When someone from an upscale firm in uptown Manhattan queries you regarding ‘re-creating’ some springtime drink recipes, you know they are not only going to be scenester ‘it’ drinks, but boisterously, excruciatingly, insuppressibly so.
So, if you agree (as I did) to write about them, the re-creation’s first step is not checking the sideboard to see if you have all the right ingredients—you don’t and that’s a given. Nor is first step checking to see if you’ve heard of all the right ingredients—you haven’t and that’s another given. The first step is to tell said firm that if they want you to write about these drinks, they have to make them themselves and send them to you in fancy little containers that you can later use in bottling rotgut applejack from your homemade still to transport across state lines.
And that’s exactly what dear Amanda Gerecs offered up, although I didn’t forewarn her about the bootleg bit of the bargain to avoid bringing disrepute to The Thomas Collection.
Now, everything trendy needs a hooker’s hook, preferably something either ghetto or European, ideally something vaguely familiar to the average wannabe trend-john, but still subculture abstract.
Fundamentally, and above all else, however, it must something susceptible to Madison Avenue-style packaging.
Of course, right from the gitty-up you can raise the hipster quotient of whatever you are pushing by making it out of a whole bunch of other trendy things (whatever they may be) with the hope that such a stylin’ synergy of caché will produce a self-sustaining chain reaction of fashionability until sheer unbridled hipness exceeds critical mass and the whole thing explodes all over the jet set like a detonating nuclear warhead.
Voilà; the Spring 2015 Cocktail Collection is Born
So, I will offer you the drink recipes and drink recipe’s begetter and the drink recipe’s begetter’s home base bar, and then I will make gentle merry over the preposterous ingredients and have a wee bit of glee at the expense of the begetter and then I will evaluate the drinks.
If that formula is copacetic to you, beloved reader, onward and uptownward:
I’ll Have What She’s Having
By Ian Hardie (Huckleberry Bar, Brooklyn)
1 1/2 parts Caoruun
1/2 parts St. Germain
1/2 parts Aperol
3/4 parts lemon juice
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
*Shake all ingredients and add to a coup glass. Garnish with a grapefruit twist.
Ain’t no huckleberries at the Huckleberry Bar, fo shizzle, ma nizzle. St. Germain is bad enough, but Caoruun? In a coup glass? WTF raised to the power of google-plex. For the record, Caoruun is Scottish gin, which would be the same sort of low-watermark of trendiness as Indian scotch if Indian scotch existed, which it doesn’t. But a coup glass? Apparently a typo. It’s called a coupe glass.
I’ll Have What She’s Having is so named because no self-respecting card-carrying member of the male persuasion would order Scottish gin mixed with Aperol, which sounds like monkey tranquilizer, but which is actually even weirder than monkey tranquilizer—rhubarb and gentian (whatever that is) and cinchona (whatever that is) blended until it turns into one of those Infinity Mirrors, where everything I have to look up contains other stuff I have to look up, until the ingredients recede into a boundless, never-ending continuum of culinary nonsense.
The Drink: OSHA orange in color, this is an ideal cocktail for deer hunting season, so it may have to wait until November. It is full bore medicinal with an overlay of almost sickly sweetness—the kind of sugar-covers-bitter desperation counterpoint that cough syrup manufacturers use to mask the awful flavor of their product, but which appears to be in sudden vogue at the Huckleberry.
By Jim Meehan (Please Don’t Tell, NYC)
1 ½ parts Sandeman Founders Reserve Port
1 ½ parts Grapefruit juice
1 ½ parts Pellegrino Chinotto
* Combine the first two ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Shake with ice and strain into a Douro spice rimmed rocks glass filled with ice. Top with Pellegrino Chinotto. Garnish with half a grapefruit wheel.
You were going fine until we got to the Chinotto. Reserve Port, check; grapefruit juice, check, Pellegrino, check. But ‘Chinotto’? Evidently, a Chinotto is some mongrel, mutated strain of orange that wandered too near the Enrico Fermi plant in Trino.
But hold on, Jim; I just re-read your recipe and I have a question: What’s up with these measurements? Why, if you are dealing with ‘parts’ rather than ounces, do you need everything to be in one-and-one-halfs? Doesn’t ‘one part each…’ amount to exactly the same thing?
