Drink of the Week: The Waldorf Gloom Lifter

The Waldorf Gloom Lifter.Last week found me possibly a dollar short and definitely a day late for St. Patrick’s Day, but at least the drink was good. The Gloom Lifter was essentially a whiskey sour with egg white, made with Irish whiskey rather than the more cocktail-typical North American varieties. Now, we have the Gloom Lifter’s more upscale cousin, the Waldorf Gloom Lifter, which is essentially a Clover Club with Irish whiskey and a bit of brandy standing in for gin.

If you want to find the original source of today’s drink, you’ll have to pick up a copy of “The Old Waldorf Astoria Bar Book,” a book dating back to the pre-Prohibition era which I don’t currently own. The recipe, however, is floating around the Internet in a number of iterations, now including this one.

If you found the Gloom Lifter a bit on the dry/overly simple side, this is a drink for you. It’s also a drink I’m willing to bet you might have a hard time getting at today’s historic and pricey Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan, as it’s not on any of their online menus. If you did, it would likely cost you about $20.00, plus tip. Lucky us, you can make this one at home for probably less than a buck and enjoy a bit of bygone elegance on the cheap.

The Waldorf Gloom Lifter

1 1/2 ounces Irish whiskey
1/2 ounce brandy
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/2 egg white (1 ounce of packaged egg white)
1/2 ounce grenadine or raspberry syrup

This one has egg white again, so the drill is pretty much the same as always. Combine the liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker without ice for the so-called dry shake. Watch out for the interesting chemical reaction which can cause the top of your shaker to pop off. In any case, if you’re going the safe route and using a pasteurized, packaged egg white — and I’ll note that I haven’t noticed any decline in the quality of the final product whatsoever while doing this — you won’t have to shake it for more than a few seconds for the egg white to be fully emulsified.

Next, add plenty of ice and shake again, vigorously as always, and strain it into one of your larger cocktail glasses. This is a big drink that needs a big glass.

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Drink of the Week: The Gloom Lifter

The Gloom Lifter.David A. Embury opened his epochal “The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks” with these words: “Anyone can make good cocktails.” It’s clear that you don’t need to be a genius to do it, and I have often proven that point through some very non-genius behavior. Most recently, I seem to be unable to read a calendar, because I’ve been congratulating myself that today’s dandy Irish whiskey-based recipe would be just in time for St. Patrick’s Day. It was only when it was much too late that I realized this week’s DOTW post would be appearing on March 18th.

Anyhow, today’s drink does indeed come to us directly from Mr. Embury’s 1948 classic. It’s basically just a very simple take on a Whiskey Sour using Irish whiskey. Still, these very specific proportions seem to suit perhaps the most weirdly underused of all the most popular base spirits.

Indeed, I really don’t see any reason at all why Irish whiskey isn’t used more often. At least to my palette, its always agreeable taste profile is a hair less mellow than Canadian whiskey but definitely gentler and far more easily mixable than Scotch. It definitely works in my personal prescription for any lingering post-St. Paddy’s depression.

The Gloom Lifter

1 1/2 ounces Irish whiskey
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/4 ounce simple syrup or 1 1/4 teaspoons superfine sugar
1/2 ounce egg white (1 ounce of packaged egg white)

Combine all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker without ice. First, shake the ingredients to properly emulsify the egg white, being careful to keep a good seal while you do so; the albumin in egg white can make for a potentially messy chemical reaction on the so-called dry shake. Next, add ice and shake vigorously. Embury tells us that 15 seconds is about the right amount of time for most drinks. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and contemplate how perfect this drink might be on March 17, 2017… which will fall on a Friday, so I’ll presumably be right on time for a change with a holiday-appropriate beverage.

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Drink of the Week: The Applejack Rabbit

The Applejack Rabbit.So, if you’ve been wondering when I’d finally get around to finding a source for cocktails other than Harry Craddock’s 1930 “The Savoy Cocktail Book,” this is your week, more or less.

Like Craddock’s book, “The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks” by David A. Embury is one of the ur-texts of today’s cocktailian scene. Still, it is a different animal than Craddock’s tome because it’s much more than a recipe book.  Embury, you see, was not a bartender at all and, apart from this book, was not really a professional author either; he made his living as a tax lawyer. His book is essentially a lengthy and extremely opinionated exploration of the best ways to prepare and consume mixed beverages from the point of view of an enthusiastic bar patron and home booze hobbyist. Before the appearance of such latter day booze historian/philosophers as David Wondrich and Ted Haigh, there was pretty much this one single book, and — at least to my very limited knowledge — not much else if you really wanted a thoughtful look at what makes a good drink a good drink.

First published in 1948 and last updated in 1956, a lot of Embury’s book is obviously dated and/or downright inaccurate. Embury finds most tequila to be an abomination, while having some surprisingly kind words for Southern Comfort. He was absolutely certain that alcoholism and cirrhosis of the liver were unrelated illnesses. He also has a reputation for suggesting drinks that can be almost ascetic in their boozy severity.

