Saturday, October 8, 2011

Up, up and away!

A girl walks into a bar…and thinks what’s the deal with all those random, unrecognizable  bottles of booze behind the bar. Where’s my Stoli Raspberry? Can’t a girl just get a cosmo? If you’re jonesing for cosmo, or anything called a ______-tini, go to the Cheesecake Factory. If you’re curious about those crazy bottles behind the bar of some of the coolest new spots in town, here’s a beginners guide to help you navigate that weird European terrain.

With the rise of the classic cocktail Maraschino (marr-e-skee-no) Liqueur and it’s fellow friends like Chartreuse, Dubonnet, and Absinthe are making a huge comeback. Growing up in New Orleans I had seen Maraschino gathering dust behind the bar in some prehistoric hotel. The graceful green bottle is wrapped with a raffia label and looks like something antique and I certainly had never owned a bottle of it. Since the bottle literally lasts forever, (no really, the Luxardo company claims the shelf life of Maraschino is “indefinite”), I went ahead and added it to Middlebar’s collection.

The first taste of Maraschino was overwhelming and to tell you the truth kinda tart and overly sweet.  You could just taste the Italian herbal flavors. It reminded me of Italian sweet vermouth with a fruit rather than liquorice flavor. That’s when it hit me! This must have been the secret ingredient that the head bartender at Tony Angelo’s put in the best Manhattan I’d ever drank! (the Manhattan which features Maraschino)

French and Italian liqueurs have been around for centuries so they are obviously doing something right, but here’s the deal: they are sometimes disgusting even to the advanced palate (yep I said it). Maraschino is the least offensive of them all and it blends really well with anything from gin to bourbon, cooking, and fruit salads (see future Middlebar posts).

This 750ml bottle at ¼ oz at a time is gonna take you 101.4 drinks to use up that bottle, so why not branch out and try Maraschino’s most famous cocktail the Aviation.

The Aviation is a classic cocktail from the early 20th century created in New York at the Hotel Wallick.  The original cocktail called for 1/4 oz of Crème de Violette Liqueur that turned the cocktail a pale sky blue color, hence it’s name. When the Aviation first appeared in print in the Savoy Cocktail Book in 1930 the Crème de Violette was omitted but the cocktail kept it’s name. 

Crème de Violette is easy to find these days in most upscale liquor stores but as Savoy states is not necessary to create a tasty drink.  The Maraschino and the Aviation may not appeal to the Cheesecake Factory crowd due to it’s potent flavors, but for those who’d like to try something different this is one’s a true classic!

The Aviation Cocktail
2oz Beefeater Gin
1/2 oz Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice

Shake vigorously with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a flaming orange zest or a lemon twist.

Take off Ya’ll!

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