I 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.