Wallick Hotel, New York City (1913)

As Jerry Thomas captured a moment in time with his 1862 book “How to Mix Drinks (or The Bon Vivant’s Companion),” so did Hugo Ensslin with his “Recipes for Mixed Drinks” published in 1917 – the last cocktail guide available before Prohibition. Think of them as bookends when taken together. Ensslin was head bartender at the Wallick Hotel in New York City (since demolished, now the site of NASDAQ MarketSite). There, he created countless classics including his most famous, the Aviation. His book featured the products that were new and trendy at the time: Bacardi rum, grenadine, Cointreau, applejack… one has to wonder how much more the American craft of the cocktail would have flourished if it weren’t for Prohibition!

This drink’s name is a goof on Chauncey Olcott’s 1913 hit “My Wild Irish Rose” (he’s the same guy who co-wrote “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling”) and uses Irish whiskey as its base spirit. Ireland was the first country to make whiskey, possibly as early as the 1100s – that’s a long time to get it right. The famously smooth Irish whiskey was big-time popular in the US around the turn of the 20th century – to keep up with demand, there were hundreds of distilleries and over 400 brands produced in Ireland. Then came Prohibition, two World Wars, the Irish Civil War, and the Great Depression… leaving Ireland with only two operating distilleries. Today, there are still just four.

Try this one with Redbreast 12 – a pot-still Irish whiskey reminiscent of the style popular when Ensslin wrote his book. And, of course, ridiculously-easy, no-excuse-not-to, homemade grenadineSláinte!

THE KIT

Hardware: Shaker, Jigger
Ice: Ice cubes
Glassware: Cocktail glass
Spirits: Irish whiskey (recommended: Redbreast 12)
Mixers & Liqueurs: Grenadine
Juices, Accents, & Garnishes: Lime juice, Lime wheel, Maraschino cherry

HOW TO

Chill a cocktail glass in the freezer at least ten minutes.

In a shaker about a third-full with ice cubes, add:

2 oz Irish whiskey
3/4 oz lime juice
3/4 oz grenadine

Shake well to blend and chill, then strain into the chilled glass. Garnish with a lime wheel and maraschino cherry.

Detroit Athletic Club, 1920s

The drink that launched a thousand knockoffs: The Last Word. Four equal parts heavy-hitters, no garnish. Written up by Ted Saucier in “Bottoms Up.” Revived by Murray Stenson in Seattle a few years ago. And now, endlessly pillaged as a source of inspiration by bartenders around the country. Try your hand at a spin sometime: Chartreuse, maraschino, and citrus seem to be the only constants (Chartreuse is one of the priciest liqueurs out there – look for smaller, 375 mL bottles). Three variations listed below.

THE KIT

Hardware: Shaker, Jigger
Ice: Ice cubes
Glassware: Cocktail glass or coupe
Spirits: Gin (recommended: Beefeater, Plymouth, Tanqueray)
Mixers & Liqueurs: Green Chartreuse, Maraschino liqueur (recommended: Luxardo)
Juices, Accents, & Garnishes: Lime juice

HOW TO

Chill a cocktail glass or coupe in the freezer at least ten minutes.

In a shaker about a third-full with ice cubes, add:
3/4 oz London Dry gin
3/4 oz green Chartreuse
3/4 
oz maraschino liqueur
3/4 oz lime juice 

Shake well to blend and chill, then strain into the chilled glass.

LA OTRA PALABRA

otherwordThe Varnish, Los Angeles, 2010

THE KIT

Hardware: Shaker, Jigger, Barspoon
Ice: Ice cubes, Ice chunk
Glassware:
 Double Old Fashioned glass
Spirits: Mezcal (recommended: Del Maguey Vida)
Mixers & Liqueurs: Yellow Chartreuse, Maraschino liqueur (recommended: Luxardo), Agave nectar
Juices, Accents, & Garnishes: Lime juice

HOW TO

Chill a double Old Fashioned in the freezer at least ten minutes.

In a shaker about a third-full with ice cubes, add:
2 oz mezcal
1 
oz lime juice
1/4 oz yellow Chartreuse
1/4 
oz agave nectar
1 barspoon maraschino liqueur

Shake well to blend and chill, then strain into the chilled glass over a large ice chunk or two to three ice cubes.

