What the saying – it’s always 6 o’clock somewhere (well, maybe that’s an hour off the saying, but it is none-the-less true)? With that, I believe that this beauty should be the cocktail du jour pretty much all the time somewhere in the world. Sadly, it’s fallen from knowledge in the main, if it ever was in the main. I found it, mostly recently, in a little pamphlet called Come for Cocktails. Published by The Taylor Wine Company in 1958, I’m guessing at 6 o’clock on a Friday in anticipation of everyone drinking this mix of both sweet and dry vermouth, dry sherry, and a lemon twist. It has that swell vermouth heavier and lighter balance, with a knock of sherry nuttiness (I suggest a fine fino if you find it), and a twinkle of citrus. The lack of a higher abv base spirit means it’s a nice one if you’ve been (gasp!) dry January-ing as well, and want to ease back into the cocktails at a more measured pace. Not a bad idea for anyone if starting at 6, really!
The 6 O’clock Cocktail
1 ounce dry vermouth
1 ounce sweet vermouth
1 ounce sherry
Lemon twist, for garnish
1. Fill a mixing glass or cocktail shaker halfway full with cracked ice. Add our trio of liquids. Stir well.
2. Strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with the lemon twist.
February is here, a month known for hearts and presidents and the birthdays of famous dog-owners (the last very subjective). As the presidents in reference here, in this month, calendarically are those who kick-started or had serious impact on the US, we’re talking males, fathers or father figures or both, and perhaps bourbon lovers (conjecture, unless time machines are on offer), and historically sort-of noble (naturally history is written by those who, well, are able to write it, and without the aforementioned time machines hard to declare nobility – which is a hard word to define anyway – in a way, but go with it, okay), which makes this the ideal month for this drink. A noble drink, I may say, especially if you live in and love WA state (as I do, in the main), as nearly every ingredient here is from WA – oranges excepted. We’re talking some seriously tasty state stalwarts, too: Woodinville Whiskey Co.’s delicious straight bourbon, Brovo Spirits’ bouncy Orange Curaçao, and Scrappy’s uniquely awesome Black Lemon bitters. Plus, a dollop of Seattle Distilling Company’s beautiful brandy – if you have it. That latter is hard to come by, unless you hoarded (like me) a last sip from a limited-release bottling. If you weren’t so lucky (or forward-thinking), then sub in another reputable brandy, please. It shouldn’t make the drink too less noble. It is a swell sipper, for February – or any ol’ month in the year.
It’s nice to start the year (or to have near the start of the year) with a Martini. Classic, delicious, somehow it seems to portend good things. Fingers crossed. This year, I was lucky enough to have my January Martini with a gin I’d never even heard of until recently – and one that sadly isn’t available in the US yet (sorry US readers), Burning Berries gin. Made in Sydney Australia, and only available I believe in that country currently, Burning Berries is perhaps worth taking a trip for. I was lucky enough (lucky twice!) to have a bottle given to me by my sister, hopefully not breaking any international laws. It’s a very intriguing gin, one that shades contemporary in style as opposed to say classic London dry. The flavor profile leans delightfully into citrus from the get-go, orange and lime notes predominately, before easing into juniper, not too heavily, and then some pepper and spice on the back end. It makes a very intriguing Martini (I used Dolin dry with it)! Something quite new, in a way, sipping-wise, in this much revered drink, which is fun. In hindsight, I might have even gone with an orange twist instead of a lemon (I’m not an olive-er, but imagine it wouldn’t go well here), which might make it another drink entirely – for sure it would if this was 1901 or something. It’d be fun to try Burning Berries in another classic, The Bronx, now that I think about it, as the orange notes would be a treat with that drink’s orange juice nature. Now, I’ll just have to make it to Australia to get more of the gin!
