Archive for the ‘Rum’ Category

October 13th, 2008

The ‘Boston’ cocktail mystery

Boothby’s World Drinks & How to Mix ThemThere are a bunch of old cocktails with Boston in their name — Boston Cooler, Boston Sour, Boston Special — but, as I mentioned in a previous post about this matter, I have no intel on what makes a cocktail a Boston cocktail. I mean, it’s weird; there are other drinks named after cities, most notably the Manhattan, but also the Frisco, the Saratoga and the Toronto. These are singular cocktails, whereas Boston cocktails are numerous and without apparent rhyme or reason.

In a comment on that previous post, a reader named Mike said, “The ‘Boston’ refers to the use of rum and limes. Boston had a huge trade in molasses and rum with the Caribbean back in the day.” Sure, I know about the historic molasses/rum industry (largely concentrated in Medford), but I don’t see how rum and limes connote a Boston cocktail. I mean, a) tons of cocktails use rum and limes, and b) many Boston-named cocktails call for neither.

When it comes to questions about rum drinks, my go-to source is Old Mr. Medford (aka Brother Cleve), so I passed Mike’s comment by him. He scoured his old cocktail books and came up with a list of Boston-named cocktails, which I have included on the Boston cocktails – old page. This list confirms that drinks named after ol’ Beantown are all over the map.

“There are no stories attached to these recipes,” says Cleve. “The Sour and Sidecar are from a very early Old Mr. Boston book [1946], but Boothby’s [World Drinks And How To Mix Them (1934)] predates that. The Boston Cooler is listed in a number of books. I assume these were served at some popular restaurant or hotel here. Possibly S.S. Pierce had something to do with this?”

Hmmm. Anybody?

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Posted in Books & resources, Cocktails, Rum | 3 Comments »

July 2nd, 2008


Eastern Standard Flowing Bowl Punch Party - Jackson Cannon

If Monday night’s Flowing Bowl Punch Party, hosted by drinkboston at Eastern Standard, were a high-diving competition, it would score a perfect 10 for both execution and technical difficulty. I mean, how often do you walk into a bar and see 60-odd people holding decorative cups filled with punch made from 200-year-old recipes? How often are you served a drink that involves steeping three kinds of booze, multiple fruits and spices and green tea in hot water for several hours, adding milk, straining the curdled mixture through cheesecloth twice and chilling the finished product down with a massive ring of ice decorated with pineapple slices? And how often do you see bartenders ladling liquid out of large, flowing bowls instead of shaking cocktails?

Eastern Standard Flowing Bowl Punch Party - Chatham Artillery Punch

Thanks to Jackson Cannon and Tom Schlesinger-Guidelli for concocting the four punches — all deceptively potent and enjoyably distinct from one another — from recipes in David Wondrich’s Imbibe!, the Savoy Cocktail Book and Martha Washington’s own notebook. And thanks to the rest of Eastern Standard’s staff for the charcuterie, deviled eggs, beef carpaccio and other tasty bites, and the gracious service.

Below is a list of the punches that were served, along with their key ingredients and bits of historical poetry revealing that odes to alcoholic beverages in America existed well before the Algonquin Round Table. To create these punches yourself, either consult the aforementioned sources or click on the links below.

Eastern Standard Flowing Bowl Punch Party - Savoy Milk Punch No. 1

Philadelphia Fish-House Punch
Toast of Schuylkill and to Independence!

Lemon juice
Cane sugar
Mixture of cognac, rum and house-made peach brandy
Cold water

Created by a colonial rod and gun club on the banks of Pennsylvania’s Schuykill River and remembered in modern times thanks to a recipe passed on by a Philadelphia lawyer, Charles Godfrey Leland.

“There’s a little place just out of town,
Where, if you go to lunch,
They’ll make you forget your mother-in-law
With a drink called Fish-House Punch.”

Martha Washington’s Rum Punch
Cheers to our first First Lady!

Juice of lemons & oranges
Spice mix of clove, cinnamon & nutmeg
Curacao, light & dark rums

This recipe is said to have come from Martha Washington’s own journal.

“This ancient Silver bowl of mine, it tells of good old times,
Of joyous days, and jolly nights and merry Christmas Chimes
They were a free and jovial race, but honest, brave and true,
That dipped their ladle in the punch when this old bowl was new.”

Eastern Standard Flowing Bowl Punch Party - Punch drinkers

Chatham Artillery Punch
For soldiers young and old, men of action, brave and bold!

Pineapples, lemons, oranges & cherries
Native wine, rum & rye
Cherry nectar
Strong green tea & champagne

The house punch of the Chatham Artillery of Savannah, Georgia, formed in 1786. Recipe available in Imbibe!

“When you visit the town of Savannah
Enlist ‘neath the temperance banneh,
For if you should lunch,
On artillery punch,
It will treat you in sorrowful manneh.”

Milk Punch #1
Celebrate the wit and wisdom of Aphra Behn.

Juice and rind of lemons
Spice mix of clove, coriander, cinnamon & green cardamom
Brandy, rum & batavia arrack
Strong green tea, water & milk

Aphra Behn was a 17th-century English dramatist and novelist and the “first woman ever to earn her living solely by writing,” according to Imbibe! She is also credited with inventing milk punch, a drink that is “undeniably smooth, but not necessarily lush,” writes Wondrich. This recipe is the Milk Punch #1 from the Savoy Cocktail Book.

“If all be true that I do think,
There are five reasons we should drink;
Good Punch, a friend, or being dry
Or least we should be by and by,
Or any other reason why!”

