How to Marathon Drink

 

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Chris + Liz, center, Rebel Night, 1/2010

We’re going to a 3-day rockabilly weekender where one of the biggest draws is an enormous liquor store steps from the hotel parking lot. The last time we went to a weekender, someone we know vomited in a swimming pool. There’s a big pool party on the last day of this weekender, and Liz really digs her new swimsuit, so nobody better puke in the pool this time.

It’s been awhile since we’ve drank so socially, and so prolifically. Based on our years of hard(er) partying, here are some tips for how to drink socially.

NOTE: Don’t do this more than a few times a year, please, or you’ll have to stop drinking, and that’s no fun for anyone.

  1. Plan: Where are you going? At what time? What food will be there? If it’s a brunch, eat a little breakfast beforehand. If it’s a concert, go out for a hearty meal (pizza is great) and bring water, if it’s allowed. Carry Advil with you.
  2. Don’t Stop Drinking: This is one of many reasons we hate the dinner-and-a-movie date. Who wants to have a glass of wine, then sit for two hours? This sounds like bedtime (or a headache). If you have a drink at lunchtime, you don’t necessarily have to drink all day long. You can just double up on water, and maybe have an extra cup of coffee. If you have a drink at dinner, stay out on the town, just have another drink. It’s good for you.
  3. Pace Yourself: If you’re going for a few hours, and you’ll be somewhere with food, remember to eat something with every drink. Drink something you’ll nurse (full-flavored beers are good at accomplishing that task) and drink a couple glasses of water. Definitely take an ibuprofen (with a big glass of H2O) before settling into a decent stretch (6+ hours?) of sleep.
  4. Know Yourself: From experience, I know I can’t mix more than two types of liquor without puking, too much red wine gives me a headache, and if I have more than 3 drinks, I just fall asleep. So, now, if I start with a cocktail and switch to beer, I make the switch permanent. If I’m drinking red, it’s usually an evening of classy moderation. If I’m drinking more than 3 drinks (like, at a weekender), I plan for a nap. Be aware of yourself, track your experiences, and keep them in mind when you’re out drinking.
  5. Have Fun//Be Safe: Cut loose. Dance. Sing karaoke. Now you have amazing stories to tell the next time you go out drinking. But be sure you’ll remember your stories or, at least, hang out with someone who will. It’s never your fault if someone takes advantage of you, but it still pays to be smart. Go out with people who will take care of you, and stick with at least one person who doesn’t drink (or who holds their liquor REALLY well).

 

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Chelsea Side Car Cocktail (p. 23)

We really enjoy brandy side cars. We also really like gin. This is basically a gin sidecar. What’s not to like? Here’s the recipe: 20170921_192112

 

 

  • Juice of 1/4 lemon
  • 3/4 oz. Triple Sec
  • 3/4 oz. Old Mr. Boston Dry Gin

Notes on prep: To go with our cheapo Llord’s triple sec, we used Seagram’s gin. We also used a little more of everything to make slightly less anemic cocktails.

Liz’s Take: Brandy sidecars always taste a little like an impending headache. This is lighter, and it makes a little more sense to me than the brandy sidecar, though it’s less exotic. I don’t really wonder what this would taste like with Hendricks or Cointreau. It seems like a Thursday night drink. It’s very pleasant, very easy, and pleasantly simple.

20170921_192737Chris’s Take: It’s like a sidecar, but less complex. If you’re going to use the good stuff, it needs something more. Orange peel or a cherry, maybe. It’s light, it’s sweet, but not cloying. Feels like a date-night cocktail.

 

Our Ratings:

Ingredient Accessibility: Easy

Price: Fairly cheap

Preparation: Easy- pour, shake, drink

Taste: Sweet and sour, refreshing, light, fruity

Final Verdict: Liz would make this again. She’s not sure what kind of bar would have this on the menu, but she’d probably order it, especially on an unseasonably warm day like today.  Chris would order it a bar with pickled pearl onions, just to be weird.

