PhoBlograpHusband Sean teaches music by day and plies drinks by night. The moonlighting gig takes place at a private dining club, which I liken to a country club without the golf course or the attitude. The latter I attribute to the fact that it is the only nonprofit venture of its kind in the country, literally started by some conscientious folks with money who wanted to have a nice place to eat and fund worthy charities by doing so. (Having said that, Governor Krispy Kreme has made appearances there for special functions, and I mean, how do you serve that man without throwing a drink in his face?)
There are a few members Sean's gotten to know through their mutual love of cocktails, and occasionally he comes home next to beaming because he spent his night crafting painstaking, wonderful potations for them. He's even borrowed from this blog when choosing what the cocktail du nuit will be on a particular shift.
Some time back, the club held a cocktail creation competition amongst its members; the six finalists' recipes were printed up in a little pamphlet, which Sean brought home to me. I was pretty way-impressed with what these nonprofessionals had come up with, and also jealous, because as much as I wanted to replicate their inventions at home, I don't know what Saigon cinnamon is (one of many foreign ingredients required to make an India spiced vodka, which was then mixed with Domaine de Canton, coconut water and lime to make a Mumbai Magic); I can't find unsweetened pineapple juice anywhere (though recently Stephanie clued me in to a juice joint in the East Village); and something tells me Castries Peanut Rum Creme, one half of a Peanut Butter Cup Martini recipe, isn't stocked at my local bodega.
There was one cocktail, though, that struck me as the perfect balance of enticing and accessible, the Bitter End Sazerac, made with bourbon, B&B and anise liqueur. Now, I know that the couple who came up with the Bitter End Sazerac is quite friendly with Sean and also readers of this blog, so how can I put this delicately... I think they must be lushes, because their Bitter End Sazerac recipe calls for five ounces of bourbon, plus another ounce of the B&B and a half-ounce of the anise. My hat's off to you, Drunk Couple, and your stamina, and please don't mistake my hat for something to pour all that bourbon into.
It took a lot of tinkering on my part, much more than I usually need, to figure out how to retrofit the Bitter End Sazerac recipe for the average liver. What tripped me up most was the anise liqueur. Given that this drink's dubbed a Sazerac, my assumption was to use Pernod in that role -- but even when I reduced its half-ounce to "just a few drops to coat the glass," the cocktail kept on getting overpowered by licoriceness. Not until it finally hit me to try making this with arak -- in short, arak is Lebanese ouzo -- did it finally come together in delicious fashion. I highly recommend this one.
The Bitter End Sazerac
(Adapted from "Park Avenue Club Cocktail Creation Competition")
2 ounces Buffalo Trace
1/2 ounce B&B
1 teaspoon Arak Razzouk
3 or 4 dashes Angostura Bitters
Orange peel, for garnish
Pour all ingredients except the bitters into an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously and strain into a rocks-filled highball. Add bitters and garnish.
So as I said, arak is basically ouzo, and as such, you should feel free to use either. Whenever I've shopped for arak, in NYC or the Midwest, Arak Razzouk is always the only brand I've found.