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Luau Grog

Here’s one of the tropical drinks we had with our dinner at the reopened (and now closed again) Luau in Beverly Hills

Next up, a Luau Grog, their take on the venerable Navy Grog, which for years was my drink of choice at the late, lamented House of Lee in Pacific Palisades. My favorite local tiki bar after Tiki Ti, I was a regular there for years. Tommy was the bartender who kept me medicated with my large and potent Navy Grogs, and Albert, the world’s most expressionless waiter (whom we loved) kept the rumaki, kung pao shrimp and cheeseburgers coming (they had great burgers, and perfect crinkle-cut Ore-Ida fries, great for soakign up Grogs, Fogcutters and Scorpions). Luau’s Grog took me back … ahh.

The original recipe called for gold Puerto Rican rum, but I use Cruzan Estate Dark, not being a fan of Puerto Rican rum for the most part.

Luau Grog

Luau Grog

1 ounce Cruzan Estate Dark rum.
1 ounce dark Jamaican rum.
1 ounce Demerara rum.
3/4 ounce fresh lime juice.
3/4 ounce grapefruit juice.
3/4 ounce soda water.
1 ounce honey mix. *
1 dash of Angostura bitters.
2 ounce crushed ice.

Put everything into a blender saving ice for last. Blend at high speed for no more than 5 seconds. Pour into a double old-fashioned glass. Serve with an ice cone.

* For the honey mix, combine one part honey and one part hot water until honey is thoroughly dissolved. Once cooled & bottled, it will last about a week in the refrigerator.

Dr. Bamboo has the best article on ice cones I’ve ever seen.


Jet Pilot

Here’s one of the tropical drinks we had with our dinner at the reopened (and now closed again) Luau in Beverly Hills

This one’s one of my favorite tropical cocktails, and if memory serves me right (“Watakushi no kyoku ga tashika naraba …”), it was created at the original Luau. Marvelously complex flavor, you’ll want to keep some cinnamon syrup on hand just for this drink (although it’s useful for so many more, and tastes great on pancakes to boot).

Jet Pilot

You can use John D. Taylor’s Velvet Falernum, but you’ll get a much better tropical flavor if you just make your own. As Rick points out, it only takes 10 minutes. (Well, 10 minutes spread out over a 24-hour period, but stilll.)

You can get dynamite cinnamon syrup from Trader Tiki.

Jet Pilot

1 ounce Coruba rum
3/4 ounce Cruzan Dark rum
3/4 ounce Lemon Hart 151 rum
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2 ounce grapefruit juice
1/2 ounce cinnamon syrup
1/2 ounce Falernum

1 dash Angostura Bitters
6 drops Herbsaint

Shake with 1 cup cracked ice, pour into Double Old Fashioned glass. Add crushed ice to fill. (The new Luau blends theirs.)


Inauguration Day Cocktails

We had busy days Tuesday — up early to watch the inauguration (I was at work at 8am, setting it up on the big-ass TV) and home late. We didn’t think ahead to research an Inaugural Cocktail (although there was some awful-looking red, white and blues ones on some web sites) and just drank Old Fashioneds instead. Wes did some digging, adn we did come across Eric Felten’s recent article about an inaugural punch, along the lines of one served at Andrew Jackson’s inauguration, which was apparently quite a do:

“A monstrous crowd of people is in the city,” Daniel Webster wrote on Inauguration Day, 1829. “I never saw any thing like it before. Persons have come five hundred miles to see General Jackson; and they really seem to think that the country is rescued from some dreadful danger.”

After the oath and his address, the old general climbed on his horse and headed for the White House. As one witness told it: “The President was literally pursued by a motley concourse of people, riding, running helter-skelter, striving who should first gain admittance into the executive mansion, where it was understood that refreshments were to be distributed.”

The unruly bunch pushed into the White House, clods standing on the silk-upholstered furniture in muddy boots to get a glimpse of the new president (who was trying not to be crushed by his well-wishers). “The reign of King Mob seemed triumphant,” wrote Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story, appalled. When the stewards finally delivered buckets full of Orange Punch, the crowd lunged for the pails, overturning furniture, smashing the glassware, and — perhaps worst of all — spilling the punch itself. Quick-thinking waiters lugged the remaining barrels of punch out onto the White House lawn, enticing Jackson’s admirers to take the party outside.

John Steele Gordon has a more detailed account:

The crowd grew so dense that there were fears for Jackson’s safety. He soon escaped out a window and returned to his hotel. The crowd was finally lured out of the White House when the liquor was carried out onto the lawn. The place was a total shambles, with many thousands of dollars in damage due to broken glass and china and ruined upholstery and carpets.

Oh my. They should have had more buckets of punch at this inauguration, which might have helped the crowd move along a bit better.

In any case, Felten provides an excellent updated version of the type of orange punch that might well have been served to the teeming masses at the White House that day.

Andrew Jackson’s Inaugural Orange Punch
(Adapted by Eric Felten, with tweaking by me)

3 parts fresh orange juice.
1 part fresh lemon juice.
1 part mulled orange syrup.
1 part dark rum.
1 part Cognac.
2 parts soda water.

Mulled Orange Syrup:
Combine 1 cup sugar with the peel of one orange in a saucepan. Muddle the sugar with the orange peel until the orange oil is released from the peel, and the sugar becomes damp. Add 1 cup water and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add some mulling spices to taste (a couple of cinnamon sticks, some whole cloves and allspice berries). After 15 minutes, remove from heat and let it sit for several hours. Strain.

