Cup vs. Sling

Unlike the folks over at Summerfruit Cup, I really don’t know a whole lot about the history of English drinking or, more specifically, Pimm’s products.

However, it appears that Pimm’s No. 1 was originally marketed as a “Gin Sling”:

The Mystery of Pimm’s No. 6

Originally, Pimm’s No.6 was known simply as a “Vodka Sling”, just as No.1 was known as a “Gin Sling”. However, today, it is described (on the label) as a “Vodka Cup” and any allusion to its numerical designation has been renegated to the back of the label.

So, while the late 19th Century American version of the Sling was a fairly spartan affair, it seems that they may have evolved from these more complicated compound beverages with fruit and herb flavors.

I guess, in this sense, the Singapore Sling recipes make more sense, as an a la minute version of elaborate punch-like beverages.

As usual, this leaves the modern drink mixer rather in the lurch as what tradition to emulate when fixing something you might want to call a “Sling”. Do you follow Jerry Thomas’ spartan dictum of spirits sugar and water, pour a Pimm’s Cup, or mix a Singapore Sling?!

Any of the 3 could be considered correct!


Well, what with the world ending on the 21st of May and all, Mrs. Flannestad and I were talking about what we would want for our last meals.

We’re not huge fans of overly rich foods, so no Foie for us, thank you.

To be honest, one of my favorite dinners is fairly simply roasted chicken with a salad and risotto.

I suggested it, Mrs. Flannestad said, “Make it so!”

I learned this risotto dish on from an actual Italian. Steep some dried mushrooms (I used Chanterelles) in hot water. Remove soaked mushrooms from soaking liquid and reserve liquid. Mince mushrooms. Trim and clean your asparagus. Break off the tips. Steam (or blanch) the stalks. Prepare an ice bath. When the stalks are tender, drop them in the ice bath to stop them cooking and set the chlorophyll. Puree the stalks in a blender with some of the soaking liquid from the mushrooms. On a stove, combine pureed asparagus with the rest of the soaking liquid and some water, chicken, or veggie stock over low heat. Brunoise a half an onion and a half a carrot (some like to use leeks or celery instead, so the carrot color doesn’t distract). Heat a heavy pan large enough to contain your risotto. Add oil and 1 cup risotto. Cook until it is fragrant and lightly browned. Add the onion and carrot and sautee briefly. Add enough warm stock to cover the rice. Simmer, adding liquid as it is absorbed until the rice is just a little firm to the tooth. Stir in the minced dried mushrooms. In a separate pan, saute the asparagus tips. Stir a little finely grated parmesan (or other tasty cheese) into the risotto. Add some finely minced fresh herbs, (like Marjoram or Oregano,) and adjust seasonings. Fold in aspargus tips. Serve and grate a little more grated parmesan cheese.

Spatchcocked the chicken (as usual from Avedano’s), rubbed it with olive oil, salt and pepper, and fresh herbs. Roasted in a convection oven at 400 degrees F until done.

Russian River Damnation, of course.

Damnation: In the great beer producing country of Belgium, some brewers have made it a tradition to give their beers an unusual name. Sometimes the name is curious, now and then it is diabolical and other times it is just plain silly. Damnation is our brewmaster’s interpretation of a Belgian style Strong Golden Ale. It has extraordinary aromas of banana and pear with mouth filling flavors of sweet malt and earthy hops. The lingering finish is dry and slightly bitter but very, very smooth.

7.0%ABV / 1.068 O.G / 25 BUs

Salad with not so great tomatoes (it’s too early in the year) and balsamic vinaigrette.

True Confession: For many years I overdressed my salads and over seasoned my salad dressing.

Hey, I grew up in the midwest, and really the lettuce was more of a garnish for the syrupy salad dressing and accoutrements of the salad. The idea that you’d want to actually taste the greens was foreign.

However, since moving to California, we’ve had a lot of good salads, and I’ve realized simpler is better, when it comes to dressing.

I’ve actually read a bunch of classic cook books, and its interesting that garlic is never really an ingredient in the actual salad dressing. Usually what is suggested is that you rub a garlic clove into the salad bowl before making the dressing and tossing the salad.

I’ve started adopting that, though I don’t have a big wooden salad bowl.

What I do is put a little kosher salt in the bottom the bowl, then I rub the garlic clove in that. Sort of making garlic flavored salt. Then I rub any garlic sticking to the clove and discard the clove. To the seasoned salt, I add the ingredients for the salad dressing. Finally toss the leaves in the dressing. I’m still working on dressing my salads less, but this ends up giving you salads that taste more of your ingredients and less of raw garlic.

Pulling out the big guns, Radio Couteau La Neblina, 2007.

Spanish for “fog,” la neblina rolls in from the Pacific Ocean to blanket and cool the coastal Pinot Noir vineyards of western Sonoma County. Aged on primary lees for 15 months, this cuvee is a blend from four truly coastal vineyard sites where this classic vintage was captured. The core of this blend is from vines planted in the Goldridge soils of the Sebastopol Bench along Gravenstein Highway 116. We fermented with 10% whole cluster in 2009 to add tannin complexity, structure, and spiciness.

Salad with Tomatoes and vinaigrette, Asparagus Risotto, Spatchcocked Chicken, Damnation, Sonoma County Pinot Noir and Mrs. Flannestad. Life is good!

