So, Drink of the Week Central has about completed its cross So-Cal move northward from far-away Anaheim and through the Orange Curtain to Van Nuys, gateway to Reseda and Studio City. I’ve also recently completed my boozeriffic Comic-Con special assignment.
At last, it is time to resume business as usual here at DOTW. We return with a drink that feels classic but is actually a rank newcomer from this still very young century.
First, however, let me say that this week’s column is brought to you by whoever was kind enough to send me a bottle of Knob Creek‘s brand spanking new rye. I know Knob Creek’s bourbon, which I like but also fear for its fire. If anything, I have to say I like their rye a lot better. Much as I love my standby 100 proof Rittenhouse Rye, the similarly potent Knob Creek does bring an extra touch of class and drinkability to the game. On its own, it’s about as sippable as I can imagine a 100 proof rye being, though records were made to be broken and all that.
Of course, give me a bottle of booze and I’ll start looking for cocktails to make with it. And so we come to a beverage that was named one of the best cocktails of this century’s first decade and is credited to bartender Enzo Errico. When a Manhattan just won’t quite do the job, it’s time to head for Brooklyn and today’s drink.
The Red Hook
2 ounces rye whiskey
1/2 ounce Punt e Mes
1/4 ounce maraschino liqueur
1 maraschino cherry (optional garnish)
Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker with lots of ice. Stir for a good long time — most say about thirty seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail class. Add maraschino cherry if you’ve got one. (I didn’t.) Sip and toast new beginnings. (It might actually be a small improvement, if heretical in some quarters, to shake this drink, but I was feeling traditional this week.)
While my attempts certainly turned out well using the new Knob Creek Rye, I imagine this could also work very nicely with the aformentioned Rittenhouse or, for those seeking mellower refreshment, 80 proof Old Overholt or Pikesville might well be terrific and perhaps have a less bitter edge.
Speaking of a bitter edge, I should add that this is also DOTW’s first use of Punt e Mes. It’s a more high-endish vermouth with a nice bite. It comes across as almost a more restrained, less syrupy variant of Campari and it’s delicious on its own. It’s also the reason today’s beverage doesn’t require any bitters, though some recipes call for them. I tried the Red Hook with a dash of Angostura and Regan’s Orange Bitters. Too much bitter, I thought.
I also started out with a recipe calling for equal parts Punt e Mes and maraschino. Too maraschiny. Mr. Errico’s version is better.
I should also emphasize, once again, that maraschino liqueur should in no way be confused with the syrup in which those inexpensive preserved cherries in your supermarket are packaged. Confusing the issue slightly is the fact that maraschino brand Luxardo markets its own brand of maraschino cherries. They’re anything but cheap but also quite tasty and I’m sure would be marvelous in a Red Hook, though I actually have nothing against the bright red supermarket sweetness bombs most of us grew up with.
In fact, the more I write about this, the more I wish I’d actually had a bottle of those lovely cheap cherries to complete my Red Hook on hand. Next time.