Flatiron Lounge: Red Hook Fizz

Flatiron Wedding-Melee AftermathThe day we got married, Jen and I corralled our wedding party and celebrated with drinks at Flatiron Lounge. Six months later, it’s time to celebrate, so my bride and I convened Friday evening at Flatiron for after-work drinks.

Because I leave work at 4:15 each day, I find it fun to arrive at a good bar like Flatiron or Pegu early so that I can sit grab a stool and talk to the bartender before he or she gets weeded with the after-work crowd. We’ve been back to Flatiron twice now since the wedding, and both times bartender Katie has provided our drinks service. She’s friendly, professional, and easy to talk to, so it’s fun to go in and chat a little about drinks.

I knew already that I wanted to start with a rum-based drink. I’m still learning rums. Too many experiences with badly mixed Captain Morgan drinks have turned me off the taste, I’m afraid, but I know it’s important that I rectify that if I’m to be serious about this hobby. So it’s time to develop my palate.

Luckily, Flatiron had mai-tais on its guest-mixologist menu; a classic drink for all the right reasons, a well-mixed mai tai is balanced and tasty. I know I’ve had them before, with cheap rum, poured to the point of overpowerment. Sad. But Flatiron does them right, of course, so I asked Katie what rum she used for it, and she showed me the bottle of Appleton Estate. This sparked a good conversation about rum brands, distilling methods, cane syrup vs. molasses, and so on.

I had nearly finished the mai tai when Jen arrived. I let her sample some of the remainders, and she liked it too. It’s one for the repertoire.

Jen and I worked through the menu. My second was a Singapore Sling, while Jen ordered a Gin Shagler for her first–muddled cucumber and mint, mixed with gin and topped off with Champagne. Quite tasty.

I then ordered a Negroni, but Jen stumbled her way into something interesting. I blogged earlier about going to Dressler and getting served an impromptu Seelbach. We’ve experimented a bit with the recipe at home, and Jen wanted to see how Katie would make one.

But when Jen asked, Katie said she’d never heard of it. We described the drink, but by this point, I couldn’t remember the proportions, just the ingredients. (And not even those, really–I forgot the triple sec.) So she thought for a moment and said, “Do you mind if I offer you my take on that?”

When she came back, she sat down my Negroni and a fluted drink for Jen, who took a sip and was pleased. Katie said, “That’s a Red Hook, but topped with Champagne.” Paul’s got more on the Red Hook at Cocktail Chronicles, but it’s basically a variation on the Brooklyn cocktail. Made with rye, Punt y Mes, and maraschino, the Red Hook is hard-bitten and ribald, and the champagne smooths it out without sacrificing its character. Think James Woods in a tux.

Jen liked it enough to have two.


MxMo: Limon

MxMo LimonHey! It’s time for MxMo V: The One With the Whales, this month hosted by hosted by Jonathan at Jiggle the Handle. So grab a bowl of lemons, tart yourself up, and strap in: Look at the lemons/See how they juice for you/And everything you do/Yeah they were all yellow…

Twelve, on FlickrHaving become an avid reader of the Fine Spirits and Cocktails forum on eGullet, I came across a thread recently about limoncello. Forum reg. Katie Loeb posted to the thread, describing the techniques involved, and I started jonesin’ to make my own. But when I first saw the thread, Jen and I were in the midst of planning our cocktail party, coming up with the menu, and gathering the various spirits and other ingredients.

Finally, I came home with a dozen lemons and a bottle of high-proof Stoli. Coincidentally, the same day I brought home the stuff, I got the latest issue of Imbibe magazine, which had a photo essay (with text by Paul Clarke), showing how to make limoncello.

With two good sources in front of me, I broke out the Microplane, zested the hell outta a dozen lemons (and one lime), and soaked the gratings in the rocket-fuel voddy.

Twelve, on Flickr

And, hooboy, did it ever smell like rocket fuel in those first few days! I steeped it for about 20 days before straining it, adding more vodka, and pouring in some simple syrup. I let that sit for another week–some of it in a nice bottle and some back in the original jar.

Sunday, I finally uncorked the bottle and had a taste. Strong vodka in the nose as I sniffed a snifter of warm limoncello, but not so much vodka on the tongue. When we had it chilled later that evening, we neither smelled nor tasted vodka.

I mixed two cocktails with the limoncello. The first was a Sidecar/sour variation, which I’m calling a Lemon Cart.

Lemon Cart

  • 1½ oz. cognac
  • 1 oz. limoncello
  • ½ oz. lime juice
  • Lemon twist, for garnish

Technique: Shake and strain into a cocktail glass. Add garnish.

I think Jen liked this more than I did. I thought it was perhaps a bit sweet. I thought about adding a dash of Regan’s orange bitters to spice it up a bit. Next time…

Twelve, on Flickr
Despite the hot weather, I was also grilling Sunday, so we were outside and needed refreshment. So for my next trick, I tried a Lemon Cooler.

Lemon Cooler

  • 2 oz. gin
  • 2 oz. limoncello
  • juice of half a lime
  • Lime wedge, for garnish

Technique: Build in a tall glass. Stir, top off with tonic water, and add garnish.

Our final limoncello test was old-school: straight and chilled. Well, not quite straight. Our freezer is packed full of food and ice trays, so there’s no real room, alas, to store a bottle of limoncello–not even a small bottle. I served it on the rocks, using the nice chunky ice cubes you can get with those silicone trays. I’d still love to try it straight from the freezer.


For no good reason, I’ve absented this blog for a few days, but I wanted to point out this good article from the LA Times about boutique gins. (Be sure to check out the tasting notes while you’re there, too.) Among the gins reviewed are several that Jen and I have talked about sampling ourselves–most notably No. 209 and Citadelle.

We were at Nina Planck’s Real Food Market this weekend, in NYC’s Petrosino Square, where we met some friendly picklers from Wheelhouse Picks. Among their delights were some yummy turnips, pickled in Hendrick’s gin. We grabbed a jar of those turnips (along with a yummy bread and butter that’s not as sweet as the norm), thinking the Hendrick’s turnips would make a lovely martini garnish. Alas, I’ve not gotten around to mixing up martinis this week. Another project will be to pickle up some thinly sliced cukes in the Hendrick’s.