There’s a popular sit-com called The Big Bang Theory. One of the characters, Raj, can’t talk to a woman unless he’s had a drink. His drink of choice, of all things, is a Grasshopper. I’ve heard of them but never had one, so I thought I’d try it.
It’s a simple three-ingredient cocktail –
You put all the ingredients together, shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. You get a pretty green drink that I suppose is the same color as a grasshopper. It’s a pretty cocktail for Saint Patrick’s Day.
It’s great for a sit-com but I’ll probably never have one again. It tasted just like a Peppermint Patty.
FYI – If you replace the crème de menthe with brandy, you have a Brandy Alexander (much better).
Vietnamese Iced Coffeeis nothing like the standard American iced coffee you might be used to. It’s really something special and requires a little patience. Whenever I’m in a Vietnamese restaurant I order it as soon as I arrive and let it brew while I’m eating and drink it just before I ask for the check.
2 glasses – 1 small to brew coffee and 1 tall to mix coffee with ice
As the water is boiling add 2 tablespoons of coffee to the coffee maker and 2 tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk to the small glass.
With the coffee maker on top of the glass, wet the grounds with about a tablespoon of the hot water and put on the top of the press and push down tightly. Fill with hot water and put the cover on. The coffee will slowly drip into the glass onto the condensed milk. This should take a few minutes. You can adjust the press as needed.
When the coffee is finished dripping, fill a tall glass with ice. Thoroughly mix the coffee with the condensed milk and then pour it over the ice in the tall glass.
Creme de Violette hasn’t been available in America for decades. My father used to complain that he couldn’t get it for his Pousse Caffe recipe. Well, it’s back and quite a few brands are being imported into the US.
Creme de Violette is an essential ingredient for an Aviation. A cocktail invented in 1916 in New York that gets the name from its cloud-like color.
Put all of the ingredients into a shaker filled with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Creme de Violette Pousse Caffe
Starting from the bottom up –
Slowly and carefully pour each ingredient down the side of a narrow glass.
My Christmas Punch is adapted from Duffy’s 1956 edition of the Official Mixers Guide
Mix and chill first 5 ingredients and strain into a punch bowl over a block of ice with citrus fruit slices frozen inside.* Add chilled wine and chilled club soda just before serving.
If you chill the punch with ice cubes, they’ll melt and dilute it. It’s better to use a large chunk of ice. It’s more interesting if you add some fruit and make it colorful.
Slice various citrus fruits. Place a few slices of each in a small (sandwich size) zip-lock bag. Add enough water to cover the slices and hold them together when frozen. Make about 4 or 5 bags and freeze them. When frozen, place the contents of each bag into a larger zip-lock bag or a Tupperware container, add more water and freeze to make a large block of ice and citrus slices – a fruitberg.
Store-bought eggnog is cloying and sweet, so thick you feel like it might be eating your tongue as you swallow it and I always wanted to like it more than I did. So when I discovered Alton Brown had a recipe for Aged Eggnog I was intrigued, we happened to be keeping urban chickens at the time so I had plenty of fresh eggs. It was delicious! I have been making it for years now and it is always a well received, even with Eggnog haters. This year I happened to have a bunch of empty half gallon mason jars so I decided to double the recipe and then divide it into thirds because carrying all the quart jars to and from the basement is trying. A single recipe has always yielded about 3 quarts for me, so the math says I should end up with 3 even half gallons. The initial recipe says as long as you maintain 20% by volume alcohol content then you should be safe. Here is Brown’s basic recipe:
12 large eggs (pasteurized if you need peace of mind)
1 pound sugar
1-pint whole milk
1-pint heavy cream
1 cup Jamaican rum
1 cup cognac
1 cup bourbon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (plus more for serving)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Store eggs are fine, but I really have an obsession with fresh ones. We no longer keep chickens but I was able to score 2 dozen from a friend of mine who has a farm about 40 minutes away. First separate the eggs into yolks and whites, saving the whites for another purpose. ( I like to make meringues or fold them into an egg casserole/quiche for an easy breakfast.) I do weigh out my sugar for this recipe, but you can use a volume conversion because the booze is what makes it safe, not the sugar content. Take the yokes and beat them into the sugar, at first it will be bright yellow with a lumpy, grainy texture, but soon it will even out into a pale yellow liquid that should fall off the whisk in a thick ribbon. The effort required is not enough to wash a mixer, so just use a whisk.
