The Savoy Variations: Fair & Warmer

I’m bored, so I’m taking random cocktail recipes from The Savoy Cocktail Book (1930), giving them a try, and modifying/improving them if  I think it’s necessary, and reporting my findings here.

Fair & Warmer

p. 68

I’m sure the whole “proportions-not-amounts” thing makes sense if that’s what you’re used to, but the bottom line is that a recipe that calls for 1/3 sweet vermouth and 2/3 rum still requires you to figure out how much to measure out.

Even so, that’s a 2:1 ratio, so let’s go with

  • 1.5 oz rum (originally Bacardi)
  • .75 oz Italian (sweet) vermouth
  • 2 dashes curaçao

I had to look up exactly how much a dash is — it’s 1/8 tsp, so 2 dashes is 1/4 tsp. I chose the Cruzan aged rum instead of Bacardi because I thought it might be more interesting. Also, I dug out the deKuyper orange curaçao because, hey, this recipe looked as if it might have been designed for something more sickly sweet than my now-preferred dry curaçao.

It was not good, just sort of a sledgehammer of booze (which, again, I maintain is the intended effect of most of these).

I tried again, switching back to Bacardi and the dry curaçao, and modifying the proportions.

Fair & Warmer (2)

  • 1.5 oz white rum
  • .5 oz sweet vermouth
  • .5 oz dry curaçao

It really wasn’t better. Perhaps a lemon twist might have perked it up, but on the whole it was a failed experiment. There wasn’t even enough to like to interest me in trying to fix it with further trials. Into the sink.

SAVOY VARIATIONS SCORECARD:

  • Savoy: 1
  • Dale: 1
  • Sink: 3

Critical Race Idiocy, Oklahoma edition

(An earlier version of this post, and tweets referring to it, named Arkansas as the state in question. Even though the mistake is understandable, we regret the error. Oklahoma, this is on you, babe.)

As you probably are already aware, the amygdala-based lifeforms among us have decided to be afraid of something called Critical Race Theory, which is not, as the amygdala-based lifeforms would have you believe, teaching kindergartners that WHITE PEOPLE BAD KENNETH, but rather an actual socioeconomic critique of the role of race in U.S. history, particularly the role of slavery in our economy (big) and politics (bad). It is taught at the graduate level, not in kindergarten.

However, because our Republican Party is nothing if not solicitous of their amygdala-based lifeforms, they have sprung into action in state legislatures everywhere to write laws to assist our teachers to avoid the evils of CRT in their classroom.

Just kidding. They’re trying to cover their lily-white heinies so that schools don’t end up teaching the actual history of our country, which unfortunately is hella racist in most regards. (Also, they’re trying to keep the amygdala-based lifeforms riled up for voting purposes.)

Here are a couple of excerpts from a recently proposed bill in Oklahoma (42nd in education, if you believe U.S. News and World Report).

Ah yes, the 1619 Project, or as Wonkette refers to it, Satan’s Own Bible. Moving on…

Mercy. “One race”? Who on earth could they mean by that? And who might this “another race” be?

Honey, please.

Note: What they’re doing is trying to cast a wide net over the whole world and for all of history, so that white Americans don’t look that bad if you squint hard and believe that Egyptians and Mongols had anything to do with the political writings of Jefferson and Madison. Yeah, right.

But you know me: I am nothing if not helpful, and so I have prepared a handout for Oklahoma teachers who need to teach how slavery just kind of happened in this land and white people are definitely not to blame no not never racism is over WE’VE HAD A BLACK PRESIDENT KENNETH.

over 38,000 circles, 37 of which are colored red, each circle representing 100 slaveholders
Click to download a PDF version of this.

CAVEAT: The numbers are kind of wonky, since the only readily confirmable numbers I could find on short notice were the number of white slaveholders from the 1860 Census and the number of free black slaveholders from the 1830 Census. However, it definitely shows that NOT ALL WHITE SLAVEHOLDERS KENNETH, amirite?

