As we’ve mentioned before, there are a lot of egg nog recipes out there. Each of them is a little different with variations in seasoning, booze, ratios, etc. But the basic elements of egg nog – egg, milk, sugar, and booze – are present in all of them. Trader Vic’s invaluable compendium, the Bartender’s Guide, lists nine different egg nog recipes. I’ve chosen this recipe, listed in the guide as Brandy Egg Nog #1, because it’s the most basic (and because most of his other recipes include Madeira, which we didn’t have on hand). In fact, this is about the simplest egg nog recipe I’ve ever found. There’s no separating eggs, no electric mixers, no cooking. And unlike most other recipes that yield a pitcher of nog, Trader Vic mixes one drink at a time.
Some of our regular readers, and especially those who follow us on Facebook and Twitter, will no doubt have picked up on our poorly concealed secret project. For the past several months we’ve been putting together the very first I Prefer the Term Boozehound video episode, and we’re finally ready to share it with you. Episode 1 features a beer tasting with Shanna, mixing a Bronx cocktail with Matt, and an interview with Whiskey Daisy & Stella Can-Can from the Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails.
We learned a lot making this episode, and we’ve definitely got a lot to improve on for Episode 2. But rest assured that Episode 2 is coming, and hopefully not far off.
Also, be sure to watch all the way to end for an added bonus.
The Crow Cocktail is a little-known drink I dug up from Trader Vic’s Bartending Guide. Older recipes almost universally make very small drinks, so I’ve scaled this one up to three times the original volume. The Crow Cocktail is also very tart, so I’ve increased the bourbon to lemon juice ratio a bit. You can also add grenadine to taste.
3 oz bourbon
1 oz lemon juice
a dash of grenadine
Combine all the ingredients in a shaker half filled with ice. Shake thoroughly and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
One of the wonderful classic cocktails that can only be made with Applejack is the Bee’s Knees, a name that is as apropos as it is fun to say. We found this recipe in the Bartender’s Guide by Trader Vic. Ol’ Vic was the king of the west coast Tiki bar scene from the 1940s through the 60s. You know, back when Tiki bars were un-ironically, and unabashedly cool as hell. Though the debate still rages, Trader Vic is also one of two men who claimed to have invented the Mai Tai.
Now we’re going to post two slightly different recipes here. The first is Trader Vic’s recipe and you’ll notice that the volume is smaller, as was generally the case at the time. But more important than that, Vic’s recipe calls for honey. Now we tried this recipe, and found that even after vigorous shaking (we’re talking a full minute of all-out, man-on-shaker aggression) the honey ended up in a glob at the bottom of the shaker.
So after some experimentation we developed a second recipe that uses honey syrup. This is the same as simple syrup, but made with honey rather than sugar. (Find out how to make simple syrup here.) Due to the change though, we shifted the proportions of the recipe and that’s what we’ve posted second. The result is an excellent cocktail that balances sweet and tart, with a hint of apple in the finish. The perfect cocktail for the transition from summer to autumn.
Trader Vic’s Bee’s Knees
1 oz applejack
1 oz lemon juice
1 tsp honey
Boozehound Bee’s Knees
1 part applejack
1 part lemon juice
1 part honey syrup
Combine all the ingredients into a shaker half filled with ice and shake vigorously until chilled. Strain into a cocktail glass.
Pro Tip: Be sure to make your honey syrup from equal parts honey and water. It’s easy for this cocktail to end up overly tart.
This cocktail is made with raspberry vodka. Rather than using sugary, artificially flavored raspberry vodka, simply drop raspberries into a bottle of vodka, filling about the bottom third of the bottle. Allow this to sit for three weeks and then chill in the freezer.
The Miss Bonde was invented at the Bar Hemingway in 1994 by Colin Peter Field. The recipe, the following quote, and the illustration are all from Field’s book The Cocktails of the Ritz Paris. Continue reading
There’s a fair amount of discussion here on IPTB about “classic” cocktails as opposed to more modern concoctions. This discussion revolves around two main points, the first being modern cocktails’ complexity of construction (more ingredients and more often artificially flavored), and the second is the notion that a cocktail’s history, or pedigree if we want to sound snooty about it, has value. While the former point is debatable, the snooty side of that debate will find plenty of ammunition in The Cocktails of the Ritz Paris. Continue reading
Just like you come here to learn about booze, Shanna and I are constantly learning ourselves. I like to think that this is one of IPTB’s charms. We don’t rarely lecture about the rights and wrongs of cocktail culture. Instead, we’re exploring along with our readers, passing on knowledge and insight as we accumulate it. Shanna and I are still students of boozology ourselves and we learn a tremendous amount from reading. (For our previous book review, check out The Cocktail Compendium.)
