Monday, February 27, 2012

Sipping Vintage

Louise Brooks pouring Irish whiskey.

Here in Las Vegas, we have a zillion bars and places of get drinks. Whatever kind you want and whatever atmosphere. I gravitate to restaurants. And about a year or so ago, Sage in Aria opened up. The food I don't remember so well, but the bar is amazing! They have an entire page of "vintage drinks." Click here to see the menu. Scroll down to Classic Cocktails.

The bar at Sage in the Aria. Via.

The first time my husband and I went, the bartender... ahem... mixologist, was eager to explain the history behind these drinks. I had always heard that cocktails came about during prohibition, when cheap liquor was so unpalatable that people started mixing, but our mixologist explained that mixed drinks were around long before that, and drinks that come to mind from the prohibition era are usually from Europe, where people could drink as much as they like.

Ever since, my husband and I have made an effort to try all kinds of these vintage drinks, which are coincidentally popping up more and more on menus around town. Our favorite so far is the Last Word, a bright green and very strong drink, concocted of equal parts gin, lime juice, maraschino liqueur and green chartreuse. The history of this drink, as said by Ted Saucier in Bottoms Up (1951), is it's a prohibition era cocktail, attributed to the Detroit Athletic Club. Wherever it comes from, cheers!

Recently, in the Ralph Lauren store at the Palazzo, I found two reproduction 1895 bar books: The Mixicologist by C. F. Lawlor and Modern American Drinks by George J. Kappeler. I absolutely love them! The covers are like the originals! And so are the insides. You can buy them online as well, at Cocktail Kingdom

Some other great books for vintage drinks are Artisanal Cocktails by Scott Beattie and Vintage Cocktails by Assoulin.

And a couple recipes to try out...

Last Word (My favorite)
Equal parts gin, lime juice, maraschino liqueur, and green chartreuse. Shake with ice and strain. Serve up. 

Negroni (My second favorite)
Equal parts campari, gin and sweet vermouth. Shake with ice and strain. Serve up with a burnt orange twist. Or serve over ice fora daytime drink.
(This drink is a little bitter. For a smoother drink, you can use Aperol instead of Campari and Lillet Blanc instead of sweet vermouth. This is how they make it at The Mandarin Oriental Bar).

To Frappe Champagne (from The Mixicologist, 1895)
Place the bottle in the champagne pail, fill with fine ice and salt; whirl or twist the bottle several times, and it will become almost frozen.
(My notes: you should of course use a champagne saucer or coupe for that vintage experience. Champagne flutes did not become popular until later. Flutes show off the bubbles. Actually, according to Arthur Inch in Dinner is Served, gentlemen used to carry around their own swizzle stick to remove the bubbles from their champagne!)

Brandy Sangaree (From Modern American Drinks, 1895)
Fill a mixing glass half-full of fine ice, add half a tablespoon of fine sugar, one jigger brandy; shake well and strain, grate nutmeg on top.
(Can also be made with gin, port wine or sherry in place of brandy)


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