Several ideas spring from this:

  • I could create a version of the handout with all blank circles, and you could have the students color in 37 of them to represent the free black slaveholders. NOTE: They will need magnifying glasses and 0.5mm pens. If you would like such a handout, just email me and let me know.
  • For math skills, have your students calculate the percentage of free black slaveholders to the total number. [KEY: <1%]
  • For advanced classes, like AP U.S. History, you could have the students find the actual number of slaves owned by white slaveholders v. the number owned by free black slaveholders. There we might use the 1830 Census numbers for, you know, greater fairness in depicting the multiracial responsibility for slavery in this country.

Speaking of APUSH…

Does anyone think that the Educational Testing Service or the College Board are going to alter their standardized tests to accommodate the amygdala-based lifeforms? Or is it not more probable that students in Oklahoma (and Texas and Virginia and Florida…) simply are going to flub those questions on the test? I don’t see this raising Oklahoma’s ranking in the U.S. News & World Report ranking, do you?

The Savoy Variations: Ping-Pong Special

I’m bored, so I’m taking random cocktail recipes from The Savoy Cocktail Book (1930), giving them a try, and modifying/improving them if  I think it’s necessary, and reporting my findings here.

Ping-Pong Special

p. 124

(6 people)

Carefully shake together 3 glasses of Sloe Gin and 3 glasses of Italian Vermouth with half a dessertspoonful of Angostura Bitters and a dessertspoonful of sugar syrup or Curaçao. Serve with a cherry and a piece of lemon rind.

I interpreted this as

  • 1.5 oz sloe gin
  • 1.5 oz sweet vermouth
  • .25 oz orange curaçao
  • 2–3 dashes Angostura

It was okay. It was a bit cloying, so I tossed it and remade it, reducing the amount of vermouth. Still cloying.

 

 

Ping-Pong Special (2)

  • 1.5 oz sloe gin
  • .75 oz sweet vermouth
  • .25 oz orange curaçao
  • .25–.5 oz Gran Classico amaro

I added the Gran Classico for some bitterness. It was not satisfactory.

Then I thought, if Angostura was the bittering agent in the original, why not Angostura Amaro?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ping-Pong Special(3)

  • 1.5 oz sloe gin
  • .75 oz sweet vermouth
  • .5 oz Amaro di Angostura
  • .25 oz orange curaçao
  • Angostura bitters

It was okay. It was not a revelation.

I gave up — which I’m beginning to suspect is going the be the outcome of most of these experiments.

However, the Amaro di Angostura reminded me of a very good cocktail indeed: The Smoky Quartz, invented for me by the head bartender of AnonymouS Bar in Prague. Go read about it.

And finally, the evening began.

SAVOY VARIATIONS SCORECARD:

  • Savoy: 1
  • Dale: 1
  • Sink: 2

The Savoy Variations: Empire Cocktail

The Savoy Variations: Empire Cocktail

I’m bored, so I’m taking random cocktail recipes from The Savoy Cocktail Book (1930), giving them a try, and modifying/improving them if  I think it’s necessary, and reporting my findings here.

I had intended to tackle the Nineteen Twenty Cocktail today, but when I set about doing so I realized that I had forgotten to look up “groseille syrup.” As it turns out, it doesn’t exist any more, but you can make your own. Oy. (Fun fact: red currants are also unobtainable.)

So randomly flipping through the book, I settled on

Empire Cocktail

  • 1/4 apricot brandy
  • 1/4 Calvados
  • 1/2 gin

Again, Craddock’s instructions are to shake, but I stirred. Hold that thought.

Perhaps the day will come when I will be bold enough to declare a drink SINK right off the bat, but today is not that day.

However, this drink is an assault on the mouth. The dry gin hits you just like gin does to people who hate gin, and the overall taste is so brassy that it was tough to taste it more than twice.

So how to tackle it? I began by switching the gin and the Calvados, hoping that might round it out a bit. [That’s 1/2 Calvados, 1/4 each of gin and apricot.] Alas, it was not much better. (I began to suspect that shaking not stirring is required to dilute the hell out of these concoctions.)

Empire, take 2

Perhaps the gin was the issue. A more floral gin might take the edge off.

It did not.

