Sunday, November 15, 2015

Cazapra French Dry Vermouth

I was recently looking through the October 31, 1938 edition of the New York Times through their TimesMachine website for some information on the Orson Welles radio performance of the War of the Worlds. I wrote about it for my HistorySisco Tumblr page if you feel inclined to check it out. Now as with prior posts, where I look for old advertisements for old liquor postings, I found this one in that day's edition.

The ad was for a French Dry Vermouth called Cazapra. As you see above, the unlucky fellow is brooding that he has "Martini-envy" and can't live up to the standard set by this particular fellow of the name of Jim. Apparently Jim's Martini skills are strong that the sun knows about it and states that Jim uses Cazapra aka The Sunshine Vermouth. Now this is not to be confused with a Sunshine Cocktail which contains French Vermouth. I'll touch on that particular concoction in a later post. Sorry for the digression.

From what I found about this particular French Dry Vermouth, is that it is/was distributed in France by a company called Cazalis and Prats. There seems to be another French Vermouth of the same era aptly named Cazalis and Prats French Dry Vermouth and I haven't been able to find anything to state whether both the Cazapra Vermouth and the Cazalis and Prats Vermouth are one and the same with a different label.

The main reference that I found for both Vermouths is from the New York Public Library What's on the menu? collection. They have catalogued over 45,000 menus and digitized 17,545 of them that you can search through by a variety of search options. It really is a fascinating website which I have successfully used before for my October 15, 2013 post The Cocktail List at the Copacabana 1943. I highly recommend it.

In terms of the Cazapra, I found one mention for this vermouth on the menu listing for The Wine and Food Society, Inc's 70th tasting (during the season of 1946-1947) that was held at Starlight Roof of the Waldorf Astoria on March 21, 1947. The event was called A Tasting of Apéritifs and Hors D'Oeuvre and in said event there were numerous types of apéritif that were paired with particular hors d'oeuvres. I'll devote a future post on the other aperitifs that were offered at this event. For the moment, here is the page that highlights the Cazapra

Courtesy of the NYPL Labs What's on the Menu Database
To find out a little more of where Vermouth is traditionally made, I decided to check out the Vermouth 101 website. Here is how they describe the traditional area of Vermouth production:
Geographically, The cradle of vermouth is the ethnically Italian Piemonte and ethnically French Savoy regions, which, in the 18th Century comprised the mainland territory of the Kingdom of Sardinia.
In addition to economic ties, these regions shared the local wine production and the rich botanical diversity of the Alpine foothills necessary to produce vermouth and related beverages. (By the 1861, the Kingdom of Sardinia had gobbled up the rest of the peninsula to create what we know today as Italy, losing the Savoy region permanently to France by treaty.)
If you want to know more about Vermouths, definitely peruse the Vermouth 101 website. While I couldn't find anything on the Cazapra French Vermouth on the website, it is an amazing resource to research. It just might be that the Cazapra brand was absorbed by another brand or just ceased to be in production. If I find anything else, I'll return to this post.

I do have a brief Vermouth story that I will relate in a future post. So keep an eye out for it.

Until Then Happy Drinking,

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Drip-Along Daffy (1951)

With all the comments based on the events that led to my Liquid Cocaine Cocktail post and a side tangent on whether or not real men like cowboys from the Wild West put ice in their scotch whisky, I somehow ended up gravitating to this Looney Toons cartoon starring Daffy Duck as a western hero showing up to a one-horse town to clean things up. His arrival leads him to conflict at the bar with the most wanted man in town: Nasty Canasta. Inspiration comes the weirdest of places folks. On to the bar.

Daffy and Nasty square off at the bar when Nasty orders what he calls his "usual". Now as a former bartender, we learn what our regular patrons like to drink and the bartender in the cartoon is no exception. He even has the necessary bar tools to make Nasty's drink.

This is some serious mixology folks. Sitting in an asbestos lined case on the top shelf are bottles of Cobra Fang Juice, Hydrogen Bitters and Old Panther. I guess bartenders in the Wild West were whipping up craft cocktails using exotic ingredients. As we see, the bartender gets to work on Nasty's drink.

This drink is so strong, that the drops coming from the layering are searing the bar. No wonder he wears a welder's mask and heavy duty gloves to hold the tongs!!!

