Equal parts cocktails: Classic Manhattan

manhattanI was psyched to see a “perfect Manhattan” (aka a 50-50 equal parts Manhattan) take the top spot in Woodford Reserve’s recent drink competition.  Even the extra touches — 2 dashes bitters, 2 dashes absinthe — measure out in equal parts! That’s Jonathan Howard, a Nashville, TN bartender, in the photo above pouring out multiples of his drink for the lucky judges.

Jonathan Howard’s Classic Manhattan

1.5 parts Woodford Reserve Rye
1.5 parts Cocchi Torino Vermouth
2 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
2 dashes Absinthe

Grab a Lewis bag and crack several pieces of large format ice. Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with cracked ice. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Equal parts cocktails: Any Which Way But Left

FullSizeRenderThe past month, I was asked to judge the Star of the Bar cocktail contest — and this cocoa-and-spice equal-parts stunner with just a hint of grapefruit (created by Matt Friedlander) was the NYC regional winner. No, it didn’t win because it measured out in equal proportions. But it sure didn’t hurt.

(P.S. Shameless promo alert: My book has a new name:  Shake. Stir. Sip.: 40 Effortless Cocktails Made in Equal Parts and it’s officially available for pre-order! If you click through you can also take a peek at the cover – which looks a little like the drink above.)

Any Which Way But Left

Matt Friedlander, Head Bartender, Fools Gold, NYC

Friedlander says that the name of this drink, an “anti-Valentine’s Day Negroni variation” is “a reference to Tinder-swiping habits in my bar after 3 AM.”

1 ounce Jagermeister

1 ounce Aperol

1 ounce Brovo Amaro No. 4

5 drops Bittermen’s Xocolatl Mole bitters

Grapefruit peel, for garnish

Combine all ingredients except bitters and grapefruit peel in a large mixing glass. Stir over ice for approximately 20 seconds and strain into rocks glass over fresh ice. Garnish with bitters and grapefruit peel.

Equal parts cocktails: Dernier Mot

  This French-accented variation on the classic Last Word cocktail comes from Cuban Cocktails, by Ravi DeRossi, Jane Danger & Alla Lapuschik. (But the photo – and vintage glassware – is mine.)

Dernier Mot

3/4 ounce Green Chartreuse

3/4 ounce La Favorite Blanc Agricole Rhum

3/4 ounce Luxardo Maraschino

3/4 ounce lime juice

Shake with ice, and strain into a chilled coupe.

Your ultimate New Year’s Eve cocktail: French 75 Punch

photo credit: Teri Lyn Fisher, for Cocktails for a Crowd

I know, it’s not even Christmas yet. But New Year’s Eve will be here soon enough, so I’m (re-)publishing one of my favorite celebratory punches. (PS, nothing wrong with serving this for Christmas eve either, if you choose.)  Here’s why this is the drink for your New Year’s Eve bash:

1. It’s sparkling, and you know you need something bubbly for toasting at midnight.

2. Between the fancy block of ice and simple orange-wheel slices, It looks great in a punch bowl. But it’s easy to put together and difficult to screw up. If all else fails, just pour in more bubbly.

3. As the ice melts over the course of the evening, the punch mellows a bit, but never waters down (thank you, gin), so the party keeps going until Auld Lang Syne.

French 75 Punch

From Cocktails for a Crowd

Serves 8

Total Volume: 7 3/4 cups (without ice)

The French 75 is a classic cocktail usually made with cognac, though gin is sometimes substituted, and that’s the spirit I call for in this recipe. It typically isn’t served as a punch but works quite well in this format. Serve this fresh, fragrant variation at any occasion that calls for toasting.

A simple chunk of ice, such as one frozen in a loaf pan or bowl will suffice, but for a special, decorative touch, consider freezing orange wheels inside the ice.

16 ounces (2 cups)  London dry gin
8 ounces (1 cup) freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 ounces (3/4 cup) simple syrup
1/2 teaspoon orange bitters
32 ounces (4 cups) dry champagne or other sparkling dry white wine, chilled
1 large ice block
8 orange wheels, for garnish

In a punch bowl, combine the gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and bitters and stir well.