(At this point I decided to make half-recipes — otherwise I was pouring perfectly good liquor down the sink, and I needed to minimize that.)

 

 

 

 

Empire, take 3

How about an Old Tom gin? And what if we switched to an apricot liqueur, which would be sweeter?

Nope.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Empire, take 4

What if we tried the pomegranate gin that my fabulous neighbor made and gave me?

A little more interesting, but still no .

 

 

 

 

 

 

Empire, take 5

Last ditch effort: stick with the pomegranate gin, but go back to the apricot brandy.

Alas, none of these were interesting enough to finish. (Thank goodness, because I was supposed to be cooking dinner, and following a Blue Apron recipe is not easy when one is squiffed, and even a sip or two out of five cocktails in rapid succession is a bit much.) If I had to serve one to guests, it would probably be #3, but I really would rather not.

So, how to score this? It’s obviously a SINK, but is it one or five? I thought about having a separate SINK score for both Craddock and me, but I realized I would always come out on the short end of that stick so I think what we’ll do is just declare the whole thing one big SINK.

SAVOY VARIATIONS SCORECARD

  • Savoy: 1
  • Dale: 1
  • Sink: 1

The Savoy Variations: Yellow Daisy

I’m bored, so I’m taking random cocktail recipes from The Savoy Cocktail Book (1930), giving them a try, and modifying/improving them if  I think it’s necessary, and reporting my findings here.

Today’s cocktail is the Yellow Daisy. (To be clear, I experiment with these cocktails the afternoon before. I am not day drinking. Yet.)

I should mention here that Harry Craddock’s recipes are idiosyncratic, mostly proportions. (The recipe for The Classic, our cocktail yesterday, has proportions of 1/6, 1/6, 1/6, and 1/2.) I’ll be converting to ounces as we go along.

Here’s the original:

Yellow Daisy

(6 people)

  • 2 glasses Gin
  • 2 glasses French Vermouth
  • 1 glass Grand Marnier
  • Before shaking, add a dash of Absinthe.

There follows an actual paragraph: Not only the favourite drink, but also the one made famous, if not invented, by Richard William (“Deadwood Dick”) Clark, recently deceased…

Okay then.

The Yellow Daisy is still a thing, though perhaps not as famous as it once must have been. As is becoming evident, many recipes in the book are variations on the Martini, and this one is no exception. (I will note that if I saw this recipe without the instructions, I would have stirred it, not shaken it. Apparently this Martini is an exception to the rule of shaking v. stirring.)

I made it straight, and despite the fact that dry vermouth and absinthe are not my favorites, this one was not bad from the start. I would advise going light on the “dash” of absinthe, like 4–5 drops max.

Nevertheless, I tried my hand at modification. Instead of absinthe, what if I used one of the many amaros at my disposal? Here is where my amateur status as a mixologist is an impediment: I don’t have each amaro’s “notes” in my head, especially the ones I rarely use. I gave a mini-taste-test to a couple and decided to try Amaro Montenegro.

Yellow Daisy variation

  • 1 oz gin
  • 1 oz dry vermouth
  • 1/2 oz Grand Marnier
  • dash–1/4 oz Amaro Montenegro

I started with a dash then bumped it up. Honestly, it was OK, but not the improvement that I got with The Classic. I’d stick with the original if I needed this drink for some reason.

Perhaps some other amaro might work, but I don’t know that it’s worth the trouble. (Let us note, too, that if I were to find that Amaro Ciociaro or Meletti worked, the drink would no longer be a Yellow Daisy. That’s a subthread that we’ll pay attention to as we go along.)

Shall we keep score? I feel as if we should keep score.

SAVOY VARIATIONS SCORECARD

Savoy: 1

Dale: 1

Sink: 0 <— when neither Craddock nor I create a palatable drink

I’m bored, so MOAR COCKTAILS!

Here’s my new game: take a recipe from the venerable Savoy Cocktail Book, try it. If it’s good, great. If it’s not, try to modify it so that it is. If that doesn’t work… well, failure is always an option, as we Lichtenbergians say.

