The Bartender's Book

The Mamie Taylor cocktail. Every heard of it? No? You’re not alone. This under-appreciated classic is not even on the menu of most modern hallowed halls of cocktails.  This long forgotten libation first appeared in print in The Bartender’s Book by Jack T0wnsend in 1952. However, by this point, the Mamie Taylor was already long out of fashion.

Mamie (also Mayme) Taylor was a shining star on the Great White Way from the late 19th to early 20th century. Broadway at that time was a much different place than today. The era of spectacle pop and rock focused musicals was far in the future and most musicals were heavily styled after opera.  Mamie was most famous for her light opera roles with her most recognized role of Madam Woodbury coming in the musical Knight for a Day (1908). Never heard of it? Nope, us either.

Mamie Taylor

Like her performances, the cocktail was considered an elegant experience that was a must for any person of taste. This is one of the most interesting points about this cocktail since it’s ingredients are neither elegant nor complex, but the association with being “fancy” was the result of consumer perception (like so many things). While the recipe didn’t appear in print until the 1950s, it was created in 1899, quickly became the the height of fashion, but passed from fashion and was considered quaint by 1902. Its decline continued until Prohibition when a fascination with classics brought a renewal of interest that continued until its peak in the 1940s. However, it has never risen to the level of its early days which is a shame because it is a delightful cocktail that deserves more attention.

The combination between the scotch, lime juice, and ginger beer produces an unexpectedly light libation. The cocktail’s scent is lovely with slight smokiness, citrus, and ginger evoking a Caribbean campfire while the flavors meld into a delicious combination fully embracing its delightful scent. The Mamie Taylor is an unexpectedly wonderful cocktail that deserves to be rediscovered by any lover of vintage cocktails.

The Mamie Taylor Cocktail

The Mamie Taylor
2 oz – single malt scotch (we used Glenmorangie)
3/4 oz – lime juice
ginger beer (we recommend Blenheim or Gosling)

Fill an 8 oz highball glass with crushed ice. Add scotch, lime juice, and top with ginger beer. Gently stir to mix and chill all ingredients. Garnish with a wedge of lime.

Charlie and Jim met at the University of Georgia. As good college students tend to do, they bonded over a common love. Whiskey.  After a good deal of talking and enjoying single malts, Irish whiskey, bourbon and some rye, it became clear to the two what the next step should be. Create a whiskey of their own. And American Spirit Whiskey was born.

Basically these guys take about 60% fine bourbon-quality “white dog” and add in 30% rye, then some barley . It is “ultra-filtered” to smooth out the usual harsh bite of white whiskey. Imagine that at one end of the spectrum is harsh, un-aged corn mash and at the other end is a smooth silky vodka. ASW white whiskey falls somewhere in the middle.

I first tried it neat, bracing myself for the raw, edgy taste associated with white whiskey. What a surprise! Smooth, refined, and easy to sip. Add a small chip of ice and the flavors open up beautifully. It’s true that this is a versatile whiskey. Easy to enjoy alone, but a fresh addition to traditional cocktail recipes and new creations.

I brought a bottle home to the lab and first tried mixing up a traditional White Manhattan – white whiskey, Benedictine, Dolin blanc vermouth, orange bitters. The result was a surprisingly smooth cocktail, refined and worthy of being served in a martini glass and not a mason jar.

The Southern Sour

The Southern Sour

Going off the map
Since this was my first time working with white whiskey, I wanted to try a “lighter” end idea to see how well the ASW blended. I was in the mood for a sour and had a crate of fresh eggs, so why not try my version using the ASW. The white whiskey provides a nice foundation for a sour and does not overwhelm. Both of these recipes turned out so well that I enjoyed one or two each night this week!

Southern Sour
2 oz American Spirit Whiskey
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
1/2 oz orgeat (I make my own, but Fee Bros is great)
1 egg white
Cherry Bitters
Place all the ingredients (except the bitters) in a shaker with no ice. Dry shake. Then add ice and shake violently. Strain into a coupe and sprinkle with a bit of cherry bitters.

Georgia Sour
2 oz American Spirit Whiskey
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
1/2 oz PEANUT orgeat (made in the OLN lab)
1 egg white
Peach Bitters
Place all the ingredients (except the bitters) in a shaker with no ice. Dry shake. Then add ice and shake violently. Strain into a coupe and sprinkle with a bit of peach bitters.

Where to get your hands on ASW
You can purchase your own bottle at several of our favorite shops – Five Points Bottle Shop (Athens), H&F Bottle Shop,  and Tower Beer and Wine. Check the ASW site for a long list of locations.

Cocktails using ASW are being served up across Atlanta at fabulous cocktails spots including Empire State South, Flip, Family Dog, H Harper Station, Holeman & Finch, Local Three, and Woodfire Grill.

