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Falling for Cocktails

September 21, 2012

Now that I’ve drained the summer bar of its white rum and tequila, it’s time to start stocking up for fall.

What can I say, I’m a creature of habit. But sometimes I also like to mix it up. Last year I wrote about the seasonal transition of the liquor cabinet, and looking back there are definite similarities. But there is one major change and a minor adjustment.

The biggest change is driven by both market conditions and finding two great tastes that taste great together.

Fall 2011 ushered in brandy, amaro and ouzo.

Should I ever come into heaping gobs of money, mark my words, I will drink fine brandy. The good stuff, and I mean the really good stuff that most people never even hear about, sounds amazing but costs a pretty penny. In the meantime I keep the cabinet stocked with cheap swill that’s good enough for spiking a mug of hot tea or making the occasional brandy sazerac.

This year I decided to try a new amaro. If you remember, amari are bittersweet liquors from Italy that can function as both an aperitif and a digestif. Anyhow I switched from one citrus-heavy brand to another, just to broaden my experience with the category. Instead of Ciociaro this year I went with Ramazzotti. It too cost under $20 and I’m quite happy with the bottle.

Now there I was in Empire, considering another bottle to round out the cabinet. Lo and behold they were selling Luxardo Maraschino for the shockingly low price of $21.99. Never before had I seen this classic liqueur for under $30. And it plays really well with amaro. It’s not specifically a winter bottle, because it will enliven the classic daiquiri in the heat of summer. And since you use the stuff only a teaspoon at a time (at the most) it will doubtless still be in service come June.

But I’m very excited about its applications for the fall.

There is a drink called The Brooklyn, which you can read more about here, and it’s made from
2 oz. rye whiskey
3/4 oz. dry vermouth
1/4 oz. Amer Picon (or Ramazzotti?)
1/4 oz. maraschino liqueur

This drink is stirred over large fresh ice cubes and strained into a chilled cocktail glass.

Now I’m going to make this with bourbon, because it’s what we stock in the cabinet. Some of my oldest and dearest friends would likely string me up for suggesting one could switch out one distinctive whiskey for another. And quite possibly when made with bourbon the drink has a totally different name.

For that kind of detail, you’ll need to find yourself a cocktail history blog. The same goes for the Improved Whiskey Cocktail, which you can read more about here. But it’s a combination of:

2 oz. rye whiskey
1/4 oz. maraschino liqueur
1/4 oz. simple syrup
2 dashes of Angostura bitters

Which are stirred and strained into a chilled, absinthe-rinsed bucket glass.

But I think the flavors of this drink are ripe for improvisation. I’m looking forward to ditching the syrup and absinthe for a sugar cube muddled with Peychaud’s bitters, and maybe adding a splash of Ramazzotti to an avalanche of bourbon. Maybe that drink has already been named, or maybe it just needs a number like the Improved Whiskey Cocktail #3.

I don’t know. What I do know is that the Tour de Apple Cider Donut is tomorrow! And if you haven’t RSVP’d yet it’s not too late. I’ll be printing out score sheets before going to bed tonight. So if you do plan to come, please let me know by 10 o’clock this evening so I can make sure I’ve got scoresheets for everyone.

Hope to see you there.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 21, 2012 8:53 am

    If you like cognac but the price is a bit much, please try a French brandy. In particular St. Remy XO brandy. It is very good for the price of $14.50 (750 ml), it’s my regular go to. It’s available at Slingerland Wine and Liquor or Newton Plaza W & L. Try it you won’t be disappointed.

  2. September 29, 2012 2:33 pm

    Bourbon and rye are often interchangeable in cocktails. A classic Manhattan was/is made with rye whiskey, but modern tastes have shifted towards bourbon. As long as you’re using whiskey, it doesn’t matter TOO much, but different whiskies (using a Canadian or Irish for example) will create a very different tasting drink. When you start switching the spirit (using brandy instead of whiskey let’s say) then it becomes an entirely new drink.

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