Here is why cowboys never used ice in their drinks. Those concoctions were so potent that the ice cubes would jump out and extinguish themselves in the water bucket reserved to putting out fires. That's some serious heat.

Daffy is in awe of the boiling cocktail and just tells Nasty "You wouldn't dare." To which Nasty takes up the challenge and doesn't even bat an eyelash as he chugs away. His hat does a flip but that is only effect the cocktail has on the big man. 

Canasta only smiles as he demands that Daffy drink. In a move that I personally witness on more than one occasion, Daffy pawns his drink off to an unsuspecting friend, in this case it is Deputy Porky that is offered a free drink. As with those unsuspecting friends I saw, Deputy Porky is not one to say no to a free drink and proceeds to polish off the drink.

With nary an ill effect, and to the chagrin of Daffy, Porky walks away wiping his mouth. Daffy has the look on his face that says "Well if that schmuck can do the drink, why can't I" as he bangs on the bar to get the bartender's attention for another one of Canasta's "Usual". As we are prone to do while behind the bar, if the customer orders it, they get it.

Daffy chugs away and then the drinks kicks in on both himself and Deputy Porky.

After hitting the floor, flying to the ceiling, Daffy drifts down telling Canasta "I hate you." I'm sure I had many a customer say the same about me as they were nursing their next-day hangovers. LOL. Ah the memories of bar shifts gone by.

Here is the Drip-Along Daffy cartoon in its entirety:

That was a fun post. I have to remember to do more of these in the future. 

Until Then Happy Drinking,

Liquid Cocaine Cocktail

Don't hold the title against me folks. I didn't invent this cocktail. I can't even tell you who invented it or why it was invented. But there is a funny story behind it. My friend Ellie recently had her debut at the Hollywood Improv Comedy Club and after a successful set, she sat down with friends and ordered herself a Liquid Cocaine cocktail. At this point things take a comedic turn (no pun intended). Here is the dialogue that Ellie says took place.
Conversation with waiter last night after being served "liquid cocaine":
waiter: how was it?
me (Ellie): awful. it sucks hairy balls and dingleberries.
(time lapses)
Rosa Margarita: we want to order another round.
Waiter: No. I am cutting you guys off.
All: What? Why?
Waiter: (pointing at me) She's being belligerent.
Me (Ellie): Huh?
My friends: How is she being belligerent?
Waiter: She said dingleberry.
Me (Ellie): You're kicking us out because I said dingleberry?
waiter: yes.
"And I am glad I had a table full of people that can vouch that this shit really happened to me."
NICE!!!! Damn I wish I was in Hollywood to have seen that exchange. Since they were cut off, Ellie and friends just took their business elsewhere. Keep in mind, Ellie had just done a set there. Talk about not having a sense of humor folks. Sounds like Ellie has new material to work with. But on to the cocktail in question.

From what I can find in my research, there are two popular versions of the Liquid Cocaine. One can be found on the Common Man Cocktails YouTube channel.

Here is the recipe for the Liquid Cocaine:
Liquid Cocaine #1
1/2 oz. Dark Rum
1/2 oz. Jagermeister
1/2 oz. Goldschlager
1/2 oz. Rumple Minze 
Pour into a ice filled cocktail shaker. Shake and serve over ice. 
On a side note, why would you ruin the Bacardi 8 in this drink. Really now. In this drink any dark rum would work. Just use Bacardi gold.  Anyway, here is the video on the Liquid Cocaine:

The second recipe I came across calls for the Liquid Cocaine to be made in the following manner:
Liquid Cocaine #2
1-part Grand Marnier
1-part Southern Comfort
1-part Vodka
1-part Amaretto
Splash of Pineapple
Dash of grenadine
Build and shake in an ice filled shaker. Pour over ice or in shot glasses.
Apparently the second cocktail is popular in South Dakota. Why? I have no clue. A person who commented on the video for the first version said so. Since it isn't that important to me, I'll take his word for it. Either recipe might work as a shooter. But drinking these over the period of a night will definitely give you the nastiest sugar hangover in the morning plus as Wilford Brimley says:

At the age of 43, I can't deal with those any longer.

