How to Stock Your Bar

Aside from booze blogs, web comics, regular comics, and as many books as we can get our hands on, we (specifically Matt) like to read certain menswear blogs. In particular we recommend An Affordable Wardrobe and Put This On, which inspired our video segments. One of the common questions addressed on menswear blogs is how to build a wardrobe and not surprisingly, the process is very similar to stocking your bar.

This is our collection a year ago. Much like a child, it has only gotten larger and more expensive since then.

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Dempsey Cocktail

Named for the legendary boxer Jack Dempsey, this cocktail may not be for everyone, but its distinctive combination of flavors could make devotees out of a few. Like its namesake, this one hits hard.

3 oz gin

1 oz applejack

1 tsp absinthe

1 tsp grenadine

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass half filled with ice and stir thoroughly. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

The Dempsey Cocktail

Film Fridays: The Secret of Kells and the Wild Irish Rose

The day before St. Patrick’s Day it would be downright irresponsible of me to neglect the Irish contribution to cinema and booze in today’s Film Friday post. A few of my favorite films happen to be Irish including Intermission and Breakfast on Pluto, or feature Irish leads as in The Boondock Saints and In America. I even considered throwing a curve-ball with The Company of Wolves, which as a horror nerd I rank at the third best werewolf transformation scene after An American Werewolf in London and The Howling III: The Marsupials.

But I’ll save the gruesome horror and gore for another week. Instead I decided to go in the other direction with one of the most beautifully animated children’s films that I’ve ever seen, The Secret of Kells. Children’s cinema and booze are, admittedly, not the most obvious match. But I wouldn’t have chosen this flick if it didn’t hold at least as much appeal for adults as for children. Plus, the film’s got an Oscar nomination to back me up.

The Secret of Kells

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Swan Song

The Swan Song is a simple, tasty drink good for any time of day or night. The flavor is fruity and woody, but strong enough to ward off any suspicions that you might be sipping a “girly drink.” When mixing the Swan Song, we used an armagnac for our brandy. Just as cognac is brandy produced within the Cognac region of France (and according to certain legal standards) armagnac is brandy from the Armagnac region. The better your ingredients, the better your cocktail, and the Swan Song doesn’t disappoint.

1 part brandy

1 part applejack

1 part orange juice

a dash of grenadine

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker half filled with ice. Shake thoroughly and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Swan Song

Ward 8

Named for a political district in Boston, this drink was invented to celebrate the election of Martin Lomasney, nicknamed the Czar of Ward 8, to the state legislature. It’s easy to suspect, though, that the bartender at the Locke-Ober restaurant where the drink was invented, may not have meant the gesture as a compliment. Like many bosses of turn of the century political machines, Lomasney was a notoriously dirty politician, and an ardent teetotaler.

Sipping a Ward 8 is like a contest between sweet and tart as the lemon juice and grenadine vie for attention. True to history, this cocktail is an excellent bracer to get you through yet another election year.

3 oz bourbon or rye whiskey

1 oz lemon juice

1 oz orange juice

2 tsp grenadine

Combine all ingredients in a shaker half filled with ice. Shake thoroughly and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Toast to your candidate with a Ward 8!

Homemade Grenadine

One of the disadvantages of living and drinking under the thumb of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board is that if the PLCB doesn’t carry it – short of taking up amateur rum running – you can’t get it. In this case, we’re talking about grenadine. Now it’s not that you can’t get grenadine, you’d actually be hard-pressed to find a PA liquor store that doesn’t stock it, but rather that every PA liquor store has the same grenadine.

Jacquin’s Cordials is a Philadelphia-based producer of bottom-shelf liquors and liqueurs, and the only brand the PLCB carries of several cocktail essentials, not least of which is grenadine. Theoretically, grenadine should be made from pomegranate juice (grenade is French for pomegranate) though even outside of Pennsylvania it can be tough to find a commercial grenadine that still is. These days most grenadine is like Jacquin’s: artificially flavored and over-sugared with so much corn syrup you could probably distill it into bourbon. Much like maraschino liqueur, grenadine is overdue for an artisanal back-to-basics overhaul.

Homemade Grenadine

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Mary Pickford

The Mary Pickford, named for the queen of the silent screen, is a bit difficult to pin down. The pineapple juice and grenadine give it sweetness, but it’s held in check by the aromatics of the rum and maraschino liqueur. The result is a balance of flavors that is very interesting, but certainly not for everyone. This recipe makes a rather large cocktail, so feel free to scale it down a bit.

BONUS: Click here to check out a small but charming gallery of Mary Pickford portraits.

4 oz Jamaican rum

2 oz pineapple juice

2 tsp maraschino liqueur

dash of grenadine

Combine all ingredients in a shaker half full of ice. Shake well and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Mary Pickford

Crow Cocktail

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.

The Crow Cocktail

Pink Victrola

The Pink Victrola is a delicious, if a tad girly, drink that we found on the Hendrick’s Gin website. While it may cost more than you’re used to paying for gin, Hendrick’s unique, mild, floral flavor makes it perhaps the only gin that can make the Pink Victrola really sing. 

1 1/2 parts  Hendrick’s Gin

1 1/2 parts  grapefruit juice

1/2 part  lemon juice

1/2 part  simple syrup

1 bar spoon of grenadine

Fill a shaker half full with ice and add all ingredients. Shake well. Strain into a cocktails glass and garnish with a twist of grapefruit (or lemon, as seen here).

The balance of flavors in this drink is absolutely tremendous. Any other gin would overpower the drink with juniper flavor, but Hendrick’s cucumber and rose flavors make for a wonderfully complex, but not understated cocktail.

Jack Rose

While applejack isn’t a common liquor anymore (Laird and Company is currently the leading brand and not too hard to find), it has a long and storied history that places it as the base spirit in many classic cocktails. The Jack Rose is a potent drink that’ll put hair on any boozehound’s chest.

2 1/2 oz  applejack

1 Tbs  lemon juice

2 tsp  grenadine

Pour all ingredients into a shaker two-thirds full of ice and shake well. Serve in a cocktail glass, preferably sitting down.