The Porchtime Sipper

The Porchtime Sipper

When I picture my perfect Memorial Day -- meaning the Monday proper, after most of us have had our share of barbecue beers and whatnot -- what I'd really like to do on that day is sit on a porch, in a nice, big, comfy chair (rocking, or Adirondack -- I'm not picky) and spend the afternoon reading a good book and sipping on something wonderful. 

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The Month-Old Manhattan (Day 35)

Time moves more slowly in Canada. I move more slowly with child. Put 'em together and what've you got? A 35-day month, but one that's worth the wait, for at the end of it lies the Month-Old Manhattan.

When I first mixed this drink in May, having gotten the recipe's inspiration from a restaurant's cocktail menu in St. Louis, I commended its use of old-school rye whiskey instead of bourbon as a base and marveled at the inclusion of curacao, which gave it a more playful (but still not juvenile) flavor. I'm paraphrasing myself here, but I described its unaged taste as appealingly scratchy-smooth-sweet on the palate.

Well; what a difference a five-week month makes. After spending that span of time sealed tightly in a Mason jar, the Month-Old Manhattan now boasts a shooting-out-of-the-gate upfrontness, like it couldn't wait to get down somebody's gullet, pronto. What may surprise you most, though, is which parts of its original profile are doing the tastebud-grabbing and the ass-kicking. This cocktail is, first and foremost, orange. Like, woah, orange. Like, oh!-range. And that's despite that fact that I'd subbed rail-quality triple sec for top-shelf curacao.

Second to that in oh!-ness is how round and smooth aging has made it. This is obviously not as surprising -- that's what aging is supposed to do, round out the corners, sand down the edges. It makes this Manhattan dangerously drinkable. In fact, if you've ever fancied shooting a Manhattan, this would be how to do it. But of course, good shots only come to those who wait.

The Month-Old Manhattan

(Adapted from the cocktail menu at Eclipse Restaurant in St. Louis)

2 ounces Old Overholt Rye Whiskey

3/4 ounce triple sec

3/4 ounce Stock sweet vermouth

1 dash Angostura Bitters

Orange peel, to garnish

Combine all liquid ingredients in a clean Mason jar, stir briskly and briefly with a bar spoon without ice, and tightly seal jar lid. Let stand for one month in a cool, dry place.

To serve, pour jar's contents into an ice-filled mixing glass. Stir vigorously with a bar spoon until drink is well chilled. Strain into chilled cocktail glass and garnish.

Tasting Notes

If the overly orangeness is scaring you off, my suggestion is to reduce the triple sec down to a half-ounce.

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The Month-Old Manhattan (Day One)

Damn you, St. Louis! Damn your exploding cocktail scene, three-and-a-half years after I move away. Damn you and your 150-libations-long cocktail menus and your Tales of the Cocktail award noms, your Ted Kilgores, your envy-inducing, membership-only cocktail boites that just happen to be housed in the most awesomest speakeasy-style restaurant space EVER.

And damn the recent cover story in Alive Magazine (a local lifestyle rag for chicks with meticulously maintained blonde highlights that I make fun of a lot in my head, but still) listing the top 20 cocktails in the city, which just so happened to be the current issue  when I swung through town a few weeks ago, reeling as I customarily do from the timewarp-mindfuck that comes from revisiting my once-hometown, coupled with the fact that I'm still pregnant and can't shouldn't really no damnit can't drink anyway. You are killing me Saint Louis.

So yes, raging jealousy was my default reaction to this fine piece of journalism, followed closely by an intense desire to recreate at least one of these 20-best potations. I settled on the Month-Old Manhattan because, like many cocktails I've made of late, I already had all of the ingredients in the house. I haven't toyed with aging a cocktail in a while. The Month-Old Manhattan recipe came from Eclipse Restaurant, owned by my old bud Joe Edwards.

Joe Edwards is the king of the Loop, one of StL's happening-est nabes. Joe Edwards is a gentle, aging hippie and a shrewd, wickedly successful entrepreneur, whose hospitality and entertainment empire speaks to his endless love for all things Americana kitsch: Blueberry Hill (a resto/bar/college hangout/music venue where Chuck Berry still performs); Pin-Up BowlFlamingo Bowl; and the Moonrise Hotel, which houses Eclipse. I got to know Joe Edwards back when I was the restaurant critic at StL's alt-weekly. Also, Joe Edwards went to Duke. Go to hell, Carolina, go to hell!

So we mixed up the M.O.M. and found it's got a hell of a lot going for it besides its titular aging. This Manhattan is made with rye whiskey (as was the norm back in the day), sweet vermouth, bitters -- and, curiously, curacao. If I had Grand Marnier on hand I'd use that (Grand Marnier being a most upscale curacao) but I went downmarket and just used no-name triple sec.

Even unaged and no-name-triple-sec'd, I am already a big fan of this drink. The rye-curacao combo offers a rare scratchy-smooth-sweet trifecta on the palate.

The Month-Old Manhattan

(Adapted from Eclipse Restaurant, as published by Alive Magazine)

2 ounces Old Overholt Rye Whiskey

3/4 ounce triple sec

3/4 ounce Stock Sweet Vermouth

1 dash Angostura Bitters

Clementine segment (rind on), to garnish

To make your aging sample, combine all liquid ingredients in a clean Mason jar, stir briskly and briefly with a bar spoon (no ice necessary), and tightly seal jar lid. Let stand one month in a cool, dark place like a cupboard.

To drink straight away, stir all ingredients in an ice-filled mixing glass briskly for about 20 seconds, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange or clementine segment, if desired.

Tasting Notes

Like I said, I was happily surprised by the smoothness and well-calibrated sweetness of the M.O.M. even using crappy triple sec, so I can only imagine that going with GrandMa as your curacao would knock your socks off. In fact, you might even want to try scaling back to 1/2 ounce GrandMa if you do so -- I'm just guessing on that, though. Cointreau would, of course, be a fine, middle-of-the-road substitute between those two.

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The Prescription Julep

OK, OK, some of y'all are probably thinking, Enough with the juleps!

And then there are folks like me, who simply cannot have enough julep recipes at their disposal. I collect julep recipes like I used to collect Smurf figurines. Srsly, how you can possibly have enough deliciousness at your fingertips?

Why this particular recipe (which dates back to the 1850s and was recently written about by David Wondrich in his book Imbibe!)? Because by combining rye whiskey and brandy, it offers you a way to appropriate the grainy sweetness of bourbon when you haven't got any bourbon handy. It's a cocktail hack!

And speaking of deliciousness, Wondrich claims this recipe turns out an even better julep than a classic bourbon one. Ahem, ahem, Mr. Wondrich... bite your tongue.

The Prescription Julep

(with thanks to Serious Eats for passing along the original version)

1 1/2 ounces Remy Martin

1/2 ounce Old Overholt rye whiskey

1/2 ounce simple syrup

A few mint leaves, plus a sprig for garnish

Drop mint leaves into bottom of julep cup or Collins glass. Cover with simple syrup and muddle. Add ice to fill, then add brandy and rye. Stir briskly. Garnish with sprig.

Tasting Notes

The original recipe calls for two teaspoons of sugar dissolved in a half-ounce of water -- call this simple syrup if you want. It also calls for muddling the sugar/water combo in the bottom of the glass. No offense 1850s, but I own a microwave. I make simple syrup.

 

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