Thursday, February 28, 2013

Vile Vintage Cocktails

I think I'm pretty lucky in that most of the recipes I try turn out well and I usually end up liking whatever it is (there are definitely exceptions). I keep an open mind and often try things that don't even sound that great, so it's surprising my odds are as good as they are. I do occasionally get repeated "fails" in a row as these three cocktails will show you...

By the way, all three recipes in this post make two drinks and each is shaken over ice, if you're actually tempted to try any of them. If you do, I want to hear all about it.

First up is The Artillery. I have to admit that it was pretty much dreadful--oily and tasted overwhelmingly of Italian vermouth. Does Italian vermouth remind anyone else of beef stock? No wonder one of the tips in The Savoy Cocktail Book is to drink them quickly! Of course, I don't expect every single drink to be to my taste. The liquor cabinet was getting bare and we were trying to find recipes that didn't require leaving the house for provisions. This is not a recommended method of choosing cocktails!

Next up was the Blackthorn Cocktail. Eeek. I couldn't even finish it! Sounds like we're going to have to work on a well-stocked liquor cabinet so we can make the drinks that actually sound tasty.  Who would combine Irish whisky and French vermouth? It's insane. I will freely admit to loathing anisette, so I probably should have known going into it that this one wouldn't be my favorite. Although, glögg is really tasty and aquavit tastes like aniseed.

In all fairness, this last one isn't vile; it just wasn't something I'm looking forward to making again. I'm beginning to suspect that I may not be much of a fan of Angostura bitters or Italian vermouth. In the mood for a cocktail that isn't one of these? I've got lots of other other cocktails posts that have some tasty drinks.

Can you guess which card game we were playing?

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  1. Thanks for the cocktail post. Interesting, but since I don't drink I won't be experimenting. I also love your aprons, mugs, etc. Great idea!

    Best - Aunt Lil

  2. Well, I have only one thing to say and that is: try to find some good vermouth. French vermouth means dry vermouth, and Italian means sweet. Both are key for making many classic cocktails, and if you buy the cheap stuff at your grocery store, you'll be disappointed. My favorite sweet vermouth is Carpano Antica. It's pricy, but delicious on its own and in cocktails like Manhattans. And comes in a really big bottle. (I haven't tried any of these cocktails before, but I will make an Artillery now--I bet it will be delicious with my Carpano!)

    My favorite dry vermouth is Dolin. It's not as pricy as the Carpano. I use the Carpano a lot more, though.

    I have heard good things about Vya vermouths (made in the USA), but haven't used them.

    Also: keep vermouth in your refrigerator!

    (And I see no reason why you wouldn't combine an Irish whisky with a French vermouth, as long as the ingredients are good and proportions correct. Most cocktails are made up of ingredients that come from different places. It's all in how it's blended!)

    And finally...of course you won't like every cocktail. Some of us prefer our cocktails strong, others prefer them less so. Some like spicy, some sweet, etc. So even if you buy expensive Carpano, you might still not like a Negroni or Manhattan made with it. If you're lucky enough to have a good cocktail bar with a great bartender near you, it's a good place to experiment.

    (sorry for the diatribe, Lauren!)

  3. Do you have a copy of the Savoy, too? I just made a cocktail from it this week! What a coincidence!

  4. I love reading old cocktail books and thinking "Seriously? SERIOUSLY you expect me to believe people drank this stuff? Together? All...mixed together?" I've had some socko moments from midcentury cocktail manuals. Sometimes I think the bartenders and booze manufacturers throw in a couple just to see if we'd be silly enough to try them! But I've also made some crazy good vintage cocktails (as have you), so maybe it's just a dice toss every time! You are a brave soul. Thanks for warning us about these!

  5. I tried some unusual cocktails this week at a pop-up restaurant in London called Cafe de Mort. We started with champagne and absinthe (odd), then there was a sake and green tea martini (surprisingly good) and a bloody hell mary (made with poitin) and an amaretto sour which were both very good. Can't say I enjoyed the snake wine though! If you want to ready more about my experience of consuming some of the worlds deadliest substances visit my blog

  6. The Alfonso special does look good. I could use one now (it's been a rough morning at work)

  7. This was fun to read! I am not a fan of vermouth, so I pretty much avoid any cocktails with it. I have, though,just discovered the joy of a well made Old new favorite cocktail. We splurged on some good rye whiskey and I think I see one or two being mixed over the weekend! Cheers to you!

  8. I love cocktails. Seems like you have quite a few experiment there. I love trying and mixing until I get something I like. :) I know, gotta do a love of mixing and trying before we get the perfect sip. What a tough job we have here. :P


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