A majority of the time, pre-Prohibition cocktail books are the research materials I use for creating new cocktails or when I'm looking to serve something new to my guests. They are some great sources for reprints of the old tomes. Probably the best would be Amazon or, my favorite, Cocktail Kingdom. While many of these books are a fascinating look at how bars were run in the early 1900s and the recipes that were cataloged at the time, they don't necessarily delve into the history of the drinks or their particular place in American history.
We've already talked about making a proper Martini and if you've read that article, the recipe in today's article will look familiar. The Hanky Panky is almost identical to a martini made with sweet vermouth but with the addition of one extra ingredient. While the martini has its own history, the Hanky Panky also has its own fantastic tale.
One of my favorite liqueurs is Chartreuse. The spicy, herbal, and sweet liquor has been produced by the Carthusian Monks in France since the early 1700's. The two most common types found in the liquor store is the Green or Yellow variety. The Green variety, arguably the most popular, comes in at 110 proof and is flavored with 132 plants and herbs. It's color comes from the chlorophyll in these herbs and plants. The Yellow variety is much milder in flavor and slightly sweeter. It clocks in at 80 proof. There are a few other versions of Chartreuse but these are generally much more expensive and hard to find.
Labor Day marks the unofficial end to the summer season. I'm guessing that's just because most people get a three-day weekend. But if your weather has been anything like our weather here in Virginia, summer is not going quietly into that dark night. It's felt mid-July rather than early-September since the holiday weekend.
When most people think of American spirits, the first thing to pop to mind is bourbon. In fact, the United States Congress passed a resolution in 1964 that stated bourbon was identifiable as a distinctly American spirit much like Scotch is distinctly identifiable with Scotland. However, in Colonial America the hooch of choice was often a fermented beverage made with the abundance of apples left over from harvest.
When I was asked to contribute a weekly article on cocktails for the good folks of AARP, there was no doubt in my mind what the first article would cover. The Old Fashioned is one of my favorite cocktails. Unfortunately, most restaurants and bars, when tasked with serving one, give the customer a fruit mashup of booze, fruit, ice and who-knows-what-else. The truth is, the original recipe for the Old Fashioned is deceptively simple and delicious.
Booze. One of humanity's earliest culinary inventions and possibly one of the things that started agricultural civilization in the first place, alcohol has been with us for a long time. But we are still learning much about how it affects the body and about our consumption habits. In other words, there's good points and there's bad points.
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