Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Solutions for the Current Crisis

Fr Hunwicke recently suggested the White Lady in partial tribute to Our Lady's appearance in Lourdes. Some others might recommend it as a general elixir for the complications and tribulations of being a Christian in post-Christian age, with creeping paganism, an inept hierarchy, and the rather obvious fact that part of the remedy for the clergy will involve the on-going exposition of scandals by these same clergy. I have my own set of standby elixirs, cures, and general fixes for your problems.

For a Rough Day: the Old Fashioned

The original cocktail and, according to some, still the best. A cocktail is just sugar and water (simple syrup), bitters, and any spirit. The substitution of other sweetening and bittering agents made the original cocktail known as the "old fashioned" way of making it. While most prefer Bourbon, Rye is more traditional and makes a superior drink; the spice in Rye cuts through the sugar, while sweet Bourbon is typically lost in the general mix of the drink. I prefer to make my Old Fashioned with Cognac, which is a softer drink and has a richer flavor.

In a rocks glass:
-2 oz spirit
-enough simple syrup to make a puddle in the glass
-one dash of Angostura bitters
-one dash orange bitters

Add large ice and stir until desired chill. Garnish with an lemon twist and an orange twist. Express oils over the drink and drop the twists in.

For a Rough Week: the Martini

An evolution of the Old Fashioned, the Martini is a gin cocktail made with vermouth as the sweetener instead of simple syrup. Made with sweet vermouth and in a balanced ratio, this drink is much more flavorful, rich, and interesting than the "dry Martinis" of the Mad Men era, when a "dry" Martini somehow meant less and less vermouth. A "dry" Martini is just a Martini made with dry vermouth instead of the 19th century, pre-Prohibition norm, sweet vermouth. Dry vermouth is preferable unless one can acquire a truly proper sweet vermouth like Carpano Antica, Punt e Mes, or something similar. Good sweet vermouth has a flavor profile similar to Port, just more moderate and better for mixing. A good sweet Martini is rich, herbaceous, and underlines the citric notes in the ingredients. A good dry Martini is juniper forward, clean, and crisp.

In a mixing glass:
-2 oz of a London style gin (Beefeater, Berry Bros., skip the Hendricks)
-1 oz of vermouth
-two dashes of orange bitters

Add ice and stir until desired chill. Strain into a chilled Martini glass or champagne goblet. Garnish with a lemon twist expressed over the drink.

For Reunions: the Vesper

"Three measures of Gordons, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet" Ian Fleming asked for, shaken over ice and served with a lemon peal in a deep champagne goblet. A variation on the Martini and named for the double agent in Casino Royale—hence the vodka, the Vesper has a few problems for the home drink-maker. First, is that good vodka has no taste and bad vodka tastes terrible. The second is that Kina Lillet is no longer made. At the Duke's Hotel, where Fleming invented the drink, they substitute the modern Lillet Blanc aperitif wine with a few dashes of Angostura bitters to compensate for the quinine in the original Kina Lillet. I make it the way they serve it at the Duke's Hotel, only I omit the vodka in favor of more gin.

Enjoying a Vesper in its birthplace
In a mixing glass:
-2 oz of a London style gin
-1 oz of vodka
-1 oz of Lillet Blanc
-one dash of Angostura bitters

Stir over ice and strain into a Martini glass or champagne coupe. Garnish with an orange twist for a little sweetness on top.

For Afternoons: the Rivoli 75

The French 75 is really just a Tom Collins topped with champagne instead of soda water. On its own it is a fine drink, but at the Ritz of London the Rivoli bars makes its own version of its called the Rivoli 75. It uniquely calls for yuzu juice, the juice of an obscure Japanese citrus fruit; if unavailable, make a juice consisting of two parts lemon juice to one part orange juice. The Ritz does not add simple syrup, but I think it cuts the tartness of this drink and balances it out. This is a perfect drink for the mid-afternoon, between luncheon and Martini hour.

In a shaker:
-2 oz of London style gin
-0.5 oz of simple syrup
.0.5 oz of yuzu juice
-one dash of grapefruit bitters

Shake over ice and strain into a chilled champagne flute or goblet and top with either champagne or the sparkling wine of your choice. Garnish with a twist of grapefruit expressed over the drink.

For Early in the Evening: the Sidecar

The Sidecar is a sour style drink, one of French origin as evidenced by its use of Cognac. As with the Rivoli 75, I add simple syrup because I appreciate the balance it brings to an otherwise tart drink. Use a VS label Cognac; the quality of a VSOP or XO will get lost in the drink, but something unlabeled will be quite harsh. Lastly, do not be tempted to cheap out on the Cointreau for triple sec or orange curacao, those are Novus Ordo orange products.

In a shaker:
-2 oz of Cognac
-1 oz of Cointreau
-0.5 oz of freshly squeezed lemon juice
-0.5 oz of simple syrup

Shake vigorously over ice until the noise of the ice hitting the shaker becomes high pitched, meaning the dilution is sufficient. Prepare an chilled Martini glass by adding a dash of sugar to the rim. Strain the drink into the glass and garnish with a lemon twist.

Late in the Evening: the Last Word

The ultimate hipster indulgence, but actually a damn fine drink. If you do not like cherry liqueurs—and I do not—then you can omit the Luxardo.

In a shaker:
-1 oz of any gin
-1 oz of freshly squeezed lime juice
-1 oz of Luxardo maraschino liqueuer
-1 oz of Chartreuse

Shake vigorously over ice and strain into a chilled Martini glass. Enjoy

A Hot Day: the Mai Tai

A tiki style drink invented by Trader Vic, the Mai Tai is a delicious drink that has unjustly fallen out of favor because, like the Old Fashioned and the Martini, it spent a lot of time in the hands of incompetent bartenders. You will often see nonsense involving pineapple juice and grenadine, but a true Mai Tai is a simple, refreshing drink best made with a dark, spicy rum. The original recipe does call for orange curacao, but I find Cointreau makes a more exciting, vivacious drink.

In a shaker:
-2 oz of dark or medium rum
-0.75 oz of freshly squeezed lime juice
-0.75 oz of orange curacao (Cointreau works better)
-0.5 oz of orgeat (can substitute simple syrup)

Shake over ice for a good long time to get proper dilution; this drink should not be too strong. Strain into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice. Take a few sprigs of mint leaves, slap them to release the essential oils, and add as a garnish.

And there you have it, a list of "solutions" for any occasion on which you may be irritated by something your coworker or bishop may have said. Saint Ignatius recommended the faithful discern the spirits. Why not follow that advice?

1 comment:

  1. I like to stick with what Hitchens called the "breakfast of champions" which is of course Johnnie Walker Black. It's appropriate in any situation.