Just before serving, pour in the champagne and stir gently. Add the ice and garnish with the orange wheels.

To serve, ladle into punch glasses.

Like this recipe? Sign up at The Dizzy Fizz now through Jan 16 for a chance to win a copy of Cocktails for a Crowd.

A punch for Hanukkah parties

web-Hanukkah-Punch

Last year, I created this Hanukkah-themed punch for Liquor.com. If you’re celebrating the Festival of Lights with friends or family, it’s the perfect excuse to make a batch. Head on over to Liquor.com to read the full story with tips on how to throw a Hanukkah party. And if you need more punch ideas (or a holiday gift?), please order a copy of my book Cocktails for a Crowd.

“VODKAS & LATKES” PUNCH

Contributed by Kara Newman

Serves 16

Potato latkes—often served with applesauce—is an iconic Hanukkah dish. Without getting too literal, here’s a cocktail interpretation of that seasonal favorite. Serve in a punch bowl, with a platter of fresh latkes nearby, of course.

  • 24 oz potato vodka
  • 24 oz apple cider
  • 12 oz lemon juice
  • 8 oz ginger liqueur
  • 32 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • Lemon slices and whole cloves, for garnish

The night before: freeze a big block of punchbowl ice:  Pour water into disposable tin loaf pans (fill about halfway) and freeze overnight. When ready to serve punch, peel off the tins. Alternatively, use a bowl instead of a tin pan to create rounded ice. Run the bowl briefly under hot water to release the ice mold.

The day of the party: Add all ingredients to a punch bowl large enough to hold at least 10 cups of liquid. Stir to combine. Add the block of ice, and stir again to chill. Garnish with lemon slices studded with cloves. To serve, ladle into punch cups or tea cups.

Your ultimate Thanksgiving cocktail: Spiked & Spiced Apple Cider

photo credit: Teri Lyn Fisher

photo credit: Teri Lyn Fisher, for Cocktails for a Crowd

I ran this post last year to help promote my then-new book, Cocktails for a Crowd. It was one of the most-read posts on the site all year, so I’m posting it again – enjoy!

Here’s why I’m calling this recipe “ultimate”:

1. It works with any brown liquor you have on hand: aged rum, whiskey, brandy, in whatever proportions you like.  If you have two bottles of bourbon and brandy, with just a cupful left in each? Use ’em up.  It’s like Thanksgiving leftovers for your cup.

2. You can make and serve this drink without leaving the kitchen. Face it – all your guests are gathered there anyway, right?

3. It perfumes your home with the scent of autumn– spicy, apple-y and amazing.

4. Since this drink pairs perfectly with apple cider doughnuts, you now have an excuse to buy some. You saw them at the greenmarket and wanted them anyway.

Okay, that’s enough rationalizing. Let’s drink!

“Spiked & Spiced” Apple Cider

From Cocktails for a Crowd
Serves 8
Total volume: 52 ounces, or 6 1/2 cups

At home, ladle this warming drink straight from the stove (everyone’s probably gathered in the kitchen anyway, right?) or into a teapot to serve. Alternatively, consider pouring the cider into a heatproof thermos to keep toes warm at a tailgating party.

2 cinnamon sticks
8 whole allspice berries
32 ounces (4 cups) apple cider
16 ounces (2 cups) brandy (whiskey or aged rum may be substituted)
8 Tablespoons (1/2 cup) honey

8 cinnamon sticks, for garnish

Tie together the spices inside a square of cheesecloth and secure with twine, creating a spice sachet.

In a saucepan, stir together apple cider, brandy and honey. Drop in the spice sachet. Cover and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for five minutes. Remove from heat and stir again. Discard spice sachet.

Ladle into glass mugs or tea cups and garnish each glass with a cinnamon stick.

If you enjoyed this post, please consider buying the book on Amazon: Cocktails for a Crowd. It makes a great host/hostess or holiday gift, too!

Cocktail batching horror stories

IMG_0668

Batched & bottled Negronis from yesterday’s event at Grape & Grain.

