The Tuxedo Martini

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Ceci n'est pas une Cosmopolitan

Girly-looking, manly-named!

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:

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- 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.

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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.

Tasting Notes

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.

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The Champagne Martini

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I have seen recipes for champagne martinis that call for just vodka and sparkler. I have come across others (more than I would have guessed) that all swear by a spoonful of raspberry puree in the bottom of the glass, with some fizz and whatever else on top. And I have read that just bubbly and Cointreau is what constitutes a proper Champagne Martini -- if "proper" is even a descriptor we can properly use when discussing a cocktail that bears, at best, a second-cousin resemblance to a proper-proper martini-martini.

My new favorite acronym is MINO -- Martini in Name Only. It was, I will admit to you devout drinkers, a fact of life I had to swallow (straight, no chaser) when I agreed to author a cocktail book called The Big Book of Martinis for Moms. Clearly, not all 175+ recipes in the book are vodka- and or gin-based, for one thing. Believe you me, I did strive to make as many of the book's recipes fall in line with a classic martini's most hallowed guidelines. As it turns out, Mom does not live on vermouth alone.

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Anyway, I wasn't down with all of those other Champagne Martini variants referenced above. Just vodka and bubbly? Too stiff and fumey. With a spot of jam? I'm intrigued (and inclined to adopt a British-nanny affect), but sounds messy, so pish-posh, ol' chum, and fanks but no fanks! (Besides, I don't think moms need any more messes to clean up. For that matter, do any of us?) Cointreau and champagne? OK, but can't we do better than that?

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Here's better.

The Champagne Martini

3-4 ounces champagne

3/4 ounce Cointreau

1/2 ounce Luxardo maraschino liqueur

2 dashes Fee Brothers Peach Bitters

Combine Cointreau, Luxardo, and Fee Brothers Peach Bitters in an ice-filled mixing glass. Stir briskly for about a minute with a bar spoon. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Top with champagne.

Tasting Notes

Obvs, you can use either capital-C Champagne (du France) or little-c champagne (sparkling white wine) for this recipe, just whatever you have on hand.

For that matter, you can forego big-C Cointreau and just use little-t triple sec if that's what you've got.

Lastly, speaking of drink-it-if-you've-got-it, I find this is a great recipe for leftovers. Like when you need something to do with that opened bottle of bubbly, and who doesn't always have way too much triple sec on hand? (I swear my bottle of triple sec predates Will & Grace.) Leftovers -- they're not just for moms!

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The Aviator No. 1

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I'd like to talk about cocktail geekdom in this post, which I realize is like talking about the pink elephant we're all seeing in the room.

When Googling "aviator cocktail," one of the top search results is this 2008 story from the NYT's Dining section entitled "A Brotherhood Formed with Cocktails and Ice." While the boys'-clubbish headline does make me wince (here's one occasion where I'm all for a "personhood" amendment; how about "camaraderie," Gray Lady?) the story tickles my historical fancy, as I feel like it's sort of the ur-trend piece about us modern-day cocktailians (as one of those quoted in the piece preferred to be called, rather than "cocktail geek").

A recipe for the Aviation Cocktail No. 1 is one of two that accompany the piece. Note that I just wrote Aviation Cocktail No. 1, not Aviator Cocktail No. 1. [Inner cocktail geek jolted awake by persnickety clarification.] The latter is actually more obscure, it seems, and therefore much harder to come by online. [Geek full of pride for self, knows more obscure cocktail knowledge than most, is so cool!] And as the numerical nomenclature suggests, both the Aviation Cocktail and the Aviator Cocktail come in more than one accepted form. [Geeeeeekkkkyyyeeeeaaaahhhhh!]

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The difference between Aviation No. 1 and Aviation No. 2 is creme de violette. While both are considered "vintage" tipples, I guess even back in the day -- a day perhaps as far back as 1916, as an Aviation No. 1 recipe can be found in Recipes for Mixed Drinks, published in that year -- creme de violette was hard to come by, as Aviation No. 2 omits it outright. This is not a bad thing, I'd say, as what's left sans creme is gin, Luxardo and lemon juice, a dangerously drinkable trifecta. [Reminds geek of geek's own, French Gimlet-esque recipe. Geek so money and don't even know it. Why geek talk like Cookie Monster? GEEK SMASH!]

The Aviator No. 1 builds on that heady trinity and adds creme de cassis -- perhaps to replace the original's creme de violette with a more commonly found ingredient? -- and egg white. While the egg white surely does it job and makes the drink damn good, I can't give you an historically justified reason for it. [Geek sad.]

An as long as I'm now gonna go ahead and deflate my inner geek ego, I have never, ever in my life managed to taste a drop of, or even find a bottle of, creme de violette. I think it's like the Godot of cocktail ingredients.

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The Aviator No. 1

(You can find this recipe or something similar in Difford's Encyclopedia of Cocktails, as well as my own The Big Book of Martinis for Moms)

2 ounces dry gin

1/2 ounce Luxardo maraschino liqueur

1/4 ounce creme de cassis

1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

Raw egg white (say, the amount in a medium-sized egg)

Combine gin, Luxardo, lemon juice and egg white in an ice-less cocktail shaker. Shake for about 20 seconds. Next, add ice to fill, cap shaker again and shake for another 20-ish seconds. Strain into a chilled martini glass. To finish, pour your quarter-ounce of creme de cassis into the center of the glass; it will sink to the bottom of the glass' V-shaped bowl and give the drink a layered look.

