Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Old-Timey Cocktails: Part I

Photo credit:  Orr Shtuhl and Elizabeth Graeber from An Illustrated Guide to Cocktails

Alright, my cocktail fiends.  That's right...fiends!  I know you're out there.  Personally, I'm more of a beer and wine gal, but I've decided to embark on a little series.  Strictly for purposes of expanding the blog, of course.  Heh.  The plan is to do an Old-Timey cocktail series.

We're talking 18th century origins.  I don't know about you, but I haven't delved in to some of those classic, old man cocktails that have been around since...I don't know, the birth of the nation?  You know the ones - those classics like the Tom Collins, the Sloe Gin Fizz, the Gimlet.

But what about some of those other lesser known classic cocktails?  Ever heard of a Papa Doble?  How about a Bronx?  Or an Americano?  I haven't decided which ones I'll experiment with for the series, but there's plenty to choose from what will become my go-to reference.

The idea came about when I was browsing through our inordinate collection of cookbooks the other day, and my eye was caught on a silly little book the hubby got at some point in our travels.  I'm 99% sure he bought it because it's about booze and has cartoon penguins on the cover.

Photo credit:  Orr Shtuhl and Elizabeth Graeber from An Illustrated Guide to Cocktails

It's actually pretty informative.  Come on, you've got to love a book that not only has a section for "How to Like Gin" or "How to Make a Blue Blazer without Setting your House on Fire," but also has historical antidotes and cartoons of pirates, pandas, and beavers.  Good stuff!

As I was browsing through the book, I realized I'd never tasted a whole lot of the cocktails described.  And that's when the idea was born.

I decided my first cocktail in the series would be the Manhattan.  The solid, classic Manhattan.  I'd never had one before, and I have to say it was pretty tasty.  You have to like bourbon, though.  If you're not a fan of bourbon - you're not going to like the Manhattan.

Most of these classic cocktails are pretty simple recipes - that's sort of the hallmark of the classic cocktail.  The Manhattan is no exception, just sweet vermouth, bitters & bourbon.

Photo credit:  Orr Shtuhl and Elizabeth Graeber from An Illustrated Guide to Cocktails

The combination of the sweet vermouth and bitters really mellows out the bourbon, and takes the edge off the strong flavor. I can see why it's considered a classic.  But I have to tell you, I was a first-timer buying the Angostura bitters at the liquor store.  I didn't even know what it looked like or where to find it!  And now that it's in our stash of booze, I guess I need to find some more drinks to use it in!

I think my series is off to a healthy start with the Manhattan!  Now...what to try next?  Gin Rickey, perhaps?  Stay tuned in the next few months for Old-Timey Cocktails:  Part 2!  (And 3, 4, and 5!)  C'mon - what better way to warm up & pass the time in the deep, dark winter??

Ta-ta for now.


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