All in Food & Drink
Henry Ramos’s Gin Fizz may be popular with the punters - 20,000 of these cocktails are served in just one bar in New Orleans every year! - but Henry wasn't so popular with the bartenders whom he condemned to a lifetime of muscle-straining cocktail shaking.
2 pts Light rum. I'm going with HSE from the northern tip of Martinique.
1 pt Lime juice, freshly squeezed
½ pt Simple sugar syrup
Slice of lime for the garnish
Couldn't be simpler: pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well, and serve in a coupe or a Martini glass garnished with a slice of lime.
By the 1860’s it was common in the US for a spirit to be mixed with bitters and sugar to form a simple primeval cocktail. When whiskey was used as the spirit and a few drops of other tinctures like orange bitters were added they had a concoction referred to as "old-fashioned", with no capital letters or definite article. According to a Chicago barman quoted in the Chicago Daily Tribune in 1882, Rye whiskey was more popular than Bourbon in this mixture, but nevertheless the combination of spirit, bitters and sugar he describes was very similar to what had been mixed in the 1860’s and before.
2 pts Whiskey, Rye or Bourbon, according to taste
2 dashes of Regan’s Orange Bitters
2 dashes of Angostura Bitters
1 Sugar cube (preferably brown and unrefined)
Orange peel for garnish
Method: Put the sugar into an Old-Fashioned glass, i.e. a whisk(e)y tumbler, and douse with the Bitters. Muddle (*see below) the sugar and bitters. Add the ice and then the whiskey and stir. Serve garnished with a twist of orange peel.
*Muddle is a mixology term, meaning to blend by gently squashing ingredients - e.g. sugar, pieces of fruit or leaves like mint - against the bottom of the glass to release flavours, using a tool called a muddler which has a blunt bottom end.
I'm practicing what I preach regarding using top quality ingredient liquors: going with “Eagle Rare” Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey from the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, Kentucky. It is smooth and classy and a bit smokey ...and 20€ a bottle more than Jim Beam but you can't make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. With so few ingredients in this cocktail you've got to go with quality.
If a Martini feels like a peek into James Bond’s world, the Bloody Mary feels like a peek into the world of Bertie Wooster, the hapless 1920’s English toff in the novels of P.G.Wodehouse. It could almost be the miraculous pick-me-up Jeeves, his valet, would mix for Wooster after a big night out.
Ernest Hemingway, Marlene Dietrich, David Niven and Humphrey Bogart - not to mention fictional secret agent James Bond - have all helped to raise the classic dry martini to iconic status: the epitome of effortless cool. Even what it's served in - the emblematic Y-shaped glass - has become an icon known the world over as a martini glass (more on the problematic glass later). First and foremost, though, this cocktail is popular because it is delicious: flavoursome and strong as well as suave.
Count Negroni was quite a character: he had returned from the United States, where he rode the range, busted broncos and was a riverboat gambler while traveling through the Wild West. Oh, and for a time he was a fencing instructor on Madison Avenue, New York - now that is cool, and so appropriate for an Italian Count.
on the Chrystal.eu Food&Drink team enjoy the good things in life and, on the pages of this column, we celebrate them. We've covered great restaurant meals, lip-smacking wines, top quality olive oil, and we’ll continue to bring such delights to your attention. Now we are introducing a new weekly spot to (re)acquaint you with the classic cocktails.
In the summer of 2010, perusing the short but promising wine list of the Bistrot d’Antoine in Old Nice, I plumped for a mid-range Côtes de Provence rosé that was unknown to me: “Classic” from Château Mouresse, at €28. It was seriously good: fruity but dry and with a pale pink blush. On the back label was the vineyard's URL giving its address in Vidauban, in the neighbouring département of the Var. Needless to say I beat a path to their door and tasted their other wines, all of which I found to be as good as that rosé - which cost only about €6.50 direct from the vineyard. So, with twisted shopaholic’s logic, I figured the more I buy the more I save! In due course, once friends and family had tasted those wines and concurred with their quality and great value, Château Mouresse became a staple of my cellar ever since.
Sometimes food just seems right when eaten in its native land, and the simple specialities of Nice seem pretty damn perfect when overlooking the azure Mediterranean under a clear blue sky.