Opal Cocktail

Opal cocktail

This drink is simple and delicious! It's a bit on the sweet side for my taste, but it's light enough that the gin comes through. This will be a good cocktail for sampling different gins.

I think it would also make a good summertime drink, either straight up or as a cooler with seltzer and plenty of ice. 

A Weekend in Quebec City

Type of Post: 
Beyond New England
Looking down upon Quebec City

We had not been to Quebec City in 15 years, so a return trip was way overdue. We did it over Columbus Day 2016, adding Friday to make it a four-day weekend. That was enough time for a fun little expedition with plenty of sightseeing. 

The Canadian dollar was worth about $0.75, so some things looked more expensive than they were. Overall it was easy to stay on budget. Gas is expensive there, but if you fill up in Fort Kent then you won't need to buy much or any gas until you get back over the border.

Mount Katahdin from Rte 11

We spent Friday driving north through the length of Maine, departing I-95 at Sherman to take lonely Rte 11 past Mount Katahdin due north to Fort Kent, and then on to Riviere-du-Loup, Quebec, on the mighty Saint Lawrence. There was no foodie excellence that day, but we love that drive up Route 11 and the scenery was excellent. We spent the night at the Auberge de la Point in Riviere du Loup, a sprawling complex not far from the ferry terminal. 

Club Cocktail

Club Cocktail

I don't know which club is honored by this cocktail. There's a Pegu Club Cocktail and a Clover Club Cocktail... maybe this is a generic cocktail for all clubs where gentlemen sit about smoking cigars and saying "Splendid! Splendid!" in well-aged baritone voices. 

In any event, this cocktail is all about quality ingredients. It's just gin and sweet vermouth. There are so many interesting American gins that this formula fits a near infinite range of drinks. 

Waldorf Cocktail

Waldorf Cocktail

This pre-prohibition classic from the famed Waldorf Hotel (before it became the Waldorf Astoria) was recommended to me by my old friend Joe Adams. There are a lot of words online about it, mostly trying to adapt it to "modern tastes", as if today's cocktail fans would be too challenged by the absinthe. 

There's some pretty bad absinthe out there; use a good one. Absinthe has a strong flavor, so a strong rye and strong sweet vermouth are also important. I used a cask-aged sweet vermouth, but Carpano Antica would go well.

As for the rye, I started with Old Overholt, but once I had a good formula I switched to 100-proof Whistle Pig... Now there's a cocktail worthy of the Waldorf! 

Chicago Cocktail

Chicago Cocktail

I was looking for an old-school cocktail to enjoy while rooting the Cubs toward their first World Series title since 1908 when what should I find but the Chicago Cocktail!

This one may not go back to 1908, but it definitely predates 1930, when it was first in print. Considering how Al Capone's Chicago was awash in Canadian whisky during Prohibition, this brandy-based concoction probably predates that dark period as well. 

Here's something peculiar about the Chicago: the recipe calls for an old-fashioned glass, but the whole drink is little more than 2 ounces, so use the smallest old-fashioned glass you have, or make it a double! 

Hanky Panky

Hanky Panky cocktailThis peculiar classic uses the downright medicinal Fernet Branca, so it's best with a rich flavorful gin like the Ingenium from New England Distilling or Maine Distilleries Cold River Gin.


Metropolitan CocktailThe recipe that I saw was very old (around 1900). It called for cognac. I tried this with a very good Pierre Ferrand cognac and also with the Christian Brothers VSOP brandy that I use for holiday baking due to its strong vanilla overtones.

The brandy version was better; the other was a waste of good cognac. I think this is because the old recipe was created during a time when brandy might be any fruit-derived spirit, some truly bad, while cognac was a guarantee of the grape spirit. Today even the cheapest brandy is derived from grape wine unless noted otherwise, so I think the cheap modern brandy is an adequate substitute for the cautious cognac in the original recipe.

A Feast of Parma

The first course of our Parma feast

When we went to Italy in 2015, I made a pilgrimage to the home of Giuseppe Verdi, near Parma. There we found a foodie paradise.

So we had a feast of the bounty of Parma. It was exquisite, and educational too.

First you need some introduction:

Parma, Italy, is a sort of genius cuisine center even in that land of foodie heaven. The city of Parma (a little bigger than Worcester and Providence) is midway between Milan and Bologna (both much bigger than Boston), about an hour and a half from each. Within an hour's drive of the city of Parma, you can drive through the ancient and fertile provinces of Parma, Reggio-Emilia, and Modena.

Aged Parmigiano Reggiano cheese between Culatello and domestic Prosciutto

Parma and Reggio-Emila are known for Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan) cheese, of course. It is also known for excellent salumi (cured meats), including salami, mortadella, capocollo, and the celebrated prosciutto di Parma. Also made there but seldom seen here is culatello, a special high-grade prosciutto that you can sometimes get at Formaggio Kitchen in Cambridge. 

Tomato Salad

Tomato Salad

I learned this simple late-summer delight from my father. It responds well to different varieties of heirloom tomatoes. 



Boulevardier Cocktail

This variation on the classic, pungent, and beautiful Negroni is made with whiskey instead of gin. This one was beautiful with a rich, smooth Split Rock white whiskey. The clear whiskey lets the outrageous reds shine through, and the "hearts only" Split Rock has none of the harshness that you find in other white whiskeys. 

I also made this with Martini & Rossi Sweet Vermouth that had been aged for four weeks in a charred oak cask. I think Carpano Antica is the closest substitute. It's pricey, and it's not right for every cocktail, but every serious cocktailian should keep a bottle of Carpano Antica in the fridge. 

Syndicate content