Casino (p. 22)

We bit the bullet and bought some Luxardo. It would’ve been cheaper online (by $6), but we figured we’d pay for instant gratification. Luxardo is maraschino liqueur,  so we can finally make some authentic maraschino cherries, if any cheapish ones left to be had this season. On its own, the stuff is gross: it has the taste and texture of PediaCare, and Liz had to eat a cracker and gargle after taking a sip, just like she did when she was a child with a cough. But once we had it in this cocktail, we felt justified in our frivolous expenditure. Here’s the basic recipe: 20170918_191136

  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • 1/4 teaspoon Maraschino
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 oz. Old Mr. Boston Dry Gin

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

Notes on prep: Because we didn’t know how this would taste, we made it a first time with our cheap Seagram’s mixing gin. It was really good, so we decided to take a mulligan, and make it with Hendricks. It was even better. We used the last of our ersatz maraschino cherries on the cheaper drink, so we used a lemon twist in the schmancy one. It was a good adjustment.

20170918_191807Liz’s Take: My mom’s family likes to drink, but my dad’s family likes to play cards. For my 21st birthday, my Bubbe, Zayde, and Uncle Gary took me to Vegas to play in a poker tournament. I nursed a well gin and tonic, since it seemed like something a gambler might drink, and I hadn’t yet developed a taste for martinis. This drink sort of bridges the gap between those classics. The maraschino takes a little of the bite out of the gin, but then the lemon comes and classes it up. It’s worth using up some of your best liquor in this cocktail.

Chris’s Take: As a Mormon, my experience with actual casinos is pretty limited. The first casino I walked into was in Elko, Nevada, and that was only to buy a souvenir pack of playing cards. As an added, incredibly depressing bonus, Foghat was playing on the casino floor. They looked like shit. No one at that casino would be drinking this. The second time, our honeymoon, we had a good room at Mohegan Sun, compliments of a friend. The only saving grace of the place was that if you kept playing video blackjack, they kept bringing you beer. No one at Mohegan Sun would drink this. The only people that would are the patrons of “The Royale”, Star Trek: TNG Season 2, Episode 12, which will forever inform my view of casinos. Riker would drink this right before he escapes. So you should too.

Our Ratings:

Prep: Easy, though you have to be precise with the measurements. Use the measuring spoons.

Ingredient Accessibility: Medium. Real maraschino liqueur is only at classy stores.

Price: This is a small drink, with spend-y ingredients. Medium.

Taste: Bracing and dry, not for beginners, gin-forward

Final Verdict: Liz might order this if she ever went to a classy casino. She’s only ever really spent time in the Sahara (RIP) and Mohegan Sun, so she’s not sure.  Chris might drink this alone, in a Star Trek uniform. Liz thinks that is creepy.

[Nana Foss’s Perfect] Rob Roy Cocktail (p. 81)

My mother, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, comes from a family of drinkers. Her paternal grandmother was born in Ireland, and was vocally opposed to prohibition. (Apparently, her husband– a lawyer– was on the temperance board, so I also come from a long line of rebellious womenfolk, but I digress.) She died long before I was born, and I I don’t know what her drink of choice was, but I know many bottles of it were found under her bed at some point when she died.

My mom’s maternal grandmother was a more functional drinker.  

She grew up in Indiana during the depression, and she was a hardy, practical woman. Her food was meat and potatoes, and she watched college football religiously (various midwestern boys, it didn’t matter, I think she was mostly looking at their butts).

And if there was any particular ceremony to her drinking, I don’t really remember. I have no memories of her without a sweating drink in her hand. She was 90 pounds soaking wet. She could really knock ‘em back, but she never seemed drunk. I hear a family rumor that vodka made her mean, which I can’t possibly imagine, though she did cuss a blue streak during college football games.

She drank Perfect Rob Roys: scotch whiskey, equal parts sweet and dry vermouth, and a dash of bitters. I liked to watch her make them, and pull cherries out of the jar to eat. She used to tell me to stir her drink, and lick the straw. I always winced at the booziness, and she’d say, “that’s perfect then.”

 

Nana1
Post-depression, clearly. My great-grandparents are the pair at center.

During the depression, her husband, my great-grandfather sold beautiful glassware door-to-door, which she displayed in a  cabinet in her Florida apartment. I have two of the goblets left (my favorite one shattered on the kitchen floor of my first apartment). But those were for display, I think. I believe she drank from pretty utilitarian glasses, and I know she ate off of TV trays on her Floridian wicker furniture.

