* You are viewing the archive for the ‘sweet vermouth’ Category

Cocktail of the day: The Hearst

This is one I came across thanks to David Wondrich, who writes about cocktails for Esquire magazine. Apparently this was created at the Waldorf-Astoria Bar by some of William Randolph’s old “minions”, although I don’t know if the Old Man ever drank them himself. It’s a delightful cocktail, good for those who still say they don’t like Martinis (um, like me). If I’m going to drink a cocktail named after Hearst, though … I feel compelled to create a cocktail called the “Welles”. Stay tuned.


2 ounces London dry gin (or Plymouth gin, if you can find it).
1 ounce sweet vermouth.
One dash orange bitters.
One dash Angostura bitters.

Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker with cracked ice,
stir until ice-cold and strain into a cocktail glass.

Wondrich describes this one as “suave”, and that it is. I’d be able to walk any bartender through this one too, except for the criminal lack of ubiquity of orange bitters. Let’s hope Regan’s changes that within the next couple of years.


UPDATE, 2010: Eight years later, I love Martinis to the depths of my soul.

Still love the Hearst, too.

Cocktail of the day: The Negroni

This one is a testament to conquering fear. Fear no gin! Fear no sweet vermouth! Fear no Campari!

I have at various times feared all of these ingredients, and have since made great progress. I still can’t drink a classic, traditional gin martini (although I’m working on it), but there are now myriad gin cocktails that I absolutely adore. My former dislike of vermouth has been abating, due to my love for Manhattans (when properly made) and other cocktails in which a modicum of vermouth lends great spiciness and complexity. And Campari … well, so far I can’t do it on the rocks like some hardy Italians can, and a Campari and soda is still a wee bit bitter for me. If it’s balanced with something sweet, though, even just a touch, it’s truly amazing stuff.

Given my previous fears, a Negroni was one cocktail I just wasn’t going to attempt. I was afraid of gin, sweet vermouth and Campari, and here’s a drink that’s made with all three. Zoinks. Even as I made my progress and thought to myself, “Gee, y’know, one of these days I oughta just try one,” I never quite got around to it.

Chance intervened. Sunday evening I was having drinks with my friends Gregg and Michael at the Traxx Bar, located in L.A.’s fabulous 1939 Art Deco masterpiece, Union Station, right across from its parent restaurant of the same name. The bartender was cheerful and friendly, although fortunately I had my crop with me; she attempted to serve my Manhattan on the rocks, and with no bitters! That’s one of those drinks that is always served up, unless the customer asks specifically for it on the rocks. Then I watched her make the drink (which I always do now, so I can shout a warning before he or she tries to do something like squirt soda into my Old Fashioned), and it was just Maker’s Mark and Martini & Rossi, shakeshakeshake.

When I ordered it, I had specifically said, “And don’t be shy with the bitters!” … and she had put none. “Uh, Angostura bitters, please!”, I interjected. She looked at me and said, “Oh, okay … I always leave them out because nobody likes bitters anymore!”

Such utter sacrilege. Coming from a professional bartender! My dear, without bitters it is simply not a Manhattan. It’s just whiskey and vermouth, thank you. The things we cocktailians have to put up with days, sweet sufferin’ JAY-sus … but I digress. The subsequently corrected Manhattan was lovely, thank you, but then Michael ordered a Negroni.

Wham, there it was. Right in front of me. He sipped it and smiled a beatific smile. “Hey, can I have a taste of that?” Sure thing! *sip*

Complex. Spicy. Bitter, although not overly so. The tiniest bit of sweetness to offset that. A perfect aperitif, a drink to wake up your taste buds and shout “Ciao, ragazzo bello! Come stai?”

Bene, grazie!


1 ounce gin.
1 ounce sweet vermouth.
1 ounce Campari.

Shake with cracked ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Garnish with half an orange wheel, or a cherry if you don’t have any oranges.

As usual, if you’re in the Long Island Iced Tea or Sex on the Beach crowd, don’t bother with this; you’ve got a long way to go. If you drink “Appletinis” made with that vile Borg-green Pucker crap, ditto. If you have a palate and you’re adventurous and want to try something that may surprise you, give this one a shot next time you go out to a decent bar. Paul Harrington says you’ll either love it or you’ll hate it; I’m hoping you’ll love it.

You can mess with the proportions as well. Some people like a little bit more gin, on the order of an ounce. We’ve become quite fond of the Cinnabar Negroni, in which the Campari is doubled and a dash of orange bitters is added. To keep the cocktail from being too large, we usually make it with 1-1/2 ounces Campari and 3/4 ounce each of gin and sweet vermouth.

Cocktail of the day: The Vieux Carré

One of my favorite bars in New Orleans is the Carousel Bar at the Monteleone Hotel. There’s a piano bar in the back with comfy booths, and a faux-starlit sky on the ceiling — very nice atmosphere. My favorite spot in here is actually at the bar, which is built from parts of an actual old carousel (or “flying horses”, as we used to call them as kids in New Orleans) and the barstools revolve around the circular bar. Not to worry, it’s slow enough that you won’t get dizzy, unless you have way too much to drink.

As I think every good bar should, this bar has a signature cocktail. I always find it amusing that the last several times I went to the Carousel, the cocktail waitresses seem not to be familiar with the drink, but all the bartenders know how to make it, and one said that he gets at least a half-dozen orders for it every shift. It was invented in 1938 by the man who was then their head bartender, Mr. Walter Bergeron (11 years before this particular bar was built), and he named the drink for the French name for the French Quarter. In New Orleans you say “French Quarter” if you’re speaking English, but if you’re speaking French it’s not “le Quartier Français”, it’s called “le Vieux Carré” (the Old Square). In New Orleans we say “VOO ka-RAY.”


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.

It’s mighty, mighty good. If you can’t find Peychaud’s Bitters in your area, order some (click “Food,” then “Mixes”) — they’re cheap. If you’re serious about cocktails, your bar is not complete without them.

Hair of the three-headed, fire-breathing dog

Somebody wrote me recently asking about cocktails containing Chartreuse. It’s a powerful concoction, intensely herbal and 110 proof strong, not for everyone. I’ve been developing quite a taste for it, though, and I’m working up the courage to try the Tailspin, a current DrinkBoy favorite.


3/4 ounce gin.
3/4 ounce sweet vermouth.
3/4 ounce green Chartreuse.
1 dash Campari.

Shake with cracked ice. Strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon twist and cherry.

Page 14 of 14« First...1011121314