The Savoy is the work of the immortal Harry Craddock, famed mixologist of the American Bar at the Savoy Hotel in London. With the U.S. suffering under Prohibition, Craddock returned to his mother country and cranked it up to 11. He published the book in 1930, and it’s still in print. (The fact that he’s buried in a pauper’s grave is even more disturbing when you see that a first edition of his book is going for $2,763.31 on Etsy. (You can get free PDFs on various sites with free “memberships,” or an online version at the EUVS Vintage Cocktail Books website.))

There are 750 cocktail recipes. Some are still famous, some are headscratchers: what is “Hercules” in the Wow Cocktail? Most are probably negligible, just quick swigs for the Bright Young Things inhabiting the bar of an evening the last time we did the Roaring Twenties.

Still, it should be fun to play with.

Here’s one I discovered by randomly opening it one day:

Rolls Royce Cocktail

  • 1 ½ oz gin
  • ¾ oz sweet vermouth
  • ¾ oz dry vermouth
  • ¼ oz Bénédictine
  • lemon peel

It’s a riff on the Perfect Martini (most cocktails called “perfect” have both sweet/Italian and dry/French vermouth in them), and the Bénédictine takes some of the edge off that. Lemon peel is essential.

Anway, my game will be to open the book at random, look over the page, pick a cocktail, try it, modify it, toss it, whatever — and then blog about it.

Here we go!

Classic Cocktail

First of all, it takes a bit of chutzpah to label a cocktail The Classic. Here’s the original recipe:

  • 1 ½ oz brandy
  • ½ oz orange curaçao
  • ½ oz Luxardo maraschino liqueur
  • ½ oz lemon juice
  • sugar rim
  • lemon peel

Rim a coupe with sugar. Shake ingredients with ice, strain into the coupe. Express the lemon peel over the drink and toss it in.

Verdict: Not bad at all. I tried one small improvement and it was better: add ¼ oz orgeat. So…

Classic Cocktail (adapted)

  • 1 ½ oz brandy
  • ½ oz orange curaçao
  • ½ oz Luxardo
  • ½ oz lemon juice
  • ¼ oz orgeat
  • sugar rim
  • lemon peel

The orgeat rounds out the sweetness, although to be sure, I used a dry curaçao; the deKuyper stuff would probably be a lot sweeter.

Fun fact: I have about a pint of purple sugar that I got for a signature cocktail I created for my son’s wedding reception. The bar ran out of the drink fairly soon — I didn’t even get one — and seven years later I still have purple sugar. It made a great rim, iridescent and complementary to the gold of the cocktail.

Till next time!

Dishevelment update, 11/6/21

It’s been seven months since I’ve displayed my long luscious locks, mostly because they’ve become so much a part of what life is these days that I don’t even think about them any more.

I’ve had a couple of haircuts, really just trims, during this time, but mostly I just let it grow. I keep the beard trimmed, but the hair is just a glorious mess.

That’s it. That’s the post. I don’t have any real insights about life or beauty or haircare. Just thought I’d check in.

New cocktail: the Fire Agate

Here’s a tasty new cocktail, the name of which is still unsettled. For the moment I am sticking to my hippie woo gemstones series and am calling it:

The Fire Agate

  • 1.5 oz bourbon
  • .75 oz sweet vermouth
  • .25 oz blood orange liqueur
  • .25 oz creme cacao
  • hickory smoke

Stir everything with ice then smoke it before pouring. The hickory smoke is not strictly necessary, but boy does it elevate the drink to cocktail status. For fun, put ice in your glass and smoke the ice just before pouring the drink.

Also, I used Salerno blood orange liqueur because I had it, but I imagine most any orange liqueur would serve. (I tried a fancier, more cocoa-er chocolate liqueur, but plain old DeKuyper is better.)

 

The Smokening™ (r)

This is spectacular for a party, especially at Halloween. I prefer to use the smoker outside simply because it’s not a precision instrument and you will find your kitchen/bar/entertainment area filling with smoke. Tasty, tasty smoke, but still.

