Category Archives: gin

Tour de force–part I

It’s been a long time since I went to four bars in one night.  But, when I was in New York City, over the Columbus Day weekend, I felt compelled to try some of New York Magazine’s top-rated bars.  I also asked my good friend, Sesolf, for recommendations, and we embarked on the classic bar hop.

(Here’s part one of a two-part post on the night.)

First up, was PDT, or Please Don’t Tell, a speakeasy-style lounge in the East Village.  PDT has everything you’d expect – intimate ambience, superb cocktails, and the obligatory secret entrance (you enter through a vintage phone booth located within Crif Dog, a hot dog joint).  It was my favorite place of the night.  Not only is the place quite civilized (see etiquette rules),  the cocktails were inventive and down-right good.

Pearl Button
Referred to on the menu as a “Caipirinha Collins,” and it was.  Light and refreshing, it was the perfect cocktail to start the night.
Ingredients:
Served over ice in a collins glass

Witch’s Kiss
This drink has a thicker consistency and interesting herbal flavors.
Ingredients:
Strained and served in a martini glass

  • Jose Cuervo Tequila
  • Lemon Juice
  • Strega (bittersweet herbal liqueur)
  • Red Jacket Orchard Apple Jack Butter

Blackbeard
The glass is filled with perfect crushed ice and garnished with mint.  One trick we learned – flick the mint leaves to release the sweet aroma right before serving.
Ingredients:

  • Tanqueray Gin
  • Krogstad Aquavit
  • Pineapple Juice
  • Lemon Juice
  • Muddled Blackberries

(Next up: a basement bar akin to a rabbit hole, a faux speakeasy.)

Magnum opus

Since checking out DC’s new speakeasy-style cocktail establishment, and meeting one of the masterminds behind the place, I rounded up some friends for cocktails at Central. Justin Guthrie, mixologist at the super-secret-speakeasy, is also bar manager at Central.

Here are the cocktails we tried:

  • Blackberry Bourbon Cobbler – made with Old Weller Antique Bourbon, blackberries, lemon juice, powdered sugar. S&C’s take: we were overpowered by the bourbon at first, but the flavors came together after a few sips. Love the presentation and fresh blackberries.
  • Black Pepper Gin Rickey – made with Bombay Sapphire Gin, house-made black pepper and lime soda. S&C’s take: our fave, no question.
  • Ginger Daiquiri made with Neisson Rhum Agricole, Crème de Gingembre, ginger syrup, fresh lime juice. S&C take: This was our second favorite. It reminds me of the ginger limeade I have at Teaism all the time. Ginger+lime = you can’t go wrong.
  • La Fee Verte – made with Kubler Absinthe, water, sugar. S&C take: Ms. S&C is trying to train her palate to like the taste of fennel. She will try to do the same with strong star anise flavor in absinthe.

The overwhelming favorite was the Black Pepper Gin Rickey. No surprise since it recently won the “Best Rickey category” at the first annual D.C. Craft Bartenders Guild competition. The Gin Rickey cocktail is a DC native, named after Col. Joe Rickey, an influential lobbyist in the late 19th century who squeezed lime and soda water into his morning bourbon.

Black pepper and lime soda may seem like a strange combination, but trust me it is very, very good. Served over ice, it has some “heat” from the pepper but it is also refreshing. The Washington Post already covered the D.C. Craft Bartenders contest, so we can bring you the complete recipe.

Black Pepper Gin Rickey
Note: You’ll need a soda siphon or ISI charger to make this cocktail. Makes 1 serving.

Ingredients:
For the black pepper-lime soda
• 8 ounces freshly squeezed lime juice
• 8 ounces black pepper syrup (see below)
• 4 ounces water
For the drink
• Ice
• 1 3/4 ounces gin, preferably Bombay Sapphire
• 4 1/2 ounces black pepper-lime soda (see above)
• 3 thinly sliced lime wheels, for garnish

Directions:
For the black pepper-lime soda: Combine the lime juice, black pepper syrup and water in a soda siphon or ISI charger. Shake and charge with CO2.

For the drink: Fill a Collins glass with ice. Add the gin and the black pepper-lime soda. Garnish with the lime wheels by placing them around the inside of the glass.

For the black pepper syrup: Heat a small nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1/2 cup whole black peppercorns and 2 pinches of crushed red pepper flakes; toast for 30 seconds, shaking often to prevent burning. Carefully add 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar, stirring to combine. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for a few minutes until the sugar has dissolved, then remove from the heat. Cool to room temperature, then strain the syrup, discarding the solids. (This makes more syrup than is called for in this recipe; cover and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.)

Recipe Source: Justin Guthrie, bar manager at Central in Washington, DC.

Bitter pink insanity!

The Shoes: My Pink Ferragamos

Bitterly insane is exactly what I would be if I didn’t own these shoes. They are by far the most elegant (and expensive) shoes in my closet. Lucky for moi, I didn’t pay a dime for them (another shout-out to LC). They are classic and timeless. They are Ferragamos.

Italian designer, Salvatore Ferragamo, was a pioneer of fashion. Born in 1898, he had already made his first pair of shoes at that age of nine. From a family of poor farmers, who couldn’t afford to buy shoes for his sisters’ first communion, Ferragamo borrowed materials from the local cobbler and made their shoes, rather than facing the same of seeing them wear clogs to church.

Ferragamo’s talent and genius ascended him to Hollywood and he earned a reputation for being a “shoemaker to the stars.” Though my research is inconclusive, it appears he designed Dorothy’s ruby slippers in the Wizard of Oz, and he’s credited with inventing the wedge(!) in 1938, for Judy Garland. His most famous invention was the cork wedge, which paved the way for platforms. He was a visionary and an inspiration, and now, my obsession.

The Occasion:

The shoes are fitted for the red carpet and the streets of Paris. For me, they mean I have an absolute go-to item for any cocktail party, fancy dinner, or event where I want to stand out. If it is a party I’m hosting? Bring on the bruschetta, antipasto, caponata, and this unique pre-dinner cocktail.

The Drink: Negroni

I can’t get enough of the old-school cocktails. The Negroni is a perfect match because of its sublime color, because it is Italian, and because it is made with Campari. The Negroni was invented in Florence in 1919, at Caffe Casoni, because Count Camillo Negroni added gin to his favorite drink, the Americano. Campari, the notable ingredient, is definitely an acquired taste, and is probably better known for their vintage posters. It is a grand aperitif.

The Ingredients/Recipe:

I’ve altered the original recipe slightly by adding extra sweet vermouth and extra orange. I definitely recommend this version for first-timers. The bitterness is like nothing you’ve ever tasted.

  • Fill cocktail glass with ice
  • Combine 1 part gin, 1 part Campari, 1 part sweet vermouth (be generous), and fresh squeezed orange juice (to taste) in an ice filled shaker
  • Shake until well chilled and strain into glass
  • Garnish with orange slice

Cin cin!

posted by Ms. S&C