Drink of the Week: The White Lady

The White Lady.Mad Men” begins it’s final season on Sunday night, and I think it might be fair to say that no television show has done as much for the cultural profile of cocktails in our time. This is despite the fact that serious cocktail cognosecnti will be quick to inform you that  the early 1960s was a good four or five decades on from the tail end of the first true heyday of cocktails, and they’ll no doubt add that the late 1960s was one Harvey Wallbanger of a lowpoint.

Even so, people who watch the cast of Matthew Weiner’s brilliant tragicomedy-cum-high-end soap quaff their Martinis, Manhattans, and Old Fashioneds with some envy aren’t wrong. “Mad Men” is, in fact, about the final last gasp of an era. While there were many things about this old era we’re all better off without, it was also the last time people knew what an Old Fashioned was without being educated on the topic by Don Draper.

It’s not that people ever stopped drinking, it’s just they became more aware of the fact that alcohol was a drug they could use among many other drugs and the fact that it was also a food, of sorts, kind of got lost for about 30-40 years. In fact, let’s face it, at their booziest Don Draper and Roger Sterling might appreciate a well crafted beverage, but both of them would take Sterno if they had to.

This week’s drink is something I think Don and Roger would appreciate as it’s dry enough and boozy enough, but I think it might also appeal to Peggy Olson, Joan Harris and, perhaps most of all, the much maligned Betty Draper. It’s refreshing enough to help you relax on a hot New York State afternoon, boozy enough to forget your every dysfunction, and low-calorie enough not to knock you off your diet. Oh, and the name….

The White Lady

2 ounces London dry gin
1/2 ounce Cointreau or triple sec
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
1 egg white

Yeah, I know, egg white again. If you read me enough to get tired of reading that, then you know the drill already but here we go. We’re going to do what is known as a “dry shake” to emulsify the egg, which we’re going to combine with the gin, orange liqueur and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker by, obviously, shaking it a bit. We’re then going to add what we moderns might refer to as “a buttload” of ice and then we’re going to shake it again.

Next, we’ll strain it into a cocktail glass and we’ll toast, I imagine, Betty Draper. We will attempt to politely avoid any racial connotations, but we will fail.

***
Yes, while the White Lady’s name might put you in mind of a Dave Chappelle routine if you say it with a certain cadence, the drink itself really is pure elegance. This is a very dry drink and very tart too, but the egg white smoothes everything over far better than any “Mad Men” character attempting to paper over a sticky emotional situation. Yeah, I know I’ve sung this eggy song before, but it’s really true.

I tried this drink with three different gins and two orange liqueurs and all were, in their own way, aces. Bombay Dry Gin and Cointreau was archly classic, a bit understated. Switching to sweeter triple sec took off every sharp edge for a mellower concoction. No. 3 London Dry Gin with Cointreau put the Juniper and citrus peel flavors of a class dry gin forward in a way I really liked. Cointreau with Plymouth Gin, however, produced a shockingly disappointing result. Something just didn’t blend right there. Keep your gin dry and Londony…though Hendricks, which is actually from Scotland, might possibly work very well with this. (If anyone out there tries that, please drop me a line like a good little reader, okay?)

That’s it. I could lie and tell you all I’ll be seeing “Mad  Men” on its first broadcast with you all on Sunday night, but I’ll actually be enjoying the tale end of the Turner Classic Movies annual film festival right around then. The hope is I’ll find a way to unite my passions for cinema and cocktails there. Stay tuned!

  

You can follow us on Twitter and Facebook for content updates. Also, sign up for our email list for weekly updates and check us out on Google+ as well.

Drink of the Week: The Hornitos Seize Your Margarita

The Hornitos Seize Your Margarita. First of all, my apologies that we kind of skipped over July 4th this year. It’s not that I lack love for los Estados Unidos, it’s just that I’ve been dealing with a Mexican-inspired morass. To be specific….

If anybody out there was paying attention, last week I wound up making a carefully constructed Margarita from the Hornitos people using the wrong type of tequila. Today, I am making amends with a drink where I actually used the right type of (very good) booze. What a shocker that this drink turned out to be more than okay, but actually very good.

The Hornitos Seize Your Margarita

2 ounces Hornitos Plata Tequila
3⁄4 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice
3⁄4 ounce triple sec (or fancier orange liqueur)
2 pieces watermelon
2 slices of jalapeno
2 sprigs of cilantro
1 teaspoon superfine sugar (optional, see below)
1 lime slice (garnish)

Combine all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Muddle the watermelon, jalapeno, and cilantro into the melange of liquids with a fair amount of gusto. Next, add lots of ice and shake as vigorously as you can manage — you shaker will be good and full of stuff, especially if you make two at once like I did at one point.

