The Sweet Martini

The Sweet Martini

By the creamy, swirly look of it (as seen in pic above) + by the name of it => This cocktail must contain ice cream or at least cream-cream, no?

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The Stanley Cocktail

This is gonna be one of those babbling brook o'consciousness posts I write from time to time, lending special credence to the word "babbling."

Sean and I made this cocktail a couple weeks ago -- before my Moms swooped into town for a week-long six-day (she'll correct me in an e-mail if I don't do it now) stay. Why don't I cocktail *more* when hosting family? God knows I need it badly-er during such times. Oh, right. I'm up the spout. Good thing that I don't forget that too often.

Anyway, my home office is also our guest room, so when we've got folks staying here I basically don't write, don't work, don't check e-mails, and generally grow more and more discomboobulated and unmoored from real life. Which is probably why I sound the way I sound right now. Me no typie so good when brain cloudy with word farts what is thesaurus?

So, the Stanley! Why did we make the Stanley? We made the Stanley because we had lemon juice about to turn in our fridge and because after many sadistic false starts, Mother Nature has finally gotten her big, compostable ass into gear up here and delivered a proper Montreal spring. (I am the last person who should be making fun of other women's fat asses at this point in my life/pregnancy, but she is not a real person so she can suck it.) The Stanley, rather audaciously, combines gin and rum, two liquors that a) you rarely see mixed, yet b) speak to the same joyous thermometer creep that ought to be celebrated with a proper cocktail, preferably including them. Grenadine and lemon juice take away from that audacity, make it more like the Banality of Cherry Coke than the Audacity of Hope (the Audacity of Hooch?) but we decided to give the Stanley a go all the same.

We got the Stanley from our trusty-dusty Old Mr. Boston Official Bartenders Guide. Sometimes this book -- as much as I insist upon treating it with reverence, for it is really old and its starchy pages smell wonderfully like pickled dust -- is like a big clusterwuh? Like when it gives you a girly-ass drink called the Stanley. Who invented this shit, or at least named it that? It is very pretty, though. In fact, I bet if I just keep looking at those pics above my head fog will lift before long...

Every time I say "the Stanley" in my head, I picture two things in quick succession. One, Mrs. Roper. Two, Pretzel Day.

I like Pretzel Day...

The Stanley Cocktail

(as per the Old Mr. Boston Official Bartenders Guide)

1 ounce Bombay Dry Gin

1 ounce Bacardi

1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

1/2 ounce grenadine

Combine all ingredients in an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously and strain into chilled cocktail or coupe glass.

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The Pink Lady (aka The DebutAunt Highball)

And now for something completely self-glorifying!

In between blog posts here, I (and society at large) force myself to actually write for money. Sometimes, it's actually even fun! Like when I spent the bulk of 2010 happily employed as "Fairy GodWriter" to entrepreneur and founder Melanie Notkin during the researching, writing and editing of her first book, Savvy Auntie: The Ultimate Guide For Cool Aunts, Great-Aunts, Godmothers and All Women Who Love Kids -- a book which, ahem, happens to come out today.

Is the book awesome? Yes, it is, in that even if you have no interest in changing poopy diapers, it will make you believe that changing a poopy diaper would actually be fun. Is the book not just Auntie-savvy, but cocktail-savvy? Indeed, it is that, too, as it contains a pair of cocktail recipes courtesy of yours truly, perfectly geared to the woman who loves afternoon outings with someone else's little ones as much as she cherishes the well-earned cocktail she treats herself to once she's back home in her un-babyproofed lair.

The cocktail from the book that I want to talk about today is what we dubbed the DebutAunt Highball -- served as the signature cocktail at a DebutAunt Ball, which is like a shower for first-time Aunties. (If you love puns as much as I do, hoo man, you are going to love this book!) The DebutAunt Highball is a variation on the Pink Lady, a frothy, blush-hued tipple that harks back to 30s-era glamour, boa-trimmed piegnoirs, Ginger Rogers, and bubble-bath scenes in black-and-white talkies. The Pink Lady was Hollywood and high society (Eric Felten wrote in How's Your Drink? that Jayne Mansfield was a big fan of the concoction) but was also the Cosmopolitan of its day: A pink drink often ghettoized and ridiculed as being suitable for girlie girls only -- albeit not by everyone. As Felten also wrote, "In his book Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails, Ted Haigh laments that because of the exaggerated femininity of its name, no self-respecting man has ever bellied up to the bar to order a Pink Lady -- or at least not for himself. Haigh suggests the drink should be rechristened the 'Secret Cocktail' (the 'secret' being that one is actually drinking a Pink Lady)."

Women without kids of their own, as Savvy Auntie discusses, likewise can find themselves marginalized and maybe even a little derided for not fitting that "two-kids-one-husband-two-car-garage mold" (to quote the delightful book that you should buy right now), which led me to believe that the Pink Lady was a most fitting cocktail to adapt.

