Fox River Cocktail (p. 38)

It was the first genuinely cold day in New York. We were looking for a warm cocktail, but most of them require lighting shit on fire, and both of us worked a long day. We figured whiskey and chocolate are warm things, so this would do. Here’s the recipe: 20171017_184554

  • 1/2 oz. Old Mr. Boston Creme de Cacao
  • 2 oz. Old Mr. Boston Whiskey
  • 4 dashes bitters

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

Notes on prep: Creme de cacao– at least the cheap one we have– tastes like tootsie rolls. We didn’t want to mix it with anything too fancy, so we used some of the last of our basic Jack Daniels. We have only one of our dollar store cocktail glasses left (Liz shattered the other on the kitchen floor…), so we only took one picture. Chris drank his in a tumbler with an ice cube.

20171017_185426Liz’s Take: Jack Daniels is sweet. Creme de Cacao is obviously sweet. This drink is sweet-on-sweet. I’m not pleased. However, this recipe from Punch has me thinking we ought to try again with some more sophisticated ingredients. They describe it as “a Manhattan—rich, dark and spicy—but with a layer of chocolate nudged in between the whiskey and the bitters.” That’s a drink I’d like to drink. This just tastes like a super sweet whiskey. Drinkable, but kind of unnecessary.

Chris’s Take: It’s not that I love this drink, but I’m definitely in love with what it could be. Here’s where that’s going to get weird. Back when we had our housewarming party, when he still had our homemade Maraschino cherries (if anyone knows where you can get cherries in the fall, we’re up for another batch) one of our guests, who shall remain nameless, said that normal people don’t don’t make homemade Maraschino cherries. Only Brooklyn people do that. Fair enough. We’re going full-on Brooklynite and spending our weekend making good Creme de Cacao. And we’ll probably make that shit using organic cocoa nibs and good-ass, small batch  demerara rum. Say what you will about Brooklyn, but you’ll be doing it drinking cheap shit while I enjoy awesome chocolate booze.

Our Ratings:

Price- Depends on ingredient quality. We’re thinking you might want to pony up a couple bucks if you want to try this one. Our cheap variety is meh.

Ingredient Accessibility– cheapo Creme de Cacao is easy to find. Not sure about primo stuff.

Ease of Prep– the measurements took Liz a minute, but she has a cold, so probably easy

Taste- Sweet, warm

Final Verdict: Liz would order this at a bar that makes its own creme de cacao and talks up their “whiskey program.” Chris would just assume his homemade stuff was better.

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Havana Cocktail (p. 45)

Chris has a cute memory about my love for a Ramones song that made him want to try this drink. Liz just wanted something that would be fast and easy, since it’s Wednesday.

Here’s the recipe: 20171011_185515

  • 1 1/4 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz. Old Mr. Boston Imported Rum

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

Notes on prep: The measurements for this were a little weird to double, so Liz (who was TIRED) actually used the 1/4 oz. measurement on the jigger that came with our cocktail shaker. At least she’s fairly certain that’s the measurement. She’s so tired. We used Kraken rum, bottled lemon juice, and the canned pineapple juice they sell at the bodega.

20171011_185646Liz’s Take: At first glance, I thought this resembled fetid swamp water. It was a murky brown, with a bit of froth on top from being shaken. But after it settled in the glass, and I settled into the couch and we turned on our cool plasma skull lamp, it looked reasonably  appealing. It tastes quite appealing, too– sweet, easy, smooth. Since it’s so easy to make, I’m sure this will become part of our rotation.

Chris’s Take:When Liz said she was going to make a Havana cocktail, all I could think of was Shenanigans, a little bar by Prospect Park South. Liz and I used to hang out there when we were first dating. It’s an old-school Brooklyn dive. The kind of place where most of the light is coming from Budweiser signs and the glow of the jukebox. Beers were irresponsibly cheap and cocktail pours unconscionably heavy on the booze. In other words, we hung out there a lot. On one of our first dates, Liz told me her favorite Ramones song was “Havana Affair,” (because she has good taste,) and I immediately played it on their jukebox, pretending that I knew everything about the Ramones. She bought it. That’s why she married me. As for this cocktail, I imagine it’s something Shenanigans would’ve poured for underage girls in the late ’80s, before everyone got all itchy about carding.

