Posts Tagged ‘New York’

Mr. Manhattan

Monday, June 5th, 2006

MxM: MintNo relation to the more familiar drink bearing the name of our premier island, the recipe for the Mr. Manhattan was delivered to these shores in Craddock’s Epistle to the Americans, who were suffering under the strictures of Volstead. Craddock, meanwhile, sojourned among the Britons and ministered to their spirituous needs at the Savoy’s American Bar. Ever thoughtful, he marked the Mr. Manhattan for our special notice as a concoction whose merits might not be diminished for want of … licit sources of alcohol.

Crush 1 cube sugar with a few drops water
Add 6 leaves mint and muddle further, then add
2 oz. gin
2 tsp. orange juice
1/2 tsp. lemon juice

Shake vigorously and strain

It may be possible to approximate a genièvre de la baignoire by reaching for the lowest possible shelf, but Seagrams was chosen in the interest of all concerned. Thus, the singular virtues of Mr. Manhattan as an aid to the Prohibited have gone un-investigated; however, ratios of juices have come under some scrutiny, and it is the above which proved out.

Canonically, Craddock calls for a single dash of lemon juice and four of orange. Taking an official dash at 1/8 tsp, the lemon and orange hardly made themselves known at all, and would doubtless prove insufficient to ameliorating an unsavory bootleg gin. At twice that volume it’s still a stiff gin drink with a bit of color and a minty nose… no, we found best a 4x multiplication of citrus, and thought in the end a bit more yet might serve well. The palate can only endure so much experimentation, alas, and so we settle on the recipe presented here. The mint — increased to 6 leaves from 4 — acquits itself well, thanks to a vigorous muddling, and plays very nicely with the orange.

The Yard of Flannel

Sunday, October 16th, 2005

It’s a damp and drizzly evening in Portland, and Ms. Thirsty is feeling a cold coming on. Of course, the ever-inventive science of mixology has produced countless potations for just such a circumstance, so it’s an excellent opportunity to investigate a traditional — if little-practiced — cure. Thus we embark upon our own version of the Cocktail Chronicles’ Gettin’ Jerry With It, taking a page (in this case, page 61) from Jerry Thomas’ seminal 1862 work, How to Mix Drinks, or The Bon-Vivant’s Companion. We have halved the Professor’s recipe, since a quart of this unknown commodity seemed a bit much, but otherwise faithfully reproduce his Egg Flip, aka (and more poetically) the Yard of Flannel.

1 pint ale
2 egg yolks
1 egg white
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
pinch nutmeg

Whisk eggs, sugar and nutmeg in a bowl, then bring ale to a boil. Once ale is boiling, pour slowly into egg mixture, whisking to prevent curdling. Transfer to a pitcher, then pour back and forth into another pitcher, from a great height, until exceedingly frothy.

It may be that in the New York of 1862, ale was ale was ale, and when Jerry Thomas said to use ale, you knew exactly what he meant. Not being much of a beer historian, I’m willing to entertain the notion. In the Pacific Northwest of 2005, however, ales range from sweet to sour, sharp to bitter, dark to light, herbal to malty, strong to mild, and countless other diametrically-opposed poles of the palate. There’s no such thing as generic ale, and unfortunately, ale is far-and-away the most significant component of this recipe. Your choice of ale will very much determine the character of your Yard of Flannel. Given the other ingredients in the drink, Pyramid Brewing’s seasonal Snow Cap Ale, described as “complex and spicy, yet deliciously smooth” seemed likely to fit the bill. Lagunitas’ Censored might have been a good candidate, too.

If a single rule governs the boiling of a pint of beer, it is this: watch it closely! Do not turn away to whisk-up your eggy ingredients. Get the egg, sugar and nutmeg business dealt with first, then, and only then, attend to the matter of the beer. A boiling pot of ale will likely develop a mighty head, and, unattended, will cascade forth from its saucepan, douse the flame and make a nasty puddle on your stovetop. This advice is informed by recent experience.

When pouring the hot ale into the bowl of whisked eggs and sugar, we are directed to proceed in small measures, stirring constantly lest curdling take place. Pouring and whisking as bidden, there was, indeed, no curdling … not proof that such care is necessary, but it certainly didn’t hurt. This done, decant from the bowl into one of two pitchers/mugs/steins/big-things-with-handles, that the fun may commence.

Thomas was famed for the spectacular production value of the Blue Blazer: flaming whiskey poured back-and-forth, at arms’ length, between two pitchers. The final step in the manufacture of a Yard of Flannel is a fluffier, gentler version of the same extreme showmanship. Instead of ropes of fire, however, you’re pouring cocktailian contrails, so if something goes wrong you’ll just need a mop and a shower, not a fire extinguisher and a skin graft.

Since the object of the exercise is to maximize frothiness, it’s worth considering the size of your vessels before beginning the pouring process. A fair head is going to develop from this flying font of beer, so reach for your largest steins. If you’ve no two vessels that can accommodate the equivalent of, say, 26 fluid ounces, set some of it aside. The exact manner of pouring is left to the reader, but assuming that your aim is true and you manage to keep the drink off the floor, you’ll soon be casting your very own yard of flannel: a three foot skein of tan, foamy liquid, falling from mug to mug. Keep in mind that while it’s coursing through the air, your flannel is cooling off, so pour back and forth only as much as is necessary to ensure the proper body without rendering it lukewarm.

