The Accredited List of Recognized and Accepted Standard Formulas for Mixed Drinks

The Accredited List of Recognized and Accepted Standard Formulas for Mixed Drinks

While cleaning out a relative’s venerable liquor cabinet this Christmas, a friend of mine made a truly astounding discovery: A relatively well-preserved, if somewhat battered, copy of the Angostura Corporation’s “Authentic, Practical, Concise” 1950 Professional Mixing Guide. Somewhat smaller than a playing card, the hundred-page pamphlet takes a bitters-heavy look at the recipes of the day, promoting itself as the definitive guide to mixed drinks, while dishing up cooking suggestions (“For the chef in his life”) and jovially upper-crust cartoons that, while not equal to period gems like those in the Esquire Handbook for Hosts, speak of a time when mixed drinks evoked images of people who not only had butlers, but went big-game hunting before dispaching them. More bafflingly, they appear to have bested some kind of generic African warrior and stolen their coat of arms. A different age indeed.

The guide’s cocktail recipes follow the conventions of the period, including the casual use of present-day rarities like Crème Yvette or Swedish Punsch. Their Martini cocktails clearly draw influence from the Martinez, with the “dry” version containing 1/3 dry vermouth, the “medium” version containing both dry and sweet, and the “sweet” Martini using  sweet vermouth and orange bitters. More notably, Angostura missed the Vodka Wave by a few agonizing years (the infamous “Smirnoff leaves you breathless” campaign would launch in 1952), leaving the book with nary a Moscow Mule to appease the next generation of drinkers.


The Mixing Guide was ostensibly intended not only as an Angostura promotional, but as a full-on instructional manual for bartending; the tutorials are a less entertaining version of the introduction to the Trader Vic’s Bartending Guide and, unlike that weighty tome, they give n0 opinion on the best way of ejecting prostitutes from your bar. The Guide does, however, provide all manner of helpful information on the use and history of bitters, including the vital instruction that “laxative bitters should never be used in mixed drinks.”

The Combustible Edison

The Combustible Edison

I’m not sure what’s going to happen to my Cornell Sun column this semester–I’ll be writing something for Eclipse, but it’s difficult to say how long it will be or how often–but, since  I just finished this and really did set myself on fire last night, it might as well go up in its entirety. The Combustible Edison recipe, by the way, was first printed in the liner notes to I, Swinger, but has since been collected in the 1998 Wired cocktail book. I stuck to the hot version, although, made cold, it’s known as an Edisonian, and I’m sure is also delicious.

The rimming on the top is Campari Dust, which I’m hoping to talk about at some point in the future: It looks fantastic on the CE, but I’m worried the bitterness might be a little harsh, although it was growing on me by the time I finished the drink (as you can see, the picture shows a little of it already taken off by my friend’s first sip.)

Immolation libations, or, why I’m on fire again

It’s fairly difficult to really hurt yourself making cocktails, barring an unfortunate toothpick accident or a loose cocktail shaker. The great exception to this is fire, for which reason bartenders since the beginning of time have been drawn to it like moths to the extremely literal flame, or lazy writers to the overly obvious simile. Continue Reading »

Part of being an incorrigable nerd and an incurable pedant is not knowing when to keep your mouth shut, as when I explained the composition of absinthe to my bemused mother. The newest Sun column is barely an exception.

Incidentally, one thing that I didn’t manage to work in was that I’ve heard Johnny Depp follows the Czech-style absinthe flaming “tradition” in From Hell. Yes, that’s this version, which I have heard (though I haven’t seen it myself) is much more a whodunit about Jack the Ripper, and much less a meditation on Victorian social norms and gender relations. I couldn’t say, for instance, that the conversation beginning in these panels made it into the film:

On an entirely…entirely and completely, lest anyone think otherwise…unrelated note, I was reading Vox Day‘s blog earlier today.

