AMBER SEXTON New York City 917-207-2375

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Cocktails of NYC, Manhattan cocktail

image by Amber Sexton

When taking this photo I realized my table is slanted, but it’s the least of my problems in this apartment. Anyway I could have fixed it in photoshop but leaving it satisfies both a wee bit of authenticity and also laziness.

By now you might have guessed that when making each of these drinks named for a borough of NYC, I’m trying to use a spirit that was made in the city. For now I’ve failed to find a NYC made rye. The Shanty is making a rye, but it doesn’t appear to be ready. They are a few scant blocks from my house and I’ve yet to try out their gin, but I intend to soon. Kings County Distillery only makes a bourbon and moonshine, I’m interested to try the bourbon but it was a bit pricey, $22 for a small bottle at Eight and Driggs. Small enough to be behind the counter to prevent theft. Anyway to make a proper Manhattan, there’s no reason to rely on bourbon anymore now that rye is back in a big way.

Once you expand to NY State, which used to make a lot of rye in the heyday of the beverage you have a some choices. I really liked the Hudson 5 grain bourbon from Tuthilltown Spirits I was given for my birthday and I wanted to try their Manhattan rye. But again it’s a bit expensive at $30 for a small bottle. Then I saw McKenzie Rye, which I remembered reading a review of, and realized it was made in the Finger Lakes. I have soft spot for the Finger Lakes, and especially the Seneca Lake wine trail and knew I wanted to try what Finger Lakes Distilling was making. At $43 it wasn’t cheap, but it’s a reasonable price for a 750ml bottle. And I really do like it. They also seem to be using sustainable methods, grain that is grown locally and knowing the upstate economy I like that.

So…off to drinking. A Manhattan is quite simple to make it is:

2 oz Rye
1 oz Sweet vermouth
couple shakes of bitters. (I have Angostura, but the original way uses the once defunct Boker’s bitters, which is being made again but I haven’t tried any)

You may shake or stir this with ice, I stirred. Then I strained it in a chilled glass with a really fancy Luxardo cherry. It really is a delicious classic drink and totally lovely and flavorful with a smokey rye. I love bourbon but it’s a much sweeter spirit and it’s a different drink with it. I assume you all have had a Manhattan before, since it’s a classic and well known. But if you’ve not had rye, then do because it’s better and it’s what the drink is meant to be. Play around with different italian vermouths if you have them, I just have the standard Martini & Rossi myself but I plan to try Punt e Mes next. When I run out, which seems like it will be a year or two from now.

About the Luxardo cherry. It is the original maraschino cherry, from the producer who makes the best maraschino liqueur and the jar was so expensive I cough to wheeze out the price….$27…....ugh. On the other hand I knew I wanted to try them, I had one in a Rob Roy at a scotch tasting, and it was delicious. Everything about the electric neon bleached out supermarket cherry is not what you find in a Luxardo, which are very strongly cherry tasting, stemless and gothy black. One thing I like about the is the black color is that it takes the drink garnish from a slightly girly look to one that is very masculine and serious, besides the fact that it tastes fantastic. I’ve noticed that I’ve never seen a man order a drink which has a cherry garnish, I think this one can change all that. And certainly the cherry is a bit controversial in the Manhattan, as the olive is in the Martini. Both came later but I think it’s safe to say they are here to stay.

One drawback to the Luxardo cherry is there is no stem, and I have no cocktail skewers of any kind so it only something to look forward to at the end of a drink, rather than eating little morsels of along the way. Also they are breathtakingly expensive for what they are. But I plan to use them to add dark seriousness to other drinks that call for them, and maybe I will put them on a cupcake or two.

Posted by Amber Sexton on 01/24 at 12:05 AM

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Rollei film backlog: processing my old 120 film

image by Amber Sexton
I’ve sort of been looking for a New Year’s Resolution, and trying to participate with friends on encouraging our creative output by sharing and setting goals. I rarely follow through on anything called a resolution, but I am trying to improve my space and get rid of things and clear my some of my resistance to making more art of all the kinds that interest me.

I had not been using my old Rollei camera, for a few reasons, but the biggest of which is that I’ve 60 rolls I’ve not been able to get around to processing in NYC labs for many years. And it’s seemed pointless to use the camera or invest in fixing it’s messed up shutter speeds, if I never even sent out more than a small fraction the film. I decided for a resolution of sorts, I would pick the cheapest lab possible and just send 4-5 rolls out for processing and scans only each payday until I get through over 60 rolls, some of which have been sitting here for 7 years or longer. I also realize the last groups I sent out, I dumped on my drive and didn’t really look hard at or do anything with. I’m letting go of the idea of using a “great” lab at this point because that’s pretty laughable to insist on after how I’ve treated this film. And I really can’t afford the full priced labs and nor do I want to go pick up and drop off film. So I got the order form online for Dwayne’s Photo and have sent a package off and received it back already. I’ve also decided, before looking at any of what comes back, I’m to put the next rolls for processing in the envelope, fill out a new form and seal it up with a check before I even look at what I have.

Today all the film was from my 2005 trip to Venice, but one roll had these eery pink light leaks from being in a drawer for over seven years. This has sort of charmed me, especially on the two frames I include here. These like most of the shots are more touristy, or fairly strict documents of what I saw without being that interesting, and these would be too except for their pink auras. This one in particular is a relatively dry shot, that has turned a bit interesting.

