Friday, August 26, 2011

The Abbey | 32 down 243 to go

So there’s not much to talk about with the Abbey.  It’s the very first in the back of H & M, thus consisting of nothing but a recipe.  Looking online, there’s not much to report either, save that it seems to have been invented and was wildly popular in the 1930’s and can be found in another cocktail bible, The Savoy Cocktail Book.  Indeed, recipes I came across online are updates for modern palates, using Lillet’s & orange bitters, each of which renders a somewhat sweeter, less bitter experience than this original.

So far, it’s The Partner’s self-proclaimed favorite.  Upon reflection, he took a Goldilocks stance, describing it as not too acidic, not too sweet, but juuuust right.  In the moment after the first sip, though, he put it this way:  “MMMM!!  GIN…!  It’s not sour….   Mmm-hmm!  Very nice!”   After he finished his first (a full 3 sips ahead of me), he not-so-subtly held his empty in front of him intoning, “Yes, please. I’ll have another!”  And I didn't even get the stock lecture on "these classic cocktails".  Progress.

This is a good aperitif, with a light juniper base and orange accent.  Getting to the bottom of the glass, it does take a decidedly sweet turn as you down the cherry-infused liquid from the maraschino garnish.  In an odd example of role-reversal, I had to stop at two while The Partner could’ve gone for a third.  Between the sweet last sips and the OJ, it was becoming a bit thick on my palate.  Perhaps some fresh-squeezed OJ would be better as it’s a bit thinner.  (Home squeezed, not the kind they sell in the grocery store that mulches the entire orange.)

Snapping the pic and seeing the cherry nestled in the crook of the martini glass I couldn’t help but think of those Screwball ices we used to get from the ice cream man as a kid.  What were those little balls at the bottom of the ice, anyway?  Gumballs?  I think I need to try to find one of those.…

Abbey Cocktail
2 oz. gin
1 oz. orange juice
1 dash sweet vermouth
1 dash bitters

Shake with cracked ice and pour into chilled cocktail glasses.  Garnish with a maraschino.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Bennett Cocktail | 31 down 244 to go

The Bennett Cocktail came from the back of the bible, so there’s no history to this from H & M to share.  However, according to Robert Vermeire’s Cocktails, How to Mix Them (1935), the Bennett was very popular in Chile and was named after a popular Chilean millionaire, businessman and landowner.

The Partner and I enjoyed this one as an aperitif one night when he had to work quite late.  We were both starving, but dinner was warm and ready to go whenever we were.  As soon as I got the text that he was on a homeward-bound train I started icing the glasses.  This cocktail would be a delicious delay of gratification.  And delicious it was.  The tart astringency of the gin, lime and bitters was smoothed out by the simple syrup.   After the first couple sips, I found myself thinking of bubble gum.  I know that might make some of you wince, but note my choice of words here.  I won’t say it tasted like bubble gum.  It didn’t.  However, as I sipped, I did think of it.  And this was not an offensive thing.

After the first round, The Partner, who I think is officially Patience personified with this project, did what has happened enough times now that I can call it a trend.  He asked if his next round could be “one of your fantastic Manhattans.”  Hey, blog mission accomplished, right?  At least he’s not defaulting to Kettel anymore.   But after the requisite lecture on the problem with “these classic cocktails”, and I agreed to make him a Manhattan to accompany my second Bennett, he rather quickly and willingly decided to join me.  Then, giving his imprimatur, “This one’s nice.  I’d do it again.  It’s a keeper.” 
Ah, a toast to expanding horizons!

Bennett Cocktail
2 oz. gin
½ oz. lime juice
½ tsp. simple syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Shake with cracked ice and serve in chilled cocktail glasses.  Garnish with a lime squeeze.

(BTW, skulking around the Web looking for history about the bev I found several recipes that called for sugar instead of simple syrup.  I’d advise against such pinch-hitting.  Beyond mere sweetness, syrup adds a smoothness and dimensionality to a cocktail that sugar does not.  Sugar is just sweet and will make a bev sandy if not held in solution.  Take the few minutes needed to make simple syrup.  Then it’s on hand for such cocktails.  Plus, it keeps for ever.) 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Scofflaw | 30 down 245 to go

We're experiencing a brief delay on the bev snap.
Well, wasn’t that the nice little unintended hiatus?  Summer’s been a little hectic.  Work, travel, family, home renovation.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  But let's act as if with this entry we’ll be back to our more regular – dare I say weekly? – entries.

So on to it.  It figures our summer reentry cocktail also has an etymological connection (Don’t ya love that, A.?)  According to H & M, according to H. L. Mencken, the Scofflaw was invented and took its name only days after the coining of the word "scofflaw" itself.  Reportedly, on January 16, 1924, the Boston Herald kicked off a contest to find a new term for “the lawless imbiber of illicit drink”.  “Scofflaw” won.  In Chicago, the Tribune was reporting that across the Atlantic in Paris, expats were flagrantly thumbing their nose at Prohibition albeit several thousand miles away.  It reported that their favorite cocktail was a new one invented
at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris the day after the Herald announced the contest winner.  In honor of expat imbibers, the inventor decided to name it after the new edition to Webster’s.

Tart and dry, the vermouth and lemon juice together impart an almost grapefruity note.  A definite aperitif, these are sipped and take a little time to get down.  Truthfully, I think it’s more beautiful to look at than to drink.

So, is it a keeper?  Well, let's see.  The Partner exhibited the now instant and automatic wince that comes no matter what H & M goody he puts to his lips.  I must admit that I too paused at the first sip.  My final determination didn't come until I got to the bottom of the glass.  It was so-so.  The Partner at this point scrunched his nose as if I'd just farted.  "You know, all these classic cocktails are the same.  They're all so acidic." He then proceeded to tell me once again how “these classic cocktails” are a cultural and gastronomic anachronism.  (Not his exact words, but you get the gist.)  I didn’t feel an overwhelming need to argue with him this time…or to have another.  So we transitioned to something else.   Perhaps that there is the answer to the question.  It's probably why the Scofflaw's popularity ended even before Prohibition did. 

1 1/2  oz. Canadian whiskey
1 1/2 oz. dry vermouth
1/2 oz. lemon juice
1 dash grenadine
1 dash orange bitters