Drink of the Week: The Great Migration

The Great Migration

Today we present the second part of what’s going to be trilogy of posts featuring the beguiling and bewitching new Mariposa Agave Nectar Liqueur. Last week, I discussed the seductive sweetness of the concoction in context with the Mariposa Mojito.

Now, we move on to a sweeter territory with a drink that’s been heavily promoted by Mariposa’s masters over at Heaven Hill Distilleries, Inc. It’s something like a gin sidecar, but slightly more sugary — that’s not always a bad thing — and using a liqueur that I personally dig more than most. I have to admit the historical connections of the drink’s name have me at something of a loss, however, though it’s clear there was more than one great migration. Some of you might also want to have more than one of the libation of the same name.

The Great Migration

1 1/2 ounces dry gin
3/4 ounce Mariposa Agave Nectar Liqueur
3/4 ounce fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4  ounce simple syrup
Turbinado/raw sugar
Lemon twist (garnish)

Rim a cocktail glass with raw sugar — It’s very possible that the plain old white stuff might work almost as well — by wetting the edges and dipping it into a plate full of the sweet stuff. Take your rimmed glass and stick it in the freezer to get it nice and chilled while you make the rest of the drink.

Combine all the liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice. If you don’t have simple syrup on hand, you can probably dissolve some superfine sugar in a little bit of room temperature water and use that instead. Shake vigorously and strain into your now well chilled rimmed cocktail glass.

Engage in the magical process old school/artisanal bartenders call “expressing” the lemon twist which is crucial to drinks like the Sazerac. It involves twisting a very thin — as in rind-free — strip of the lemon’s skin; the act of twisting is thought to spritz a tiny but notable amount of lemon oil into the drink. Drop the skin into the drink and sip away at the sweetness.

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If you like your drink very sweet indeed, you can make the accidental alteration I did while preparing this drink for some cooperative test subjects. Having forgotten the complete recipe, I actually doubled the amount of simple syrup to an entire half ounce — but I forgot about the turbinado rim. That made for a somewhat less complicated beverage that, for me, wasn’t as good as the recipe proper. However, it went really down really well with my willing guinea pigs and might work better for a lot of people who are less frequent boozers.

  

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Drink of the Week: The Pegu Club Cocktail

The Pegu Club CocktailYou all probably know the one-liner, developed by Groucho Marx and reiterated by Woody Allen in “Annie Hall,” about not wanting to belong to any club that would have the speaker for a member. At this point, I have to admit that I certainly don’t feel like a member of the Pegu Club whether or not they’d have me. Of course, as I’m not a Britisher hanging around Rangoon circa 1920-1930, I wouldn’t expect to be had.

You see, the Pegu Club Cocktail, which apparently was favored by English imperialists messing about in Burma, aka Myanmar, has defeated me. I’ve tried it in a number of permutations and none seem to work. Sure, I still don’t have as much time at present as I’d like to experiment, but no amount of adjusting the proportions of ingredients made this thing come together for me and I have a feeling I could work with it for an entire month and not have much more luck. I’ll give you some leeway and maybe you’ll do better. It’s not like there’s anything wrong with the ingredients separately.

The Pegu Club Cocktail

1 1/2 – 2 ounces gin
1/2 – 1 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice
1/2 – 1 ounce orange liqueur (Orange Curacao, Triple Sec, Cointreau, etc.)
1-2 dashes Orange Bitters
1-2 dashes Aromatic Bitters (Angostura, etc.)

Combines ingredients in a cocktail shaker and pour into a chilled cocktail shaker. I’d suggest you toast Aung San Suu Kyi but, in my opinion, she deserves a better balanced drink.

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Do I sound bitter? Well, after finding myself underwhelmed by The Maiden’s Prayer a couple of weeks back, I’m just starting to wonder how debilitating Project Empty My Liquor Cabinet Pre Moving is going to continue to be. Well, the good news is that it will be over soon. Drink of the Week Central looks to be moving from Northwest Orange County to the central San Fernando Valley community of Van Nuys within a matter of weeks. Huzzah.

