Posts Tagged ‘pastis’

The Bunny Hug

Monday, April 24th, 2006

Mixology Monday: PastisThere was an … incident… in my early drinking years involving Egyptian beer and a bottle of arak (this arak, which is akin to ouzo, not Batavia arak, which is a different liquor entirely). It was formative. I have since avoided anise, licorice, and fennel scrupulously, eschewing even the occasional Red Vine in a darkened theater. An otherwise proud and broadminded omnivore, anise and related flavors have been my Achilles heel. Until relatively recently.

It was a Sazerac, mixed a year ago this week, which whispered suggestively that a wash of Herbsaint was nothing to be feared. Somewhat later, a Monkey Gland intimated that one might actually mix with Pernod — albeit a mere 1/2 teaspoon — to very salutary ends. And indeed, in Tuxedos, Turfs, and Trilby No. Twos undocumented, I have splashed the requisite dash with no dire consequences. I’ve actually found my palate probing some of the latter, looking for the lick of licorice that the pastis should provide, and not finding it!

And so to the inaugural Mixology Monday. Paul was generously broad in his requirements, but where’s the joy in submitting a drink like the Tuxedo, in which the dash of pastis vanishes under the weight of maraschino and Regans’ bitters? No, in this I would be guided by the precepts of Chairman Kaga, who demands of his iron chefs that they capture the very essence of the mystery ingredient. In this, I would challenge the advice of the inestimable Harry Craddock. In this, I would embrace pastis, in a ratio not heretofore attempted. I would mix The Bunny Hug:

1/2 oz. Pastis
1/2 oz. Whiskey
1/2 oz. London Dry Gin
Stirred and strained into a cocktail glass

Sheet Music for The Bunny HugCute name, no? Conjures up certain Heffnerian visions which one wouldn’t normally associate with absinthe. As it happens, the drink was likely named for a slow-grind ragtime dance, both hugely popular and hugely scandalous in the 1910s. Cedar Rapids has only recently legalized the Bunny Hug, after banning it in 1913. In Oregon, that same year, a man was stabbed 11 times for attempting to prevent the Bunny Hug from being danced in his establisment.

I’d thought I was prepared, but the Bunny Hug has proven me wrong. Not to say I didn’t have fair warning: The Savoy Cocktail Book explicitly states that “This cocktail should immediately be poured down the sink before it is too late.” Of course, Craddock’s pronouncement hasn’t stopped the Bunny Hug from making appearances in successive cocktail guides down to this day, and neither will mine, but we may dislike it for different reasons.

What does a drink named for a forbidden flapper’s dance taste like? I’m going to have to fall back on Wilde, and say that for those who like that sort of thing, it’s probably the sort of thing that they’d like. That thing being pastis.

Looking at the recipe, I assumed that H.C. merely disliked the flavor of commingled gin, whiskey and pastis, but I was curious as to what that would taste of. Drinking the Bunny Hug proved to be a bafflingly inconclusive experience — it was just like sipping a glass of slightly watered-down Pernod. That ounce of bourbon and gin may as well have been vodka, in that they were completely subsumed by the Green Fairy’s thujoneless juggernaut of a substitute.

I’ve a suspicion that the less pastis-averse may discern something other than Pernod in their Bunny Hugs — possibly something quite nasty if Craddock was any judge — but I’m at a loss to do so. I can stomach pastis in volume these days, if not particularly enjoy it, but it overwhelms my taste buds. Given that I seem to be confined to using it in drips and dashes, I’ll be particularly interested to read others’ contributions on today’s theme. I could stand to find a few more ways to use less pastis more often.

Update: Mixology Monday #1 is a done-deal. 7 other posts on pastis await your attention

The Monkey Gland

Sunday, August 14th, 2005

monkey testesI had always assumed the Monkey Gland to be a cocktail of a certain type — you know, the “Long, Slow, Fuzzy, Comfortable Screw Against the Wall,” “Screaming Blue Orgasm” and “Kamanawanalei’a” kind of long drinks, whose raison d’être is to provide flirtatious bar-goers a bit of eyebrow-arching titillation when placing an order. Not really something one wants to drink, but something which circumstances (wisely or otherwise) suggest would be The Right Move. I’m pleased to report that this is not the case.