Straits Sling

Can I just say, I have zero idea what the Raffles, Singapore, or Straits Sling have to do with the earlier beverage of the same name, aka the garnished toddy.

And as far as I can tell, no one else has much idea, either, even when they were popping up, seemingly around the early portion of the 20th Century.

In fact, I’d argue for a separate name for these tall, tropical-ish, pink beverages. How about “Colonial Slings”?

Straits Sling
(for 6)
Place in a shaker 4 glasses of Gin, 1 glass of Benedictine, 1 glass of Cherry Brandy, the Juice of 2 Lemons, a teaspoonful of Angostura Bitters, and one of Orange Bitters.
Shake sufficiently and serve in large glasses, filling up with Soda water.

So, I thought it would be interesting to look at a couple recipes for these “Colonial Slings”.

Trader Vic, in the 1948 edition of his “Bartender’s Guide” includes Slings in a section with Sangarees. About the grouping, he says:

Sangarees are tall drinks, made like Old-Fashioneds but without bitters, and are usually topped with a dash of nutmeg. Slings, on the other hand, in their simpler versions, are pointed up with bitters or a similar type of flavoring and resemble elongated Old-Fashioneds with the addition of a little lemon. With the exception of the Singapore Slings, this entire group of drinks has little merit.

Among these beverages of, “little merit,” he includes several recipes which follow the mold in his description including the Applejack Sling, the Brandy Sling, the Fancy Sling (with Brandy, benedictine, Lemon, Pernod, and Maraschino!) and finally one exotically named the Jungle Fire Sling:

Jungle Fire Sling.
1 oz Cherry Brandy
1/2 oz Benedictine
1/2 oz Parfait Amour
1 oz Brandy
Stir in a 12 oz glass; fill with shaved ice, fill glass with ginger beer.

Wow, great name, but If you try that one, you might want to pre-book an appointment with the Dentist.

Of Trader Vic’s Singapore and/or Raffles Slings, there are three.

Raffles Sling
1 oz dry gin
1 oz cherry brandy
1 oz benedictine
Shake with cracked ice; strain into 12 oz glass containing several lumps of ice; fill with chilled club soda and garnish with the spiral peel of 1 green lime.

Another far too sweet one, there!

Singapore Sling–1
1 1/2 oz dry gin
1/2 oz Cherry Brandy
1/2 oz lemon juice
1/2 lime
1 tsp grenadine
1/4 oz sloe gin
1/2 oz Creme de Cassis
Squeeze lime and drop into 12 oz glass with cracked ice; add rest of ingredients and stir well; fill rest of glass with selzer.

7 Ingredients? Thank goodness I never worked for Trader Vic!

Singapore Sling–2
Juice 1/2 lemon
1 dash benedictine
3/4 oz cherry brandy
2 oz dry gin
Stir in a 12oz glass with cracked ice; decorate with slice of orange and sprig of mint; fill with selzer and serve with straws.

Well, all I can say is, thank goodness by 1972 Trader Vic only included 1 Sling in his revised edition of the “Bartender’s Guide”. Pretty much the same as the above Singapore Sling–1, with a little tweaking of the amounts of the different ingredients. Apparently the heyday of the Sling had passed.

Singapore Sling

1 lime
1 dash grenadine
1/4 oz creme de cassis
1/2 oz sloe gin
1/2 oz cherry liqueur
1 oz gin
Club soda
Cut lime, squeeze juice over ice cubes in a 12-ounce chimney glass, and save 1 lime shell. Add remaining ingredients except soda. Fill glass with soda. Stir. Decorate with spent lime shell, orange slice, and a cherry.

Down to 6 ingredients and a not too elaborate garnish. Whew, I guess by the 1970s things had calmed down a touch. Though I still question the cluster of cherry-berry flavors. Are Sloe Gin, Cherry Liqueur, Grenadine, and Creme de Cassis all really necessary in the same drink? I also want to note that in 1972 Trader Vic has opted for the less confusing, “Cherry Liqueur,” over the somewhat ambiguous “Cherry Brandy”.

Regarding Slings and Toddies, perpetual crank David A. Embury says the following in his 1948 book, “The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks”.

The dictionaries define both Slings and Toddies as “mixtures of sweetened spirits and water.” While Slings have always been served both hot and cold, the toddy was originally a hot drink only. Today, however, Toddies, as well as Slings are served both hot and cold. Slings are usually made with lemon and either sugar or some sweet liqueur. Toddies usually contain a thin slice of lemon or a piece of lemon peel but no lemon juice. Also, they usually contain one or more spices, such as cinnamon, cloves, or nutmeg. These differences, however, are merely incidental and, when served hot, it is difficult, if not impossible, to distiguish between a Sling and a Toddy. One distinction between the cold drinks is that a Toddy is usually made with plain water, Slings with charged water or Ginger Ale.

SINGAPORE SLING Of alll the recipes published for this drink, I have never seen any two that were alike. Essentially it is a Gin Sling with the addition of cherry brandy. The following is typical of the various recipes.

1 teaspoonful Sugar Syrup
Juice of 1/4 large Lemon or 1/2 large Lime
1 pony Cherry Brandy (Kirsch)
1 1/2 jiggers Gin
1 dash Angostura

Shake and strain into 8 oz Highball glass or use 10 oz glass and leave 1 large ice cube in the glass. Fill glass with charged water. Some recipes call for the addition of Benedictine. Also, some call for ginger ale in place of the charged water. A slice of lemon peel should be twisted over and dropped in the drink.