Nevertheless, I will offer one suggestion should you be curious to try this one for yourself: be darn sure not to forget your bitters. As it is, the orange liqueur or the lime juice has a tendency to completely dominate this drink depending on your proportions and never in a particularly good way, no matter what my choice of liqueur seemed to be. (I didn’t, however, try Grand Marnier, so who knows.) Without bitters, as my old buddy Kevin learned one Sunday recently, this can be on freakin’ syrupy drink if you lean on the liqueurish side of the spectrum. Serves me right for effectively celebrating British adventurism so close to the 4th of July.

I guess that’s it. I wonder if any great cocktails were invented in Van Nuys. No doubt we’ll be finding out the answer to that one together.

  

Drink of the Week: The Maiden’s Prayer

The Maiden's Prayer

C. K. Dexter Haven: The moon is also a goddess, chaste and virginal.
Tracy Lord: Stop using those foul words. – “The Philadelphia Story” (1940)

Let’s face it. Sex sells, now and forever. If anything, it sold even more so in the earlyish 20th century when there wasn’t quite such a glut on the market. In those days, the idea of visions of actual coupling — and tripling and quadrupling — of every imaginable sort being but a few mouse clicks and keystrokes away was beyond the imagination. Way beyond.

In those days even the absence of sex could be read as hot, hot, hot because, of course, it implied the theoretical presence of sex.  Then as now, of course, a drink or two or three was often a prelude to the actuality of carnal knowledge. Birth control might not have been as widely available back then but, well, there’s a good chance that going back a generation you — who knows, maybe even I — might owe our very existence to that fact. (Great-Grandma, how could you??) In an era when alcohol had more of a forbidden frisson than it might today, all the more so.

In any case, this is all a long winded way of delaying my admission that I’m actually not all that wild about today’s Drink of the Week, though you might feel differently. For one thing, time simply didn’t permit me to try out something different before my deadline on account of my current hectic schedule and the fact that one or two drinks a night is my limit most of the time. (There are times when not being more of hardcore boozer is an absolute handicap in this here booze blogging game.)

Also, it’s hard to ignore the name and the fact that the Maiden’s Prayer was apparently positioned ironically as a possible corrupter of young ladies of virtue. This is a men’s magazine blog after all. It’s certainly a simple enough concoction and all the ingredients separately are quite nice, I just don’t find it particularly seductive. On the other hand, the art of love and the craft of cocktails have a thousand pathways.

The Maiden’s Prayer

1 1/2 ounces gin
1/2 ounce Cointreau or triple sec
1/2 ounce fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 ounce fresh squeezed orange juice

Combine all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Work out your frustrations by shaking the drink as vigorously as you can manage. Pour it into a chilled cocktail shaker and give to the nearest corruptible member of the opposite sex who isn’t too fussy about cocktails.

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The provenance of this one is apparently related to a now obscure song hit about the virtues of not doing what comes naturally. Fine, but all I know is that, if I were the maiden in question, I’d be praying for a swain with better taste in drinks. It’s just kind of overly simple, even using Cointreau was only a very slight improvement over triple sec.  Better, I think, to be corrupted by a Manhattan or a Bronx or a swoon-worthy Mary Pickford.

Whatever you do, if you are serving this to an actual maiden who knows the name of the drink, I would be careful about garnishing this one with a cherry. Safer to stick with a lemon or orange twist.

  

Drink of the Week: The Corpse Reviver #2

The Corpse Reviver #2What we have here, my friends, is a failure to be creative. In my ongoing quest to deplete my liquor supplies in advance of an impending move, while also trying to keep my cocktails simple on account of my current hectic schedule, I attempted my favorite vermouth-heavy martini variation; unfortunately, it seemed that  my home supply of Noilly Prat had gone slightly off due to old age. Then I tried making up my own simple drink using an awful lot of Lillet Blanc — an underrated type of fortified wine that’s like a sweeter version of dry vermouth — and gin. The result was not so good.

Finally, I happened upon this week’s tasty yet macabre selection, but forgot to include one key ingredient. Was this the sort of accident which could lead to the creation of an entirely new drink? Alas, no. Sans fresh lemon juice, the Corpse Reviver #2 is more of a coma inducer. Fortunately, with lemon juice, this certified cocktail classic‘s certainly good enough for any living being. I just can’t claim any credit for it.

