Normally at this time of year I would come up with suggestions to load the sinking bowl so that his generosity, filled with joy and kind hospitality, makes the intolerable among your family and acquaintances tolerable and tolerable. truly delicious. .
There would be fuzzy anecdotes about Charles Dickens or an old English Earl, the Dutch “Mynheer” or the not very appropriate Bostonian. There would be rum and port and a thick layer of freshly grated nutmeg. It would be happy – damn happy.
But this holiday season, with the specter of COVID-19 hanging over us all, the thought of getting together in close, comfortable neighborhoods with a bunch of people who are not in my immediate home has me trickling in. cold sweat. And if I don’t, I certainly won’t suggest that others do.
At the same time, our seasonal social rituals are important. I can easily understand why some people are saying ‘to hell with the coronavirus pandemic, we are having Christmas anyway’, even though I think it is naive and dangerous for them and for anyone they come in contact with. Life is hard enough in normal times. In difficult times like these, it can be really dark. As humans, we must prepare for each other against this gloom.
As the old saw says, soldiers are not fighting for their country, they are fighting for their comrades. We need our squad members to help us, whether it’s mom and dad, aunts, cousins and the like, or just – “just” – the usual crew of old and new friends we’ve recruited over time. years. We have to see them, touch them, talk to them. Relax with them. Put aside the load we carry for a bit and share some laughs and memories.
In my house, anyway, we usually do it over a drink. Mixing someone up with a little glass of something delicious is a quick and very effective first manifestation of hospitality; a way not only to tell them, but to show them that they are truly welcome and, at least for now, among their people.
Fortunately, if we can’t be physically with our people, at least we can still mix this drink with them; always show them at least that little bit of hospitality. Of course, we’ll have to make our toast via Zoom, FaceTime, group texts, WhatsApp, etc. If the idea of this fills you with the same measure of joy as it fills me, which is less than a metric teaspoon, at least know that with the help of a few empty bottles, alcohol and with a little planning ahead, you can extend that hospitality even further; keep pouring them this drink. It takes a bit of planning, but hey, you have the time these days. All you have to do is, at some point before logging in, drop them off or send them a little bottled cocktail, where it’s all done and all your employees have to do is pour.
Small bottles of delight
Bottled cocktails have a long and successful history that we absolutely don’t need to go into here. Suffice it to say, just as modern bars learned to make their drinks portable during the current pandemic, 19th century bars did the same for their patrons who might want a cocktail at home – that was before. the whole idea of being your own bartender took root – or wherever there was no bar. (Such places existed, although there aren’t many.) Although these bottled cocktails cannot replicate the experience of standing at the carved mahogany bar while the bartender waltzes the ice in his glass. then pour a jet of amber from a great height. in a tiny cocktail glass with perfect precision, the cocktail itself didn’t know: it was the same delicious potion, minus the spectacle. And that’s what your people will receive.
For bottled cocktails, you need bottles. I like to use quart mason jars, which hold enough for four standard drinks, fully diluted and without the need for stirring, shaking, or any of the above. (When you mix drinks with ice, it’s the melted ice that cools them down and dilutes them enough to kill the burn. For that, you’ll add the same amount of water and let your friends’ freezers cool. )
If you can’t get pint mason jars, use what you can get – old wine bottles, cleaned up and with the labels soaked in, and 12oz glass soda bottles are also good, even if you will need to adjust your proportions. For the latter, you will also need caps.
You will also need labels. They don’t have to be fancy: you can handwrite them and stick them with clear packing tape. But your employees will need a little information on what they are drinking, how much the bottle serves, and how to store, prepare, and serve the drink. We’ll get into the details below.
There are two types of bottled cocktails: the one that is shelf stable and the one that comes with the fuse lit; which must remain refrigerated and even then will only keep for a few days. The options for each are endless, but since the sponsor of this particular post is Jefferson’s Bourbon, I’ll stick to the whiskey drinks, which is certainly not a problem.
Let’s start with a stable version, the Manhattan Club version of the Manhattan. Since Manhattan was probably invented at the Manhattan Club (a political and social club in New York City), around 1880, this version carries some authority. In equal parts whiskey – we’ll go with the Jefferson’s Reserve, which has 45% alcohol, good blending strength – and the vermouth, it’s also smoother and a little less rowdy than the standard version, and so maybe be a little better suited for the whole (legal) age crew that you get while on vacation.