In contrast to her own mom, my mom’s mother was a Rubenesque lightweight who used all her finest china for every meal. Her cocktail of choice was the Fuzzy Navel. Fuzzy Navels are for wimps: equal parts peach schnapps and orange juice. They’re basically slightly alcoholic liquid creamsicles. She iced her wine (ok, like I do) and occasionally had a brandy Alexander (cream, creme de cacao, and brandy). Her drug of choice was sugar, for sure.

When I was around 16, I visited my grandmother and great-grandmother in Florida, in their side-by-side apartments with adjoining backyard lanais. It was like Golden Girls, but with more drinking, swearing, and casual nudity. One night, we watched a Hugh Grant movie, and my Nana made me a Fuzzy Navel, my first cocktail with a name.

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My aunt noted it looks like a twist in that perfect

When I visited again, in college, my great-grandmother wasn’t quite as mobile, but she was still enjoying a nightly cocktail or three. One night, she asked me to make her a Perfect Rob Roy. It felt like a test, some kind of initiation ritual.

By then, I knew my way around a few liquor bottles. When she watched me stir, take a little taste, and nod happily to myself, my great-grandmother smiled. “You should make one for yourself.” We each had two, and I beat her at Jeopardy.

I want to drink a Perfect Rob Roy, and think of her. Old Mr. Boston’s not perfect. In his book, there is no Perfect Rob Roy. Only the classic kind, as written:20170917_165549

  • ¾ oz. Sweet Vermouth
  • 1 ½ oz. Old Mr. Boston Scotch Whiskey
  • 1 Dash Orange Bitters

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

Notes on Prep: In memory of my great-grandmother, I’m making this drink her way, and I’m using the ingredients I think she’d have used.  I’m using Martini & Rossi Sweet and Dry Vermouths, and Johnny Walker Red. I don’t know if she had orange bitters, but I do (and forgot to put them in the picture…) so I’m using them here.

20170917_170021Liz’s Take: As soon as I took a sip, I was transported to my great-grandmother’s living room. Before I made this, I wasn’t sure I remembered what it tasted like. But I do, and I realize that this is the cocktail against which I judge all cocktails. It’s smooth, well-balanced, slightly sweet, slightly smoky, and strong as hell.

Chris’s Take: I’m a little jealous that I don’t have a lovely story to go along with this cocktail, but it certainly tastes like something world-weary grandmothers would sip on a lanai in Florida. The sweetness of the vermouth really mellows out the sort of blunt peatiness of Johnny Walker Red. One of these is great, but two I’d be no damn good at Jeopardy.

Our Ratings:

Prep: Easy enough for arthritic hands

Ingredient Accessibility: Easy

Price: Medium. Johnny Walker Red is the cheapest drinkable scotch we know of. It’s still not cheap.

Taste: Balanced, boozy, perfect

Final Verdict: Liz will make this way more often. She won’t order it at a bar. This drink should be consumed in comfies, on the couch, watching television. Chris thinks this should be a part of everyone’s cocktail hour.

Nana3

Canadian Cocktail (p. 21)

Canada has many great things: a humane immigration policy, health insurance for all, a handsome prime minister. It’s not known for its booze. We aren’t cheap, per se (a glance through our liquor cabinets and bookshelves prove that we aren’t exactly misers), but we don’t like wasting money on things we don’t love. We’ve had Canadian whiskey. We don’t love it. Sorry, cousins to the North. We made this one with Irish stuff. Here’s the original recipe:

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  • 1 1/2 oz. Old Mr. Boston Canadian Whisky
  • 1/4 teaspoon Curacao
  • 2 dashes bitters
  • 1 tsp. powdered sugar

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

Notes on prep: We used Hell Cat Maggie, an Irish whiskey blend, the blue curacao we busted out a couple nights ago, Angostura bitters and half the sugar because we know better now than we did back in 1963.

Liz’s take: This drink does not look like I thought it would. The blue curacao is entirely invisible. Which is good, because blue and brown isn’t my favorite color combo. But this drink isn’t doing it for me. It’s sweet, but somehow burns more than whiskey usually does. It leaves a sticky feeling in my mouth. I’ll drink it– it basically tastes like whiskey with an indistinguishable tinge of sweet– but it’s not something I need to make again. I’m glad this drink is small.