For all that, the guy clearly knew his mixology, and this week’s drink is proof. It is actually the right amount of sweet, sour and boozy. As a non-bartender myself who is roughly the same age today as Embury was in ’48, respect must be paid, and one way to do it is with this concoction, a tasty delight that people of all cocktail denominations can love.

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Drink of the Week: Cocktail No. 366

Cocktail No. 36.No, I can’t tell you anything about Cocktail No. 365 or, for that matter, Cocktail No. 367. I do know that the people behind the marketing of Hornitos Black Barrel Tequila have been pushing this enigmatically named concoction as a modern day update of last week’s beverage, Harry Craddock’s Leap Year Cocktail. While both cocktails do indeed have both bitter and sweet flavors, the Hornitos people have come up with something that is far more boldly bitter in a way that’s also kind of sweetly refreshing, and which features one of my very favorite ingredients, good ol’ Campari. That’s one way to get my attention. In any event, I’d say this drink is probably closer to a Boulevardier than the Leap Year, but that’s hardly a bad thing.

Cocktail No. 366

1 1/2 ounces Hornitos Black Barrel Tequila
1 ounce Campari
1/4 ounce sweet vermouth
2 ounces soda water
1 dash orange bitters
1 orange peel (garnish)

Gather ye your liquid ingredients in a mixing glass or, if you’re a piker who doesn’t own one like me, you can use a cocktail shaker, though you won’t be doing any shaking on account of the soda water. Instead, stir the concoction vigorously and, depending on your mood, you can either strain the mixture over fresh ice into a Tom Collins glass or pour it out carefully, ice and all. Add the orange peel garnish, and toast the world that teaches us to take the bitter with the sweet and to actually enjoy it.

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Toad Hollow Vineyards: Delicious wines & great value

Toad Hollow Vineyards was founded in 1994 by a group of friends. They launched their winery with “Francine’s Selection,” an unoaked Chardonnay. At the time, particularly in California, this was not only uncommon, it also ran against the trend. Defying what was popular, Francine’s Selection was a huge hit and sent the vineyard off and running. In the years since, their portfolio has expanded to include Pinot Noir, Merlot, Zinfandel, Cabernet and more. I tasted through some brand new releases and found a lot of deliciousness for a small amount of money.

toad_hollow

Toad Hollow Vineyards 2014 Unoaked Chardonnay ($13.99)

This Chardonnay is produced from fruit sourced in Mendocino County. It’s made up entirely of Chardonnay. The 2014 bottling represents the 22nd vintage of this wine, the most popular in their lineup. The moment you stick your nose in the glass, a burst of fresh, unadulterated apple and pear aromas leap out. The palate is similarly stuffed with oodles of fresh fruit flavors accompanied by hints of spice. All of these characteristics continue on the long, fruit-laden finish. This is a delicious, easy-to-drink Chardonnay that you’re going to want a second glass the moment the first is empty.

Toad Hollow Vineyards 2014 “Eye of the Toad” Rosé ($11.99)

This dry Rosé is composed entirely of Pinot Noir sourced at a variety of vineyards throughout Sonoma County. Toad Hollow has been producing a dry Rosé for 20 years, well ahead of its current popularity in the U.S. A hint of crème fraiche underpins the freshly picked strawberry aromas that inform the nose here. Bing cherry and continued strawberry notes are in evidence on the beautiful and bone dry palate. White pepper and continued red fruit flavors are evident on the crisp, zippy finish. If you need a perfect pairing partner for fried chicken, this is it.

Toad Hollow Vineyards Merlot ($16.99)

This offering is composed entirely of Merlot sourced at the Richard McDowell Vineyard in the Russian River Valley. These 16 acres were planted in 1995. Ripe wild strawberry and raspberry aromas fill the nose. The palate is loaded with darker fruit flavors such as black raspberry and cherry, as well as black pepper and hints of toast. Light bits of espresso and a touch of dusty cocoa emerge on the finish, along with pomegranate and sour cherry notes. This is a well-priced and tasty example of Merlot.

Toad Hollow Vineyards 2013 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir ($19.99)

This is a single-vineyard Pinot with all the fruit coming off of “Goldie’s Vineyard,” their estate property. After fermentation and being racked twice, it was aged in French oak for 14 months. Rose petal and red cherry aromas leap from the nose here. The palate is full of even-keeled red fruit flavors supported by a significant spice component. Bits of savory herb, sour red fruits and continued spices are apparent on the long, even finish. This terrific under-$20 Pinot Noir will pair well with a remarkably wide array of foods.

All of these wines represent better than average values. The Pinot Noir, though, is the steal of the bunch. This notoriously fickle and difficult to master grape is also one of the hardest to find at a bargain. At under $20, this offering from Toad Hollow Vineyards is precisely that. Buy a case and drink it as a house wine. You’ll be hard pressed to find a better value in California Pinot Noir.

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