1 1/2 oz. London dry gin
1 1/2 oz. orange juice
1 tsp. grenadine
1/2 tsp. pastis

Shake with cracked ice and strain.

The Monkey Gland is not the product of a late 70′s fraternal organization’s party manual, but is an honest-to-god pedigreed tipple. Regan cites it as having first appeared in Craddock’s Savoy Cocktail Book of 1930, but its name hearkens to a practice begun a decade earlier, when, in 1920, Dr. Serge Voronoff began implanting slivers of freshly-vivisected monkey testicle into the scrota of elderly Frenchmen. Voronoff, who had studied the physiology of Middle-Eastern eunuchs, was convinced that testosterone was the key to a long and healthy life, and promoted his xenotransplantion procedure as a $5,000 fountain of youth. The public’s interest was piqued, and a drink was born. The Monkey Gland is the spiritual progenitor of today’s Liquid Viagra — wholly different concoctions, but each co-opting the name of a contemporary virility treatment to suggest a stiffening drink.I’ve not had a Liquid Viagra, but I suspect that the chief difference between it and the Monkey Gland is that the latter is actually palatable. Ratios for the Monkey Gland vary widely, but the ingredients remain largely the same (Benedictine in lieu of pastis is a common variant). Haigh calls for full teaspoon of pastis, which I find a bit heavy, so here I have reduced it to 1/2 tsp, but otherwise employ Doc’s ratios. 1/2 tsp. is still enough to make its presence felt, but those who favor licorice may wish to double-up.

The Sazerac

Wednesday, April 27th, 2005

2 oz. rye whiskey
1 lump (or tsp) sugar
1/4 tsp pastis
3-4 dashes Peychaud bitters
1 lemon twist

Coat the inside of an Old Fashioned glass with the pastis, pouring off any excess. Muddle sugar and Peychaud bitters with a few drops of water (less than 1/4 tsp), or use simple syrup. Stir rye in an iced shaker to chill and strain into glass. Twist lemon peel over drink to release its oils.

Despite an abiding fondness for the Old Fashioned, I had not until now sampled the Sazerac, its close relative and one of New Orleans’ signature cocktails. In part, I blame this shortcoming on a perpetual lack of ingredients: I prefer Scotch for neat drinking and Bourbon for mixing, particularly dislike the anise flavors of pastis (Absinthe, Pernod, Herbsaint, etc), and have never owned a bottle of Peychaud bitters because, well, its raison d’être these days is the Sazerac. Fortunately, my recent commitment to stocking a broader bar means that I now have a bottle of Pernod to employ when a pastis is called for, and a bottle of Peychaud on the general principle that I should find more uses for bitters. I picked up some Old Overholt Rye just today, and in the Sazerac I have found ample justification for keeping all three in constant supply.

If you like an Old Fashioned, you will very much enjoy a Sazerac. If you’re not one for short whiskey drinks, this may not be for you, though I would encourage testing that assumption. If you dislike licorice and anise, don’t be put off — the rye seems to mask the aspects of anisette that I find objectionable, and yet the drink is much more complex than straight rye with a bit of sugar. There must be undertones to the Pernod and Peychaud’s that emerge from this venerable synthesis, because there is a honeyed cherry fruitiness to the Sazerac that makes all the difference in the world.

Others have written on the subject better and more extensively than I could hope to, and I direct attention in particular to Chuck Taggart’s excellent appreciation of the Sazerac from his Gumbo Pages site. In print, the recently published vol 1. of Mixologist: The Journal of the American Cocktail contains a biography of A. A. Peychaud by Phil Greene, touching in many places on the Sazerac’s 170 year history.

Absinthe Cocktail

Wednesday, December 31st, 1969

Mixing glass ¾ full Shaved Ice.

½ jigger Water.
½ jigger Absinthe.
2 dashes Angostura Bitters.
1 teaspoonful Benedictine.

Stir; strain into Cocktail glass and serve.

Absinthe, Italian Service

Wednesday, December 31st, 1969

1 pony of Absinthe in a large Bar glass.
3 pieces Cracked Ice.
3 dashes Maraschino.
½ pony Anisette.

Pour Ice Water in glass, at same time stirring gently with Bar Spoon. Serve.