You’re full. I’m full. Yesterday was Thanksgiving, the fillingest holiday of the year here in the US, where many (like me!) overeat without a calorific care in the world. And even with that feasting, there still tends to be leftovers. Luckily, in the cranberry sauce case, cause then you can have the traditional post-Thanksgiving Gizmo, a Thanksgiving drink that’s been had around tables and fireplaces and back-porches for many a long year (originally created by a genius named Jeremy Holt). So, no matter your fullness level, start your shaking!
2-1/2 ounces gin
1 ounce homemade cranberry sauce
1/2 ounce simple syrup (optional)
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with ice cubes. Add the gin and cranberry sauce, and syrup if using. Shake exceptionally well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass. Drink up, Thanksgiving-style.
Another quote from the Chief Inspector Maigret yarn I’ve been most recently reading (as opposed to all of those I’ve read in the past: check out all the Maigret Cocktail Talks to get a view into some of them – at least don’t miss the Maigret and the Man on the Boulevard Part I Cocktail Talk, to learn more about this particular book by George Simenon), one where our main character sits down in a very serious and thinking mood at his favorite of all Parisian spots – or the one he visits the most, which is saying something, though it is right across from his office – and gives the waiter a little of the Maigret-ness so many criminal have to deal with.
“What’s the Veau Marengo like?”
“Excellent, Monsieur Maigret.”
Without realizing it, he was subjecting the waiter to a look that could not have been sterner if he had been a suspect under interrogation.
“No. A half-bottle of claret.”
He was just being perverse. If the waiter had suggested wine, he would have ordered beer.
I’m back into another George Simenon yarn starring Parisian Inspector Maigret (there have been many Maigret Cocktail Talks you can browse at will), an ideal read for a rainy November day, as during a fair part of Maigret and the Man on the Boulevard Paris is engulfed in heavy rains. And our stolid, stoic, Chief Inspector (to give him his full due) moves along through the wet and dry and cloudy days in his own particular way: slow at times, thoughtful at times, dreamy (can I say that? I did!) at times, but always pushing forward. His case this time involves the murder of a man who had a second-life of sorts, pointed out first by the fact that he was murdered wearing light brown shoes, shoes which his wife swears he didn’t own, and which Maigret calls “goose-dung” shoes, due to the color. That’s amazing! Maigret follows the various threads, spooling them up one-by-one, while stopping for various sips along the way: wine, Calvados, aperitives, more, maybe even more than usual (one of the many reasons I love Maigret so much is his love of bars, bistros, brasseries, and other eating-and-watering holes. Even when they are around-the-corner, as in the below).
“Where to now chief?”
It was just eleven o’clock.
“Stop at the first bistro you come to.”
“There’s one next door to the shop.”
Somehow, he felt shy of going in there, under Leone’s watchful eye.
“We’ll find one round the corner.”
He wanted to ring Monsieur Kaplan, and to consult the street guide, to find Monsieur Saimbron’s exact address on the Quai de la Megisserie.
While he was there, having started the day with a Calvados, he thought he might as well have another, and drank it standing at the bar counter.
–George Simenon, Maigret and the Man on the Boulevard
Sometimes I think to myself, what a wonderful world of drink-making ingredients we’re living within. The change since I came of drinking age (which admittedly was many a moon ago) is remarkable – heck, the change in the last decade, or even five years, is pretty remarkable. How lucky us cocktail lovers are! And there are more delicious delectables in beautiful bottles coming our way all the time. Even luckier! For example, just the other day, a beautiful bottle arrived in the post (luckiest me – don’t be jealous), containing Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin with Sardinian Citrus:
A “novel expression” (sidenote: I love the usage of the word “expression” here, and in other spots, to refer to a slightly, not completely, new version of a spirit or liqueur) of the original Drumshanbo Gin, this adds notes of, well, Sardinian citrus, “Sa Pompia” to be exact, one of the rarest fruits in the world, and a fruit sitting between an orange and grapefruit in flavor essence, though part of the lemon family. Not something you’d eat solo, but with a peel that can bring fantastic citrus dreams when used correctly. But, before peeling that any more, let’s back up. If you don’t know, Drumshanbo Gin itself takes its full name from the fact that it’s made in a small village in Ireland, and with a signature ingredient: Gunpowder Tea (which is a green tea rolled into gun-pellet-esque balls). But that’s just the beginning of this gin story! That tea and the Sardinian citrus, grapefruit, and lime are vapor infused into the gin, while a host of botanicals (juniper, as you’d expect, plus angelica and orris root, caraway and coriander seed, cardamom, star anise, and lesser-know flowery herb meadowsweet) are distilled in a medieval copper still. Whew! But what’s it all mean? On the nose, a strong, distinctive citrus medley, orange with underlying grapefruit, with subtle hints of juniper and flowers and springtime. The taste reflects the nose, but flipped a bit, with bountiful botanicals bursting on the tongue, with that green tea flavor coming through, swirled with citrus and then ending herbally. Yummy!
