Start with one pack 12 oz of dried goji berries
Add sugar 5 liters
With much anticipation, waiting the arrival of the Cocktail Codex website, the waiting is over.
With a unique design the wesite offers up a virtual codex for exploring the classic cocktails. One can search through the alphabetical rolodex and arrive to an appropriate list of cocktails. Unlike other cocktail directories, this one doesn’t send you to a new internet page but rather uses modular popups and lightboxes to highlight the recipes and photos on the same page. Making for a distinct presentation and aiding in ease of exploration.
While missing the history and the sources in the virtual codex, there are still many interesting classics, along with the usual suspects. A few that caught my eye on first glance were the Morning Glory, the Bijou, and the Twentieth Century. Look for my reviews in the next post. While the virtual codex is cool, it doesn’t replace the physical codex, anymore than a screen can replace a book. So thankfully, there is also a paypal order form to get the real thing. Go to order.
An attractive and useful bar resource for the cocktail enthusiast as well as the bar professional, the Cocktail Codex truly offers “the classics at your fingertips.”
Martinez- steps for barrel aging
1. Start with an oak wood barrel
2. Fill it with warm(hot) water ( to open up the wood) and let it sit for a day.
4. Add the ingredients of the cocktail, that you wish to age, to the barrel.
5. Plug the hole, and make sure the spout is closed tightly.
6. Store in a cool dry place for a minimum of 45 days
7. After 45 days test the cocktail, and either rest for further aging, or decant into bottles ready to drink.
While there are several variations of the Martinez, Jerry Thomas’ calls for a ratio of 2:1 vermouth to gin and that is the recipe we will follow.
- 1 oz Punt e Mes
- 1 oz gin
- 1/4 oz Maraschino
- dash of Angostura/Boker’s
Stir with ice and strain up into a cocktail glass, garnish with lemon twist
This 2:1 version from the Cocktail Codex, splits the vermouth between sweet and Punt e Mes for an added layer of flavor.
The two “L” on the bottle is for extra love =)
Up next, an aged Vesper
A book detailing the recipes and process by which cocktails and drinks were constructed up until the 20th century. For his signature cocktail, “The Blue Blazer,” Thomas writes,
Using two silver plated mugs,
“Take one small teaspoon of powered white sugar dissolved in one wine glass of boiling water. One wine glass of Scotch whiskey. Put the whiskey and the boiling water in one mug, ignite the liquid with fire, and while blazing mix both ingredients by pouring them four or five times from one mug to the other. If well done this will have the appearance of a continued stream of liquid fire.
Serve in a small bar-glass with a piece of twisted lemon peel.
The novice in mixing this beverage should be careful not to scald himself. To become proficient in throwing the liquid from one mug to another, it will be necessary to practise for some time with cold water.”
By most accounts, while being “spectacular” Thomas’ Blazer was not the most tasty libation. In this version we try to keep the spectacle, but offer up a tasty version of a “blazed” hot toddy.
We stayed at a quaint Victorian B&B just on the outside of downtown, called the Inn at St. John.
Brunch started at Local 188, which has a very comfortable daytime lounge feel. It was our first introduction to the ubiquitous liquor infusions of Portland. I had a perfectly made “Bloody Mary” with their house infused pepper vodka, and my wife had the “Honeycomb” (orange and pineapple juice, Chambord, and sparkling wine in a honey drizzled stem less wine glass), we had two each =) The food was very good, having both a deconstructed “Caribbean” hash and eggs, and a fresh arugula salad with Arctic Char and the kitchen sink.
Later we made our way to “Grace” an impressive restaurant and lounge set into a beautiful old Methodist church. Oysters on the half-shell and a couple of fernet cocktails. Mine was called “Revelation” (as most of the cocktails had biblical reference) Bulleit rye, Fernet Branca and orange bitters, stirred up in cocktail glass. My only wince was the garnish(s) which included a quartered orange slice and a red dye #5 cherry. My wife had some Fernet neat, huurahh.
In our meandering walk to our dinner reservations, we saddled up to the bar at Sonny’s. Behind the bar, liquor infusions were arrayed in large glass containers, and a good lesson was learnt. When ordering the pepper infusions, make sure the jar is not almost empty, as our cocktails had enough fire to heat the entire city!
Dinner at Forte Street was exceptional and so was the Fernet Cocktail. While the menu served the drink on the rocks, we asked for it up. It arrived obviously shaken, still delicious, we asked our server if they wouldn’t mind getting the barman’s recipe. In the meantime my wife and I bet on the proportions, and as we finished dinner, no recipe. I decided to take our query to the bar. The bartender told me, as he pointed at the menu that it was mostly Fernet Branca, with sweet vermouth and a dash of absinthe, being very familiar with Fernet Branca I questioned the barman again, and he showed me the bottle of Fernet, thanks. I then asked him to prepare one, of said recipe, so we could compare, and resolve our wager. It was at this point he informed me that he was unsure of the recipe, as the bar manager actually premixed the cocktail, as he showed me the storm pourer to prove it, thanks.
Here’s to that most invaluable American invention, the “Cocktail,” and may they never outlaw it again! Cheers!