Our Ratings:

Prep– Super easy (except for weird measurements, but this can be estimated)

Ingredient accessibility– easy

Price– cheapish

Taste– breezy and sweet

Final Verdict: Liz wants to say she’d order this at a bar with the Ramones on the juke box, but she’d probably just order a High Life and make this at home. Chris would because he’s prone to nostalgia.

Mary Pickford Cocktail (p. 62)

The other day, one of Liz’s former students came back to visit, and showed her a picture of Mary Pickford in his college film textbook. “I keep telling everyone my high school English teacher looks like her!” He meant Liz, and she was flattered. We remembered seeing this drink in the book, named for the early film star, and we just bought proper cocktail glasses (thanks, Dollar Tree!), so here goes: 20171009_180544

  • 1 oz. Old Mr. Boston Imported Rum
  • 1 oz. Pineapple Juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon grenadine
  • 1/4 teaspoon Maraschino

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

Notes on prep: We used Bacardi gold, and followed the recipe as written.

20171009_181232Liz’s Take: This was such a girly pale pink that I couldn’t resist serving it with a cutesy umbrella. But despite all the sugary ingredients, this cocktail is actually fairly well balanced. The rum and pineapple, in equal quantities, blend to create something equally fruity and bracing. The maraschino and grenadine are in such small portions that they just add a little extra sweetness. I’m glad this is small– it packs a punch– but it’s nice.

Chris’s Take: I’m going to refer back to my advice concerning the Whiskey Daisy. Gentleman, pink drinks are the shit. If it makes you feel better, drink this while wearing a Don Johnson white suit with the pink polo underneath. That guy never had a problem with masculinity, and he didn’t even wear socks. Believe, if he could pull that off, you can pull this off. Not too sweet, refreshing. I might serve it with a lemon wedge.

Prep- Easy

Ingredient Accessibility– Medium (maraschino and grenadine aren’t always easy to find)

Price– Medium (maraschino costs a fortune, though in this case, it’s in such a small quantity)

Taste– Fruity, sweet, refreshing

Final Take: Liz would like to order this someplace with a garden, on a warm day, wearing a matchy dress. Chris would probably wear a suit in any color but white.

Screwdriver (p. 88 )

Screenshot 2017-10-07 at 11.00.11 AMLiz has a guilty pleasure. She loves the Real Housewives, and the new season of RHONJ is on demand. As Countess LuAnn from the NY series once said, it’s noon somewhere, and Liz needs a drink to accompany her bad reality TV. This felt appropriate. Also, screwdrivers have orange juice, so they’re nutritious. You’ve had a screwdriver. It was probably one of the first drinks you made. Do you really need the recipe? Mr. B’s is the same as yours. Put 2 or 3 cubes of ice into 6 oz.  glass. Add 2 oz. of Old Mr. Boston Vodka. Fill balance of glass with orange juice and stir.

20171007_130946Notes on prep: We always use Tito’s vodka (you should, too- it’s affordable and so clean tasting). We used Apple & Eve OJ because it was the smallest container at the supermarket and juice always goes bad in our fridge.

Liz’s Take: What to say about this? It’s a screwdriver. It tastes like orange juice and vodka. I wish we had a pulpy OJ, since that’s my preference, but I’m not complaining. It’s simple, like my love for the Real Housewives.

Chris’s Take: It’s a screwdriver. It’s what I drank as a teenager because it’s easy. It’s still pretty easy.

Our Ratings:20171007_131517

Prep- Easy

Taste– Sweet, easy, refreshing

Ingredient Accessbility– Easy

Price- Cheap

Final Verdict: Liz will remember to order this next time at brunch, and think of how Teresa Giudice mispronounced ‘mimosa’ in Boca.  Chris thinks he could probably order something better.

