As we enter the cold and flu season, we thought we’d resurrect a recipe the cure all that ails you.
The Romans called it ars medicina; or, the art of healing. Preventative medicine was the primary care for disease in ancient Rome; however, when sickness reared its ugly head, the Romans relied on a number of curative cocktails and elixirs to mend their pains. Strong wines mixed with herbs and other medicines aided the common cold, flu, and other ailments. Fresh citrus and other fruits helped fortify the body. Oftentimes these medicinal mixes were close-guarded family secrets. As children of physicians, we continue to honor these family traditions with our own batch of medicinal cocktails.
The Hot Toddy is no standard cocktail. The recipe can be any combination of spirit with sweeter and other ingredients served hot. The history of the drink is just as clouded. It could be an imperial return from an East India Company training mission to India. Or, perhaps it is a 1700s Scottish staple for the long winters. Either way, the Toddy is a fine drink to help cure a cold, or to just sip on a chilly evening.
1 part Bourbon
1/2 part Lemon Juice
1/2 part Honey
1 Stick of Cinnamon
Hot Water to Taste
Our family recipe involves boiling the bourbon with honey and water, then adding lemon juice and a cinnamon stick. Stir, and serve in a mug. Feel free to top off the mug with hot water. Drink to good health.
It is entirely surprising that the Manhattan is only now making an appearance in the Barrister’s Bar Room. Many cocktails are created among friends, just as our own are crafted in the Bar Room. The story of the Manhattan cocktail is much of the same. In the 1870s, an affluent New York physician hosted a soiree at the Manhattan Club to honor Lady Randolph Churchill (Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s mother). At this gala event, the Doctor mixed together whiskey, vermouth, and bitters. The drink made a lasting impression, with many of the attendees requesting “that Manhattan cocktail.” The name stuck.
Absent to popular lore, the Manhattan probably was not created by a Doctor honoring Churchill at the Manhattan Club in New York City. The earliest publication is in a September, 1884 issue of New York’s “The Democrat.”
“Talking about compounders of drinks reminds me of the fact that never before has the taste for “mixed drinks” been so great as at present and new ideas, and new combinations are constantly being brought forward. It is but a short time ago that a mixture of whiskey, vermouth and bitters came into vogue. It went under various names- Manhattan cocktail, Turf Club cocktail, and Jockey Club cocktail. Bartenders at first were sorely puzzled what was wanted when it was demanded. But now they are fully cognizant of its various aliases and no difficulty is encountered.”
For our cocktail, we use a variation on Harry Johnson’s (1884) Manhattan No.1 recipe. While the recipe below is correct, we chose to barrel age a large batch – letting the cocktail rest for close to two months in a charred oak barrel.
2 oz. Rye Whiskey
1 oz. Italian Vermouth (Sweet)
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Prepare mixing glass with ice. Add Rye Whiskey, Italian Vermouth, and Angostura bitters. Stir until cold. Strain into a Martini glass. Enjoy.
No day comes with more excitement for native Kentuckians than Derby Day. The Barrister married into a family with proud roots in Kentucky’s bluegrass and embraces such pastimes as the Bourbon Keeneland, Churchill Downs, and that sweet taste of a trifecta win. The most exciting two minutes in sports – or, at least the fastest, the Kentucky Derby sets off the American Triple Crown of horse races; starting at Churchill Downs, running through the Preakness, and ending with Belmont States. No Derby is complete without the Mint Julep.
The Mint Julep* is arguably America’s greatest contribution to the 19th century cocktail canon. Probably created in the late 1700s in America’s southeast, the Mint Julep is a simple recipe of bourbon whiskey, sugar, spring water, mint, and ice. In the 1800s, Kentucky Senator Henry Clay brought the Mint Julep to Washington D.C.’s Round Robin Bar – one of the Barrister’s favorite historic watering holes; and, from there, the Mint Julep proliferated through the rest of the United States.
Our recipe is below; or, you can preferably use Col. Joshua Soule Smith’s recipe, which follows our version.
4-6 Mint Leaves
2-4 oz. Bourbon Whiskey
1 Barspoon Powdered Sugar
1 Barspoon Spring Water
Finely Crushed Ice
Prepare a pewter Julep cup (pewter insulates cold) with Mint Leaves, Sugar, and Water. Gently crush the Mint Leaves – do not muddle, it will create a bitter cocktail. Pack the Julep cup with Finely Crushed Ice. Slowly pour a generous amount of Bourbon Whiskey over the ice. Fill the Julep cup with more Finely Crushed Ice. Gently stir and garnish with Fresh Mint Leaves.
Then comes the zenith of man’s pleasure. Then comes the julep – the mint julep. Who has not tasted one has lived in vain. The honey of Hymettus brought no such solace to the soul; the nectar of the gods is tame beside it. It is the very dream of drinks, the vision of sweet quaffings.
How shall it be? Take from the cold spring some water, pure as angels are; mix it with sugar till it seems like oil. Then take a glass and crush your mint within it with a spoon – crush it around the borders of the glass and leave no place untouched. Then throw the mint away – it is the sacrifice. Fill with cracked ice the glass; pour in the quantity of Bourbon which you want. It trickles slowly through the ice. Let it have time to cool, then pour your sugared water over it. No spoon is needed; no stirring allowed- just let it stand a moment. Then around the brim place sprigs of mint, so that the one who drinks may find the taste and odor at one draft.
