Saturday, May 24

The Cosmopolitan, Sex and the City

My wife is driving me nuts with Sex and the City. She has been watching her DVD collection incessantly since she learned of the upcoming movie. She has the desktop background of Carrie emblazoned on her computer. She is shopping for clothes and shoes worn by the cast (which are not cheap mind you). And yes, she is of course drinking the drink that was made ever so popular by the show... the Cosmopolitan.

Back in 1996 this pop culture phenomenon hit the scene on HBO and hooked millions of women. In our household it was a weekly Sunday night ritual for six seasons. Her girlfriends would come over and join us for dinner, drinks, and Sex and the City. I now have to make a confession as well... I do like the eye candy.

So, with the buzz of the new movie coming out on May 30, 2008 and my wife's obsession I felt compelled to write the obligatory Cosmopolitan post.

Thanks again to Gary Regan and his cocktail archaeology we today know who had a part to play in the invention of this modern classic cocktail. As with most cocktails the Cosmo went through a couple of phases to get to what we now consider a Cosmopolitan cocktail. The original however is credited to Cheryl Cook who bartended on South Beach, Miami for 15 years. (25)

As the story goes, while bartending in 1985 Cheryl notice a big resurgence of the Martini but more specifically the coolness of holding a cocktail glass. Her keen observation lead her to notice that people would order a Martini or a Vodka Martini but did not necessarily like it all that well, but rather they did it too be chic. So when Cheryl received a brand new product from her Absolut rep called Absolut Citron she took on the challenge to create a new "pretty" drink that could be served in a cocktail glass. (25)

Cheryl went to work and whipped up a mixture of "Absolut Citron, a splash of triple sec, a drop of roses lime juice and just enough cranberry to make it oh so pretty in pink." She then served it up to her first guest Christina Solopuerto and within 45 minutes the entire restaurant had a Cosmopolitan in front of them. (25)

This formula in Cheryl's mind was simply a Kamikaze using Absolut Citron and adding a splash of cranberry juice. The cocktail was named after the magazine Cosmopolitan which has the styles and design she was trying to project with her new drink... and Voila! a new cocktail is born. (25)

This drink was wildly popular in Miami for the rest of Cheryl's crazy 15 year tenure in South Beach. Somehow the drink made its way in this form to both San Fransisco and New York City, at which point our second player in this tale comes about and his name is Toby Cecchini. (25)

By the time Toby was introduced to the drink in 1987 it was bastardized to the point of using plain vodka, Roses lime juice and grenadine, pink yes but not too close to Cheryl's version. So Toby put on his mixology hat and re-invented the drink using Absolut Citron, Cointreau, fresh lime juice, and cranberry juice. This is now the Cosmopolitan ingredients used today. (25)

A few years later Dale DeGroff also experienced a variation of Cheryl's Cosmo formula that called for Citron, Roses, and cranberry juice. He too used his experience behind the stick to improve the drink. He uses fresh juices, added Cointreau and used his proven sweet to sour formula to come up with the now standard recipe for the Cosmo. In 1996 Dale brought the drink to the Rainbow Room in New York City and shortly there after stars such as Madonna were spotted with the drink to kick off the modern Cosmo craze. (23)

So how did the Cosmopolitan jump onto the screen in the HBO series Sex and the City? Was it because the New York moguls experienced Dale's fabulous version at the Rainbow Room? Or was it the fact that the Sex and the City costume designers Patricia and Rebecca Fields were faithful customers of Cheryl Cook's down on South Beach several years before? Whatever the case it did happen and the inclusion of the pretty in pink cocktail catapulted a modern classic cocktail into every bar in America.

With the new movie just around the corner you can be sure to see many women in bars holding their designer bag, wearing their designer dresses and shoes, while sipping on a designer Cosmopolitan (at least I know my wife will).

Cosmopolitan
1.5 oz Absolut Citron
0.5 oz Cointreau
0.25 oz Fresh Lime Juice
1 oz Cranberry Juice

Shake all ingredients with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and garnish. I've seen the garnish for the Cosmo to be: a lemon twist, flamed orange peel, or lime wedge.

Cheers!

