This is not a spelling error (not that I don’t make those a lot); if you didn’t know, there really is a drink called The Zazarac. It wants you to know that it, while not renowned and legendary and all that, it in its own way is also worthy of your attention, much like its very distant cousin (though maybe not the same amount of attention, admittedly). It has a rare rye and rum combo, some friendly supporting players in anisette (go Meletti) and absinthe and Angostura and orange bitters (go Regan’s), and takes the edges off with a splash of simple, and tops things with a twist. Will it have you stopping your Sazerac consumption? Nope. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a sip.
It’s morning, and nearly the beginning of summer, which means I (as I always do) am going to sit myself down and have a Baltimore Bracer and read Thomas Osborne Davis’ “The Sack of Baltimore:”
The summer sun is falling soft on Carbery’s hundred isles,
The summer sun is gleaming still through Gabriel’s rough defiles;
Old Innisherkin’s crumbled fane looks like a moulting bird,
And in a calm and sleepy swell the ocean tide is heard:
The hookers lie upon the beach; the children cease their play;
The gossips leave the little inn; the households kneel to pray;
And full of love, and peace, and rest, its daily labor o’er,
Upon that cosy creek there lay the town of Baltimore.
Well, at least that first stanza. Hmm, I sorta think I may be reading at least one word differently than he meant it.
During the summer months (and really, even though we’re not officially in summer, let’s call it summer, okay? June feels like summer to me. Go with it), it’s tempting to have a drink called The Snowball – right? Right. But, there are so many! There’s the one with advocaat (the liqueur made from egg, sugar, and brandy) and sparkling lemonade. There’s another with brandy, simple syrup, an egg, and ginger ale. Both have their moments. But today, this particular day, I’m going with the below, which is wonderful on an early summer’s night, and of which famed drink explorer Harry Craddock said, around 1930, “This is women’s work.” Hah, I’ll show you Harry.
Earlier this month, I admitted to having only a tenuous relationship (until recently) with Edmund Crispin and his fictional English detective Gervase Fen. Since I’m in the admitting mood (hah, no, I’m not admitting that, yet), I should also say that until recently I hadn’t read any books featuring an even more famous detective, Inspector Maigret of the Paris PD, as written by George Simenon in 74 novels and 28 short stories. Whoa! I don’t even have the cat vs. dog excuse in this case. But recently I picked up three Maigret novels to see what I was missing, and completely dug them – a bit dark, a bit French, a bit rainy for some reason, but full of murder, mysteriousness, and a lot of food and drink. They do take place in France, after all. And I can’t wait to read more, especially when they contain Cocktail Talk like the below:
He had drunk only one glass of Champagne. Then rest of time he had drunk mostly wine, then, God knows why, anisette.
Who had ordered anisette? Oh yes, it was the dentist. A retired dentist to be precise, whose name escaped him. Another phenomenon. There was nothing but phenomenon on the island.
Holy Toledo! Everyone who’s been holding your breath can now exhale – the new season of the Cocktail to Cocktail Hour is finally upon us. They (those bastardos) said it couldn’t be done, said that the Cocktail to Cocktail Hour was too radicool, too awesome, too tasty for modern T.V. – but they were wrong. To prove it, the first episode of the new season, where I teach you have to make the Kick-Off, a combination of gin, dry vermouth, anisette, Benedictine, and Angostura. Get to it, y’all!
A week ago today, I put up a Friday night drink called the Portofino, which was a drink I made for my mother’s 75th birthday party. One of the other drinks (there were three) was the Marguerite. As mentioned in that earlier post, I was slightly angling the drinks the Italian way, and the Italian connection here is anisette – specifically Meletti anisette, which is one of the finest sippers I know. I blogged more about it on a specific Meletti post, so go catch up if you missed it. Then, when back, make this drink. It has an interesting balance, as it’s equal parts gin and vermouth, but the end result is awfully wonderful (oh, the recipe is from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz, if you wondered).
1-1/4 ounces gin
1-1/4 ounces dry vermouth
1/4 ounce anisette
Thin lemon slice for garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add the gin, vermouth, and anisette. Stir well.
2. Strain the mix into a cocktail glass or comparable glass
3. Give the lemon slice a small squeeze over the glass then drop it in.
Oh golly, I love this drink. My love reaches such a magnitude that I made a Baltimore Bracer cocktail video already, but I still wanted to post the drink again. It’s just the ideal combination of tough name, sweet-in-a-good-way-meaning-with-a-kick taste, and amazing mouthfeel thanks to the egg white. I’m not even saying any more (except that the recipe’s from Ginger Bliss and the Violet Fizz). Just have the drink already. Or you’ll be sorry.*
1-1/2 ounces brandy
1-1/2 ounces anisette
1 egg white, preferably organic
1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add the brandy, anisette, and egg white. Shake well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass.
*Not sorry cause I’m going to get all Bruce Campbell on you or anything. I’m not really that tough. Just sorry cause you’ll be missing a dandy drink.
Hey ho daddy-o, you won’t believe it but we’ve made the mighty and masterful Cocktail to Cocktail Hour Season Two even more magnificent and helpful for the masses. How, you say, is this impossibility possible? By adding a new segment in the show called “Everyday Drinking,” a segment designed to help solve the problems of everyday drinkers, drinkers that are just like you and me (except without my awesome suit and trophy wife). Learn more in the most recent episode of the roaring Cocktail to Cocktail Hour.
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