Charles (p. 22)

We like that this drink is just named Charles. Simple, classy. Bertie Wooster would order a brandy drink called the Charles at the club with the boys. If we had smoking jackets, we’d be wearing them in preparation for this post. Here’s the recipe as written: 20171005_184910

  • 1 1/4 oz. Sweet Vermouth
  • 1 1/4 oz. Brandy
  • 1 dash bitters

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

Notes on prep: We used up our Martini & Rossi sweet vermouth on this one, used regular Angostura bitters, and trusty Paul Masson brandy.

20171005_185923Liz’s Take: This drink is simple and sweet, kind of like Bertie Wooster. I imagine he might like it. I, however, prefer my brandy with some citrus to cut through the sweetness.  This might feel good for a winter’s nightcap; at cocktail hour on a warm Thursday, though, it’s not hitting the spot.

Chris’s Take: I wanted to like this drink because it has a very cool name, and I generally dig brandy. Instead it touched something in my sensory memory. I was a gross teenager, the kind of greasy kid that might have left an open can of soda on a desk overnight. Ever tasted a Tab that’s been sitting out overnight? (Shut up, my Mom loved Tab.) Point is, it’s cloyingly sweet, with a weird artificiality. Might be better if the brandy came on a bit stronger, but as is, it’s a warm, flat Tab. You could double down on the grossness and use flavored brandy. It would probably taste like an old Fanta.

Our Ratings

Prep: Easy

Ingredient Accessibility: Easy

Price: Cheapish

Taste: Sweet, boozy

Final Verdict: If Liz wants brandy, she’ll order a sidecar. Chris also likes Sidecars.

The Chinese Cocktail (p. 23) and The Robson (p. 81)

We have some Kraken rum leftover from our weekend away, and it seems to fit the bill for Old Mr. Boston recipes calling for ‘Jamaica Rum.’ We made two drinks, with very differing degrees of success,  over the first couple days of the workweek. 20171002_182907

The Chinese Cocktail calls for:

  • 1/2 oz. grenadine
  • 1 1/2 oz. Jamaica rum
  • 1 Dash bitters
  • 1 Teaspoon Maraschino
  • 1 Teaspoon Curacao

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

Notes on prepWe’re still finishing the Llord’s blue curacao, so we used it here, along with Luxardo Maraschino. We served these in dollar store tiki glasses, because it seemed appropriate. It made the drinks look pitifully small, but festive.

20171003_191658The Robson is:

  • 2 tsp. Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 oz. Orange Juice
  • 1/4 oz. Grenadine
  • 1 oz. Jamaica Rum

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

Notes on prep: This one, we made exactly as written.

 

 

 

20171002_184033
Chinese Cocktail

Liz’s Take: The Chinese Cocktail was gross. There was no ingredient in here to temper the sweetness, and I ended up diluting it with seltzer and ice. It looks a little like fetid water. It’s syrupy, and I wanted it to remind me of the Shirley Temples I drank at a tacky Japanese restaurant in North Jersey as a child. One day, I’ll make some grown-up Shirley Temples. They’ll actually be good. The Robson was better. It’s an appealing dusty rose color, and it isn’t sickeningly sweet.The lemon helped balance out the grenadine, and the orange juice also delivered a bit of an acid punch. This would give me a headache if I drank multiples, but it was a nice drink I could see being served at a tiki bar.

 

 

Chris’s Take: I’ll agree with Liz on this one. The Chinese Cocktail, in addition to having a borderline racist name, is hot garbage. This is the kind of stuff I imagine caterers make pitchers of for sorority events, ladle-ing it out into red solo cups. It’s puckering sweet and artificial, and I don’t see any reason to waste good hooch trying to redeem it.

The Robson was good. It was sweet, not cloying, with a really appealing oxblood color. If my sister wanted to try her first real cocktail, I’d have no problem whipping her up one of these.

20171003_192428
Robson

Our Ratings:

Price: Don’t waste your expensive Luxardo on the Chinese cocktail! Otherwise, these drinks are affordable.

Prep: Easy- just measure/shake

Ingredient Accessibility: Luxardo is hard to find. The rest are easy.

