Monday, September 15, 2014

Clan MacGregor Scotch Whisky Ad From The New York Times September 14, 1965

As with my posts Wolfschmidt Vodka Ad from The New York Times September 2, 1964 and Liquor Ads From The New York Times September 2, 1964, the inspiration for this post came while doing research for one of my other blogpages. I was looking for a boxscore in the September 14, 1965 edition of the New York Times for my post Willie Mays Reaches The 500 Home Run Plateau September 13, 1965 (from my Baseball Sisco blogpage) when I noticed that that day's New York Times had a whole bunch of liquor ads. The paper was printed on a Tuesday. Man, I guess Mondays in 1965 were so stressful that you would need so many liquor ads in the paper. LOL. One of the ads that caught my eye was for a scotch whisky by the name of Clan MacGregor. I had never heard about the Clan MacGregor brand of scotch whisky. It piqued my curiosity in this period that I am not drinking. I decided to dig a little deeper to see what this whisky is all about.

According to the Clan MacGregor website:
Clan MacGregor whisky honours the MacGregors, one of Scotland’s oldest clans and the decendents of ancient Celtic royalty as proclaimed in the motto ‘Royal is my Race’. The renowned history of the Clan dates back to the 14th century and Clan MacGregor whisky proudly displays the lion’s head crest, the symbol of the clan chief. The story of Clan MacGregor is perhaps the most stirring and fascinating of all the Scottish clans.

The Clan takes its name from Gregor, third son of Alpin, King of the Scots in the last part of the eighth century. This royal lineage gave rise to the clan motto, ‘Royal is my Race’. The MacGregor Clan underwent centuries of persecution and turmoil, with their land being confiscated and the very name MacGregor being outlawed. It is those who bravely defied their enemies in order to continue the Clan’s name who embody the spirit of Clan MacGregor. They were brave and resilient, and eventually all of their rights and privileges were restored. The fact that the Clan remained intact despite two centuries of oppression earned the MacGregors a reputation for unwavering courage and unbeatable unity.

The Clan badge, a crowned lion’s head on a wreath encircled with a belt and buckle, signifies the unity and loyalty of the Clan. Today, by using the badge on both bottle and label, Clan MacGregor proudly honours the heritage of the ancient Clan with a unique and distinctive style and signature.
I love looking into the history of these liquor brands that I come across either online or in person. But what about the scotch itself. The website states the following:
Fifteen of the finest malt and grain whiskies from the heart of Scotland have been skilfully blended to create a whisky of exceptional quality. Clan Macgregor Scotch whisky has a delicate, sweet aroma and a smooth, mellow taste – which has won many awards over the years.

Explore the flavours and aromas of one of the world’s finest blended Scotch whiskies.

COLOUR: Straw gold

NOSE: Distinctive sweetness, vanilla, malted, drying, hints of smoke

TASTE: Rich, grainy sweetness, hints of dry smoke, baked apple, biscuity, smooth, malty, lingering

FINISH: Long, clean, delicate sweetness
Now I have yet to come across Clan MacGregor scotch in my travels so I decided to look around online for some reviews.

Sláinte's post from September 6, 2011 entitled Whisky review: Clan MacGregor had the following review:
Clan MacGregor, 40% ABV
Blended Scotch whisky

Nose: Light and fruity, kind of like the standard Jameson. We're off to a decent start. Oh wait. After a bit more nosing, I really start to smell just ethanol and not much else.


Palate: The crap is beginning to really shine through here. Fruity crap, a bit of woody crap, and something in the back of my throat like charred crap.


Finish: Light fruits turning into crap.


Rating (of 100): 53. It would do in a pinch, like if the only other potential drinks you had were Drano and a full spittoon. I might still go for the spittoon, though, hoping one of its contributors had consumed a different whisky prior to use.


In the end, the remainder of my dram met the same fate a bottle of Drano would expect to meet.
Ouch!!! Not a good start. Off on the information highway I went to see if I could find another review.

I came across a website called We Love Scotch. For scotch lovers, I was curious to see what they thought about the Clan MacGregor scotch. Here is their review of Clan MacGregor scotch:
Name – Clan MacGregor

Price – $ (13 Bucks)

Region – Unknown

Blend/Single Malt – Blend

Promo Language – Combines the qualities of exceptional taste and fine flavor.