Some good points, there, especially the comment, “Of alll the recipes published for this drink, I have never seen any two that were alike.” Also interesting that Embury is the only one I’ve seen, up until some modern authors, to specify “Kirsch”. Well, he did like his cocktails on the dry side. Though, you will see, as is typical of recipes which forgo Cherry Liqueur for Cherry Eau-de-Vie, that the authors find themselves adding sugar syrup to a recipe which usually doesn’t contain any.

Anyway, unless I’m working at Heaven’s Dog, where we make the Slanted Door Singapore Sling as our house recipe, I always make the following Charles Baker, Jr. recipe when I have a request for Straits or Singapore Slings.

The Paramaribo Park Club Gin Sling from the Dutch Guiana Capital City of Suriname

Actually this sling was something of an improvement over the sweetish Raffles job, to your Pastor’s present-day taste. It was a trifle dryer, had a bit more lime juice than average here in the United States; and, finally the inclusion of the crushed–seeded–lime hulls in the finished drink lent added aroma and flavor as they do in Gin Rickeys.

2 oz Best Dry Gin
1 Pony Cherry Brandy (1 oz Cherry Heering)
Juice & Hulls 2 small limes (1 oz Lime Juice)
1 tsp each Cognac & Benedictine

Shake with fine ice till quite cold, strain into short highball glass, letting some of the ice go in also. Cap with chilled club soda; garnish with ripe pineapple stick &/or cherry. Personally we float-on the Benedictine-Cognac after finished drink’s poured.

A lot of times Baker gets flack for drinks that need to be significantly massaged before they are palatable. Heh, well, if there was anyone who understood the appeal of the dying embers of Colonialism, it was Charles Baker, Jr. To me this version of the “Colonial Sling” just works. Give it a try and let me know if you think so too.

Addenda: while I was chatting via email with Erik Adkins about Slings, he suggested I also send a note to exotic drink expert Martin Cate, of Smuggler’s Cove, who he said had expended a fair amount of energy researching the recipe he uses for this drink.

I did a ton of digging before putting it on my menu, and I just couldn’t find anything resembling consensus on the issue. Between Dale, Difford, Regan, etc. etc. there were a lot of opinions. I’m reasonably confident in the role of Heering & Benedictine, I’m not confident in the role of pineapple juice. Below is what I went with, though I ended up calling it a Straits Sling on my menu, but still maintain that the Sing Sling was probably pretty close.

.75 oz fresh lemon juice
.25 oz simple syrup (or to taste)
.25 oz Benedictine
.5 oz Heering
1.5 oz Plymouth
dash orange bitters
dash Angostura bitters
2 oz seltzer.

I think the double bitters was something that B&B or Rickhouse was doing that I liked.

Which brings us back to something very close to a single serving version of the Straits Sling at the beginning of this post! Sounds delicious, I believe a field trip to Smuggler’s Cove shall be in order!

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the drinks in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, the, uh, Sauterne Cup.

Singapore Sling

Singapore Sling
The Juice of 1/4 Lemon,
1/4 Dry Gin.
1/2 Cherry Brandy.
Shake well and strain into medium size glass, and fill with soda water. Add 1 lump of ice.

A lot of people get hung up on the Singapore Sling.

A famous drink from the Raffles Hotel in Singapore, so many people have written about it over the years, that I’m not sure there is anything to say.

The original recipe was secret and somehow lost. Eventually it was claimed found again by an ancestor of the barman who invented it, blah blah blah… Sounds like a made up story to me.

The drink the Raffles Hotel now serves after re-discovering the recipe is, reportedly, to most modern tastes, far too sweet and rather pink looking and artificial tasting.

So I think the response that people get, when they come across the Savoy recipe above is, “Uh, nope, I’m not going to make that, it sounds disgustingly sweet.” Well, right, that’s true, this does sound rather ridiculously sweet, and I’ve made it before to that exact spec, and I’m not doing it again. Tastes like vaguely medicinal fizzy cherry soda.

First off, there’s a red herring. Ahem. Or perhaps a Cherry Heering. Hoho.

Anyway, when confronted with this recipe, a lot of people grasp on to the idea of, “Cherry Brandy,” thinking perhaps that some confused editor, or author, meant to write, “Kirsch,” or “Cherry Eau-de-Vie” instead of Cherry Brandy, which is universally the cocktail recipe shorthand for Cherry Liqueur. And by subbing in Kirsch, they’ll be able to rescue the recipe from its syrupy origins.

One mixologist, in particular, Robert Vermeire, muddied the water by calling for, “Dry Cherry Brandy,” in his book, “Cocktails: How to Mix Them” (originally published 1922).

Straits Sling

The well-known Singapore drink, thoroughly iced and shaken, contains:

2 dashes Orange Bitters
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
The juice of half a lemon
1/8 Gill of Benedictine
1/8 Gill of Dry Cherry Brandy
1/2 Gill of Gin

Pour into a tumbler and fill up with cold soda water.

“O ho!” you say, “I have an excuse to use Kirsch in this recipe! This might not be so sweet after all!”

Well, the bad news is, lots of liqueurs are called “Dry”, which does not mean they are Eau-de-Vies. Triple SEC springs immediately to mind. In fact, speaking of Orange Liqueurs, the Bols Company, to this very day, calls their Orange Curacao, “Dry Orange Curacao,” in Europe. Oh, hm, a Dutch Liqueur Company, a recipe in Singapore at a Colonial hotel, what are the chances, Bols might have marketed its Cherry Liqueur in the past as “Dry Cherry Brandy”?

