Drink of the Week: The Claridge Cocktail

The Claridge Cocktail.I stumbled over this week’s beverage in Gary Regan’s “The Joy of Mixology,” but it’s original source is the oft-cited-here “The Savoy Cocktail Book” by Harry Craddock. Since Craddock was the bartender at London’s Savoy Hotel, and the Claridge had been the Savoy’s super-swank rival before Savoy owner Richard D’Oyly-Carte had purchased it, we can assume it must have once been some kind of house drink at the hotel. Even so, it’s not on the Claridge’s bar menu circa 2017, where a typical house beverage will run you some 19 British pounds. (That’s over $23.34 American at current exchange rates.)

Maybe we shouldn’t be too surprised, as this drink is a bit simple and sweet for the tastes of today’s demanding cocktailians, much less the guests at a five-star hotel said to be preferred by the aristocratic set. Still, I think it’s one that’s worth trying out for yourself. It’s not bad and some people will love it. See what you think.

The Claridge Cocktail

1 ounce dry gin
1 ounce dry vermouth
1/2 ounce apricot brandy
1/2 ounce triple sec, Cointreau, or Pierre Ferrand Dry Curacao

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Drink of the Week: El Americano Blanco

El Americano Blanco.Now, please, don’t take the name of the this mixed beverage, my own creation, too literally. Yes, we live in times when basic human decency is on trial, but trust me, the drink which, my poor high school Spanish and imaginary Italian notwithstanding, translates as “the white American” is not in any way inspired by our current president’s voting base. If I ever create a drink called “the White Nationalist,” that’s what we’ll be talking about, though it would probably be very bitter and extremely poisonous. No, it’s a simple and quite wholesome clear variation on an Americano, as much as a White Negroni is a clear variation on the traditional, more dark colored beverage.

This one is a bit less sweet and bitter than most Americano variations, but that doesn’t mean it’s lacking in flavor. It’s a simple, tasty and refreshing drink but one that might be open to even more variation. Consider this recipe a starting point.

El Americano Blanco

1 or 1 1/2 ounces bianco vermouth
1 or 1 1/2 ounces Salers Aperitif
Soda water
1 lime slice (damn near obligatory garnish)

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Jamieson Ranch: Napa Valley’s gateway winery

As you travel north and enter Napa Valley, Jamieson Ranch Vineyards sits at the gateway. It’s the winery further south than any other in Napa. Their estate is composed of more than 300 acres. From those vines and other fruit, they craft a portfolio of wines under several sub-labels but all part of the overall Jamieson Ranch umbrella. Considering their Napa Valley location and the quality of their general portfolio, there is a lot to like here for the money.

Even their flagship red, Double Lariat Cabernet, is a bargain compared to wines of similar quality from many of their neighbors. Here’s a look at four current releases that I recommend. It’s worth noting that a portion of the profits from the wines under the Light Horse label benefit the Light Horse Foundation. This organization was founded by the winery to help support at risk people, in particular those with autism.

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Drink of the Week: Eeyore’s Requiem

Eeyore's Requiem.Last week, we had a drink that highlighted the bittersweet pleasures of Campari, a sometimes divisive liqueur that is nevertheless a classic cocktail essential. This Oscar weekend, we’re quite literally doubling down on the Campari and maybe tripling down on the bombast with a bunch of other harshly bitter and gently sweet ingredients for one of the best new cocktails I’ve had in awhile. It just might be the perfect two-pronged taste to savor as you enjoy the Oscars while, of course, complaining about the Oscars.

Eeyore’s Requiem is presumably named after A.A Milne’s depressive donkey who cut through some of the sweetness generated by the rest of the gang at Pooh Corner. It can be found on the menu of the Chicago craft bar, the Violet Hour, which stresses the classic beverages of the pre-Prohibition era. Created by Toby Maloney apparently circa 2011, this is a drink that is iconoclastic enough to set a new standard. I wouldn’t call it the “Citizen Kane” of cocktails, but it definitely turns cocktail convention on its head, with Campari taking the place of a base spirit and then relegating the hard stuff to a supporting role. It’s not your usual cocktail.

Eeyore’s Requiem

1 1/2 ounces Campari
1 ounce bianco vermouth
1/2 ounce dry gin
1/4 ounce Cynar
1/4 ounce Fernet Branca
1-2 dashes orange bitters
1-3 orange twists (not necessarily a garnish)

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Drink of the Week: The Killer in Red

The Killer in Red.If the name of this week’s drink sounds like the title of a mid-20th century pulpy crime thriller to you, you’re half right. It’s taken from a very classy, though entirely promotional, 13 minute neo-noir homage from Italian director Paolo Sorrentino, best known in the states for his all-star drama “Youth” and his Fellini-esque “The Great Beauty.” As booze commercials go, “The Killer in Red” is, typically for Sorrentino, rich in deep-dish eye candy, from it’s outlandish L.A.-centric decor to French-Swiss co-star Caroline Tilvlette, who motivates Clive Owen’s bartender to get involved in some ill-advised behavior.

The drink that the short promotes also has its sensual pleasures, particularly for lovers of Campari, like me. The fact that I’ve been getting free bottles lately from a shadowy representative of the aperitif really doesn’t enter it. (Really!) I love the stuff. And, since Campari’s flavor largely dominates today’s drink, I also pretty much love today’s drink. Let’s check it out.

The Killer in Red

3/4 oz. Campari
3/4 oz. chamomile gin or standard dry gin
3/4 oz. Cinzano 1757 Bianco (or another bianco)
1/2 oz. Grand Marnier
1 drop of rose water or rose essential oil (if you can find it)

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