So been on an extremely Wondrich-y kick, just finishing up “Imbibe!” getting to the appendixes which are very worth reading. Anyhow, when I first got the book, I looked up something with rye and grenadine and that’s how I learned of this one. Then my Boston friends said basically “Duh.” But really it’s one of the drinks which appears can certainly be credited to Boston, since so many cocktails are of hazy, conflicted and apocryphal origin, this is pretty firm I understand.
Anyway I had been making them according to book, which calls for mint, in fact the oldest citation calls for creme de menthe, when I looked at his Esquire blog post and saw it had none in that recipe. And I wondered…what sort of Wondrichery™ was going on here. Then it was clear, Imbibe! is presenting drinks in an original form, or showing you how to approximate that original form, the Esquire blog is showing you how to make drinks in a fairly modern context. You know for dudes, because it’s a men’s mag.
So, I decided to try and drink it both ways. The most significant difference is that the modern recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of grenadine and has less rye, and the older adapted version calls for 1/2 ounce, more rye, and includes mint, lightly shaken with drink and as garnish. He also suggest adding seltzer and making it a cooler of sorts, serving with ice in.
Here’s the contemporary one
The recipe linked above as follows:
2 ounces rye whisky (I used Redemption Rye, which is 92 proof, and frankly is not my favorite thing I’ve picked up at the liquor store. Use Rittenhouse, Bulleit, or something else you like)
3/4 ounce lemon juice
3/4 ounce orange juice
1 teaspoon grenadine (home made)
Shake with ice, strain into chilled glass. Delish, but very much in the whiskey sour family. A whiskey not so sour. Lovely.
So in the book, the oldest citation of the recipe he gets from a book by G. Selmer Fougner, Along the Wine Trail. It’s too long for me to type out and you should buy Imbibe anyway. But it calls for bourbon, creme de menthe, orange bitters, sugar, grenadine, seltzer and garnishes of orange, pineapple and cherries. Then it goes on to suggest using fresh mint if in season, and juicing an orange instead of using the bitters. However Wondrich then clarifies that it’s supposed to be rye rather than bourbon. His adaptation follows which I used for my second version right here (this is verbatim from Imbibe, I’ll note where I deviated):
Juice of one lemon
Juice of 1/2 orange
1 barspoon superfine sugar (I omitted this, soo much grenadine was enough sweetness)
Stir until sugar dissolves and add:
3 oz Rye whiskey (same rye as above)
1 sprig of mint
Add ice, shake gently so as not to brutalize the mint and strain into a large goblet containing 1 or 2 large ice cubes, add grenadine to taste (a half-ounce should be plenty) and fill with chilled seltzer. Fruit as above. End quoted passage, my notes below.
Soooo. I shook this with the grenadine, rather than stir it in later after straining. This time I tried just rubbing the mint in the glass, and frankly I like it lightly tamped down and shaken with the drink better, which I’ve done before. Also I freaking dunked the whole thing into the glass without straining…sue me for saving ice. This is also a double because my lovely new #8 tumber is huge at 12oz. So after the picture was done, I plunked in a second fun metal straw and me and my pal Molly Weiss shared it. There was little room for seltzer because I misjudged, but I’ve made this quite a bit before in my smaller glasses spritzed it up to dilute it. Anyway YUMMEH…, much better way #2, ward #8.
(I took this one before I decided to garnish with an orange peel as well, which I do recommend)
This is Hassan who is from Bangladesh but he’s been here over 15 years and driving a cab for over 10, he was a student when he left his home country. I took a photo of his license but it’s not readable because of glare or I might try to contact him again.
I’ve got to start taking more pictures of drivers when I’m in taxis. Unlike that HBO show, Taxicab Confessions or whatever it was, cabbies usually talk to me. But also I ask, because often they have had really interesting lives in the country they are from. Sometimes they are professionals, have advanced degrees and come to work here in a cab and it’s still worth it. I remember a guy from India who was a mining engineer when he was there, I was totally shocked he could not find any work in that field in the US but his degrees never translated and he made four times the salary he had made driving a cab. I’ve had some of these conversations get very intensely personal. To the extent that a middle eastern cabbie once ended up telling me a lot about his sexual history. I wish there was such a thing as a cell phone back in those days, because I don’t remember his home country and I certainly didn’t have a camera or notepad to record any of it, he parked the cab in front of my apt with the meter off and spoke for at least 45 minutes mostly intimate details of his sex life, though he had started by saying some slightly homophobic things, he eventually confessed to me having sex with people of both genders, especially in his home country he had sex with men. He was also totally hitting on me and said I was the nicest person he had ever met in his cab.
I’ve also had cabbies freely confess their racial and ethnic prejudices to me. One particularly unforgettable moment was a female cab driver in the 80’s who had a blonde gun moll look to her. We started talking and I’ve blanked out on most of the conversation to this point, because she asked me eventually if I was Jewish. I normally answer the question no, not only because I’m not a believer, but officially in the jewish religion only my dad is Jewish, so that means that I am not. The fact that I answered “no” meant that she was free to tell me this story about a passenger she didn’t like who she referred to derogatorily as a “jew boy” the entire time. I really was too stunned to get into an argument with her, and also I felt a bit curious to hear her anti-semitism so open and flip that I didn’t stop her. I guess I feel free to keep my principles to myself in a cab, and not argue, just let them keep talking because it’s a window into a world I don’t usually get to see. I get to judge them privately, and then the transaction is over and they drive away.