If you have your own collection of whiskey at home, we encourage you to add this to your shelf.

Special thanks to Melissa Libby and Associates, and to the folks at Latitude for the introduction to American Spirit Whiskey.

 

Ada "Coley" Coleman

Ada "Coley" Coleman

March 8th is International Women’s Day. It is a day to celebrate the achievements of women throughout history and across nations. Of course, when we ponder the achievements in the women’s movement, our thoughts turn to the fabulous Ada “Coley” Coleman.

Ada Coleman, known to her friends and customers as “Coley,” is perhaps the most famous and the best-known female bartender of all time. In the pre-prohibition age, it was a man’s world behind the bar. Well, evidently someone failed to let her know that, or she just didn’t care. And for that we salute her.

Rupert D'Oyly Carte

Rupert D'Oyly Carte, owner of The Savoy American Bar

Ada was 24 when she began tending bar at Claridge’s in 1899. Her father had been employed at Rupert D’Oyly Carte’s golf club. Carte offered her the position at his hotel, The Claridge. She made her first cocktail at The Claridge – a Manhattan. We love her for that. And it must have been a good one. She moved on to another of Carte’s properties in 1903. The bar was none other than The Savoy’s American Bar where she was named head bartender. Ada served in that position until 1926, when she was 51 years old. Her time at the Savoy overlapped with Harry Craddock, who some say she mentored.

Years later when Craddock produced his Savoy Cocktail Book, he listed Ada’s most famous cocktail creation, The Hanky Panky. This classic cocktail is part of our Vintage Cocktail Project. We reviewed the Hanky Panky last year. (click here for post) Her drink is still served today at The Savoy. In an interview with The People newspaper in 1925, Ada shared her story of the Hanky Panky:

“The late Charles Hawtrey… was one of the best judges of cocktails that I knew. Some years ago, when he was overworking, he used to come into the bar and say, ‘Coley, I am tired. Give me something with a bit of punch in it.’ It was for him that I spent hours experimenting until I had invented a new cocktail. The next time he came in, I told him I had a new drink for him. He sipped it, and, draining the glass, he said, ‘By Jove! That is the real hanky-panky!’ And Hanky-Panky it has been called ever since.”

Charles Hawtrey

Charles Hawtrey

Her sparkling personality and kind-hearted nature made her a favorite of the guests. Over the years she made cocktails for celebrities, authors, princes and millionaires. When she was not behind the bar, she was at home entertaining theater people. Her parties were filled with song, dance, and music.

Ada Coleman was the only female head bartender of The Savoy. She truly is a legend and an example of women who have broken through and made history. She is also proof that a good drink can be healthy, as she lived to the age of 91.

And so, Ada, we lift a “Hanky Panky” and salute you and all women bartenders today!

Mardi Gras. Fat Tuesday. The last day to indulge, imbibe, and get intoxicated before midnight strikes and Ash Wednesday arrives. You can’t fully celebrate Mardi Gras without a cocktail in hand. And what cocktail is more fitting than the New Orleans Hurricane.

Back in the 1940s, New Orleans bar owner Pat O’Brien faced an inventory issue of way too much rum. Distributors found themselves with lots of post-prohibition rum and would force bar owners to purchase large quantities of it before they could purchase the more popular scotch and whiskey. Because he had to move this inventory quickly, he created a recipe for a drink to use up the rum. His creation was poured into a hurricane-lamp shaped glass and The Hurricane was born. He gave the drink away to sailors and the drink caught on.

Today The Hurricane is a staple of the French Quarter. While you can still get your souvenir hurricane glass inside a bar, the drink is now mostly served in plastic throw-away cups so it can be consumed on the streets of the French Quarter. The original recipe called for two parts rum (half light, half dark), one part passion fruit juice, and one part lime juice. While this is definitely a sweeter drink, it is not nearly as syrupy sweet as what is served now. The current recipe at Pat O’Brien’s calls for the house-made powder-mix packaged and sold to the public. (No fresh ingredients; just artificial colors and flavors. It really does deserve to be in a plastic cup.)

Original Hurricane
1.5 oz light rum
1.5 oz dark rum
1 oz passion fruit juice or syrup
¾ oz lime juice
Shake with ice and strain into a Hurricane glass filled with ice.

Contemporary Hurricane
1.5 oz light rum
1.5 oz dark rum
1 oz orange juice
1 oz fresh lime juice
1/4 cup passion fruit juice, or 1 tablespoon passion fruit syrup
1 oz simple syrup
1 teaspoon grenadine
Serve over crushed or cracked ice and garnish with an orange slice and stemmed cherry.

