Saturday, December 10, 2011

XXQC - The Martini

As mentioned in the past, cocktails have a tendency to evolve over time.  Whether the result of altered tastes, an introduction to a new culture/demographic, the availability of novel products, or the disappearance of others from the market (ie. Kina Lillet), recipes change.  Some are improved, some take a step back, and still others are altered to represent more of a parallel shift...seemingly no better or worse, just different.  With the resurgence of the craft cocktail movement over the last 10-15 years, many are experiencing for the first time the original and proper preparation of the classics.  In top cocktail bars across the country, the Old Fashioned now shines without the addition of muddled orange, a neon cherry, and dilution of soda water; the Daiquiri and its variations can have a solid presence absent the frozen blend with ice and a swimming pool; and perhaps most significantly, a classic Martini can be mixed up to display the sublime harmony of gin and dry vermouth rather than the random clash of vodkas, sweeteners, and/or the hodgepodge of other liqueurs often slapped up as (blank)-tinis.  If ever there was a cocktail that was so neglected, only to have worked its way back alongside fellow iconic classics, the Martini may in fact stand alone...and is absolutely one of the XXQC.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


As is typical for this time of year, the focus on Christmas (or the 'Holiday Season' if you will) begins as soon as the the leftovers from Thanksgiving are stashed in the fridge.  For most, it's all about the tree (or bush), the ornaments, the decor, the cookies, and for those who celebrate Festivus...we must not forget the all important Festivus Pole, a crucial component for the 'Airing of Grievances' and 'Feats of Strength'.  Yes, in these times of holiday bliss, a nice Manhattan, Old-Fashioned, or Equinox among others certainly lends itself well to lounging in front of the fire...but as we draw closer to the end of the month here in the Midwest, I am reminded of one of my favorite childhood memories of the season...eggnog.  For sure, the store bought cartons of this homogenous concoction were often too sweet and thick, tho my naive buds were easily tamed by cutting the viscous stuff with a bit of milk.  Nowadays?  Not so much.  An unbelievably easy and much preferred route is to follow something along the lines of Alton Brown by making your own from scratch, (adult-rated or child-friendly at your own discretion).  I've recently made this a tradition over the last several years and really do enjoy it with a nice kick of bourbon.  At the same time, its profile is still on the heavier side and I've been longing for a boozier version that still retains hints of its nutmeg-y origin.  As a result, I set out to create a variation of eggnog that would find acceptance not only in the spirit and childhood memories of the holiday season, but among the cocktail enthusiast in me as well.