I will also add, Mr. Robert Vermeire, elsewhere in his book actually calls specifically for “Kirsch” when he means Cherry Eau-de-Vie, not “Dry Cherry Brandy”, for example, in the recipe for the “Pollchinelle or Cassis-Kirsch” in the “French Aperitifs” section of his book.

(Hat Tip to Mr. David Wondrich, for reminding me about Bols’ use of the word “Dry” in their liqueur line. You’d think I would remember, having used their Dry Orange Curacao about a million times. Duh. I believe Mr. Wondrich should have a far more well written and informative article on the subject of Slings coming out some time soon.)

And, uh, maybe you didn’t notice, but if you leave out the Cherry Liqueur entirely, this recipe has no sweetener at all, basically a Dry Gin and Kirsch highball with a dash of lemon. You give that a try and let me know what you think. I’ve have tried that version, and while perhaps nominally more appealing than the Fizzy Cherry Soda version, it’s not one of those drinks that jumps out as something that would have mass appeal, nor that I am going to make again.

Anyway, a secret recipe and a questionable reinvention means, well, it means, everyone will make up their own version.

Things that are indisputable: It has Gin, it has Citrus, and it has “Cherry Brandy”, (however you interpret that,) and it is served in a tall glass.

Erik Adkins put the Singapore Sling on the Slanted Door menu a while ago, and it has been a staple of that restaurant’s cocktail menu ever since. He based his recipe on one he got from the Rainbow Room in New York City, which, it turns out, was adapted by Dale DeGroff from something he was faxed by the Raffles Hotel.

I had some business to take care of with Jennifer Colliau, in preparation for the next Savoy Night, so I figured, what better place to stop for a Singapore Sling? I mean, aside from the Rainbow Room or Raffles Hotel.

Slanted Door Singapore Sling
1 1/2 oz Dry Gin
1 oz Sling Business*
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1 1/2 oz Pineapple Juice
2 Dash Angostura bitters

Shake and pour into a Delmonico glass. Garnish with a cherry on a lime raft.

*Sling Business is a mixture of 1/2 Cherry Heering, 1/4 Benedictine, and 1/4 Cointreau. If mixing this recipe for yourself it would be, 1/2 oz Heering, 1/4 oz Benedictine, and 1/4 oz Cointreau per drink.

Among other things that The Slanted Door might have in advantage over the Rainbow Room or Raffles Hotel, is that they are currently experimenting with using fresh squeezed pineapple juice. This not only tastes fantastic in a Singapore Sling, way better than canned, but you can also see gives the drink a great, light foam at the top.

What do I think is the right recipe?

Honestly, I don’t know. The pineapple version served by the Slanted Door is a great drink. Even at its most basic, the Singapore Sling is a Tom Collins sweetened with Cherry Heering, which isn’t really bad, as long as you take a generous hand with the citrus.

The moral of the story, if there is one? If you keep the recipe for your cocktail secret, there’s a chance that everyone will make it wrong. FOREVER. And even if the right recipe eventually turns up, some people may never believe it.

It’s hard enough for most people to make cocktail recipes the way their creators intended, even if the recipe is known.

Heck, I’m still trying to get that version of the Last Word I saw with Midori instead of Green Chartreuse out of my mind…

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the drinks in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, the, uh, Sauterne Cup.

Gin, uh, Tequila Sling.

Gin Sling
Dissolve 1 Teaspoonful of Sugar in Water.
1 Glass Dry Gin.
1 Lump of Ice.
Served in long tumbler and fill with water or soda; if served hot a little nutmeg on top.

I just wasn’t feeling this recipe, so I did a little research.

First off, in drinky circles, probably the most famous reference to the Sling comes from one of the first published references to the Cocktail. From the May 13, 1806 edition of The Balance and Columbian Repository:

To the Editor of the Balance.
I observe in your paper of the 6th instant, in the account of a democratic candidate for a seat in the legislature, marked under the head of Loss, 25 do. cock-tail. Will you be so obliging as to inform me what is meant by this species of refreshment? Though a stranger to you, I believe, from your general character, you will not suppose this request to be impertinent.
I have heard of a forum, of phlegm-cutter and fog driver, of wetting the whistle, of moistening the clay, of a fillip, a spur in the head, quenching a spark in the throat, of flip & c, but never in my life, though have lived a good many years, did I hear of cock tail before. Is it peculiar to a part of this country? Or is it a late invention? Is the name expressive of the effect which the drink has on a particular part of the body? Or does it signify that the democrats who take the potion are turned topsycurvy, and have their heads where their tails should be? I should think the latter to be the real solution; but am unwilling to determine finally until I receive all the information in my power.
At the beginning of the revolution, a physician publicly recommended the moss which grew on a tree as a substitute for tea. He found on experiment, that it had more of a stimulating quality then he approved; and therefore, he afterward as publicly denounced it. Whatever cock tail is, it may be properly administered only at certain times and to certain constitutions. A few years ago, when the democrats were bawling for Jefferson and Clinton, one of the polls was held in the city of New York at a place where ice cream was sold. Their temperament then was remarkably adust and bilious. Something was necessary to cool them. Now when they are sunk into rigidity, it might be equally necessary, by cock-tail to warm and rouse them.
I hope you will construe nothing that I have said as disrespectful. I read your paper with great pleasure and wish it the most extensive circulation. Whether you answer my inquiry or not, I shall still remain,

[As I make it a point, never to publish anything (under my editorial head) but which I can explain, I shall not hesitate to gratify the curiosity of my inquisitive correspondent: Cock tail, then is a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water and bitters it is vulgarly called a bittered sling, and is supposed to be an excellent electioneering potion inasmuch as it renders the heart stout and bold, at the same time that it fuddles the head. It is said also, to be of great use to a democratic candidate: because, a person having swallowed a glass of it, is ready to swallow any thing else.
Edit. Bal.]

