Thursday, July 8, 2010

Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Dinner at Jackson

If you're going to be in New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail, then you can't pass up the Spirited Dinners.

On Thursday, July 22 at 8 PM, New Orleans' always stupefying restaurant of reinvention, Jackson, presents a remarkable 5 course prefix designed by master chef, John Hammond, with 6 courses of cocktails prepared by:

Paul Clarke, the Seattleite voice and palate behind Cocktail Chronicles, moderator of Mixology Monday, contributing editor at Imbibe magazine, and frequently featured in the SF Chronicle and Wine & Spirits.

Jeffrey Morgenthaler, the renown bar manager at Bel Ami, whose innovative cocktails have earned him the Jamie Boudreau of Portland.

& me!

If you splurge on one extravagant meal while in New Orleans, this should be it.

Here are all the details, followed by the menu (both food & drinks).

Thursday, 22 July 2010
8:00 PM - 11:00 PM
$90 - Includes tax and gratuity
For reservations, please call
(reserve them soon before they fill up!)

Jackson's Menu

Cocktails by Paul Clarke, Jeffrey Morganthaler, and Jeremy Thompson


Alexei’s Pleasure Club
by Jeremy Thompson

Dubonnet rouge
Russian Standard vodka
Scrappy’s cardamom bitters
lemon twist


Endive with Roquefort bleu cheese & lavender honey

by Jeffrey Morgenthaler

Appleton Extra rum
lavender-honey syrup
fresh lime juice
housemade orange bitters
fresh sprig of lavender


Watermelon Gazpacho

Tio Dobles
by Paul Clark

Don Juilo blanco tequila
fresh grapefruit juice
fresh lime juice
Luxardo maraschino liqueur
simple syrup


Grouper encrusted with macadamia nuts & topped with a fresh mango pineapple salsa

Third Course Cocktail
by Jeffrey Morgenthaler

Leblon cachaça
fresh lime juice
pineapple gum syrup
egg white
Luxardo amaretto
apricot preserves


Ostrich medallion with a fig & red wine reduction

Red Heering
by Jeremy Thompson

Aperol apertivo
Cherry Heering
fresh orange juice
orange twist, discarded
Luxardo cherry


Pavlova topped with sliced kiwis, strawberries & fresh whipped cream

Demerara Fizz
by Paul Clarke

El Dorado 12 Year Old rum
fresh lemon juice
simple syrup
egg white
club soda
Peychaud's bitters on the foam

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Imbibe Article: Vodka Gains New Momentum Behind The Bar

Next week, the March/April edition of Imbibe Magazine will hit the shelves, and on page 45 of this edition begins an article by Paul Clarke entitled "Clearing The Way: Vodka Gains New Momentum Behind the Bar." Click through the title to read the article which is already posted on Imbibe Magazine's website, though you'll have to pick up a copy if you'd like to take a gander at the gorgeous photographs taken by Stuart Mullenberg, including an image of my Staraya Modnaya, a kind of fancy vodka old-fashioned.

To my delight, he highlights a number of classics, including: the Gypsy, the Kangaroo, the Drink Without a Name, and the Carnaval Room.

Aside from myself, he also interviews "Tipsy Texan" David Alan, Robert Krueger of Employees Only, and H. Joseph Ehrmann of Elixir.

This is an important step for vodka, a spirit known for taking such big strides that it hardly has a moment to consider where its going. I believe this article will help set the tone for a panel at this years Tales of the Cocktail, entitled "I Hate Vodka/ I Love Vodka."

Saturday, February 20, 2010

PDT Introduces Vodka Cocktail


“Vodka is still the most popular spirit in the world,” Meehan tells us. “This product is an easy way for me to raise the white flag.” Vodka—criticized for its lack of character—has become all but taboo in cocktail bars of PDT’s ilk. But Meehan believes that the attitude is “unflattering” and will ultimately keep his industry from reaching a wider audience. “I feel like we’re always at risk of being just a trend and that some other beverage trend will come along and steal the limelight,” he says. “We need to take our craft to a larger consumer base, so I’m no longer going to be consciously not serving vodka at the bar. It’s time to move on.”

