A Double Header: The Third Degree and The Third Rail (p. 97)

Life is all about balance. During our 4-mile run on Friday, Liz  was inspired by one of her favorite songs to make not one but TWO evening cocktails. We also had popcorn for dinner because, ya know, we’d had two cocktails. And maybe a couple beers. Summer’s almost over- cut us some slack.

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First up, The Third Degree. Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 1/2 oz. Old Mr. Boston Dry Gin
  • 3/4 oz. Dry Vermouth
  • 1 Teaspoon Absinthe Substitute

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

Notes on prep: For this one, we went fancy: Hendricks gin, our Channing Daughters rose vermouth, and Pernod. As always, we recommend busting out higher-end liquor in simple, booze-forward cocktails.

Liz’s Take: This is basically a martini with a kiss of absinthe, so I like it. A lot. Like I do with my regular martinis, I’d probably slip an ice cube into this one if I make it again. Those things are strong, and the addition of absinthe makes this feel downright libertine.

Chris’s Take: For the record, I called it a Martini with Absinthe first. I don’t like martinis, but I do like Absinthe, and with the good stuff we used this drink hard not to like. But unless you’re willing to fork over what I estimate to be about six dollars per-drink in good hooch, this drink is just a fun variant for Martini devotees. Which I’m not.

Our Ratings:

Prep- Easy

Ingredient Accessibility– Moderate- we’ve discussed the challenge of finding absinthe before, and I’d also encourage using a nicer vermouth than the widely available Martini & Rossi. That stuff is fine, but it’s a little one note. We’ve waxed poetic on Channing Daughters before, but if you can’t find it, Dolin is a more widely available high-end vermouth.

Price- Expensive- don’t skimp, though. You really taste every ingredient here.

Taste: dry, herbaceous, boozy

Final Verdict: Liz would probably just drink a regular martini- the absinthe is the most prominent taste here- but this is a fun variation for when she’s feeling like a fancy French bohemian. Chris think it’s less French Bohemian and more French BoBo.

Now, here’s the Third Rail Cocktail. If you’re not a regular subway rider like us, you might not know that the third rail is the scary electric one that actually powers the train. When your wallet or phone inevitably fall on the tracks once every couple years, you pray it falls in the center or on the edge so that some adventurous young idiot will offer to jump down and grab it (Note: this has only happened to Liz, not Chris, and only while she was wearing a dress). If it falls near the third rail, you’re screwed, because that thing is powerful and nobody is going near it. It’s an apt metaphor for this cocktail. Here’s the recipe:

  • 3/4 oz. Old Mr. Boston Imported Rum
  • 3/4 oz. Apple Brandy
  • 3/4 Oz. Old Mr. Boston Five Star Brandy
  • 1/4 tsp. Absinthe Substitute

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

Notes on Prep: We used Bacardi Gold, E&J’s apple brandy (we should probably suck it up and buy some Calvados, though), Paul Masson brandy, and Pernod.

Liz’s Take: When I was in college, I went to Prune Restaurant for every special occasion, and they served an odd but amazing Calvados omelette for dessert. A good Calvados has a complex and beautiful apple flavor, if I remember correctly. E&J’s apple brandy, on the other hand, tastes like someone let a sour apple lollipop marinate in their brandy for a few months. In this cocktail, the fake apple flavor overtakes pretty much everything else. Maybe it’s worth trying again with a better apple brandy. To choke this variation down, though, I had to add a bunch of ice. And I was already pretty drunk.

Chris’s Take: I’m a bit of a sucker for apple “flavor.” Jolly Ranchers, Blow Pops, pixie sticks, whatever, make mine apple. This probably why I enjoyed this drink. Its first notes are sophisticated enough, but through the milieu of complex bitter and rich comes this screeching, cloying candy flavor. Yes, it’s gross, but I like it. Having said that, I feel like this project is about elevating the drinking experience, and it’s about time we buy us a decent apple brandy. Maybe something with actual apples in it.

Our Ratings:

Prep: Easy. Really, almost all cocktails are easy unless they involve eggs or flame (yes, there some cocktails in this weird book that we’ll have to set on fire. Stay tuned.)

Ingredient Accessibility: Medium. See above re: absinthe. Also, our crappy local liquor stores don’t carry good Calvados apple brandy. Yours might not either.

Price: Depends. If you use the quality of ingredients we used, it’s pretty cheap, but we recommend going fancier if you want to try this one at home.

Taste: Sweet (too sweet?), smooth, warm

Final Verdict: Liz wrote NO in big letters in her notebook while she was drinking this one. She does not want to drink this again, and would not order it unless maybe Gabrielle Hamilton herself served it alongside a flambeed dessert. Chris enjoys it the same way he enjoys apple Jolly Ranchers – that is, hoping no one notices.

