I finally finished watching the saga of the Roosevelts, as presented by Ken Burns. As we have come to expect, he presented the information in a tremendously interesting fashion and I came away with a far better understanding of the relationships between the Hyde Park Roosevelts and the Oyster Bay Roosevelts. There is a great biography of Teddy's eldest, Alice, called Princess Alice, and I highly recommend it. Until I read it, I had never known the origin of a very lovely old tune called Alice Blue Gown. It seems that Alice liked to wear blue and a certain shade became all the rage while she lived in the White House, hence Alice Blue.
Anyway, in a spate of creativity, I decided to thumb through a book called Bitters by Brad Thomas Parsons, and I found a drink that reminded me of the Sazerac, which I decided to mix up last night. Warning: the Remember the Maine is NOT for sissies!
All this mixing has been a lot of fun, but the Maine really did provide a powerful buzz, so do plan to call a cab if you need to go anywhere afterward!
Here is the Sazerac we've enjoyed for a few years now:
Chill an old fashioned glass thoroughly. (Chris McMillian, a notable NOLA barkeep, puts ice and water in his and sets the glass aside while he mixes the cocktail. I find this works exceptionally well.)
In another old fashioned, place a sugar cube in the bottom and wet it with 2 drops of Angostura bitters and 2 drops of Peychaud's bitters. (Do not skip the Peychaud's, as that is the defining bitter for this drink.) Muddle the cube well. Add 1 ounce rye and mix thoroughly. Add ice and stir well to chill.
Empty the chilling old fashioned glass and pour in a smidge of Absinthe, Herbsaint or Pernod. (any of the 3 will do) Swirl this around the sides of the glass and dump any excess.
Strain the contents of the rye filled glass into this glass and twist a good sized piece of lemon rind over and dump it into the drink. Voila!
The afore-mentioned Chris McMillian participated in a terrific series of videos in which he demonstrated several classic cocktails. You can find them on YouTube and aside from his expertise with mixing drinks, you will learn a tremendous amount of history behind whichever drink is being featured. Here is his Sazerac:
Follow the method of chilling the old fashioned glass in which you intend to serve the cocktail, as above.
Into a second old fashioned, place a sugar cube. Saturate it with Peychaud's bitters and add 1 ounce water. Muddle the cube thoroughly. Add ice and 2 ounces of rye. Stir to chill.
Dump ice and water from the waiting glass and swirl with a bit of Absinthe, Herbsaint or Pernod's. (Dump the excess, please.) Now you may strain the rye mixture into the presentation glass. Again, garnish with a healthy hunk of lemon rind that you've twisted over the drink. Cheers!
Try both - they are a bit different in terms of the bitters, as well as the amount of rye and the addition of water in Chris'. We like both.
And now, Remember the Maine!
Chill a cocktail glass.
In a mixing glass filled with ice, add 2 ounces rye, 3/4 ounce sweet vermouth (he recommends Carpano Antica), 1/4 ounce Cherry Heering, and 2 dashes of Angostura bitters. Stir well to thoroughly chill the drink.
In your chilled cocktail glass, swirl a bit of Absinthe and toss the excess out. Strain the rye mixture into the cocktail glass.
This is very reminiscent of the Sazerac, but it also has shades of a Manhattan to it. Either way, it's quite good, but very potent.
Tonight's recipe for butter chicken, a great stand-by in the local Indian restaurant buffet lunches, comes from the back of The Case of the Deadly Butter Chicken by Tarquin Hall. Following a successful cricket match, his nephew had invited the family to a large dinner where there were a lot of team dignitaries. Vish had ducked out to visit the loo - in reality, he'd helped himself to a large serving of the butter chicken (his fave) and sneaked outside to eat it in peace. (His wife, Rumpi, is trying to get him to lose weight, but Vish likes food...) He saw the powerful man talking with another in the garden. They didn't see him. Later, the man, having tucked into his own serving of butter chicken, drops dead, frothing at the mouth, etc. Hence the name for the recipe.
This is something I've not made, and since it is Valentine's Day, what better dinner for Big Kitty, who, like Chubby, loves plenty of heat in his food?
To you and yours, Cin-Cin!