The Kissinger’s Eyebrow — that’s the first “specialty drink” Conan O’Brien wants to learn in bartending school. “You’re a piano teacher, and Mozart just walked in,” he informs his instructor.
This is one of the many classic Conan sketches that have been virally making the rounds lately amid speculation over whether, now that he’s moving to L.A., hosting the Tonight Show, and going on air at the tame hour of 11:30 p.m., the Brookline native will continue to be ass-kickingly funny. Well, if the feared scenario rears its ugly head, at least we’ll always have stuff like this to watch online.
Based on Conan’s description of his favorite specialty cocktail, I’ve attempted a recipe.
1 oz gin
1 oz tequila
1/4 oz grenadine
1 hair from Kissinger’s eyebrow
Shake first three ingredients well over ice and strain into shot glass. Garnish with eyebrow hair. Shoot.
A couple of drinks articles this week made me really thirsty. The first was Eric Asimov’s gin roundup. He and his NY Times tasting panel rated 80 (!) gins, and the way they did it was super smart: they made martinis.
“…because gin is often consumed in a martini, we decided to taste the gin as expressed through the world’s most famous (and perhaps least understood) cocktail. We discovered that while great martinis require great gins, great gins don’t necessarily make great martinis,” writes Asimov.
You got that right, brother. The panel’s number-one gin for martinis? Supple and balanced Plymouth English Gin, no surprise.
The second article was Boston drinks/arts writer Liza Weisstuch’s size-up of artisanal tequila. I don’t know why I can say “artisanal beer” or “artisanal cheese” without batting an eye, but the concept of “artisanal tequila” still makes me smirk. I know, I should get over this prejudice. If a tequila producer uses good ingredients (aka 100 percent blue agave) and proper barrel aging, his spirit is just as worthy of respect as good brandy or whiskey, right? Right. It’s just the trendiness of the stuff that makes me roll my eyes. As with every other spirit, there’s great tequila, and there’s overrated tequila that comes in a neat bottle and is priced to make poseur boys look cool in the eyes of poseur girls.
So, I was surprised to find myself thirsting for tequila while reading this article. Actually, I was thirsting for cocktails made with tequila. Apparently, Eastern Standard’s Tom Schlesinger-Guidelli has created something called the Jaguar: “a blanco mixed with herbaceous Green Chartreuse, Amer Picon, and Fee Brothers Orange Bitters and garnished with a flaming orange rind,” writes Weisstuch. Now that’s a cocktail that would make me stop laughing about tequila. See you soon, Tom!
I had drinks at Bar Lola (160 Commonwealth Ave.) and Bar 10 (in the Westin hotel) this past week. At the Spanish-themed Bar Lola, I did not try the house cocktail, the Lolita: Stoli Perik (peach), Gran Torres (a Spanish orange-flavored cordial) and mango juice topped with cava and garnished with an edible orchid flower. It sounded like just another fruity vodka drink to me. Instead, I opted for the Don Quixote martini: tequila, Cointreau, lime juice, and sangria. I guessed that it would be the least-sweet cocktail on the menu. The drink was a beautiful reddish-purple color, and that’s unfortunately all it had going for it. It was too sweet and not very well chilled. It kind of reminded me of a summertime punch my mom used to make when I was a kid: Minute Maid lemonade and Welch’s grape juice. Now that was a good drink. And it didn’t cost $12. Next time I visit Bar Lola, I’ll stick to the sangria on its own, which was pretty good, or just play it safe and order wine or cava by the glass to accompany the tasty tapas.
Bar 10 describes its vibe as “casual sophistication.” I’ll go along with that as far as decor goes. The place has a polished, grownup, hotel lounge feel. The soft lighting and plush, semicircular booths make you feel like a fashionable urbanite, as do the gigantic martinis. The problem with gigantic martinis is — do I really have to state the obvious? — that drinking eight ounces of gin or vodka in one sitting is bad for your health. Even worse, the alcohol warms up before you finish the drink, which is as unpleasant as drinking lukewarm coffee. The Bombay Sapphire martini I ordered was not only automatically served dry (everybody just assumes you want a dry martini, because it sounds cool or something), but it wasn’t thoroughly chilled. If there’s any drink on earth whose quality depends on the proper temperature, it’s the martini. It’s pretty simple, yet very few bars get this. Moreover, I had read that Bar 10 was a good place to get a classic cocktail. Oooh, I thought, maybe they serve up a good Negroni or French 75. No such luck. This is one of the many places in Boston where vodka martinis and Cosmos constitute “classic” cocktails.