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The Lucien Gaudin Cocktail

This one appears in Dr. Cocktail’s book Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails, although I had forgotten it was there. (Forgetting forgotten cocktails, we must not do that!) Fortunately, thanks to him and the Greater Siblinghood of Cocktailian Webloggers, it’s being enjoyed again today. It should be enjoyed more often, as it’s delightful and easy to make, and is a perfect introduction to the wonderful world of Campari for Campari newbies.

Campari can be a bit much for the uninitiated — it’s pretty bitter, and the Teeming Masses tend to have an irrational fear of the bitter — but is a taste very much worth acquiring, especially in cocktails where it’s a co-conspirator rather than an absolute dictator. A drink like this — a kinder, gentler cousin to the Negroni — makes for a perfect apéritif, giving your palate a nice little wake-up shake, rather than the slap of a Negroni (which is my favorite kind of slap). It’s got an almost fruity aroma, with the Cointreau and the Campari combining with that magical alchemy into a flavor much like grapefruit, gentled by the vermouth and wrapped together and seasoned by the gin. It’s a cocktail most bartenders will never have heard of, but one you could talk them through easily.

The Lucien Gaudin Cocktail

1 ounce gin.
1/2 ounce Campari.
1/2 ounce Cointreau.
1/2 ounce dry vermouth.

Combine with ice in a mixing glass and stir for 30 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

The drink is named for a wonderful French fencer, who competed in the Jeux Olympiques in the 1920s, winning gold medals in ’24 and ’28. “It is, therefore,” says Doc, “a very mature Prohibition cocktail.” He may have been French, but “Lucien Gaudin” sounds very New Orleanian too.


The Pisco Sour

The Pisco Sour is a classic that everyone should know — simple and closely related to the classic Whiskey Sour. Simple as it is, this drink has become the national drink of Peru, featuring its native spirit pisco — a clear, unaged grape brandy that comes in four different styles.

Puro (pure), made from a single variety of grape, mostly Quebranta, although Mollar or Common Black can be used; however, no blending between varieties is accepted (“pure” pisco should contain only one variety of grape).

Aromatico (aromatic), made from Muscat or Muscat-derived grape varieties, and also from Albilla, Italia and Torontel grape varieties; once again, the pisco should only contain one variety of grape in any production lot.

Mosto Verde (Green Must), distilled from partially fermented must, this must be distilled before the fermentation process has completely transformed sugars into alcohol.

Acholado (Half-breed), blended from the must of several varieties of grape.

(from Wikipedia)

What I didn’t know was that it was invented in Peru by an American bartender in 1915, whom I suspect was looking to make a brandy or whiskey sour but went for the local spirit instead, either by choice or necessity (thanks to Chris McMillian for that tidbit). Pisco is made is Chile as well, and although the Chileans claim that both the spirit and the drink are original to them, this has been shown to be a rather dubious claim.

One really nice way to serve these is to serve them in a glass that gives it lots of surface area, such as a 6-ounce coupe (the ones from Libbey are perfect for this), so that you can get a nice swirly design of bitters on the top — much prettier and for me preferable to just a little dash or two). In the video below, watch bartender Bobby Heugel at Anvil in Houston spray the bitters on top with a mister, then swirl them with a toothpick. Very nice. (Barring that, a few dashes around and some deft toothpick work will give good results too.)

Angostura is standard in most places you’ll get one of these, but in Peru there’s a homemade variety of bitters called Amargo Chuncho, until recently impossible to find outside of Peru, but now available via mail-order from Cocktail Kingdom, PeruCooking.com or Five Points Bottle Shop.

The Pisco Sour

2 ounces pisco.
1 ounce fresh lemon juice.
1/2 ounce simple syrup.
1 egg white.
Angostura or Chuncho bitters.

Combine ingredients in a shaker and dry-shake without ice for 20 seconds or so to emulsify the ingredients and froth up the egg white. Add ice, then shake again for at least 30 seconds — you want this drink to be frothy and silky and creamy. Strain into a wide-mouthed glass and either dash a few dashes of bitters on top, swirling them around with a toothpick (or use a Misto or other atomizer).

Here’s a quick tour of Anvil, with a demonstration of how a Pisco Sour is made.

Make sure the pisco’s always Peruvian, for authenticity, and because my Peruvian friend Enrique might give you the stink-eye if you use Chilean.


Rob Roy

Base spirit, sweet vermouth and bitters. It’s a classic combo, which gave us the Martinez and the Manhattan to name but two (not to mention myriad Manhattan variations).

The Scotch whisky version of this combination has long deserved its own name (don’t call it a Scotch Manhattan!). Here’s the basic recipe.

Rob Roy

2 ounces blended Scotch whisky.
1 ounce sweet vermouth.
2 dashes Angostura bitters.

Stir with ice for 30 seconds and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.

A Rob Roy lends itself very well to being made as a Perfect Rob Roy (1/2 ounce each of sweet and dry vermouth) or a Dry Rob Roy (1 ounce dry vermouth). If you make it dry garnish with a lemon peel; if perfect you may use either lemon peel or cherry.