(click here for the full article)

Note: I can't take any credit here, but never the less, I'm secretly congratulating myself.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The 3 Categories of Vodka Cocktail

It could be said that there are 3 primary categories of vodka cocktail:

1. Cocktails wherein vodka's neutrality allows all other flavors to eclipse its presence, essentially making Alcoholic Soda or Juice (i.e. Moscow Mule)

2. Cocktails wherein vodka's neutrality is used to open up potent flavored spirits, such Benedictine or Amaro (i.e. Gypsy Queen Cocktail, The Drink With No Name)

3. Cocktails wherein vodka's neutrality and receptivity is used to maintain alcohol by volume while mediating between other spirits and modifiers, as in equal part drinks (i.e. Perpignan Cocktail)

For over one year I have been patiently flipping through cocktail books of my own, as well as those graciously lent to me by Mud Puddle Book's Greg Boehm (as I simply can't afford my own physical database). I find the vodka cocktails, input them into one large document, only to be eventually separated out into one of the 3 aforementioned categories. On several occasions, I make notes in regard to secondary classifications within each, but thus far all have managed to stay within the bounds of these relatively flexible varieties.

This is all to say that this task is underway, and soon, within a week or two, I'll be ready to post what results it's yielded. These results will come in the form of 3 posts, one dedicated to the describing of each category, several notable recipes from each, as well as their sources, followed by a rather extensive list of names of cocktails which fall into each grouping, since I couldn't possibly post every recipe here. It is also possible that I may elaborate on some of the more prominent Secondary Classifications.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Vodka as it was and could be

My latest curiosity: I intend to manufacture a bottle or two of each of these over the next few months. As for my Starka, I have already begun to age several liters of Vodka in charred Hungarian Oak.

I also intend to begin aging my bitters, which is marked by several signature Russian flavors: Kvas, Mopc, & Tarragon. Stay tuned.

Kubanskaya: Vodka flavored with an infusion of dried lemon and orange peels.

Limonnaya: Lemon-flavored Vodka, usually with a touch of sugar added.

Okhotnichya : "Hunter’s Vodka” is flavored with a mix of ginger, cloves, lemon peel, coffee, anise and other herbs and spices. It is then blended with sugar and a touch of a wine similar to white port.

Pertsovka: Pepper-flavored Vodka, made with both black peppercorns and red chili peppers.

Starka: "Old Vodka," a holdover from the early centuries of Vodka production, which can be infused with everything from fruit tree leaves to brandy, Port, Malaga wine, and dried fruit. Some brands are aged in oak casks.

Zubrovka: Zubrowka in Polish; Vodka flavored with buffalo (or more properly "bison") grass, an aromatic grass favored by the herds of the rare European bison.

Vodka as Peter the Great Enjoyed it: Distilled 4 times, the 4th of which was done so along with Anise Water brought in from Arabia.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

VODKA as a cocktail base spirit by 1914

The misconception that "Classic Vodka Cocktails" are a product of the 1960's or later continues to circulate. For this reason, I am including in this post an article in the Town Talk column of a 1914 issue of the Oakland Tribune, wherein "Cocktail Bill" Boothby, who some might call the Jerry Thomas of the West, includes Vodka in an anecdotal recipe of his.

There is no mention of Vodka in Boothby's 1891 cocktail guide, Cocktail Boothby's American Bartender. Nor is there mention of Vodka in his 1908 guide, The World's Drinks and How to Mix Them, and as far as I know, his 1930 and 1934 editions of the latter guide, renamed Cocktail Bill Boothby's World Drinks and How to Mix Them, are little more than reprints produced in response to the demand for the then scarce manuscript, as well as marking the occasion of Boothby's death.
I suggest that somewhere between 1908 and 1914, Boothby, upon hearing about Vodka, and being an owner/operator of his own saloon, took it upon himself to import some small quantity to introduce to his customers. Another possible scenario is that Boothby received a bottle from some Bon Vivant who collected it while traveling through the Crimea or some such place. Whatever the case, by 1914, not only did Boothby have Vodka, but was familiar enough with it to include it in a published anecdote/ cocktail, which also suggests that he expected his readers to be familiar with it, at least in name.

Less than 7 years later, in 1921, Vodka cocktails are published for the first time in a cocktail guide, The American Drink Dictionary, printed in France, though comprised of new and favorite American drinks. Among them were the Haughtinesse, Voslau, Zarnohoff, and Yokohama. Of these, only the Yokohama seems to have garnered any lasting international success, largely due to it allegedly having been invented on an international cruise ship based out of Yokohama. Incidentally, Yokohama continues to have a very competitive cocktail culture.

The Yokohama's reputation continues to resound, at least in some pocket of the world, and inside a can no less: yes, Asahi, famed producer of Japanese beer, also produces a canned "Yokohama Cocktail Yokohama Fruit Dance."