A mug of flannelThe verdict? Well, it’s no Cock Ale, but astute readers will have noticed that this post has earned a simultaneous filing under both the “to avoid” and “to enjoy” sub-categories. When presented with Jerry Thomas’ cure for the common cold, Ms. Thirsty’s candid assessment was that “it certainly tastes like it has medicinal properties.” Granted, Ms. Thirsty doesn’t care much for dark ales, and had just been exploring the restorative powers inherent to 100° Southern Comfort, so perhaps hers was not the most objective palate in the house. Still, despite the brown sugar, this is a bitter brew, and unless one has made a habit of drinking hot beer, it’s not something one can readily wrap one’s head around. I’m not sure that I ever managed to quite accustom myself to it, but there is virtue in perseverance, and I began to find some merit in the Yard of Flannel about halfway through the drinking of it. The texture is silken, a bit like a well-steamed latte, and previously unnoticed flavors assert themselves. With Snow Cap, I found that a strong hazelnut nose arose from the Flannel. I’m not sure that I’d make one with Snow Cap again, but I’m a bit curious as to how other ales would bear up. Of course, I’m also a bit curious as to when exactly one would want to drink one of these concoctions. Personally, whether coming down with something or not, when it’s cold outside and I want to be warm on the inside, I instinctively turn to a hot toddy, like the Falkland Island Warmer — it just resonates with me. Probably an Ayurvedic thing, with Flips ill-suited to my doshas.

Incidentally, many recipes for the Yard of Flannel call for the addition of several ounces of rum, and warn against allowing the ale to come to a boil. Both of these modifications to Thomas’ strike me as damned good advice, and should I find myself pouring a Yard in the future, I’ll likely concern myself less with the letter and more with the spirit of the Professor’s directions.

I do think that everyone should try a Yard of Flannel (or its near-relative, the Ale Flip) at least once, if only to discover for oneself the joy of juggling streams of hot beer and raw eggs. Leave a comment if you do, making a note of the ale you employed. If there’s a perfect ale for flipping, I’d love to hear about it.

Give Me Seltzer

Friday, September 9th, 2005

podcast iconToday’s thirst-slaking podcast of note is Give Me Seltzer [iTunes], from Brooklynite Barry Joseph, The Effervescent Jew.

Barry’s mad for seltzer in a way that I think only New Yorkers can be, and is in the process of penning its definitive history. The podcasts don’t reveal much about the forthcoming book’s contents, but he’s managed to produce nine entertaining seltzer-centric episodes to date — largely man-on-the-street interviews — in a This American Life mode. So far there’s been no real mention of seltzer in cocktails, sadly — Barry’s favorite seltzer-based beverage is an Egg Cream from Eisenberg’s Sandwich Shop — but I’m sure he’ll get around to it some day. After all, the seltzer bottle is one of the most iconic and evocative pieces of bar equipment there is, on par with the martini glass and cobbler shaker. Better yet, it has shiny moving parts and valves and O-rings and CO2 cylinders and whatnot. I myself have ten eleven of the things (looks like I just won another in an eBay auction), for the sheer love of their form.

If you check out the Give Me Seltzer podcasts, do yourself a favor and start with episode #1 … they build on each other, and the most recent won’t be nearly as interesting if you’ve not heard what’s gone before.

The Knickerbocker

Saturday, August 27th, 2005

There are other drinks that appear under this name — Trader Vic’s Knickerbocker Cocktail is just a dry martini with a dash of Italian vermouth — but the Knickerbocker below is a 2:1:1 that proves to be ideal for a mellow summer afternoon. This is, specifically, the Knickerbocker à la Monsieur, from Ted Haigh’s Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails. Haigh traces its first appearance to Terrington’s Cooling Cups and Dainty Drinks of 1869, wherein a version for the fairer sex was also outlined.

1 1/2 oz. light rum
1/2 oz. Jamaican rum
1 oz. lemon juice
1/2 oz. orange curaçao
1/2 oz. raspberry syrup

Shake with crushed ice, strain into a glass filled with same.

The Knickerbocker isn’t a drink that shows its alcohol, as the raspberry syrup is more than a match for the light rum. Haigh calls for 2 oz of Virgin Islands rum, but I happen not to have any, and so use a light Barbados with a bit of Jamaican, to instill more rumminess to the affair. I’ve followed Doc’s suggestion of using Smucker’s Natural Red Raspberry Syrup. While not quite up to my own definition of “natural,” it does the trick nicely. Of course, dropping a viscous half-ounce slug of pancake syrup into your mixing glass is likely to set anticipatory teeth on edge, but press on to make a happy discovery: the otherwise cloying syrup will be perfectly countered by that tart ounce of lemon juice. It’s a well-balanced, fruity sweet-and-sour.

Served over crushed ice, the Knickerbocker gets longer with time at no detriment to drinkability. Indeed, a few judiciously-applied squirts of seltzer from the outset can be quite salutary, in that they contribute some effervescence and make a bit of a cooler of it. Regarding methods of preparation, Haigh would have us stir the ingredients directly in a collins glass or goblet, but I’ve found the raspberry syrup resistant to stirring. Shaking will ensure homogeneity, and thus no syrupy surprise at the bottom of the glass.

The Harlem Cocktail

Friday, April 22nd, 2005

1 1/2 oz gin
3/4 oz pineapple juice
1/4 oz maraschino

Tried this one several days back without documenting — from the category it should be evident: I give it a Bronx cheer. Cited by an eGullet poster as having appeared in the 1935 edition of Mr Boston, my later edition of same provides a wholly different recipe. Regardless, the search for delicious drinks with pineapple continues to bear little fruit. This one proved unpleasant in an unremarkable way — neither good enough nor strong enough to merit sipping, the Harlem invited me to toss it back (or out) and move on. Another waste of good booze.