The Corpse Reviver No. 2

1 ounce gin
1 ounce Lillet Blanc
1 ounce Cointreau or triple sec
1 ounce fresh lemon juice
1-3 drops absinthe (you might be able to substitute other anise flavored liqueurs such as Pernod, Anisette, or pastis)
cocktail cherry or lemon twist (pretty optional garnish)

Combine your ingredients in a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice. Shake loudly enough to raise the dead and strain into a cocktail glass that itself is as cold as death. Add the cherry or lemon twist, if you like. Toast the resurrection of your own choosing. (Fellow nonbelievers may feel free to apply the concept to their favorite sports team or political candidate.)

Alternatively, you can set the absinthe aside and add the drops of anise-flavored bitterness directly to the glass for a somewhat more pungent beverage.

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Despite the name — we’ll eventually get around to Corpse Reviver #1, I’m sure — this is a simple, sturdy, and pleasurable drink. The absinthe, which is not a personal favorite of mine, nevertheless acts as a very solid alternative to bitters and opens up the drink while the lemon juice balances out the sweetness of the Cointreau/triple sec and the Lillet Blanc. The fresh citrus might not actually bring anyone back from the grave, or even do anything for a common cold, but it is healthy and 100% guaranteed to prevent scurvy, of course.

By the way, the Corpse Reviver’s name actually comes from the fact that this was considered a “morning after” drink and/or a great a.m. pick-me-up. No comment. The first to widely document and popularize the drink was booze pioneer Harry Craddock and a key name in its more recent history is revivalist Ted Haigh, aka “Dr. Cocktail.”

If you’re looking for someone to raise to your corpse reviving glass to, one person whose done his share of onscreen corpse revival — and much more corpse creation — is the great character actor and eternal heavy Christopher Lee of “Horror of Dracula,” “The Wicker Man,” “Lord of the Rings,” and “The Man With the Golden Gun” to name only a very few. Having recently turned a still-going-strong 90, he’s in no need of revival. On the other hand, this does seem like an ideal time to give him his say on the topic of cocktails.

  

Drink of the Week: The Lucien Gaudin

The Lucien Gaudin Last week, I decided it was time to finish off my Campari bottle in preparation for my upcoming move. I have now completed what I started — not the move, but the Campari bottle — with a really tasty classic cocktail featuring three other somewhat more common cocktail ingredients. Made correctly, this simple yet exacting cocktail named for a once world-famous fencer can parry the tastiest thrusts of all but the sharpest competitors.

The Lucien Gaudin

1 once gin
1/2 ounce Campari
1/2 ounce Cointreau or triple sec
1/2 ounce dry vermouth
Lemon twist (garnish)

Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker with plenty of ice, preferably crushed or cracked, and stir — stir, I tell you — vigorously. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Add lemon twist. En garde!

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According to some older hands at the cocktail blogging game, not to mention Encyclopedia Brittanica, the late Mr. Gaudin apparently suffered from a much too sensitive ego. The story goes that the 1928 Olympic French gold medalist committed suicide in 1934 after receiving a presumably not so grievous thumb wound from a non-fencer in the course of a duel.

How much more would the champion’s ego have been hurt to find that the relatively obscure drink named after him seems to be the subject of vastly more Internet posts that his actual life or accomplishments? To be fair, it is also rumored that Gaudin, who was a banker by trade, suffered some financial reversals during those middle years of the worldwide great depression. Even so, it’s a shame he couldn’t have pulled it all back together somehow, if only for the cocktail’s sake.

Well, at least the Lucien Gaudin is a dandy drink. Just be sure to be as accurate with your measurements as a duelist needs to be with his thrusts. When I strayed even slightly and by accident from the proportions listed above, the cocktail was nowhere near as refreshing.

Oddly, I also found that, while the common reasoning given for stirring rather than shaking the drink is strictly aesthetic, it also seemed to taste a lot better without the “clouding” that so bothers boozy aesthetes. I’ve no idea why that would be, though I suppose the emphasis on presentation in cocktails has some solid psychological underpinnings. I did find, however, that while Cointreau yielded the more interesting flavor,  a version made with far cheaper Bols Triple Sec was also extremely nice. So, there’s that much leeway, at least.

In any event, even if the late Mr. Gaudin has gotten the short of the stick both from himself and from sporting history, we at least remember him here.

  

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