Sex and the City Image courtesy of HBO file photo

Sunday, April 6

The Official State of Louisiana Cocktail

As a Louisiana resident and a cocktail enthusiast I am a full supporter of the Sazerac as the Official State Cocktail!

At this moment there is bill that just passed the Louisiana Senate Committee and is on the way to the full Louisiana Senate. Once the Senate passes the bill it will be looking for sponsorship in the House that will make the Sazerac the Official State of Louisiana Cocktail.

The Sazerac was invented in New Orleans by Antoine Peychaud, of Peychaud's Bitters. This cocktail is among the first cocktails and is accepted as THE first cocktail of Louisiana. It is a wonderful cocktail that has a spicy sweet flavor that truly complements that of the Big Easy.

Antoine Peychaud, a Creole immigrant, operated a pharmacy on the French Quarter's Royal Street in the 1830s. With his background as an apothecary, he was a natural mixologist. His friends would gather for late-night revelry at his pharmacy. Peychaud would mix brandy, absinthe and a dash of his secret bitters for his guests. Later this quaff would come to be known as the Sazerac. (13)
Sazerac
0.25 oz Herbsaint (or other Absinthe substitute)
0.25 oz Simple Syrup
2 dashes Peychaud bitters
2 oz rye whiskey

Add ice to an old fashioned glass and let it sit. In a second glass add bitters, simple syrup, and rye. Stir this mixture with ice for 10 seconds. In the first glass discard the ice and add the Absinthe substitute. Coat the entire inside of the glass. This can be done by throwing the glass up in the air while spinning it. If you do this you are likely to get some splash on yourself. You can discard any extra Absinthe substitute. Now strain the 2nd glass into the coated chilled glass. the last step is to garnish with a twist of lemon making sure to rim the glass with the twist.


This cocktail is as much of a historical landmark as the French Quarter. When visitors come to our state for the first time the cocktail they should try is the Sazerac and this law will solidify that notion.

Ann Rogers, the non-profit New Orleans Culinary and Cultural Preservation Society, and Tales of the Cocktail are the drive behind this movement. If all goes according to plan the Sazerac will be the Official Cocktail of Louisiana prior to Tales of the Cocktail event on July 16-20, 2008. As if we needed another reason to celebrate at TotC!

If you want to help the Sazerac earn this well deserved status then we need help lobbying the House Representatives. Contact me at bar.mix.master[at]gmail.com to find out how.

Thanks

Brad

Thursday, March 20

Tales of the Cocktail 2008

It's that time of year again. Tales of the Cocktail 2008 is July 16-20th!!

Tales of the Cocktail is an annual event held in New Orleans that draws cocktailians from across the world. Every year this event has grown in size. Tales started in 2003 and was the brain child of Ann Rogers. Ann has been a consummate advocate of the New Orleans cocktail.

What makes this event different from in other bar and spirit convention is that this one is for the cocktail enthusiast/patron not the bar industry. It is a celebration of the cocktail and provides those passionate about cocktails opportunities to teach and learn about this New Orleans tradition.

I started going to TotC in 2005 and I kick myself to this day for missing the first 2 years. I have never been disappointed and each year it gets better and better. The seminars are given by the world’s top mixoligist however they are taught at a level that anyone off the street can understand.

My favorite part of Tales of the Cocktail of the past has to be Cocktail Hour and the Spirited Dinners. At Cocktail Hour there is a ball room full of cocktail book authors and other mixoligist. At each table you can get your book signed by the author and enjoy a sample of one of his/her favorite cocktails.

At the Spirited Dinners a mixologist is matched with one of New Orleans top restaurants. The dinner consists of a degustation menu and a cocktail paired with each course prepared by the chef and bar chef. Absolutely fabulous!

This year I have the pleasure along with some of my fellow cocktail bloggers to cover TotC from the inside out. We will be attending the seminars, going to the special events, and of course having a time that only New Orleans can deliver. All will be document at http://www.talesblog.com/.

At this year’s event there are over 100 scheduled events and seminars packed full of cocktail fun. With seminars/events of the likes of:


· Juniperlooza
· Bartending Techniques 101 and Barware
· Spice and Ice: The Art of Spicy Cocktails
· The History of the Margarita
· Martini Flights
· How to Create the Right Cocktail Menu for your Bar or Restaurant
· Save the Daiquiri Party

…just to name very few.

