The Honeymoon

Do you ever wonder how so many cocktails are invented and everyone keeps them all straight -- or doesn't? Like how you can consult one Very Trustworthy Published Source and get Recipe A for a cocktail of some historical note, and then you reference Another Such Source and Recipe B is variegated enough that you're like, huh? Because if roads and bridges, whatever the recipe is for making them is, if those had been so casually bandied about we'd all be geographically stranded at best and dead from falling asphalt at worst.

Sometimes I think about those things. I thought about them recently while we were mixing Honeymoons. Doing so was actually the PhoBlograpHusband's idea, since we recently acquired our first-ever bottle of Applejack. We got Laird's, natch, because JERZEEEEE! (Like Laird's, Sean and I are from New Jersey.)

Anyway, here are different historical factoids about Honeymoons you can choose to accept or ignore at will, because apparently everybody else has:

- The Honeymoon was created in the 1930s in "a long since departed New York bar called Brown Derby."

- Or, the Honeymoon "is one of the signature cocktails from the Brown Derby in Hollywood that was probably featured alongside other 1930s legends."

- The cocktail also goes by The Farmer's Daughter.

- It is made with raw egg white, or not. Or, it is made with lemon juice, or not. Basically, there are permutations with and without either or both. ("Even if you are right, that'll be one plus one plus two plus one not one plus TWO plus one plus one.")

The morals of the story: Fobody's nerfect. The world is a strange and muddled place. Let's shut up and drink already.

The Honeymoon

(this is the recipe we like best for it)

2 ounces Laird's Applejack

1/2 ounce Benedictine

1/2 ounce triple sec

1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

Lemon peel, to garnish

Combine all liquid ingredients in an ice-filled cocktail shaker and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with lemon peel.

Tasting Notes

I am sure this tastes ah-MA-zing with an ounce of raw egg white as well. If you go this route, do a dry shake (in the shaker, all liquid ingredients, no ice) before your wet (with ice) one.

The iteration of the recipe swaps in apple slices for lemon peel on the garnish, but then again, they also don't call for lemon juice. Just FYI.

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The Savoy Hotel

From what my Facebook feed tells me, summer is already in the air for many of you Americans. For me, it's hit a balmy 45 degrees F two days in a row and I'm ready to cartwheel down the sidewalk in short shorts even though the sidewalk's still encrusted with shin-high piles of dirtsnow on either side.

While walking the dogs this morning in nothing but a heavy wool coat (wheee!) I noticed that construction has finally started on a new SAQ that'll be located a full 1 2/3 blocks closer to us than the SAQ that's currently closest to us. Even better, the new one is clearly too big to be a SAQ Express, which means maybe they'll carry something other than wine and Jack Daniel's.

(The different kinds of SAQs (government-run liquor stores) up here in Quebec are SAQ Express (bodega), SAQ Depot (warehouse) SAQ Signature and SAQ Selection (the difference being?). It's kinda like Gap, BabyGap, etc.)

Anyway, this is good because as I've said lately, what reduced amount of cocktailing I've been doing has been confined to those liquors I already have in the cupboard. Yes, I am lazy and a miser, but if you take away one of those obstacles to my leaving the house and purchasing more al-kee-hall -- i.e., the booze now lives on a shelf a whole 100 seconds closer to me! -- I'll relent.

Exhibit A: Here's a cocktail I would've never seen coming nor given a second glance. Three liquors, all of which we had in the house. It's intended to be served as a layered drink. That and the fact that it's 1 1/2 ounces total means to me that it's more of a shot than a cocktail, but we tried it both ways (layered and mixed) and approve either preparation. It's on the sweet side, but not as sweet as you might think. For some reason I can't contemplate this cocktail without also wishing I had a smoking jacket to don while partaking. (See mixed-into-a-cocktail-glass photo below to see what I mean. It's begging for a fireplace and a pipe!)

The Savoy Hotel

1/2 ounce brandy

1/2 ounce Benedictine

1/2 ounce dark creme de cacao

Pour the three ingredients, in order, into a shot glass. Hold a spoon upside-down over the mouth of the glass as you pour (hitting the backside of the spoon, then the glass) to get the layering effect. Note that the middle and top layers are very similar in color and so you may have to stare hard to actually see whether you've achieved a good and proper layer between them. Alternatively, shake all three ingredients over ice in a shaker and strain into a cocktail glass. In which case, garnish with a lemon twist for a little brightness.

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The Is You Is My Baby

Let's just call Valentine's Day what it is -- a test -- and I'll openly admit to what I am, a flunky. Which means that this year, not only did I completely neglect to get a gift for my sweet, patient, kind and deeply attractive PhoBlograpHusband, but whenever it did occur to me that I oughta do a V-Day cocktail for the blog, I'd be all, "Err, d'ya really think those guys [Ed. Note: that's you] want a special drink for Valentine's? I don't know if they'd be into that..."

So this weekend, while away on a five-day, half-work/half-play trip to my old St. Louis stomping ground, I briefly mentioned to the PhoBlograpHusband via gchat that, if possible, it'd be great if he could whip up something holiday-appropriate while I was gone that we could then post. He's in the middle of a large project right now for a class on Hollywood film musicals, which helps keep things spicy in our relationship by causing me to wonder on occasion just how gay he is, because he's really into it, but that's neither here nor there. The point is, I brought it up once and that was that. And a couple of days later, he emails me the recipe and photos for the Is You Is My Baby. Now there is a man who can ace a test with flying colors even when it wasn't a test I was actually bothering to proctor.

