Julia's Cocktail Concoctions
During these past several weeks, we've had Zoom cocktails, solo cocktails, socially distant cocktails. Below, Julia has concocted some of her favorites -- for now and later -- in our handsome Reed Smythe & Company glasses.
The Rum Ramsey
The Rum Ramsey was the house drink at the legendary Bon Ton Café in New Orleans. In early March, the restaurant closed its doors after more than a hundred years, seventy of them in the same family (it was a long-planned closure, unrelated to the novel coronavirus). In 1946, no less a rum aficionado than Trader Vic pronounced that the cocktail would “take its place among popular rum drinks” and “never die out.” But the restaurant, which sold takeout bottles of the Ramsey to regular customers, never gave out the recipe. This one is damn close and seriously delicious. It looks especially good in our tortoise highball glasses, which complement the Ramsey’s caramel color.
Makes 6 to 8 drinks
- 1 1/2 cups white rum
- 1 cup bourbon
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 3/4 cup simple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon bitters, such as Peychaud's or The Bitter Truth Creole Bitters
Combine the rum, lime juice, simple syrup and bitters in a tall mixing glass or pitcher. Stir well and pour into highball glasses filled with ice.
To make the simple syrup: In a medium saucepan, combine one cup sugar and one cup water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring constantly for two or three minutes, until the sugar is dissolved completely. Remove from heat and allow to cool before using. The syrup will keep, refrigerated, in a glass jar for one month.
Frozen Rum Julep
I love a frozen drink, I adore mint, and I have never met a variation on a julep that didn't make me deliriously happy. Here, I've created a sort of cross between a julep and a mojito. Though most of us think of a julep as the classic mint version with bourbon, a julep is defined as any drink utilizing alcohol and herbs, usually over shaved or crushed ice. For this, I made a mint simple syrup and added a healthy dose of lime juice (that's where the mojito part comes in, plus the lime keeps the drink from being cloyingly sweet). My blender crushes ice beautifully and I crushed the ice for this so fine that it has an Icee-like consistency perfect for warm evenings. Our clear goblet is exactly the right-size glass for this cocktail -- any bigger and the ice would melt too fast.
Makes about 4 drinks
- 3 1/2 to 4 cups ice
- 1/2 cup white rum
- 4 tablespoons mint simple syrup
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
Put the ice in the blender and crush until fairly fine. Add the rest of the ingredients and crush again. (I used the ice crusher setting the first go round and the smoothie setting the second.) Taste and adjust -- you may want more syrup or lime or, indeed, more rum!
To make the simple syrup, use the directions from the above Rum Ramsey. As soon as the syrup is removed from the heat, throw in a handful of fresh mint, stems and all, and let steep for at least 15 minutes. Strain through a fine strainer. You'll have extra and it's an excellent thing to have on hand in the fridge!
I discovered the Negroni far too late in life in the lovely courtyard of my favorite hotel in Rome, the Hotel de Russie, just off the Piazza del Popolo. There are many variations on this popular Italian cocktail, but I like the classic version, which contains just three ingredients in equal parts. The brilliant actor Stanley Tucci recently posted an Instagram video in which he whipped up his own version, using double the amount of gin. Stanley is clearly made of stern stuff, but feel free to go for it! You should also follow him on Insta, precisely for such gems. Made like the recipe below, the Negroni fits perfectly in our clear highball glass. When I have a blood orange on hand, I use it for a garnish because the color is so gorgeous (not to mention a great match) but a regular navel will do splendidly.
- 1/4 cup dry gin like Beefeater, Tanqueray, or Plymouth (now is not the time to use Hendrick's or other botanical gins)
- 1/4 cup Campari
- 1/4 cup red sweet vermouth (now is the time to splurge on a good vermouth like Dolin Rouge or Cochi Vermouth de Torino, but in this time of isolation I had to settle for Martini & Rossi and it did the trick just fine)
- 1 orange slice, halved
In a drinks mixing glass filled with ice (I use our handblown Reed Smythe version of course), add the first three ingredients and stir. Strain into a highball glass filled with ice and garnish with half the orange slice. (I like to squeeze the other half into the drink itself before discarding it.)
Ramos Gin Fizz
Henry Ramos invented the gin fizz, one of New Orleans's most iconic cocktails, in 1888. By 1915, the drink was so popular he had to hire dozens of "shaker boys" during Carnival season to meet the demand at his bar -- the secret to the requisite frothy outcome is a vigorous shake. After Prohibition was repealed, Ramos sold the recipe to the Roosevelt Hotel where it remains in great demand. Huey Long, who kept a suite at the hotel when he was governor, was so partial to the gin fizz that he took a hotel bartender with him on a trip to Manhattan. I don't blame him. A properly made fizz is a refreshing and addictive tonic and a hangover cure of some renown. It also looks beautiful in our Original Green Goblet. Just don't forget to shake!
- 1/4 cup gin
- 1 tablespoons simple syrup (see the recipe for the Rum Ramsey, above)
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 egg white
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 4 drops orange flower water
- Chilled club soda or fizzy water
Combine the first seven ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously. Strain into a glass and top with club soda.