If a Cocktail, “is a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water and bitters it is vulgarly called a bittered sling,” then, ipso facto, by rights, a plain, or unbittered, Sling is, “spirits of any kind, sugar, and water.” Same as a Toddy.

Further reading in early sources, Jerry Thomas, “Cocktail” Bill Boothby, and Harry Johnson, seems to indicate that generally, at least in late 19th Century bar parlance, the Sling was differentiated from the Toddy by the presence of a garnish. The is, a Toddy was generally served without a garnish, while a sling generally has nutmeg and/or citrus peel. Of course that is terribly amusing because no one today would serve a hot toddy without a garnish, and if you ordered a “Hot Sling” you’d probably get kicked out of the bar.

Anyway, I wasn’t feeling very Ginny last week, so I decided to spice things up a bit, after all the author does say, “Spirits of any kind,” with a little Tequila.

New World Sling

2 oz Charbay Tequila
1 teaspoon Caster (Or superfine) sugar
Splash of water
Big Ice Cube
Lemon Peel

Muddle Superfine sugar in water until it is dissolved. Add Big Ice Cube and pour in Tequila. Stir well and garnish with freshly grated Cinnamon. Squeeze Lemon Peel over drink and drop in.

Gosh that’s good. I swapped nutmeg out for cinnamon, as I know from the Promissory Note at Alembic Bar that Cinnamon has a good affinity for tequila.

When I wrote up the Toddy, a lot of people asked things like, “is there any reason to leave out the bitters and just make a Toddy?”

I’ll repeat myself, probably if you gave someone from the early 19th Century a Bourbon Old-Fashioned Cocktail, they would ask you, why on earth you are putting bitters in perfectly good booze.

And sure, you could add some bitters to this drink, and it probably wouldn’t hurt. But with a Tequila this good is it really necessary?

Music was from Bill Frisell and Vinicius Cantuaria’s CD “Lagrimas Mexicanas”.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the drinks in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, the, uh, Sauterne Cup.

John Collins

John Collins
The Juice of 1/2 Lemon. (Juice 1/2 Lemon)
1/2 Tablespoonful Powdered Sugar. (1/4 oz Rich Simple Syrup)
1 glass Hollands Gin. (2 oz Bols Genever)
Shake well and strain into long tumbler. Add 1 lump ice and split of soda water

The last of the Collins family, for Savoy purposes, is the “John Collins”. I guess the interesting part is that in modern bar nomenclature, if you ordered a John Collins you’d likely get a Bourbon Collins, not a Genever Collins. It’s true that Genevers were rather thin on the ground for most of the 20th Century and that during most of that time, London Dry Gin was the dominant style. If you ordered a Genever Collins, you would likely get a blank look. Even in Europe, where Genever was still available, not many people were mixing with it.

Actually, strike that, as far as I know, no one was mixing with it.

To be honest, I’m not super sold on the John Collins as a good use for Genever. Because Genever doesn’t have the botanical intensity of London Dry or Old Tom, it doesn’t have a huge impact in the drink. Basically tastes like boozy, fizzy lemonade. There’s a little maltiness from the Genever, but it doesn’t have much presence in the drink.

It’s perfectly fine, but it doesn’t sell itself. You can definitely see why Genever went by the wayside for drinks of this nature.

No, if you’re going to mix with Genever, make yourself an Improved Holland Gin Cocktail or a Holland House. Those are drinks where the Genever shines.

In the previous Tom Collins Whisky post, I mentioned that I should try making a Collins with unaged Whisk(e)y.

So as a bonus round, I made a half Collins with the Low Gap Clear Whiskey.

Wow, was that good!

I am a little dubious about the whole “White Whiskey” category, but the Low Gap really shines in a Tom Collins. Pot Still for the win!

Highly recommended, maybe my favorite Collins of the bunch.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the drinks in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, the, uh, Sauterne Cup.

BOTW–Double Trouble & Chilayo

First, just a reminder that Sunday, May 22, 2011, is our monthly exercise in folly, Savoy Cocktail Book Night at Alembic Bar. If any of the cocktails, (they also have a great beer selection,) on this blog have captured your fancy, stop by after 6 and allow the skilled bartenders, (and me,) to make them for you. It is always a fun time.

When I was growing up, my sister and I weren’t really allowed into the kitchen. Basically, about the only things we were allowed to do were load and unload the dishwasher and decorate Christmas cookies. Especially since the family roles were very traditional, even if I displayed some interest in cooking, men were really only allowed to grill things outdoors in our house.

Consequently, I was sent off to college with very little idea of how to feed myself. I survived the first couple years on dorm food, Ramen, and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.

But then I went and spent what little money I had saved on Comic Books and Records, so I had to get a job. I also needed to an apartment outside of the dorms, so I didn’t have to spend summers at home with my parents.

