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.
I suppose any wine glasses made in Italy can be called “Italian Wine Glasses.” But that’s not what I’m talking about. There are traditional stemless glasses that are used in some trattorias and other unpretentious Italian restaurants and those are Italian wine glasses. Sometimes called a bacaro, it holds 5 ounces which is about what you’d get in a typical stemmed glass.
It’s a casual way of serving and I think that’s what’s good about these glasses. Wine is an everyday part of a meal and not just for special occasions.
Shaped like a tumbler or highball glass but a lot smaller.
They hold just about the same amount as you’d pour into a stemmed glass.
My friend Bea sent me this cocktail recipe from the Sons of Norway Magazine about 6 weeks ago. My super market finally got blood oranges but I had no luck finding Birkir Snaps. The recipe said you could substitute Bourbon with a dash of pine syrup. The Bourbon was easy but I didn’t know where to start looking for pine syrup. I substituted a dash of Retsina, a Greek wine made with a bit of pine resin. I suppose people in Iceland don’t have it too easy getting blood oranges either.
Here’s looking at you, Bea. Thanks for the challenge. It was delicious.
Put the Bourbon, orange juice, Retsina and syrup into a shaker full of ice. Shake and strain into a rocks glass. A splash of club soda or San Pellegrino and a couple of dashes of Angostura – done.
There’s a fairly simple rule about when to shake and when to stir a cocktail. If there’s any fruit juice (even that mere ½ ounce like in the Oh Gosh), cream or egg, you shake. If all of the ingredients are clear, you stir – like the Martinez below. I can’t imagine why James Bond would ask a bartender to shake his Martinis but what the hell – he’s 007.
The Oh Gosh Cocktail – shake
Add all the ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake and strain into a chilled coupette.
Martinez Cocktail – stir
Place all of the ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Stir with a bar spoon until thoroughly chilled. Strain into the chilled glass. Garnish with an orange twist.
You can buy beer or you can brew it yourself. My sister Nicki gave me a Brooklyn Brew Shop brewing kit and I’ve been using it to make my own beer. The kit comes with all of the equipment you need except for pots and strainers. They also supply the grain, hops and yeast.
I made IPA a few times and it was as good as any I ever got on tap at a bar. I recently ordered the grain and hops to make Oatmeal Stout. The general procedure is similar to the IPA but with a few minor variations that are pointed out on the instructions.
The first step is the Mash – This is where you cook the grain in water for 60 minutes, stirring and keeping it within a proscribed temperature range.
After that is the Sparge – You strain the cooked grain and then pour more hot water through it until you have about 6 quarts of wort (that’s what will eventually become stout.)
Now for the Boil – You bring the wort to a low boil for 90 minutes, adding hops at set intervals. Oatmeal Stout hops
The last step for day one is Fermentation – Cool the wort and pour it through a strainer into a fermenter (that’s the the gallon jug that came with the kit) and add the yeast.
I then inserted a blow-off tube to let the CO2 to escape. All of the preceding steps take place in one day over about five hours. After a few days, I removed the tube and inserted an air-lock in the mouth of the jug to let additional CO2 escape and let it sit in the dark for 2 weeks.
Finally, the Bottling – I siphoned the stout from the fermenter into a pot, leaving the sediment behind. Then I mixed in some maple syrup to feed the yeast and I filled the bottles. Another 2 week wait and it’s ready for drinking.
For Cuban coffee the only ingredients you’ll need are espresso and sugar. For equipment, a moka pot is preferred but any other espresso maker will do. This recipe is for two cups.
Start by putting a two-cup espresso pot on the stove.
While the coffee is brewing start making the espuma –
Add two teaspoons of sugar to a small serving pot for each cup plus one more. More sugar makes more crema. As soon as it’s brewed, add two teaspoons of coffee to the sugar and stir vigorously for a few minutes until you have a creamy café au lait colored syrup. Pour the coffee over it and stir until the espuma rises to the top.