The green fairy of record

Happy Repeal Day! I’m going to have a couple or three posts today, but I’ll start briefly.

The Times, this morning, continues to trip merrily through the spirits world with a piece on absinthe. The piece, by Pete Wells, opens with a bit of surprise, at least to me–the first American-produced absinthe of the revival. St. George Spirits, from Alameda, has cleared all regulatory hurdles and should be on the market soon.

Wells then samples the absinthes of Lucid, Kubler, and St. George (which provided him an early sample) and judges the St. George the most complex of the lot. The piece, with quotes by Ted Breaux and St. George’s Lance Winters, is worth a read, although absinthe aficionados probably won’t find anything new.


MxMo 21: Gin

mxmo ginSo, Mixology Monday hits 21 this month; instead of carrying us drunks on its own dry back, it can finally step up to the bar its own damn self and order a tipple. Don’t let us down MxMo. If you’re gonna be all about the Jager shots, I just don’t know….

Tip of the hat to Jay for hosting this month and choosing the theme.

For my part, this became another MxMo post from the Department of Fall-Back-and-Punt.

I just finished mixographer David Wondrich’s book, Imbibe!, and I found a great drink idea in there–one that combines ingredients I’ve never mixed before. I was excited to try it, but I was missing a key ingredient, Plymouth gin. Unfortunately, the liquor stores near my office were out of Plymouth and the less I can say about the liquor stores by my apartment, the better. I’ll just mention the words “bulletproof” and “partition” and let you work out the rest.

“Bushwick,” he said with a shrug, “whattaya gonna do?”

My instinct told me that my gin on hand, Tanqueray, probably wouldn’t work well in the cocktail I had in mind, so I came home to consult my cocktail books and find a Plan B. I’ve made a lot of gin recipes over the last couple of years and wanted something new.

tuxedo cat is dressed for dinnerAs I read, I heard a weird scraping sound at the back door, accompanied by a noise that sounded like mewing. We’ve been caring for some stray cats, and I was sure it was one of them, hungry and begging for kibble.

Jen came home about then and we carefully opened the door to investigate. The handsome fellow to your right had clawed a hole in the screen, climbed through, got trapped, and panicked. We let him out, spit-patched the screen with a bit of strapping tape, and brought kibble to him and his siblings.

I then started leafing through the Savoy and found the perfect solution:

Tuxedo Cocktail (No. 2)

  • 1 Dash Maraschino. [for two cocktails, I used 1/4 tsp. Luxardo]
  • 1 Dash Absinthe. [1/4 tsp. Lucid]
  • 2 Dashes Orange Bitters. [4 dashes Regan’s]
  • 1/2 Dry Gin. [3 oz. Tanqueray]
  • 1/2 French Vermouth. [3 oz. Noilly-Prat]

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass. Add a cherry. [I skipped the cherry.] Squeeze lemon peel on top.

Sometimes inspiration scratches at your back door.

Lost and found

As most of you already know, two classic lost ingredients have started peppering liquor stores again–absinthe and crème de violette. I found the Lucid absinthe about a month ago, but it was only last week that I finally tracked down this beauty:


The first damn thing I did with it was to mix a proper Aviation, using Paul Clarke‘s recipe on Serious Eats.

What a revelation. The violette lifts this drink above the clouds, and it’s easy to picture yourself in the cocktail lounge of a Pan Am Clipper sipping this drink.

Then, last night, I remembered my vow to work through the absinthe cocktails in the Savoy. I grabbed my copy and started flipping through. I don’t really have a plan to work through them in order or anything like that. If a drink sounds good and we have all the ingredients, I’ll test it out. So it’s just coincidence that I landed in the A’s, with the Atty Cocktail.

I don’t know the meaning of the name. While stomping around on eGullet, Erik Ellestad suggests that it might come from the common abbreviation for attorney–which is ironic, given that Mrs. Bitters is a lawyer-coddler. Erik notes of the drink that

it is a fascinating, elegant and complex thing, with the hints of Absinthe and Violet trading each other for flavor dominance as you sip.

Atty!Couldn’t put it better myself. I didn’t quite use his proportions, instead crunching through the math in my head to adapt the Savoy formula (one part vermouth, three parts gin, and three dashes each of violette and absinthe) into an ounce-based recipe.

So, my version of the Atty.

Atty Cocktail

  • 3/4-oz. French vermouth
  • 2 1/2-oz. gin (I used Plymouth)
  • 1/4-tsp. crème de violette (Rothman and Winter)
  • 1/4-tsp. absinthe (Lucid)

Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a twist of lemon peel.

The drink suffered from a not-long-enough stir, so be sure to either stir it well or shake it to make sure it’s properly chilled.

And now, the fun begins

Got me some Lucid, I wancha to know

photo by Jennifer Hess

Do you know how many absinthe cocktails are in the Savoy Cocktail Book? According to the Real Absinthe blog, there are 104. One hundred and four recipes that geeks like me couldn’t easily mix in this country, thanks to the cost and difficulty of acquiring absinthe from overseas.

Now that Lucid is available domestically, those sad days have ended. Hm, 104. If I mixed up one absinthe cocktail a week, I’d have blog fodder for the next two years. I can’t guarantee that I’ll mix them that frequently, but I am damn well going to try all 104 of those drinks, as long as legal absinthe and my liver hold out.

And, no, that’s not a first-edition Savoy; it’s the facsimile release.