Drink of the Week: The Mickie Walker Cocktail

The Mickie Walker Cocktail.Early last month, the world mourned — something the world has been doing way too much of lately — the passing of Muhammad Ali, a boxer who transcended his sport in so many ways that even a complete non-sports fan like me hero worshiped him just a bit. However, since he was also a devout Muslim, it would probably be wrong to name a cocktail after him.

I actually have no idea what, if any, religious affiliation belonged to another famed boxer, Edward Patrick “Mickey” Walker. Clearly, his cultural impact was nothing remotely like Ali’s, but he was an acknowledged great of the sweet science of knocking people senseless and the winner of the World Welterweight title in 1922 and the World Middleweight title in 1926.¬†I don’t know if he was a drinker or not, but I don’t imagine there were that many tea-totaling boxers during prohibition.

So, presumably Mr. Walker had no objection when Harry Craddock included a cocktail almost bearing his moniker in The Savoy Cocktail Book a few years later. I say¬†almost because Craddock spelled the name “Mickie,” while Walker spelled it “Mickey.” A lot of people get irritable when you spell their name wrong, but he should have been at least a little flattered regardless, because his drink ain’t half bad. Also, it’s got Scotch in it, and there aren’t nearly enough Scotch cocktails.

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Drink of the Week: The Betsy Ross Cocktail

the Betsy Ross Cocktail.It’s almost Independence Day weekend and, as our nation veers towards either electing its first woman president or it’s last male president, maybe it makes sense to honor one of the few founding mothers kids my age were ever taught about in school.

Yes, I admit, the actual role Mrs. Ross played in creating the Stars and Stripes is up for grabs. It seems that the story about her making that first flag for General Washington apparently emerged in 1876, about a century after our nation was born. Still, when the legend becomes fact, we do like John Ford and print the legend here at DOTW.

Here’s a cocktail reportedly from the 1950s named for the most famous seamstress in early American history. Rescued in our century by Gary Regan in The Joy of Mixology, it’s a very pretty cocktail that would definitely look good next to Old Glory.

The Betsy Ross Cocktail

1 1/2 ounces brandy…better make it Laird’s Straight Apple Brandy
1 1/2 ounces ruby port
1/2 ounce curacao
1-2 dashes Angostura/aromatic bitters

Combine the ingredients in a mixing glass or cocktail shaker and stir. Shaking won’t ruin the taste, but it won’t improve it that much, and it will make the drink ugly. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and toast Betsy Ross. Even if she didn’t actually make that first flag, she’s probably as good a stand-in as any for all the women we’ve never heard of who had just as much to do with making this country great as those guys we keep hearing about all the time.

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Drink of the Week: The Country Gentleman

The Country Gentleman.Although today’s drink comes to us from David Embury’s 1940s cocktail classic, “The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks,” it doesn’t really have any particular story to go with its classy provenance or courtly name. Embury just presents it as one of a series of drinks “based on an Applejack Sour.” It’s potentially a very sweet drink, at least on paper, since it includes both simple syrup (or sugar) and a very sweet orange liqueur. Still, the notoriously booze-severe Emory cautiously approves.

“With a base liquor as pungent as applejack,” Embury notes, “and with a liqueur as sharp as curacao… such addition may be possible within certain limits without rendering the cocktail too sickish sweet. With a bland liquor, such as gin or white label rum, and with a heavy fruit liqueur such as peach or apricot, this would be wholly impossible.”

On the whole, I don’t disagree. It’s a reasonably well balanced drink. Still, especially as I tend to be a bit of a baby about very tart flavors, I had a hard time finding a mix that was entirely satisfactory to me personally. Nevertheless, if you don’t mind strong citrus notes playing alongside the still under-utilized family of apple brandy boozes, this one might well be for you.

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Drink of the Week: The LeMANade

The LeMANade.As I’ve mentioned here about 20,000 times, my approach to Drink of the Week is that these are reasonably quick and easy to make cocktails for the home, not major DIY projects. While I love the companies that send me free drinks and (for the most part) really good cocktails, if a recipe calls for, say, a ginger-asparagus-truffle reduction syrup, I’ll skip it. If it demands that I use freshly ground nutmeg, I’ll very likely just stick with the store-bought pre-ground stuff, thank you very much. In other words, I’m kind of lazy and I think you might be, too!

So, when I saw that today’s recipe called for “fresh lemonade,” my heart sank. The Hornitos Tequila people have been very generous to me, both in terms of freebies and in sending me good-to-superb recipes to share with all of you, and I trust them. Also, I am a big believer in the cocktailian ethos that demands fresh juices as much as possible. (Yes, sour mix is a crime against both God and man. You can quote me on that.) I really wanted to do this recipe right, but I just didn’t feel like making my own lemonade.

I decided to get tough with myself. After all, lemonade is just lemon juice, sugar and water. How hard could it be to simply make a mini-lemonade and add it to the drink? Well, it really wasn’t difficult at all, but all I know is that when I substituted the 1 1/2 ounces of fresh lemonade in today’s recipe with 1/2 ounce of lemon juice, a tablespoon of sugar and an ounce of additional water, the mixed drink that resulted was kind of disappointing. A bit too sweet, perhaps. Way too sweet? Maybe. I’ve never made lemonade before and my poor math skills were not helping in terms of trying to make a very small amount of the stuff based on the many recipes I found online.

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Drink of the Week: Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell (TCM Fest Salute #4)

Buono Sera, Mrs. Campbell.A truly smart and well-written sex comedy is a thing of beauty and not an everyday occurrence — rare in the past and rarer still in the present. Indeed, my film-besotted compatriots and I had relatively modest hopes for Melvin Frank’s 1968 near-farce, “Buono Sera, Mrs Campbell,” at this year’s TCM Fest. For the most part, we were expecting an entertaining but possibly rather routine 1960s romp and were there largely to check out its legendary star. That would be Italian bombshell-turned photographer and sculptor Gina Lollobrigida, a rather amazing woman on numerous counts who, at 88, still has a few thoughts on her mind and an innately humorous sensibility. The movie, much to our delight, turned out to be nearly as extraordinary as its star.

It’s the story of an Italian single mother who finds herself suddenly in the embarrassing position of reuniting with three men from her war-torn past, any one of whom has pretty much an equal shot of being the father of her now grown-up daughter in those days well before the arrival of easy DNA testing. If the setup sounds familiar, it’s because the plot was appropriated — without credit, so far as I can tell — for the jukebox musical and film, “Mamma Mia.” The difference is that this version is funny, enjoyable and occasionally quite witty and heartfelt.

For my liquid tribute, I thought something with a certain diversity of ingredients that might have been consumed in both Italy and the U.S. was apt. Also, since the cast mixed actors known more for conventional light comedy and drama with burlesque-trained comic Phil Silvers and true thespian wildcards like Shelly Winters and Telly Savalas, a hodgepodge of ingredients seemed appropriate.

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