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Cover: Shaken and stirred

March, 2012

31Mar 12

Delancey

DelanceyWhen thinking nostalgically about romantic moments in my past, one place and one drink stand out : New York and the Delancey cocktail.

The Delancey is named after a downtown New York restaurant and bar where it was invented, and where I have spent a great deal of time: Allen and Delancey. Essentially it is a sweet drink, which combined with its intense red colour when ready, is what makes it so romantic (much like this passionately pink champagne and cassis cocktail).

The main ingredient in a Delancey is Saint Germain liqueur, which is not only French, but also the first liqueur in the world created in the artisanal French manner from freshly hand-picked elderflower blossoms. According to Saint Germain’s website, “after gently ushering the wild blossoms into sacks and descending the hillside, the man who gathers blossoms for your cocktail will then mount a bicycle and carefully ride the umbels of starry white flowers to market”. Ooh La La! That is what I call romantic!

The other important ingredient for the Delancy is a good bottle of Prosecco, an Italian white wine. It is normally made from Glera (Prosecco) grapes and is a dry or extra dry sparkling wine.

With these two ingredients, plus pomegranate juice for the intense color, I can almost assure you an enchanting evening. Take it with that special someone, and just like me, you will feel nostalgia.

Needed:

  • 2.2 cl pomegranate juice
  • 2.2 cl Saint Germain elderflower liqueur
  • 1.5 cl Prosecco wine

How it’s made at Allen and Delancey on Valentine´s evening:

1. First, pour the St-Germain elderflower liqueur in a champagne glass.
2. Add the pomegranate juice.
3. Top the glass with Prosecco. Ideally, the sparkling wine is cold enough not to need ice.
4. Just a thought. If you ask nicely, the barman at Allen and Delancey will decorate it with a flower on the rim of the glass.

Time: less than a minute
Makes: 1 cocktail

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28Mar 12

Bloody Mary

Bloody MaryBloody Mary. What a strange drink with an eery name! This tipple supposedly is the cure to all hangovers, but prescribing a cocktail to battle against the effects of the rest seems contradictory, to say the least.

Whether a Bloody Mary is good for hangovers is matter of much discussion. Most scientists claim that more alcohol (on top of a lot of it) cannot be good for you. However, many of my friends vow that tomato juice contains fructose, a type of sugar that helps your body metabolize alcohol more quickly, and that this is probably why the morning-after Bloody Mary seems to help with hangovers.

In my case, eating lots of carbohydrates also helps beat a bad hangover. So, if carbs and tomatoes are the cure, then both together in this clams linguine will get you feeling better in no time!

As to how it got its title, one theory indicates that the drink’s haunting name makes reference to Queen Mary via a lonely regular often found drinking at Harry’s American Bar in Paris in the early 1920s. Sitting alone, sipping on her drink, she reminded regulars of an imprisoned Queen Mary, who was also known as Bloody Mary.

The bartender at the place, Fernand “Pete” Petiot is credited with inventing the cocktail, mixing just vodka and tomato juice in equal parts to start with. Vodka was a drink brought over by the Russian refugees while canned tomato juice was an American invention fresh off the boats from the United States after World War 1.

In 1936, Petiot moved to New York to be the head barman at the St. Regis Hotel’s King Cole Bar, where he finished creating the legendary cocktail by adding pepper, lemon, Worcestershire Sauce and Tabasco to the original mix.

My personal experience is that a Bloody Mary on a difficult morning is a blessing. It tastes very much like a straight tomato juice, and the most distinct flavour in the palate is the Tabasco sauce mixed up with the Worcestershire sauce. To make an extra good one, I always insist on loads of pepper.

Needed:

  • 4.5cl vodka
  • 9cl tomato juice
  • 1.5cl lemon juice
  • 2 drops of Tabasco sauce
  • 1 pinch of pepper

How it’s made:
1. Rub lemon or lime around rim of highball glass
2. Add ice to glass.
3. Mix vodka, tomato juice, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, salt, pepper and celery salt. Pour in glass.
4. Garnish with lemon or lime wedge, celery stalk, and a green olive.

