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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Whiskey Sour

It is shockingly bad form to drink whisky at any time at all before noon.
–Alma Whitaker, Bacchus Behave! The Lost Art of Polite Drinking, p. 27

But never mind that. This is October, a poem of an afternoon, and the stretch from waking to nightfall will hopefully be mercifully short anyway.

We are always reticent to tell others what they should drink. But Joy at The Drawing Room recommends a parting Whiskey Sour, and we are quite pleased with it. Whiskeyish and citrusy, it suits the moment perfectly. The sun shone through the door gently as the day’s final rays do, and there it was: a perfect Whiskey Sour, backlit.

It may have been years since you’ve had a Whiskey Sour. You may even have never had one before. Let us refresh your memory:
Whiskey Sour
Shake in iced cocktail shaker & strain
1 oz fresh lemon juice (3 cl, 1/4 gills)
1/2 tsp sugar (2 dashes)
1 1/2 oz rye or Bourbon whiskey (4.5 cl, 3/8 gills)
1/2 orange juice (optional) (1 1/2 oz, 4.5 cl, 3/8 gills)
Add lemon wedge, cherry
Serve in a sour glass (4.0 oz)
nihil obstat: The Cocktail Database (cocktaildb.com)
Citrus, whiskey….what’s not to love? It will work well with your sleek Bach/Busoni partita on the Bose and the autumn Santa Ana rolling across the sunshine. It is a fitting drink with which to honor the season—the American whiskey makes it so—and yet tangy enough for fall. The sour glass—think half an hourglass—is the essential stemware. And its shape is a good reminder: you should sip your Whiskey Sour over a minimum of half an hour.

Use a good whiskey. And this is a particularly nasty week to drive anywhere, so lose your keys.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Commodore

Whenever Indian summer comes (we’ve had a nonstop one in LA this year), you might be thinking of shifting gears a bit, prepping for the richer late-autumn drinks but not quite there. When it’s 79 and clear as the country, a manhattan may feel a little too heavy, even though the calendar says it’s fall.

The limes of late summer are turning yellow, but don’t toss them into the compost pile. They’re perfect now for a Commodore.

Never had a Commodore?

Over at Doc’s Cocktail db, the preferred recipe is:
4/5 rye whisky (2 1/2 oz, 7 cl, 5/8 gills)
1/5 fresh lime juice (1/2 oz, 2 cl, 1/8 gills)
2 dashes orange bitters per cocktail
sugar to taste
Bourbon is OK too. Basically 4 parts whiskey to one part lime, orange bitters and sugar to taste. Tangy!

Here’s a recipe for a more esoteric Commodore, not quite a parasol drink but a little fruitier: the Commodore No. 1.
1 1/2 oz blended whiskey
1/2 oz strawberry liqueur
1/2 oz lime juice
2 oz orange juice
dash orange bitters
No instructions; we figure if you’re at this site you already know how to mix these.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Famiglia Negroni




I shall presume if you have arrived here in search of meaning or ideas or because you found the New York Times too facile that you already know how to mix a Negroni, the fabled gin with Campari with sweet vermouth drink. You likely stir it (mandatory) and serve it on rocks (usual) in a tumbler or old fashioned glass (prudent).

Drago Centro in DTLA has a Novac Negroni, the first word a portmanteau (No Vacancy) name of a fictitious town in the game Fallout New Vegas. $13 (the drink, not the game). The Negroni variant includes Aperol and a dash of Grand Poppy; it may seem counterintuitive to add Aperol to a Campari drink, but the end result indeed works. The gin they use is the fervently boquetcious St. George Terroir, so this is California, all right; the vermouth is the silky Carpano Antica. They serve it over and around one of those extra large ice cubes. If you haven't had a drink mixed Camparo Antica, you may not know what's possible in sweet vermouth.

Up the boulevard, Sunset Boulevard, The Black Cat in Silver Lake serves a Boulevardier, the Negroni family drink that swaps bourbon, in this case High West Double Rye, for gin, also with the lush Carpano Antica. $13. I've written of The Black Cat in another context; a gay rights riot involving the place preceded Stonewall by over two years. The place acknowledges the legacy without making it an insistent cultural tourist selling point; it remains comfortable, clubby, local.

I also spotted a large bottle of Carpano Antica, which comes in a smaller bottle and also a one liter size, in a refrigerated unit behind the bar at Hyperion Public, a halfway-to-sports bar within walking distance of me on Hyperion in Silver Lake that at first confused me as to whether or not it was a neighborhood bar but I have since determined it is. The space has good simpatico with The Black Cat as it used to be a gay piano bar, LA's oldest at the time of the conversion. I didn't ask what they used the Carpano for, and no drinks on the drink card call it out, but I did ask why they refrigerated it; the alert bartender told me that because it's sweet vermouth; in her opinion, if you don't use it quickly it may turn taste after a time. "At home, you can use the smaller bottle and cork it with a rubber stopper and pump it if you like," she said. And I buy that; as soon as I got home, I took the cork off of my home bar bottle and put on a rubber stopper top and pumped out as much of the air as I could.