Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Negroni

Whilst meditatively strolling through the orchard of his life, Joe stops once again at the the legendary Tree of Classic Cocktails. After considerable scrutiny, (and, being a giant of a man, no need for a stepladder,) he cautiously reaches up into its branches picks the next offering for The Greatest Drink In The World... This Week; The Negroni.

The Recipe:

Mix straight into an ice-filled glass:

- a 2 count gin

- a 2 count Campari

- 1.5 count sweet vermouth

- Stir. Add a small slice of fresh orange.

(It can also be shaken and served as a Martini.)

Joe's Notes: The Negroni is a definitely a drink that will surprise and delight you. The combination of gin with the sweetness of vermouth is balanced with the bitter taste of Campari. I have heard it said that Campari is an acquired taste. Although I would somewhat agree with that, I believe that for many people the fact that Campari with its vibrant red color fools them into believing that it is going to be a sweet drink. After all, most red things, strawberries, grenadine and the such, are sweet.
Many years ago when I was just a lad, Campari had huge success in an advertising campaign in England. The adverts premise was of a beautiful young lady (Lorraine Chase) sitting in the grounds of an English manor house. She is being woo'd by a very posh and upper class young man. "Have you truly been wafted here from paradise" He asks." Nah, Luton Airport!" she replies in a very strong working-class cockney accent.
Campari Luton Airport

These three words boosted sales of Campari in the UK as well as making a "star" of Miss Chase, which, by the way, she still enjoys some thirty years later.
Why, you may ask yourself, should this have such an impact? I believe the answer to this lies in the fact that we can all have two sides to our personality. I don't mean this in a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, or the 'crazy person-on-the-bus' way. I mean it more in the Mr. Miyagi and Yin and Yang way. We like to be surprised, we like to know what to expect. The success of the movie "The Sixth Sense" was down to the surprise ending. (I won't give away the ending for those three people that haven't yet seen it.)

Similarly, we know the ending to any romantic comedy featuring the lovely Meg Ryan even before the movie has even started. Yet many are still very successful. (Largely due to my wife and her friends.)
The couple sitting on Oprah's couch telling their success of sixty years of marriage. "He is reliable, I know what he is going to say even before he says it sometimes" The audience laughs a knowing laugh." "She is a great cook and still a great lover," the audience stifle a gag, but applaud anyway. "He can still surprise me even after sixty years!" To this the audience give the loudest applause (although many are hoping she is not referring to the whole "lover" thing.)

So sit back and get your bartender to mix you a Negroni and contemplate the Yin and Yang in your life.

Chris's Notes: According to Wikipedia, the biggest truck-stop on the information superhighway, the Negroni was created by bartender Fosco Scarselli in 1919. He came up with it, (and it subsequently named it,) for Italian Count Camillo Negroni, who was looking to strengthen up his favorite drink, The Americano, (Bitters, vermouth, and soda,) which Fosco did by adding gin. Count Negroni dug it so much he ordered it exclusively and his family-owned distillery soon after produced a ready-made version of the drink, called Antico Negroni.

The cheek! Meanwhile, what did poor Fosco Scarselli get? "Avvitato!"

But it was none other than the great Orson Welles who is credited with one of the first reports of the cocktail in 1947. To the Coshocton Tribune he described the this "new drink," The Negroni, by saying, "The Bitters are excellent for your liver, the gin is bad for you. They balance each other!"

So deep. That guy probably could have started a blog of his own!!!

Cin cin, Signor Welles!

Token "Only Somewhat Related Video:" Luton Airport by Cats U.K.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Chalino Special

This week's Greatest Drink In The World comes from sunny Mexico, where Tequila is the standard, and the Margarita rules the roost. Sitting unfairly in its shadow, however, is the Chalino Special.

The Recipe:

Into a cocktail shaker full of ice add

- a dash of Chambord,
- the juice from half a fresh lemon
- the juice from half a fresh lime
- a dash of simple syrup, (sugar,)

- Shake, ("la sacudida")

- Strain into a large martini glass

- garnish with a slice of lemon AND a slice of lime

Joe's Notes: The Chalino Special is yet again a combination of quality liquors and fresh ingredients. The use of fresh lemons and limes gives this drink a refreshing and distinctive flavor. For a time the Chalino Special was wrongfully believed to be named after the very popular and tragic immigrant/musician Chalino Sanchez. It was thought that a Chalino Special referred to the infamous shootout on stage between Sanchez and members of his audience.

Rather the Chalino special is yet another example of a drink produced during Prohibition. During this time, tequila flowed quite easily over the Mexican border. However, it was not a very popular drink with the citizens of the U.S., and it was up to the mixoligists of the period to make this fiery drink a little more palatable. A young barkeep named Chalino in California came up with this rather fine cocktail. It is a tribute to his talents that the Chalino Special is still popular today. He deserves both the clarification and recognition.

Chris's notes: The tequila really is what holds the drink together. You can taste it quite plainly, but the powerful tart of the lemon and lime and the wide sweet of the sugar and Chambord take the sting out of it.
All about balance. That what this drink is. The tart of the lemon/lime is in proportion to both the sweet of the Chambord and the sharpness of the tequila, so that the three are in perfect harmony , flavor-wise. Each element somehow comes through to complement one another. This here is a good Margarita alternative, one with the black raspberry depth and richness of Chambord.

Since Cabo Tequila is the Sammy Hagar brand, I felt it only fair to include the video to his song, "Mas Tequila!"

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Rusty Nail

Joe lowers his bucket into the well of classic cocktails once again for the this week's Greatest Drink: The Rusty Nail.

