Monthly Archives: March 2010

Whiskey Sour

I used drink these a lot in college, back when drinking involved hole in the wall bars in Boston – in the times not only prior to the modern speakeasy, but before Ferris Bueller’s wife ordered her first cosmo.  Drinks came in three varieties – beer, shots of straight liquor, or poured drinks that involved combining hooch with either electric yellow “sour mix” or something squirted out of a bar gun.  These were not cocktails so much as alcohol delivery devices.

Which is a real shame, as the era of the artificial sour mix often has scared people off from some simple, but classic and tasty cocktails.   Sours are one of the core types of mixed drinks, from which we get, for example, the Daiquiri, the Sidecar and the Margarita.  Booze, fresh citrus and sugar – you can’t get any simpler than that.  From that formula, you can easily riff in various directions to add some complexity to your sour.  One common modifier to this classic formula is the use of a raw egg white.  The egg white doesn’t add any flavors, but it does substantially alter the mouthfeel, giving the drink an added volume and fullness that transforms the drink into something that makes it quite hard to avoid tossing back several in short order.

Whiskey Sour

2 oz. rye or bourbon
1 oz. fresh lemon juice
3/4 oz. simple syrup
2 barspoons egg white

Combine in dry tin and shake to emulsify. Add ice, shake and strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with cherry.


Vieux Carre

There’s a bar in New Orleans built out of an old carousel.   Yes, a carousel.  You sit on the barstools and they revolve around a circular bar.   Because when you are drinking in New Orleans, that’s exactly what you want to be doing – spinning in circles as you get drunk.  Regardless of the logic or wisdom of a revolving bar, the Carousel Bar at the Monteleone Hotel does have an excellent house cocktail, dating back to 1938.   Like so many classic New Orelans cocktails, it takes brown liquor, bitters and a sweetener – turning the familiar taste of a Manhattan and taking a left turn into Paris.   That is, Paris if it was in the middle of a swamp where eating alligators while dancing to crazed accordion music was considered normal.  Vive la Nouvelle-Orleans!

1 ounce rye whiskey.
1 ounce Cognac.
1 ounce sweet vermouth.
1 teaspoon Bénédictine D.O.M.
2 dashes Angostura bitters.
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters.

Half-fill a double Old Fashioned glass with ice, add ingredients
and stir to mix. Garnish with a stemless cherry.

Recipe courtesy of Looka!

The Brooklyn

Classics are classics for a reason, but sometimes, you want the familiar but with a bit of a twist.  Kind of like when I’m almost but not quite in the mood for the Beatles and instead throw on the Feelies cover of Everybody’s Got Something to Hide (Except for Me and My Monkey).  In this case, a “borough” spin on the Manhattan.  Some might call it the best borough.    It’s a bit like a Perfect Manhattan but with some underlying funk to go with dry/sweet combination.  The one ingredient that can involve a bit extra work is the Amer Picon.  As I’ve noted before, the current formulation bears little resemblance to the original, which leaves the boozily nerdy with the choice between making your own or using Torani Amer as a (perfectly acceptable) substitute.  I went with the former, as I have two big bottles of homemade Jamie Boudreau-version replica to drink through – heaven help us.

Sipping this on a Friday evening waiting for Ms. ChinaNob to return from debauchery “work conference” in New Orleans got me thinking: New York gets all these variations on the Manhattan: the Brooklyn cocktail, the Bronx cocktail, Audrey Sander’s Little Italy, Enzo Errico’s Red Hook, the Greenpoint and Besonhurst…but what do we get in the Bay Area, a veritable ground zero for cocktail drinking ever since the Forty-Niners found gold in them thar’ hills? A practically lost recipe for bar brawl inducing punch that involves both an odd Peruvian brandy, pineapple and gum arabic?!?!  I love me some Pisco punch, but its not exactly a tipple I often find myself wanting after the end of a long day at the office.  Where is our Nob Hill, Pac Heights, the Mission, the Tenderloin, Jack London, or OakTown?  Seriously, wouldn’t “The Panhandle” be a great name for a San Francisco cocktail, capturing in its name both our postcard pretty famous park as well as the modern day mendicants of our more gritty ‘hoods?  Harrumph.


2 oz. rye whiskey
3/4 oz. dry vermouth
1/3 oz. maraschino liqueur
1/3 oz. Amer Picon

Stir with ice and strain into cocktail glass.  Garnish with orange peel.

Recipe courtesy of Oh Gosh!