YOKOHAMA COCKTAIL (1 of several variations)
1 dash Absinthe
1/6 Grenadine
1/6 Vodka
1/3 Orange Juice
1/3 Dry Gin
Shake & Strain

The Voslau's origin must have something to do with Bad Voslau, a locale in southern Austria, and coincidentally the birthplace of Austrian Wine.

VOSLAU COCKTAIL (derived from multiple recipes)
1 1/2 oz Vodka
1 oz White Creme de Menthe
1 Dash Maraschino
2 pinches Cayenne Pepper
Shake & Strain

The origin of the Haughtiness(e) cocktail is even more elusive. In fact, I haven't a clue about where it comes from.

1 oz Vodka
1 oz Italian Vermouth
1/2 Tsp Absinthe
1/2 Tsp Curacao
2 Dash Bitters (I recommend Orange)
Stir & Strain

I can't even find an instance of the word "Zarnohoff," much less a cocktail of that name. It could be the Voronoff, which is simply equal parts Rye & Vodka. Or perhaps the Zaranes, a concoction of Vodka, Apry, and a healthy dose of Angostura. I may have to enlist Greg Boehm for source material on this one. Stay tuned for an update.

And now for The Peace Cocktail, (which could actually refer to The Conference Cocktail, devised in Russia in 1905. More on that later.

Oakland Tribune, November 22, 1914

Latest Cocktail Is Neutral

“Cocktail Bill” Boothby, the literary mixologist of the Palace, was listening to a heated argument between a German and a Frenchman in the wineroom the other afternoon. In the interests of neutrality he asked the debaters to try the latest cocktail of the hotel. They were willing. While they were exchanging angry words and threats Boothby mixed a cocktail with the following ingredients: English gin, Russian vodka, German kummel, Hungarian apricot brandy, Italian Vermouth, brandy manufactured in Ghent, Belgium, and a dash of French Amer Picon. The German and the Frenchman stopped their argument long enough to try the cocktail. They liked it and ordered another, and then a third, and then a fourth. Their argument became less and less heated.

“What do you call that new drink?” asked the German.

“Peace cocktail,” replied Boothby.

The German and the Frenchman departed arm in arm. —Town Talk

Monday, October 5, 2009

Morehouse Mollifier at the Manhattan Cocktail Classic

The Manhattan Cocktail Classic Fall Preview has come and gone, and I could hardly imagine a better time. There was camaraderie behind each bar, spirits in every glass, and smiles at every turn... not what one might expect from a summit situated in the seat of general cocktail snobbery. This past weekend I was quite proud to be working in the Spirits industry in New York City.

At the closing Gala, held at the New York Public Library, Masha & I danced across the expansive lobby's marble floors and all through the evening. In between sets, there were 14 bars to sip and sample from, not to mention several spreads of beautiful cuisine.
In particular, I was happy to see that the Morehouse Mollifier had been put to use. Greg Boehm (proprietor of Cocktail Kingdom, who has been my historical eyes on more than one occasion, requested from me some historical New York Vodka recipes, nearly all of which I dug up from Ted Saucier's Bottoms Up, 1951. Among my recommendations was the Morehouse Mollifier, created by Ward Morehouse, Columnist, New York World-Telegram and Sun.

Ward Morehouse is most remembered for his Column, Broadway After Dark, where he scribbled out a carrier as a drama critic. Known to appreciate a good meal and a good drink, his favorite interview location was the 21 Club in New York. It's likely that this refresher was first shaken at the 21 Club.

Mollify, for those who care to know, means to appease the anger or anxiety of someone. Perhaps Mr. Morehouse had this cocktail assembled and served to those whom he interviewed to calm their nerves, help them relax into a loose-lipped mood.

The Recipe:

Juice 1/2 lime (1/2 oz)
1 jigger vodka (1 1/2 oz)
1/2 jigger Grand Marnier (3/4 oz)
Dash orange flower water (Go Easy!)
Shake well. Serve in cocktail glass.

Morehouse was an exceptionally travelled man, having driven across the U.S. over 23 times and visited 80 foreign countries. Perhaps he developed a thirst for Vodka somewhere along the way.

Whatever the case may be, Vodka works well in this cocktail because of how thoroughly orange the drink wants to be. Don't linger over this one, take it quick-like, with only enough breathing in between to capture the fumes and orange flower fragrance. Vodka lends its usual velvety texture while otherwise being properly subdued. You wouldn't want gin in a case such as this; when I want to sink my teeth into a chilled ripe orange, I don't want a mouth full of juniper berries waiting in the wings.