This drink will keep indefinitely, meaning it can be shipped or dropped off well in advance of consumption. You might want to add a lemon with every pint, for the peels (these should be cut into vertical strips with a vegetable peeler, a great thing to demonstrate on Zoom).
Here’s how to create one:
Manhattan Club Manhattan (1)
- 1.5 oz Jefferson’s Reserve Bourbon
- 1.5 oz Italian red vermouth
- 3 dashes of bittersweet orange
- Glass: Cocktail
- Garnish: lemon zest
Add all the ingredients to a mixing glass and fill with crushed ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Twist a sample of finely chopped lemon zest on top.
And here’s how to make a pint out of it, which should be enough for four full-size cocktails.
Manhattan Club Manhattan (4)
- 6 oz Jefferson Reserve Bourbon
- 6 oz Italian red vermouth
- 12 dashes of bitter orange
- 4 oz bottled water
Add all the ingredients to a one quart mason jar. Seal the jar and label it.
Here’s how I would label this:
The Manhattan of the Manhattan Club
As served at the place that invented it, New York, 1882.
Bourbon, Italian vermouth and orange bitters.
Contains four drinks.
To serve: Put this bottle in the freezer for 45 minutes, then pour it into four chilled cocktail glasses. If possible, wrap a strip of lemon zest on top.
This bottle can be stored at room temperature.
With big hugs from [your name here].
(If your folks are a bit more adventurous and boozy – we’re not judging here at The Daily Beast – and you have access to an exceptionally well-stocked liquor store, one big, unusual variation is the Racquet Club Special, served by Harry, head bartender of the Detroit Racquet Club, in 1934: for one, it’s 2 ounces of Jefferson’s Reserve Bourbon for 0.5 ounces of Italian vermouth and Kronan Swedish Punsch, a liqueur made from cane spirits that brings a little complexity to the procedure, and some traits of Amer de Peychaud. For four, it’s 8 ounces of Jeffferson for 2 ounces of Swedish vermouth and punsch, 8 dashes of Peychaud and 4 ounces of water. Assemble in the same way.)
Now, some people will find that an all-alcoholic drink like Manhattan is a bit too much, even if you’ve mixed it into one of its sweetest incarnations. For them there is the Ward Eight, a nice early 20th-century twist on Boston’s Whiskey Sour, named after the political district that coincided with the city’s North Quarter. There are as many recipes for this drink as there were bartenders of old in Boston. My favorite, however, is the one (contributed by one of these elders) that slips a little bit of Amontillado sherry into the mix, making it richer and a lot more intriguing.
Unfortunately, acids like this have a short shelf life before citrus juice begins to mutate in weird and tasteless ways. Ideally, this should be done in the morning of the day it is to be consumed. The day before is acceptable. Beyond that, there’s a good chance the lemon juice will go away (it won’t hurt anyone, but it will taste unpleasant). Either way, it should be stored in the refrigerator, so plan accordingly.
- 2 ounces of Jefferson’s Very Small Batch bourbon
- 5 oz of Amontillado sherry
- 0.5 oz of fresh lemon juice
- 0.25 oz fresh orange juice
- 0.5 oz Grenadine (the regular shopping stuff is fine here)
- Club Soda
- Glass: 8 oz tumbler
Add all the ingredients, except the club soda, to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake and strain into a stemmed cup. Add 1 ice cube and a little sparkling water.
And for four:
- 7 oz Jefferson’s Very Small Batch Bourbon
- 1.75 oz of Amontillado sherry
- 1.75 oz of fresh lemon juice
- 1 oz of fresh orange juice
- 1.5 oz of grenadine
- 3 oz bottled water
Add all the ingredients to a one quart mason jar. Seal the jar, label it and refrigerate it.
Upon delivery, add one small bottle of club soda per pint bottle of Ward Eight. That too should be refrigerated, of course.
And the label (adjust to suit, of course):
The Boston Classic, created to celebrate a local election victory in that city’s Eighth Ward, ca. 1900.
Bourbon, sherry, lemon and orange juice with a touch of grenadine.
Contains four drinks.
To serve: Put this bottle in the freezer for 45 minutes then pour into four white wine glasses, each containing an ice cube. Add a little chilled sparkling water to each.
This bottle should be stored in the refrigerator and used within 24 hours.
With big hugs from [your name here].
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