Gimlet (p. 40)

I’ve always thought of gimlets as one of those classic old drinks, like a martini. I’m pretty sure I remember my grandmother or great-aunt ordering this at a Tommy Bahama, but it’s one I’ve never really seen on a modern cocktail menu. I don’t know why: it’s easy and delicious. Here’s the recipe: 20170817_210425

  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 oz. Old Mr. Boston Dry Gin

Shake well with cracked ice and strain into 4 oz. cocktail glass.

Notes on prep: We used bottled lime juice, as always. Otherwise, I followed the recipe exactly. We used our cheap workhorse Seagram’s gin for this; we’re not going to adulterate Hendricks with sugar. I also served this with ice, because citrus-y drinks are better super cold.

20170817_210850Liz’s Take: I made two rounds of this cocktail because we liked it so much. I made it exactly as written at first, tasted it, and added a little carbonated water. It was way too sweet. The second time around, I halved the sugar, and it was even better. I still liked the addition of seltzer. It’s bright, summery; it’s basically grown-up boozy limeade. It’s a little dangerously delicious; I sucked down two and promptly passed out on the couch.

Chris’s Take: Liz is being a little obtuse when she says that we had two rounds. In fact, in order to convince her to mix up another round, I had to promise to both do the dishes AND make her an egg sandwich on challah bread the next morning. I know I usually address the gentlemen in these posts, but this one is for the ladies. On a hot evening, this drink can be used to get your fella to do pretty much anything. Take that for what it’s worth.

Our Ratings:

Prep: Easy

Ingredient accessibility: Easy

Price: Cheap- don’t use your expensive gin!

Taste: bright and sweet, refreshing

Final Verdict: Liz would order this in a bar and hope it came in a long, tall Tom Collins glass. Chris thinks it’s the kind of drink that’s best enjoyed outside on a patio.

 

Boston Side Car Cocktail (p. 12)

We love a traditional sidecar, and this one sounded like an interesting and even more summery/refreshing variation. Here’s the recipe:

  • 3/4 oz. Old Mr. Boston Five Star Brandy20170816_195410
  • 3/4 oz. Old Mr. Boston Imported Rum
  • 3/4 oz. Triple Sec
  • Juice of 1/2 lime

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

Notes on Prep: We used Paul Masson brandy, which we decant to be fancy. Chris wants to make sure everyone notes the beautiful silver decanter tag he bought at an antique store in Hampton Bays.  We also used Bacardi Gold rum and cheapo Llord’s Triple Sec. I’m too lazy to juice limes, so RealLime does the trick.

Liz’s Take: This drink is basically like if a margarita and sidecar had a baby. It’s tart, sweet, but smooth and easy. I might like this even more than the standard sidecar. The rum rounds it out, and the lime is a nice twist. I’d still throw together regular ol’ sidecars on lazy summer nights, though, cause they’re easier. Also, the double punch of rum and brandy makes this a little strong for everyday drinking.

Chris’s Take: As I’ve said before, I really enjoy a sidecar, and this is a pretty cool variation. I generally like rum. Even very good rum is pretty inexpensive, and with all the different variants of spices, there’s a lot of directions one take with this drink. If I did it again, I might opt for a Sailor Jerry’s or a Jamaican rum like Meyer’s, just to make things interesting.

Ratings:

Prep- Easy, unless you want to juice limes

Cost- Cheap, if you use cheap ingredients

Ingredient Accessibility: Easy!

Taste: Tart, sweet, a little heady

Final Verdict:  We’d both order this at a bar, especially in the dog days of summer. Chris would hope that it would come with a little umbrella.

Pineapple Dream (p. 74)

We had some friends over for cocktails, so we decided to make something fun and festive. Here’s the recipe for the Pineapple Dream:20170813_164856 (1)

  • 1/2 oz. pineapple juice
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1 oz. Old Mr. Boston imported rum

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

Notes on prep: We basically did this as written, subbing in Bacardi Gold rum, since it’s easy to get and our go-to choice for simple mixed drinks.

20170813_165513 (1)Our Take: Our friend Jenn, channeling Liz (or maybe Ted Allen) said she expected the drink would be “cloyingly sweet but, instead, it’s refreshingly subtle.” She’s right. We’re pleasantly surprised by Old Mr B’s restraint here. As we’ve said before, pineapple juice is super sweet, but has a muskiness that can be contained when you add some sugar.  It tastes like we imagine a drink at one of these classy new tiki bars would be like: fresh, fruity, and a little sophisticated.

Our Ratings:

Prep: Easy

Ingredient Accessibility: Easy

Price: Cheap!

