Dismayed at the news that Eric Felten won’t be regularly publishing his “How’s Your Drink?” column in the weekend Wall Street Journal, we just might have to drown our sorrows in his farewell cocktail: The Journalist. Pulled from the pages of the great Savoy Cocktail Book of 1930, the Journalist Cocktail is bright and balanced – just like a good journalist.
We will admit to sharing Eric Felten’s drink preference based on seasonality. Manhattans on colder days, martinis on warmer and lots of fruit for summer. Not quite martini, not quite manhattan and with a citrusy dimension, the Journalist cocktail might be the perfect compromise drink for a rainy summer day like today.
2 oz gin (Hendrick’s does quite well in this)
½ oz dry vermouth
½ oz sweet vermouth
1 squeeze fresh lemon juice
1 splash triple sec
1 dash Angostura bitters
?Shake with ice and strain into a stemmed cocktail glass. Lemon twist.
No, not the kind of crazy mad you supposedly get when you eat the worm at the bottom of a cheap bottle (whose hallucinogenic effects are mythical anyway), but mad as in ardently enthusiastic, which our NY spirits scribes seem to be. First, over the weekend Eric Felten of the Wall Street Journal celebrated the death of vodka and the ‘tini culture (as in appletini, pomegranatini, etc.) and included a recipe using mezcal as a base. Then this morning, the NY Times publishes a whole article dedicated to the magic and artistry of the stuff. In our spirits department, we carry Del Maguey’s mezcal, which happens to be the brand Eric recommends. Ours comes from the Chichicapa village in Oaxaca and has light nose, yet is deep and sweet on the tongue with citrus flavor and a smoky finish with a hint of chocolate and mint at the end.
Mezcal, like tequila, is distilled from fermented juice of the heart of a succulent plant called agave. In the case of tequila, the heart or “pina” is roasted in an oven. Mezcal, however, is cooked in earthen mounds over pits of hot rocks. This method gives mezcal a smokier flavor than tequila and the individualized nature of the process allows for greater variation between batches.
Felten’s column declared the ‘Maximilian Affair’ (presumably named after the french invasion of Mexico and a reference to the use of a french liqueur in a mexican spirit base) a new classic cocktail. His recipe is below, which he adapted from Misty Kalkofen’s creation at Boston’s Drink bar.
Time Out New York recently picked some must-haves if you’ve got a shrinking liquor budget. At the top of the list as substitutes for scotch and bourbon were two of our ryes – Old Overholt and Rittenhouse. Both of these spirits are technically whiskeys made from rye grain.
Of the two, the Old Overholt is slightly drier to the Rittenhouse’s more sweet, raisiny flavor, though the Overholt is only 80 proof and the Rittenhouse is 100 proof and “bottled in bond”. Both have the hallmark spiciness of rye and lack the wood and peat notes you’ll get in some scotch.