First and, I guess, foremost: When I say "JC," I'm talking 'bout Jersey City, not Jesus Christ. Although now that I mention it, perhaps this post's/cocktail's name will SEO some hyperChristians my way. In which case, give God the glory and pass me the bar nuts, flock! I think Jesus was a cool dude with lots of nice things to say -- even if he did prefer wine over the hard stuff.Read More
Me: Hey, J. and M. [our favorite married-couple-with-new-baby-in-Montreal friends] invited us over on Mother's Day afternoon for cocktails. J.'s mother and grandmother are in town. J. says her mother and I will get along because we're both drinkers.Read More
Here we have a Tuxedo Martini. It is of a piece with the Stork Club, a cocktail I blogged a few weeks back, in that both were christened after the New York City hotspots where they were invented. Allow me to quote my ever-dogeared copy of Difford's Encyclopedia of Cocktails:
"Created at the Tuxedo Club, New York, circa 1885. A year later this was the birthplace of the tuxedo, when a tobacco magnate, Griswold Lorillard, wore the first ever tailless dinner jacket and named the style after the club."
A few things:
- Griswold. Lorillard. That's like National Lampoon's Vacation + Gilmore Girls-ish surname somehow = The hoity-toitiest moniker EVER. Clearly, Griz did not just invent the tuxedo, but also the monocle and the spat.
- Having said that, there is apparently some dispute as to the veracity of that whole sartorial yarn.
- Invented in 1885! That is one seriously ancient cocktail. By comparison, the Stork Club (the business, not the drink) didn't even open until 1929. This makes me think of Midnight in Paris, when modern-day Owen Wilson and Roaring 20s-era Marion Cotillard time-travel back even further to the Belle Epoque. The Tuxedo is one ultra-hyper-meta nostalgic tipple, is what I'm saying. And also, as I've said before, a perfectly imagined era of yore is a perfectly good reason to prepare oneself a cocktail.
So how's it taste?
The Tuxedo's got an alcohol-y middle to its flavor profile, as any wet martini is wont to have. Of course, the fact that my brain keeps processing its visuals and telling me it's a Cosmo only adds to that wobbliness. The finish, however, is the bomb, with an intruguing and not-at-all-over-the-top sweetness to it.
The Tuxedo Martini
(This recipe's kinda like a mash-up between the one in Difford's and the one in my Big Book of Martinis for Moms)
2 ounces vodka or dry gin
1 1/2 ounces Martini & Rossi dry vermouth
1/2 teaspoon Luxardo
4 dashes Peychaud's Bitters
Lemon twist, to garnish
Combine all liquid ingredients in an ice-filled mixing glass and mix briskly with a bar spoon for about a minute. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Run the pithy side of your twist along the lip of your glass, then use it to garnish.
Maybe some folks would have my head for suggesting that this cocktail could be made with either vodka or gin. My feeling is, the other ingredients are quite potent and powerful, such that if vodka's your jam, or it's all you have on hand, etc., it's going to suffice.
Difford, by the by, uses Tio Pepe fine sherry instead of Luxardo in his recipe, as well as Angostura orange bitters instead of Peychaud's.
When I was penning The Big Book of Martinis for Moms -- because that's how one writes a book; one pens them ever so eloquently; one doesn't thrash at one's laptop until the "c" key gets permanently stuck or try to organize one's writer-blocked thoughts by haphazardly slapping a bajillion Post-Its on the wall like a mental patient -- I had an idea for a chocolate-cherry cocktail.
If you've readskimmed why haven't you bought this book yet please buy this seen the book, you know that the cocktail recipes therein each correspond to a particular feat of motherhood that deserves a potent, potable reward. So like babyproofing the house is an accomplishment that calls for a Rusty Nail, while helping with homework earns Mom a Brainstorm. The chocolate-cherry cocktail, I thought, would be a mother's just desserts on those blessed afternoons or evenings when she gets to do nothing at all, fluffy-slippered feet resting atop the coffee table. In other words, like drinking a bonbon.
Unfortunately, I knew that actually inventing said cocktail would not be so easy-breezy. Chocolate and cherry are two very forceful flavors. I find that sometimes when I try to combine two big, bold tastes like that, I wind up with a flavor profile that's somehow less than, or even worse than, the sum of its parts. It can taste entirely like one flavor and none like the other, or two two can meld into something downright blech-y.
Anyway, one way I snuck around those problems was by relying on cranberry juice, which provided a lovely hue (seriously, cranberry juice really does pretty up a drink) as well as an easygoing companion, palate-wise, to my white creme de cacao.
The Bonne Bonne (which I've given a French feminine spelling) wound up not making it into the book. Quel mal-mal for the book but goody for us!
The Bonne Bonne
1 1/4 ounces vodka
3/4 ounce white creme de cacao
2 ounces cranberry juice cocktail
2 dashes chocolate bitters
Combine all four ingredients into an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously for about 20 seconds and strain into a chilled cocktail or martini glass.
I didn't have any Three Olives Cherry vodka on hand while testing out this recipe, but I'd bet it's an ever better ingredient to use in this instance that straight-up vodka.
An even bigger cheat: You can make a drink with equal parts chocolate vodka and cranberry juice. Not bad at all. (Ghetto Bonne Bonne, anyone?)
A million years ago Last year, I did some damage to a bottle of yellow Chartreuse. Actually, it was only half a bottle; a Francophone friend up here in Montreal asked me to bootleg him back from the States a 375ml-sized bottle of the stuff, and as I could only find the 750ml size, I shared it with him.
Anyway, I've had some yellow Chartreuse on hand, is what I'm saying, and it's one of those liqueurs (like ouzo) where a little goes a long way. Especially since it's got a peculiar flavor that doesn't go with every Old Tom, Dick and Harry. Even more especially because yellow Chartreuse, unlike its green cousin, is super 'spensive, so you want that shizz to last.
So if you're someone who's got a bottle of yellow Chartreuse on hand -- perhaps even because I suggested you go buy it -- here's an easy way to get some money's worth from that purchase. The Cheeky Monkey is an easy-breezy-peasy kinda cocktail. It's a cinch to whip up and goes down trouble-free -- yet thanks to the yellow Chartreuse, it's different enough not to put you to sleep.
(I mean, if you're a new mother* *obligatory plug for my new Martinis for Moms book it very well may put you to sleep, but that's just the general exhaustion talking.)
The Cheeky Monkey
1 ounce citrus-flavored vodka, like Absolut Citron or Ketel One Citroen)
1 ounce yellow Chartreuse
2 ounces freshly squeezed orange juice
1 dash Peychaud's Bitters (or a similar, orange-y bitters)
Orange twist, to garnish
Pour liquid ingredients into an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously for about 20 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and add garnish.