Raise a glass! You made it to 2012!
Lucy’s Purple Aura
juice of 1 lime
juice of ½ lemon
1 tablespoon grape jelly
1 teaspoon grenadine
1½ oz. gin
a decent handful of mint leaves
Shake it all with big chunks of ice until the jelly is liquefied and the mint is in confetti-like bits. Strain (keeping the mint, leaving the ice).
According to the same psychic who filled in the corners of my CV, my wife’s aura is, in fact, purple. For those not inclined towards gin (like, say, my wife), this makes for a good mocktail; just replace the gin with still or (better) sparkling water.
In honor of a minor milestone, a riff on the martini that I’ve come to rely on:
2 oz. dry gin
¾ oz. apricot eau-de-vie (I like Blume Marillen)
½ oz. rosé vermouth (like Martini Rosato)
A couple good dashes of grapefruit bitters
Stir all ingredients with ice until really quite cold (I swirl it in a metal shaker until my fingers stick) and strain into something appropriately graceful.
Today is my birthday. This year’s honored co-celebrant is Serge Koussevitzky, who would have turned 137 today, if only he had actually put his arms into the sleeves of his overcoat more often. Get past the credits of this late-1940s bit of USIS propaganda, and you can see the man in action, conducting Beethoven’s Egmont Overture:
There’s a story behind this film: it was a single-camera shoot, so Koussevitzky and the BSO pre-recorded the overture, then played along with the recording for several takes; Koussevitzky apparently grew increasingly angry that he couldn’t deviate from his own interpretation.
My lovely wife threw a party last weekend to mark my implacable aging. You are sad that you weren’t there! You can, however, simulate the occasion via drink. Here’s what I concocted for unsuspecting guests:
1 oz (30 ml) rye whiskey
⅔ oz (20 ml) pineapple juice
⅔ oz (20 ml) lime juice
⅓ oz (10 ml) apricot brandy
⅓ oz (10 ml) rosé vermouth
Shake well with ice and strain into a cocktail glass; top with
2 oz (60 ml) cold champagne
Cutting down on alcohol? Good heavens, why? Have you seen what this world is coming to? Nevertheless, here’s one for kids of all ages; name courtesy of Jack Miller, who also baked the birthday cake pictured above, a cake that will be spoken of for years to come in hushed, awestruck tones.
Four For Tea
1 oz (30 ml) double-strength green tea
1 oz (30 ml) pineapple juice
⅔ oz (20 ml) lime juice
2 tsp (10 ml) pomegranate molasses
Shake with ice, strain into a glass, and top with
2 oz (60 ml) sparkling apple juice or seltzer
Pomegranate molasses can be found in the Middle Eastern aisle of your local supermarket, or at least where all the couscous and falafel mix gets shelved, I would think. I also used it as part of the brine for twelve pounds of pulled pork, and it worked really rather well. Shahia tayba!
Hey, tomorrow is Alban Berg’s birthday! So here’s an honorary cocktail for the party: rather lush, a little exotically perfumed, a little hell-fire in the background.
3 parts gin
3 parts lemon juice
2 parts peppercorn syrup*
1 part strawberry purée
A decent bunch of mint leaves
Throw it all in a shaker with ice, and shake well—until the mint breaks up. Strain into a glass (with a coarse enough strainer that bits of mint are floating in the thing) and garnish with an expressionistically long peel of lemon rind.
*Peppercorn syrup: put ½ cup sugar, ½ cup water, and a handful of crushed peppercorns (black, green, whatever you’ve got) in a small pot and simmer until the sugar is dissolved and the peppercorns have imparted a nice burn.
Here’s a little bit of Anja Silja (Lulu), Richard Holm (Alwa), and Carlos Alexander (dead on the floor), ca. 1968, in a typically awkward tryst:
A couple of pies waiting at home for my lovely wife, spending the day doing last-minute get-out-the-vote canvassing in New Hampshire. The one on the left is supposed to have the Obama logo in the center, but it’s somewhat obscured due to my filling it with way too many blueberries, which overflowed the vents. (Insert your own joke about liberal profligacy here.) On the right: a sour cream pumpkin pie. I may be an elitist, but not too much of one for The Joy of Cooking: those pie recipes never let me down.
Wash down the past two years’ electioneering follies with this purplish and thus bi-partisan concoction. The scotch gives it a vague sort of toasty, pancake-y vibe; hence the name.
Morning in America
1½ oz. blueberry juice
½ oz. Cointreau
½ oz. scotch whisky
Shake the first three ingredients with ice and strain into a champagne flute. Top off with champagne. (I like a relatively sweet, vanilla-overtoned scotch; if your single-malts are on the peaty side, maybe try some Johnnie Walker Black instead. If you’re working with blueberry juice cocktail, perhaps add a touch of lemon juice if it’s too sweet.)
And, whatever your persuasion, get out and vote! Even if you cynically doubt its actual efficacy, you’ll at least be a player in one of the largest regularly scheduled productions of street theater ever conceived.
One more thing: let’s not forget… the farmer:
Midsummer happy hour! This one comes from fooling around with Dixie Peach juice cocktail from Trader Joe’s, though any similar peach concoction would probably work. Less is more, as it turns out. (Name courtesy of my wife, who makes puns in many languages and is lovely to boot.)
3 parts gin
3 parts peach juice cocktail
1 part Triple Sec
1 part Rose’s Sweetened Lime Juice
Shake with ice until very cold (it’s a bit on the sweet side—you could also cut down on the Triple Sec, although I didn’t like that as much) and strain into the aquarium of your choice.
Imbibe to the strains of the first stonefruit-themed piece of music I thought of off the top of my head, Frank Zappa’s “Peaches en Regalia.” Here’s the great sage, equal of heaven himself, in Vienna in 1988.
I’m guessing this is the week when it hit everybody that summer is almost over. Here’s a little creation to soothe your melancholy. I realized that I had never named a drink in honor of Francis Poulenc, so I’ll borrow the title of one of my favorite of his songs, a bittersweet Apollinaire recollection of the perfect summer hang-out, now closed, never again to be graced by frivolity, abandon, or pretty girls dumb as cabbages.
Apple eau de vie
Rose’s Sweetened Lime Juice
Shake with cracked ice and strain into a martini glass.
While you imbibe: here’s Poulenc himself, along with Jacques Février, performing the second movement of his 1932 Concerto for two pianos.
Phil at Dial “M” requests drink recipes. Even critic-at-large Moe starts licking his chops at that kind of prospect. So here’s a nice summer companion to the Dark Lady. Name, as always, courtesy of my thoroughly operatic wife.
2 oz. gin
2 oz. dry rosé wine
1/2 oz. rose water
1/2 oz. grenadine
1/2 oz. triple sec or Grand Marnier
Shake thoroughly with cracked ice and strain into the stemmed glass of your choice.
A squirt of lemon juice is a salutary addition as well. You’ll want to shake it until it’s quite cold, due to the grenadine and the triple sec; if it’s still too sweet for you, better to cut down on the former than the latter.
While you’re at it, mix up a couple for these two. They look like they could use it.
That’s Kiri Te Kanawa and Placido Domingo in Puccini’s take, Manon Lescaut. The late, great Giuseppe Sinopoli conducts.
Lest you think composers only expend their creative energies on boring old music, here’s a concoction for the weekend (name courtesy of my Shakespeare-loving wife).
2 oz. gin
2 oz. tart cherry juice
1/2 oz. kirschwasser
1/2 oz. cassis
Shake with cracked ice and strain into a large martini glass.
While you drink, treat youself to the thermonuclear Shirley Verrett as Shakespeare’s darkest lady of all (via Verdi).