To check out the description of these and more go to http://www.talesofthecocktail.com/. I strongly recommend attending and if you do look me up while you’re there. If for some unfortunate reasons you can’t make it this year follow the action at http://www.talesblog.com/.

Tuesday, March 18

The Oddest of Mixtures

On March 4, 2008 I was saddened to learn that Gary Gygax, co-creator of Dungeons and Dragons, passed away. Back in 1974 Gary and co-creator Dave Arneson created a fantasy game world that brought the works of J.R.R Tolkien to life. I ask, who doesn't want to be the hero that saves the day by taking out a horde of goblins and orcs. The game-world created by Gary and Dave is a far cry, from the now spoon feed online bleeps and bits coming through your monitor. It lives in your head. It's a world that you can imagine and it is much greater and far reaching than any pre-programmed online/console adventure.

Okay, I'm a nerd and I'm proud of it. What do you expect? I work all day managing software development!

First off, there is an interesting parallel between D&D and cocktails. The game got a bad rap, much like bartending and cocktails did during prohibition. During the early 80's D&D was labeled evil and was shunned by a "holier than thou" group of fanatics hell bent on ruining a good time. Sound familiar?

As I started my journey down the cocktail highway several years ago I started to notice a trend. I noticed that many of my online companions that enjoyed the intricacies of mixing libations were also tech nerds. Could it be that I was noticing this just because I was sounding off online and the propensity of those other purveyors of libations also knew technology because of the venue? I don't know.

Nonetheless, I notice a mixture that seems to blend very well together in technology and mixology. This seems to be a very odd mixture. A mixture much like that of a Bloody Mary, where when one first looks at the ingredients you might say to yourself, "hmmmm, that doesn't sound quite right." But when you taste it you fall in love and can't get enough of it.

This mix may be a product of the fact that IT professionals have a lot of stress, but for me it is a bit more. Day to day I create new programs and utilities for my users. I can see that these tools make their lives just a little bit easier to deal with. This makes them very happy; gushing even. However, the process can take a very long time to develop.

On the other hand, with cocktails the gratification comes much quicker. I can whip up a Sidecar and serve it to my guests. A smile immediately crosses their face as the refreshing liquid passes their lips. To me, this satisfaction is very much the same and this is why I think the two blend very well together.

So here is my latest recipe. See if you agree.

My Hobbies
1 part tech computer nerd
1 part cocktailian
0.5 part RPG (D&D) player
0.25 part sports/television

Combine ingredients with ice, strain into the cocktail glass of "free time" and enjoy!

Unfortunate for me and my readers my free time glass is only that of the 5 oz variety and not the mondo chain restaurant cocktail glass size. However as with real cocktails, and not this very bad allegory, its quality over quantity.

So let's give a shout out to Gary Gygax and the wonderful game he created those many years ago. In fact, I bet there are a lot of cocktailians out there right now.... wanting to yell out... "Yes! I play D&D and drink cocktails, so what?" If so... sound off right here.

Cheers!!

Photo and miniature by: Wes Walker

Thursday, January 3

Reader Question (January 3, 2008)

A reader wrote:

Happy New Year! I have a bit of a question that may seem out of the way, but I’m hoping that you may have an answer. As of 12:30am yesterday (1/1/87) I turned 21. Point blank, I hate the taste of alcohol. I’ve had it in varying contexts, strong Cali. Wines, shooters, Dark and Stormys (which I had IN Bermuda and it was nasty as hell) even the “shot” of rum in fruit drinks from time to time.

Personally, it all tastes like I’m opening the medicine cabinet and downing fingernail polish remover or witch hazel/rubbing alcohol. With that said, I’m not looking by any means to, “Drink to Get F'd Up” (as you so awesomely put it), but to have a standard go-to drink(s).

So my basic question is, do you recommend anything “light” but “respectable”. As of yet the only thing that doesn't completely bother me are “standard” Daiquiri, margaritas and Kahlua [shots].