Libations have abounded, ever since man first settled the fertile crescent, but it wasn’t until, the18th century, that the precursors of the cocktail, (slings, toddies, fizzes, flips) would become widely partaken of. While the first recorded use of the word “cocktail,” in the United States, is said to be in “The Farmer’s Cabinet” on April 28, 1803, in an editorial which tells of a “lounger” who, with an 11 a.m hangover “…Drank a glass of cocktail – excellent for the head.” While this colloquial references a “cocktail” as a “hair of the dog,” treatment for a hangover, the first definition of a “cocktail,” appeared in the May 13, 1806, edition of The Balance and Columbian Repository, “Cock-tail is a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters—it is vulgarly called bittered sling.”
The first printed cocktail recipe is attributed, by David Wondrich, “Imbibe”, to Captain J.E. Alexander in 1831, who calls for brandy, gin, or rum, in a mix of “…a third of the spirit to two-thirds of the water; add bitters, and enrich with sugar and nutmeg…There are several tales as to the origin of the word cocktail. One tells of, bartenders draining the dregs of barrels and mixing them together.”Cock” was another name for spigot, and “tailings” is the last bit of alcohol, so this drink was called “cock-tailings.” Others say these dregs were poured into a container shaped like a rooster, that poured out of its’ derriere. A popular tale, tells of the mispronunciation of the egg cups, or “coquetiers,” that New Orleans’ famous Peychaud would sometimes serve his “bittered slings.” There are also a slew of stories involving either a roosters’ tail feather, as a garnish, as a stirring device, or even a device for the delivery of a medicinal tincture. Whatever the lineage of the word, cocktails did not become popular with the common man until around the 1850’s when inexpensive ice cube production made the drinks more affordable. With this surge in cocktail consumption came the first celebrity bartenders, and their published bartender guides.
Perhaps the most famous was, “The Professor”, Jerry Thomas, author of the 1862, The Bar-Tender’s Guide (How to Mix Drinks or The Bon-Vivant’s Companion.) Thomas helped set the standard for bartending books from this era, by organizing the drink recipes, by types, with common discernable characteristics, such as the Daisy, Flip, Fizz and Sour. Thomas not only documented recipes from his period and prior, but also his own creations, the spectacular “Blue Blazer” and the father of the Martini, the “Martinez”, and later in the 1876 edition, the first written recipe for a Tom Collins. Bar books from this era used the jigger (or wine-glass) as a unit of measure equaling two-fluid-ounces, (usually brandy, whiskey, rum, and gin) as the basic portion of liquor in a drink. Another insight into the bar of the era, comes from a contemporary of Thomas, Harry Johnson. Johnson’s “Bartenders” Manual” 1882, offers not only recipes, but also an in depth and opinionated view of bartending and operating a bar in the 19th century. Some claim Johnson to be the true bartending guide pioneer. Other notable cocktail books from this period, “Drinks of the World” by James Mew and John Ashton- 1892, “Cooling Cups and Dainty Drinks” by William Terrington 1869, “The Flowing Bowl” – William Schmidt 1892, and “Modern American Drinks” by George J. Kappeler1895. These books would help take us into the “Golden Age” of cocktails.In the “Golden Age”, we see a growing list of basic cocktails emerge, all steadily increasing in popularity. Drinks like the “Martini” have become known nationwide and bar standards are now in place. New bartender books begin their transition from a categorical division to an alphabetical listing, and gin and vermouth begin to take dominance. The words cocktail and Martini begin to become more loosely applied and vague. The increase of cocktail popularity undoubtedly aided in it’s temporary demise(at least in the eyes of certain religious moralists) as the U.S. government passed and ratified the 18th amendment in 1919, making the sale, manufacture, and transport of alcohol illegal, (but not the drinking).
The “prohibition” era from 1920-1933 affected the “cocktail” in a few divergent and meaningful ways. First would come the exodus, of bar owners and professionals, into Europe and other “more civilized” locations, which would help spawn the creation and discovery of a new library of drinks. Travelers and professionals were exposed to different liquors and liqueurs from around the world discovering and inventing new concoctions and bringing them back to the U.S. in a massive cross-pollination. Harry McElhones’ “Harry’s New York Bar in Paris,” was one of the most famous and prolific, creating drinks like the, Bloody Mary, French 75, Sidecar, Monkey Gland, Scofflaw, to name a few. While back in the “dry” states, bootlegging, and private “stills” blossomed. The ease of producing gin, made it the dominant alcohol produced in the US, while whiskey and brandy were usually smuggled in through Canada, and rum from our island neighbor’s. The predominance of “bathtub” gin, led to an increased need to “mix” the alcohol with more palatable liquids. As establishments abounded selling alcohol illegally, “keep quiet and speak easy” the variations grew regionally and empirically. One negative side effect caused by prohibition to the “cocktail” was the “corruption” of classic recipes as amateur home brewers/mixers, using limited and subpar ingredients, would re-write recipes that would later convolute the cookbook from time to time. Bar books from this period, and after, start calling themselves “Cocktail” books and would continue the trend towards an image of the “cocktail” as opposed to it’s, humble, albeit majestic, beginning’s as sugar, bitters, water, and alcohol.
With the repeal of the 18th amendment in1933, by the ratification of the 21st amendment, alcohol was legal again in the USA. “Cocktails” would then experience a Polynesian blast from the Tiki culture going well into the 1960’s, with Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic’s paving the way, that is, until the “vodka” craze would kick us into the dark ages of libations. Today we enjoy a classic cocktail resurgence and the beginnings of a second “Golden Age,” a cocktail renaissance, if you will. Cheers to that!