The Drink: Now, this one is actually pretty good in a nostalgic sort of way. Whenever I got stuck with a cheap bottle of red review wine, I used to mix the leftovers with Sunny Delight or whatever juice I had in the fridge to make a sort of impromptu sangria, and this brings me back to those days. The addition of sparkling water does elevate the bevvie from the ranks of a jerry-rigged buzz-vehicle to a genuine, hallowed ‘spritz’, so kudos for that!
By Clint Rogers and Harrison Ginsberg (The Dawson, Chicago)
1 ½ parts Caoruun Gin
¾ part Chamomile Cucumber Syrup
¾ Lime juice
½ part Cocchi Americano
½ part Grapefruit juice
¾ part Suze
¾ part Chareau
Two dashes Jamaican #2 Bitters
*Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake with ice. Strain into a rocks glass, then fill with fresh ice. Garnish with cucumber slices.
This drink is so goddamn exotic it took two people to invent it. Not unlike Lennon/McCartney, working together until wee hours, adding a chord change here and bridge lyric there, I can imagine Team Rogers/Ginsberg brainstorming over the liquor well at closing times, an endless array of potentially lethal combinations spreading before them like a boy’s chemistry set:
“Scottish gin is a given, obviously” says one, “—this is geek grog after all; but maybe some of this cucumber syrup left over from the Holistic Lumberjack convention in 1998?”
Replies t’other: “Yes! Yes! And Cocchi Americano, as you well know, is everything Lillet is not—it’s much more ‘boutique novelty’ and can dress up a Corpse Reviver #2 like nobody’s business, but no barman worth his Himalayan Pink Flake Salt would leave out the Suze. And the Chareau. Both named after old ‘Pass-around Suze Chareau from sophomore physics…’
The Drink: I confess; like most five-year-olds, I used to fantasize about drinking Pine-Sol. As my poor, old, gray-haired mammy scrubbed the cotton fields clean on hands and knees, I would totter over and sniff her Pine-Sol bottle, and by God, it just… smelled… potable. Well, Chamomile Cucumber Syrup and Cocchi Americano notwithstanding, this is precisely the sort of light, limey, zesty, refreshing experience I’d always anticipated!
Unfortunately, those callow days of misspent youth have passed me by, and when I tasted Rogers & Hammersberg opus, all I could imagine was drinking Pine-Sol.
By Peter Vestinos (Wirtz Beverage Group, Chicago)
1 ½ parts Sandeman Porto Founders Reserve
¾ parts Plymouth Gin
¾ parts Lemon Juice
½ parts Simple Syrup
2 parts Soda water
* Combine all ingredients, except the soda water into a cocktail shaker.
Shake briefly with ice. Strain into a highball glass filled with ice. Add soda water. Add a lemon wheel and grate nutmeg across top.
Finally! The good old cursed fiend with fury-fraught, mother’s ruin: English gin. And to blend? None of this imported, byzantine, multi-layered, hard-to-pronounce complex syrups—simple syrup will do, thank you very much. I’m not sure it needed the Port, which turned the cocktail a shade that Macbeth ColorChecker would have called ‘O.J.’s Contaminated Blood Sample Maroon’ if they had any balls, but the drink was actually something I’d drink again. Nicely balanced, not too cloying, not too tart. This is the winner of the bunch.
And In Conclusion…
…It should be apparent that I can hardly contain my enthusiasm as I await the Summer 2015 collection, to see if these mixologists can outdo themselves in pure ludicrous dart-board creativity.
And yet, at the same time, I may in fact find that I have been dropped from The Thomas Collection’s mailing list altogether.
Fear not. To the emporium I bring my own humble offering, and this I cast upon the throne of Trendopolus in the House of Hipsteria for all you wannabes and alreadyares to evaluate.
“Drink upon my drink, ye Mighty, and despair!”
(If you have trouble locating any of these ingredients, message me and I will send you samples in this cool collection of bottles I now have.)
The Ozymanias Schpritzer
By Chris Kassel (Basement Lab, Kassel Castle)
1 ½ parts Pine-Sol
¾ parts Homemade Rotgut Applejack
¾ parts Monkey Tranquilizer
½ parts Short Bus Syrup
2 parts Contaminated Blood Sample
*Mix, drink, expire.
Indian Scotch (or close to it): http://www.amrutwhisky.co.uk/