Cocktail of the day: Ritz 75

The Hemingway Bar of the Hôtel Ritz in Paris is renowned for its cocktails, and for the top-notch skills of its main bartender, Mr. Colin Peter Field. Field has written a book called Les Cocktails du Ritz Paris, which by all accounts is outstanding. There’s just been an English translation released, but Amazon don’t seem to be carrying it as yet. I’ll fill you in on how to get it in a bit.

Here’s one of Field’s creations, his variation on the venerable French 75, which looks really tasty. I’ll be off to pick up a half-bottle of bubbly and some fresh mandarines to try this one out, tout suite!

THE RITZ 75

1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/2 ounce fresh mandarine juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
2 ounces gin
Champagne

In a tall Collins glass, add the first four ingredients over ice, stir to mix, then fill with Champagne (you may substitute cava or prosecco, whatever good white sparkling wine you have on hand). Garnish with a wheel of lime and a wheel of mandarine.

Fortunately this is easy to make at home. If you have one at the Ritz it’ll set you back €30. *faint*

The English language version is now readily available via Amazon. Enjoy! (Thanks to Robert, Fernando, Rafael and everyone else on the DrinkBoy community for turning me on to this!)

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.”

THE VIEUX CARRÉ COCKTAIL

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.

Cocktail of the day: The Serrano Cocktail

One thing we unfortunately didn’t get to do was to meet the Bellagio’s “beverage specialist” while were in Vegas. We had a nice chat with our waitress, who was a fellow New Orleanian, and she told us that given our interest in cocktails we should definitely meet Tony Abou-Ganim. He creates all the specialty cocktails for the hotel’s bars, and she said he enjoys talking to fellow enthusiasts. Alas, time and group inertia and tiredness intervened, so we didn’t get back over there when he was on the premises.

By sheer coincidence, the very day I got back I saw him on Food Network’s “Molto Mario” (one of my very favorite shows), eating Mario’s food but more importantly, making him a cocktail.

From his appearance on the show I learned that not only does he create cocktails for the bars, but for the hotel’s elegant restaurants as well. He created this one for Picasso, one of the five-star dining establishments within the fabulous Bellagio, and named it after its chef, the renowned Spanish chef Julián Serrano. It’s a very nice aperitivo, and I bet it’d be spectacular with blood oranges.

THE SERRANO COCKTAIL
(Created by Tony Abou-Ganim)

1-1/4 ounces vodka.
5/8 ounce Limoncello.
5/8 ounce Campari.
1-1/2 ounces freshly squeezed orange juice.

Mix the ingredients over cracked ice in a cocktail shaker,
then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a
spiral twist of lime.

Cocktails of the day: Pastis apéritifs

Back, by special request. (Thanks, Chris.) It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything on this subject.

I read a book on aperitifs recently and found some excellent recipes for pastis cocktails. I’m a big pastis fan — the anise-flavored spirits such as Herbsaint, Ricard, Pernod, et al. — and it’s a great way to sit back, prime your taste buds for your meal, and basically feel civilized.

There’s still ritual involved with it, left over from the days of the absintheurs, which I also enjoy. (If you have any, you could of course use absinthe as well.) The narrow, heavy-bottomed glass, the pitcher of cold water, the slotted spoon and sugar cube if it needs sugar, the pouring, the clouding-up … it’s fun. They say that pastis epitomizes the south of France, and Provence in particular. I could say that a pastis drink immediately transports me back there … um, ‘cept I’ve never been. Yet.

The excellent book Aperitif, by Georgeanne Brennan, has introduced me to three variations on classic pastis which she learned about from neighbors while living in Provence. They all have an ounce of pastis and 4 – 5 ounces of cold water in common, but are all flavored with different sweetened syrups — almond, grenadine and mint. This produces vibrant colors in these drinks as well, and their names, particularly “The Tomato” and “The Parrot”, refer to their color rather than anything having to do with their flavor. (I’m not sure I’d want a parrot-flavored cocktail anyway.) My favorite so far is La Mauresque, although I have yet to try Le Perroquet.

These are all very common in Provence, so if you ever go there you can order these at the village café and sound like you know what you’re talking about, instead of sounding like a dumb foreigner.

La Mauresque
Pour one ounce of pastis into the glass, followed by 1 tablespoon of orgeat syrup (you can substitute almond syrup), then pour in about 4 ounces of cold water, and an ice cube or two if you like. Stir and serve.

La Tomate
Pour one ounce of pastis into the glass, followed by 1 tablespoon of grenadine, then pour in about 4 ounces of cold water, and an ice cube or two if you like. Stir and serve.

Le Perroquet
Pour one ounce of pastis into the glass, followed by 1 tablespoon of green mint syrup, then pour in about 4 ounces of cold water, and an ice cube or two if you like. Stir and serve.

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.

Tailspin

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.

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