One of the myriad lovelinesses of apartment life is that I finally have a place for my various spirits, liqueurs, and mixers. Their numbers first outgrew the backpack I stuffed them into for easy transport; then they outgrew another bag; then they outgrew the Xerox box I tried shutting them into. But now – now they have found in the pantry a place to rest. Now all the liqueurs are to one side – bitters in the middle, in front – and spirits to the other side, arranged categorically. This particular part of my life has settled in one place for awhile, instead of wandering from place to place in the trunk of my car. I can stock the freezer with as much ice as I like (Thalia can report I’ve been frightfully keen about it); I’ve a place for my shaker, juicer, strainer, and other mixing tools; and there’s a shelf for my two mixing manuals.
This last item gave rise to a couple of happenstances. We’d just made our triumphant return from the lovely establishment of Mssrs. Morgan and York with what we understood to be the necessary for making a Sazerac cocktail. I elected to consult both books for the recipe and found what follows.
In The Bartender’s Best Friend – Updated and Revised, by Mardee Haidin Regan:
The Sazerac was created in New Orleans in the mid-1800s and originally contained brandy as a base liquor. Bourbon or rye whiskey usually replace it now.
½ ounce absinthe
2 ounces bourbon or straight rye whiskey
½ ounce simple syrup
2 dashes of Peychaud’s bitters
lemon twist for garnish.
Coat the interior of a Rocks glass with the absinthe. Fill the glass with crushed ice. Pour all of the remaining ingredients into a mixing glass two-thirds full of ice cubes. Stir well. Discard the crushed ice and absinthe from the Rocks glass; strain the drink into the glass. Add the twist.
Whereas The New York Bartender’s Guide – 1300 Drink Recipes for the Home and Bar, by Sally Ann Berk, reads:
Sazerac Classic –
6 parts bourbon or rye (3 oz./90 ml.)
Pernod (½ tsp)
Bar sugar (½ tsp)
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Water (1 tsp)
Pour the Pernod into chilled old-fashioned glass and swirl around until inside of the glass is coated. Add the sugar, water and bitters. Muddle until the sugar is dissolved. Fill with ice cubes and add bourbon. Stir well and garnish with lemon twist.
How curious the differences between them! They call for different ingredients in different proportions mixed in different ways. The conversion of teaspoons to ounces (or ounces to tablespoons, I suppose) confounded us for several minutes, as we flipped through the books to hunt up some table that never showed itself. In the end, I resigned myself to consulting Google, and Kate kept flipping about to see what she found. Eventually, we learned that a standard jigger (the unit of measurement, that is, not the tool) holds 1.5 fluid ounces; my jigger (tool) is split into a half ounce cone and an ounce cone (useful for keeping drink ratios proportional). But first we ran into another recipe, quite by mistake. A Bondi-blue drink caught Kate’s eye:
The Charmer –
3 parts scotch (1½ oz/45 ml)
1 part blue Curaçao (½ oz/15 ml)
Dash dry vermouth
Dash orange bitters
Mix all ingredients with cracked ice in a cocktail shaker. Strain into chilled cocktail glass.
It was too intriguing to ignore, considering we had all the ingredients nearby. I mixed one up for Kate; we determined that it was something like a liquid Jolly Rancher and something like “blue raspberry” flavoring. However, our experience may not be entirely representative of the Charmer experience, for two reasons: one, my blue Curaçao is on the cheaper side, and two, we did not wish to pollute the Scotches available in the pantry with it, and therefore used Irish whiskey instead. We will report back once my sources supply me with genuine Senior Curaçao of Curaçao…and when I’ve got something other than Glenfiddich, Glenmorangie, and Lagavulin in the pantry. Meanwhile, I think there is rest enough for our collective spirits.