20170914_184247Chris’s Take: I agree that that Canadian Whiskey is nothing to write home about. From what I understand, Canada’s whiskey industry was largely a product of prohibition, when bootleggers would sneak kegs of the stuff across the borders to satisfy speakeasy demand. One imagines that it didn’t need to be particularly good. My general impression of Canadian whiskeys is that this tradition holds. The whiskey we used is a summer throwback, as Asbury Park, our usual summer haunt, is the only place I’ve ever seen the stuff. Cheap, easy drinking, and in a great looking bottle, this stuff never fails to take me back to the rock n’ roll boardwalks of the douche-free end of the Jersey Shore.

You might have noticed that I haven’t written at all about the drink. It’s okay, but I wouldn’t bother.

 

Our Ratings

Prep: Easy

Ingredient Accessibility: Easy. If you want to be real authentic and use Canadian whiskey, we’re pretty sure Seagram’s is available everywhere.

Price: Cheapish, depending on the whiskey you use

Taste: whiskey forward, a little sweet, with a touch of citrus on the back end

Final Verdict: Liz is unimpressed, and thinking ahead to the rose cider she plans to drink with dinner. Chris would just order a beer.

Hawaiian Cocktail (p. 46)

Today was the NYC primary. Since everyone (outside of most Bensonhurst, Staten Island and Ozone Park residents) are Democrats, this is a pretty decisive election. We made a blue drink to celebrate the better party, and to keep with our theme of impending autumn denial. Here’s Mr. B’s recipe: 20170912_193726

  • 2 oz. Old Mr. Boston Dry Gin
  • 1/2 oz. Pineapple Juice
  • 1/2 oz. Curacao

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

Notes on prep: Seagram’s is our mixing gin of choice, tonight’s juice was Dole (it was in the bodega!), and the curacao was blue, courtesy Llords. We did some research, and the blue color shouldn’t alter the flavor. It did make our drinks look startlingly like the Kool Aid Bursts Liz’s grandmother used to keep around for when she visited.

20170912_194606Liz’s Take: This is better than I thought it would be. For some reason, mixing gin with sweet things seems wrong. I like a dry martini, a gin and tonic. Gin is bracing. But its flavor is pretty much absorbed into the artificial orange of the curacao and the sweet pineapple. Whatever we’ve said in the past about pineapple being less than cloyingly sweet is untrue in this drink, which needs LOTS of ice to be palatable. But, with that ice, it’s actually pretty yummy.

Chris’s Take: I’m a little surprised this blue curacao is any good. We bought it for the 2016 election, assuming, like the rest of the thinking world, that we’d be celebrating the election of Hillary Clinton. So, like all the “I’m With Her” buttons and “Woman Cards,” we tucked it away, out of sight, so as not to remind ourselves of that terrible evening. So, moral of the story, Blue Curacao lasts a long time, but it probably tastes better when it’s not associated with bitter tragedy.

Our Ratings:

Prep: Easy enough. Just shake stuff.

Ingredient Accessibility: Pretty easy, though we bought this curacao awhile ago, and I’m not sure whether it’s readily available everywhere.

Price: Cheap. Llords mixers are well stuff, Seagram’s is mid-shelf at best, and our pineapple juice came in a can at a bodega.

Taste: Sweet, summery, deceptively strong.

Final Verdict: Liz is feeling (almost) transported to Otto’s Shrunken Head, where she’d happily suck down this drink in an amazing tiki mug while a band blows her eardrums out of her head. Chris would order it with regular ol’ curacao so as not to trigger his PTSD.

Monday Night

Today was Liz’s first instructional day, and our first Monday back teaching. We had some ambitions to make a neat old cocktail (something with an egg white, perhaps?), but then we remembered what a full Monday of teaching felt like. Tonight’s drinking was easy, and reminded us of summer nights. After our last excursion to the Botanic Garden, we walked to Butter & Scotch, an unabashedly feminine and feminist dessert and cocktail spot in Prospect Heights.  They won Liz over by coating most things in (sometimes edible) glitter, donating money to Planned Parenthood and the Charlottesville chapter of Black Lives Matter, and having drink titles like “Smash the Patriarchy.” Chris is man enough to get a little glitter on his jeans, and can get comfortable anywhere that serves High Life. The cocktails were good, too, but TBH, we mostly remembered the drinks below.