This past weekend, I visited with the Jacksonville, FL chapter of the US Bartenders’ Guild (USBG). The game plan was to talk about Cocktails for a Crowd — but although much of the book is informed by advice from bartenders, I was worried:  what could I possibly tell these USBG pros that they didn’t already know?

So I prepped for the event by turning to other bartenders, asking them for their craziest stories about batching cocktails. Here’s what they told me (names removed to protect the innocent & lightly edited). In general, I learned three lessons in particular:

Lesson #1: CLEARLY LABEL AND, IF NECESSARY, LOCK UP YOUR STUFF.

“We were batching cocktails for an event once for the Kentucky Derby in a hallway outside the main venue, and had about 35 gallons of cocktails picked up and locked in a closet by a janitor because he thought it was paint left out. We went for sandwiches before the event started. We came back and thought someone took them all. Had to come up with something on the fly. Found out a couple of days later what happened.” –Louisville, KY-based bartender.

“Spent a couple of days figuring out how to clarify lime juice for a pre-batched Moscow Mule.

Ended up making about a half gallon of clarified lime only for it to be thrown out because someone wanted the cambro to make ice-tea. [NOTE FROM KARA: A Cambro is a plastic storage container, aka. “restaurant size Tupperware.”] Two days work literally down the drain right before a busy weekend where the drink was supposed to be featured.

For awhile we would tape down the lids of the cambro with descriptions, dates, and death threats.”  – Oakland, CA-based bartender

Lesson #2: IF YOU’RE OFF SITE – IF POSSIBLE, BATCH AHEAD & BRING IT TO THE EVENT

“A former boss hired me to come to his 10-year college reunion & make drinks & give a talk. About 500 people where scheduled to be there. I got the specs, the menu, and prepared a talk related to historical drinks to the school.

I planned to make 60 gallons of cocktail. I got there at 1PM, the event started at 8PM. I showed up, and the prep kitchen is a porch. There’s one electrical outlet, and it’s as close to the floor as you can get. And the juicer is a $20 Black & Decker for grannies to make juice in the morning.

I made three to four gallons of citrus juice squatting down in a catcher’s stance, then standing up and emptying the container. By the end of the experience, the juicer was broken.

During the event, out of 500 people, maybe 12 had drinks. 98% of the drinks were thrown away. There were maybe 10 people listening to my talk. But one turned out to be one of my best regulars. So I’d say it was 100% worth it.” –NYC-based bartender

Lesson #3: BE AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS

“I watched a large frozen spider fall into my punch (frozen inside a large chunk of ice). Out in Arizona when I worked at the Scottsdale Princess Hotel as a chef… Spiders would make their way in from the desert just outside because it was cool inside. they would eventually get into the ice block machine and end up quite frozen.” –MA-based author

About a decade ago I ran a Tequila bar. It was a busy joint so I used to make large batches of the many *flavored* house margaritas.

One day while I was doing the deed I had two batching containers on the floor with tops on them. I had a drink in my hand *quality control* when I decided to step over both buckets. My foot got caught on one of the lids which popped it open– my foot fell into the large vessel with a giant splash!

I reflexively threw my hands in the air from shock/surprise throwing my full drink into my face!

Thankfully there were only a few people at the bar to see one of my proudest moments. I proceeded to work the rest of that evening with a red stain up to my right knee.” — New Orleans, LA-based bartender

“I was helping prep for a major consumer event in Chicago and had to squeeze about three cases of limes. The hotel we were staying in was nice enough to let me use their professional juicer – otherwise it would have to be done by hand! – and I was set up in a corner of the kitchen with my cases. Even so it took a few hours, and ran into dinner service. As the kitchen was getting busier and busier, a chef walked by and accidentally bumped into the nozzle where the lime juice was being collected. A slow drip of lime juice started falling on the floor. Luckily we caught it after a few minutes, but still, sad.” –NYC-based PR rep

“Friend of mine dropped her new iPhone in a batch of Bloody Marys — wet and corrosive. Got her a case that is waterproof down to 7 feet, No problems so far anymore.”— New York state-based spirits blogger