Time: 5 minutes

Makes: 1 serving

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26Mar 12

White Russian

White Russian cocktailBack in 1998 I spent a winter in the United States working at a ski resort called Crested Butte, on the western side of Colorado. Today, I want to tell you about this experience and a drink which is not only ideal for cold winter afternoons, but also a mix that has gained enormous reputation over the last decade: the White Russian.

The cocktail was one of the first popular drinks based on vodka and appeared in bars in North America in late 1950’s, when a marketing campaign for beverages with vodka such as (vodka with cranberry) was put forth in the United States to promote the little-used alcohol. The White Russian first came into popular existence in 1965 with the advent of a recipe printed in the Oakland Tribune.

In my case, the White Russian came as a surprise. Not only because I was offered one on a chilly and windy afternoon and found its rich, creamy taste almost irresistible and great for the climate, but mainly because I discovered its secret that very first time: it is a very alcoholic cocktail. As an instructor friend put it, it’s a perfect drink both for someone who doesn’t really drink (because the flavour reminds you of an overly rich milkshake), as well as for someone who drinks too much (because you only need two or three and you’re there!!). Because of its white, creamy colour, you tend to forget its main ingredient is vodka.

After that first sip on a cold afternoon, the cocktail became a habit during my whole stay in Colorado. I was still, however, missing the final lesson. One evening, my friends introduced me to a film called “The Big Lebowski” where the main character, “the Dude”, (played by Jeff Bridges) spends most of his time on screen drinking White Russians. It is possibly one of the funniest films I have ever seen, and according to The New York Times, is the reason behind the resurge of the cocktail over the last decade.

If you are ever in a cold place and feel like you need a stiff vodka, maybe the White Russian is the answer to soften the taste. And if you are ever in a tight spot and need a good, loud laugh, then “The Big Lebowski” and “the Dude” are definitely the answer.

Ingredients:
• 30ml coffee-flavored liqueur
• 30ml vodka
• ½ cup cream or milk

How to make it:
1. In a mixing glass, combine the coffee-flavored liqueur, vodka and cream or milk.
2. Pour over ice in a highball glass.

Time: 2 minutes
Serves: 1 cocktail

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23Mar 12

Mint Julep

Mint JulepA couple of years ago, I was stranded at a Kentucky airport for 12 hours. I was on my way from Miami to New York, and a storm forced our plane to land in rather a hurry. I was left feeling a little uneasy when I got off and decided to visit the nearest bar for a drink. The bartender recommended a typical Southern cocktail to stabilize my emotions: the Mint Julep. It is probably one of the simplest drinks I have ever tried, and also one of the best.

A mint julep is made with four ingredients: mint leaf, bourbon, syrup or sugar, and water. Traditionally spearmint is the mint of choice used in Southern states, Kentucky in particular. Apparently the secret to a good mint julep is to use loads of spearmint. The flavour is so good that it makes me think that I should also try it in my mojitos.

The origins of the Mint Julep are somewhat of a mystery. The first time its name appeared in writing was in 1803, in a book published by John Davis in London. It was described as “”a dram of spirituous liquor that has mint steeped in it, taken by Virginians of a morning.” It is suggested it was first concocted in Kentucky. Henry Clay, State Senator, then took the recipe to the Round Robin Bar in the famous Willard Hotel in Washington while he was in office. These days, it is the official drink at the world famous Kentucky Derby track.

The most important ingredient in a mint julep is bourbon. The name of the spirit derives from its historical association with an area known as Old Bourbon, around what is now Bourbon County. It has been produced since the 18th century.

I have never actually been in Kentucky, except for its airport. I don’t know if I will ever return, but my couple of hours there were enough to give me a good memory of the place and a great cocktail to share with you.

Ingredients:
• leaves from 4-5 spearmint sprigs
• 2 sugar cubes or 1.5 cl simple syrup
• 7.5 cl bourbon
• mint sprig for garnish

Preparation:
1. Put the spearmint and simple syrup or sugar into a julep cup, Collin’s glass or double old-fashioned glass.
2. Mix well to dissolve the sugar and to release the oil and aroma from the mint.
3. Add the bourbon.
4. Fill with crushed ice and stir well until the glass becomes frosty.
5. Garnish with the mint sprig.

Time: 4 minutes
Serves: 1 cocktail

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