Category Archives: Drinks

Southern Cocktails

Mint Julep Nothing like it in summer. Try it in a silver cup if you have one. Originally made with Cognac, the standard is now Bourbon although some prefer rye.

mint julep

Ingredients:

  • Mint leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sugar
  • Bourbon

In a rocks glass or silver cup, muddle a good size bunch of mint leaves with the sugar and a few drops of Bourbon. Pack the cup with cracked ice and mix the mint with the ice. Add the Bourbon and then add more ice and a sprig of mint.


Magnolia

magnolia

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp Cointreau (or 4 drops of orange flower water)
  • 1 ½ oz brandy
  • 1 egg yolk

Shake and strain into flute and fill with sparkling hard cider or Champagne.


Golden Fizz

golden fizz

Ingredients:

  • 1 shot of gin
  • Juice of ¼ lemon
  • 1 tspn sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • Club soda

Shake thoroughly and strain into small highball glass without ice and top with some club soda.


Two other traditional Southern specialties,  the Sazerac and Ramos Gin Fizz got their own posts.

Sazerac
Sazerac
Ramos Gin Fizz
Ramos Gin Fizz

Pousse Caffe

pousse caffe

Pousse Caffe

Not too long ago my cousin Jeanne reminded me about a special after-dinner drink my father would make for our grandmother when we went to see her on holidays. It’s called a Pousse Caffe.That translates to something like ‘coffee chaser.’ It’s made by very carefully pouring layers of different colored liquors with different densities into a pony glass. They have to be poured in the correct order or they’ll mix. He held the glass on an angle so the liquor would slowly and gently run down its side. With some care and a steady hand, you can do it.

My father’s five layer recipe starts with a red base of Grenadine Syrup, followed by chocolaty Crème de Cacao, then green Crème de Menthe, clear Cointreau and topped with some amber Cognac. Use about one half ounce of each or vary the amounts for different of thicknesses of color layers. 

Pousse Caffe ingredients
Pousse Caffe ingredients

It should be drunk in one shot, the way my grandmother did it. You get a swirl of different tastes in your mouth. It’s more a confection than a drink – not too sweet or tart.


Italian Flag Pousse Caffe

Whenever I make Pousse Caffes, since they’re so colorful, all the kids around the table want one. So I’ve come up with a milder version.

Italin Flag Pousse Caffe

It starts with the same non-alcoholic Grenadine Syrup, then a thin layer of the green Crème de Menthe topped with some  half and half. The only alcohol is in the ¼ ounce of low proof Crème De Menthe.


Brandy Scaffa

Brandy Scaeffa

Another version of a layered after-dinner drink is the Brandy Scaffa. It’s not too sweet and has a bit more kick than the Pousse Caffe.

Luxardo

Start with 3/4 ounce of Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur in a narrow glass and then float 3/4 ounce of brandy on top of it. Finish with three dashes of Angostura Bitters sprinkled on top. Then watch it sink to make a reddish-brown line between the two layers. Of course, to get the correct effect, you should do it in one shot.


 

Espresso

Espresso

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When I was growing up the standard after dinner question was, “Who wants brown or black?” Brown being American coffee, usually Maxwell House and black was espresso. Our brand was Medaglia D’Oro and I still use it. We started drinking coffee very young. I remember my little China cup filled with half coffee and half milk and some sugar. Kids were allowed milk in espresso. Adults used Anisette.

Not long ago we offered espresso to some guests and one said, “Oh, you have an espresso machine.” I told him we didn’t have an espresso machine but we didn’t need one because we had a Napoletana Macchinetta. Macchinetta actually means ‘little machine.’

Fill the top with water, put the coffee grounds in the screw in filter and place the pot on the stove upside down. When you hear it boil, turn it right side up. A vacuum is created that forces the hot water through the grounds making a rich brew.

It’s not the only type of espresso maker. I have some others.

Copper machinetta, red mocha and a Vesuviana
Copper machinetta, red mocha and a Vesuviana

 

If I ever get a full-sized espresso machine, I’d like one like this –

Café Reggio
Café Reggio

 

 

Sazerac

Sazarac

My wife Bridget and I went to four bars in the New Orleans’ French Quarter to try Sazeracs and take away the best recipe. This was our favorite but after four Sazeracs I could only remember the recipe and not the name of the bar where I got it – maybe the Hotel Monteleone? sazerac Ingredients:

  • Anisette (or Pernod)
  • Peychauds bitters
  • Simple syrup*
  • 2 oz. Rye
  • Angostura bitters

rye2 Preparation: Put ½ shot of Anisette in a small rocks glass. Coat the sides of the glass with it and then add some ice. In another small rocks glass add: a few dashes of Peychauds Bitters and 1 tsp of simple syrup. Mix, add ice and stir. Add a shot of rye and stir. Empty ice and excess Anisette from 1st rocks glass and strain mix of Peychauds, syrup and rye into it. Float a few dashes of Angostura on top. Serve cold without ice. Three aromatics, sugar and Rye – that’s a Sazerac.