More importantly, kudos to my friend Ellie on her kickass turn to stand-up comedy. You've never ceased to amaze me before and you sure as hell haven't stopped now. Keep rocking on like the rockstar that you are. Cheers!!!!

Until Then Happy Drinking,

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Happy Halloween Infusion Part II

Continuing from where I left off from my Happy Halloween Infusion Part I post from October 29th, the Candy Corn Vodka infusions sat overnight. What I found curious was that most of the candy dissolved in the vodka, leaving some residue on the bottom of the jar. The Peanut Butter Cup Candy Corn Infusion not only had residue on the bottom but also had residue floating on top.

How to resolve that? Double straining.

For both infusions I strained the vodka with a metal mesh strainer to catch the large pieces and then strained what was left through a paper coffee filter. What I found is that as the filter sat there doing its job, it started to get hard and sticky. So halfway through I had use a new filter to finish the job. So after a few hours of filtering, here is what I was left with:

Both vodka were very colorful, clear and free of any residue. Now on to the taste. I can only describe the taste in two words: Sickly sweet.

I am not a sweet tasting booze kind of person. While I used to have a number of sweet cocktails in my repertoire when I used to bartend, I never drank any of them. My palate when it comes to cocktails falls along the tart side of the taste spectrum. So not surprising, I did not like the sip of either infusion that I tasted. But I still wanted to find a cocktail that I could make that would make the infusions shine.

I took the recipe that I found on the website with the instructions for the infusions and added a little fizz to it. Here is what I came up with:

Candy Corn Cocktail
1½ ounces of Candy Corn Infused Tito's Vodka
½ ounce of Pineapple Juice
Soda Water Top
Pour vodka and pineapple juice into an ice filled cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously and pour into a glass with fresh ice. Top with Soda water. 
As you can see from the picture to the right, the cocktail has a very bright Halloween Orange color to it. I have to admit, that this version was the second one that I made. I made the first one with equal parts of vodka and pineapple juice. I found that the pineapple juice overpowered the drink. Sorry about that folks, I am a little rusty when it comes making cocktails. So I lowered the amount of the pineapple juice to a half ounce and found that the flavor of the Candy Corn vodka stood out. The soda water gave the cocktail a light feel though to be honest, it was way too sweet for me.

I think that maybe a white cranberry or even a sparkling white grape juice might work better with this cocktail than the pineapple juice in terms of lowering the sweet factor. But if you like it sweet, rock it with the pineapple juice. I didn't even make a cocktail with the Peanut Butter Cup vodka. I would recommend using it in a variation of a White Russian or something else containing booze and cream.

I'm going to pass these infusions to along to Ju-Ju and Stella and see what that they think of them. I'll post what they tell me in a later post.

For those of you who have little ones, be safe while you're out there Trick-or-Treating with them. And for you bigger ghouls out there, be safe as well as you roam the streets.

Until Then Happy Drinking,

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Happy Halloween Infusion Part I

Its been awhile since I have posted anything infusion related. I have to make a confession...I've come to the realization that I am a cocktail snob. Having worked in the bar industry for as long as I did and trying to carve my own niche in the business, I found that in trying to "keep my edge", I was not having fun. Well, since we all know I no longer work in the bar business in any capacity, it's time to have some booze related fun. Here goes.

I recently came across an infusion recipe on Pinterest. The post called for the making of a Halloween Candy Corn Cocktail which I found on the Betty Crocker Recipes website. The recipe called for the combination of 1½ cups of Vodka and 1 cup of Candy Corn to sit in a jar for a period of roughly 4-hours. Strain the candy corn from the vodka. I want a full flavored infusion so I plan to keep this concoction to sit overnight and see if the candy corn fully dissolves in the vodka. So I went to my local Rite Aid to get some Candy Corn and found something else to play with.

As you can see from the above picture, I not only found old fashioned candy corn, but I came across a bag of Peanut Butter Cup candy corn that I am also going to infuse with Tito's Vodka. So here is the recipe I used based on the one I found on the Betty Crocker website:
Candy Corn Vodka
1½ cups of Vodka
1 cup of Candy Corn 
Place in a airtight jar, give a shake every couple of hours and let sit overnight. 

