Archive for 2011

Wishing you a Ziegfeld New Year's Eve

We hope that you have a grand New Year's Eve... be it a small soiree, lavish party, a crowded bar or safe at home. We hope you dress up a bit, drink a little champagne and get a kiss.

The Zeigfeld Follies were our inspiration for this year's final cocktail. It's decadent with champagne like the ladies of the New York stage revue, boozy like the 1920's and fruity like one the Follies most infamous entertainers W. C. Fields (enjoy the clip below). Fields, a boozehound on and off-screen, carried a flask of "pineapple juice" on set. When a prankster replaced the flask liquor with actual pineapple juice, he reportedly said "who put pineapple juice in my pineapple juice?!"

The Toast of Manhatten (makes two drinks)
1 1/2 oz Rye
3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth
1 oz Pineapple Syrup
Several Dash Peychaud's
6-8 oz Champagne

Add first four ingredients to mixing glass with ice and stir to chill. Strain into two champagne glasses, dividing equally. Top with dry champagne and garnish with a brandied cherry.

Make the pineapple syrup: Add one cup brown or cane sugar with water. Heat to combine into syrup and cool. Add 1/3 to 1/2 fresh pineapple cut into 1 inch chunks. Let sit for several hours or chill overnight.

Cheers to 2012! Be merry, be happy, be safe. xo Rabbit and Alice

All photos compliments of the interwebs.

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Bear Paw

We hope you have a wonderful holiday season. If you're out and about, stop by the liquor store and pick up a bottle of allspice dram - Christmas in a glass! Below is our recipe for the very satisfying Winter cocktail, the Bear Paw. We served it for Una Mae's Boutique party recently and it was a big hit.

Bear Paw
1 1/2 oz Bourbon or Rye
1/2 oz Allspice Dram
1/2 oz Brown Sugar Simple Syrup
1/2 oz Lemon

Shake all on ice and strain into a coupe glass or in an ice-filled rocks glass. Garnish with bitters.

Notes: Allspice dram is easy to make, but it takes a good month. We used the recipe from the Cocktail Chronicles here, but St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram is delicious and straight from the source (Jamaica).

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Taking our cue from The Thin Man

Our tip for starting the Winter off right: watch The Thin Man. Released in 1934 during the thick of the Great Depression, it introduced movie-goers to Dashiell Hammett's Nick and Nora Charles - unlikely detectives swathed in a world of decadence, glamour and... slapstick comedy. Watching it feels like a good reminder when the weather gets cold and times get tough to look sharp, go for the joke and always make lemonade.

Nick:[to the bartenders on proper drink construction] The important thing is the rhythm. Always have rhythm in your shaking. Now a Manhattan you shake to fox-trot time, a Bronx to two-step time, a dry martini you always shake to waltz time.

Nick: Now my friends, if I may propose a little toast. Let us eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.
Nora: You give such charming parties, Mr. Charles.
Nick: Thank you, Mrs. Charles.

Nora: How many drinks have you had?

Nick: This will make six Martinis. 
Nora: [to the waiter] All right. Will you bring me five more Martinis, Leo? Line them right up here.

Nora: [suffering from a hang-over] What hit me?
Nick: The last martini.

The Bronx (a perfect* martini with OJ)
2 oz Gin
1/2 oz Dry Vermouth
1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth
1 oz Orange Juice

Shake and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

* Perfect refers to the equal part dry and sweet vermouth. Not the esteemed quality of the drink.

Notes: Experiment! Try blood oranges or kumquats for the orange juice. Try adding marmalade and different kinds of orange bitters. Try different kinds of gin - those with more herbaceous-ness would balance out the juice. Try subbing Averna for the sweet vermouth.

Happy holidays!

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Take Ivy

This post is inspired by the book Take Ivy, a collection of photos taken on Ivy League campuses in the 60's by Japanese photographer Teruyoshi Hayashida, to capture the style of the times and men's fashion in America.  This rare book has since been reprinted in the U.S. and documents a great testament to fashion coming full circle. inspiration anyone? 

The Harvard
1 1/2 oz cognac
3/4 oz sweet vermouth
1/4 oz lemon
1 tsp. grenadine
2-3 dashes Angostura bitters

Shake and strain into chilled glass.  Garnish with lemon twist.

The Cornell
1/2 oz gin
1/2 oz benedictine
1/2 oz lemon
1/2 oz water

Stir over ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass.

The Princeton
2 dashes orange bitters
1/3 oz port wine
2/3 oz old Tom gin

Stir over ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with lemon twist.

The Yale
2 oz gin
3 dashes orange bitters
1 dash angostura bitters

Shake and strain into chilled glass.  Garnish with lemon twist.

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Winter Fruit

A lovely poster by Claire Nereim available for purchase on Etsy. This would look swell hanging above a home bar, especially with the companion "Summer Fruit", and is great inspiration for Winter cocktails. It's also a reminder that citrus season is fast upon us. Fresh and cheap. Yes!