 

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Liz’s Drink: My drink packed a triple nostalgia whammy. Earlier this summer, I bought Wolffer Estate’s Dry Rosé cider direct from the source, and got Long Ireland pint glasses as part of our tasting. At Butter & Scotch, they had the Rosé cider on tap, and served it on ice. It was kind of revelatory. This cider is winey but light; on ice, it’s sweet, but not cloying. It’s like Rosé’s slightly beery, peppy little sister. We found a random 4-pack at our crappy local grocery store (thanks, Brooklyn!), so I toasted summer one more time, and it was lovely.

Chris’s Drink: My drink is a shot of Campari in a bottle of High Life. I love Campari. It’s 20170911_203708_001bitter. I love Miller High Life. I had my first bottle at Manitoba’s, one of the last decent bars left in Manhattan. I was struck by the clear bottles, their color, the way they seemed to shoot right down your throat in the summer. And they were cheap. When I moved to New York (in the 90s!?) I was living on late-night discount Korean deli buffet, pre-Bloomberg-priced cigarettes, and the cheapest bottle at every bar. That was usually High Life. When me and Liz tied the knot, we got High Life because the guy at the beer distributor said that it was the very cheapest of the premium beers. He really used the word “premium.” We also bought a bunch of cheap Trader Joe’s wine, undrunk bottles of which we had to push off on friends for months afterwards, but there wasn’t a can of High Life left.

Pour out a shot of beer, pour the same amount of Campari back in. Save the beer.

Put Campari in your High Life. It’s delicious.

 

Pineapple Cocktail (p. 73)

We went back to work this week, so we were drinking, but maybe not as thoughtfully (or as copiously) as over the summer. I stress-drank cheap-ish Riesling and passed out at 9 on the couch a couple nights, and Chris and I both enjoyed some homemade apple cinnamon whiskey we totally forgot to take pics of for the blog (we’ll make more and write about it; we promise). This weekend, a fall chill was in the air, but we grasped at summer: I wore a tank top and my ginormous sunglasses to walk through Prospect Park, and we drank canned High Life (our wedding beer!) in the sunny backyard of our local bar.

For dessert after dinner tonight, I made this simple but summery cocktail, in an effort to forget that our alarm is set for 6:15 am, and hordes of cranky teenagers will be asking us questions all day tomorrow. Here’s the recipe, according to our old friend Mr. B: 20170910_205156

  • 3/4 oz. Pineapple Juice
  • 1 1/2 oz. Old Mr. Boston Imported Rum
  • 1/2 teaspoon Lemon Juice

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

Notes on prep: This one is easy, so we didn’t mess with it much. We used Goya pineapple juice because it’s readily available and cheap, and our Bacardi Gold rum. I used a real lemon in the picture but, as always, used RealLemon in the cocktail.

20170910_205842Liz’s Take: This reminds me of a night I spent with my grandmother and great aunt at a Tommy Bahama’s in Sarasota, Florida, which is currently being pummeled by stupid Hurricane Irma. (Thinking of you, FL fam!) This is a boozy drink, but it’s decidedly summery. The pineapple adds a fruity punch, but the lemon pulls it back into a more astringent flavor profile. This is not sweet enough to be a tiki drink. It’s crisp, with a little tropical sweetness underneath the boozy warmth. It’s best right after it’s shaken: the pineapple froths up a bit, and the cold tamps down a little of the burn.

Chris’s Take: We moved this year, which means that we had to find a whole new set of neighborhood spots. Fortunately, we had an entire summer to find them, and our neighborhood does not disappoint. Within a two-block radius, there is a bizarrely affordable fancy cocktail place with an intense neighborhood vibe, a dive bar with sports on the seven TVs, an Italian restaurant with a nice wood bar and a bartender with an accent close enough to Italian to pass, and a Mexican joint. The Mexican joint became our summertime go-to. It’s right by the train and a block from the park. Me and Liz can sit out on the sidewalk and watch every different kind of Brooklynite. This is the kind of drink you could sip while finishing up a quesadilla at the Mexican joint, riding out the final days of summer.