There are a number of different recipes out there for a Pink Lady, but even amongst those, I felt compelled to pare things back for Savvy Auntie, because as much as I'm a proud sister of the Auntourage, I didn't think it right to call for a relatively esoteric ingredient like applejack or cherry brandy in a mass-market book not about cocktails. (Really, my concern was that some folks might substitute Apple Pucker for the applejack, and then the Cocktail Police would be chasing me with sticks.)

But of course, for those of you here (which I hope includes some fellow Savvy Aunties -- welcome, GourmAunts and Bon VivAunts!), I reveal the Pink Lady in all its old-school allure.

The Pink Lady (aka The DebutAunt Highball)

(Adapted primarily from How's Your Drink? Cocktails, Culture and the Art of Drinking Well, by Eric Felten)

2 ounces gin

2 ounces fresh lemon juice

1 ounce applejack or calvados

Splash of grenadine

1 tablespoon raw egg white

Combine all ingredients in a shaker and shake vigorously. Then fill shaker with ice and shake again. Strain into an ice-filled highball glass.

Tasting Notes:

See, even I don't have any applejack in the house. Hence, I used calvados.

Other Pink Lady recipes I've seen call for just cream and no egg white, or both cream and egg white. I think both seems a little redundant, no? Frothy is more important than creamy for this drink, so I stuck with just egg white.

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The Holly Hills

As both a maker of cocktails and a plier of the written word, I am wholly offended by garish concoctions (cocktastrophes, perhaps?) that look like this and, insult on top of insult, co-opt the nomenclature of "daquiri":

And so, welcome to reason #I-lost-track of why I so thoroughly enjoyed pitching drinks at The Royale, where the Holly Hills daquiri looks like this:

The Holly Hills

(Adapted from The Royale)

2 ounces Rhum Barbancourt

1 ounce fresh lime juice

About a teaspoon of simple syrup

A dash or so of grenadine or maraschino cherry juice

Combine all ingredients in an ice-filled shaker, shake thoroughly, and strain into a (preferably chilled) cocktail or martini glass. Optional garnish with lime wedge.

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The Clipper Cocktail


Sometimes I get sooo sick of myself. Me and my “ooh, me likey bourbon cocktails, egg white, Licor 43, bourbon meow meow.” (You have to imagine Miss Piggy saying it to get the full effect.)

A good remedy for a cocktail rut is How’s Your Drink? Cocktails, Culture, and the Art of Drinking Well, by Eric Felten, an impresario equal parts food/drink/culture critic and jazz trombonist/crooner/bandleader. The book is a sort of loosely chaptered collection of drinking vignettes throughout history, with recipes here and there. It’s a great read to keep on the shelf and just flip through. Today, I flipped to the Clipper Cocktail.

This drink called for "golden rum," which, on a slushy Monday Tuesday, sounded exactly like what I needed. Off I trudged to the liquor store, where I found a plethora of anejo rums but only one labeled "gold."

My understanding of rums is that white ones are fermented in steel and unaged, goldens are aged in oak and darks are aged in charred oak; anejo (which literally means "aged") falls somewhere between the latter two. For rhetorical purposes alone, I was really looking forward to a golden rum, but the only one in stock was Bacardi Gold. I've made tons of mojitos with Bacardi (white, not gold) and always found it up to the task; when you're bombing that base liquor with so much mint, lime and sugar, a high-quality rum (like 10 Cane, my old upsell) would probably just go to waste, anyawy. But in the Clipper, the rum's got less to hide behind.

So when I saw a sale on Pampero rum ($6.99 for a fifth!), I figured I'd grab that too. Thank goodness I did. The Bacardi Gold was noxious, sweaty-tasting and harsh as all get out. The Pampero, on the other hand, had a little of that shoe-polish taste that reminds me of Fernet Branca, but please trust me when I tell you that it is eminently better, and suits this drink quite nicely.

The Clipper Cocktail

(Adapted from How's Your Drink?)

1 1/2 ounces  Pampero Ron Anejo Especial

1/2 ounce Cinzano extra dry vermouth

1/2 teaspoon Giroux grenadine syrup

Pour all ingredients into an ice-filled cocktail shaker. Cap and shake vigorously; strain into cocktail glass.

Tasting Notes:

Quantitatively, the only tweak I made on Felten's recipe was to cut the grenadine down from one teaspoon to half a teaspoon. Whether it's merited or not, I tend to regard my Giroux grenadine syrup as thicker than average.

For some reason, I really felt like drinking this on the rocks out of a highball glass; I wanted to wrap my paw around it rather than pinch it by a stem. My compromise was to enjoy it out of my martini bowl.

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