Taste: Refreshing, beachy, lightly sweet

Final Verdict: Liz has always wanted to go to a beach with a swim-up bar, and this is the sort of thing she dreams of ordering while her feet dangle off a barstool into the ocean.

California Lemonade (p. 21)

We have a lot of Jack Daniels around, and it’s the dog days of summer, so this cocktail felt timely.  I have no idea what makes this California-ish (the citrus, I guess?) but here’s the recipe as written:

  • Juice of 1 lemon20170804_184744
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 3 tsp. powdered sugar
  • 2 oz. Old Mr. Boston Whiskey
  • 1/4 teaspoon grenadine

Shake well with cracked ice and strain into 12 oz. Tom Collins glass filled with shaved ice. Fill with carbonated water and decorate with slice of orange, lemon, and a cherry. Serve with straws.

Notes on prep: We used Jack Daniels. We halved the sugar because that sounded insane, and used bottled lime and lemon juice. We don’t have 12 oz. glasses, so we had to make do with the slightly smaller glasses pictured above.  It’s a shame, because more seltzer would’ve helped.

20170804_190025Our take: This is a really pretty drink. I’d serve it in a punch bowl at a party for folks who don’t usually drink a whole lot because– even with half the sugar– it’s sweet and goes down easy. If you’re in a whiskey mood, or you’re one of those weirdos who doesn’t like gin, this is a good alternative to a  Tom Collins.

Our Ratings:

Prep: Easy, if you use the bottled juice. Otherwise, it could be annoying.

Ingredient Accessibility: Easy

Price: Cheap- don’t waste your priciest whiskey when you’re using so many mixers

Taste: Sweet, slightly syrupy; like whiskey lemonade, basically

Final Verdict: We probably wouldn’t order this at a bar, but might make this at a party for Liz’s 20-something siblings and cousins.

Swiss Family Cocktail (p. 96)

We tried Googling this drink because the name was so bizarre (is this what Swiss families drink at their gatherings? Did the Family Robinson drink this when they were shipwrecked in the East Indies?). Nothing but recipes for this drink (and ideas for pretty garnishes) came up. However, Wikipedia does tell an intriguing tale of a drunken Swiss farmer who murdered his entire family while drinking absinthe (and brandy and wine, but the green fairy was an easy target of blame). Chris and I are about halfway into our drinks and neither of us are blind with rage, but this seems like a stiff one for family nights.

20170706_184648Here’s the recipe as written:

  • 1/2 teaspoon Absinthe Substitute
  • 2 dashes bitters
  • 3/4 oz. dry Vermouth
  • 1 1/2 oz. Old Mr. Boston Whiskey

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

Notes on prep: We used Pernod brand Abstinthe, Angostura bitters, Martini & Rossi vermouth, and the last of our Old Overholt Rye Whiskey. Since Chris made it, he shook it. He’s not a stirrer. We also ended up drinking this over ice. In the future, we might garnish with an orange peel. As we usually do, we just served this in our tumblers, but I’m starting to think we need a set of old-school cocktail glasses.

Liz’s Take: This is like the Jeyplak Cocktail on opposite day. Somehow, the absinthe smooths this drink over, and it’s deceptively warm and easy to sip. Martinis punch you in the face: when you’re about halfway through and you’re chewing on that gin-soaked olive, you know that if you have another, you’re going to be an asshole (or fall asleep). I want another of these, and can’t quite reckon with the reality that it’s not a good idea. Maybe that’s why it’s a Family Cocktail. You keep coming back for more, even when it hurts. Not that I know much about that. 20170706_184710

Chris’s Take: He forgot to write about this one the night I made it. If we make it again, we’ll edit and he’ll add his review.

Ratings:

Prep: Easy

Ingredient Accessibility: Medium- you can’t find absinthe at any old liquor store, and when you do, they might give you a funny look for buying it

Price:  Medium- even our cheap cocktail whiskey isn’t that cheap, and absinthe is always spendy, but a teaspoon ain’t much

Taste: Balanced- whiskey forward, with notes of herbal vermouth on the tongue, absinthe on the back end

Final Verdict: Liz would definitely order a second of these at a bar, and would regret it later.

Rory O’More (p. 82)

We just got back from five days in Asbury Park and Ocean Grove, our favorite Jersey Shore destination. We started coming here to get tattooed when our friend Chris opened up his great tattoo shop, Old Glory, in downtown Asbury five years ago. We keep going to hang with him and his wife, but also because it’s an easy trip from the city, and a super relaxing beach vacation spot for folks with our interests: Ocean Grove looks like Stars Hollow, there’s a BYOB pinball museum, and shopping/bar-hopping in downtown Asbury. This great liquor store is the only place where we’ve seen Hell-Cat Maggie Irish whiskey blend, a $20-ish bottle of great mixing whiskey. Like all decent Irish whiskey, it’s a little sweet. Alone, it can be both cloying and a bit harsh, but it’s great mixed. On vacation, it went nicely with ginger ale on the beach.