Anyway my goal is to not be judgmental of myself as an artist 7 years ago. To not be too critical of my skills and misdemeanors of bad technique, abandoning film in a drawer, using a camera where flaky shutter speeds blurred so many of the frames, and just try to enjoy looking at things as I used to see them. In furtherance of the goal of fixing and using this camera again.
image by Amber Sexton

Posted by Amber Sexton on 01/20 at 07:55 AM
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Thursday, January 10, 2013

I love the term “ball peen” and I wish more things besides hammers could be it.

These words are those I would like to be able to use more often in the next year. I have to come up with appropriate conversations to work them into.

Ball peen
Tools of ignorance
Mellifluous—I’m waffling on this one, not sure it’s worth the work.

Some of these like “corpulent” I use at every opportunity. Others I’m going to have to create circumstances that allow me to use them. I love the term “ball peen” and I wish more things besides hammers could be it. I want there to be ball peen shoes, and ball peen cameras, and just other ball peen instruments. My mother was a jeweler and owned several ball peen hammers, but I saved a different hammer of hers, more of a mallet that I keep at home from her jewelry tools. Anyway I don’t use the phrase “Tools of Ignorance” other than to tell people what it means a couple times a baseball season, and I want to make more drinks with some quinquinas.

Anyway, this is my block, and this tree is deciduous
image by Amber Sexton

Posted by Amber Sexton on 01/10 at 03:30 AM

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Cocktails of NYC, Bronx Cocktail

image by Amber Sexton
This cocktail is well known, though of recent vintage to me. I’ve made a bunch of these now, and I’ve settled on blood orange and very accurate measuring as the way it comes out best. I am using Greenhook Gin which is made in Brooklyn, and it’s much more juniper and floral than the citrusy Breuekelen. I really like it and can’t wait to go through many of my other gin drinks using it. So a Bronx is basically a martini with orange juice, or rather a “perfect martini” with orange juice (a ‘perfect martini’ is one with both types of vermouth.) This is a bigger drink than many of the smaller cocktails I’ve been making and I’m using my 4.5 oz glasses with it.

2 oz Greenhook Gin
1 oz fresh blood orange juice (it’s about a whole small blood orange)
1/2 oz dry vermouth (Noilly Prat)
1/2 oz sweet vermouth (Martini Rosso)

shaken with ice and strained in a chilled glass.

The Bronx is supposedly the first cocktail with orange juice, or the first juice cocktail, though I don’t fully understand when that is said because lemon and lime juice abound in recipes. And certainly there were sweeter drinks, and shrubbs and smashes prior. But it makes sense that it’s early because you really don’t get a profound orange flavor from the drink, it’s not gin and juice at all. In these proportions the drink is neither sour, nor sweet, not orangy, nor strongly tasting of the vermouths. What is great about this drink when I’ve made it right is that everything is in balance. You taste the gin, you taste the vermouth, and the orange but it’s all hanging together nicely.

Posted by Amber Sexton on 01/06 at 01:43 PM

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Cocktails of NYC, Queens cocktail

image by Amber Sexton
I recently learned that four boroughs of the city had classic drinks named after them. I mean not like stuff the bartender throws together and calls a “Staten Island Ferry.” But in the classic cocktail era of the Manhattan. The least well known of these that i had to google around for is the Queens. And it’s a derivative of the Bronx cocktail which once enjoyed popularity but fell out of fashion to the extent that I hadn’t heard of it either. But it seems like the Queens was never a big thing.

I’ve now made this drink three times, with slight variations, and I really enjoy it but am a bit surprised at how it tastes. Basically the Queens and the Bronx, are like martinis with fruit, Or more properly they are like the martinez, which is the ancestor of the martini. The Bronx calls for fresh squeezed orange and the Queens calls for muddled fresh pineapple.

So, leaving the Bronx for another day, I’m using Breuckelen Glorious Gin, which is made in Brooklyn, and I’ve enjoyed before, it’s a citrusy gin and I thought that would go, also works with the NYC theme. First I used this recipe from Gourmet which is:

1.5 oz gin
1/2 oz dry vermouth
1/2 oz sweet vermouth
pineapple slice (recipe does not state the amount of pineapple, I settled on half of a round horizontal slice)

muddle the pineapple with gin in shaker or mixing glass, add vermouth and ice, shake (or stir) strain and serve in a chilled glass. It gets a bit frothy with shaking, which you may like but I wanted to see the color more so the next two attempts I stirred.

This is quite good, but surprisingly the pineapple is not super noticeable, it’s a balanced drink of flavors that is very yummy but you taste the vermouth for sure and the drink is not that sweet, obviously not dry at all but nor is it sweet in a pronounced way. It’s refreshing yet traditional tasting too.

I wanted to see if I could make it slightly more tangy, and more pinapplely while realizing this isn’t a tropical drink at all. So on my next try I substituted half the sweet vermouth for my home made lemon syrup. (Forgot to include the sweet vermouth in the photo)

image by Amber Sexton

Which was:
1/5 oz gin
1/2 oz dry vermouth
1/4 oz sweet vermouth
1/4 oz home made lemon syrup

All in all it was a fun substitution, but not super tangy and I wonder if I’m just over thinking it and should add a squirt of lemon juice. Anyway, all the ways I’ve had it were quite refreshing, and fun. There are no garnish instructions for this drink but I wanted to amuse myself so I made a sort of a crown of pineapple. I would love to get a crown cocktail pick and use that with a regular wedge of pineapple.

So I don’t know why you have pineapple Queens cocktail, because I don’t think Queens is known for it’s tropical climes. But I’m having fun visiting with you. Also Merry Christmas, remember it was not that long ago that people enjoyed getting fruit as a Christmas gift, a pineapple isn’t an X-Box or anything, but Merry Christmas.
image by Amber Sexton

Posted by Amber Sexton on 12/25 at 10:19 AM
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