy spicing, it would be just as good with any inexpensive, not-too-sweet red wine, so it’s good to serve a crowd.  It’s also not too heavy on the booze, which is also good for a lengthy party, particularly with the family. Our hostess also asked us to make something with a bottle of limoncello. Old Mr. Boston hadn’t heard of limoncello in 1963, so Liz branched out and found a recipe for a citrus champagne punch on a Serious Eats forum. It was a huge hit, and will definitely find its way to our holiday table again this season.

20171125_201954
Liquor Store Haul

On our way home, we also had a chance to head back to the liquor mecca that is Yankee Spirits in Sturbridge. Liz’s brother got a lesson in bourbon that was probably more than he asked for, and we are now the proud owners of an absurd amount of obscure cocktail ingredients: actual Mr. Boston brand apricot-flavored and wild-cherry flavored brandies, Laird’s Applejack, a bottle of Calvados, two more bottles of sherry (one sweet, one fino), a creme de yvette, and a new curacao. We now have ingredients for most recipes in the book, which will make this project move a bit faster… though we can only drink so much on school-nights.

Here are both of our holiday recipes as written, and with our variations/comments.

Mulled Claret 

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Into a metal mug put:

  • 1 lump sugar
  • Juice 1/2 lemon
  • 1 dash bitters
  • 1 teaspoon mixed cinnamon and nutmeg
  • 5 oz. claret

Heat poker read hot and hold in liquid until boiling and serve.

Notes on prep: When serving this to a crowd, we used Domino’s superfine sugar, RealLemon juice, and Black Box Cabernet Sauvignon, which comes in an easy-to-transport-in-a-rental-car carton. If we’d found it in our crappy local stores, we’d have subbed in apple pie spice for cinnamon and nutmeg for ease. Because we’re not in medieval times (what’s up, Mr. Boston?!), we used a stove to heat the wine instead of a hot poker.

Liz’s Quick Take: At home, this was lovely. We’ve had other kinds of mulled wine, and this one was simple, but still tasted special. It was easy to prepare and adapt for a group, but I’m not sure it wowed my family, many of whom (ahem, dad) were bemused by the notion of warmed wine. It might’ve been more alluring if I’d read the recipe to everyone (and shared the hot poker bit), but things were a little chaotic in the Thanksgiving-last-minute-meal-prep crush. Though the cooks were all gracious about it,  prepping a drink on a stovetop in the final crunch might’ve been a little foolish.  Live and learn, I guess. Everyone finished it, so it was still a win.

Chris’s Quick Take: I stand by the decision to make this. It’s a good drink for this kind of crowd. Not too strong, plenty sweet, and warm enough to evoke fuzzy holiday feelings, it’s a great holiday get-together drink. Ideally, I’d make a big batch of the stuff in a slow cooker.

Citrus Champagne Punch (Courtesy Emeril Lagasse, via Serious Eats)

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Yield: about 1 1/2 quarts, 8 to 10 servings

  • 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2/3 cup superfine sugar
  • 1 cup vodka
  • 1/2 cup limoncello
  • 2 teaspoons dry vermouth
  • 1 (750 ml) bottle chilled dry Champagne or sparkling wine
  • Ice
  • Lemon twists, for garnish

Combine the lemon juice, sugar, vodka, Limoncello, and vermouth in a large nonreactive bowl and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, 1 to 2 hours. Add the Champagne and stir to combine. Serve over ice in highball glasses, garnished with lemon twists.

Notes on prep: We used bottled lemon juice, Domino’s superfine sugar, New Amsterdam vodka, Dolin dry vermouth,  a random bottle of prosecco, and my cousins’ bottle of what turned out to be limoncino (which served the same function here, I’m sure). We skipped the lemon twists for the sake of ease, and just mixed everything in a glass pitcher.

Liz’s Quick Take: This was absurdly easy and totally delicious. I will make this for every party in the future, and my friends will not be sorry. I will make it over a sink, though; the sparkling wine tends to bubble over, and can make a mess on your cousin’s nice floors (sorry, fam). My relatives drank three batches of this stuff (they literally lined up for it!), it is forgiving (I was increasingly tired/tipsy as I mixed each batch), and my uncle’s fiance (pictured in the slides above) got the recipe for future gatherings of her own.

Chris’s Quick Take: This stuff will give you fuzzy holiday memories for an entirely different reason. Serve with plenty of ice and don’t pour too much. This has vodka and vermouth, which have plenty of kick all on their own, but limoncello is no joke. It always reminds me of the time that Danny Devito, in a delightfully eerie precursor to his character on Always Sunny, showed up to The View trashed on limoncello, having stayed up the previous night downing the stuff with George Clooney, trying to figure out which version he was going to slap his ugly mug on. Point is, drunk Danny Devito is a bad look at your holiday party. Pour it sparingly.

Final Verdicts: If you’re cooking for a crowd, do the mulled wine in a slow-cooker, and introduce it with a little fanfare. The limoncello requires no introductions. It’s a sure crowd-pleaser, and can be assembled in a small space without getting in anyone’s way. Chris would be delighted to encounter either at a good holiday cocktail party.

Affinity Cocktail (p. 1)

We bought a bottle of Black Bottle blended scotch whisky, so we decided it was time to make a scotch whisky cocktail. We found the Affinity. Here’s the recipe: 20171116_190205

  • 3/4 oz. Dry Vermouth
  • 3/4 oz. Sweet Vermouth
  • 3/4 oz. Old Mr. Boston Scotch Whisky
  • 2 Dashes Orange Bitters

Stir well with cracked ice and strain into 3 oz. cocktail glass. 

Notes on Prep: We used Channing Daughters dry vermouth, as per usual, and cheaper Martini and Rossi Sweet Vermouth. We have Angostura orange bitters.

Liz’s Take: This was nice. It’s a lot like the Perfect Rob Roy, but a little lighter, since there’s less whisky. The Black Bottle scotch was kind of a disappointment, though. It wasn’t exactly bad, but it was really one-note. It tasted kind of like campfire, and I couldn’t get past overpaying for it at our stupid local artisanal douchebag liquor store. I also don’t know that it was worth it to use the Channing Daughters vermouth because the sweet-and-dry vermouths combined sort of mute each other’s nuances. But I’m nitpicking. This is a nice drink.

Chris’s Take: I have an affinity for this drink! (it’s funny. Shut up.) I disagree with Liz a bit about the Black Bottle whisky. I think when purchased for an entirely non-enraging markup (look for it for about 20 bucks) it’s a totally worthwhile mixing scotch. As a general rule of thumb, using a fancy Scotch for cocktails is like setting Banksy loose on the Venus de Milo. Don’t ruin a good thing.

Our Ratings:

Price: Medium (scotch costs some money. Spend it if ya got it.)

Prep: Easy

Ingredient Accessibility: Easy- all standardish stuff

Taste: Very likable: smoky, sweet, warm

Final Verdict: Liz would order this with a good scotch on a special occasion. Chris wouldn’t go fancier than Johnny Walker Red.