Then when it is made, sip it slowly. August suns are shining, the breath of the south wind is upon you. It is fragrant cold and sweet – it is seductive. No maidens kiss is tenderer or more refreshing, no maidens touch could be more passionate. Sip it and dream-it is a dream itself. No other land can give you so much sweet solace for your cares; no other liquor soothes you in melancholy days. Sip it and say there is no solace for the soul, no tonic for the body like old Bourbon whiskey.
* The Mister adds that the “julep” is Persian in origin, meaning “rose water.”
Learn more about the Kentucky Derby after the break…
Capturing the Smoke Place a small pile of wood chips in a foil pan or on non-flammable surface and light until the chips begin to smoke. Hold a vestibule over the pile, and capture the smoke, then put on the lid immediately. In the barroom we used a funnel to capture the smoke in a whiskey decanter.
1 1/2oz Scotch Whiskey
3/4oz Italian Vermouth
2 Dashes Orange bitters
Stir the concoction and strain into your vestibule containing smoke. Pour slowly and put the lid on immediately. Shake for a few seconds and slowly pour into the cocktail glass of your choice. Pouring slowly allows the smoke to linger.
2 oz Buffalo Trace Bourbon.
0.75 oz Fresh lime juice
0.5 oz Simple syrup
3 Dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
1 Egg white
Combine bourbon, lime, simple syrup, and egg white in a shaker and dry shake vigorously for one minute. Muddle one strawberry. Add ice and muddled strawberry to the shaker. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with grated nutmeg and a strawberry.
Blood Orange Old Fashioned
4 dashes blood orange bitters
1 sugar cube
1 splash water
2 oz Bourbon
Place the sugar cube (or 1 barspoon loose sugar) in an Old-Fashioned glass. Add 2 or 3 dashes of bitters and a small splash of water and muddle until sugar has dissolved. Add whiskey and ice. Stir until cold.
Add water to a sphere ice mold; leave in freezer for one and a half hours. Flip the ice mold upside down and leave in freezer for an additional hour. Remove top of ice mold and create a small hole in the sphere. You can do this by using soldering iron or heating a Philips head screw driver over the stove. Once a hole is created, use a syringe or straw and remove the unfrozen water. The hole should be large enough to insert a small cocktail funnel. Funnel your cocktail into the sphere. Using a small hammer, or the end of your barspoon, break the sphere open and enjoy.
Created in the late 1930s at the Hotel Monteleone in the heart of New Orleans’ French Quarter – or, “old square” – the Vieux Carre is described by Southern Cocktails’ Denise Gee as a “manly man drink.” Likely for its heavy mix of bourbon and cognac, this manly drink is softened up by a quality vermouth.
1 oz rye whiskey
1 oz cognac
1 oz vermouth
1 bar spoon Benedictine
Dash of Angostura bitters
Dash of Peychauds bitters
Fill your mixing vestibule with ice. Pour in all liquids, stir until ice cold. Strain into your favorite champagne goblet or cocktail coupe.
The Affinity Cocktail is a variation of the Perfect Manhattan, the whiskey of choice being Scotch. It is the perfect cocktail for a cold winter’s day.
- 3/4 oz French VermoutH
- 3/4 oz Italian Vermouth
- 3/4 oz Scotch Whiskey
- 2 dashes Orange Bitters
Stir well with cracked ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange or lemon peel.
“Alcohol may be man’s worst enemy, but the Bible says love your enemy.” – Frank Sinatra, singer and member of the Rat Pack
In the early 1960s, the Rusty Nail acquired its name and grew in popularity. The Rusty Nail was a favorite amongst the infamous Rat Pack, and this is most likely why and how the concoction managed to grow so quickly in popularity.
The Rusty Nail recipe was created at the 21 Club, located in Manhattan; the name was cemented when the chairwoman of Drambuie Liqueur Company endorsed the cocktail.
The Rusty Nail
2 ounces blended Scotch
1/2 ounce Drambuie
Combine ingredients with ice and stir until cold. Strain and pour into a Old Fashioned glass with cubed ice. Garnish with a lemon peel.
*Depending on how sweet you prefer your cocktails, feel free to add more or less drambuie. 4:1 is how the Barrister prefers her cocktail, some recipes call for a 2:1 or 1:1 ratio.
Since the early 1900’s, San Franciscans have despised the term “Frisco.” According to Paul Harrington’s Cocktail, the Ladies Outdoor Art League of San Francisco started an Anti-Frisco Committee in 1907. This group labeled the nickname for the city as “obnoxious,” and sought to remove the term from common usage. The negative stigma associated with “Frisco” lead to a decline of the desirability and availability of the cocktails sharing the nickname.
The Frisco Sour is prohibition classic, and a variation of its sister cocktail, the Whiskey Sour, the difference being in the lack of sugar and addition of grenadine. Frisco Sour’s big brother, the Frisco cocktail, first appeared in William Boothby’s World Drinks and How to Mix Them (1934). We found the Frisco Sour in our Old Mr. Bostons Bartender’s Guide (1948).
2 oz rye
3/4 oz Lemon
3/4 oz Benedictine
2 oz. Rye or Bourbon Whiskey
Juice 1/4 Lemon
Juice 1/4 Lime
1/2 oz. Raspberry Syrup or Grenadine
Shake well with cracked ice and strain into a 6 oz glass. Fill with carbonated water.