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Mouthing Off

By the Editors of Food & Wine Magazine

Drink This Now

Toasty Drinks for Winter Weather: Hot Toddies, Irish Coffee and Warm Punch

Hot Drinks: The Dead Rabbit

The Dead Rabby © Andrew Kist

New Yorkers looking for an antidote to the recent blast of frigid weather can take refuge at a new cocktail spot opening next week called the Dead Rabbit, which will offer several warming winter drinks. Located in an early-19th-century townhouse, the new venue is actually two bars in one: a cozy pub, which aims to have the largest Irish whiskey menu in the city, and an upstairs cocktail lounge. Downstairs, co-owners Sean Muldoon and Jack McGarry will serve a classic hot toddy and Dale DeGroff’s Irish coffee recipe. But upstairs, among the 72 cocktails divided into 12 chapters, Muldoon and McGarry will employ very modern technology to prepare historically influenced drinks. MORE >

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Drink This Now

Port: The Unsung Cocktail Ingredient

The Elk’s Own Port Cocktail

Courtesy of Barrelhouse Flat.

In a recent piece detailing the simple pleasures of sweet and rich after-dinner wines, F&W’s Ray Isle wrote that port is “arguably the world’s greatest sweet wine.” It’s also one of the greatest classic cocktail ingredients, especially for winter drinks, to which the fortified wine adds a luxurious texture and intense dark fruit flavors. “The tradition of port in cocktails is as old as mixing drinks,” says Greg Buttera, the creative director of Barrelhouse Flat in Chicago. Buttera’s menu features two historical port cocktails: the Coffee Cocktail and the Elk’s Own.

“The Elk’s Own first shows up in The Savoy Cocktail Book, published in 1930,” says Buttera. “The drink evolved a little bit but the original was called the Elk’s Fizz—it was the 1901 Police Gazette cocktail of the year.” Buttera begins with Rittenhouse Rye Bottled in Bond, an intense 100-proof whiskey that provides a strong backbone for the drink. “It’s not a whiskey you would slowly sip while you pour over a leather-bound volume of Melville,” Buttera warns. He mixes the whiskey with ruby port, fresh lemon juice, Angostura bitters, simple syrup and an egg white for volume and a velvety consistency. The cocktail is shaken vigorously and served in a rocks glass. “It’s a nice cold weather cocktail,” Buttera says. “But it has much brighter fruit and more acidity than a lot of whiskey drinks.”

The Coffee Cocktail, which neither contains nor tastes like coffee but does somewhat resemble a frothy café au lait when mixed properly, dates to 1887 when it appeared in the third edition of Jerry Thomas’s The Bar-tender’s Guide. For his version, Buttera mixes equal parts of light, fruity Maison Surrenne Petite Champagne Cognac and ruby port with a touch of simple syrup and a whole egg. Buttera gives the mix a quick dry shake before adding ice and shakes again, just enough to chill the drink. He strains the creamy result into a brandy snifter and tops it with nutmeg. “The port has a silky texture inherently,” Buttera says. “Then the fat from the egg yolk integrates and creates a nice mouthfeel. It goes down very easy.” Here, more bars serving terrific port cocktails.


Teardrop Cocktail Lounge, Portland, Oregon
Among the bar’s exquisitely crafted early-19th-century cocktails is the Chicago Fizz, which dates to 1930. Bartenders use an ounce of house-blended rum as the base: a mix of polished, tropical Plantation Grande Reserve 5-year, appley Flor de Caña and vegetal Novo Fogo Cachaça. To that, they add ruby port, lemon juice, rich demerara syrup and egg white. The rosy shaken cocktail is strained into a glass filled with a couple of ounces of club soda for a lightly fizzy, creamy drink.

Sylvain, New Orleans
Even though winter in New Orleans isn’t the chilliest, bartender Darrin Ylisto thought the seasonal menu at Sylvain could use a cozy, robust port cocktail. For the Dead Man’s Wallet, Ylisto mixes Rittenhouse rye with lemon juice, cinnamon syrup, ruby port and Angostura bitters. Ylisto shakes the spiced, fruity cocktail and serves it on the rocks in an old-fashioned glass.