Many thanks, Mitch

----------------------------------------------
My response:

From your short list of drinks you like I can deduce that you could start with something called the New Orleans Sour(1). This is just the name of a family of drinks that use:

1. Base Liquor
2. Orange-flavored liqueur (Triple Sec, Cointreau, Grand Marnier, etc…)
3. Lime Juice

This formula is used for the Margarita (Tequila as base) and the Daiquiri (Rum as base), which you listed as tolerable. I suspect you would really like a Cosmopolitan (Vodka as base and splash of cranberry juice). The Cosmo really is a good modern classic don’t let the “girly” drink stigma deter you.

A slight variation to the New Orleans Sour uses lemon juice instead of lime juice, which is very close. Some drinks with this formula is the Sidecar (Brandy as base) and Kamikaze (Vodka as base).

I would highly recommend the Sidecar because it has the elements you like and it has a sugared rim, which you might find blends with the Brandy really well.

However some of these drinks might be tough to order at a high volume bar. You might just ask for a Vodka Sour, Rum Sour, Tequila Sour, Whisky Sour, etc… the family of drinks called the Sour is a base liquor and a sweet and sour mix.

Related links:
Brandy Crusta
How to get a Sidecar

This whole section is devoted to this topic… Bar Fear

Thanks

Brad

Sunday, October 28

Fancy Free Cocktail

At this past year's Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans I came across a marvelous cocktail called the Fancy Free. Mr. Paul Clark of The Cocktail Chronicles had this fabulous cocktail at his table during cocktail hour. I enjoyed it so much that I continued to run his table even after he had to leave to run is Spirited Dinner.

I just discovered it again in my card catalog and all I have to say is Oh My!

Fancy Free
2 oz Bourbon
0.5 oz maraschino liqueur
1-2 dashes Angostura bitters
1-2 dashes Orange bitters

Stir well with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.

Check it out... and enjoy!

Tuesday, October 16

False Advertising

So I am at the Vegas airport on a lay over for a business trip and I
was passing by a 25 cent slot machine. I just happened to have a quarter in
my pocket so I said to myself what the heck. I stopped to drop it in to give it
a whirl. Alas, there is no coin slot in the slot machine... it only takes bills! Huh!?!

I thought to myself well that's interesting. It's kinda like saloons
that have Manhattans on the menu but have no bitters behind the bar.

It's crazy I tell you.

Also while on my journey I had a bartender tell me that she doesn't
put bitters in Manhattans because most people don't want them anymore.
Strange I've yet to meet a Manhattan drinker yet that doesn't want bitters.

Is this the case for anyone out there? Are there people out there that
don't want bitters in their Manhattan?

Just courious... Let me know.

Saturday, October 13

Mixology Monday: Pairings - Añejo Manhattan

Because I live so close to the great food of New Orleans and my love for cocktails I could not resist this month's topic for Mixology Monday, pairings. So, I decided to try to break my writers block by joining Mixology Monday, which is a group of bloggers that write about the same topic once a month and the host site compiles a round up. This Mixology Monday is being hosted by The Liquid Muse.

It seems as though the New Orleans area has a weekend festival every single week. This weekend was no exception as I attended the Wooden Boat Festival in Madisonville, LA. We New Orleaneans only need a small excuse to party! But let’s face it the main event at these festivals is the food.

Down on Bayou we like our food with some flavor, spice, and a savory flavor hard to find anywhere else in the world. Here at the festival I found myself surrounded by the smells and sound of what I expected. The sizzle of Cajun sausages on the grill, seafood gumbo bubbling over the fire, and fried catfish smothered in a spicy rue were just some of the tempting dishes all around me.

For my pairing I couldn't help but bring home a wide sampling of the food, but I will focus on one pairing in particular that I found outstanding and unexpected.

Pastalaya is a must try if you are ever down here in swamp country. Pastalaya is like jambalaya but with pasta instead of rice. It also is a bit creamier than jambalaya. The spices will kick you in the nuts and leave you begging for more. This thing is alive with flavor and in my mind is a quintessential Cajun dish. Everyone that makes it has their own family recipe, but for the most part you can find it containing: andouille sausage, shrimp and crawfish tails, chicken, a Creole butter sauce, and of course pasta. Google pastalaya there are plenty of recipes to choose.

