Drink of the Week: La Paloma (Revisited)

La Paloma.This Thursday is Cinco de Mayo, and that’s as good an excuse as any to revisit what I’m guessing is the world’s second most popular tequila cocktail. Indeed, this year I’ve got an additional excuse, which is to give a plug to some work by a DOTW Manor resident and frequent cocktail tester. Seems this enterprising young director was a finalist in a contest being sponsored by one of your classier tequila manufacturers, Avion. Moreover, I found out not long after writing the original draft of this post that he actually won a Grand Prize. Good things can sometimes come to those who imbibe (with moderation) and work (to excess).

As luck would have it, I myself can be seen in one of Joseph Lao’s two spine-tingling faux trailers, this one demonstrating the construction of a high-end La Paloma. Moreover, the last time we dealt with that drink — some four years ago and, it seems, a lifetime away — I offered the more popular, but arguably less refined, take on the beverage. This time, we’re setting aside the Jarritos grapefruit soda, and very definitely the Squirt, and going for a somewhat healthier and arguably more satisfying version of a cocktail that deserves its place alongside many better-known drinks.

La Paloma

2 ounces white tequila (Avion Silver, if you’ve got it, I guess)
1 ounce fresh grapefruit juice
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup or about 2 1/2 teaspoons of superfine sugar
1 splash or two of club soda
1 lime web (desirable garnish)

This is one you build in a Tom Collins-type glass, though it might be good idea to pre-chill it as well in this case. Anyhow, just add all the liquid ingredients over ice and stir, and then add the lime wedge, which really does seem to improve the overall flavor.

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Drink of the Week: The Chocolate Flip

the Chocolate Flip.The Chocolate Flip doesn’t contain the slightest hint of anything remotely chocolate. No, in the manner of its very close relative, the Coffee Cocktail, the Chocolate Flip blends brandy and a whole egg with more sugary/fruity ingredients to create a more sweet than bitter flavor and a light tan color. If you’re determined to think it tastes slightly like chocolate, then I guess it does.. It’s really just another of the countless variations on the Flip formula, but an interesting enough combo that I think it deserves it’s own post.

The Chocolate Flip comes directly from David Embury’s “The Fine Art of Mixing Cocktails,” though it’s  only referred to in passing. Mr. Embury’s preference was towards somewhat dry drinks, which he believed were ideal for stimulating the appetite before a meal, and this is actually a nearly ideal dessert or, if you dare, breakfast beverage.

Chocolate-free though it is, the Chocolate Flip, even in this version, is fattening enough that making this drink over the course of a week has probably accounted for at least an additional pound or two on yours truly thanks to adding seven eggs to my weekly diet. To be fair, however, my appetite has never required much stimulating.

The Chocolate Flip

1 ounce brandy
1 ounce sloe gin
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoon superfine sugar or simple syrup
Sprinkling of nutmeg (borderline mandatory garnish)

I have done so many of these egg-based drinks, I could probably just cut and paste this part, but I like you guys, so I’ll write this for you fresh. Combine all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker without ice for the so-called dry shake. Shake the contents fairly vigorously, but be careful to watch out for the interesting phenomenon that happens when you shake whole eggs or egg white; the top of your shaker may want to pop off and make a mess. Next, add ice and shake more vigorously for about 15 seconds or so. Strain into a chilled glass. (Cocktail glasses and old fashioned glasses are both good.)

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Drink of the Week: The Red Line

The Red Line.No need to go into details about the geekiness that brought me there, but this last Easter Sunday found this very secular Jew in downtown L.A. Not wanting to waste an opportunity to hit one of the countless outstanding bars in my town’s ever-cooler civic seat, but also being only too aware that it was a pretty major holiday, it appeared that my best bet for a DTLA libation was the relatively new E.R.B., aka Everson Royce Bar, a recent outgrowth of Pasadena’s noted Everson Royce wine and spirits emporium.

And that’s how I encountered today’s drink, the creation of the ERB bartender who calls himself Jonathan B. Jonathan had come up with the drink the night or two before, and he suggested it when I told him I was up for just about anything good. It’s a rich, strong concoction that I pronounced nifty on the spot.

Since there’s already a drink on the ERB menu called the Gold Line, referring to the commuter train that can take you from Pasadena to the downtown L.A. arts district, I suggested naming this drink after the slightly further afield Red Line, which would soon take me back to my North Hollywood home via nearby-enough-for-a-cheap-Uber ride Union Station. Yes, L.A. is finally starting to have decent public transit, just like we already have more than our fair share of good bars.

The Red Line

1 1/2 ounces rye whiskey
1/2 ounce Cynar
1/2 ounce Lillet Blanc
2 dashes Angostura bitters
2 dashes Peychaud’s or Scrappy’s Orleans bitters
1 orange twist (desirable garnish)

Shake or stir the contents in a cocktail shaker or mixing glass and strain into a cocktail glass. Add the orange twist, and toast our nation’s great cities and the creative bartenders who inhabit them.

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Drink of the Week: The Chatham Cocktail

The Chatham Cocktail.Looking up “Chatham” on Wikipedia, I can count some 15-plus municipalities in the United States and Canada with the name, alongside numerous neighborhood and towns with the word “Chatham” in them. Also, legendary British PM, William Pitt the Elder, who I sorta kinda remember from my AP European History class, was the first Earl of Chatham.

I very briefly wondered if it was possible that today’s drink could be remotely related to a long-closed West L.A. restaurant I remember my mom taking me to in my childhood. Well, for starters, the Chatam closed in 1987, and I don’t think they made cocktails. Yes, they did make the Chatam Special, a sandwich with turkey, swiss cheese, coleslaw…maybe some ham. In any case, what of that missing second H?

So, all I really know of the Chatham Cocktail’s origins is that one of the world’s most important cocktail gurus, L.A.’s own Ted Haigh of the oft-mentioned-here “Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails,” sent it to another key cocktailian, Gary Regan of Regan’s Orange Bitters #6 and “The Joy of Mixology.” It was in that book — a really good 2003 cocktail and bartending primer from 2003 aimed primarily at people in the booze business, but definitely of interest to us hobbyists — that I found this very simple, very sophisticated, and really quite altogether decent drink. It’s more than worth a try if you have the ingredients available to you.

The Chatham Cocktail

2 ounces gin
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/2 ounce ginger liqueur or ginger brandy

Combine the liquids in a cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Think about why most English names don’t really mean anything…except for Baker, Butcher, Carpenter, and Smith, anyway.

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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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