Now that we’re home, we wanted to try this Rory O’More from our old pal’s guide. The Rory O’More is basically an Old-Fashioned with Irish whiskey.

Here’s the recipe as written: 20170811_173015

  • 3/4 oz. Sweet Vermouth
  • 1 1/2 oz. Irish Whiskey
  • 1 Dash Orange Bitters

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

Notes on prep: In addition to the Hell-Cat Maggie, we used Martini & Rossi sweet vermouth and Angostura Irish bitters. I served this with cubed ice because it’s super strong.

Liz’s Take: This cocktail makes me a little less bummed to be home from vacation. It’s more sophisticated than my beach drinking, which mostly consisted of random rose, happy hour beer specials on the boardwalk, and the occasional whiskey ginger. But it’s not overly complex for a first jump back into cocktail world. It’s sweet– it could almost veer on being caramel-y with the Martini & Rossi vermouth– but it’s too liquor-forward to be a college kid drink. It’s complex enough to warrant slow sipping. We’ve tried a lot of Irish whiskeys, and they’re all quite good. They’re different enough, though, that I’d be interested to try this with a few different varieties. This is worth repeating and experimenting with.

Chris’s Take: Forget everything Liz said about Asbury Park (with the exception of the excellent work done at Old Glory). That place is full up. Best move on down the shore, and take the fist-bumping with you. If you do decide to spend some time in Asbury, I wouldn’t be surprised to find this drink at one of the more sophisticated joints in town, or even on the boardwalk. It’s a little sweet, but not for kids.

Our Ratings:

Prep: Easy!

Ingredient Accessibility: Easy- you might even have some Jameson and Martini and Rossi in your liquor cabinet already

Price: Variable- depending on liquor choices. In our case, cheap.

Taste: Booze forward but sweet- a good introduction to ‘fancy’ cocktails

Final Verdict: Liz would order this if it were on the menu at an Irish bar, especially if it was made with an interesting whiskey. Chris thinks it would be great at a beachside bar, but he’s probably just bummed to be back from vacation.

Vacation

We’re not making our own cocktails for the next week or so because we’re on vacation, but here’s a beautiful one we drank at a Brooklyn Botanic Garden member night. This drink was called El Machete. I don’t know the ratios, but I did take note the ingredients:IMG_20170802_193509_054

 

Linstead Cocktail (p. 59)

Linstead is a town in Jamaica that I assume the cocktail is named for, since this seems like a drink to be sipped in tropical climes, like Brooklyn in August. Here’s the recipe: 20170802_173658

  • 1 oz. Old Mr. Boston whiskey
  • 1 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1/2 tsp. powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon absinthe substitute
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice

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

Notes on prep: Have you had straight pineapple juice lately? That stuff is so sweet. The idea of adding sugar made my teeth hurt. I skipped that part. I also used real Pernod Absinthe because it’s not 1963, and Jack Daniels, because we still had some left over from our housewarming.

20170802_174346Liz’s Take: OK- this drink is SO GOOD. It’s beautiful: shaken, it gets a little foam (maybe from the pineapple) that really sticks around, giving the drink a lush, creamy edge. When we tasted the pineapple juice by itself, Chris noted that it had a certain “muskiness” and he’s right. Pineapple is syrupy sweet, but it also has an earthiness that is really enhanced in this drink by the anise in the absinthe. The herbaceous Pernod and the lemon perk up the cocktail, saving it from hardcore tiki-syndrome. It’s probably good this drink is teeny-tiny and I served it in my vintage glasses. I lapped it up in about 5 minutes, and wanted more immediately.

Chris’s Take: It’s really good, but skip the extra sugar. This recipe is definitely from a time before anyone gave a damn about diabetes. It’s plenty sweet with the pineapple juice. I also love that it’s helping stretch out our absinthe. That stuff is like sixty dollars a bottle.

Our Ratings:

Prep: Easy

Ingredient Accessibility: Medium (as mentioned before, absinthe can be a little tough to track down; you could probably use anisette in a pinch)

Price: Medium (absinthe is spend-y, but a little goes a long way, and there’s no need to bust out a boutique bourbon for this one- it has enough other stuff going on)

Taste: Sweetly complex and herbaceous; summery

Final Verdict: Liz would order this in a bar in a hot second, and be psyched if it came in a big fancy glass with a slice of pineapple on the rim. She’d probably order a second one, and would certainly regret it in the morning.  Knowing it would cost a fortune in a bar, Chris would try to sneak it in a flask and then get caught and have it cruelly taken away. True story.