First Glass – Before we get started here, let us take a moment, on our first glass, as a chance to say everything we like about this scotch, First, the name is awesome! I mean, you can't even say “Clan MacGregor” without a proper 18th century Scot-Irish accent, circa Sean Connery. Second…uh…moving on.

Second Glass - Even for the “angel's share” the angels likely said, “meh, we'll pass.” I would use this scotch to clean my kid's paint brushes but I am afraid it would ruin her paint brushes.
The House that Scotch Built 

Reaching the Roof – This is a real service we are providing. Come on. We should have stopped at one glass. This is just awful. Just awful.

Mowing the Yard – We decided we had to find out more about this scotch. We scoured the web only to find some ancient blog review (back when this was going for 4 bucks a bottle) and this Facebook page. Founded by college drunks that hold Clan MacGregor with the same reverence as Old English Malt Liquor, Four Loco, Hookah's and Vivarin. Ah, to be young again.

Digging the Ditch – I am certain that I have had better scotch off a gun. It tastes like anti-freeze and melted bottle caps.

Draining the Well – Come on. We can't be expected to finish this.
Day After Thoughts: My hangover has a hangover.

Epilogue: We are out of scotch and forced to revisit the Mac Gregor. In our best Braveheart voice: You can take away our sobriety, but you'll never take our taste buds!
Damn!!! Wow. Can this scotch be that bad? Along the way I found a review by my good buddy Will Gordon who can be reached on Twitter @WillGordonAgain and you can read his articles on the Will Gordon Kinja page. Now this review by Will dates back to April 21, 2011 when he was doing the Drinking the Bottom Shelf column in the Drinks section of Serious Eats. Here is Will's review Drinking the Bottom Shelf: Clan MacGregor Scotch Whisky:
There is one part of life in which I'm just as patriotic as the next guy in a truck commercial, though, and that's booze. My favorite beer is Coniston Bluebird Bitter, which is English, but the next 20 on the list are big overhopped American tough-guy brews. And it seems like I never shut up about Old Crow and Eagle Rare, which is why it was disconcerting to discover that I like Scotch a lot more than I'd ever admitted to myself, and quite possibly more than I like bourbon. It will take months of rigorous research in other people's liquor cabinets to know for sure, but if the $12.99 liter of Clan MacGregor I picked up last week is any indication, the Scots might win this war.

I've always been vaguely aware that Scotch can be good for you in the same way Nantucket and cosmetic dentistry can be—when someone else is doing the planning and the paying—but I worried that it was too expensive and complicated to mess with here on the Bottom Shelf. My mistake.

Clan MacGregor tastes exceedingly Scotchy to me, so I was surprised that most reviewers call it simple and bland. It's a cheap blend and therefore more grainy than malty, but it's still got those weird fetid tobacco notes and maybe even a little maple syrup (though, full disclosure, I may be smelling that off my shirt).

I've had some excellent Scotch cocktails lately, but I've yet to make one myself. I've only tried once: MacGregor and grapefruit juice isn't as good as plain MacGregor or plain grapefruit juice, but I look forward to my next trip to the drawing board.

For now, cheap bourbon's still the preferred brown water in my parts because its charms are easier to harness; I like MacGregor but I haven't figured out what to do with it other than drink it neat or with soda, and there's a chance I just got lucky with my first bottle and all the other budget Clans are undrinkable.
Well there you go. That's a review I can back from someone whose pedigree I'm familiar with. Now will I run out to find a bottle of Clan MacGregor scotch? Probably not since I am not particularly drinking at the moment. But if I find that I come across one of those little bottles of Clan MacGregor that they serve on airplanes, then I'll cue up Highlander on the Blu-Ray player and give Clan MacGregor a go.

What do you all think of this particular blended scotch. Yea? Nay? Let me know what you think.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
SiscoVanilla
#siscovanilla
#siscovanillaatthemovies

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Liquor Ads From The New York Times September 2, 1964

Hmm, I forgot to post these images for Booze ads from the September 2, 1964 issue of the New York Times that I started with my prior post Wolfschmidt Vodka Ad from The New York Times September 2, 1964. Enjoy the images of the Mad Men era of yesteryear when alcohol ads could advertise in the newspapers.