Gary Regan is a proponent of Peychaud’s Bitters in a Rob Roy, and I’m very much with him on this. The cherry and anise flavors of Peychaud’s marry well with the peat and smoke of Scotch, and I’ve been making mine with Peychaud’s ever since I first read his suggestion. Like this — here’s what we’d probably hand you if you came over and asked for a Rob Roy:

Rob Roy
(Chuck & Wes’ typical version)

2 ounces Famous Grouse 12-year-old blended Scotch whisky.
1 ounce Cinzano sweet vermouth.
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters.
Lemon twist.

Stir and strain, chilled cocktail glass, express oil from twist and garnish.

Gary goes further, though. He’s a major espouser of the “garbage-in-garbage-out” theory, and is even bold enough to advocate the use of powerfully flavored single malt Scotch whiskies in cocktails (something which causes a few Scotch-drinking acquaintances of mine to recoil in horror). I’m with Gary on this one, but it requires careful consideration of flavor and balance.

Brief digression: We’ve been watching a series on the Fine Living Network called “Great Cocktails.” When we heard about it we were intrigued but skeptical; I’ve seen plenty of bad TV about cocktails, and I was hoping this one would raise the bar. For the most part, it does. While we do disagree with some of the things espoused by the host (please don’t encourage home cocktail mixers to freepour — use a jigger!), generally the approach is very good, and they’re talking to all the right people, including Duggan McDonnell, Audrey Saunders and Gary.

On the last edition of “Great Cocktails” that we watched, Gary made a Rob Roy — a classic cocktail — yet remade it entirely by using one of the most powerful Scotch whiskies in existence. When using so powerful an ingredent, you need to adjust the balance of your drink so that the Scotch doesn’t completely overwhelm everything else. In this case the standard 2:1 (or occasional 3:1) ratio gets bumped up to equal proportions, with more bitters then you’d normally use.

It sounds mad, but trust me — it works. I made these the other night when Wes wasn’t feeling well. It wasn’t strictly medicinal, although it did have that effect. It was, in addition, a ballsy and stupendous drink.

The Laphroaig Rob Roy
(from the delightfully mad Gary Regan)

1-1/2 ounces Laphroaig 10 Year Old Scotch Whisky.
1-1/2 ounces Cinzano Rosso vermouth.
4 healthy dashes Peychaud’s Bitters.

Combine with ice in a mixing glass and stir for no less than 30 seconds. Strain into a chilled Champagne flute. I’d omit the garnish, unless 1) you’re really crazy, and 2) you had one of my friend Barry’s smoked cherries (he threw a pan of them into the smoker when we was smoking a hunk of meat; technique described here).

It cured him for a day, but then he got sick again yesterday. I should have made two.

[UPDATE: Not only is the Roy Roy a great cocktail, it’s also one of my very favorite bars anywhere. When in Seattle visit Rob Roy, have some of their great cocktails, and tell Zane and Anu that Chuck and Wes said hi!]


Provençale Cocktail

I stumbled across a few recipes on the Chowhound site for a specialty cocktail created by the guys at Employees Only in New York, one of the top cocktail spots in the city. The recipes centered around a cocktail consisting of gin, dry vermouth and Cointreau — sounds simple, and very similar to a couple dozen cocktails in the database, but the similarity ends there when the gin is infused with lavender and the vermouth with herbes de Provence.

(Employees Only, NYC)

2-1/2 ounces lavender-infused Plymouth gin.
2-1/2 ounces Vermouth de Provence.
1 ounce Cointreau.

Combine with ice in a mixing glass and stir for 30 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

YIELD: 2 drinks.

To make lavender-infused gin, add 1-1/2 teaspoons dried lavender to one 750ml bottle of Plymouth Gin. Infuse for 24 hours, then strain and rebottle.

To make Vermouth de Provence, start with 2-1/4 teaspoons of herbes de Provence and one 750ml bottle of Noilly Prat Original Dry vermouth. Add the herbs to 3/4 cup of the vermouth and bring to a simmer (not a boil!) over low-medium heat. Simmer for 5 minutes, remove from heat, allow to cool for 15 minutes, then strain. Pour the infusion back into the bottle with the rest of the vermouth.

Sure, make two. Who wants to drink alone?

These guys play with infusions a lot and savory flavors in cocktails. It fascinates me, and I’ll definitely be visiting when I finally get my butt to New York.


Cocktail of the Day: Caprice

Wes dug this one up last night, browsing through Robert’s cocktail list. By The Professor’s reckoning you might be able to call this an “Improved” Martini, although … really, there’s no improving on a Martini. This is a damned tasty drink, though.

The Caprice Coctkail

1-1/2 ounces gin.
1/2 ounce dry vermouth.
1/2 ounce Bénédictine.
1 dash orange bitters.

Combine with cracked ice and stir for 30 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Straw colored, smooth and with a touch of spice. Mmmmmmm.

I suspect that many of the upcoming Cocktail of the Day posts will come from Dave Wondrich’s new book Imbibe! — it’s so inspirational, getting back to our roots, and besides, they look delicious.