One of the best-written and most informative books on spirits I have yet found is Kate Hopkins’ 99 Drams of Whiskey: The Accidental Hedonist’s Quest for the Perfect Shot and the History of the Drink. Hopkins is the food and drink blogger responsible for The Accidental Hedonist. Lately, the designation “food blog” has become almost derogatory in a sea of amateurs posting photos of spaghetti, but Hopkins adds a refreshing dose of good ol’ common sense to a field and an industry that is too often caught up in itself. The Accidental Hedonist also boasts an extremely comprehensive “Guide to Beer.” For The AH’s guide to whiskey, however, you’ll have to log off for a while and pick up a real ink-on-paper book.
99 Drams of Whiskey is structured to interweave two stories. One chronicles Hopkins’ international tour of distilleries as she tries to probe the spirit’s broad and at times cult-like appeal. In parallel to this, we learn about the history of the drink itself. Alcohol has been a part of everyday life since the earliest days of civilization, but few drinks have influenced and been influenced by human history as profoundly as whiskey. Especially in Ireland and Scotland, the history of whiskey is inextricable from the history of politics and colonialism.
Though some may yawn at the prospect of reading history, Hopkins’ writing is engaging, informative, and at times whimsical. Much like we strive to do here at IPTB, her tone is never condescending. Hopkins approaches the subject as a newcomer, without the pomp of a connoisseur. As she puts it,
What do you do with the folks who are simply crazy-obsessive about their drink? More than any other factor, it is these folks who make the whiskey world so intimidating to newcomers. If you ask a whiskey professional what’s the best way to enjoy the spirit, they’re most likely to respond: “Any way you like.” Ask a whiskey obsessive the same question, and you’re likely to get an answer regarding how much water is proper to add to a specific type of whiskey, and then a lot of detail about how much water to remove for each year that the whiskey has aged. For a newcomer to the spirit, this can be overwhelming.
Undoubtedly, the overall message of 99 Drams of Whiskey is this: whiskey is a drink to be enjoyed. If that means analyzing flavors and dissecting the process, then more power to you. But if you just want a nice tipple to enjoy in good company, then that’s how you should drink it. Whatever your goals are, 99 Drams of Whiskey is a fun read and an informative addition to any boozehound’s library.
You may be wondering where we get all our basic cocktail knowledge from. We are not bartenders, nor are we well-traveled explorers (in fact we’re in our twenties so we’re not even well-traveled drinkers). No, our history lesson was well supplemented by a simple little book aptly named The Bar Guide. Look for this classy little hardcover in half-priced bookstores – likely many people got this for a present while it was still in wide circulation and foolishly sold it.
Don’t let the Williams-Sonoma brand fool you, there is no product placement. It is well written, researched, and illustrated. This is the place to start on your road to becoming a good host, a cocktail snob, or a generally knowledgeable boozehound. We keep it on our coffee table at all times – anytime the book gets put on the shelf it quickly finds its way free again. Want to know the proper ratio and ingredients for a real zombie? They got you covered. What glasses should you use to serve a Scotch Sling, Scotch Smash, or a Scotch Sour in? They got easy little illustrations AND they’ll give you a bit of history with it. Need to know a good “mocktail” for your non-alcoholic guests to drink? They got a list of fun drinks for you – Faux Bellinis all around!
An easy to find drink index breaks the art of mixing down by alphabetical order, category, liquor type, and special occasion without bombarding you with the strangely named modern drinks and shots you’ll find in many bar guides (not we usually have anything against those drinks, except when they end in -tini). Tips on how to layer drinks, common bartender measurements, and other handy how-tos bring you up to speed on the essentials of building a proper cocktail. A classy addition to your hip pad/house/rumpus room/home bar and you can find it for a steal and a half, much unlike most Williams-Sonoma products. My only criticism: they don’t include the Montmarte.