Taste: Both are sweet and tiki-ish. The Chinese cocktail is too sweet.

Final Verdict: We both want to forget about the Chinese cocktail, but would order the Robson at a tiki bar. It’s nice. Chris would probably still get a Manhattan.

Ninitchka Cocktail (p. 68)

After our successful experiment with vodka martinis yesterday, we decided to try another vodka cocktail. Then, we found this one. There was really no way this would be good, exactly, but Chris was game to try it and I was too lazy to make a drink tonight. So, here goes.

There’s not much information about the ninitchka on the internet. There’s a ninotchka floating around, which seems similar, and is probably less gross-looking, since it calls for white creme de cacao. That drink seems like maybe it was named for this interesting-looking Greta Garbo comedy. Maybe Old Mr. B was trying to avoid copyright infringement? At the moment, I’m not, so here’s the recipe from the book:20170929_193102

  • 1 1/2 oz. Old Mr. Boston Vodka
  • 1/2 oz. Old Mr. Boston Creme de Cacao
  • 1/2 oz. Lemon Juice

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

Notes on prep: We used Tito’s, Llord’s creme de cacao, and some bottled lemon juice. We followed the recipe as written.

Liz’s Take: This looks like dirty water. It tastes like vodka infused with tootsie rolls and a splash of lemon. It’s not as undrinkable as some things, but it’s not good. The creme de cacao leaves a weird fake-chocolate after taste, and the lemon is strange. If this were a prettier drink, I guess I can see this being served alongside drinks like a Brandy Alexander, for a certain kind of dainty lady. I’m not that type of lady.

20170929_193615Chris’s Take: I’m a little embarrassed to say that after the first sip, I was totally psyched to drink the rest of it. I was psyched the same way I get about eating macaroni and cheese and astronaut ice cream. Point is, this is some sweet, processed nonsense, the kind of stuff Starbucks would sell if they sold booze. And that makes sense. These recipes do date from the early Cold War, when they were trying to get Americans stoked about the food chemical miracles of tomorrow (that would last through the nuclear winter.) So, it’s good. Cold War good.

Our Ratings:

Prep: Easy. Measure, shake, serve

Ingredient Accessibility: Easy enough

Price: Cheapish

Taste: Candy, artificial

Final Verdict: Liz would never be caught dead ordering this anywhere, but she’ll finish this one. Chris would only order this in the hippest of concrete bunkers.

 

Vodka Martini– Vodkatini– On the Rocks (p. 117)

I’ve been reading Hillary Clinton’s book. In it, she talks about drinking Tito’s vodka martinis with Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards in Texas, “ice-cold… with olives,” so I’ve been thinking about a martini for two days. I’ve also been thinking about her ideas that “win or lose, it’s important to ‘get caught trying,'” and her noticings about the different ways young men and women react when she’s hired and promoted them. Men are “thrilled” and jump at the occasion, in her experience, young women say “Are you sure I’m ready? I’m not sure. Maybe in a year?”

This resonates with me so much.

I’ve avoided writing because I don’t want to “get caught trying” and be found wanting.  I’ve avoided going back to school, saying almost exactly what Clinton’s young women have said. Hillary may have been rejected by the nation in part because she was a woman who dared to have ambition. I think more of us– or at least I– need to embrace ambition and try.

20170928_210128I tried a vodka martini tonight, even though I’ve always been a devotee of the gin variety. I also tried a weird variation on the rocks, which Old Mr. B says should be served over ice in “chilled Old-Fashioned glasses.” Chris doesn’t like martinis. I also haven’t let him at the Clinton book yet, so I just chilled one glass (he ended up stealing some anyway, but more on that later).

Notes on Prep: I legit chilled that glass for about 10 minutes. I shook this martini over “dry and hard frozen” ice. I used the traditional martini ratio, but subbed the dry gin for Tito’s vodka, and used Channing Daughters vermouth.