Strain into a chilled rocks/old fashioned glass with ice cubes in it. If you don’t want your drink overly hot from the jalapeno, you probably want to double strain it — i.e., pour from your cocktail shaker’s strain into a regular food strainer.  On the other hand, if you don’t mind a drink that’s a bit muy on the caliente side, than just one regular cocktail strainer should be enough. Add the lime slice garnish, and toast, if you like, Hussong’s Cantina in beautiful Ensenada, Mexico. That’s where legend tells us the first Margarita was born.

****

As with last week’s drink, the Seize Your Margarita is actually intended to be made with the new (to me, anyway)  John DeKuyper & Sons O3 Premium Orange Liqueur. I’m guessing it has some kind of corporate tie to Hornitos but, for all I know, it might actually be even better that way. Still, it worked just fine with the el-cheapo DeKuyper triple sec I happened to have here at el casa de DOTW and might work well with whatever premium or cheap orangey liqueurs you happen to have on hand. I almost hate to suggest it, but the seize your margarita might even be okay with non-Hornitos brands of blanco tequila.

The other major alteration I made is the possible use of a teaspoon full of sugar. I got the idea because my watermelon wasn’t as sweet as I’d have liked. Even so, I was more than happy with my first version but I correctly guessed that I could be made happier still with a bit more sweetness. In fact, I wouldn’t necessarily be opposed to adding the sugar with somewhat sweeter watermelon chunks. What’s 16 calories among friends?

When you come right down to it, when you throw tequila, watermelon and jalapenos together, it’s kind of hard to go too terribly wrong. The balance of sweet and hot is one I’ve always found hard to resist. Indeed, I have yet to meet a jalapeno margarita I didn’t like, and that includes a beverage full of the usually hated sour mixes and what not that I actually enjoyed recently at the Mexican-style bar at the Orleans Hotel in Las Vegas.

Still, the Seize Your Margarita is definitely much, much better than that prefab jalapeno margarita — and good for you too, what with all scurvy-fighting fresh fruit and vegetable extractions mixing with the health-giving power of tequila. In fact, if you’re feeling a bit of a post-fireworks let down this cinco de Julio, give it a try.

  

Drink of the Week: The Hornitos Kickstarter Margarita (More than a Little Remixed)

The Hornitos_Kickstarter Margarita. The suspense is over. I’m 95% over my cold and back in the saddle and boozing again, this time with another cocktail provided by one of my mysterious liquor-supplying benefactors.

In this case, the liquor is Hornitos Plata tequila, which I’m really glad I got. I really think tequila might be my very favorite spirit to drink straight and this is some good stuff for a relatively reasonable price – I gather between $20 and $30. It’s got a kind of spicy, sweet underside to it for a blanco tequila, as well as the more expected pungency. It’s bracing, and that’s good.

I also appreciate that this drink brings me back in touch with Anjou pears. Even though I’ve always loved pears, I’d had so many bad experiences buying them in supermarkets I’ve mostly avoided them until called to do so by this week’s drink. It turns out the ones in my local discount food emporium are actually not half bad these days. Good to know.

But now we have a big problem. Just as I was writing those last words, I realized that I’d misread the recipe in one key respect. The drink I’ve been making all week is actually supposed to be made with Hornitos presumably more mellow Reposado Tequila, not the Plata, which is the only kind of Hornitos I have here! So, consider this week’s drink a bit of an off-the-cuff and entirely accidental collaboration between me and Hornitos’ in-house mixologist. Let’s see how things go.

The Hornitos Kickstarter Margarita (as muddled beyond all recognition by DOTW)

2 ounces Hornitos Plata Tequila
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
3/4 ounce triple sec
1-2 dashes Angostura bitters
3 slices of Anjou pear
1 additional pear slice (garnish)

Combine all the ingredients, garnish excepted, in a cocktail shaker. Muddle the pear slices into the booze. Add ice cubes. Shake very vigorously and strain — Hornitos’ original recipe calls for you to run it through an additional strainer but I like the microscopic pear bits — into a chilled cocktail glass, with ice cubes. (It’s not usual to put ice in coupes or cocktail/martini glasses, but it works better this way, in this case)

Sip and toast either Belgium or France, one of the two nations thought to be responsible for the ever so tasty Anjou pear.

****

Okay, so aside from my using the wrong expression of Hornitos for this drink, the original recipe calls for John DeKuyper & Sons O3 Premium Orange Liqueur. Since no one was sending me that, however, I used the plain old DeKuyper Triple Sec which I happened to have on hand. I would have tried it with Cointreau, too, but I ran out of that on a failed experiment with the Hornitos Plata.

The final adjustment is that I reduced the amount of lemon juice from 3/4 of an ounce to 1/2 ounce. It was simply too tart for me at the original strength, your taste buds may well differ.

As for this version of the drink, it’s not a stemwinder of a Kickstarter. However, considering how badly I screwed the pooch on matching the original recipe, it’s not half bad. Just don’t do what I did one or two times and forget the bitters; they’re absolutely crucial in terms of giving the thing some body. It’s also kind of cool to use bitters in a Margarita which, for a purist, makes it more of a “real” cocktail.

