Drink of the Week: The Jasmine Cocktail (Paul Harrington’s Original)

The Jasmine Cocktail (per Paul Harrington).When I get into online debates with my fellow left-leaners or culture geeks, I’ll often think to myself (or say in words) that their argument lacks a sense of proportion. Indeed, proportion is possibly the single most important part of any position or, very definitely, any mixed drink. That’s why high-end craft bars will often gladly tell you all the ingredients in a drink while steadfastly refusing to provide the proportions, because therein lies the keys to the cocktail kingdom.

So, that’s how it is I’m presenting two drinks in a row that have the same name and the same ingredients. I would, however, argue that last week’s version of the Jasmine Cocktail, substantially tweaked by Robert Hess, is a much different beverage from this week’s, which was first created in the 1990s by Washington bartender Paul Harrington. It’s definitely much stronger on the lemon flavor and much less so on the contributions of the two liqueurs included in both drinks, but see for yourself.

The Jasmine Cocktail (original version)

1 1/2 ounces gin
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/4 ounce Cointreau or triple sec
1/4 ounce Campari
1 lemon twist (optional garnish)

Combine the liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Shake very vigoriously and strain into a chilled, smallish cocktail glass. Salute the fruit of the lemon tree, which is impossible to eat on its own, but so darn useful for making so many things taste better.

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Drink of the Week: The Jasmine Cocktail (Robert Hess’s Take)

The Jasmine Cocktail.I found the Jasmine Cocktail, or simply Jasmine, in Robert Hess’s oh so reliable “The Essential Bartender’s Guide.” Today’s recipe, however, is actually the second version of the recipe that Hess presents and I decided to do this version for a reason. You see, while the ingredients in both Hess’s version and the original, reportedly created by bartender and writer Paul Harrington in the 1990s, are the same, the proportions of everything but the base spirit are wildly different.

Harringtons’s gin-based cocktail is relatively heavy on lemon juice, light on flavoring elements and, as I’ve often mentioned, very tart drinks aren’t really my super favorites, though I’m usually fine with more bitter flavors. Since the Hess version takes down the lemon juice slightly while significantly increasing the proportion of two bittersweet cocktail standbys, Campari and Cointreau, I was naturally more attracted to his version.

Still, I’m liking the Jasmine Cocktail a la Hess so much that I’ve grown curious about the original. So, stay tuned for that next week. In the meantime, here’s my slightly altered take on the Hess iteration.

The Jasmine Cocktail

1 1/2 ounces gin
1 ounce Cointreau or triple sec
3/4 ounce Campari
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
1 lemon twist (optional garnish)

Combine all the liquids in a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and, if you like, add a lemon twist garnish. (I thought the twist helped slightly when I used Cointreau and hurt slightly when I used triple sec.)

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Drink of the Week: The Japanese Cocktail

The Japanese Cocktail.Just as there was nothing particularly Hawaiian about the Hawaiian Cocktail a few weeks back, there is nothing particularly Japanese, or even remotely Asian, about the Japanese Cocktail. There is, however, at least a connection with an actual Japanese person…maybe.

The drink, sometimes just called “Japanese,” can be found in Robert Hess’s “The Essential Bartender’s Guide,” but its roots go back a great deal further than Hess’s outstanding 2008 tome. According to cocktail super historian David Wondrich, the Japanese Cocktail was possibly associated with one Tateishi Onojirou “Tommy” Noriyuki, a dashing translator for the first ever Japanese embassy in the U.S., circa 1860. While the connection seems somewhat tenuous, Wondrich supposes that the Japanese Cocktail, which appears in Professor Jerry Thomas’s epochal 1862 manual,”How to Mix Drinks,” might have been a favorite of Mr. Noriyuki, who may very well have visited Professor Thomas’s New York bar. Or not.

In any case, it’s a pretty tasty drink, but you’d better like the very sweet, almond-derived flavor of orgeat.

The Japanese Cocktail

2 ounces brandy
1/2 ounce orgeat (almond syrup)
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 lemon twist (highly recommended garnish).

Combined the brandy, orgeat (Torani or Monin would be standard) and bitters in a cocktail shaker or mixing glass. Stir or shake and strain into a mixing glass. Add the lemon twist and toast, I don’t know, the vastly improved state of Japanese-American relations since a certain well-known mid-20th century low point.

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Drink of the Week: Rye’d N Dirty

Rye'd N Dirty.In the U.S., whiskey cannot be sold as rye unless it is distilled from at least 51 percent rye grain. In Canada, there is no such rule. Therfore, as I understand it, a lot of what we call Canadian whiskey over here is known as rye north of the border, even though corn and other grains may be a great deal more dominant. For this reason, American rye has long had a more distinctively peppery flavor than it’s Canuck cousin. Lately, however, Canadian brands have been getting into the act with ryes that pass stateside muster.

And so it was that I was turned on to today’s fine cocktail by my friends at Canadian Club…and they really are my friends, as they sometimes send me free stuff and tasty cocktails, in this case their new Canadian Club 100% Rye. Often sold for less than $20.00 a bottle, this all-rye rye is a worthy alternative to such value priced standbys as Pikesville and Old Overholt. Comparing it to regular, blended Canadian Club, it’s less mellow, hotter and spicier, though not as peppery as some of the pricier ryes. It definitely makes for a bold Old Fashioned or Manhattan.

The CC 100% also definitely works pretty brilliantly in our Drink of the Week, which features a burst of additional heat and spice from a non-whiskey source.

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Drink of the Week: Warday’s Cocktail

Warday's CocktailYou may wonder how I go about picking out the drinks here at DOTW. A lot of the time, it has something to do with what I’ve got laying around the palatial North Hollywood premises of Drink of the Week Manor. Occasionally, I look at the calendar, and sometimes, I simply stumble over something at random.

At times, though, my own life enters the picture to some extent. For example, I am actually writing these words while shoehorned into a Hawaiian Airlines jet and, guess what, last week’s drink was as well.

By the time you read this, however, I will be firmly in place at my annual geekboy retreat to Comic-Con and, so, the name “Warday’s Cocktail” leaped out at me from the pages of, once again, “The Savoy Cocktail Book.” Now, it occurred to me later that Warday is probably just some guy’s name, but right then, “Warday” seemed redolent of Silver Age Jack Kirby and Jim Starlin creations for both DC and Marvel. Also, the ingredients are mighty provocative.

Then, the daily news stepped in with events to dark too discuss within the confines of a cocktail blog. Best to just go with the idea that Warday was probably just the name of some enterprising bartender of the prohibition age or prior.

Moving rapidly along, while you could definitely argue that the name of today’s drink is in questionable judgment, the taste of this week’s drink is, at the very least, respectable and worth investigating. It definitely makes for an interesting combo and, I’m here to tell you that it can be just the thing after the end of a truly disturbing day or week.

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