Archive for the ‘Champagne’ Category

December 9th, 2007

Lady’s Martini at Mooo

Kina LilletI tend to be skeptical of trendy new drink menus, especially those at trendy new restaurants that are obviously cashing in on a popular concept. In this case, I’m talking about the drink menu at Mooo, which joins KO Prime as Boston’s latest postmodern steak house. These aren’t your grandfather’s steak houses, with their dark, gentleman’s club decor. These are steak houses for today’s stylish man or woman susceptible to sleek, wink-wink design, like blurred photos of calves on the wall above your meat-laden table, and ornate chandeliers ‘clothed’ in cylinders of parchment. Mooo, which replaced the Federalist in the XV Beacon Hotel, is the latest ultra-high-end offering from celebrity chef Jamie Mammano of Mistral and Sorellina.

Luckily, there is a drink at Mooo that hits the right note of wit and taste without trying too hard, and that is the Lady’s Martini: Lillet Blanc, fresh lemon juice and hibiscus syrup, chilled and served straight up with a champagne chaser. I don’t know why it’s called the Lady’s Martini — maybe because it’s pink and relatively low in alcohol. It also happens to be gorgeous and delicious. Mooo serves the “martini” in a delicate, vintage-looking cocktail glass and the champagne chaser in a stemless flute, an aesthetic combination that makes you feel sophisticated just by sitting in front of it. But that’s not what we’re about, is it? We’re about flavor. And this cocktail has a layered, sweet-tartness that would satisfy even without the champagne. But when you put the bubbles on top of this little flavor lozenge, you suddenly feel like you’re wearing white gloves and smart hat.

All you men out there who appreciate a good cocktail: I urge you to be secure enough in your masculinity to give the Lady’s Martini ($13) a try. Or at least have your date order it, and taste hers.

Posted in Champagne, Cocktails, Vermouth | No Comments »

November 29th, 2007

The most fun I ever had at a library

Boston Athenaeum Speakeasy Party

Last night, the Boston Athenaeum, one of America’s oldest private libraries, threw a Roaring Twenties party for some of its members with the help of drinkboston. There was a password to get in (“Gatsby sent me”), a secret entrance to the Periodicals Room where the festivities were held, a jazz band, cucumber sandwiches and, naturally, vintage cocktails (see below). Also, every attendee was handed an antique playing card; the game was to find the other partygoer with the same card and write something down about that person in the guest book. In the end, a man in a smoking jacket tried to bribe the fuzz who raided the speakeasy, but nothing doing — they sent us off to where we belonged: the 21st Amendment.

The party was thrown for the Athenaeum’s “associate members” (aka members 41 and under), some of whom, like me, helped plan the shindig. Not surprisingly, I was in charge of making sure we had quality hooch. Enter some of Boston’s best bartenders — John Gertsen, Misty Kalkofen and Tom Schlesinger-Guidelli — and the signature cocktails they created just for the event. One of those drinks, the Red Rot Cocktail, was specially commissioned by the Athenaeum as an homage to book restoration. That’s right — many of the library’s old, red leather book covers suffer from “red rot,” a pinkish mildew whose remedy is a chemical solution known as “red rot cocktail.” The recipes below appear as I wrote them for the party’s program, in a style cribbed straight from Prohibition-era bon vivant Charles Baker, who wrote the Gentleman’s Companion.

The Athenaeum is trying to get the word out to potential younger members that you don’t have to be a Mayflower descendant to join. All you need is four references and $115 for a one-year associate membership. If you have even the faintest interest in history or are simply proud to say you live in Boston because of its intellectuals, join up and see how you like it. The recently restored building is gorgeous, there’s fine art all over the place, there are tons of events, and the items in the Special Collections are damned impressive. George Washington’s library? Yeah, it’s there. And they throw a smashing party, too.

Red Rot Cocktail, which Rather Resembles the Noxious Liquid Medicine for Moldy Red Leather-bound Books but Nonetheless Pleases the Palate

To one jigger of London dry gin add one half ounce each of St. Germain elderflower liqueur, Cherry Heering and fresh lemon juice, and two goodly dashes of Peychaud’s bitters. Shake vigorously with ice and turn into a champagne saucer. (Created by Misty Kalkofen of Green Street and Lauren Clark of drinkboston)

Foglia Noce (Walnut Leaves), being a Mixture Inspired by the Marconi Wireless and Evocative of Tuscan Autumns and Colonial Taverns

Into a bar glass turn two and one-half ounces of applejack, one ounce of Nocino and two judicious dashes of Fee’s Whisky Barrel Aged Bitters. Stir with lump ice, strain into a chilled Old Fashioned glass and finish with orange oil. (Created by John Gertsen of No. 9 Park)

Flowers for Murphy, being a Bracing and Bubbly Homage to Prince and Princess of the Jazz Age Gerald and Sara Murphy, who Inspired us with a Mixture Called the Bailey

Lightly chill one jigger of London dry gin, three-quarters ounce of simple syrup, a split of lime and grapefruit juices to equal another three-quarters ounce, and one-quarter ounce of green Chartreuse. Turn the mixture into a champagne saucer and top it with bubbly and a small mint leaf. (Created by Tom Schlesinger-Guidelli of Eastern Standard)

Posted in Applejack, Bitters, Champagne, Cocktails, Events, Gin | 7 Comments »

October 29th, 2007

Feel the fizz!

Red Sox 2007 World Series champs

No, 2004 wasn’t a fluke. The Red Sox just won the 2007 World Series. And incidentally, Manny Ramirez knows more about baseball than you do.

Let’s not stop drinking bubbly ’til New Year’s!

