“Liquor: The Servant of Man” on eBay

Just a quick follow-up to last night’s post…

If any of you are interested in procuring your own copy of this book, it’s available again on eBay. The printing currently listed is the 1948. The book was originally published in 1939, and my copy is the 1940 reprint.

The 1948 was published by Garden City Pub. Co., whereas the original was under the Little, Brown mark. I can’t tell you whether that makes a difference but I figured I’d point it out.

Bidding war…GO!

Edited to add: There’s a 1965 book with the exact same title–Liquor, the Servant of Man–but by an author named Morris Chavetz. If you’re shopping, buyer beware. I know nothing of the Chavetz volume; it seems fishy that he recycled the title of the earlier book, but beyond that, I know nothing of the ’65.


Talk about timing!

Last week, I was catching up on the cocktail blogs–specifically, I was reading one of my new favorites, Cocktailnerd. Gabriel, the author, wrote up a cool piece on the Blinker. Now, the Blinker’s a drink to try some time, but I’ll have to be careful, because it calls for grapefruit juice, to which Lady Bitters is sadly allergic. (I’ll just fix her a Negroni; that covers a number of sins.)

More to the point, though, Gabriel linked out to an interview with Ted Haigh at Modern Drunkard Magazine. I have hazy memories of having read this interview previously, but I’ve had too many Sazeracs to be sure.
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Double the fetish, double the fun

Don’t talk about it much here, since this ain’t the right venue, but another of my favorite hobbies is grilling and barbecuing. You can imagine, then, how happy I was to see these.

The scotch-barrel chips are unavailable here, but the Jack Daniels chips should do just as well. I’ll have to order some soon. I’ve been meaning to smoke a shoulder for pulled pork anyway.

Coolin’ it Philly style

Here’s another great tall drink for a hot, hot day. We enjoyed this one on a day when Hermes smacked up against 92.

This borrows heavily from the Jack classic, Lynchburg Lemonade, but it’s a homemade version with no Sprite or sour mix or any of that other crap. (I’m calling this “Philly” because of the style of the whiskey, not because of where it’s currently distilled.)

Philly Lemonade

  • 2 oz. Rittenhouse bonded rye
  • 1 oz. lemon juice (although a lemon-lime mix might be better)
  • 1/2 oz. simple syrup

Technique: Shake over ice and strain into a glass. Top with seltzer or club soda and stir gently.

MxMo 17: Aw, shucks…

mxmo17-blog loveI am aching with envy that so many of our fellow drinks nerds will be overheating and overimbibing in New Orleans later this week, for Tales of the Cocktail. I really can’t imagine a better way to spend a weekend. But this has just been a hard year, financially, for many reasons that I won’t elaborate on. We haven’t even seen our families this year, let alone traveled for fun. We’re hoping 2008 will be a better year, in that regard.

But staying at home is even harder for me since I really just genuinely like so many of the cocktail bloggers. We really seem to have carved out a very open subculture. I think it’s just the spirit of the bar, and don’t mind the pun. Belly up, and someone you’d snub on the subway is suddenly your drinking buddy.

It’s easy for me, then, to get into the mood of this month’s MxMo. Our host, Paul, asks, “Why’d you start crossing your cocktail shaker with your keyboard?” That’s a very good question. I post more sporadically than I’d like to, so I often ask myself how committed I am, and what I’m doing this for.

My wife, Jennifer, and I try to eat thoughtfully. We shop at farmers’ markets for seasonal, local ingredients; we love free-range, grass-fed meat and poultry; and we eat sustainable, low-mercury seafood. We also keep a garden of veggies and herbs, some of which wind up muddled in my mixing glass. Jen has a food blog, so beyond providing the context for our drinks, I’ll not belabor this point; if you want to know more about our eats, go see Jen.

We like to drink thoughtfully, as well. No, wait… we love to drink, just as we love to eat. Thoughtfully. We could hammer back Wendy’s cheeseburgers in the same way we could hammer back cosmos and cheap margaritas–but who wants that?

Loving something, especially food and drink, really means knowing that thing, so we put as much care into drink as we do into food. Jen’s thing is food; mine is drink.

So a few years ago, I decided to learn as much as I could about spirits and cocktails. To that end, I started reading a few cocktail blogs. I tested recipes from those blogs and slowly started buying up the books those bloggers recommended. After trying some classics (martinis, Manhattans, Aviations, etc.), I wanted to branch out. One of the first big challenges I tried was the Police Gazette cocktail, which Paul Clarke wrote about in June 2005, well before I even started blogging.

The Police Gazette comes to us via Straight Up or On the Rocks: The Story of the American Cocktail, by William Grimes. Here’s the recipe, as Paul recounts it:

Police Gazette Cocktail

  • 3 ounces whiskey
  • 2 dashes French vermouth
  • 3 dashes simple syrup
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters (Paul notes that “Fee Bros. Old-Fashioned Aromatic Bitters lend a nice, spicy touch to this drink”)
  • 2 dashes curacao
  • 2 dashes maraschino liqueur

Technique: Stir with ice & strain into cocktail glass; garnish with a cherry.

Boy, I can’t recall what whiskey I originally used for this drink, but I do know that I used some generic triple sec, in place of curacao, and Stock for the maraschino.

Tonight, however, I went a little higher scale in re-creating this drink. I used the Grimes proportions but better ingredients. I still don’t have a good curacao at home, but I do have Grand Marnier. I’ve also tossed over the Stock maraschino in favor of Luxardo (more on this at a later date). Finally, I now have both the Fee’s Old Fashioned Bitters and the Fee’s Barrel-Aged Old Fashioned. (Goddamn if that barrel-aged ain’t great.)

Also, although I’m usually fairly cavalier as to what constitutes a “dash,” in this case I knew I needed more precision since so many of the ingredients called for dashes. There’s no sense having a heavy dash for one ingredient and a light dash for another. So I adopted a convention where one dash equals one eighths teaspoon, so that two dashes could easily and consistently be one quarter teaspoon.

So, since I’ve already kept you too long, lemme give you my proportions for two drinks’ worth of the Police Gazette:

Police Gazette Cocktail

makes two drinks

  • 6 oz. whiskey (I used Rittenhouse bonded rye)
  • 1/2 t. French vermouth
  • 3/4 t. simple syrup
  • 1/2 t. Fee’s Barrel-Aged Old Fashioned Bitters
  • 1/2 t. Grand Marnier
  • 1/2 t. Luxardo Maraschino

Technique: Stir over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. I had no cherries, so I didn’t garnish.

This is a drink of spice and flavor, especially if you’re using good ingredients. I wouldn’t mix this often, simply because it’s too much precise measuring, but it’s great to have every so often, on those days when you really crave taking however long it takes to make something out of the ordinary.

Still more on gin tasting

I’ve finally made the time to watch Robert Hess’s interview with Sean Harrison, master distiller of Plymouth Gin.

Harrison recommends a tasting method that I’d like to try

You’ve got to sit down in a bar, take a gin, add some water to it–a one-to-one with water–and get your nose in it and have a taste…. If you really want to get in to it, line every single gin up there is in the bar, put it in to a wine glass… and one-to-one with water and try it.

The entire interview is good, though, as he talks about developing and marketing gin; he’s also forthright that the flavor profiles of different gins mean you might use one gin for a certain drink and a different gin for another drink.