Here are the fruits:
limes - fill up your refrigerator! On movie nights, I'll often juice half a lime for rum and cokes, dark and stormy's or gin and tonics and use the other half to replace half the butter for popcorn. Just make 5 or 6 cups of popcorn, melt a tablespoon butter, add the lime juice and 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of salt, mustard powder, tumeric, cayenne, garam masala and cumin.
kumquats - the tiny cousin of the orange. Native to Asia, it's quite versatile. Often used to make jams, you can also eat it raw, infuse with liquors, juice and mix with tea, or make a lovely cocktail garnish.
citron - the fruit most resembling french fries above, is also one of the oldest. Perhaps the father of all citrus fruit, it is native to Southeast Asia and the Middle East. It's not great for juicing, but if you can find it use the zest and then cook it down to make jam (jam cocktails being all the rage these days)
pomegranate - now is the time to make your own grenadine. See our instructions here and try the classic Jack Rose cocktail - 3 parts Applejack brandy, 2 parts lemon or lime juice and 2 dashes of grenadine shaken and strained.
blood orange - oh the allure. A truly beautiful fruit. Try the Blood Orange Flip recipe from early on in our blog.
pomelo - a citrus as big as your head! It's generally milder and sweeter than it's progeny, the grapefruit. In India, it's eaten raw with salt and sliced chilies - an excellent idea for a cocktail. Just juice the pomelo, make a thai chili simple syrup, add gin, ice and garnish with a slice of chili and a salt rim. Breakfast is served.
lemons - the workhorse of most classic cocktails. Now would be a good time to experiment with preserving lemons. See instructions here.
pear - easy to cook down in a syrup to get a lot of flavor. Lately, I've been roasting them to caramelize the sugars and then cooking them down into a simple syrup.
tangerine - sweeter and smaller than the orange. This would be pretty juiced with a honey syrup, rooibos tea and cognac - just note that you might need to supplement with some lemon juice for correct balance.
grapefruit - a relatively young hybrid, made from the pomelo and the Jamaican sweet orange. The pink variety was born in the early 20th century. To celebrate it's heritage, I might try a cocktail of Jamaican dark rum, Allspice dram and grapefruit juice.

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What's In Your Home Bar: The Evergreen Lounge

We have been wanting to do a regular feature on people's home bars for some time now.  The funny thing we have realized about the home bar, is that understandably, it can be a difficult thing to keep stocked.  My friends Eric and Jamie are an exception to that rule.  They keep a stellar home bar A.K.A. the Evergreen Lounge, with an amazing liquor collection and were kind enough to share it with us.  We asked them a few questions about the inspiration behind their bar.

Eric Davis is a server at Nightwood restaurant where he is also one of the creators of the cocktail menu.  He infuses spirits, makes liqueurs, simple syrups and his own bitters which are featured in several of the drinks.  The Chicago Reader recently published an article about the Nocino he makes for the restaurant

Jaime Lynn Davis co-owns and manages a sustainable event venue in Chicago called the Greenhouse loft. She is also a photographer.

Eric, you have an amazing collection of spirits and bar pharaphernalia including an awesome Tiki bar which you mentioned you bought several years ago for $50.  What got you interested in making cocktails and collecting for your home bar?
We had a really big bar growing up. It started out in the corner of our family room and eventually occupied the whole room. It served entertaining purposes but mostly displayed my father's ever growing collection of spirits and liqueurs. When I was a kid we traveled a lot, so my father was always on the hunt for new additions to the shelves. So I guess I'm following in his footsteps.
Jamie and I live a few blocks away from the Violet Hour. When it first opened we were hooked right away, probably going at least once a week. Eventually we started making  drinks at home, buying cocktails books, and visiting Binny's on a regular basis.

Jamie, you two have thrown some pretty awesome cocktail parties at your home, I was lucky enough to attend one.  Any advice for preparing for a cocktail party?
Hosting a cocktail party is a lot of fun but it can be a lot of work and get expensive, so having a clear and concise menu planned and printed is a good idea.  We tend to go a little overboard, but are getting better!  We stick with certain liquors like gin, whiskey and rum, then develop a cocktail list.  This allows for people to try a little of each.  We also like to play the bartenders.  We practice the cocktails before the party, and make little cheat sheet recipes cards so we can make the drinks efficiently. 

Making sure the parties are smaller is also a good idea. You want to have the right glassware, so checking out thrift stores or ikea is a good way of stocking up on interesting stuff -- if you don't want a billion glasses after the party, maybe split the cost with another friend, then you both have a new collection of glasses after the party!  

We are usually the bartenders only up to a certain point in the evening- it's actually really fun and you get to visit with people and tell them about the drinks as you make them, and we don't mind doing the work.   After a couple hours though it's a good idea to join the party and mingle. 

For our NYE cocktail party, we stopped making drinks at midnight, and after that we had a pre-made punch and an absinthe drip out for everyone.  At that point everyone was fine with scooping up some rum punch or trying out the drip.

Food is also very important.  If you are hosting a cocktail party, we think it's fair to ask the guests to bring an horsto share.  Also, to make it extra special, we have sent out invites in the mail to our guests, with probation era themes - even a special password they must know for the door.  It's really fun, people really get into it - even dressing the part!

You guys have some pretty interesting bottles in your collection including bottled cocktails and spirits that are no longer available in the US.  What was one of your most exciting purchases?  
A few years ago we found a bottle of Wray & Nephew Pimento Liqueur. As far as I can tell, this pimento liqueur (also know as allspice dram) hasn't been imported into the US for around twenty years. Using recipes I found online and in Imbibe magazine, I've tried replicating my own version several times before finding the bottle. So it was interesting to finally taste the real deal and compare it to my own versions.

Where do you shop for your spirits?
Lush and Binny's here in Chicago. Whenever we are in Madison visiting Jamie's family, we stock up at Woodman's.  

Eric, are you working on any new liqueurs  or cocktails?
I started a green walnut liqueur (nocino) back in July. It's now ready to be strained and cut with simple syrup.  After that I would like to work on a Vin D'orange when winter citrus is in season.

Would you like to share a recipe?
This is the time of the year we like to make our version of an eggnog using Silk pumpkin soy milk, which is only available in Nov and Dec.

1 1/2 oz spice rum (try Old New Orleans Spiced Rum)
1/2 oz maple syrup
1/4 oz amaro (we've also tried allspice liqueur, walnut liqueur and sherry)
5 oz pumpkin soy milk
Fee's old fashion aromatic bitters and orange bitters grated nutmeg

Serve hot or cold.

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