Old Grand-Dad Bourbon

J&B Scotch Whisky 

White Horse Scotch Whisky
I wrote about both J&B and White Horse Scotch Whiskys in my post on the movie Crimson The Color of Blood (1973). I had a number of samples of Old Grand-Dad Bourbon a couple of months ago but I didn't really take detailed notes so I will have to wait for a future tasting to let you all know what I think of the Old Grand-Dad.

I have a couple of more ads from a later date from the New York Times that I will post on in due time. Things have been pretty hectic personally, so I apologize for my sparse posts as of late. I'll try to post regularly from now on.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
SiscoVanilla
#siscovanilla
#siscovanillaatthemovies

Monday, September 1, 2014

Wolfschmidt Vodka Ad from The New York Times September 2, 1964

I was on the New York Times archive website known as the TimesMachine for a blogpost I did for my Baseball Sisco Kid Style blogpage. I was looking for a boxscore to include in my post Masanori Murakami becomes the first Japanese player in MLB September 1, 1964, when I noticed a number of liquor ads on a number of pages of the September 2, 1964 issue of the New York Times. I found them curious so I copied them and will post them here in the next few posts for your viewing pleasure. The first one I decided to showcase was an ad for Wolfschmidt Vodka.

Wolfschmidt Genuine Vodka
I'm trying to find something significant about the Wolfschmidt Vodka brand. I can't say that I have found anything significant about its origins. The Best Brands Incorporated website's listing for Wolfschmidt Vodka states:
Vodka made in the U.S. since 1847. The first vodka introduced to the USA around the turn of the century. Originally made in Latvia then Holland. It has won 37 medals in international competitions. Now owned by Jim Beam brands and produced in the U.S.
Well that was rather brief. I found that Wolfschmidt has a connection with the Seagrams company. For an interesting article on the history of Seagram, I suggest reading the following article: “From Shirtsleeves to Shirtless”: The Bronfman Dynasty and the Seagram Empire by Graham D. Taylor from the Business and Economic Online Journal Volume 4, 2006. Taylor states
Seagram also entered the rum business during World War II and established partnerships with Mumm (champagne), Noilly Prat (vermouth), and Wolfschmidt (vodka) in the early 1950s.
In more recent news, the article Jim Beam Brands Worldwide, Inc. History from the Finding Universe website states:
Beam's acquisitions continued into the 1990s, with the $272 million purchase of the United Kingdom-based Whyte & Mackay Distillers, bringing that company's best-selling scotch whiskeys into its product line. In 1990, Beam's volume topped 15 million cases. The following year, Beam Brands paid Seagram $372.5 million for seven of its brand trademarks, including the strong sellers Ronrico rum and Wolfschmidt vodka.
As of 2012, it looked like the Wolfschmidt Vodka brand was being rebranded as a wine-cooler? The Wine and Spirtis Daily website in their post Spirits Post Strong Sales in March from April 18, 2012 states:
WSD has learned that Beam Global is switching Wolfschmidt and Kamchatka vodkas to "Vodka Liqueurs." Using 10% sugar and 49% wine, this allows the products to sell at a lower price and may bring a new level of competition to the already competitive vodka category. The new products are reportedly launching May 1.
"Beam's value-for-money vodkas are benefiting from updated packaging, as well as a new liquid formulation that delivers the same value and taste profile consumers of these products already love. Vodka is still the base, blended with a high-proof liqueur. Beam is the market leader in liqueurs, and this vodka with premium liqueur formulation simply extends our leadership and expertise to enhance our value vodka brands, Kamchatka and Wolfschmidt. Testing indicates consumers of these brands will respond favorably to the refreshed packaging. Given the high quality of the liquid in these brands, we do not expect the selling price of these products to materially change," Clarkson Hine, svp of corporate communications, told WSD.
Have any of you out there tasted any of the new Wolfschmidt vodka liqueur blends? Now I can't say that I've seen any version of Wolfschmidt Vodka in recent years. Maybe I don't want to. I leave you with a couple of classic Wolfschmidt Vodka ads from the 1960's with the bottle of Vodka sounding like Don Draper of Mad Men fame.