Cocktail conversation
During prohibition in the 1930s, the club was known by the name “Mr. O’Brien’s Club Tipperary.” As with most underground drinking establishments of that time, a password was required for entry. The Pat O’Brien Bar opened December 3, 1933, only two days before the end of Prohibition.

Happy Fat Tuesday. And as they say in the French Quarter, laissez les bon temps rouler!

Alma Cocina, located downtown in the 191 Building on Peachtree next to the Ritz and just south of Hard Rock Cafe, quickly won my heart when they opened in December. I have to admit up front, I’ve never been much of a tequila drinker. I also have to say that I try to avoid the downtown convention strip of chain restaurants designed to lure in tourists for a mediocre dining experience. So when we made our first (of now four) visits to Alma Cocina, I was initially hesitant.

This latest venture from Fifth Group lives up to the reputation of the company’s other successful ventures. The atmosphere is warm, inviting, and comfortable. The three woody dining areas and the bar are also conversation-friendly. Even with background music, you don’t have to yell across the table to be heard. The staff is incredibly accommodating and welcoming.

Alma Cocina’s fresh ingredients and regional flavors bring a new contemporary feel to traditional Mexican cuisine. Most dishes are served small plate so sharing is encouraged. We won’t go into detail on the food menu except to say it was all well received by our table. Lots of new favorite dishes!

Mr. Winston Salem

Most important to us are the fabulous and creative cocktails. The treatment of tequila throughout the menu is innovative and impressive. From fresh fruit and Tiki-style, to smoky and spicy, there is a tequila drink on the menu for everyone.

We managed to work our way through a good portion of the cocktail menu and found these to be highlights for us:

Mr. Winston Salem
Having enjoyed several tobacco-infused bourbons and ryes, I was anxious to sample a tobacco-infused tequila. This infusion is blended with vanilla brandy, Del Maguey Crema, pineapple juice, salty saffron, and a salted rim. The initial flavor is a soft tobacco smoothed out by the vanilla and balanced with the pineapple. I had a difficult time distinguishing much of the saffron. It was nice that the smoky flavor seemed to build closer to the bottom of the glass. I enjoyed this cocktail two more times on following visits.

Lay of the Land

The Lay of the Land
I’m pretty sure this was our favorite drink, or at least my favorite drink of the night. Smooth Herradura silver tequila plus Poire William liqueur, jalapeno and cucumber play so well together in this creation. The pear provides the right amount of subtle sweetness to balance out the ingredients. It is served in a glass beautifully rimmed with a red hibiscus salt made in-house.

Espirito Santo
I love a good cachaca cocktail. This one is exceptionally good. The Leblon cachaca is paired with strawberries, ginger, and hand-squeezed lime juice. The flavor of the cachaca and lime is really nice. There is a slight sweetness from the strawberries, but the strawberry and ginger flavors are downplayed.

Swim-Up Bar

The Swim-Up Bar
On the other end of the spectrum is the tongue-in-cheek salute to Tiki drinks. The base is a house-infused ginger rum coupled with a secret colada mix. The cocktail is served blended and in a tall glass of crushed ice adorned with lots of fruit, greenery, and the required tacky umbrella. It is a deliciously sarcastic drink that hints at cardamom, cinnamon, ginger and other notes of Christmas. Hmm. A Christmas Tiki drink. I like it.

El Centro

El Centro
This creation is somewhat of a nod to the Moscow Mule. Herradura Reposado and Fidencio Mezcal are mixed with fresh ginger and a touch of chamomile aromas. The drink is served in the traditional style of a Moscow Mule but in a pewter cup instead of copper. Nicely balanced and a touch of the smoke from the mescal.

Dios Mio
This was a great combination – Fidencio Classico mezcal, house-made pomegranate molasses, house-made ginger elixir. Yep. It works. It works really well.

Nesting Instinct

Nesting Instinct
Of all of the cocktails we tasted, this was the strongest and most liquor-forward in taste. While I liked it, this one will not appeal to everyone. The flavor profile is as abstract as the presentation of the drink itself. The recipe calls for Beefeaters gin, Del Maguey Mezcal, and Herradura Reposado. Sort of a Mexican martini? The drink is garnished with an aromatic nest of grapefruit peel. Beautiful to admire, but somewhat difficult to maneuver.

Keep Your Head Down
There was no way to leave without sampling the one bourbon drink on the menu. So glad I did. Woodford Reserve, Rothman’s Orchard Apricot liqueur, pineapple juice, Falernum, demerara syrup, and island bitters. What stood out was the combination of the pineapple and the bourbon. The other ingredients enhanced and brightened up the cocktail. Really refreshing and light for a bourbon-based drink.