As another year rolls us round the sun, here’s a liquid wish of sorts that the four winds all blow pleasantly for you this year (whatever that means – it certainly sounds nice, I feel, which is a positive), without any one direction overwhelming. If you’re of a traveling bent, you can also take it as a wish that said winds blow you to whatever corner of the world you’re traveling to, and safely. The drink itself is blowing us to England, first, via solid, reliable, junipery Boodles gin, secondly to France, via the delectable Pierre Ferrand Orange curaçao, thirdly to Colorado thanks to the echoing-the-alpine-peaks Breckenridge Bitters, and then finally to the island of Trinidad through a dash of Angostura bitters. Plus, a stop-by at Florida or California or wherever your oranges come from (as there is an orange twist). Have one of these now, and then may fair four winds blow fairly on us all this year.
Here’s a pretty number, one which might make a swell, delicate (though flavorsome), boozy bouquet for your post-Christmas (if you celebrate such) sipping, or for consuming during the late morning hours when the presents have been most-probably opened, and when you’ve had perhaps almost enough of the fam’, and when a drink might make the rest of the day smoother. No judging here, friend! This is also a swell number for having before the year ends, as the name itself points towards giving ol’ 2023 (in this case) another viewing. Was it all you imagined? If not, or if so, this drink’s combination of Hangar 1’s intriguing (and light) Rose Vodka (now available most spots, it seems), made from, well, rose wine and vodka, and a whole field’s worth of flowers, from older classics crème di violette and Lillet Blanc to newer classic Scrappy’s Lavendar bitters, this very combination will help you imagine even more things for next year, once that one final look at last year is gone. A holiday helped on all sides, really. Try it, and see.
Frank Morgan was a character actor whose career started in the silents and then moved into the talkies. He’s perhaps most well-known as the Wizard (and corresponding characters) in the original Wizard of Oz, but had a full movie (and radio!) career, lots of roles, lots of parts. All of this Wikipedia will happily tell you. What it won’t tell you is that he also gave his name to this here cocktail, which combines rich dark rum (we’re going Bacardi Gran Reserva Especial) with nutty sherry (Williams & Humbert Dry Sack Medium sherry to be precise), and Angostura bitters. Okay, it’s not a completely agreed upon fact (though we are in the post-fact age, right? Right) that this drink is named for him, but I found it in Crosby Gaige’s Standard Cocktail Guide, 1944 edition, and as Mr. Gaige was a theatrical New Yorker, I think we can take it on fact that this is indeed named for Frank Morgan the actor. Also, since I am probably the only person to have made this cocktail (which is, by the way, a very good, balanced drink, that lets the rum shine heartily, while adding just enough herbal and nutty notes around the edges to elevate) since the middle of last century, I believe I can make the call. And also that I can add an orange twist to the original recipe without having to suffer Mr. Gaige’s disdain from the afterlife. If you have one, it’ll help, naturally. So, whatcha waiting for?
Well, it’s December. A lovely month in many ways, indeed. But also one where, here in the northernly hemisphere, at least, the mornings can get dark and chilly, and then darker and chillier, making them not always the coziest, especially when one has to take the dog out for their walk first thing after the alarm bells ring. Even if you aren’t lucky enough to have a dog, and even if you have a fire blazing, I’m guessing you have a few chilly dark mornings where you want to call morning out for not being more charming. This drink is a tasty way to do that, and to wake up (it also provides a spark to brunches when the cold air has caused a slowing of movement and conversations). Partially, the base of absinthe and its kick combined with spice. Partially, the nutty maraschino (mornings are nutty), whose sweet side helps round the absinthe’s sharper corners. Partially, the hearty helping of lemon juice, whose tang is sure to get the brainpan rocking (sidenote: that much lemon might be too much for some modern tastes. If that’s you, feel free to pull back a bit on it). Combined, these three are a trumpeting cocktail sure to balance even a morning that’s mostly bereft of good cheer. In short: this’ll wake you up and then some.
It’s Gizmo time again friends and neighbors and all who have perhaps had a wee bit too much Thanksgiving munching this week, or those who have some leftovers to deal with in the nicest way, or those who just are looking for a drink and like cranberry sauce and gin! All are welcome at the annual Gizmo party, which takes places the day after Thanksgiving here in the US at those spots that are in the know (which hopefully covers many many spots), and which has taken place ever since genius Jeremy Holt came up with this beloved drink, bless his boozy soul.
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.
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