For everyone who expresses hope about the new Watchmen movie, allow me merely to point you to…every single adaptation of an Alan Moore work done yet, with the possible exception of V for Vendetta, which, for all its moments of excellence, still falls drastically short of Moore’s complex book. Although, interestingly, Zack Snyder’s problem is much more likely to be over-faithfulness to the book, rather than deciding to turn a major character into a vampire for no reason. If Stephen Norrington were directing Watchmen, Rorschach would be a giant shape-shifting series of blobs, and the Silk Spectre would be a ghost.

Bob Log III…

…lives in a car, for Pete’s sake.

New/old Daily Sun.

The Minuit Cocktail

The Minuit Cocktail

Since I heard about it, I’ve wanted to try making Jamie Boudreau’s beer liqueur. I haven’t been able to find a suitable Belgium beer for the Dupont Cocktail, but my local Trader Joe’s recently started carrying Kennebunkport Pumpkin Ale, so I decided to give it a try.

By and large, the method worked as detailed, although, contrary to what I had expected, no head actually stayed on the pumpkin ale. On the bright side, this (theoretically) conserved more of the beer; I ended up with a thick, honeyed syrup that retained the malty notes of the ale. I was actually almost disappointed to add the vodka preservative; although it cut the cloying sweetness, it initially added a harsh alcoholic bite that masked some of the ale’s flavor. I actually blame myself for this, partially, as I used the cheapest vodka I had on hand, which turned out to be Smirnoff (actually, I’m not positive that Three Olives, which I inherited a bottle of a few months ago, is significantly more expensive.) I’ve said before that most vodka tastes about the same, but I may have to revise that: Smirnoff, in taste tests I’ve done with friends, has a sort of mild “hospital” taste that some (even cheaper) vodkas like Svedka lack.

It boils over faster than expected.

Pumpkin liqueur on the stove: Boils over faster than expected.

Overall, however, the syrup was a resounding success; hats off to Mr. Boudreau for suggesting it. Since I had no tequila on hand for the Don Enrique or La Familia cocktails, I paired the pumpkin liqueur with bourbon and Chartreuse.

The resulting cocktail had a Manhattan-esque quality to it (hence the name: Peter Minuit famously purchased Manhattan Island for $24 in trade goods–albeit from a tribe with no rights to the island), but the Chartreuse added an earthy flavor that complemented the bourbon and liqueur. The pumpkin and malt notes were subtle, but present.

Minuit Cocktail

2 oz Evan Williams Black Label bourbon
1 oz pumpkin ale liqueur
1/4 oz Green Chartreuse

Stir on ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a bourbon or maraschino cherry.

Evan Williams, my default mixing bourbon, is a little sweet for this cocktail; a rye like Rittenhouse, actually, would probably be ideal.

The new Cocktails tag

New tags abound in Cocktails 1.1.

My favorite iPhone application, CocktailDB’s Cocktails, has just released its first update since its release this summer. In addition to fixing some of the bugs that plagued the first edition (for example, it no longer tells me that the program has crashed every time I reopen it), the folks at CocktailDB have added 78 new recipes by Seattle bartender Jamie Boudreau under the heading “Contemporary Masters.”

It’s a particularly welcome addition to an already-excellent application, especially since one of my few peeves about Cocktails 1.0 was its fairly conservative recipe selection, which drew exclusively from large compilation books like the Savoy Cocktail Book and Gary Regan’s Joy of Mixology.

While older and public domain works are an excellent source of material, and provide a great resource for finding and reinventing classic cocktails, I’m happy to see Cocktails branching out to include newer and more complicated drinks, and would love to see this taken further in future iterations (the popular and delicious Richmond Gimlet, for example, is still conspicuously missing.)

In Today’s Daily Sun

“What they call a gimlet is just some lime or lemon juice with a dash of sugar and bitters. A real gimlet is half gin and half Rose’s Lime Juice and nothing else. It beats martinis hollow.”
-Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye

The War of the Rose’s