Beretta, San Francisco, 2008
Here’s another fun one that’s not in the book, from Beretta in San Francisco. As always, it’s worth locating the best ingredients – no substitutes. The clincher in this drink is real Grade B maple syrup. Definitely not artificial maple-flavored syrup-style food product, Grade B doesn’t mean it’s lesser quality than Grade A, it’s just darker, richer, more maple-y. And don’t be afraid of the raw egg white in this one – just make sure no chickenshit gets in your drink and you’ll be fine. You’ll “dry shake” the ingredients together before adding ice – this helps emulsify the ingredients. Adding ice and shaking hard gets an amazing, frothy, silky texture going.
“Rattlesnake” sounds like it will have a scary bite, but trust me: it’s painless.
Hardware: Shaker, Jigger, Fine-mesh strainer
Ice: Ice cubes
Glassware: Cocktail glass or coupe
Spirits: Rye whiskey (recommended: Rittenhouse)
Mixers & Liqueurs: Grade B maple syrup, Egg white
Juices, Accents, & Garnishes: Lemon juice, Peychaud’s bitters, Lemon twist
Chill a cocktail glass or coupe in the freezer at least ten minutes. Separate one egg, discarding the yolk. Lightly mix the egg white with a fork – this’ll help you measure it out.
In an empty shaker, add:
2 oz rye whiskey
1 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz Grade B maple syrup
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
1/2 oz egg whites
Make sure you have a good, tight seal (egg whites can foam up and expand when shaken). Shake without ice for 20 seconds to blend. Add a few ice cubes and shake again, hard, for at least 30 seconds. Double-strain into the chilled glass using a fine-mesh strainer.
Pinch a lemon twist over the drink to express oils onto its surface, then rub the twist around the glass rim to coat. Garnish with the twist laid across the surface of the drink.
Trader Vic’s, 1950s
The persistant rivalry between California tiki chains Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic’s often resulted in confusion for the customer. Both had a Mai Tai on their menu, both claimed to have invented it – and their versions were very different flavor-wise. On top of that, their Mai Tai recipes changed as the years went by, often resulting in a less-interesting drink.
A similar case with the Navy Grog – competing recipes, confusing origins, lessening quality over time. And it bears almost no relation to the “grog” consumed by British sailors, a mix of rum and water. Frank Sinatra considered the Navy Grog his favorite drink at the Palm Springs Don the Beachcomber back in the day – but this is the version the rival Trader Vic’s was serving in the ’50s. I’ve tasted both and this one’s the champ. Knockout champ, if you’re not careful!
There’s an unusual-sounding ingredient here – “Pimento Dram.” No, that’s not the red blobby things from inside an olive. Down in the West Indies, they call the Allspice tree “Pimento.” This traditional Carribean liqueur is simply allspice-infused demerara rum mixed with a brown sugar syrup. Easy and fun to make at home, so long as you can stand waiting a few weeks for it to come together.
Hardware: Shaker, jigger
Ice: Ice cubes, crushed ice
Glassware: Double rocks glass
Spirits: Light rum (recommended: Havana Club 3, Caña Brava, Cruzan), Gold rum (recommended: Appleton, Mount Gay), 151 demerara rum (recommended: Lemon Hart)
Mixers & Liqueurs: Pimento Dram (recommended: St Elizabeth Allspice Dram or make your own – recipe below)
Juices, Accents, & Garnishes: Lime juice, Grapefruit juice (white, if you can get it), Lime twist, Grapefruit twist
In a shaker about half-full with ice cubes, add:
1 oz light rum
1 oz gold rum
1 oz 151 demerara rum
3/4 oz lime juice
3/4 oz pimento dram
1/2 oz grapefruit juice
Shake well to blend and chill, then strain into a double rocks glass filled with crushed ice (an ice cone with a straw running through it was the style at Trader Vic’s, but can be impractical for home use).
Garnish with a lime twist and grapefruit twist.
Light toast 1/4 cup whole dried allspice berries, then crush to break up, but not pulverize. In an airtight container, combine the crushed toasted allspice berries with 1 1/8 cups 151 demerara rum (Lemon Hart). Let steep 10 days in a cool, dark place.
After 10 days, strain the infused rum through cheesecloth, then a coffee filter, to remove allspice. In a saucepan over medium-low heat, combine 1 1/2 cups water with 2 1/2 cups brown sugar. Stir to blend until sugar is completely dissolved. Let brown sugar syrup cool, then add the infused rum. Funnel into an airtight glass bottle or jar and let sit 30 days in the refrigerator. This will level out the heat of the allspice. Keep refrigerated.
New York City (1908)
This formerly-obscure gem will convert your friends who still think of a cocktail as an “Appletini.” It’s fruity, tart, and snappy when done correctly. With only three ingredients in perfect balance, precise measurement is a must – along with the finest ingredients you can locate. The Laird family has been making spirits in New Jersey for 300 years (George Washington is on record having asked for their recipe) and they knock it out of the park with their 100-proof Apple Brandy. But mind their labels – Laird’s has another one called just “Applejack” that’s heavily cut with neutral spirits, skip it. Find the sweetest, juiciest limes you’re able to. And the crowning touch is a batch of homemade grenadine (easier than you think, recipe below).
Hardware: Shaker, Jigger
Ice: Ice cubes
Glassware: Cocktail glass
Spirits: Applejack (recommended: Laird’s 100-proof Apple Brandy)
Mixers & Liqueurs: Grenadine
Juices, Accents, & Garnishes: Lime juice, Lime wheel
Chill a cocktail glass in the freezer at least ten minutes.
In a shaker about a third-full with ice cubes, add:
2 oz applejack
3/4 oz lime juice
3/4 oz grenadine
Shake well to blend and chill, then strain into the chilled glass. Garnish with a lime wheel.
Real pomegranate Grenadine is miles above the common artificial kind and can be made easily at home. Mix one cup of freshly-squeezed pomegranate juice (if in season) or 100% unsweetened pomegranate juice (like POM brand) with one cup of white sugar. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. When it’s cool, add one and a half teaspoons of orange flower water – easily found at Middle Eastern markets or online. Adding an ounce of 100-proof vodka will keep it from spoiling too fast. Keep refrigerated. Will last about 3 months.
Stirrings and Monin are good commercial alternatives if you’re not up for the five minutes this takes.