And we’re back! Last week I took a break from my weekly cocktail post so I could participate in Lucky Leaf’s virtual summer potluck. So, if you were concerned that I would no longer be making retro cocktails and sharing their history with you, don’t fret because today it’s back to our regularly scheduled programming. And what better way to come back than with a Boulevardier.
Two weeks ago I shared the Negroni with you, an Italian cocktail created shortly after WWI. Well today’s cocktail is the American cousin. It’s also made with Campari and Sweet Vermouth, but instead of gin, we get to use my favorite booze: bourbon! It’s just as potent as the Negroni but if you’re like me and prefer bourbon over gin, you’ll probably appreciate this drink a little more.
As I mentioned the Negroni was created in Italy just after WWI. Well, the Boulevardier was created around the same time, during Prohibition to be precise. See, the Volstead Act created two different types of bartenders: those that relished in adventure and creating new drinks out of bathtub gin and those that preferred the real stuff. Those that preferred real cocktails made with real alcohol moved to Europe where they could continue their trade without the fear of imprisonment. One such bartender was Harry McElhone who ran the bar at the Plaza Hotel in New York. By the time Prohibition hit Harry was already across the pond. He settled in Paris, France and opened up Harry’s New York Bar. There he was able to continue making all the drinks he’d come to know and love as well as create some new ones using ingredients that could be only found in Europe; ingredients like Campari. Of course Harry knew of and made Negronis, but since he was an American first and foremost and Americans love their bourbon, Harry decided to substitute the bourbon for the gin and thus the Boulevardier was born.
So no matter whether you like bourbon or gin, if you’re a fan of Campari, both drinks are definitely worth a try.
- 1-1/2 oz. bourbon
- 1 oz. Campari
- 1 oz. sweet vermouth
- Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously for a minute and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist and serve.
When most people talk about stingers they always seem to mention Cary Grant playing a navy pilot in Kiss Them for Me and shouting “Stingers, and keep them coming”. I however, have never seen this movie which is a surprise since I’m a huge Cary Grant fan and have seen some of his more obscure films. But that’s besides the point. See, when I think of the cocktail a different movie comes to mind: Beaches. I know, I know, please don’t judge as I admit this embarrassing piece of information. What can I say, I like Bette Midler. And since I’m such a big fan of her’s I’ve seen the movie several times. Her cocktail of choice? A stinger. So, ever since this 80’s chick flick I’ve wondered what a stinger was. Well, it’s only taken twenty-odd years, but I can finally tell you.
The stinger is a sweet after-dinner drink that can be served on the rocks or straight up. I prefer the rocks version since it is such a sweet cocktail as the ice cuts that sweetness quite a bit. What makes it so sweet you ask? The combination of the two liqueurs that make up the drink: crême de menthe and brandy. But while the drink is on the sweeter side, it’s also these two alcohols that turn it into a wonderful digestive; which is also why the cocktail is even better when paired with a rich chocolate dessert.
Unfortunately, unlike some of the other cocktails on this blog, the stinger doesn’t have a definitive creation date. I can’t tell you who or where the cocktail was created because no one bartender, bar or hotel has staked their claim. Although the stinger does appear in Esquire’s 1949 Handbook for Hosts, the drink was around long before then. Some believe it was created during the prohibition because the crême de menthe was an ideal choice to hide the home-brewed hooch flavor. But the cocktail can be found in Tom Bullock’s 1917 Ideal Bartender so that kills that theory. Then there are those that believe William Schmidt created the drink in 1891, but he referred to the concoction as a Judge so there’s no way to be sure if it was really the same drink or not.
No matter how the drink was created or who created it, it’s still a delicious digestif and should be considered the next time you’re having a decadent dessert. It’s a nice change of pace from the more traditional coffee drinks, which are pretty standard and in my opinion, kind of boring.
- 1-1/2 oz. brandy
- 3/4 oz white crême de menthe
- Pour the brandy in an old fashioned glass over ice. Add the crême de menthe, stir with a stirrer and serve.
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before, but both my parents are from Massachusetts. While I was born right here in sunny Southern California, I spent my formative years traveling back and forth to the east coast visiting relatives and learning all about this country’s birth in the actual place where it happened. Paul Revere’s house? Seen it. Freedom trail? Walked it. Attended a Red Sox game at Fenway before they won the World Series in ’04? You bet! Yes, I’ve done and/or seen probably all you can when visiting the original colony.
Of course so many visits also means I’ve tasted a real lobster roll and eaten fried clams at a snack bar on the beach. And I’m here to tell you that no matter what anyone says, not all lobster rolls are the same. In fact you haven’t tasted a lobster roll until you’ve gotten one at Boston & Maine Fish Company in Faneuil Hall. But even with all the trips back and forth to the eastern seaboard, I never once encountered a Ward Eight. In fact I’d never even heard of one until very recently. I must admit, I feel a little cheated. How could I have spent so many vacations on the east coast and never heard of or even encountered this drink? Easy, I wasn’t a bourbon drinker.
But now that I am, I have discovered many a classic cocktail that requires the brown liquor and I’m so happy that I discovered this one. If you’re partial to Manhattans or Whiskey Sours, you’ll adore the Ward Eight. It’s kind of a combination of the two but with the added sweetness of grenadine. This cocktail is so smooth and delicious, it could very well be my new favorite bourbon drink.