I really don’t remember how I ended up getting a job at Brat und Brau, I don’t think it was anything more than a random job application submission. Anyway, after they determined that I was unsuited for service work, I was assigned to the job of getting the dining room in order for lunch service, including setting up the salad bar and popping the corn.

Somehow, I parlayed this experience at Brat und Brau into a job as a prep cook in the catering department of a local deli chain.

It was there that I realized that I really enjoyed cooking. I mean at first I didn’t make anything more complicated than my typical bachelor food: fried potatoes with bacon, eggs, and cheese, but I sort of sunk into it and started to absorb the business and culture.

I’d always felt a bit like an outsider, and the people at the catering company were people I felt more comfortable with than a lot of the friends I had grown up with. They were outsiders. In the 1980s and 1990s, cooking was not yet really a reputable career, and my parents weren’t exactly thrilled with this new direction. I even tried to drop out of college my junior year and just cook, but they wouldn’t let me, “We’ve paid for your tuition this far, you WILL graduate.”

Anyway, I did eventually graduate, with a lovely and useful Bachelor of Arts in English, but as soon as I had finished college, I went into cooking full time at a local Southwestern Restaurant.

At the Southwestern restaurant, I was initially thrilled, this was really good food. Or, well, it seemed to be at the time. But then I started reading about actual Southwestern and Mexican Food, Mark Miller and Diana Kennedy were my first two big authors, and realized what we were serving was, well, not that good. A mishmash of Italian-American comfort food and Southwestern food, even though we were using decent ingredients, it bore no resemblance to any of the dishes I made from Ms. Kennedy nor even Mr. Miller.

Along with the early influences of Ms. Kennedy, Mr. Miller, and the Chinese Food Books of Nina Simonds, one of the people who has been most influential on me later in life is Alton Brown.

I always really like people who get down to the basics and demystify things that seem too complicated. Or, well, things that other people have made seem too complicated. Sure, cooking is complicated, but there are methods which allow us to understand it, and even generally end up with predictable outcomes.

I really like that he has always been on the side of demystifying food from a technical perspective, but not only that, but that he has championed American Food and Food Culture. He even seems like a sensible man.

I recently learned that Alton Brown has decided to stop producing new episodes of his Good Eats show on the Food Network, after a mere 249 segments and something like 10 years. Get sad about the end of a TV show? Especially one on the Food Network? Seems a little pathetic. But, I am. You can make fun of me now.

The first beer this week, is the Orchard White from the Bruery.

Orchard White is an unfiltered, bottle conditioned Belgian-style witbier. This hazy, straw yellow beer is spiced with coriander, citrus peel and lavender added to the boil and whirlpool. A spicy, fruity yeast strain is used to add complexity, and rolled oats are added for a silky texture.

I didn’t read the label at first, and was like, “What’s that flavor?” Put on my glasses, checked the fine print. Oh right, Lavender. Well, at 5% ABV or so, the Orchard White is easy drinking and enjoyable. Spiced Wit Beers are not generally my favorite Belgian style, but this isn’t bad, despite the Lavender, maybe on a hot day, when you’re feeling a little floral. Interestingly, I recently read that the Bruery is reorganizing its beer production and varieties, and to make room for other things in its schedule will be discontinuing the Orchard White.

Monty, however, is not impressed, with all this boring monkey talk about beer and food preparation. Until all this blah blah is over, he will be waiting on his chair at the table.

The second beer is Hops on Rye from Firehouse Brewing. I really know zilch about this beer and brewery other than a friend recommended it to us. Looks like it is brewed at a sports bar chain which has locations in East Palo Alto and Sunnyvale. The beer isn’t bad, a Rye based IPA, but I think Bear Republic’s Hop Rod Rye is a more, uh, elegant example of this style. Mrs. Flannestad enjoyed it more than I, it seemed just a little unpolished to me.

One of the first dishes I made from Diana Kennedy’s “Art of Mexican Cooking” was a pork stew called Chilayo. Like most Mexican dishes, there’s a bit of semi-labor intensive prep on the front end, and then its pretty easy. Preheat your oven to 300. Basically, soak some chiles in boiling water, then puree them with onions, garlic, and spices. While that is going on, cut up some pork stew meat (this was a very nice piece of Kurobota pork shoulder from Avedano’s Holly Park Market), pour warm water (or stock) over it, start it simmering. Add the pureed chiles and a half pound of quartered tomatillos. Cover and move to the oven and cook until the pork is tender. I served it with Rancho Gordo Cranberry Beans (cooked with a ham hock), Plain Brown Rice, spicy braised chard, and warm corn tortillas.

Definitely Good Eats.

Tom Collins Whisky

First, just a reminder that Sunday, May 22, 2011, is our monthly exercise in folly, Savoy Cocktail Book Night at Alembic Bar. If any of the cocktails, (they also have a great beer selection,) on this blog have captured your fancy, stop by after 6 and allow the skilled bartenders, (and me,) to make them for you. It is always a fun time.

Tom Collins Whisky
5 or 6 Dashes of Gomme Syrup. (1/4 oz Rich Simple Syrup)
The Juice of 1 Small Lemon. (3/4 oz Lemon Juice)
1 Large Wineglass Whisky. (2 oz Buffalo Trace Bourbon)
2 or 3 Lumps of Ice.
Use small bar glass.
Shake well and strain into a large bar glass (12 oz Schumann Glass, over a single large cube of ice). Fill up the glass with plain soda water and imbibe while it is lively.