Tasting Notes

For extra egg-white froth, drop the coiled wire from a tktk strainer into your cocktail shaker for the first shake.

Difford says the drink tastes better when you forsake the layered look and shake the creme de cassis with the rest of the ingredients. Whatever, geek.

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The Martinez

Guest post by Sean Lorre, PhoBlograpHusband.

I'm afraid that one of my oldest friends doesn't like me much anymore. We used to be thick as thieves. We could really count on each other, you know? I'd sing his praises to anyone who would listen and in turn he'd lift my spirits, get me through tough times... hell, he even helped me meet my wife. But lately, things just haven't been the same. Why, bourbon? Why have you turned on me?

See, used to be that I could drink bourbon all night and never have a problem. But lately, just a glass or two leaves me worse for wear the next day. This newfound shortcoming has left me in a predicament and wary of ordering my go-to drink, the Manhattan. Thankfully, I have a fallback... enter the Martinez!

The Martinez, ostensibly the precursor of both the Manhattan AND the Martini, has a long, illustrious and much debated history. I won't bore you with the details, much less a historiographic critique of  said details. (Did I mention that I'm working on my Ph.D.?) Point is that it's old-school, classic and fantastic. I had my first Martinez at the Flatiron Lounge a few years ago, just as I was discovering the world of the craft cocktail. It's been a favorite ever since, though it has only been in the last year, after finally investing in a bottle of Luxardo Maraschino liqueur, that I started making them at home. In recent months I've started to see a real resurgence of the Martinez on drink lists. Viva la Martinez renaissance!

The Martinez

2 ounces gin

1 ounce sweet vermouth

1/2 ounce Luxardo Maraschino liqueur

3 dashes bitters (Angostura or Peychaud's)

Orange peel, to garnish

Combine the gin, vermouth, Luxardo and bitters in a tumbler filled with ice. Stir vigorously and strain into your favorite old-time cocktail class. Garnish with orange peel, flamed if you can, "to add flavour and aroma to the surface of the cocktail."

Tasting Notes

You'll note that I don't specify any particular gin or vermouth (or bitters for that matter). The key to a good Martinez is the proportions. Stick to these and you'll end up happy with your drink. You may also note that the 1887 recipe calls for Old Tom gin. If you got some or can get some, give it a whirl. If not, good ole London dry will do just fine.

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The Derby

If this blog betters your drinking in but one, minute way, I hope it provides you with a plethora of ideas for mixing easy, whiskey-based cocktails. Sometimes I picture you -- yes, you -- lumbering through the door of your recession-era, DIY-chic digs, on the edge of weary after a long day slogging through your paper-pushing profession of choice (or, in keeping with the recession theme, necessity), and of course nine times out of ten you're going to reach for the bourbon. Neat or straight-on-the-rocks will always do, but don't you deserve a bit more of a to-do? Just something uncomplicated that can add a little brightness, a little aroma, a soupcon of civility to your drink and your day? That's what I'm here for.

Le Chien Fumant was recommended to me by guest blogger Dan Saltzstein, who had visited our new hometown of Montreal this summer. It's a short walk from our own DIY-chic digs, so before dining there we'd already cased the joint out on dog walks. It's very British-inn cozy, and since the bar is just a counter separating the open kitchen from the dining area, without room for storage, the liquor bottles are suspended from the ceiling by bungee cords. Dangling booze!!

Our bartender was James Bond cocky/cool and assured us that, should we not fancy any of the specialty cocktails on the printed menu, he could fashion us "any of the standard, classic cocktails..." [saunters away towards a drink ticket, then suddenly remembers something important and leans back towards us to say] "... except Cosmopolitans." But the cocktail menu was quite intriguing, lined with a number of just the kind of bourbon cocktails I'm always looking  for: those with a short list of easily accessible, often-on-hand ingredients, but ingredients I never would've thought to put together myself.

The Derby I ordered contained bourbon, sweet vermouth, Cointreau and lime juice. It was pleasant and way too easy for a drunk pro like me to finish. They used more lime juice than I would; in fact, tasting it prompted me to utter the term "juice-forward" for the first time in my life.

I recreated it at home using much less lime, and added some Luxardo to provide a sour/bitter note at the end. I suppose I could've just used bitters, but you guys deserve something a little bit more, n'est-ce pas?

The Derby

(Adapted from Le Chien Fumant)

1 1/4 ounces Jim Beam Black bourbon

1/2 ounce Cinzano sweet vermouth

1/2 ounce triple sec

1/2 ounce Luxardo

1/2 ounce fresh lime juice

Combine all ingredients in an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously for half a minute and strain into a cocktail glass.

Tasting Notes

I used Jim Beam Black and no-name triple sec (instead of Cointreau) simply because booze in Quebec is expensive and hard to come by. I like Jim Beam Black and it works quite nicely here, but I suppose if I had my druthers I'd opt for a higher-end, also-non-wheated bourbon like a Michter's small-batch.

Didn't bother with a garnish this time around; maybe an orange peel to pick up on the triple sec? Other suggestions?

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