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Posted in Brandy, Events, Punch, Rum, Whiskey | 11 Comments »

June 26th, 2008

Tiki drinks – a brief history in the Dig

Communal tiki drink

The LUPEC Boston cocktail column in the Weekly Dig is slightly expanded for the annual Summer Dining issue, out this week. With the help of my fellow LUPEC broads, Hanky Panky and Pinky Gonzales, I (Barbara West) encapsulate the history of tiki drinks. We start out with this fact, which surprises a lot of people: the tiki bar phenomenon began in Hollywood, California, in 1934 — right after Prohibition. Also, as anyone over the age of 50 can tell you, there used to be a ton of tiki bars in Boston.

One of our sources, cocktail historian Brother Cleve, suggested a favorite tiki drink of his, the Shrunken Skull, as our featured cocktail for the column. He and his fellow tiki expert, Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, whose books reveal the original recipe for the Shrunken Skull and scores of other tiki drinks, are hosting a tiki block party July 19 in New Orleans at Tales of the Cocktail.

Check out LUPEC Boston’s blog post about where to get tiki drinks around eastern Mass., and enjoy shrinking your skull with this:

Shrunken Skull (adapted from Beachbum Berry’s Grog Log)

1 oz Cruzan Estate light rum (aged two years)
1 oz Demerara rum
1 ounce fresh lime juice
1 ounce grenadine
dash of Angostura bitters

Shake with ice and pour into a skull mug. Top with 1/2 oz club soda.

Shopping for rum and other tiki ingredients? Here are some tips.

Posted in Booze in the news, Cocktails, Rum | No Comments »

January 11th, 2008

Cachaca — it’s rum

Beija CachacaI attended a party recently that Beija Cachaca hosted at Eastern Standard. Cachaca is Brazilian rum. It’s made from sugar cane juice instead of the more common base for rum, molasses. Kevin Beardsley and Steve Diforio, the two fresh-out-of-college guys who started the company that formulated and now imports and markets Beija, declare that “in 2007 the U.S. government officially designated Beija as the World’s First Virgin Cane Rum.”

I wondered how “virgin cane rum” differs from 10 Cane, another new rum made from virgin sugar cane, or rhum agricole, or other cachacas, for that matter. Apparently, the designation hinges on the fact that the distillation process begins a mere 10 hours after the sugar cane is harvested and pressed. “Other brands allow their sugarcane to wallow in the sun for days before distilling it.” Horrors!

OK, despite the tone of the marketing kit (and the annoyingly predictable packaging featuring “an alluring female figure in profile”), the product is pretty solid. For an 80 proof spirit, it has absolutely no burn, especially compared to the harshness that I’ve heard is the defining characteristic of most cachacas available in the U.S. To me, Beija smelled a lot like sake and had a very soft, somewhat sake-like, dryly fruity taste.

Like most people, I had only ever had cachaca in a Caipirinha (together now, that’s “ky-pir-EEN-ya”), a refreshing mixture of cachaca and muddled lime juice and sugar over ice that is competing with the Mojito for Most Popular Latin American Cocktail. The whole idea of the event (besides getting people like me to write about Beija) was to try cachaca in ways that break free from the Caipirinha. My favorite among the cocktails that Jackson Cannon and his bar crew mixed that night was a variation on the Red Hook: 2 oz Beija (instead of rye) and a 1/2 oz each of Punt e Mes and Luxardo Maraschino. Really nice and mellow. A few of us also tried a Negroni with Beija substituted for gin. We agreed that it didn’t quite work; the Campari overpowered the softer spirit.

Other Boston bars serving Beija are Om in Harvard Square, District and the Vintage Lounge.

Posted in Cocktails, Rum | 12 Comments »

November 21st, 2007

Suffering bastards

Waitiki at Pho

I’m guessing that the poor individual who inspired the name of a famous tiki drink is what the bar staff of Pho Republique felt like the morning after Sunday night’s wildly popular Beantown Sippin’ Safari with tiki guru Jeff “Beach Bum” Berry. The Bum came up from Asheville, NC, to re-introduce Bostonians to a genre of cocktail considered to be extinct except as a lingering artifact in those mausoleums of a lost era known as Polynesian restaurants.

And so it was that I had my first authentic Navy Grog (light and dark rum, fresh lime and grapefruit, allspice syrup), sipped through a straw stuck into a tall cone of crushed ice. The Bum gave an enlightening slide presentation of old menus, matchbooks and postcard photos from long-defunct tiki restaurants in eastern Massachusetts — I had no idea how many of these establishments there were — and Waitiki played trippy, sexy live exotica, which I had previously only heard on records at hipster cocktail parties.

Me and the BumThe supply of crushed ice cones seemed endless, which was a good thing, because the place was packed. This might have had something to do with the fact that the admission price for the event, which started out at $75, was smartly dropped to zero. Someone calculated correctly that brisk sales of $9 tiki drinks would cover the costs of the Sippin’ Safari. The event revealed a surprising thirst for tiki, not only among Bostonians but among visitors representing a resurgence in this culture that has been going on for several years now. I met a tikiphile who flew in from San Francisco just for the event.

OK, so there might have been a few glitches. Maybe the bar neglected to order enough Bacardi 151, so maybe there weren’t enough Zombies to go around. And maybe the dim sum was passed around a little too late, given the strength of the libations. But there was plenty of Navy Grog. And I got to meet not only the Bum, but my fellow drinks blogger Scott Steeves of Scottes Rum Pages. All on a cold Sunday night in the middle of November. If the opportunity presented itself, I’d go on Safari again.

Posted in Cocktails, Events, Rum | 1 Comment »

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