Now I gave it a good swirl, shake in vigoursly and you'll notice that almost immediately the Vodka started to take on the color off of the candy corn. To be honest I'm not sure if that is a good thing. LOL. Here is how it looks after said swirling and shaking:

I'm going to look into the infusions during the evening and see where it stands. Tomorrow I'll see what I come up with in order to drink these infusions. I also have a few unorthodox infusions on deck so keep an eye out for those as well. 

Until Then Happy Drinking,

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Blood and Sand On The Anniversary of Rudolph Valentino's Passing

With today being the 91st anniversary of the passing of silent film star Rudolph Valentino, I wanted to profile a cocktail named after one of Valentino's most popular films. The Blood and Sand cocktail is named after the 1922 film of the same name that was directed by Fred Niblo and starred Rudolph Valentino, Lila Lee, and Nita Naldi. The film was based on the Spanish novel Blood and Sand (Sangre y Arena) by Vicente Blasco Ibáñez (1909) and the adapted play by Thomas Cushing. 

In looking for the origin of the Blood and Sand cocktail, I referred to the article Behind the Drink: the Blood and Sand by legendary bartender by Gary Regan which was posted to the website dated October 05, 2011. Here is what Regan said:
“Could you write about the history of the Blood and Sand?” asked my intrepid editor at “Of course, sir. Leave it to me,” I replied. 
To the best of my knowledge, the recipe for the drink first appeared in print in Harry Craddock’s 1930 The Savoy Cocktail Book. 
That’s it. The end. 
Unfortunately, that’s all we know about the origins of the Blood and Sand, a concoction that was introduced to me by advisor Dale DeGroff when he held forth from behind the bar at New York’s Rainbow Room, circa 1997. More on this in just a minute. 
So if we don’t know its inventor and we’ve no idea about the establishment in which it originally reared its spicy little head (unless it was the Savoy), what else do we know about the tipple? Nothing, save the fact that, in all probability, it was named for a 1922 movie starring Rudolph Valentino, the silent-film star known as “The Latin Lover.”
Well ok. That was short and sweet. Luckily for my I have a copy of the Savoy Cocktail Book so I can see the same recipe referenced above. Here is the recipe they list for the Blood and Sand:
Blood and Sand
1/4 Orange Juice
1/4 Scotch Whisky
1/4 Cherry Brandy
1/4 Italian Vermouth
Shake well and strain into cocktail glass
Some recipes listings for the Blood and Sand call for a slice of orange peel either squeezed over the cocktail to extract the oils or to light a flame over the rind and then squeeze the peel over the glass and running it over the rim. For the purposes of this cocktail, I am using Dewars 12, Cherry Heering, Martini and Rossi Rosso Vermouth and freshly squeezed Orange Juice. Since this is a cocktail of equal proportions, I decided to just use an ounce of each ingredient. So how did it turn out? DELICIOUS!!!!

The cocktail has a beautiful brownish/auburn color. It has a very aromatic feel to the nose. Considering the ingredients, the cocktail very well balanced. The slight smokiness of the Dewars 12 Scotch comes out along with the citrus of the freshly squeezed orange juice. The Sweet Vermouth and The Cherry Heering give it a bit of body and a little spiciness. Considering that I have had this cocktail on the radar for a while now, it is a cocktail that I would want to have again and to make if I were ever entertain. I definitely recommend this cocktail with the Dewars 12 or an even more smokier scotch for a stronger flavor.

Let me know what you think.

Until Then Happy Drinking,

Monday, July 27, 2015

Irish Coffee At The Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog

It has been a while since I've done one of these post. No longer having the bartender's income has severely hampered by cocktail excursions. But yesterday afternoon, I was out with my friend Melvin down in the Financial District and we were doing a little bit of exploring. After visiting the unrecognizable Fraunces Tavern (54 Pearl Street, NYC), we decided to go around the corner to the highly celebrated Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog (30 Water Street, near Broad Street, NYC)

Now I have been looking forward to checking out the Dead Rabbit since it was opened a little over two years ago, but I never found myself down in the Financial District. Luckily for me yesterday I was. I was not disappointed with what I saw.

