Last year for my birthday my brother gave me a copy of Famous New Orleans Drinks & How to Mix ‘Em by Stanley Clisby Arthur. The history of cocktails is inextricably linked to New Orleans, and by most accounts, the very origin of the word “cocktail” comes from the city where A.A. Peychaud first started serving drinks in a double-ended egg-cup called a coquetier. Cocktails like the Sazerac, the Ramos Gin Fizz and the Vieux Carré (to name a few) were all invented in NOLA.
The book was first published in 1937, and this tiny time-machine is packed with recipes, their histories, lots of random anecdotes, and few silly poems about the merits of drinking. There are also several references to Prohibition as “the Great Mistake.”
Looking for inspiration, I stumbled upon Arthur’s recipe for a Jitters Cocktail. Recounting it will not do it justice, so here is a photo of the page:
I couldn’t help but laugh at the description of Anis del Mono since it is made just outside of Barcelona and is simply a brand name of a type of anis, much like Ojen. (Side note: Ojen was originally made in a Southern Spain town by the same name. They shut down production in the 1990s, which apparently made people in New Orleans freak out. The Sazerac Company resurrected the liquor, and it’s now made in Kentucky. More on that here).
Not sure what monkeyshines means? Me neither. I had to look it up, apparently it is “mischievous or playful activity : prank —usually used in plural.”
This cocktail was a pleasant surprise because we’re not generally fans of anis. Its typical anise/licorice flavor is less intense because of the gin and the vermouth, yet its herbal notes complement the botanicals in the gin. Nothing fancy, but super easy and quick to make. Like the Negroni and the Boulevardier, it is a three-ingredient cocktail with equal parts of everything.
Cheers and enjoy, monkeys!
We’ve gone off the deep end with shrubs. I’ve talked about this once already, and now we’ve got about six in the refrigerator, with many more on the way. They really are lovely with just ice and sparkling water, but it’s Friday, and we’d like a little something that’s appropriate for happy hour.
So here we present you with a Shrub Bramble, which lends itself to being called a “Shramble” if you like silly names. This recipe replaces the lemon juice that is normally in a Bramble with a lemon shrub. The shrub we used is mostly lemon with bit of lime and uses white wine vinegar, which is subtle and allows the citrus to shine though. Like any shrub in a cocktail, this lemon adds a depth and complexity to one of the main flavors.
The Bramble has a whole history that goes along with it, that I won’t do justice if I attempt to recount. If you want more info, check out the explanation from the guys at Gin Foundry and Dillford’s Guide. We started with the Dillford’s recipe and adjusted to our taste.
With that said, drink up!
Friday Happy Hour: Shrub Bramble- I guess that makes it a “Schramble?”
- - 60ml (2 oz) Corpen Gin
- - 20-30ml (1 oz) Lemon Shrub (use your judgment based on how strong/bitter your shrub is)
- - 15ml (1/2 oz) Simple Syrup
- - 15ml (1/2 oz) Crème de Mûre or Crème de Cassis
- Add gin, lemon shrub and simple syrup to a shaker full of ice.
- Shake until cold
- Fill old fashioned glass with crushed ice
- Pour contents of shaker over ice
- Retop with crushed ice and drizzle with crème de mûre or crème de cassis
- Garnish with a lemon wedge, blackberry and/or mint sprig.
- Every shrub is a little different, feel free to tone up and the shrub and tone down the simple syrup for more bitterness.
A couple of weeks ago we went on a green Chartreuse kick, and did some experimenting with a variety of cocktails. One that stood out was the Bijou (“jewel” in French), which combines gin, green Chartreuse, sweet vermouth and a dash of orange bitters.
I’ll credit this Esquire article for our original inspiration, and pointing us to the original, very old recipe by Harry Johnson, first documented in the late 1800s. (Here’s a link to digital version of Harry Johnson’s 1882 New and Improved (Illustrated) Bartender’s Manual and a Guide for Hotels and Restaurants. This recipe is on page 129).
The original recipe has equal parts of the principal ingredients, but most modern versions have tweaked the ratios. A couple of days later we played with these ratios ourselves and definitely preferred ours more gin-heavy and dialed-back on the Chartreuse. The one we settled on was closer to this version from Imbibe Magazine.
Chartreuse is a lovely and complex liqueur that touts 130 different plants and flowers. In laymen’s terms, this means it will likely overpower an herbal/flowery gin. We used one of our Corpen gins that is more earthy to complement, rather that compete with, the herby flavor of the Chartreuse.
Friday Happy Hour: Bijou Cocktail
- 45 ml (1½ oz) Corpen gin
- 22 ml (¾ oz) green Chartreuse
- 30 ml (1 oz) sweet vermouth (white)
- 2-3 dashes orange bitters
- Lemon peel
- Mix all ingredients in an ice-filled mixing glass.
- Strain into a chilled martini glass.
- Squeeze lemon peel express the oils and discard.
- Garnish with a cherry.