Add your nutmeg to the eggs and sugar, whisk in. I measure the remaining ingredients into my jar to mix them, starting with the creams and adding the booze. Closing the lid and giving them a good shake, I then began to pour them into my egg mixture while whisking.
Once the eggs, cream and booze are nicely combined you are finished! I pour the eggnog back into my jar add the lid and take it to the basement fridge to age. It must age for two weeks but can age much longer, I think Alton once said he makes his around New Year’s day every year. The longest we’ve ever had it is October to January, and it was great in January.
The search started with a Sazerac and finally ended with the Ramos Gin Fizz.
. . . After we settled in our hotel there was time for a late dinner. We waited for a table at the hotel restaurant bar and this was our first chance to try a Ramos Gin Fizz. We told the bartender that we’d heard about this traditional New Orleans drink and would like to try it. He was young and he was stumped. . . He suggested another famous Big Easy cocktail, a Sazarac.
. . . It was almost dinner time and we had reservations at Galatoires, another one of my father’s recommendations. It was an old New Orleans institution with classic Creole dishes and jackets required for gentlemen.
. . . From base to top there were subtle and slightly varying shades of almost pure white going from the deepest hue at the bottom to a perfectly white, glowing heavenly cloud of thick foam at the top. It appeared to be both dense and light at the same time. . . The best way for me to describe the experience is to imagine the tastiest slice of lemon meringue pie anyone ever ate; now imagine drinking it while in a garden filled with fragrant tropical flowers.
. . . Marcel said, “These jack-leg young bartenders don’t care to keep up with the old Noo Awlin traditions. The Ramos Gin Fizz has been around longer than jazz. It was first concocted by a gentleman bartender named Henry Ramos before Kid Ory or Jelly Roll Morton ever even played any music.”
. . . “It’s not so much what’s in it but the time and care you take to get it all together.” . . . I ordered another round just so we could witness the “time and care” Marcel would put into his creation.
I went to the liquor store to get a bottle of my brand of Scotch, Johnny Walker Black, and couldn’t find it on the shelf. I looked for the traditional black box and didn’t see any. I asked the clerk and he pointed to a black and white pin-striped box. It was a New York Yankees 2018 Limited Edition Johnny Walker Black.
The box, the label and even the bottle cap – all in pin stripes and Johnny is carrying a bat over his shoulder and tossing a baseball.
So, if you’re a Scotch drinker and a Yankee fan, this is for you. Since it’s a limited edition it’ll probably become a collectible and in a couple of years people will be bidding for it on eBay.
Here I go again with another obscure brand of soda (4/3/18Manhattan Special). Cheerwine is obscure only if you’re not from the South and particularly it’s home state, North Carolina where it’s very popular. It’s an excellent wild cherry soda that’s been around since 1917.
It’s tasty, sweet, bubbly and not alcoholic although it makes a great mixer. Every so often I have a case mailed to me. With shipping it comes to about $2.50 per bottle and worth every penny. It’s taste reminds me of the fountain cherry sodas you used to be able to get in candy stores and ice cream parlors. It’s perfect straight from the bottle or on ice but you can be creative and make some interesting cocktails with it.
Cheerwine Old Fashioned
Add Bourbon, Angostura and Cointreau to a rocks glass. Add Ice and stir. Top Cheerwine and garnish with an orange slice.
Combine rum and lime juice in a shaker. Add ice and shake. Pour into a Collins glass filled with fresh ice. Top with Cheerwine and garnish with lime.
Cheerwine Bourbon Cocktail
Fill a shaker with bourbon, vanilla extract and lime juice. Shake with ice, pour into a rocks glass and top off with Cheerwine. Garnish with lime slice.
Pour Applejack, Campari and vermouth over ice in a Collins glass. Top with Cheerwine and garnish with orange peel.
Most of you probably never heard of it but Manhattan Special is a espresso flavored soda. It’s not sold all over and is typically only available in Italian delis and grocery stores although lately it’s been turning up in some high end food stores. They’ve been in business for a long time (1896) and I remember drinking it when I was a kid in Manhattan’s Little Italy. It tastes like the best iced coffee you’ve ever had – only made from espresso and with a fizz. When we were kids we’d sometimes have it with a splash of milk, the way you would drink iced coffee.
A while back I found a vintage Manhattan Special bottle, empty of course. It didn’t hold much, just 6 ounces and it has their old Brooklyn telephone number on it with an “Evergreen” exchange. What I liked most about the old bottles is that instead of paper, the label is painted on. Spaces are left blank so that the man and woman are outlined in black (the color of the soda) and when the bottle was empty those spaces became transparent.