JiggerWocky: adventures in alcohol and academics

JiggerWocky: adventures in alcohol and academics

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

under construction

Coming Soon: Collaborations

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Vodka: A cosmoses

It's true: Vodka has gained both credibility and acclaim behind the bar again. It's nice to see a spirit rescued from disparagement, and while it's still relegated to the unsophisticated drinker, aka those who want to mask the taste and complexity of more pronounced potables, there is a way to do it right. A recent article from Imbibe magazine chronicles its rise:

Tonight, however, I'm slumming it and bringing a flask full of homemade cosmopolitans to celebrate this:

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Shake it!

There are three physical factors at work in a well-made cocktail: water content, ingredient distribution and temperature. While some spirits require only a stir to achieve a balance of these factors, others can only attain true cocktail Nirvana with a shake. And, as we learned, a mixologist's shake is like a thumbprint—no two shakes are the same.
According to Joaquin Simo of New York City’s Death & Company, “A shake should wake up a cocktail. Its function is to make it greater than the sum of its parts.” For Simo, shaking is necessary to combine different textures into one.
What types of cocktails need shaking? “Any drink that contains an element that can cloud up a drink,” says 2007 New York Rising Star Jim Meehan of PDT, citing citrus, egg whites and cream as the most commonly shaken ingredients.

The theory behind the shake holds that the back-and-forth motion drives an ice cube to chip at the corners, breaking off bits that dilute and chill the liquid. The remaining chunks of ice further chill the liquid as the cocktail becomes aerated and blended.
Mixologists agree that different cocktails call for different shakes. Recipes call for varying levels of dilution and temperature, depending on how they are to be consumed. A shaken cocktail served up should get a long and hard shake in order to achieve a nice, frothy consistency, as it won’t have ice to keep it cold. Conversely, for drinks served on ice, the shake should be modified accordingly. In the end, it's about what you’re trying to achieve with the cocktail.
All shaking technicalities aside, mixologists will always be front-of-the-house employees, at the service of his/her guests. Where cocktails are taken seriously, the shake itself is an integral part of the entertainment factor in the dining/drinking experience. “A shake should be pleasant to watch,” as Meehan puts it. And he’s right. Regardless of how hard the shake is, or who is shaking the drink, patrons will always turn their heads when they hear the familiar "ka-chunk, ka-chunk" sound sailing out from behind the bar.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Moonshine: It's a nice day for a White Whiskey

Great article in The Times today chronicling the rise of home-distilled spirits, and the new, clear choices.
White dog, or white whiskey, is, basically, moonshine. It’s newborn whiskey, crystal-clear grain distillate, as yet unkissed by the barrel, the vessel that lends whiskey some or all of its color and much of its flavor. And white dog is currently having its day.

“Aging in wood has many beautiful effects on a spirit,” said Tad Carducci, half of the cocktail consulting duo known as the Tippling Brothers. “But it does tend to disguise whatever the base spirit is. When you strip that away, you’re getting a real sense of what wheat offers, or rye or corn.”

Unlike vodka, in which the source grain is often purposefully purified to a vanishing point, white dogs are pungently fragrant, with a chewy sweetness to them.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Rites of Spring: The Julep

The mint julep is renowned as the traditional beverage of the Kentucky Derby, a position it has held since 1938. Each year almost 120,000 juleps are served at Churchill Downs over the two day period of the Kentucky Oaks and the Kentucky Derby. For over 18 years, the Early Times Mint Julep Cocktail has been the designated "official mint julep of the Kentucky Derby". Have one on Saturday in style!
6–7 fresh mint leaves
1 Tbsp. simple syrup
2 oz. bourbon
Crushed ice
Tools: barspoon
Glass: silver julep cup (or highball)
Garnish: mint sprig
Combine mint leaves, syrup and bourbon in a glass. Using a bar spoon, crush the mint to release its essence into the liquid. Fill the glass with ice. Gently press the spoon into the ice, shaking it to incorporate the bourbon-syrup mixture. Garnish generously with mint

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Spirit in the Sky: The Aviator

Here at JiggerWocky, we delight in any shred of culture Las Vegas has to offer, and we'd be remiss not to acknowledge our rich aviation history. No one did more for this sinful city than a certain eccentric billionaire.
Howard Hughes cultivated his image as the playboy filmmaker who discovered Jean Harlow and Jane Russell; the daredevil aviator who broke speed records in airplanes he designed. After his round-the-world flight of 1938, he became a national hero on par with Charles Lindburgh.
In 1946, while test-piloting the XF-11 photo reconnaissance plane, Hughes crashed the plane in Beverly Hills, Calif. He wasn't expected to live. The crash broke nearly every bone in his body, and doctors administered morphine liberally to ease his intense pain, beginning a lifelong addiction to opiates.
Even so, he remained a regular visitor to Las Vegas casinos during the 1940s and '50s, seen occasionally at the tables, more often escorting a gorgeous young woman into a restaurant or showroom.

The Aviation:
2 ounces gin
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons maraschino liqueur, preferably Luxardo
1/4 ounce Crème de Violette
Lemon twist, for garnish.
Combine the first three ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake to chill well, then strain into a cocktail glass. Drizzle the Crème de Violette into the glass and garnish with a lemon twist.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Rockabilly & Tiki Fever

The Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender is finally here, and aside from hearing legends like Wanda Jackson and Chuck Berry, it also gives me the chance to be with burlesque photographer extraordinaire, Don Spiro. Although Don and I have been to many other Tiki Bars throughout the U.S., this was the first adventure in my own back yard:

The interior of Frankie's was built by Bamboo Ben, the world's foremost tiki bar designer and grandson of Eli Hedley. Eli is remembered as the original beachcomber, scavenging from the sea to create the decor at such fabulous destinations as Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room, and the Las Vegas other classic, Aku Aku at the Stardust.
Also, in true Vegas form, it's 24 hours!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bachelor Pad Magazine!