This breaks my brain

So this was on the Twittermaschine just now (#HoldTheLine was the trending topic), and I just…

Look, I know these people do not have a full command of logical thought, but this is just… I don’t know, velcro that doesn’t stick anymore? Brainworms? Unfortunate result of too much glue-sniffing?

Apparently #HoldTheLine is being used by those brave, brave souls who see mandates for vaccines as what they truly are: SUPPRESSION, KENNETH, OF OUR PRECIOUS BODILY AUTONOMY NOT NOT YOU LADY WHO WANTS AN ABORTION JUST US WITH OUR PRECIOUS BODILY FLUIDS.

Free — as we say — dumb.

Let me say up front that the Toronto Star probably shouldn’t have gone with this approach. Even though I agree 100% with the sentiments expressed, it nonetheless seems antagonistic.

However, Mr. Changizi the Unvaccinated’s reaction is stupid. The rest of us are indeed exasperated by the unvaccinated’s refusal to protect themselves and those around them, and yet somehow Mr. Changizi the Unvaccinated sees this as some kind of purge that we are doing to them.

Dude, no. It’s the other thing, the reverse of that. We’re doing everything we can to keep you from catching Covid-19 and dying from it, which is significantly more likely if you are unvaccinated.

He is not alone. Here is one of the responses to his tweet:

“Mass genocides.” “Never again.” Jebus H. Cthulhu. And brave, brave Winston Smith, standing up to Big Brother, who is even as we speak hunting down the unvaxxed in the streets of Toronto and hauling them off to the labor camps and crematoria of Saskatchewan I guess. Nor is he the only one who responded like this. There were dozens of people shaking their little fists in anger against this Holocaust they definitely didn’t make up in their heads.

WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE?

Let me say it again for the hard-of-thinking: WE ARE NOT TRYING TO PURGE YOU IDIOTS. WE’RE TRYING GET RID OF THE VIRUS, and we can’t do that if y’all insist on refusing the vaccine because [reasons]. The more y’all get sick, the more likely it becomes that those of us who are vaccinated will suffer a breakthrough infection. Not only that, but the longer y’all remain unvaccinated, the more likely the virus will use its free access to your precious bodily fluids to mutate into yet another variant. You’re plague dogs.

Has our empathy for the willfully unvaccinated who are sick with this pernicious virus worn thin? You better believe it. At least we had empathy to start with, unlike your obvious lack of empathy for those who cannot get vaccinated because of health issues. But do we wish death on you? No. We wish you’d get vaccinated.

And maybe some mental health counseling.

Also too: The Sociopathic Style in American Politics

Satanic Milton

Let me tell you a story.

Years and years ago, when I was media specialist at East Coweta High School, the assistant principal in charge of curriculum bustled in, needing my assistance.  A mother had come in to complain that her son was being taught Satanic literature in his college-bound senior English lit class, and they wanted my recommendations for an alternative assignment.

I raised my eyebrows and pursed my lips and inquired as to exactly what Satanic literature this woman could possibly be objecting to in the British Lit textbook.  The asst. principal turned to the page and showed me.

Satan being cast down from heaven, from Milton's Paradise LostIt was Paradise Lost, by John Milton.  Right there, opposite the first page of text, was a full-page woodcut illustration of a leather-winged Satan being cast down from Heaven.  There was more: the text contained such damnéd names as Lucifer and Beelzebub. LUCIFER AND BEELZEBUB, KENNETH!

Really?  Really?? I asked the asst. principal.  We’re going to confirm this woman’s crazy, superstitious, ignorant error?

Well, Day-uhl, we have to accommodate parents’ requests, came the reply.

We’re not going to explain to this woman that she’s wrong, that in fact John Milton was a Puritan and wrote Paradise Lost to prove that Christian themes could support epic poetry?  (Leaving aside the fact that Satan is by far the most interesting and dynamic character in the whole piece…)  That her son is in a college prep English class and that he kind of will be expected to know at least something about the poem when he gets to college?

Oh, Day-uhl—as if I were the one who needed to be humored…

So I assigned him “L’Allegro and Il Penseroso“.  Served him right.

update 1/25/2022: This just appeared on Facebook.