To pair with it I quickly thought of a cocktail I once had at the Tales of the Cocktail event in 2006 called the Añejo Manhattan. Invented by Ryan Magerian this cocktail was ironically introduced to me in a seminar actually describing cocktail and food pairings. The spicy and savory flavor of this cocktail is a perfect blend with the pastalaya.

Añejo Manhattan
2 oz Añejo Tequila
0.5 oz Sweet Vermouth
0.25 oz Licor 43
1 dash Angostura Bitters
1 dash Regan's No. 6 Orange Bitters

Fill glass with ice. Add spirits and bitters and stir swiftly for 30 seconds. Strain immediately into a cocktail glass and garnish with Salami Mole Sausage Taco with a tequila-soaked dried cherry filling on a pick.

The spiciness of the tequila mixed with the sweet savory combination of sweet vermouth, Licor 43 and bitters make this cocktail a great complement to any food dish with spice. The spice in the food play well with the spice in the tequila and I think enhances the overall flavor of the cocktail and food.

Well that wraps up my first Mixology Monday. I hope to have a lot more to come and get into the swing of posting again.

Cheers!

Saturday, June 9

Brandy Crusta

This is a true New Orleans classic which was invented in the 1850s by Joseph Santina. Joseph owned and operated the City Exchange on Gravier Street in New Orleans. (1)This drink is unique in its garnish in that it uses a large amount of lemon peel that almost entirely coats the inside of the glass.

A Great Grandfather
The significance of this classic is far reaching into what is today some our most prolific cocktails. The formula was coined by Gary Regan as the New Orleans Sour and consists of a base liquor (in this case Brandy), an orange liqueur for the sweetener and lemon or lime for the sour. This mixture is exactly what is used in some modern day classics like the Margarita (Tequila, Cointreau, Lime Juice) and the Cosmopolitan (Vodka, Cointreau, Lime Juice, Cranberry Juice). Many other cocktails where born of this mixture and the formula was born right here in New Orleans on Gravier Street.(1)

The sweet orange flavor and citrus sour flavor combine to complement the base spirit very well in the New Orleans Sour formula.

Recipe
1.5 oz Brandy
0.25 oz Maraschino liqueur
0.5 oz Cointreau
0.25 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
1 dash Angostura bitters
Lemon peel spiral and sugared rim for garnish

Cut a lemon in half and moisten the rim of the glass with the lemon. Then heavily coat the rim with sugar. Completely peel one of the lemon halfs in a ½ inch wide piece of lemon peel. Fill glass with ice leaving enough room to place the peel in glass. Cut one of the lemon halfs in half again in order to get a quarter of the lemon. Juice the lemon quarter and add the juice to the brandy, maraschino, Cointreau, and bitters. Shake with ice for 10 seconds and then strain into prepared glass.

The glass used for this drink should be a wine glass, a Sour glass, or in a pinch a double old fashioned (rocks) glass.

As you taste the drink you should find the balance of the sweet and sour elements brings out the flavor of the base liquor. The lemon peel and sugared rim almost do the same thing but on a different level. This is a really great cocktail and you can see why it was made a design pattern for many drinks to come.

Saturday, May 26

And you call your self a BAR and grill. Please...

I haven't gone on a tirade in a while so... here we go.

I'm sick and tired of going to a "nice" restaurant and ordering a cocktail and getting SHIT! Even when you order a modern classic such as a Cosmopolitan, which my wife orders from time to time, what comes out to the table is absolutely abhorrent. A Cosmo is NOT vodka and cranberry juice in a "martini" glass!

The standards of restaurant owners need to be elevated. Do you know how much profit is made on alcoholic beverages? Why are you trying to rush me through my dinner? Why is my dinner coming out before I'm done with my appetizer? Why do I stop having drinks after my first sip of your crap?!? Why do I go home for my after dinner drink?

Your bartender is just as important as your chef. In fact it is the first impression of your guest. I know that when I sit down to have a good meal and I get complete and utter crap at the bar/table in the form of a "cocktail" I want to stand up and walk right out the door.

Okay, sure I might be on an extreme end of the spectrum as far as cocktail expectations, but the cocktail movement is really gaining speed. Do you want affluent ($$$$) people in your restaurant? Well you better start paying attention to the shake, shake instead of the type of butter on the table!

That's all I have to say about that.