Though the Dead Rabbit located in a narrow space, they utilize their space to the maximum. The ground floor bar space known as the Taproom made us feel as if we stepped back in time to the 19th century down to saw dust on the floor. Every seat was occupied in the Taproom and since we wanted to sit, we were directed to go up to the third floor bar known as the Occasional Room.

In between those two bar spaces is The Parlor. According to the Dead Rabbit's website:
Parlor focuses on small plates, communal punch, and 72 historically-accurate cocktails dreamed up by the nineteenth century’s most celebrated bartenders.
That room was closed to what seemed to be a private party. But it is definitely on the list of places to check out.

The Occasional Room was a very laid back space. It was cooled nicely via A/C and at the bar were two seats just waiting for us to sit in. The decor was amazing. I wish I had brought my camera with me to take a couple of snapshots. I could see how a public house in the Gangs of New York era New York City would have looked...minus the rough looking crowd.

Since we were in an Irish Pub, what better to have than an Irish Coffee. We were not disappointed. I've had a couple of Irish Coffees in my day, most of them just god awful. They were pretty much made with your standard coffee (more often old and burnt), Irish whiskey and milk. The ones we had at the Dead Rabbit were nothing of the sort.

While the coffee had a nice pour of Jameson's Irish Whiskey, it wasn't overpowering the rest of the ingredients. The whiskey blended nicely with the coffee and the whipped cream topping was silky smooth. The fresh ground nutmeg was the perfect way to top the cocktail. I had posted the following picture of the partly consumed Irish Coffee on my Instagram page and I immediately had a comment from my friend Amanda (@winenshine on Twitter) that simply said: The Best in the City... I can't argue with her.

The article Cup o' the Irish: The Perfect Irish Coffee from NYC's The Dead Rabbit by Kevin Sintumuang from says the same thing. The article lists the following recipe for the Irish Coffee served at the Dead Rabbit:
Irish Coffee
3/4 ounce demerara sugar syrup*
1 1/2 ounce blended Irish whiskey
4 ounces coffee
freshly whipped cream**
grated nutmeg
Add hot water to a glass to warm it. Dump out the hot water. ("We want to pre-warm the glass, because the coffee underneath the cream has to be as hot as possible," says Muldoon.) Add liquid ingredients to the pre-warmed glass and stir. Top off with freshly whipped cream. Grate fresh nutmeg to garnish.
Mix one part hot water to one part demerara sugar.
** This is one of the most crucial parts of the recipe. Use heavy cream. Take a metal bowl and place that in a bigger bowl full of ice. Or fill your sink. Add the cream to the metal bowl and whisk the hell out of it. What you're looking for is a ropey consistency. "Once the bubbles disappear, you know you're done" says Muldoon. Always give it a few more whisks before pouring it over the coffee. And if plain ol' cream isn't doing it for you, add Baileys. "What we used to do, back in the day, is add a little Kahlua, or Bailey's, in the cream, just to give it a wee hint of something."
Now this isn't the first time I've had an Irish Coffee on my radar. I've been meaning to head over to the Pierre Hotel (2 East 61st Street at 5th Avenue, NYC) based on a recommendation from The Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook: Inside the Kitchens, Bars, and Restaurants of Mad Men. And no trip to San Francisco would be complete without having a legendary Irish Coffee at the Buena Vista Cafe (2765 Hyde Street, San Francisco).

If you're ever in the Financial District, make your way to The Dead Rabbit. You won't be disappointed.

And if you want to find other highly recommended places in New York City to get an Irish Coffee, check out Zagat's NYC's Best for Irish Coffee listing.

Until Then Happy Drinking,

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Kill Bill Vol. 2 (2004) Part I

I know that its been a while since I've done one of these posts. I have been taking a hiatus after all. But I found this one too irresistible to not post about. So without further delay, Today's installment of SiscoVanilla at the Movies takes us to the world of Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill movies. The movie I am specifically focusing on is Kill Bill Vol. 2 (2004).