It’s a curious collection of ingredients, all balanced out nice, and one I couldn’t resist trying in a drink, after sipping it solo. And I had the perfect moment, with some pals coming over for lunch. As we’re at the point in the calendar where the holidays are in view, my mind went instantly to a bubbly cocktail (as the past weeks have shown, I am a fan of the holiday/sparkling combo). I played around a little with things, and ended up leaning into the citrus side of the gin, complementing it with a little more orange and a smidge of sweet in the form of Grand Marnier, and then doubling and tripling the herb-and-citrus song by the addition of two fantastic citrusy bitters: Scrappy’s lovely Grapefruit bitters and Orange bitters. I’m not gonna lie: I think with just those ingredients, there’s a pretty swell cocktail. But adding prosecco really drives all the flavors up, up, up with every bubble, into a memorable sparkling mix that’s ideal for the holidays — and for lunch with pals. When drinking, maybe throw out a toast to our modern drinker’s world, too, and how wonderful it is.
Well, what I can I say about the Henry Kane hard-boiled pocket-sized slurper Martinis and Murder which hasn’t been said in the Martinis and Murder Cocktail Talks Part I, Part II, Part III, and Part IV? Well, nothing really (and, really, the cover says it all!), so let’s just get to the below quote – you can catch up on the rest by reviewing the past posts while you sip something nice and potent.
We danced all through it, comfortably and close. We drank brandy from big Napoleon glasses. The music got hot. The place filled up, got warm and noisy.
“Peter,” she said, inhaling smoke through a long holder with a finger loop, “I’m beginning not to like it here. Can’t we go somewhere else where it is quieter?”
“Do you like Sibelius?”
“I adore Sibelius.”
“I have Sibelius in quantities on wax discs and I have a lovely fireplace and I have oil paintings that cost me much, and I have a book of pornographic studies dating back to the fifteenth century. No etchings. But I have Pernod.”
We’re rolling, rolling, rolling into the happening winter holiday season, which means top hats and tails are being pressed (well, in my 1920s fever-dream at least) and people like you and me are stocking up on bubbly. While our parties may take different forms than past years, let’s hope parties with bubbly drinks are still being planned, cause if they aren’t, well, the world wouldn’t be quite as sparkly and shiny. What also helps make things more sparkly and shiny is of course having a new bubbly drink to have and make and serve at these parties, which leads us to The Poor Harriet. This effervescent number combines old pal gin (who has made many a holiday party mighty), fresh orange juice (a healthy cold-weather hit since oranges blossomed), Parfait Amour (if you don’t know, a floral liqueur – think a rose-y, violet-y bouquet, that is love-based, so perfect to serve to loved ones, if a tad sweet on its own), Peychaud’s bitters (whose heartening mixture of herbs balances the sweetness), a little more sweetness (in the form of simple syrup – feel free to omit if this seems too much sweet, even during the holidays), and then, of course bubbles. Here, the bubble component is Italian sparkling wine Prosecco, which is a delight! Now, party pals, you are prepared for those upcoming holiday revels. Thank me later.
Way back now, oh, 6 years ago (wowza, times flies) or thereabouts I first read the Henry Kane pulper Martinis and Murder, starring detective, drinker, dancer (well, probably), romancer (certainly), and puncher Peter Chambers. And had a number of Cocktail Talks from it (check out Martinis and MurderPart I, Part II, and Part III to get caught up a bit). But recently I was hankering for some pocket-sized pulp reading, as I often am, and was pulled in by its catchy title and even-more-catchy cover, so re-read it. And, you know what? I found even more Cocktail Talk worthy quotes. The book is spilling boozy goodness (around some murdering and mystery-ing and hard-boiled action and smooching and such). Heck, in six years from now, I’ll probably read it again, and find even more potable quotables. But for today, let’s go with the below.
I came back and I asked, “How about some of the finest Sidecars ever concocted?”
“If you let me watch.”
She trailed behind me. I turned and pushed her against the wall of the kitchen and kissed her hard.
“That for inspiration? she gasped.
“That’s for nothing,” I said.
I went to work with lemons and Cointreau and Cognac.
We brought the mixer into the living room, and in no time at all, fleece gathered.
Can you believe it – it’s nearly Halloween! It’s Halloween weekend, with the day itself just hours away, and all the ghouls, goblins, witches, skellingtons, and whatever the kids are wearing these days, are about to arise (thinking safety-first, of course). And (even more important) the Warlock cocktails are about to flow, as they do this time every year, changing spooky drinkers into happy zombie magicians, thanks to the sorcerous combination of brandy, Strega, limoncello, orange juice, and Peychaud’s bitters. You’ll see the process (and learn how to make the drink if you’ve somehow missed it on past Halloweens) in the video below.
The Man Behind the Evening's PlansA.J. Rathbun is a freelance food and entertainment writer, poet and author, a frequent guest on the Everyday Food program (Martha Stewart Living/Sirius satellite radio), and is a contributor to culinary & entertainment magazines such as Every Day with Rachael Ray, The Food Network Magazine, Real Simple, Wine Enthusiast, and many others. Of course, there's so much more to it than that...Read More