The Recipe:
Into a glass of ice, add:

- A 4 count of Johnny Walker Black
- A 2 count of Drambuie

- Stir

- Garnish with a slice of lemon, (optional)

Joe the Bartender's Notes: The Rusty Nail is an old-time classic cocktail. It is believed to have been first mixed to make whisky more palatable to the "fairer sex." Although a lot of the "fairer sex" I come in contact with these days could easily swallow a quart of whisky with no problem.

I was initially going to write about the differences between Scotch Whisky, American Whiskey, Irish Whiskey, Rye and Malt, but this proved to be somewhat tedious. Rather, I will point out some whisky facts.

☞ Whisky derives its name from the Gaelic phrase, "uisge beatha ," meaning water of life.

Scotch is the whisky, a Scot is a person from Scotland.

☞ England stopped producing whisky in the late 19th century. (Why bother when your neighbors do such a good job?)

☞ Both whiskey and whisky are correct spellings. Scotland and England spell it whisky and most of the rest of the world spell it with an added 'e,' for some bizarre reason.

☞ In Latin America, when a photographer wants his subject to smile he says "whiskey", much as we might say "cheese."

☞ If you ever happen to be invited on a pheasant or grouse hunt by the palace in the U.K., take note that they advise you fill your Hip Flask with a suitable beverage.The palace recommends a Rusty Nail. Obviously the Royal Family believes in mixing hard liquor and guns. (This could explain a lot of our history).

As a tribute to the general elections in the U.K. this past week, I would like to share one of my favorite story's about a British politician.

George Brown, a labour politician in the sixties was also a noted alcoholic. During an elaborate reception for visiting Peruvian dignitaries it is said that Brown lumbered over to a tall, elegant vision in red, and requested the honour of the next dance. The response was "I will not dance with you for three reasons: The first is that you are drunk. The second is that the band is not playing a waltz, but the Peruvian national anthem. The final reason is that I am not a woman, but the Cardinal Archbishop of Lima."

This story has been denied many times, but it is a good one.

Chris's Notes: Those of you who have scanned the side bars and periphery of this page, (and not just read the recipes and compiled shopping lists!) may have noticed that this blog is enrolled in a couple of recipe sites comprised, almost exclusively, of food recipes. I have entered The Greatest Drink In The World... This Week on these sites because the focus of this blog, the foundation of it, is NOT alcohol, that’s just the medium. It is not “how many ways can I get stupid?” or “How to make bad decisions easier to deal with.”

The foundation of this blog is to create something new, just like with cooking, by mixing elements together to make a new and delicious taste sensation. THAT is why this blog was formed.

That being said, and the comparison to food recipes now firmly in place, the Rusty Nail is probably the closest drink that I have had so far to what I would call the liquid equivalent of “comfort food.”

Something about this cocktail is just so “Ahhhh,” (and/or "Mmmmm.") It tastes very close to the way a La-Z-Boy recliner, fuzzy slippers and a Sunday morning with no obligations feels.

Yeah, those Scots got it right with this one, even if they did misspell "whiskey."

(Token Only-barely-related video here: "Scotch.")

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Perfect Storm

Our regular drinks author, Joe the Bartender, decided to take a little time off, leaving me with the opportunity to go on a little field trip. In the very same neighborhood as my regular Friday night barstool, is The Lobster Shanty, a local establishment that boasts a wide assortment of accolades to it's name. It is also the home of this week's Greatest Drink, The Perfect Storm.

The Recipe:
Into a cocktail shaker full of ice, add:

- a 1 count white rum,
- a 1 count Malibu Coconut Rum,
- a 1 count Captain Morgan Spiced Rum,
- a 2 count pineapple juice,
- a 2 count orange juice,

- Shake "tempestuously,"

- Strain into a 16 ounce pint glass full of fresh ice,

- sink a splash of cranberry juice, (DON'T splash that splash, though!)
- Float a generous ½ count of Myer's Dark Rum on top,

- Garnish with a wedge of lime and a cherry.

Bartender's notes: Diane, one of the owners of the Lobster Shanty, explained the creation of The Perfect Storm to me: "It was a group effort. No one wants to take the credit for the beverage publicly, but it was invented not long after the actual storm of the same name, (see movie with George Clooney.) Given the name because the Myers float makes the drink look like a foreboding sky over an angry ocean.

We see it as three drinks: One if you drink it from the bottom up with a straw, one if you sip it from the top down with yer mouth, and yet another if you stir or shake it - yet all are delicious."

Chris's notes: The Perfect Storm is one of the more famous of The Lobster Shanty's 'signature drinks,' (another being the "Lobstertini," but I decided to save that one for another day! Maybe this summer!) and I loved the name of this drink the first time that I heard it! It just screamed out 'summer' with a local accent. I knew I needed to try it out, and now that warm weather is hitting New England, (in random spurts, anyways,) the time was upon me!

Now, in that little poll over to the left in the sidebar, I voted for Rum. Twice. Because I love a good rum drink in the warmer weather. And that's what The Perfect Storm is. A good rum drink! The sinker of cranberry, (also a nice local touch!), gives it flavor, but not the overwhelming sweetness that comes with a shot of Grenadine. The pineapple and orange are sweet enough for that, and they are complimented nicely by the Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum. All this flavor is followed by that last blast of Myers, just when you need it. Delish!

The Lobster Shanty's Perfect Storm recipe also appears in The Bartender's Black Book by Stephen Kittredge Cunningham.

(And, of course, a video, related and everything!)