Combine ingredients in a punch bowl with a large block of ice or optionally, for historical accuracy, in buckets. Serve in punch cups with a little crushed ice, and give each glass a dash of Angostura bitters or, even better, Jerry Thomas’ Decanter Bitters. Okay, so Andy was inaugurated the year before Professor Jerry was born, but Dr. Siegert’s Angostura bitters weren’t exported until 1830, and it was years before his company was established to make the product on a large enough scale to keep up with the demand. So this is less historical accuracy than 19th Century flavor. Heck, try making up a batch of Boker’s Bitters, or Doc’s recipe based on Boker’s, H & H Aromatic Bitters.

Punch in a bucket, mmmm.

If you’re looking for other cocktail ideas, here’s what else we’ve been drinking this week. Wesly adapted the first one from a more traditional recipe to suit the whiskey used, and spiked it with a little bitters. We use Rittenhouse bonded rye most of the time, but Wes wanted to try this one with the 6-year Sazerac — it has a great flavor but is a little less punchy and forward than the Rittenhouse, so he upped the amount. “Playing to your base spirit,” he says.

Oriental Cocktail variation
(by Wesly)

2 ounces Sazerac 6-year rye whiskey.
3/4 ounce sweet vermouth.
3/4 ounce Cointreau.
1/2 ounce fresh lime juice.
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters.

Combine ingredients with ice and shake for 12 seconds or so. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Next we tried one from the Savoy Cocktail Book. It calls for Candadian Club, but as we don’t keep that (or any blended Canadian for that matter), we substituted a lighter rye. Basically, it’s a Dry Manhattan spiked with a dash of maraschino and absinthe, which adds subtle tastiness.

Lawhill Cocktail

2 ounces Old Overholt rye whiskey.
1 ounce dry vermouth.
1 dash Angostura bitters.
1 dash maraschino liqueur.
1 dash absinthe.

Combine in mixing glass with ice, stir for 30 seconds and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

I like the old practice of adding one or two dashes of a liqueur to augment a recipe, or turn it into a new drink altogether — it’s really growing on me.


Cocktail of the Day: Perfect Aviator

Wesly discovered the other night that Aviation gin makes a really terrific Perfect Martini.

The different botanical profile of this Dutch-style “New Western” gin, which includes cardamom, coriander and anise, along with a rye neutral grain spirit base that lends its own spiciness, grabs onto the spices and botanicals in the vermouths and runs with them to the finish line. When I took my first sip it was almost jarring, and I asked Wesly if he had put a dash or three of some herbal liqueur in it. Nope, just cocktail alchemy.

Use your best vermouths for this, if you’ve got ’em — Carpano for the sweet and Dolin or the newly released original formulation of Noilly Prat for the dry. Even if you use standard vermouths for this, though, it’s really damned good.

The name that popped into my head for this drink (which I think needs something more than just “a Perfect Martini with Aviation Gin”) makes me think of the pilot who safely landed that plane in the Hudson River yesterday and got every single soul off and onto rescue boats. I’ll drink to that.

Perfect Aviator

2-1/2 ounces Aviation Gin.
1/4 ounce sweet vermouth.
1/4 ounce dry vermouth.

Stir with ice for no less than 30 seconds. Strain into a frozen cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist after expressing the oil.

Man oh man. So simple, yet so good.


Cocktail of the Day: The Laureate

I’ve been a big fan of toddies, particularly of the brandy, whiskey and rum varieties, which have been especially good not only during this chilly season but during attempts by nasty little bugs to clog my head and chest with gunk and make me feel like crap. When this happens there’s not much that can do better than a hot toddy to make me feel better.

This recipe appears in the February 2009 issue of Bon Appetit magazine, which I hadn’t gotten to yet — my friend Janice sent the page to me as soon as she saw it, though (thanks, Janice!). This one’s a first for me — a tequila toddy, a great idea from Dan Hyatt of Alembic in San Francisco. Agave nectar (which I use in my añejo Old Fashioneds) replaces the honey, and instead of black tea he uses jamaica, the tart red hibsicus flower tea. (That is, of course, pronounced “ha-MY-ka,” and not like the island nation in the Caribbean.) Very inspired, and I can’t wait to make one tonight.

Dan serves these in giant warmed snifters and garnishes with an entire orange wheel studded around its edge with 10 cloves, plus a fresh bay leaf. If you don’t have snifters handy, feel free to cut the orange wheel down to whatever size will fit into your glassware.

The Laureate
(by Dan Hyatt, Alembic Bar, San Francisco)

2 ounces añejo tequila.
2 ounces hot jamaica (red hibiscus flower tea – see below).
1/2 ounce agave nectar.
Orange slice.
Whole cloves.
Bay leaf.

To prepare garnish, stud each orange slice around the rind with 10 cloves. Cut down to size if necessary.

Run your large snifter or whichever glassware you’re using under hot water to warm it. Add garnishes, then tequila and jamaica, then stir in agave nectar and serve.

To make jamaica, simmer 1-1/2 cups water and add 1/3 cup dried red hibiscus flowers. Steep for 2 minutes, then strain and keep warm. Makes enough jamaica for 6 toddies.

Mmmmmmm, sabroso …