The X-15: The Drink that Won the Cocktail Race

—John F. Kennedy I’ve been watching this documentary on the Cold War. And during that part about the Arms Race and the Space Race, I rushed to the liquor cabinet and went over the stockpile of alcohol. As I was taking inventory, I imagined a Cocktail Race between America and the Soviet Union, like in the dark days of the Cold War… Word leaks out (through our network of spies) of a new drink the Russians are inventing. It is costly, with lots of booze, potent and explosive, and may just obliterate any cocktails we have in our alcohol arsenal. Damn those Ruskies! To the lab, to consult with our team of mixologists… “We want a drink that’s fast!” I say. “That might even break the sou

There Can Be Only One...

What exactly is Drambuie? I know from the label that it’s an 80-proof liqueur made in Scotland from a secret recipe dating back centuries consisting of “herbs, spices and heather honey, crafted with aged Scotch whiskies.” And on the back, it proudly proclaims: “After the heroic Jacobite Rebellion of 1745, Bonnie Prince Charlie escaped from Scotland leaving behind the legacy of his royal recipe, which remained a secret for generations on the Isle of Skye.” Revolution, royals, alcohol. If only Pabst Blue Ribbon could stake such a claim! And the name itself, from the Scottish-Gaelic “an dram buidheach”, meaning “the drink that satisfies.” Apocryphal, most likely, but still, as legends go, this

What the Heck is Cynar?

Cynar (pronounced chee-NAHR) is one of those wonderful Italian amaro* liqueurs—those apéritifs and digestifs like Campari, Aperol, Averna, Fernet-Branca, and a host of others I have yet to try. Unlike the ones just mentioned that have been around forever (Fernet-Branca since 1845, Campari 1860, Averna 1868, Aperol 1919), Cynar is the new kid on the amari block. Created in the 1950s, from a secret recipe of 13 herbs and plants (the predominant ingredient being artichoke leaves—Cynara scolymus), it reminds me of Campari in flavor, although more bitter, yet with a subtler, more rounded finish. Its color is similar to Averna and Fernet, although not as dark—a lustrous brown with a hint of red, a

The Secret Ingredient

Sometimes, a single ingredient inspires an entire cocktail. Such was the case last week when I visited the local olive oil shop*. As I was sampling the artisanal olive oils on display, I saw on the other side of the room, an array of hand-crafted vinegars in large silver urns. After trying a few, I came upon one that made my eyes light up and my taste buds do back-flips. Grapefruit-infused white balsamic vinegar! The pungent bite of vinegar with the tart sweetness of grapefruit. Remarkably smooth and balanced, yet deliciously assertive. And right then I announced to the woman who worked there, “I must use this in a cocktail!” After explaining to her that I was a mixologist and not a crazy pe

Mad Manhattan: A Mad Men Inspired Manhattan

Mad Men is one of my favorite TV shows. So much so, that I reference it time and again in my memoir, TALES OF INSOMNIA DESPAIR & THE PERFECT COCKTAIL (see BLOG entry for March 14, 2016 entitled The Don Draper). The show of course is about many things, not the least of which is the question of identity and the reinvention of oneself (themes that ring very true for me). And while not about drinking per se, the cocktail culture does play a prominent (and unabashed) role throughout the series. The main drinks featured in Mad Men are of course Don Draper's omnipresent glass of Rye and his go-to Old Fashioned, and Roger's martini and gimlet. But oddly, taking place in Manhattan, the drink of the

Evolution of a Cocktail: La Dolce Vita—A Gin, Sweet Vermouth, Ginger Liqueur, & Chartreuse Cock

Milano-Torino First, there was a drink called the "Milano-Torino" in the 1860s, served at Gaspar Campari's bar, Caffè Campari. It was composed of equal parts Campari and Sweet Vermouth over ice (from the ice house by way of the Alps), with a splash of club soda, and an orange slice as a garnish. Americano By the turn of the century, the "Milano-Torino" was a favorite among the many American tourists visiting the continent. In fact, the drink became so popular that it was renamed the "Americano" in honor of these Americans (and their money), and garnished with a slice of lemon (to distinguish it from the "Milano-Torino"). Bijou (see BLOG entry for April 1, 2016: Retro Cocktail for April: Bi

Retro Cocktail for April: Bijou

"Bijou" is my RETRO COCKTAIL for April, 2016. In French, bijou means "jewel". The drink is called this because it combines the colors of three jewels: gin for diamond, green chartreuse for emerald, and sweet vermouth for ruby. Said to be invented by Harry Johnson, who in the year 1900 compiled his seminal New & Improved Bartender Manual, the original recipe for a "Bijou" dates back to the 1890s. Like the "Negroni" and the "Boulevardier", the "Bijou" has equal parts Gin and Sweet Vermouth*. What distinguishes it, is the Green Chartreuse (with a little Campari thrown in for old time's sake). The flavors blend marvelously with the Chartreuse playing well with the others, the exquisite bitterne

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                                     ©2016, ©2017 by Kevin Postupack.

 

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