Since I’ve been taking cabs my entire life, being from the West Village, (or just Greenwich Village as it was called in the 70’s when I was a kid) they were a necessary form of transport aside from the bus and walking the short distances between school and my moms job and our apartment, or my grandmothers store. I miss the days when really our entire lives played out in this small area, and cabs were a huge part of getting around in that little place, which has tons of subway stops that mostly serve to get you out of the neighborhood. Anyway cabbies change over the years, and I’ve enjoyed each new generation of them, usually it’s an immigration wave from a particular group of countries, you wake up and all the cabbies are Iranian, then they are gone. Lately it’s western African nations and frequently Bangladesh, like Hassan. Who was listening to the Nets, and also telling me how corrupt things are in Bangladesh. A good conversation.
I went to a great show on Thursday, Twin Guns was celebrating their latest vinyl release (which you can buy here and it contains a free download.) And the bill included other local favorites, Triple Hex and The Othermen.
It was a killer show…let’s do the photos in order, The Othermen opened.
They are always a ball of fun and I want to dance if I’m not taking pics.
Then Triple Hex was up and they turned off the lights so I had to use flash and wasn’t too happy with my pics, but here are a couple.
Then Twin Guns played, and I’ve seen them a number of times, but wow was the sound and performance amazing that night, really tight and loud in a way that overtakes you even with just the two of them. I really am not a musician or a music writer so you will have to click on the links and get a listen to really get a sense of it.
They have their own lights and that’s why they looked so cool even though it was dark.
Killer show, all nice people. Rock’n'roll. Catch Twin Guns, or buy the record, you won’t regret it.
So I’ve been reading Imbibe! by David Wondrich and I came across a drink for which I had most of the ingredients and was much earlier historically than other drinks I’ve made. I’m a huge fan of the book, and all Wondrich’s Esquire columns. Previously I’ve consulted his recipes when looking for multiple sources on drinks and his recipes are nearly always the best.
One of the things that will surprise you when reading this book, is in the 1800’s many drink recipes called for fresh fruit and berries. Certainly fancy people who could afford good booze and wine drank a lot straight, but there was a lot of bowls of punch, and even the individual drinks often called for berries, oranges, and even pineapple syrup. Drier drinks like the martini are so much later in booze history. What’s great to know is that the culture has come back around to these early drinks enough since his book was written in 07 that you can find many of the things he says are impossible to get now in most liquor stores. If I think about how things have changed since he wrote the book, the place near me with a loud plastic awning under the BQE, has Bols Genever, Old Tom Gin, 20 kinds of rye, at least 4 or 5 absinthes and even creme de violette.
Anyway, a Knickerbocker, such a NY or at least Northeast name, and it’s a drink with nothing hard to find in it at all. Though it calls for Santa Cruz rum I had Scarlet Ibis, which is Trinidadian, but it is pot-still distilled. This is the old method of distilling which Wondrich does recommend for all kinds of these older drinks. This drink calls for raspberry syrup, and I’ve made a lot of my own syrups but in this case, I felt that we don’t get a lot of good raspberries in this area, they often have mold, and they are really expensive. A pint was $5.75 and I bought a syrup that I’ve used in the past for raspberry frosting that was $11, I really recommend D’arbo Raspberry syrup which I got at the health food store.
Here’s Wondrich’s recipe, which calls for shaved ice, which for the life of me I can’t figure out how to reproduce from cubes at home, so I just smashed some wrapped in paper towels with a mallet. Yes I know that’s crushed ice, but I don’t know how I would get it in shaved form.
1/2 a lime or lemon (I used lime)
2 teaspoons of raspberry syrup (D’arbo)
2 oz Rum (recipe calls for Santa Cruz, but I used Scarlet Ibis)
1 oz Curaçao (Cointreau is my go to, he recommends Grand Marnier which you certainly couldn’t go wrong with)
Shake with shaved ice and garnish with berries, serve with the spent lime rind, but do not shake with the lime rind.
I didn’t really have an authentic glass for this really, it calles for a 6-8oz tumbler. My Atlantic City jelly glasses make me happy and I like them for drinks which you don’t strain and leave the ice in, they are the right size if the wrong period and formality. I also added pineapple and cantaloupe to my garnish, alternately, it seems like you can be free with your fruit garnish in a lot of these drinks. I used my new cocktail picks to spear them. I like having the picks because they let me sample the garnish as I’m drinking my drink instead of fishing them out of the bottom or eating them at the beginning. My friend Snapper gave me the picks as a gift and I really appreciate them.
Anyway this drink is scrumptious, festive and so summery I’m going to be having it all season. Enjoy.
I went to see one of my old favorite bands, and also friends whom I never get to see, Redd Kross and had such a fun time. Even though I’ve retired from being in the front row for every show, and really any show, I still insist on being in the front for a Redd Kross show and dancing and making an nuisance of my myself with hair swinging around. I took my favorite photos with my phone such as the one above, but I did bring my camera and sub-optimal lens since the other was in the shop. Anyway my pics are so-so, but I’m posting them anyway.
Thanks guys, really nice to see you on stage and off, thanks for the song dedication too.