Ace, Denver
A massive former garage, Ace now houses an Asian restaurant, a ping-pong hall and a bar, which features both original creations inspired by the cult movie Big Trouble in Little China—like the Girl with the Green Eyes, named for Kim Cattrall’s character—and new takes on classic cocktails like the Ship Song, a fruity twist on an old-fashioned. To make the Ship Song, bartenders muddle orange peel with sugar and Angostura bitters, add Guatemalan rum and ruby port, and stir it until it’s chilled. The dark, baking-spice-inflected cocktail is strained over one large ice cube and garnished with an orange peel.

South Water Kitchen, Chicago
Head bartender Sarah Mengoni just updated the cocktail menu at this recently redesigned restaurant. One of the new seasonal drinks is the Boardwalk Braggadocio: vodka, Laird’s Bonded Applejack, nutty tawny port, fresh lime juice, simple syrup and Angostura bitters, shaken, strained into a coupe and garnished with a mint leaf. “It’s almost like a fruitcake,” Mengoni says. “Fresh—not the one that has been passed around your family for the past 10 years.”

Related: 50 Best Bars in America
Best New Cocktails Trends for 2013

Editor Picks

Studying the Nuances of Cocktails in DC

Cocktail Cartoon

Cocktail Cartoon by Adam Bernbach.

Most people who order a cocktail just by its name might not realize they’re being pretty vague. “I’ll have a Manhattan,” we’ll say, then go back to our conversation, leaving the nuances of each drink up to the person behind the bar. Bourbon? Rye? Dolin vermouth? Angostura bitters? That’s handing over a lot of decision-making power to the bartender. At the spectacular cocktail spot Proof, in Washington, DC, bar manager Adam Bernbach is helping guests discover exactly how different a drink can be, depending on the answers to these sorts of questions.

“There’s a certain handwriting to cocktails,” Bernbach says. “Your handwriting is slanted in a certain direction, your L’s curl a little more than somebody else’s, your P’s are a little straighter than others. In the same way, when you’re making a daiquiri, maybe you choose to use a South American rum and you might add a touch more lime juice because your preference is for something a little bit more tart.”

This month, Bernbach is exploring this mixology philosophy during his weekly Remastered Editions. For each Sunday (aside from the 20th, because of Inauguration Day insanity) he’s selected a classic cocktail and is presenting it using four different recipes. Last week, he did a study of the Manhattan. The fan favorites that night were the ones made with Eagle Rare bourbon, Cocchi vermouth and Angostura bitters; and another with Templeton rye, Carpano Antica and a combination of Angostura and Regan’s Orange bitters. On Sunday, January 13, daiquiris are in the spotlight. The varying styles of rum—Spanish, English, rhum agricole from the French West Indies—and the vast assortments of sweeteners that can be used in the classic, from Demerara syrup to simple syrup to plain sugar, give Bernbach a lot of flexibility. “I think the sweet, herb, spice quality of the rhum agricole will be very visible to guests. And I think the funkiness of the Jamaican Blackwell rum will be really obvious.”

To drive home this idea of the personalized nature of these cocktails, Bernbach has handwritten each of the menus and even made a little drawing (above) for each week. For the final installment of Remastered Editions, Bernbach will tackle the whiskey sour—including one drink that involves a whole egg yolk and that intriguingly tastes like, in Bernbach’s words, “lemony nut cake.” Perhaps it’s time to book a seat on the Acela, destination: Washington, DC.

Related: 50 Best Bars in America

Drink This Now

The Hottest New Chile Cocktails

Mucho Humo

Courtesy of Florida Cookery at The James Royal Palm

From mild anchos to seriously hot Scotch bonnets, chile peppers add nuanced flavors and, at times, lip-numbing sensations to cocktails. MORE >

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Drink This Now

The Rise of Lighter Cocktails

OAK at fourteenth's Trail Ridge Road

Trail Ridge Road © Phoebe Trotta.

While boozy, brown drinks still rule in pre-Prohibition-style bars, bartenders who take inspiration from Europe are now popularizing aperitif-like cocktails that are flavorful and low in alcohol. In F&W's series of cocktail predictions for 2013, Bryan Dayton, owner of OAK at fourteenth in Boulder, Colorado, championed low alcohol drinks as the future of mixology. "European cultures have always promoted light aperitifs," Dayton says. "Whether it's cider in Normandy or Aperol spritzes in Italy." MORE »

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Editor Picks

PDTs Brand-New Mission Chinese Dog

PDT's Mapo Tofu-Topped Mission Chinese Dog.