Until Then Happy Drinking,
SiscoVanilla
#siscovanilla
#siscovanillaatthemovies

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Hearst Cocktail

Its been a while since I have made a classic cocktail that I found in a magazine and/or cocktail book. I came across the Hearst Cocktail in the September 2014 issue of Esquire Magazine in the MaHB column by David Wondrich where he profiles different utensils that he recommends when it comes to making cocktails. He describes the recipe as such:
The Hearst Cocktail
2 Parts Gin
1 Part Sweet Vermouth
2 dashes orange bitters 
Over ice, stir and strain into a cocktail glass 
Now that sounds simple enough except that on the Esquire website where Wondrich has a column, there is a slight difference in the version that is listed above. Here is how the Hearst Cocktail is listed online:
Hearst Cocktail
Ingredients
2 ounces London dry gin
1/2 ounce Italian vermouth
1 dash orange bitters
1 dash Angostura bitters

Glass Type: cocktail glass
Instructions
Stir the London gin (or Plymouth gin, if you can find it) and the other ingredients well with cracked ice, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Wondrich further goes into the following details:
Gin. Vermouth. Okay. But soft! Two parts to one? And could that be red vermouth? Sweet vermouth? Anathema! Moloch! Did not the Lord command us to, in the words of Leviticus, "put difference between holy and unholy, unclean and clean?"
Fortunately, there's a simple incantation that'll put you back on the way of the righteous. Throughout the construction process, repeat sotto voce: "It's not a martini. It's not a martini." By the second sip, you won't have to. After all the pish-tosh about dryness and martinis and eyedroppers -- nay, atomizers! -- of vermouth has been pished and toshed, you're left with a perfectly suave cocktail that has nothing of the milquetoast about it. If you want to leave the Angostura out, do -- but then it's a Hoffman House you'll be enjoying.
Diffords Guide for Discerning Drinker's listing for the Hearst Martini has the following dimensions:
Hearst Martini
2oz London Dry Gin (Tanqueray)
1oz Martini Rosso
1 dash Angistura Bitters
1 dash orange bitters
Stir all ingredients with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass.
What to do with these differences. It seems that I am at a stalemate with all three cocktail recipes listed. It would seem that based on Wondrich's statements, that the first listed recipe is more in line with the Hoffman House cocktail recipe. If you notice it contains two dashes of orange bitters instead of a one and one ratio of Angostura and orange bitters. Another point of confusion this time for the Hoffman House is that Except that it has French Vermouth instead of the Italian Vermouth that I have seemed to find in recipes for a Hoffman House. I guess that is a mission for another post.

For simplicity sake, I'm going to have to make the recipes listed on the Esquire and Difford's websites. I know, its a tough job...For my two cocktails I used Beefeater London Dry Gin, Cinzano Rosso Vermouth, Angostura Bitters and Bitter Truth Orange Bitters.

The first cocktail I made (Esquire) had 2oz Gin to .5oz Sweet/Italian Vermouth. It has a beautiful red-brown color and I can see where some people online have said that this cocktail reminds them of The Martinez. Now I can see that in terms of look but I found the Martinez with the Old Tom Gin to be a bit of a sweeter cocktail. The Hearst with the 2-.5 ratio wasn't very sweet at least to me. I do agree with David Wondrich in his assessment that this cocktail is a perfectly suave cocktail. It is strong without being overpowering in both the strength and the sweetness.

2oz Gin/
.5oz Sweet Vermouth
The second cocktail I made (Difford's) had 2oz Gin to 1oz Sweet/Italian Vermouth. It has the same nice red-brown color though I find that this one is a bit sweeter and not a crisp as the version that had half the amount of sweet vermouth. To be honest, I don't find it offensive in the least. I think that if I had a choice, I would go with the crisper version that had .5oz of Sweet Vermouth rather than the full ounce. But if I was served this one, I'd be fine with it.
2oz Gin/
1oz Sweet Vermouth
One last point I want to touch upon. Wondrich gives the following explanation for the origin of the cocktail:
The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book credits this simple gloom-lifter to certain of old William Randolph's minions "who were in the habit of dropping in at odd times when assigned to a story in the neighborhood." Probably not more than three times a day, we'll bet.
Since Wondrich mentions the Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book, I decided to look at my copy (The 1935 Reprint) to see what is said about the Hearst Cocktail. In terms of the recipe, it calls for equal parts of a half jigger of the Italian vermouth and Plymouth Gin with the one dash each of Angostura and Orange Bitters.