Liz’s Take: Well, damn, trying paid off. I’ve always snuck ice cubes into my martinis. Now, I feel like I have permission to take them on the rocks. Also, I really enjoy this vodka martini. Maybe it’s because I like the Channing Daughters stuff so much, but the clean flavor of the Tito’s really allows the vegetal quality of the vermouth to shine. It was also wonderfully cold and bracing.

Chris’s Take: I’ll keep it brief, as I think being wordy about this particular cocktail would undermine my hard-earned authority on booze. I know I’ve always said that I don’t like Martinis. They’re too boozy. They’re blunt like a club. Frankly, I’ve never been sure why anyone enjoys them. Then I tried this. Vodka and ice make it work. Probably the really good vermouth too. And I wanted to eat the olive, but Liz got to it first. I would drink this again, but don’t tell anyone I said so.

Our Ratings: 20170928_210706

Prep: Medium- it really is important to make this fast, so the ice stays dry, and chill your glass

Ingredient Accessibility– Easy to get vodka and vermouth; not sure how easy it is to get high quality vermouth, though

Price– Medium- this is all booze, and you need to use nice stuff. Tito’s is affordable, but it’s not rotgut. This vermouth ain’t cheap, but it’s worth it.

Taste: bracing, boozy, herbaceous, refreshing

Final Verdict: While a drink at our home bar is always lovely, Liz wishes she was sipping alongside Cecile Richards and Hillary Clinton. For now, she’ll have to settle for reading the book, but it can’t hurt to have some audacious hope or whatever. Chris has loudly talked way too much shit about martinis to order any variation in front of friends.

Princeton (p. 78)

It’s Wednesday, and we still have some Channing Daughters vermouth and Hendricks gin, so we’re trying this easy and strong drink. Old Mr. Boston’s recipe differs from the famous Holland House bar recipe, which combined gin and port wine (which sounds gross…). This variation feels like the Ivy League by way of Jersey (all due respect– we both have deep family NJ roots), so the name feels apt. Here’s the Old Mr. B recipe: 20170927_192213

  • 1 oz. Old Mr. Boston Dry Gin
  • 1 oz. Dry Vermouth
  • Juice 1/2 lime

Notes on prep: Whenever we drink something gin-forward, Hendricks is our brand of choice. See above re: vermouth. We’ve been busy and just got back from a weekend away, so RealLime (TM) had to take the place of real lime.

Liz’s Take: After the first sip, I thought this drink was way too acerbic. While a martini bites, it’s crisp and refreshing; in this, at least at first, the lime burned alllll the way down. After the second sip, though, the lime gave way to the botanicals from the gin and vermouth. Suddenly, the acid gut punch became something downright pleasant: biting, but a little floral.  Kind of like our Jersey kinfolk. Also, halfway through the drink, I was already tipsy. And I write a cocktail blog.

20170927_192749
We need some martini glasses.

Chris’s Take: Yes, the first sip of this drink is all acid. The second sip is much better. All I could think about while I sipped was that this was the sort of drink that Leona Helmsley probably drank. She had no senses left, so the acid wouldn’t burn, and she would need something this strong to numb her soul enough to do shit like leaving millions of dollars to a goddamn dog. Liz also reminded me that it’s “low calorie,” which I’m sure squared with her diet of painkillers and cigarettes. I wouldn’t try this with a well gin, and neither would Leona.

Our Ratings:

Prep: Easy- just measure stuff

Ingredient Accessibility: Theoretically easy, but good dry vermouth can be a little har to source

Price: Medium- you have to use nice gin in this, and nice vermouth. It’ll cost ya a little

Taste: Herbaceous, astringent, strong

Final Verdict: Liz would order this at a bar with mahogany wood and leather barstools, and talk literature with some old guys in tweed suits. Chris would hang out too, but probably roll his eyes behind their backs.

Rockabilly Weekender Edition: The Shake-Up Black Russian Bear (a combo: p. 9 and p. 85)

20170925_092058
Pete made sure our room was spooky

After four years of hearing our friends rave about this rockabilly weekender in Massachusetts we finally made it to the Fifth Annual New England Shake-Up in Sturbridge, MA. We drove up with our friends Pete and Steph, who generously offered us space in their double room (with a coveted pool-view) and a ride in their giant van.

