May 16th, 2008

Thanks for a ripping bash

World Cocktail Day at Green Street, bar scene

If you couldn’t get into the sold-out World Cocktail Day party at Green Street on Tuesday, I’m sorry to tell you that it was a ton o’ fun. In fact, it was an evening I was downright thankful for. It marked the end of World Cocktail Week, whose frivolity contrasted unavoidably with a coinciding spate of tragedies: the cyclone in Myanmar, the earthquake in China, tornadoes in the U.S. (not to mention the continuing grimness in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc, etc, etc). I’m not trying to bring anyone down here. I’m just saying there were times during the evening when I paused, soaked up the good vibe among the crowd and thanked my lucky stars.

Our guest bartenders, four knowledgable and talented New England gentlemen, each mixed a vintage cocktail of their choice, then went from table to table recounting that libation’s origins and moment in history. They time-traveled from 1870s San Francisco to an 1880s bartender’s manual to the Spanish-American War (1898) to an early 20th-century obsession with songs about maidens. The cocktails (below) were accompanied by flatbread pizza, beef tongue tacos and other tasty treats from the Green Street kitchen. We started with an innocent-seeming Maiden’s Prayer and ended with a brassy Remember the Maine, at which point the joke was whether anyone would remember the Maine.

Maiden’s Prayer
by Tom Schlesinger-Guidelli of Eastern Standard

3/4 oz Plymouth Gin
3/4 oz white rum
3/4 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz Cointreau
1 dash orange bitters
Shake well over ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with a flower. Based on a variation (circa 1930) of the original (circa 1907), which may have been inspired by a hit piano tune of the late 1800s.

Nicol’s Secret Pisco Punch (without cocaine)
by John Gertsen of No. 9 Park

6 parts BarSol pisco
3 parts lemon juice
2 parts pineapple syrup
1 part water
Shake, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with pineapple. The recipe originated with Duncan Nicol, the proprietor of San Francisco’s Bank Exchange saloon from the late 1870s until Prohibition. The secret’s out: a wee bit of gum arabic (which comes in a white powder — get it?) makes this a silky sweet punch.

by Brother Cleve, cocktail historian and mixologist

1/3 Plymouth Gin
1/3 sweet vermouth
1/3 green Chartreuse
1 dash orange bitters
Stir well over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry or a lemon twist. A Golden Age cocktail dating back to Harry Johnson’s Bartender’s Manual in 1882.

Remember the Maine
by John Myers, Portland, Maine-based bartender and cocktail historian

1 1/2 oz good rye whiskey or bourbon (i.e. Maker’s Mark)
3/4 oz sweet vermouth
1-2 tsp of cherry brandy
1/2 tsp absinthe or Pernod veritas
Stir well over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass with a lemon twist. Named for the rallying cry of the Spanish-American war, the cocktail is described in Charles H. Baker Jr.’s The Gentleman’s Companion (1939). Myers’ note: “Any absinthe substitute will work, but the ‘cherry brandy’ is up for some interpretation. Different drinks occur — but still work, so little is deployed — if Cherry Heering or maraschino are used.”

World Cocktail Day at Green Street benefited the Museum of the American Cocktail, which launched World Cocktail Week. Plymouth Gin, Maker’s Mark bourbon and BarSol Pisco were the evening’s sponsors. Many thanks to Green Street bar manager Misty Kalkofen, owner Dylan Black and everyone else in the kitchen, behind the bar and out on the floor for totally kicking ass.

Permalink | Filed under Cocktails, Events, Gin, Pisco, Whiskey |

8 Responses to “Thanks for a ripping bash”

  1. Adam L

    It was a wonderful time! Thanks for hosting/throwing it.

    Also, we really liked the new format, with a dedicated table and the drinks brought to us.


  2. Andrea

    Thanks for hosting a spectacular soiree! You and Misty looked lovely (and Dylan looked appropriately rakish). I like the new format, too. My only regret was not staying later to chat with the folks at the bar (it had been a long day at work).

    The Remember The Maine was my favorite. Do you know if M. Myers used Cherry Heering? Fred made this drink about 6 months back, though he went much heavier on the Pernod and Cherry Heering.


  3. ljclark

    Hey! Well, remember, staying late always means the next day at work is even longer…

    I think J.M. used Cherry Heering. If he doesn’t chime in here relatively soon, I’ll bug him.

    When mixing drinks, I have a very dainty hand with Pernod, absinthe et al. The flavor is so strong, I always imagine it can be measured in PPM (parts per million).

  4. Frederic

    The drink recipe we used was from Salvatore Calabrese’s Complete Home Bartender’s Guide and is definitely a lot more aggressive with the pastis and the cherry. My notes have it as: 1 2/3 oz Bourbon, 2/3 oz Sweet Vermouth, 2/3 oz Cherry Brandy (used Cherry Heering), 2/3 oz Pernod, dash Orange bitters

  5. Myers

    We started w/ Baker’s rezept at Green St. and then I couldn’t stop fucking with it. We upped the Cherry Heering, as well as the Absinthe, even included some Regan’s Orange bitters (to make up the spice deficit between Rye and Makers Mark) and then we added still more Absinthe. The trick, I think, lies in the ambiguity of the ‘cherry brandy’ aspect of the recipe; while I have no doubt that Baker meant something LIKE Cherry Heering (vs cherry eau de vie or maraschino) Heering tends to be a little heavy, ponderous, even, with the bright-ish Bing-ish flavors mostly muted. In the spirit of WCD, I meant to hew closely to the original published recipe (and justified the bitters as being in the spirit of THE BALANCE definition of cocktail-ness) but in the “Real World” I’m likely to add some Luxardo.
    Oddly, I thought our WCD version benifted from a little ‘warmth’. Fresh and bracing right off the ice the cocktail is just a heavily nuanced Manhattan. Giving it a minute to ‘Settle Down’ gives those muted hind flavors a chance to show themselves.

    But than again, I’d been drinking…..your mileage, as they say, might vary.

  6. Myers

    On another note, I didn’t check to see if Dylan is right or left handed. According to Charles baker–from whom’s book I lifted the recipe–stirring the drink counter-clockwise makes it “sea-worthy”

  7. Myers

    Ummm, That should be “clockwise”

  8. ljclark

    Wow, John, and here I thought you were adhering faithfully to the Baker recipe! I made pretty much the Baker recipe of this drink at home prior to the event, using (I think) Buffalo Trace bourbon, 1.5 tsp of Luxardo maraschino and the called-for amount of absinthe, and I really liked it. That’s my two cents.

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