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Twentieth Century Cocktail

We’re drinking Champagne Cocktails tonight at midnight, people, but there’s no reason you can’t have one of these first, making a nod to the previous century while we attempt to hold out hope in our hearts that somehow someone can manage to pull the current one out of the toilet (Election Day could go a long way toward that lofty goal).

I spent the early part of Christmas Eve at The Swizzle Stick Bar at Café Adelaide, being attended to by the Queen of New Orleans Cocktails, Lu Brow, along with her excellent bartenders Mike, Kevin and Tommy. I began the evening with a most excellent Sazerac, continued with a most excellent Pegu Club (in which the teaspoon of lime juice came from two muddled lime half-wedges, which was a neat idea) and finally this one, which I was very pleasantly surprised to see on The Swizzle Stick’s spectacular cocktail menu (even better than the last time I was in, unsurprisingly, given that Lu is the Queen and Ti and Lally, proprietors of the restaurant, are The Cocktail Chicks). It’s a lovely, lovely drink, created in 1939 to commemorate Henry Dreyfus’ gorgeously designed locomotive that pulled the 20th Century Limited between New York and Chicago.

The Twentieth Century Cocktail

The Twentieth Century Cocktail

1-1/2 ounces gin.
3/4 ounce Lillet blanc.
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice.
1/2 ounce white crème de cacao.

Shake with cracked ice for 10-12 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a long lemon peel.

Is it too early to create a Twenty-First Century Cocktail?


Tom and Jerry

Nope, it’s not a cartoon cat and mouse, and it wasn’t even named after them (although I have to wonder if they were named after it.) If you haven’t made aged eggnog, there’s only really one choice for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, the venerable Tom & Jerry — a frothy, spiced eggnoggy concontion which is something you should turn into a holiday tradition.

Professor Jerry Thomas, our first great cocktailian bartender and the first to write a book about his craft (1862’s How to Mix Drinks; or, The Bon-Vivant’s Companion), famously claimed to have invented this drink in the 1850s and named it for himself, but as the great man was prone to tall tales we can take that with a grain of salt — well, a salt mine, actually. His claim has been gently and fondly debunked of late, notably by both Dave Wondrich and Eric Felten in their recent tomes. No matter its origin, it remained a favorite for almost a century. In fact, several companies made custom Tom and Jerry serving bowls and mugs (check eBay; there are always several sets for sale. Homer Laughlin made one of my favorite designs.)

Even though he undoubtedly didn’t invent it there’s no reason we can’t toast the Professor along with the holiday season, though, as we quaff. The Tom & Jerry was once a staple of bars and homes for decades, although it’s fallen out of favor in the last 40 or 50 years. It’s a pity, because it’s a terrific drink. It’s about time that this holiday tradition returned to our tables.

There are a number of recipes floating about, more or less the same. Gary Regan of Ardent Spirits (and the author of the fabulous new book The Joy of Mixology) offers an all-in-one mix you ladle from a bowl, but the traditional method is to make a batter, then add spirits. Since some folks are a little leery of a raw egg batter, I’ll include both recipes here.

Tom and Jerry
(Traditional version)

Batter for 12 drinks:
12 eggs, separated.
3/4 cup sugar.
A touch of cinnamon, allspice and ground cloves, to taste.
12 ounces aged rum.
12 ounces brandy.
Very hot water or milk.

Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Add the sugar to the egg yolks and beat until thin and ribbony. Fold the whites into the yolks, then add a few pinches of cinnamon, allspice and cloves to taste.

To serve, preheat your mugs with hot water or keep in a warm oven. For each drink add one heaping tablespoon of batter, 1 ounce rum, 1 ounce of brandy, then fill with nearly-boiling water or milk. Top with a grating of fresh nutmeg.

Makes 12 drinks.


Tom and Jerry
(Premixed, “cooked” version)

12 eggs, separated.
1-1/2 cups sugar.
1 teaspoon baking soda.
9 cups milk.
3 cups aged rum.
3/4 cup brandy.
A touch of cinnamon, allspice and ground cloves, to taste.
Freshly grated nutmeg, for garnish

1. In a mixing bowl, combine the egg yolks, 1-1/4 cups of the sugar, and the baking soda. Whisk until the mixture is creamy and thick.

2. Pour the milk into a large saucepan over moderate heat. Warm the milk until bubbles form around the edges of the pan and the milk is steaming hot.

3. Very gradually add some of the hot milk to the egg yolk mixture to warm it. Whisk continuously until all of the milk is incorporated. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and set it over low heat. Cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens just enough to lightly coat a spoon or until a thermometer reaches 160° to 165°F. Remove the pan from the heat and continue whisking for 2 minutes.

4. Stir in the rum and brandy, then add a few pinches of cinnamon, allspice and clove, to taste.

5. In a clean mixing bowl, beat the egg whites until frothy. Sprinkle on the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and continue beating until soft peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the batter.

6. Ladle the Tom & Jerrys into warmed mugs and sprinkle each serving with a touch of freshly grated nutmeg.

Makes about 24 six-ounce drinks.