In terms of the origin, the cocktail is named not after William Randolph Hearst directly but after his employees of whom probably worked at one of Hearst's newspapers such as the New York Journal later known as the New York American and/or the New York Evening Journal. These and other competing newspapers were located in the Herald Square area, near where the flagship Macy's Department Store is today. For more information, with a number of historical pictures of the Herald Square area, I refer you to the article A whirlwind tour of Herald Square: More than just Macy's, the intersection of publishing, theater and debauchery from the Bowery Boys website dated December 14, 2012.

In a bit of NYC newspaper history, The New York American and the New York Evening Journal would merge into one paper in 1937 as the New York Journal-American. The New York Journal-American was an afternoon and evening paper. Part of the New York American's morning news section would be become part of the New York Daily Mirror which was also owned by William Randolph Hearst. This was described in the article Hearst to Merge New York Papers from the Miami Times dated June 23, 1937 (which is found online at Google news)

The New York Daily Mirror would fold on October 16, 1963, after the 114-day 1962–63 New York City newspaper strike. The New York Journal-American would merge with with its evening rival, the New York World-Telegram and Sun, and the morning New York Herald-Tribune in 1966. The consolidated paper would be known as the World Journal Tribune and started publishing its daily paper of September 12, 1966, but would close shop eight months later.

There you have it. A little cocktail, NYC and newspaper history all rolled up into one nice little package with in a chilled cocktail glass. In terms of the cocktail, I wonder what it would taste like using an American Dry Gin such as a Dorothy Parker Gin or a Bluecoat Gin. That, as with the Hoffman House cocktail, is a post for another day.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
SiscoVanilla
#siscovanilla
#siscovanillaatthemovies










Thursday, August 14, 2014

What is Liqueur Mombin

I recently updated my SiscoVanilla at the Movies tumblr page in honor of the recently deceased Lauren Bacall with images from the Howard Hawks directed To Have and Have Not (1944) which starred Humphrey Bogart and a debuting 19-year old Lauren Bacall. Now I'll go into the movie in a later post, but one particular poster (which I have highlighted with the red box) in the scene where Bacall is first on screen stands out to me.


She is seated having drinks with Johnson (Walter Sande) when I notice a poster right above them that advertises something called Liqueur Mombin. My curiosity was piqued. What was Liqueur Mombin. Before I go into what the liqueur is, I want to touch upon what a mombin is.

The Mombin is a fruit from a plant that grows in tropical areas. It originally was found in the Americas and the Caribbean and was successfully transplanted to Africa. Now from what I could gather, there are two distinct types of mombin fruits: The Yellow Mombin aka the Hog Fruit (Spondias mombin L./Spondias lutea L.) and the Purple Mombin aka Spanish Plum (Spondias purpurea L.).

Now be honest, I don't know which one is used to make a liqueur out of, but from what I've read, it seems as if the Purple/Red varietal is the one that is the most popular of the two. Why do I say that? The Purdue University Center for New Crops and Plant Products (NewCROP) quotes the following source: Yellow Mombin Spondias mombin L. Spondias lutea L. which quotes Morton, J. 1987. Yellow Mombin. p. 245–248. In: Fruits of warm climates. Julia F. Morton, Miami, FL. Here is what was printed about the popularity of the Yellow Mombin:
The Sumac Family (Anacardiaceae)
The yellow mombin is less desirable than the purple mombin and is appreciated mostly by children and way-farers as a means of alleviating thirst. Ripe fruits are eaten out-of-hand, or stewed with sugar. The extracted juice is used to prepare ice cream, cool beverages and jelly. Some people make those of fair quality into jam and various other preserves.

In Amazonas, the fruit is used mainly to produce wine sold as " Vinho de Taperiba". In Guatemala, the fruit is made into a cider-like drink.

Mexicans pickle the green fruits in vinegar and eat them like olives with salt and chili, as they do with the unripe purple mombin.

Young leaves are cooked as greens.
In terms of the Purple Mombin Spondias purpurea L., NewCROP quotes the same source Morton, J. 1987. Purple Mombin. p. 242–245. In: Fruits of warm climates. Julia F. Morton, Miami, FL.
Courtesy of Daley's Fruit
The ripe fruits are commonly eaten out-of-hand. While not of high quality, they are popular with people who have enjoyed them from childhood, and they serve a useful purpose in the absence of "snackbars". In the home, they are stewed whole, with sugar, and consumed as dessert. They can be preserved for future use merely by boiling and drying, which keeps them in good condition for several months. The strained juice of cooked fruits yields an excellent jelly and is also used for making wine and vinegar. It is a pleasant addition to other fruit beverages.