*Simple syrup – Heat one cup of sugar in one cup of water. Stir until it’s clear and liquid.

Ramos Gin Fizz

Ramos Gin Fizz

Ramos Gin Fizz
Ramos Gin Fizz

We first tried this exceptional cocktail in New Orleans on my father’s recommendation. For the whole story click here – The Elusive Ramos Gin Fizz.

Ramos Gin Fizz ingredients and equipment
Ramos Gin Fizz ingredients and equipment

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz gin
  • ½ oz fresh lemon juice
  • ½ oz fresh lime juice
  • 1 oz heavy cream
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 4 drops orange flower water
  • Seltzer or club soda

No substitute for any ingredient.

 

Preparation:

  • Put the gin and lemon & lime juice in the glass half of the shaker and the cream, egg white, sugar and orange flower water in the metal half.
  • Fill the glass half way with cracked ice and then add the metal half ingredients over the ice.  Shake for two full minutes. That’s very important to get the meringue-like head.
  •  Strain from the glass to the metal and then strain again into a Collins glass with no ice.
  • Top with a spritz of seltzer and let the foam rest and settle, tapping the base of the glass.  When it settles add another dash of seltzer/club soda so the head comes up a bit above the brim.
  • Serve with a spoon & straw.
milk 2
It’s only a glass of milk  and not a Ramos Gin Fizz that Cary Grant is about to serve to Joan Fontaine, but it glows like one.

 

7Up and Chianti

 

7Up and Chianti

7Up and Chianti - a match made in heaven
7Up and Chianti – a match made in heaven

When I was growing up, we started drinking wine with dinner at an early age. We didn’t drink very much and didn’t drink it straight either. Our parents mixed it with soda. Some of my friends preferred Coke, and others, cream and even orange soda – go figure!

 My choice was always, and still is 7Up. Some sweetness, some citrus and a bit of bubbly fizz with a rich Chianti can’t be beat. I wouldn’t attempt to order it at a restaurant but I still sometimes have it at home. It’s comfort food that really brings me back.

All the ingredients you'll need
All the ingredients you’ll need

It’s a simple mix – about half and half. Younger kids get a little less wine and older kids, a bit more.

7up 3

EGG-HOT

Egg-Hot

I found an interesting old cookbook called, A PLAIN COOKERY BOOK FOR THE WORKING CLASSES. It was written by Charles Elme Francatelli in 1861. He was ‘Maitre d’Hotel and Chief Cook to Her Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria,’ – pretty good credentials. A recipe that caught my attention was for Egg-Hot. It’s a sort of unusual beer cocktail. Here it is verbatim: Egghot I didn’t think this was something I could order at a local bar so I tried it myself. I tried it more than once. I made it with Brooklyn Lager and Sam Adams Boston Lager – both worked very well. I don’t think a beer like Corona or Bud would stand up to this recipe. I used a small sauce pan to heat the beer and a stoneware mug for the mixing. Adding ‘a drop of beer’ tempers the egg so it stays liquid and doesn’t scramble. I followed the instructions precisely and finished with a hearty mixture that was almost a meal. I think it would make a great winter drink comparable to Irish coffee. egghot 3

OLD FASHIONED

Jay's Bar

When my father was a young man he tended bar in various bars and restaurants in Greenwich Village. He developed a great Old Fashioned and passed the recipe on to me. That’s him, Frank Iulo, in the white shirt at Jay’s Bar on Houston Street.

Old Fashioned Cocktail

Put circular slice of lemon in the bottom of an old fashioned glass. Add 1 tsp sugar, a few dashes of orange bitters and muddle. Be sure to crush lemon skin to get oil. Add ice and Rye or Canadian and stir. Float a few dashes of Angostura on top.

old fashioned

 

Statistics recorded with Counterize - Version 3.1.4

Marsala, etc.

 

My Calabrese grandfather used to have Marsala and an egg for breakfast. He’d just break an egg into a glass of Marsala and drink it without mixing or cooking it.  He didn’t use a cocktail glass either.

Marsala Flip – a drink similar to both zabaglione (see below) and my grandfather’s breakfast.

flip

  •  One whole egg
  • Two ice cubes
  • Three ounces sweet Marsala

Put the ingredients in a blender and mix until smooth and creamy. A flip is a cocktail that’s been around for a long time.  This is a simple version of it. You can also use port or sherry. Add sugar if you’re using something that isn’t sweet i.e. brandy or bourbon.

 

Zabaglione

marsala b

 

  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 cup sweet Marsala
  • ½ cup sugar

Put all the ingredients in a double boiler and whisk over medium heat until foamy. I use an old fashioned crank egg beater. It’s faster. Serve it hot or cold for dessert  in a cocktail glass as is or with some berries on top.