Aside from the “Prepared Punches for Bottling”, The Collins family is another section in the 1887 Jerry Thomas, which was not in the original 1862 edition of the book.

Reproduced below, you can see that the Savoy editors lifted the Tom Collins Whisky directly from that edition, including the charming, “imbibe while it is lively.”

Tom Collins Whiskey.
(Use small bar-glass.)
Take 5 or 6 dashes of gum syrup.
Juice of a small lemon.
1 large wine-glass of whiskey.
2 or 3 lumps of ice.

Shake up well and strain into a large bar-glass. Fill up the glass with plain soda water and imbibe while it is lively.

Tom Collins Brandy.
(Use large bar-glass.)
The same as Tom Collins Whiskey, substituting brandy for whiskey.

Tom Collins Gin.
(Use large bar-glass.)
The same as Tom Collins Whiskey, substituting gin for whiskey.

Normally, modern bartenders will differentiate between the various Collins drinks by giving them different first names. Jose Collins is Tequila, Jack Collins is AppleJack, Michael Collins is Irish Whiskey, and so forth. Apparently at this early date, these names had not yet been codified and everything was just a Tom Collins with the spirit specified after.

Second point, even though these early versions of the Tom Collins were being made with sugar syrup, they were still being shaken.

The two glasses thing in the Savoy recipe is always a bit confusing, but in the Thomas recipe, it is a bit more clear that one is specifying the mixing glass (small) and the other the serving glass (large).

Another interesting point is that normally you’d write out the main recipe and then say, something like “made the same with Gin” for the variations. So in the case of Thomas, it seems like the Tom Collins Whiskey was the dominant drink, not the Tom Collins Gin (which would have been Genever, at that time).

Lastly, it doesn’t appear that Jerry Thomas is specifying that any ice be included in the serving glass of the Tom Collins Whiskey. I took the liberty of adding a big tovolo cube to my drink, as I prefer it that way, but it appears at that early date, even ice was optional. The only difference between a “Whisky Fiz” and a “Tom Collins Whisky” was the size of the serving glass and thus the amount of soda.

As far as the drink itself, as much as I like Whiskey, I didn’t find it as enjoyable as the Gin Tom Collins I had at Bar Agricole. Aged spirits and Lemon, especially Bourbon, I just don’t find as appealing in Citrus based drinks. Highballs, I don’t mind at all, but once you add that lemon, you usually lose me. Guess I should try it with some unaged Whisk(e)y!

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the drinks in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, the, uh, Sauterne Cup.

Tom Collins

First, just a reminder that Sunday, May 22, 2011, is our monthly exercise in folly, Savoy Cocktail Book Night at Alembic Bar. If any of the cocktails, (they also have a great beer selection,) on this blog have captured your fancy, stop by after 6 and allow the skilled bartenders, (and me,) to make them for you. It is always a fun time.

Tom Collins
The Juice of 1/2 Lemon.
1/2 Tablespoonful Powdered Sugar.
1 Glass Dry Gin.
Shake well and strain into long tumbler. Add 1 lump ice and split of soda water.

The Tom Collins above was prepared by Rosa at the excellent bar and restaurant Bar Agricole, using Leopold’s Gin. I didn’t get the exact measurements, but she said something like, “Leopold’s Gin, 2-1, with dashes of house made stonefruit bitters.” They were very busy and I didn’t want to hassle her too much. Anyway, it was a delightful and refreshing quaff, I highly recommend stopping Bar Agricole for their Tom Collins, (or their great food.)

I’ve covered the history of the Tom Collins before, in the post about the Conduit Street Punch, so I won’t repeat that information. Short version, the Collins probably started a long time ago as a proper Gin Punch based on Dutch Gin (aka Genever), by the late 19th Century it was a long drink made  Old-Tom Gin, lemon, sugar and soda. By the 1930s, Old Tom was largely extinct and Tom Collins were being made with plain old London Dry Gin.

Sometimes we’ll get asked about the difference between this drink and that during our Savoy Night events. What’s the difference between a Daisy and the Fix or what exactly is the difference between a Collins and a Gin Fizz? I mean aside from the fact that a Tom Collins is served in a Collins glass and a Gin fizz in Gin Fizz Glass?

As we’ll see in a couple weeks, this is the recipe for a Gin Fizz:

Gin Fizz
The Juice of 1/2 Lemon.
1/2 Tablespoonful Powdered Sugar.
1 Glass Gin.
Shake well, strain into medium size glass and fill with syphon soda water.

That’s, yes, pretty much exactly the same ingredients, the same amounts, and nearly the same instructions as for the Tom Collins.

Many modern bartenders will differentiate that the Collins is built in the glass, while the Fizz is shaken and strained. However, it appears that this was not the case at the time the Savoy Cocktail Book was written (or before). Though the Savoy bartenders were apparently using teaspoons of dry sugar, so they really had no choice but to shake.

No, the big difference, as far as I can tell, is that the Collins is usually served over ice, while the fizz is served without ice.

But the other elephant in the room is how much soda is needed to “fill” either the Tom Collins Glass or the Gin Fizz Glass?

While the Savoy Cocktail Book was not particularly detail oriented regarding glassware (or garnishes, or much of anything,) fortunately another book published at around the same time, Patrick Gavin Duffy’s “The Official Mixer’s Manual,” was. He goes so far as to give the reader an illustrated guide to glassware and then indicate with every drink recipe which glass it should be served in. And, even better, he gives some volumes for the glassware.