In Mexico, unripe fruits are made into a tart, green sauce, or are pickled in vinegar and eaten with salt and chili peppers.


The new shoots and leaves are acid and eaten raw or cooked as greens in northern Central America.
If you are curious about the source material, you can click on the following link for Fruits of Warm Climates by Julia F. Morton on the The Purdue University Center for New Crops and Plant Products (NewCROP) website.

Now that we know what a Mombin is, let's focus on the Liqueur Mombin. Look at the images below.


This particular kind of Liqueur Mombin, which is produced by Distellerie ReimonenQ is a blend of Rhum, sugar and mombin extract. It is not a very strong liqueur at 25% Alc.Vol or 50 Proof. It seems to have a nice subtle yellow/orange color. The label with the Corsair is kind of cool.

Another brand of Liqueur Mombin is the Madras brand from Guadeloupe and they describe their Liqueur Mombin as being:
Made from the very exotic fruit Mombin, this liqueur can be savoured as a digestive or can be used for cocktails. 
They list the alcohol content at 18% Alc/Vol or 36 Proof.

The real question is what does this taste like. That my friends will have to be for a later post. Maybe I should make a trip to one of the West Indian neighborhoods that are near me in the Bronx to see if I can maybe find a bottle. I'll get back to you on this one folks.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
SiscoVanilla
#siscovanilla
#siscovanillaatthemovies

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Ian Fleming (May 28, 1908 – August 12, 1964)

With today being the 50th anniversary of the passing of British author and journalist Ian Fleming, I wanted to highlight a passage from his original James Bond book Casino Royale. It is in this initial offering of his now immortal spy series that we are introduced to Ian Fleming's signature cocktail: The Vesper. In honor of Ian Fleming, here is how the Vesper is both introduced and named in Casino Royale starting on page 44:
Bond had a feeling that this might be the CIA man. He knew he was right as they strolled off together towards the bar, after Bond had thrown a plaque of ten Mille to the croupier and had given a Mille to the huissier who drew back his chair.

'My name is Felix Leiter,' said the American. 'Glad to meet you.'
'My name is Bond - James Bond.'
'Oh yes,' said his companion, 'and now let's see. What shall we have to celebrate?'

Bond insisted on ordering Leiter's Haig-and-Haig 'on the rocks' and then looked carefully at the barman.

'A dry martini,' he said. 'One. In a deep champagne goblet.'
'Oui, Monsieur.'
'Just a moment. Three measures of Gordon's, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it's ice cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?'
'Certainly, monsieur.' The barman seemed pleased with the idea.
'Gosh that's certainly a drink,' said Leiter.

Bond laughed. 'When I'm...er...concentrating,' he explained, 'I never have more than one before dinner. But I do like that one to be large and very strong and very cold and very well-made. I hate small portions of anything, particularly when they taste bad. This drink's my own invention. I'm going to patent it when I can think of a good name.'

He watched carefully as the deep glass became frosted with the pale golden drink, slightly aerated by the bruising of the shaker. He reached for it and took a long sip.

'Excellent,' he said to the barman, 'but if you can get a vodka made with grain instead of potatoes, you will find it still better.'
Bond finally finds a suitable name for his cocktail upon meeting Vesper Lynd on page 52:
'Vesper,' she said. 'Vesper Lynd'

Bond gave her a look of inquiry.

'It's rather a bore always having to explain, but I was born in the evening, on a very stormy evening according to my parents. Apparently they wanted to remember it.' She smiled. 'Some people like it, others don't. I'm just used to it'
'I think it's a fine name,' said Bond. An idea struck him. 'Can I borrow it?' He explained his special Martini he had invented and his search for a perfect name for it. 'The Vesper,' he said. 'It sounds perfect and it's very appropriate to the violet hour when my cocktail will now be drunk all over the world. Can I have it?'
'So long as I can try one first,' she promised. 'It sounds a drink to be proud of.'
'Will have one together when all this is finished,' said Bond.
So did Bond and Vesper finally enjoy her namesake cocktail? I'd recommend that you read the book to find out.

