Cocktail of the Day: Brandy Cobbler

I’ve been devouring Dale DeGroff’s book lately; it spent far too much time packed up in a box during the moving and unpacking ordeal. Besides helping me learn new things, it’s helping me learn old things too. For instance … cobblers! They were a class of drink unto themselves in the 19th Century, when “cocktail” meant one particular type of drink — whiskey or brandy, sugar, water and bitters. There were lots of types of drinks: daisy, flip, sangaree, smash, sling, etc. A cobbler (as served by Jerry Thomas in 1862) was some type of spirit or wine sweetened with sugar, shaken with seasonal fresh fruit, garnished with more fruit and served over ice. Dale has improved on the cobbler technique by muddling fresh fruit in the shaker with the drink ingredients, then decorating the drink with new, fresh fruit. The result is very, very refreshing.

You can make cobblers with just about anything: gin, whiskey, port, sherry, champagne, etc. Here’s the brandy version we had and enjoyed last night.

Brandy Cobbler

2 ounces brandy or Cognac (we use Hennessey V.S.O.P. for cocktails)
3/4 ounce raspberry syrup (such as Torani, Monin, etc.) or raspberry liqueur
2 wedges fresh pineapple (one without skin for muddling; one with skin for garnish)
2 wedges orange
2 wedges lemon
1 ounce water

Muddle the skinless pineapple wedge and one each orange and lemon wedges
in a shaker with the raspberry syrup or liqueur and the water, making sure you extract oil from the citrus peel as well as juice from the fruit. Add the brandy plus ice, then shake vigorously.

Strain into a large, double Old Fashioned glass filled with crushed or cracked
ice. Garnish the drink with the remaining orange and lemon wedges and the
pineapple wedge.

The Paris Cocktail

Wes’ sisters came over on Saturday to see the new house, and since it was such a beautiful day cocktails on the veranda were de rigueur. I made a few from Dale DeGroff’s excellent book The Craft of the Cocktail, including Dale’s own creation The Milennium Cocktail, plus this excellent drink I tried more or less at random. It’s a creation of the legendary Colin Field, master bartender at the Hemingway Bar, in the Ritz Hotel in Paris. It’s most excellent.

The Paris Cocktail

1 ounce gin (French, of course; we used Citadelle)
1 ounce dry vermouth (French, bien sur; Noilly Prat Original)
1 ounce crème de cassis
Lemon peel

Combine the liquors in a cocktail shaker with cracked ice.
Shake and strain into a cocktail glass; flame the lemon peel
over the drink and garnish.

Cocktail of the Day: Francis the Mule

An original from the fertile mind of Dr. Cocktail, who showed me this recipe over Sazeracs at Arnaud’s Bar on Iberville Street in the French Quarter of New Orleans.

Francis the Mule

2 ounces bourbon
1/2 ounce orgeat syrup
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/2 ounce cold strong coffee
2 dashes orange bitters

Shake with cracked ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Cocktail of the Day: Hotel Nacional Special

This one is named after the hotel in Havana, Cuba where it was created (the hotel’s still there, too). It’s not exactly common, so don’t expect to be able to order it in your run-of-the-mill bar; fortunately, it’s easy to make at home. Also, if you’re fortunate enough to live near the fabulous restaurant and bar that is Cinnabar in Glendale (less than four miles from my house, baby!), it’s on their outstanding cocktail menu. (UPDATE: Cinnabar closed in 2005, sadly.)

If you can make sure that the apricot brandy you use is the dry, Hungarian style (like barack palinka), not the sweet “apricot flavored brandy” made by people like Bols and Leroux. (If you do have to use a liqueur I recommend Orchard Apricot by Rothman & Winter.)

Hotel Nacional Special

2 ounces golden rum (Cuban, if you can get it)
1-1/2 ounces unsweetened pineapple juice
1/2 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon dry apricot brandy

Shake with cracked ice until cold and frothy, and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with anything from a cherry to a “flag” (orange wedge and cherry speared with a cocktail pick or a paper umbrella).

Cocktail of the Day: Moscow Mule

I’d read about this one for years, but had only gotten the chance to enjoy them fairly recently. The Moscow Mule kicked off the “white whiskey” (i.e., vodka) craze back in the 1950s, concocted at the Cock ‘n Bull Pub in Hollywood by people with lots of poorly-moving vodka, homemade ginger beer and a truckload of copper cups to move. It’s a perfect example of making lemonade from life’s lemons (or limes, in this case).

Now “traditionally” served in the specially made copper cups (which are really cool), it’s icyyummyspicy and very refreshing. Spectacular in summer, I find it just as tasty in January. Better yet, I’m able to enjoy them even more thanks to our friends Robb and Jaason, who gave us a wonderful set of vintage copper Moscow Mule mugs as a housewarming gift! (If you can’t find the copper mugs, a highball glass will certainly do.)

Don’t use plain old ginger ale for this recipe; that makes for a wimpy mule. Use real ginger beer, made with actual ginger juice or extract — the pepperier the better! We like Blenheim’s, but whatever brand you use shouldn’t be too sweet and should really smell and taste as much like fresh ginger as possible. In fact, when you open the bottle and smell it, it should make you sneeze.

Moscow Mule

2 ounces vodka
1 ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice (and NEVER Rose’s!)
4 ounces good, spicy ginger beer

In an 8-ounce copper mug, add ice and the ingredients in the
specified order. Stir and garnish with a lime wedge.

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