Since this cocktail hails from Massachusetts, just like the state from whence it came, it definitely has some history. While the cocktail may sound like it was created in a mental ward, it actually hails from the political side of town. The drink was created in 1898 at the Locke-Ober to commemorate the victory of Martin Lomasney in his race for the legislature of Boston’s Eighth Ward. Did I mention, in true political form, this victory party happened the night before the election?
Well no matter how the drink was created or how crooked the politician was it was named for, this drink is smooth, sweet and gives no regrets until long after its been imbibed. Wow, it really is a politician… in drink form.
Ward Eight Cocktail
- 1-1/2 oz. bourbon
- 1/2 oz. lemon juice
- 1/2 oz. orange juice
- 1 teaspoon grenadine
- Pour all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice.
- Shake vigorously for one minute.
- Strain into a cocktail glass and serve.
I know, I know, this is the post you’ve been waiting for all week. After all there’s really only one thing that St. Patrick’s Day’s all about: finding a pub with an Irish name and drinking enough green beer to make you sick and then continue drinking until the wee hours of the morning.
But what if I told you that you don’t have to consume gallons and gallons of green beer in order to celebrate this holiday? What if I told you, your alcoholic beverage doesn’t even have to be green? You’d probably get down on your knees and thank God… or me… whomever you choose. It’s true. There are actually a few drinks that are perfect choices for this green holiday and they don’t have one spec of green anywhere in them. The Black and Tan is one and the Irish Coffee is another.
While the Black and Tan is slightly heavier since it’s all beer, the Irish Coffee has a lot more kick. See, it’s made with Irish whiskey, a seriously hard alcohol. Don’t get me wrong, both are good, but if you’re looking for something a little classier, the Irish Coffee is absolutely the way to go.
Believe it or not the Irish Coffee didn’t start out as a coffee drink. It was actually a tea based drink. But in 1942 Joe Sheridan, head bartender at Port of Foyne in Ireland, wanted to make the drink more attractive to Americans who flew in and out of the airport. Since he knew how much we like our coffee, he turned the classic Irish drink on its head and decided to use coffee instead of the standard tea. The chilled passengers were so happy with the concoction the Irish Coffee recipe was born. But how did that recipe make it across the pond?
In 1952 San Francisco bartender Jack Koeppler and travel writer Stanton Delaplane decided to recreate the coffee drink Stanton had sampled at Port of Foyne. After several Irish Coffee experiments gone wrong, Jack realized they had to use quality Irish whiskey and lightly whip the cream in order to recreate the original. And that’s how the American version of the Irish Coffee was born. As a matter of fact there’s a plaque on the wall outside the San Francisco bar that states the first Irish Coffee was served there.
So no matter which Irish pub you venture into on Sunday, stay away from the green beer this year and order yourself a nice strong Irish Coffee. Trust me, you’ll be very happy you decided to just wear green instead of drink it.
- 2 tsp. brown sugar
- 2 oz. Irish Whiskey
- 4 oz. hot coffee
- 1 oz. whipped cream
- Pour the whiskey into a clear glass coffee mug or wine goblet.
- Add the sugar and stir until dissolved.
- Add the hot coffee.
- Gently pour in the lightly whipped cream over a spoon so it won’t mix with the coffee. Do not stir the cream into the coffee. Serve immediately.
I know I’ve been doing a lot of citrus posts recently but that’s because they’re so abundant right now. Between the Satsuma tangerines, the Meyer lemons and those awesome blood oranges, it’s easy to have a different citrus every night and still not have tried them all. Which brings me to this week’s cocktail. The screwdriver – a true classic.
Much like the mimosa, the screwdriver is an ideal choice for brunch because one of its two ingredients is orange juice. But unlike the mimosa, this cocktail has a little more punch as it’s made with vodka instead of champagne.
Now I know you’re used to seeing an orange screwdriver as the classic is made with Valencia oranges, but I wanted to give my screwdriver a makeover. My cocktail is pink because I chose to use those wonderfully sweet blood oranges currently available instead of the standard Valencia. So while my screwdriver may be a cocktail of a different color, it’s still just as tasty as the classic you remember.
Although the blood orange version hasn’t been around for very long, the original screwdriver has been around since the early 50’s. It supposedly got its name because American engineers were seen surreptitiously adding vodka to their cans of orange juice and stirring them with, yup you guessed it, screwdrivers. But what I found especially interesting were all the variations that could come from so simple a cocktail.
If you want to use orange soda instead of orange juice, the drink becomes a Hi-Fi. Tang and you get a Fuzzy Cosmonaut. If you’d like an extra shot of something, simply add some sloe gin for a Sloe Screw. Adding Southern Comfort turns it into a Sloe Comfortable Screw. And if you choose to add an energy drink like Red Bull you get an Electric Screwdriver. But no matter which concoction you choose, from the classic to these interesting twists, this cocktail is absolutely worthy of a nice Sunday brunch with friends or family.
- 2 oz vodka
- 5-1/2 oz orange juice
- Pour the vodka into a highball glass.
- Add the orange juice and stir until combined.
- Garnish with a slice of orange and serve.