Okay, so it could have been worse, but I’ll be returning to the well next week for a somewhat less bastardized Hornitos margarita variation. Stay tuned!

  

Drink of the Week: The Ritz Cocktail

the Ritz Cocktail. What are you willing to give up for a cocktail? If you live in Los Angeles, the answer for the casual fancier of serious mixed beverages might be as high as $17.00 in some joints. If you’re one of the people who actually makes his living trying to make really good cocktails, however, the price might be a little higher still.

As I’m learning from an upcoming film I’m probably embargoed from discussing in any detail, the documentary “Hey Bartender,” the business of dispensing booze can take from a person’s life, but it can also give. However, the price I’m thinking about right now has mostly to do with the garnish — yes, the garnish — of today’s drink.

Fire is involved, and so is my right hand. I like my right hand. It’s helping me type this blog post and it does other nice things for me from time to time. But more about that later. (The garnish, I mean.)

The Ritz Cocktail was created by a cocktail legend I’m not sure I’ve even mentioned here before, and that’s largely due to the fact that I’m still a relative newbie to serious boozing. Although he’s not quite a household name — even his Wikipedia page is a still a stub — Dale DeGroff is credited by lots of folks as spearheading the revival of the lost art of the American cocktail. This started back in the 1980s, when he was at the Rainbow Rock at Manhattan’s 30 Rock, I was still in school, and most of the oldest of you all were lucky to be past the zygote stage….and DeGroff is still a relatively young man for a living legend. Well, his Wiki doesn’t give his age, so it’s hard to be sure.

Today’s drink is contained in DeGroff’s epochal 2002 tome, The Craft of the Cocktail. It’s named in honor of the several legendary bars of the famed Ritz hotel chain founded by César Ritz. Much as Mr. DeGroff has been dubbed “King Cocktail,” Mr. Ritz was dubbed “king of hoteliers, and hotelier to kings.” So far as I know, however, he had nothing to do with the cracker.

The Ritz Cocktail (the slightly heretical and debased version)

3/4-1 ounce cognac, or brandy alternative
1/2 ounce Cointreau
1/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/4 ounce maraschino liqueur
Champagne or sparkling white wine alternative
Flamed orange peel (garnish, to be explained!)

Read the rest of this entry »

  

Drink of the Week: The French 75

Image ALT text goes here.The French 75 does not refer to the number of pounds Gerard Depardieu could stand to lose. No, it refers to a really  marvelous and relatively simple classic presumably imbibed in massive quantities by Ernest, F. Scott, Pablo, Gertrude and all those other people Woody Allen fantasizes about hanging out with.

The drink itself is named after a rapid firing cannon, the first truly modern piece of field artillery, say the Wikipedians. As for the cocktail, it “hits with remarkable precision” according to The Savoy Cocktail Book. I have to say I agree.

Reportedly created circa 1915 at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris by Harry himself, the French 75 rarely misfires. It’s delicate, friendly, and sophisticated all at the same time. The Lost Generation sure could find their way to a good mixed drink.

The French 75

1 ounce gin
1/2 ounce fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons superfine sugar or 1/2 ounce simple syrup
Champagne/sparkling white wine
1 lemon twist (garnish)

Combine the gin, juice, and sugar or syrup in a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice. Shake vigorously and pour into a champagne glass. Top off with roughly 2-3 ounces of the dry sparkling white wine of your choice. Add your lemon twist and toast the early/mid 20th century author, poet, or painter of your choice.

****

First of all, I should add that this week’s drink represents a return engagement for the Yellow Tail Sparkling White Wine featured in last week’s beverage, the Capone. I am not a wasteful cocktail blogger and, as I still had half a bottle of not precisely champagne left and those little stoppers things actually work okay, I decided to try another sparkling white wine based cocktail. And, while I admit that Australia is a very long way from the Champagne region of France, any brut (dry) white fizzy wine should work okay here. The Yellow Tail worked pretty brilliantly, in fact, and I feel no need to rename this version of the drink after something Australian.

The French 75 is one of those drinks where there is a great deal of variation from recipe to recipe and experimentation is welcome. My favorite version of the drink was the one featured above, but I also enjoyed a couple of variations I tried out. One, maligned somewhat elsewhere, used Cointreau in place of sugar for a somewhat boozier, orangey-er concoction; it wasn’t quite as deliciously delicate as the version above, but was still a very nice drink of its own that many may prefer.  I also experimented with dispensing with the sugar and using sweetened Hayman’s Old Tom Gin in place of my Beefeater. The result was drier but still very, very light and enjoyable.

The trick, for  me, is keeping the lemon juice under control. Some recipes call for as much as a whole ounce of lemon juice and more sugar. To that, mates, I say “non.”

  

Related Posts