Many thanks to Ian Fleming to introducing this very potent cocktail. Watch how master mixologist Alessandro Palazzi of the famed Duke's Hotel in London not only makes the Vesper Martini but gives us the behind the scenes history on the inspiration that Ian Fleming tapped into when creating the Vesper. Duke's is known to be the place where Ian Fleming came up with the idea for the Vesper.


So take a moment to give thanks to Mr. Ian Fleming for not only creating such a unique cocktail but also for creating such a timeless character in James Bond. 

Thank you Mr. Fleming. May you continue to Rest in Peace.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
SiscoVanilla
#siscovanilla
#siscovanillaatthemovies

Monday, August 11, 2014

Mahogany (1975)

Today's installment of SiscoVanilla at the Movies takes us from the hard scrabble streets of Chicago to the glamorous fashion world of 1970's Rome in the movie Mahogany (1975). Tracy (Diana Ross) is an aspiring fashion designer from the inner-city of Chicago that puts herself through fashion school in the hopes of becoming one of the world’s top designers. Her life takes an unexpected turn as a fashion model in Rome that will cause her to make a choice between the man she loves (Billy Dee Williams) or her newfound success. Also starring Jean-Pierre Aumont and Anthony Perkins.

The movie has a couple of liquor references. As you can see from the picture below there's the placement of bottles of J&B Scotch Whisky and Grand Marnier Orange Liqueur.


There are also numerous instances of champagne being poured and drunk in various party scenes throughout the movie. You can see a number of these pictures on my Tumblr entry for SiscoVanilla Presents Mahogany (1975) Part I. One liquor reference that is not so obvious can be found in the scene where Tracy visits the Gavina Agency.

On the wall is an advertising for a product called Cynar. What is Cynar? Well, keep reading.


Cynar (pronounced “chee-NAHR”) is an Italian bitter liqueur made from 13 herbs and plants. As the sign says "L'Aperitivo CYNAR A Base di Carciofo", the main base of the Amaro is artichoke (carciofo/carciofi). Yes, that same vegetable that looks like a little tree. Cynar is dark brown in color and has a bittersweet flavor. It has relative low alcohol level of 33 proof/16.5% ABV. Here is how Cynar is described from the Cynar webpage on the Campari Group website:
The artichoke liqueur known for its versatility and taste, Cynar is an artichoke based bitter. Its distinctive flavour is enriched from an infusion of 13 herbs and plants, making it a completely natural drink, rich in scents and a unique taste . It perfectly conserves all the health properties of the ingredients used in its preparation. Only moderately alcoholic (16.5%) Cynar is a modern and versatile drink that is always welcome.

Cynar was launched on the market in 1952, and its history is closely tied to its successful television advertisements interpreted in the 1960s by Ernesto Calindri. In 1995 Cynar became part of Gruppo Campari that has grown the brand into a “digestif apertif” and one of the main players in the “after dinner” category.

Cynar is distributed internationally, its main markets are Brazil, Italy and Switzerland
In the article All Choked Up: Embrace the bittersweet allure of Cynar by Hannah C. Feldman from the May/June 2009 issue of Imbibe Magazine, Seattle-based cocktail blogger Robert Hess recommends using Cynar in drinks that call for Campari to create a softer, smoother version of classics like the Negroni. He also suggests using it as you would bitters. “Take a Martini, add a dash [of Cynar] to it, and you’ve got a totally different drink.”

In the same article, Stephen Shellenberger who at the time was bar manager at the Boston restaurant Dante (and is the blogger in charge of the Boston Apothecary blogpage), calls Cynar “the greatest cocktail-centric amaro ever produced.” and suggests pairing it with sweet, fruity flavors like strawberries, “so you get kissed and slapped at the same time.” 

For some suggestions on cocktails that contain Cynar, check out this article by Lesley Jacob Solomonson entitled 4 Great Cynar Cocktails: L.A. Bartenders Love the Artichoke Liqueur from the LA Weekly blogpages dated December 20, 2013.

I have yet to have a taste of this interestingly sounding amaro. Hopefully I'll soon have a chance either behind a bar or up at the bar as a patron. Work seems to be hard to find in this soon to end summer season in NYC. Hopefully that will change after Memorial Day.

Until Then Happy Drinking,
SiscoVanilla
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