I like to think that the Is You Is contains a cloaked test or two of its own, the main one assessing the willingness of the drink recipient's palate; most of us don't think jalapeno when we think Feb 14, but garnish heaps of extra credit upon those who do, or are at least up for giving it a shot. (Srsly dudes, life is too long and boring on its own to be with someone who won't.) Secondly, should mixology know-how be high on your list of must-have qualities in a mate -- which sounds shallow, sure, but we've all got our I'll-dump-him-if-he-doesn't-say-Manhattan-is-his-favorite-Woody-Allen-movie deal-breakers -- you can see if your sig oth is hip to how this cocktail is basically a margarita-sidecar hybrid.

Without a pre-purchased token of affection for my sweetie, I usually just resort to acting extra kissy-kissy on V-Day. Except that Sean and I kiss-kiss all the time. His kisses taste more intoxicating than anything I've ever blogged about here, in fact. Seanboy, You Is My Baby! (And yes, I'll now try to pawn off this paragraph on him as a thoughtful "present." Man, I am the worst.)

The Is You Is My Baby

2 ounces Cognac

1/2 ounce Cointreau

2 medium strawberries

A 1/2-inch piece of jalapeno

1/2 ounce sage-infused simple syrup 

1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice

Cut a few, thin slices of strawberry and jalapeno for garnish and set aside. Muddle the rest of the strawberry and jalapeno with the simple syrup in the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add ice and all liquid ingredients. Shake well. Strain into martini glass and add garnish.

Tasting Notes

I'll leave today's notes up to Sean: "Strawberries are romantic and jalapenos are spicy, like romance should be. I thought the sage syrup's herbaceousness combined the two nicely, but using plain simple syrup is totally fine. However, should you use a more downmarket brandy and a triple sec, instead of Cognac and Cointreau, you'll end up with a drink that lacks a certain depth.

"Flavor profile-wise, the lime and the jalapeno gave the drink a nice freshness without being too spicy. With the strawberry, the flavors married very nicely." Yay, married! (Sorry, couldn't help myself, I luv my hubs!)

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The Tyr Na Nog

This is a post about friendship, a subject that tends to worm its way into your cranium quite a bit when a) it's January and b) you're spending your first of several years abroad, hundreds of miles from the people you like best and also from a TV that carries American college basketball.

Our friends Michelle and Dan, back in New York, are pretty awesomesauce peeps. I knew Michelle vaguely but fondly from the first time I lived in the city, before moving to the Midwest for several years. From the very minute I moved back to Gotham, thanks to forces I'll never quite understand but will forever appreciate, the friendship was just there, fully realized and present. We both met our respective fiances within a year, doubling the number of very cool people we got to hang out with whenever we hung out together.

Of course, Michelle and Dan are big cocktail fans. (Srsly, why else would Sean and I ever hang out with anyone?) They're not quite as fanatical as we are, I'd say, because in their hearts they save some room for beer, and also their whiskey allegiance veers towards the waters of northern Europe (IRL, UK, etc.) rather than the Nation of Kentucky. But a couple summers ago when Sean and I wanted to drive upstate to the Tuthilltown Distillery's Facebook Fan Appreciation Day (yes, that was a real thing -- shut up, Sean won a bourbon barrel!), we knew exactly who we wanted to come along with us.

If you were to ask me today for my favorite Michelle-and-Dan story, the one I'd tell was one I wasn't even around to witness firsthand. In fact, it happened while the two of them were vacationing on the Emerald Isle. The way I remember Michelle telling it, they were sitting in one of several pubs or B&B lounges that they stopped into on their trip, it was just the two of them, they were being quiet and sort of reading different things independently, and then Huey Lewis and the News' "Power of Love" came on the sound system. Without a word, they instantly high-fived.

Michelle and Dan are getting married in August. Sean and I are very touched that they asked us to create a cocktail for the occasion. Now, as I know from experience, there are several things you've got to consider when developing a wedding cocktail: What liquor brands does your reception site carry, and which are they willing to pour many times over? What's the glassware situation like; do they have 150 cocktail glasses, or better to stick with highballs? How much hooch can your guests handle? (This is the tricky part, coming up with something that will please the hardcore cocktailers and the I-never-touch-the-hard-stuff relatives au meme temps.)

Michelle and Dan, you can consider this cocktail a first draft if you like. In it, we used the Tyrconnell whiskey you brought back to the States for us. We also used Aperol and homemade cherry brandy, which, erm, probably takes this drink out of the running...? (Then again, neither's expensive, so maybe you and us and the cool place in Brooklyn where you're having your reception whose name I can't remember at the moment can work something out.) Besides my neverending love of wordplay, I wanted to name it Tyr Na Nog because, well, because something cheesy about marriage being like a mythical island where your fairy spirits will forever protect one another. (That was a first draft of a bad wedding toast.)

Or we can come up with something else and call it Awesomesauce.

The Tyr Na Nog

1 ounce The Tyrconnell Single Malt Irish Whiskey

1 ounce cherry brandy

1/2 ounce Aperol

About 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

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

Tasting Notes

I believe that, for this recipe, you could either buy a cheap-o cherry brandy like Hiram Walker's, or you could buy an almost-as-cheapo brandy-brandy and then cherrify it yourself. When we make cherry brandy at home, what we actually do is use this recipe to make brandied cherries, and then the leftover brandy we cook those in, we consider that to be our cherry brandy. It's served us well.

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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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