Our Ratings:

Prep: Easy!

Ingredient Accessbility: Easy!

Price: Cheap- Bacardi’s not expensive, pineapple and lemon juice are both super cheapo

Taste: Bracing, assertive, a kiss of tropical sweetness

Final Verdict: Liz would order one of these at a beachy bar, but would have to switch to water afterward. Especially on a schoolnight. (Sigh.)  Chris would definitely order this, especially after Christmas, when winter is pointless, and you need a reminder that summer exists.

Labor Day Cocktails

20170904_193223Chris and Liz are both proud union members, so we always spare a thought for our forebears on Labor Day to give thanks for the weekend and a reasonable 40ish hour workweek. However, as teachers, most of our thoughts have been focused on going back to work tomorrow. After a long walk in Flatbush and Prospect Park through the remnants of J’Ouvert, we took a pass through the mall for back-to-school clothes, and hit Trader Joe’s. We found this Spindrift seltzer, and decided to take a break from the vintage cocktails to throw together something easy and contemporary.

Sprindrift is the dryest soft-drink we’ve ever tried. We got the grapefruit, which literally contains only sparkling water, grapefruit juice, orange juice, lemon juice and hibiscus. Liz wants to buy this shit in bulk. She drank the soda with a tall shot of Tito’s. It was bracing and summery, and strong enough to help chase the back-to-school blues away. Chris added about a half teaspoon of quick-dissolving sugar and gin. It’s also bracing, but a little bittersweet- more complex.

If you’ve been looking for a grown-up alternative to soda for drinking solo and mixing with clear liquor, this is your jam. It’s definitely ours.

Sazerac Cocktail (p. 87)

There’s a chill cafe/bar in our neighborhood that serves Sazeracs and Old-Fashioneds at happy hour for $7 or $8. (They also have an amazing and affordable cocktail program that belongs someplace way fancier.) I’ve ordered their Sazerac, and tried to figure out what’s in it, but felt goofy asking. This recipe, from Old Mr. B., tastes pretty much exactly right. I made it as written:

Put 1/4 teaspoon Absinthe Substitute and revolve glass until it’s entirely coated with the 20170903_194542Absinthe Substitute. Then add: 

  • 1/2 lump of sugar
  • 2 dashes bitters

Sufficient water to cover sugar, and muddle well. 

  • 2 cubes of ice
  • 2 oz. Old Mr. Boston whiskey

Stir very well. Add twist of lemon peel. (For best results, put glass on ice for a few minutes before serving.) 

Notes on prep: We used Pernod absinthe, Domino superfine quick dissolve sugar, Angostura bitters, and Old Overholt Rye Whiskey. In the past, we’ve used a small spray bottle with absinthe for the absinthe rinse. This time, I followed Mr. B’s directions, and I think the anise-y flavor was a bit more prominent.

20170903_195919Liz’s Take: This is a drink I’d want to serve to a particularly fancy house guest, if I ever have one. It’s a drinkers drink. This drink is to whiskey what martinis are to gin, but the absinthe saves it from requiring your best or most expensive whiskey (that’s not to say it wouldn’t be a good place to showcase a special bottle). It’s not overpoweringly herbaceous, but it is a little bracing.  You have to like the taste of booze to enjoy this drink. And I sure do.

Chris’s Take: Loved this. It’s a really great balance of sweet and bitter, though I know that Liz never adds the suggested amount of sugar. I appreciate that, even though I’ve read that people who like bitter flavors are more likely to be psychopaths. I’m sure I’m just an outlier. But maybe if you’re date orders this at bar, you should gently probe for their mental health history.

Our Ratings:

Prep: Medium- Liz peeled her thumb along with the lemons (but she’s a major klutz) and getting the absinthe to coat the glass requires a bit of finesse

Ingredient Accessibility: Medium- see previous posts on drinks with absinthe

Price: Medium- absinthe is expensive, but this uses just a tiny bit. Old Overholt rye is a great budget find

Taste: Sophisticated, rich, slightly sweet, but a little herbaceous

Final Verdict: We’ve already ordered this at a bar, and would probably do so again, but it’s not hard to make at home.