At the beginning of the movie, Black Mamba aka The Bride (Uma Thurman) is retelling us the story in soliloquy form. We are formally introduced to the man responsible for sending the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad to assassinated her groom to be, her friends, the preacher, the piano player and leaving her for dead at the chapel in El Paso, Texas: Bill (David Carradine) aka The Snake Charmer. After the flashback scene to the Massacre at Two Pines, we see a conversation between estranged brothers Budd (Michael Madsen)and Bill. Bill has made the effort to go see Budd who seems to be living a reclusive existence in some remote part of California, working as a bouncer at a strip club. As he's warning Budd about what has happened up to that point, I see Budd take a swig from a bottle of liquor.

At first thought, I figured that Budd was drinking a bottle of Scotch. Maybe a Glenfiddich as per the bottle. But upon closer look at the label, I noticed that he was drinking something else. It was called Black Death Icelandic Schnapps. I thought to myself "What The Fuck is that". Now, knowing how Quentin Tarantino and his co-hort Robert Rodriguez work, they have fictional products littered throughout their films. Two examples of these are Red Apple Cigarettes and Chango beer.  But upon further research I find that Black Death Icelandic Schnapps is an actual spirit. Here's what I found out about it.

Black Death Icelandic Schnapps aka Brennivín is the signature liquor of Iceland and translated means "Burning wine". According to the article Iceland’s signature liquor Brennivín vs. Vodka: what is the difference? from the Iceland Magazine website dated April 24, 2014, Brennivín is:
A distilled brand of schnapps that is considered Iceland’s signature liquor. It is sometimes called Svarti dauði, meaning Black Death. It is made from fermented potato mash and is flavored with caraway seeds...Is similar to Scandinavian akvavit. The steeping of herbs in alcohol to create schnapps is a long-held folk tradition in all Scandinavian countries...has an alcoholic content of 37.5% or 40%...It is almost solely drunk dry, or neat, as an experienced bartender might say, and usually frozen, to take the sting out of the strong only produced in Iceland and only by one distillery. It is a novelty drink not consumed regularly by locals. It is however the traditional drink for the mid-winter feast, Þorrablót, especially after eating putrefied shark flesh or hákarl. Some say it helps to mask the taste of the fish.
Well ok. That adds some depth to the Black Death. Looking for a description of what Brennivín tastes like, I came across the article Drinking the Black Death by Kelsey Osgood from the Vice website dated January 16, 2014 that described the author's experience drinking the Black Death:
“Want to drink some Black Death?” he asked.
“What the fuck is that?” one of our friends blurted.
Without waiting for the answer, the four people huddled in the kitchen unanimously agreed that we did. Visions of my Nordic former-roommate staring at his computer screen licking flecks of dried fish flakes off his fingertips flashed before my eyes while he opened the bottle. It seemed unlikely to me that anything out of Einar’s homeland would be delicious. I recalled too, the urban legend—I could only assume it amounted to as much—of fermented slabs of shark served for dinner. I don’t remember what we drank the Black Death out of—glasses, shots, or swigs from the bottle perhaps—but it tasted like licorice. I later learned that it is known as Brennivín, an unsweetened schnapps made out of potato mash that is flavored with caraway seeds, cumin, angelica, and a slew of other herbs native to Iceland. What I do recall from that evening involved hightailing it out of the party and into a cab back to my house in Northern Manhattan where I, inexplicably invigorated, spent the next two hours trying to master the complicated clapping rhythm that begins around 4:26 of Nina Simone’s “Sinnerman.” Einar never explained why it’s locally referred to as the “Black Death” amongst Icelanders, but perhaps it has something to do with the fact that the name, Brennivín, translates into “burning wine.” The beverage tastes more like mild rye licorice than liquefied bubonic plague.
Right before I ended this post, I remembered that I needed to find out from someone who I know has intimate knowledge of Brennivín. I reached out to my friend Mike aka the Wolf who bartends at The Grand Victory, 245 Grand Street, Brooklyn, NY 11211 (347) 529-6610 and at Local 138, 138 Ludlow Street, New York, NY 10002 (212) 477-0280 among other places.

I'm waiting to hopefully hear back from him with his thoughts on Brennivín and maybe he has some handy that I can taste. I'll get back to you all soon enough.

If you notice the title of this post, it is entitled Kill Bill Vol. 2 (2004) Part I. So Part II will showcase the titular character who is to be killed, Bill and the spirit that he partakes of near the end of the movie. Keep an eye out for it.

Until Then Happy Drinking,