This just in: JiggerWocky is mentioned in the new issue hitting shelves today! (Thanks to a very generous friend)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

New Zelda Cocktail

The Red Velvet Sling: Dead men tell no tales, luckily their spirits do

The 1900 Florodora Musical, made famous in large part by its chorus of six identically-sized (5 ft. 4in.) singing and dancing girls, inspired many things: love, scandal, “the crime of the century” and one crimson cocktail. Young men crowded the theater every night, even after all six original Florodoras married millionaires. But one Florodora didn’t live happily-ever-after.

Rumored to be the “loveliest girl who ever breathed,” Evelyn Nesbit, then 16, became mistress to 47 year-old millionaire and eccentric architect, Stanford White. At parties in his lavish West 24th Street flat, Evelyn could always be found swinging back and forth on a large red velvet swing built exclusively for the prurient pleasure of Mr. White.

After leaving White, Evelyn married Harry Thaw, another millionaire who, by the age of 34, was slowly going insane. For the next three years, Thaw persecuted Evelyn about her relationship with White. He grew obsessed with their former swinging affair, until June 25, 1906, when he confronted Mr. White atop the Madison Square Garden dinner theatre, shooting him three times in the face.

In the years following the trial, Evelyn Nesbit realized only mild success as a vaudeville performer and silent film actress. But what’s success in comparison to notoriety?

Modern recipes of the cocktail have become saccharine, belying the true complexity of the original cocktail and the story. Skip the Framboise, the Chambord and DIY:

1 1/2 oz Old Tom’s Gin
1/2 oz fresh lime juice
1/2 oz fresh raspberry-ginger syrup*
ginger beer
fill Collins glass with crushed ice
garnish with one raspberry and ginger slice

*raspberry-ginger syrup

2 cups raspberries
½ cup fresh grated ginger
1 1/2 cups sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice.
1. Combine berries, ginger, 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 cup water in a medium saucepan with a heavy bottom Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until berries begin to break down and release their juices
2. Add 1 1/2 cups cold water and lemon juice. Bring to a boil, then immediately turn down to a simmer and skim off any foam that bubbles to top. Cook for 15 minutes
3. Strain into bowl through cheesecloth-lined strainer, pressing on fruit to squeeze out juices. Return the liquid to the pan and add 1 1/2 cups sugar. Stir until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Store in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Have One On Me: Sazerac

As cocktails go, she prefers something (s)harp.

Read all about her educating a rather uniformed bartender:

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Bienville House|321 N. Peters St. (bet. Bienville & Conti Sts.)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

New Orleans: Wednesday

The Roosevelt Hotel Sazerac Bar . An absolutely presidential cocktail.

New Orleans: Wednesday

My very first drink in New Orleans was a neat Knob Creek. The bartender poured it on ice. It engendered little confidence, so I moved on from NOLA Restaurant. Luckily, things got better, quickly!

New (and old) Orleans

I embarked on a cocktail adventure in New Orleans this last week, and a subsequently new bar has been raised. (Pun intended)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Bénédictine: living (and drinking) well is the best revenge

Bénédictine, which celebrates its 500th anniversary in 2010, has done both: It has lived well, having evolved from a bitter medicine formulated by French monks into a fancy after-dinner liqueur, and crammed two or three lives into its half-millennium history. Its latest life — as a rediscovered component in haute cocktails — is currently unfolding, particularly in New York City, where craft bartenders have latched onto the liqueur in much the same way they’ve taken up Chartreuse, another herbal, monastery-derived liqueur.

“It’s got serious street cred,” said Damon Dyer, a bartender at Louis 649 in the East Village, “and brings a certain something-something to a drink.”

That certain something-something comes from a blend of 27 herbs and spices that a monk named Dom Bernardo Vincelli distilled in 1510 at a Bénédictine monastery in Fécamp, France, in Normandy. Dom Vincelli’s Elixir, as it was called then, was a hit until the French Revolution, when the monastery was destroyed. In a Dan Brown-worthy plot twist, the recipe was lost until an art collector and wine merchant named Alexander Le Grand discovered it within a trove of old books he bought in 1863. After toying with the recipe, Le Grand began selling the elixir as Bénédictine — for pleasure, this time, rather than for medicinal reasons.

It was a minor player in the United States until the 1930s, when a brushfire of a drink called a B & B — equal parts Bénédictine and brandy, created at the “21” Club — swept the nation. The Le Grand family’s response was to bottle the cocktail itself, mixing Cognac with the liqueur and selling it as B & B.

B & B still outsells Bénédictine nine to one in the United States, according to a company spokesman, but it is the original undiluted product that has lately been stoking the curiosity of bartenders. As Mr. Dyer put it, “I don’t want my peanut butter and jelly in the same jar, you know?”

Mr. Dyer showcases it in a drink he calls a Monte Cassino, in which he mixes equal parts Bénédictine, lemon juice, yellow Chartreuse and 100-proof Rittenhouse rye whiskey. “I wanted to take a complex ingredient like Bénédictine and make a simple drink out of it,” he explained. “No bitters or esoteric infusions or egg whites or any other silliness.” Cocktail aficionados familiar with a cult drink called a Last Word will recognize the template here: a round, earthy cocktail in which a whole gamut of flavors — bitter, herbal, sweet, sour, spicy — are eerily balanced.