Thanks a million to Dr. Cocktail for serving these at his holiday party last year; I’m stealing this idea from him and making it an annual holiday tradition at our house.

Just one more … here’s libation goddess Audrey Saunders’ version:

Tom and Jerry
(21st Century version)

12 fresh eggs, yolks & whites separated.
2 pounds white sugar.
6 tablespoons fine Madagascar vanilla extract.
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon.
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves.
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice.
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg, plus more for dusting.
4 dashes Angostura bitters.
6 ounces boiling milk, per drink.
1 ounce Bacardi 8 añejo rum per drink, plus 1 ounce for batter.
1 ounce Courvoisier VS Cognac, per drink.

Prepare the batter: Beat egg yolks until they are thin as water. Add sugar, spices, 1 ounce of rum, and vanilla to egg yolks (while beating). Beat egg whites until stiff and fold them into the egg yolk mixture. Refrigerate.

To serve: Place 2 ounces of batter in an Irish coffee mug. Add 1 ounce of rum, and 1 ounce of cognac. Fill with 6 ounces of boiling milk. Dust with freshly grated nutmeg.

(From Imbibe!, by David Wondrich)

By the way, speaking of which … if you STILL haven’t finished your Christmas shopping yet, hie thee to a bookstore and get Dave Wondrich’s Imbibe!, which’ll be the best present you could possibly give you your cocktailian (or even merely drinking) friends and family.

Add to that the aforementioned Eric Felten’s new How’s Your Drink?, as well as two more that I’ll review further a bit later on, Ti Martin and Lally Brennan’s In the Land of Cocktails, and Philip Collier’s Mixing New Orleans.

(Note — This article is an edited version of two posts I wrote in the old Looka! about this drink, on December 11, 2003 and again on December 24, 2007.)


Cocktail of the Day: Maurice

Courtesy of Gary Regan, via his book The Joy of Mixology. Someone gave us a big bag of oranges the other day, and Wes decided on this use to get things started. We’re unsure as to whether this drink is pronounced “mor-REESE” or “MOR-ris;” we chose the latter, in a nod to E. M. Forster.

The Maurice Cocktail

1 ounce gin.
1/2 ounce dry vermouth.
1/2 ounce sweet vermouth.
1/2 ounce fresh orange juice.
1 dash Angostura bitters.

Combine with ice and shake for 10-12 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

Orange juice — it’s not just for breakfast anymore.


Swedish Punsch

Based on Batavia Arrack (a cane spirit also made with fermented Indonesian red rice), Swedish punsch is not only a cocktail ingredient in several classics and can be served on its own as well, but adding a splash of it to a cheap rum has a tendency to make said cheap rum taste like an expensive aged rum. Ah, cocktail alchemy!

Swedish Punsch
(or Swedish punch)

2 ounces Batavia arrack.
1/2 ounce rum.
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice, strained.
1/2 ounce rich simple syrup.
2 ounces water.

If serving as a cocktail, combine with ice and add a pinch each of ground cardamom and nutmeg to taste. Shake for 10 seconds and strain into a cocktail glass; garnsh with a spiral lemon twist. If using as an ingredient in other drinks, increase the water to 3 ounces and combine all ingredients.


Happy Repeal Day!!

Happy Repeal Day!

Logo by Jeff Morgenthaler

As of December 5, 1933, the 21st Amendment to the Consitution of the United States was ratified, to wit:

Section 1. The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States [prohibiting the sale, possession or consumption of alcohoic beverages] is hereby repealed.

Section 2. The transportation or importation into any state, territory, or possession of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.

Section 3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by conventions in the several states, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the states by the Congress.

Wouldn’t mind being at Vessel in Seattle tonight, as Jamie has huge plans to celebrate the day.

To show that after all these years there are no hard feelings (I guess), I’ll take another cue from Jamie and offer as today’s cocktail his slightly rejiggered version of a drink named after the infamous sponsor in the U.S. Senate of the Act that bears his name, which ushered in 14 bummer years of Prohibition. It has a special ingredient, so pay close attention:

The Volstead Cocktail

1-1/2 ounces rye whiskey.
1/2 ounce Swedish punsch.
3/4 ounce fresh orange juice.
1/2 ounce grenadine.
Dash of absinthe (or Herbsaint).

Combine with ice in a cocktail shaker, shake for 10-12 seconds and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Toast the repeal of Prohibition!

Unfortunately, bottled Swedish punsch (the best brands being Gronstedt and Carlshamn’s) is no longer available in the U.S., but Fortunately, Swedish punsch is once again availabe in the United States, thanks to Eric Seed of Haus Alpenz and his wonderful new product, Kronan Swedish Punsch, available in the U.S. as of 2012.

Swedish punsch (or punch) is an ingredient in several classic cocktails, but you can always drink it on its own; it’s quite delightful. (Dr. Cocktail also points out its alchemical properties — you can add a splash of Swedish punsch to a cheap, bottom-shelf rum and it’ll make it taste like an expensive, 20-year aged rum, as if by magic.) Here’s a recipe that’s enough for 2 cocktails, or other uses.