Finally, The Cube
My first cube drink was at another Fifth Group restaurant, Ecco, and involved saffron gin and habanero syrup/saffron ice cube. The idea is to take a flavor packed ice cube and pour a spirit over it. As the cube melts the flavors blend and the taste is constantly changing. You can be patient and let it dissolve on its own, or use the small spoon provided to chip away at the cube. Either way it is a great concept and fun for those of us who are attention-challenged and like to play with our drinks.

Alama Cocina offers three of the Cube drinks, all served from the dessert menu as after dinner drinks. I opted for the Anejo: Tequila Don Julio  with a cube of coffee, maple, and caramel. This smooth tequila is rich with flavors of butterscotch, orange, and honey. It marries well with the coffee-maple-caramel cube. The perfect dessert for me!

We’ve paid several visits to Alma Cocina in the three months. The quality of the food, cocktails, service is excellent and remains consistent. Looking forward to more evenings here and creative cocktails.

You can’t talk cocktails without giving a nod to the daiquiri. Granted, for years my “nod” was a shaking of the head in disapproval as I watched slushy mixtures of frozen daiquiris come out of machines, or being prepared with pre-made commercial mixes. Remember the Fat Tuesdays Daiquiri Bars with the slushy machines churning out disgusting mixes of syrups and rum?

The creation of the original daiquiri had nothing to do bright colored concoctions and fruity syrups masking all taste of alcohol. Nope. The real thing was created at the turn of the twentieth century by copper mine engineers in Cuba. They used the ingredients most readily available – rum, limes, and cane sugar. That simple. And simply fabulous.

Spencer Tracy, Ernest & Mary Hemingway at La Florida in Havana

The La Florida Bar, the daiquiri, and Papa Hemingway
The LaFlorida Bar, in Havana, was Ernest Hemingway’s go-to spot for drinking. Specifically for enjoying daiquiris. Frozen. He is said to have only indulged in them there, and only when mixed by the head bartender and later owner, Constantino Ribalaigua. Locals referred to the bar as La Floridita.

In 1934, while Constantino was head bartender, the guide “Bar La Florida Bar Cocktails” was published and included a few variations of daiquiris, each identified by number. The one Ted Haigh publishes in his book is the #4, which he notes is the exact lost recipe from the 1934 guide.

La Floridita Daiquiri

La Floridita Daiquiri
2 oz rum (Havana Club – contraband – or Brugal preferred)
the juice of ½ a lime (or whole lime if small)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon maraschino liqueur
Blend with crushed ice. Serve in a coupe or champagne glass. Garnish with lime wheel and maraschino cherry.

Refreshing. Simple. Easy to drink and enjoy the quality rum. You can adjust the amount of sugar according to your preference in tartness of the drink.

Cocktail conversation
You may have seen recipes which call for the use of lemons and not limes. The Cuban word for lime is limon. Guess what the Cuban word for lemon is? Yep. Limon. The difference between the two is the modifying word following limon. A lime is a limon verde. The translation to English was not precise and when Trader Vic Bergeron published his Bartender’s Guide (1947) he listed lemons and not limes in the daiquiri recipe. The mistake was not corrected until 1972.

Bar La Florida Cocktail Bar Guide
Our friend Stevenson Rosslow (general manager at Wrecking Bar) is fortunate enough to own a copy of the 1934 La Florida bar guide. It was a birthday gift that he still keeps carefully under wrap. On one of our visits with Stevenson, he graciously pulled the guide out and let us look through the pages of cocktail recipes. Truly a treasure!

Lucien Gaudin

I was required to take a physical education class in college. It didn’t take long for me to peruse the course catalog and decide that fencing was the sport for me. After all, as a theater major, who knew when I might need those mad fencing skills on stage. Unfortunately, my fencing career was brief. Had I known then about this fabulous cocktail named after fencing Olympian Lucien Gaudin, I’m sure I would have excelled at the sport. Or passed out on the mat.

Lucien Gaudin was a French fencer who competed in the 1920, 1924, and 1928 Olympics. He received gold medals in foil individual and in epee individual in the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam. In 1924 he claimed the gold in foil team and in epee team at the Paris Summer Olympics.

Someone, somewhere, decided these achievements deserved a cocktail. We agree.

Lucien Gaudin Cocktail

Lucien Gaudin Cocktail
1 oz gin
1/2 oz Cointreau
1/2 oz Campari
1/2 oz dry vermouth
Stir in a mixing glass with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

The gin and Campari make this cocktail very similar to a Negroni (one of my favorites). I like the twist the Cointreau and the dry vermouth provide. The initial taste is the sweetness of the Cointreau but it very quickly blends with the Campari to present a bitter orange rind flavor. The shines on the back end.

While I may not pick up my foil anytime soon, I will definitely be lifting this cocktail frequently, saluting Lucien and his many gold medals.

Next up: La Floridita Daiquiri

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