PDT's Mapo Tofu-Topped Mission Chinese Dog; Photo © Nick Brown.

“Mapo tofu and I have quite a history,” says Mission Chinese Food’s Danny Bowien. “It’s the inspiration behind the whole MCF project.” I consider it the perfect dish; the only thing I’ve wished for is a supersonic cocktail to wash it down with. Lucky me: MCF in Manhattan now has a sparkling new liquor license and a team set on perfecting the most perfect version of Sex on the Beach.

Now there’s more great booze-and-tofu news: the exceptional bar PDT has just put the Mission Chinese Dog on their menu. It’s an all-beef hot dog covered with Bowien’s exhilarating, Szechuan peppercorn-packed tofu, plus onions, cilantro and American cheese sauce. The Mission Chinese Dog is spicy and messy and requires a knife and fork. And, of course, a cocktail. PDT’s Jim Meehan recommends the Alambic Fizz, a mix of Cognac, lemon juice, Landy's 5-Year-Old Bual Madeira and pimento bitters. It’s also got peach lambic. Peach schnapps is key to Sex on the Beach; I expect this drink is as close as I'll get to having the Spring Break staple at PDT.

Related: Cocktail Party Tips from Jim Meehan
Best Hot Dog Recipes
22 Classic Cocktails

Wine Wednesday

Brunch Drinks

© Tina Rupp

Try pairing the three drinks below with a fantastic brunch recipe, like this Smoked-Salmon Scramble with Dill Griddle Biscuits. // © Tina Rupp

Ah, brunch. People go bonkers for brunch. Say the word “brunch,” and your friends will say things like, “Yeah! Great! Let’s do it!” Unless they have kids, in which case they’ll look sort of morose, because instead of going to brunch with you they’re going to be at a birthday party for five-year-olds. But that’s the human condition: Sunday-morning cocktails, then offspring, and finally death.

Be that as it may, in terms of drink options, folks tend to default to one of three things: a mimosa, usually made with some Minute Maid and a bottle of random sparkling wine that someone brought over six months ago; a Bloody Mary (which I’m not knocking at all); or Champagne. Yet because life is short and the human condition is dire, why not experiment while you still have a chance? 3 Fantastic Brunch Drinks. »

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Drink This Now

The Newest Holiday Punches

New Holiday Punches: Passed Bright Milk Punch

Passed Bright Milk Punch © Nathan Rawlinson.

Long before there were martinis and daiquiris, Manhattans and mai tais, there was punch. Punch dates to the early 17th century, when it was imported to England by officers of the East India Company, according to writer John Ayto, who just published a new edition of The Diner’s Dictionary: Word Origins of Food & Drink.

Made in batches and perfect for holiday entertaining, punches are especially popular this time of year among bartenders looking to put their own spins on festive cocktails. Brooklyn’s buzzed-about Scandinavian restaurant Aska—from chef Fredrik Berselius (Aquavit, Per Se) and partner Eamon Rockey, formerly of Atera—is now serving three innovative punches. “Punch is about community and about enjoying something together,” says Rockey. MORE »

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Innovative Alpine Mai Tais, Chestnut Old-Fashioneds and More Holiday Cocktails

Innovative Holiday Cocktails: The Alpine Mai Tai

The Alpine Mai Tai Courtesy of The Beehive

Often sugary or creamy, holiday drinks frequently taste more like liquid dessert than balanced cocktails. “The temptation is to do peppermint this and gingerbread that,” says Nate Hayden, bartender at The Beehive, a jazz club, bar and restaurant in Boston’s South End. “But we wanted to create something fun and slightly sweet, but also with real complexity to it as well.” Inspired by the nostalgic scent of pine trees, Hayden came up with the Alpine Mai Tai.

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Drink This Now

The New Old Fashioned

The New Old Fashioned: No. 10

Whitehall's No. 10 Courtesy of Whitehall

When it comes to cocktails, it doesn’t get much simpler than the old fashioned: spirit (typically rye or bourbon), bitters, sweetener and citrus. The uncomplicated nature of the drink makes it a fantastic blank canvas for bartenders. “The old fashioned is arguably one of the oldest cocktails,” says John McCarthy, the beverage director of New York City’s Scotch-centric Highlands and gin-focused Whitehall. “What’s great is that you can change all the elements and just mix and match.” McCarthy created three riffs on the old fashioned for his fall menus. »

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