Thursday, January 8, 2009

Dear Pearl: I Still Do Like You

Dear Pearl,

Before I say all this, I have to say that I really do like you. I’ve written about you and your unique list of modern tropical drinks in the past. And I still like your spacious layouts, with three bars and all types of nooks, high tables, tall stools and soft, velvet cushions. Your happy hours are so pleasant—the discount drinks and appetizers, the easy accent lighting. Your staff is even kind and friendly. And, of course, your drinks were a delight, especially your old-fashioned.

But this last occasion something felt off. It all started when I ordered this first drink:

The Cherry Manhattan

Ingredients: Phillips Union cherry whiskey, sweet vermouth, two dashes of bitters, and a splash of cherry herring.

It looked pretty, up in a martini glass, all red and glossy. But it tasted like medicine! More syrupy than fluid. So sweet and no earthy whiskey.

And then I ordered:

Papa Doubles

Ingredients: 10 cane rum, Luxardo maraschino liqueur, rock candy syrup, fresh grapefruit and lime.

Luxardo is one of my favorites, so I splurged and reached for this second drink, supposedly a Cuban daiquiri, according to the menu! But it was too thick, weighed down by muddled grapefruit and lots of syrup. It tasted like concentrated juice.

Alas, perhaps myself is to blame for not sitting at the bar. I do have to say, though, that your food was stupendous. My friend Phil ordered Kobe beef and seared ahi. The tender beef arrived on a tall stack of wide potatoes, fried just right so that they were crunchy on the exterior and fluffy on the inside.

The ahi was so fresh, too, and sauce was just amazing! Not too fishy. Firm and not mushy.

In the end, I still respect you, Pearl. And I do plan to return another happy hour some day. Your environment is just so comfy, and my friend experience was so wonderful. But perhaps I may not order these specific drinks.



Saturday, January 3, 2009

A Word on Port

For that of you who read our laudations of alcohol in certain of its multifarious manifestations, you may wonder why we neglect all things spawned from grapes. To put it simply: It’s too damn complicated and too much has been said about it already.


I have to talk a little bit about Port. I have to tell you, I feel guilty doing it. We’re strictly about cocktails here at the Joy of Drinking. Our offices are filled with swizzle sticks and julep strainers, not merlots and shirazes. I’ll take a glass of scotch over a glass of wine, thank you, and I’ll write about it to boot... See? There I go again, off on another anti-wine rant. It’s not that I don’t like the stuff, it’s just that I’m ignorant, so I keep my mouth shut.


How do I dare talk about Port? Well... How can I justify it? Hmm, what is Port, exactly? Wine fortified with brandy, eh? That’s sort of a mixed drink. In fact, that’s definitely a mixed drink. PERFECT.

Moving right along: Quinta de la Rosa’s “Lote No. 601.” This Ruby Port should run you about 22-25 bucks, and it’s just about worth it. It’s head and shoulders above your average Graham’s Six Grapes, that’s for certain. I recommend this Port, with that caveat that it’s easily accessible, and you can definitely get more bang for your buck elsewhere.

It’s flavors are very, very nice. It’s a perfect drink if you have a sweet tooth, which I have. It’s sweet, but not store-bought-apple-pie-warmed-with-ice-cream-sweet. It’s not a restaurant cocktail, is what I’m saying; it won’t make you cringe. It’s got such a depth to its sweetness that you’ll find yourself savoring it, trying to unpack its flavor. There’s a hint of toffee there, which reminds me of my all time favorite, a Tawny by the name of Old Codger Port (from Australia! I’ll be damned, mate).

I highly suggest, Meredith (assuming you’re still reading this. If not, our readership has dropped to nil), that you invest in a nice bottle of Port. Unfortunately, you get what you pay for. If you can find Quinta de la Rosa, grab it. You can tell your friends you paid three times what you did for it, and they’ll probably believe you. It’s also an excellent introduction into the world of Port.

(I apologize for the lack of moodily lit photos.)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Kitchen Concoctions: A Cocktail for the Holidays

To me, Tanqeray tastes like Christmas. Somehow the juniper spirit reminds me of crisp December days with my nose to the family room tree and cider mulling on the stove.

So I thought I'd try to make a holiday drink with Tanqeray--my gunggung's (grandfather's) spirit of choice and one of my own favorites. Here's the recipe for what I threw together:

In a mixing glass with cracked and large ice, stir in:

1.5 oz Tanqeray gin
3/4 oz sweet vermouth
1/4 oz maple syrup
dashes Peychaud/orange (preferably Regan's) bitters

Stir for 30 seconds and strain it into a martini glass.

Garnish: flame an orange peel above the glass.

Hope you like it alright. Happy holidays to you!

*Note: You'll see in this picture that I actually didn't use a martini glass. This is because someone else was using the only martini glass I have! :-\