Hey everyone. We are on a LOT of airplanes this week, so we have enlisted our wonderful friends to do our job for us. Get ready for guest posts all week! We will start off with John’s Fancy Booze, No 6. We hope looking at cocktails on a Monday morning gets your week off on the right foot. For the last two months, I’ve been hosting an intimate gathering of friends and cocktail fiends every two weeks or so in an effort to squeeze one final bit of fun out of our weekends. Dubbed “Sunday Cocktail Club”, the evenings started off as a casual get together in which I subjected friends to recipes I wanted to try but hadn’t had an opportunity to experiment with. Since those first evenings, Sunday Cocktail Club has morphed into a full-blown affair, frequently replete with themes, curated drink menus, and, from time to time, increasingly elaborate – and delicious – food spreads.
Point in case, our latest effort on September 13. With my lovely, talented, and amazing wife DJ back in town for a rare visit, we decided to do a New Orleans-themed affair as an homage to her home town. DJ cooked up her outstanding jambalaya and red beans & rice, as well as delicious beignets and pralines for those with a sweet tooth. Guests contributed a host of treats as well, from home made dips and hummus to a broad array of cheeses and meats.
Faced with such delectable edibles to compete with, I had to step up my game on the cocktail menu. In keeping with the New Orleans theme, I put together a menu of pre and post-Prohibition classics; in the spirit of past Sunday Cocktail Clubs, I also wanted to provide a range of options to appeal to every drinker, while also providing a broad illustration of the evolutionary history of the cocktail. Including the Brandy Crusta – a predecessor of the sour style and staples of that category, like the Side Car and the Margarita – was a no brainer, as was the Hurricane. While Pat O’Briens, the progenitor of the drink, now uses pre-made mixes to make its Hurricanes, you can be sure nothing of the sort is used at the Sunday Cocktail Club; with a base that includes passion fruit syrup, it’s also a perfect and emblematic drink for steamy Phnom Penh.
The Hurricane was easily the crowd favorite of the night, but a close runner up was the Ramos Gin Fizz. Invented in the late 1880s by Henry “Carl” Ramos, the drink was a signature at Ramos’ Imperial Cabinet Saloon and later the Stag Saloon, both staple watering holes in pre-Prohibition era New Orleans. Incorporating both egg white and heavy cream, the drink requires a lot of shaking. Ramos was known to employ “shaker boys” who would work the shaker tin for upwards of 15 minutes, according to some accounts. Without shaker boys on hand, I enlisted the help of the guests who ordered the drink. I like to think they took greater satisfaction in the drink having helped prepare it.
Balancing out the menu were spirit heavy drinks like the Vieux Carré and Arnaud’s Special, both able representatives of rye and Scotch cocktails, respectively. No New Orleans’-themed cocktail evening could be complete without the most NOLA drink of them all: the Sazerac. An indisputable classic, much ink has been spilt on the history and attributes of this wily rye concoction. In fact, you can read my partner David’s take on it over at A&T, if you’re so
Ultimately, Sunday Cocktail Club is about getting together with friends and like-minded folks to have a few drinks and a little fun before the coming week, and maybe even learn a little something about the drinks and cocktail culture along the way. If you’re interested in joining, feel free to email me at sundaycocktailclubPP (at) gmail.com for more information.
Thanks for the most excellent post John! He’ll be back again in October when he brings his fancy bartender outfit to another watering hole in Phnom Penh. In the meantime, check out the rest of John’s fancy pants concoctions here, and his fabulous mixology blog, Alchemy & a Twist.
All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use. C+T are no liable for any inebriation that follows following the instructions of this post.