WORDSMITH

Chuck Taggart, Los Angeles, 2009

THE KIT

Hardware: Shaker, Jigger
Ice: Ice cubes
Glassware: Cocktail glass or coupe
Spirits: Smith & Cross pot-still rum
Mixers & Liqueurs: Green Chartreuse, Maraschino liqueur (recommended: Luxardo)
Juices, Accents, & Garnishes: Lime juice

HOW TO

Chill a cocktail glass or coupe in the freezer at least ten minutes.

In a shaker about a third-full with ice cubes, add:
3/4 oz Smith & Cross pot-still rum
3/4 oz green Chartreuse
3/4 
oz maraschino liqueur
3/4 oz lime juice 

Shake well to blend and chill, then strain into the chilled glass.

THE FINAL WARD

Death & Co., New York, 2007

THE KIT

Hardware: Shaker, Jigger
Ice: Ice cubes
Glassware: Cocktail glass or coupe
Spirits: Rye whiskey (recommended: Rittenhouse)
Mixers & Liqueurs: Green Chartreuse, Maraschino liqueur (recommended: Luxardo)
Juices, Accents, & Garnishes: Lemon juice

HOW TO

Chill a cocktail glass or coupe in the freezer at least ten minutes.

In a shaker about a third-full with ice cubes, add:
3/4 oz rye whiskey
3/4 oz green Chartreuse
3/4 
oz maraschino liqueur
3/4 oz lemon juice 

Shake well to blend and chill, then strain into the chilled glass.

Trader Vic’s, 1950s

The persistant rivalry between California tiki chains Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic’s often resulted in confusion for the customer. Both had a Mai Tai on their menu, both claimed to have invented it – and their versions were very different flavor-wise. On top of that, their Mai Tai recipes changed as the years went by, often resulting in a less-interesting drink.

A similar case with the Navy Grog – competing recipes, confusing origins, lessening quality over time. And it bears almost no relation to the “grog” consumed by British sailors, a mix of rum and water. Frank Sinatra considered the Navy Grog his favorite drink at the Palm Springs Don the Beachcomber back in the day – but this is the version the rival Trader Vic’s was serving in the ’50s. I’ve tasted both and this one’s the champ. Knockout champ, if you’re not careful!

There’s an unusual-sounding ingredient here – “Pimento Dram.” No, that’s not the red blobby things from inside an olive. Down in the West Indies, they call the Allspice tree “Pimento.” This traditional Carribean liqueur is simply allspice-infused demerara rum mixed with a brown sugar syrup. Easy and fun to make at home, so long as you can stand waiting a few weeks for it to come together.

THE KIT

Hardware: Shaker, jigger
Ice: Ice cubes, crushed ice
Glassware: Double rocks glass
Spirits: Light rum (recommended: Havana Club 3, Caña Brava, Cruzan), Gold rum (recommended: Appleton, Mount Gay), 151 demerara rum (recommended: Lemon Hart)
Mixers & Liqueurs: Pimento Dram (recommended: St Elizabeth Allspice Dram or make your own  – recipe below)
Juices, Accents, & Garnishes: Lime juice, Grapefruit juice (white, if you can get it), Lime twist, Grapefruit twist

HOW TO

In a shaker about half-full with ice cubes, add:
1 oz light rum
1 oz gold rum
1 oz 151 demerara rum
3/4 oz lime juice
3/4 oz pimento dram
1/2 oz grapefruit juice

Shake well to blend and chill, then strain into a double rocks glass filled with crushed ice (an ice cone with a straw running through it was the style at Trader Vic’s, but can be impractical for home use).

Garnish with a lime twist and grapefruit twist.

 

PIMENTO DRAM

Step One
Light toast 1/4 cup whole dried allspice berries, then crush to break up, but not pulverize. In an airtight container, combine the crushed toasted allspice berries with 1 1/8 cups 151 demerara rum (Lemon Hart). Let steep 10 days in a cool, dark place.

Step Two
After 10 days, strain the infused rum through cheesecloth, then a coffee filter, to remove allspice. In a saucepan over medium-low heat, combine 1 1/2 cups water with 2 1/2 cups brown sugar. Stir to blend until sugar is completely dissolved. Let brown sugar syrup cool, then add the infused rum. Funnel into an airtight glass bottle or jar and let sit 30 days in the refrigerator. This will level out the heat of the allspice. Keep refrigerated.