In victory, you deserve champagne. In defeat, you need it. — Napoleon

Three be the things I shall never attain: Envy, content and sufficient champagne. — Dorothy Parker

David Ortiz incorporates champagne goggles into everyday uniform — The Onion

Posted in Champagne | 2 Comments »

September 26th, 2007

The Mrs. Jones Cocktail

Mrs. Jones CocktailA friend of mine recently asked me to create a cocktail for her wedding. I was honored. I immediately began imagining cognac and champagne mixtures with fresh citrus and exotic liqueurs. Then my friend forwarded me the contract from the bartenders she had hired for the occasion. That brought me back to reality. How do you create a festive, wedding-worthy cocktail out of the raw materials found in the standard Marital-Industrial Complex bar setup (a phenomenon that persists no matter how fancy or distinctive the wedding)? You break out the bitters, that’s how.

You know the kinds of booze I’m talking about: Canadian Club, Seagram’s VO, a couple types of vodka, and liqueurs that were big in the ’80s, i.e. Peachtree Schnapps. No bourbon, no cognac and, obviously, no fresh citrus juice. There’d be gin and champagne, though, so I decided to work around those. My friend loves French 75s, after all.

I realized that the cocktail would have to be very simple, given that I would need to batch up the spirits beforehand and transport them to the wedding myself in my Executair 101; there was no prayer that the speed-pouring M.I.C. bartenders would follow a recipe, even if I supplied the called-for ingredients. I could only rely on them to chill the spirit mixture and top it with champagne. Since I love the combination of bitters that make another champagne cocktail, the Seelbach, so distinctive, I thought I’d use two kinds of bitters to bring my gin-champagne mixture to life. After a few experiments, I settled on a 2:1 proportion of Regan’s orange bitters and Peychaud’s bitters.

The bride-to-be sampled my creation and proclaimed it worthy of toasting her union with a man named Jones. I think it’s pretty tasty. See for yourself:

The Mrs. Jones Cocktail
makes 2 drinks

1 oz gin
1 tsp simple syrup
4 dashes Regan’s orange bitters
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters

Shake first four ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and strain into 2 champagne flutes. Top with enough champagne or sparkling wine to make the cocktail light pink. Drop a very thin slice of lemon into each glass.

Endnote: I went to, and the only other drink I could find that combines orange and Peychaud’s bitters is:

The Metropole Cocktail

1 1/4 oz cognac
1 1/4 oz dry vermouth
1 dash Peychaud’s bitters
1 dash orange bitters
Add cherry

Stir in mixing glass with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Posted in Bitters, Champagne, Cocktails, Gin | 1 Comment »

July 10th, 2007

Martha Washington Punch & Champagne Juleps

Martha WashingtonI was lucky enough to be present at a July 4 roofdeck party where Misty Kalkofen appropriately brought along a batch of Martha Washington Rum Punch. The stuff was to be admired on principle alone; picture our first First Lady serving the mixture to dignitaries at Mt. Vernon, probably using rum from the estate’s own distillery(!). Give it up for Martha and that badass husband of hers. But the punch didn’t just get by on its historic coolness. It was actually delicious. Misty writes about Martha and her punch, as well as re-creates the recipe, on the LUPEC-Boston blog. (For convenience’s sake, I’ve copied the recipe below. Frankly, I would call the grated cinnamon and nutmeg on the finished drink optional.) When I heard “nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves,” I thought, ‘Uh-oh, this is going to taste weirdly wintry.’ But the flavors of the spices, juices and rum were perfectly melded together to create an almost tea-like iced drink that was a thing unto itself — a dangerous thing unto itself, since it didn’t taste anywhere near boozy as it is.

Martha Washington’s Rum Punch

4 oz lemon juice
4 oz orange juice
4 oz simple syrup
3 lemons quartered
1 orange quartered
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
3 cinnamon sticks broken
6 cloves
12 oz boiling water

In a container mash the lemons, orange, nutmeg, cinnamon sticks and cloves. Add syrup, lemon and orange juice. Pour the boiling water over the mixture. Let it cool. Strain out the solids. Heat the juice mixture to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Let it cool and refrigerate over night.

In a punch bowl combine:

3 parts juice mixture
1 part light rum
1 part dark rum
1/2 part orange curacao

Serve the punch over ice. Top with grated nutmeg and cinnamon.

Champagne Juleps were simply something I discovered on I happened to have a bottle of pretty good champagne on hand, plus a tall, vintage glass pitcher, and I wanted to serve a crowd-pleasing, summery cocktail to some dinner guests. Champagne Juleps were the answer. These are essentially Mojitos made with brandy and sparkling wine instead of rum and soda water, and served over crushed ice. I saw one of my guests the following night, and — mind you this guy rarely veers out of Guinness-and-Jameson territory — he said, “I can’t stop thinking about Champagne Juleps.” They were quite tasty if may say so myself. Here’s the recipe, followed by my modifications.

Champagne Julep

Build, fill glass 1/2 with crushed ice
1 1/2 oz brandy
1 tsp sugar, muddle with several mint sprigs in a splash of water (4 dashes)
Fill with Champagne
Add mint sprigs
Serve in a double rocks glass (12.0 oz)

I used superfine sugar, and a little more than half of the amount called for, which made the drink plenty sweet. I also only used about 2 mint leaves per serving. Since I was using a pitcher, I muddled the sugar, water and mint right in there, then added the brandy and stirred. The 40-lb bag of crushed ice I bought at Acme Ice was overkill, but I stuffed the rest of it in the freezer for future summer libations.

Posted in Brandy, Champagne, Cocktails, Rum | 5 Comments »