20170923_181103
Liz in booze paradise

The shake-up is basically a weekend-long sleepover/concert/bender, situated in a charmingly dated lakeside “resort,” that shares a parking lot with a magical liquor store. On Friday night, we stocked our hotel room for the weekend with all the essentials: beer, hard soda, Tullamore DEW, Tito’s vodka, Kraken rum, and fun mixers. Eager to get the party started, Friday night’s room cocktails were an ersatz affair: vodka/lemon/Trader Joe’s cranberry clementine sparkling water/and a splash of Henry’s Hard Orange Soda. It was perfect fuel for an amazing night of music.

For the Sunday afternoon pool party, we revisited the pineapple cocktail with Kraken rum. It felt strong for pre-noon drinking, so we diluted it with some seltzer water and ice. Pete and Liz still died.

 

Saturday night, Steph requested White Russians. Old Mr. B. doesn’t have a White Russian recipe, and Steph’s a vegan, so Liz came up with a mash-up of the Russian Bear (2 parts vodka, 1/2 part creme de cacao, 1/2 part sweet cream, stirred over ice and strained) and the Black Russian (2 parts vodka, 1 part kahlua, poured over ice). Steph called Liz’s variation “orgasmic,” so I think we can recommend it.

We also recommend checking out some of our favorite music from the weekend: FuriousThe Go-GettersLindsay Beaver & the 24th St. WailersLucky Tubb & the Modern Day Troubadours, and all the amazing acts on Swelltune Records.

20170923_183944Adaptation: The Shake-Up Black Russian Bear 

  • 1.5 oz. Vodka (Tito’s is great- smooth, clean)
  • 3/4 oz. Bailey’s (use Almande almond milk liqueur for vegans)
  • 3/4 oz. Kahlua (Hazelnut is great with the Almande)

Shake well over ice cubes (watery ones from the hotel machine will work just fine), and serve on ice. Red Solo cups do the trick, though an Old Fashioned glass would be nice, if they’re handy. 

20170923_183949Liz’s Take: When my friend Steph decides to drink, it’s a special (and always crazy fun) occasion, that calls for whatever she wants. This drink was perfect for the evening. You know that time in high school you and your friends tried to make each other cocktails? You wish you’d thought of this instead of whatever mess you actually made with gin, 7-up, and Goldschlager. This cocktail is sweet, smooth, and a great start to a fun evening. Serve it at a grown-up slumber party and tell me in the comments how awesome I am. Also, just gawk at my dress.

Chris’s Take: Drinking at the shake-up is something you need to strategize for (make sure to check out the gameplan here). It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and it starts particularly early. Pull a rookie mistake and you may end  up going too hard at lunch and passing out during the headliner’s set on Saturday night while sitting twenty feet away from the speakers. Not that I did that, but it’s definitely a thing that can happen. This cocktail, if not consumed in reasonable quantities, would be that rookie mistake. It’s boozy and sweet, and a delight to sip while Hawaiian guitars play down by the pool. I especially like the effect the almond milk had in this cocktail, but fair warning, it separates in hot coffee in kind of unsettling way.

Our Ratings

Ingredient Accessibility: Medium- if you’re not vegan, Kahlua and Bailey’s aren’t hard to find, but this almond milk liqueur isn’t available everywhere

Price: Medium- we bought this stuff at a liquor mall in a cheap town, but Tito’s is midrange stuff, and Kahlua/Bailey’s always costs a few bucks. If I make these again, I might buy those little airline bottles (this is for slumber parties or Christmas mornings). It might be cheaper, and you won’t end up wasting any of the Bailey’s

Preparation: Easy! Just measure.

Taste: Smooth, sweet, deceptively strong.

IMG_20170923_200819_454
Glamorous girlfriends (from left: Suze, Liz, Steph)

Final Verdict: Liz will make this again for sure. It’s perfect for a slumber party or a holiday morning. Chris would probably put on a little Harry Belafonte.

20170925_125138
Chris & Liz, homeward bound