In the figure above, glass number 10 is the Tom Collins glass, while glass number 12 is what Duffy calls the “Eight Oz. Highball”. This is the glass he directs you to use for fizzes. So if the illustration is to scale, and the “Highball” holds Eight Ounces, it looks like the Tom Collins Glass holds about 12-14 Ounces.

With “One Lump of Ice”, you are getting a lot more soda, almost an entire 10 oz split probably, in your Tom Collins, making it a much milder drink than a Gin Fizz. So that’s the difference, not the Gin, not the lemon, not the sugar, but the size of the glass, the ice, and the amount of soda.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the drinks in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, the, uh, Sauterne Cup.

General Harrison’s Egg Nogg

First, just a reminder that Sunday, May 22, 2011, is our monthly exercise in folly, Savoy Cocktail Book Night at Alembic Bar. If any of the cocktails, (they also have a great beer selection,) on this blog have captured your fancy, stop by after 6 and allow the skilled bartenders, (and me,) to make them for you. It is always a fun time.

General Harrison’s Egg Nogg
1 Egg. (1 Egg)
1 1/2 Teaspoonsful of Sugar. (1 1/2 Teaspoon Caster Sugar)
2 or 3 Small Lumps of Ice.
Fill the tumbler with Cider (4 oz Astarbe Natural Basque Cider), and shake well.

This is a splendid drink, and is very popular on the Mississippi river. It was the favourite beverage of William Henry Harrison, ninth President of the United States of America.

First off, and let’s get this out of the way, this isn’t Egg Nogg. As far as I am concerned, and no disrespect to the General, this a Cider Flip. Period.

Second, most modern American Hard Cider is awful. Most of them are sweet, vaguely alcoholic, highly carbonated, compounded beverages more closely resembling Zima or Wine Coolers than actual Cider.

William Henry Harrison lived from 1773 to 1841, he would not have recognized these beverages as Hard Cider, or even something fit for adult consumption.

When we talk about the nature of historical ingredients, we rarely talk about the obvious stuff.

The fact is, until relatively recently, fermentation was poorly understood. I mean, people understood the end result and they understood how to control the process, but they really did not understand that it was a specific organism that was consuming the sugars and producing the alcohol. Yeast was pretty much a mystery. This means most fermentation was done using things similar to sourdough starters. This also means most beer was probably sour and most wine far less predictably delightful. The industrialization of these industries just hadn’t happened in the 18th and 19th Centuries.

Likewise, Hard Cider was not inoculated with specific, delightful strains of yeast, it was just fermented with whatever wild yeasts and bacterias were in the air and on the fruit wherever it was being made. Hardly anybody does this anymore, because the results are not really predictable and the beverage you get on the other end may more closely resemble a tart Lambic Ale than an Apple Soda.

It is also worth noting, that opposed to the mild, juicy apples that are often now used to make Hard Cider and Apple Juice, the apples traditionally used to make cider were those you couldn’t eat out of hand. If you talk to someone who makes Calvados, another old, old tradition, they will tell you the only thing the many apple varieties used to make that beverage have in common are that they are small, ugly, and bitter.

So I was contemplating this, wondering if there was some cider I could find that would make sense to use in General Harrison’s Egg Nogg.

Over the past year or two, I’ve become a bit obsessed with naturally fermented beer and wine. I really like the unusual flavors you find in these beverages. I’d tried some more unusual beers and had some Natural wines which really made me perk up and take notice of things that stood outside of my frame of reference for fermented beverages.

One day, when I was visiting with Carl Sutton (of Sutton Cellars), he’d pulled out some Spanish Cider which blew me away. Not only did it have unusual flavors I didn’t associate with Cider, it also had a bracing acidity, that helped me to categorize many of the funky flavors I’d found in Calvados.

When we traveled to Spain last year, I made it my personal goal to try as many Natural Ciders as I could find while we traveled through the Basque and the Asturian regions of Spain. Well, after a couple bottles, none of my traveling companions really shared this enthusiasm. Tart, dry, funky and fairly alcoholic, they soon substituted Wine for the Cider I was drinking.

However, Spanish Cider makes complete sense as the type of Hard Cider someone would have been drinking in the late part of the 18th Century and early part of the 19th, and it makes total sense in the Harrison’s Egg Nogg. The acidity makes that amount of sugar sensible, the funkiness stands up against the egg, and the fact that it is barely carbonated makes it almost possible to shake the drinks without having it explode all over your kitchen or bar.

Forgot to turn on the music today before making the video. Note to self, feed the cats before making videos.

Safety Note: As with any recipe containing uncooked eggs, there is some small chance of salmonella. If that risk bothers you, use pasteurized eggs.

Finding Basque Cider: I got this Astarbe Cider at Healthy Spirits. When talking to them, they asked me to let them know what I thought. He’d gotten it a while ago, excited to find any Basque Cider available in the US. However, it really hadn’t sold very well. Personally, I had a hard time telling them that, yes, they should carry Basque Cider, when they have sold less than a case over what looks like about 5 years. If you disagree, let them know, as there’s only one bottle left. If that last bottle gets sold, and you still want to try Spanish Cider, K&L Wines does carry a Spanish and a Basque Cider.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the drinks in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, the, uh, Sauterne Cup.