Tuesday, November 18, 2008



Friday, November 21, 7-11 p.m.

at the Jorge Hernandez Cultural Center

On November 21 the Boston chapter of LUPEC (Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails) will transform the Jorge Hernandez Cultural Center into a swinging 1940's-themed cocktail party featuring retro-libations, live entertainment, dancing, delicious canapés, a prize raffle, and a USO-style variety show. It's a coed event, and all are welcome. This is our second annual large-scale fundraising event and was created to benefit women at The New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans (NESHV). Tickets are $35 in advance/ $45 at the door, and can be purchased at Toro and Tremont 647 in the South End, Grand in Somerville, or online at grandthestore.com.

The LUPEC BOSTON USO SHOW is one component of our annual fall fundraising program, which raised over $10,000 for Jane Doe Inc. last year. Starting November 1, LUPEC Boston will partner with local bars and restaurants to offer a month-long “THIS ONE’S FOR THE LADIES” drink promotion, where participants donate proceeds from one LUPEC Boston-approved beverage to women at NESHV. Restaurant partners include Toro, Tremont 647, La Verdad, Eastern Standard, Rendezvous, Highland Kitchen, Flora, The Milky Way, and more. (For a full list, click here.) Proceeds from sales our recently reprinted cocktail book, THE LITTLE BLACK BOOK OF COCKTAILS, will also benefit the NESHV this fall.

The New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans is a private, non-profit organization with a mission to extend a helping hand to homeless men and women veterans who are addressing the

Bob Hope entertains the troops
Bob Hope entertains the troops

challenges of addiction, trauma, severe and persistent mental illness, and/or unemployment, and who will commit themselves to sobriety, non-violence, and working for personal change. They are recognized as one of the most effective private veteran's transition programs in the country. Learn more at www.neshv.org.

The LUPEC BOSTON USO SHOW will pay tribute to the 1940’s theme with of-the-era cocktails, a complimentary swing dance lesson, and a USO-style variety show emceed by Cathleen Carr and Daiva Deupree of the critically acclaimed New York-based sketch comedy burlesque Two Girls for Five Bucks. The show will feature acts by Thru the Keyhole Burlesque, Boston-based actor, improviser and stand-up comedian Harry Gordon as Bob Hope, and DJ Brother Cleve, a Boston institution, will spin ‘40s-era swing music throughout the evening. Vintage dress and creative cocktail attire is encouraged.

This event will take place at the Jorge Hernandez Cultural Center [85 W. Newton St., South End, Boston], with generous support from sponsors St-Germain, Hendricks, Cruzan, Milagro, Sazerac, Chartreuse, Mathilde Liqueurs, Harpoon, and SmartWater.


The LUPEC BOSTON USO SHOW will begin at 7 p.m. on Friday, November 21. Tickets are one sale now. Ticket price is $35 in advance/ $45 at the door and will include cocktail party fare, a variety show, dancing, and four drink tickets, with additional beverages available for purchase.

Light cocktail party fare will be provided for the evening by Toro, Tremont 647, and Lionette's Market, Island Creek Oysters will be on hand shucking their acclaimed “Duxbury Pearls”, and The Boston Derby Dames will skate around with sweets provided by Taza Chocolates.

The USO-style variety show will be emceed by Cathleen Carr and Daiva Deupree of Two Girls for Five Bucks and feature Boston-based actor, improviser and stand-up comedian Harry Gordon, and Thru the Keyhole Burlesque. DJ Brother Cleve will spin ‘40s-era swing music between live acts. Vintage dress and creative cocktail attire is encouraged.

A prize raffle will feature gift certificates donated from Toro, Tremont 647, Myers + Chang, La Verdad, East Coast Grill, Taza Chocolates, Polka Dog Bakery, Vee Vee, Flour Bakery + Cafe, ZipCar, Hollywood Express, A Brix Six Gift Pack from Brix Wine Shop, tickets to the Improv Asylum and Swing City a St-Germain gift basket, a one-year subscription to Imbibe magazine and more.

All proceeds from the LUPEC BOSTON USO SHOW will benefit women at The New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans.

  • Ticket price is $35 in advance/ $45 at the door including cocktail party fare and four drink tickets, with additional beverages available for purchase.
  • Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased at:
    • Toro, 1704 Washington St., Boston, MA


The New England Shelter for Homeless Veterans is a private, non-profit organization with a mission to extend a helping hand to homeless men and women veterans who are addressing the challenges of addiction, trauma, severe and persistent mental illness, and/or unemployment, and who will commit themselves to sobriety, non-violence, and working for personal change. They are recognized as one of the most effective private veteran's transition programs in the country. Learn more at www.neshv.org.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

We've moved!

The LUPEC Boston blog has moved! We have a swanky new online home and a new look.

Please visit lupecboston.com for updates on what we're shaking up around town!

And please note: in a few short weeks LUPEC Boston will no longer be updating this ol' thang. Come see us at our new spot. 'Til then, cin-cin!

Thursday, October 16, 2008


...get one here, at the LUPEC Boston's new online home! And update your blog settings, guys and dolls! This ol' blogspot address is about to become totally defunct.


Thursday, October 9, 2008

sock it to 'em, ladies!

Click here for our new website and a formal introduction to punch!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Sunday, September 14, 2008

We're Moving...

Guess what, LUPEC Boston blog fans? We’re moving!

We’ve got our own domain now, and a snazzy new design. Starting today, you can go directly to lupecboston.com to read about what we’re mixing up around town and sign up for our mailing list!

Many thanks for your readership and your continued support of our events. We’ve got some exciting stuff in the works for fall, so stay tuned!


LUPEC Boston

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Reasons to Love Chartreuse

Chartreuse is an enchanting liqueur if there ever was one. As we covered in this week's Dig, the Chartreuse we drink today is based on a recipe for an "Elixir of Long Life" that was handed down to the Order of Carthusian monks in the 17th century. Reputed since their founding in 1084 as the Catholic Church's strictest order, the monks "dedicate themselves entirely to the service of God and to spiritual life, in permanent silence." Sales of chartreuse liqueur, which is most commonly found in green (its original form) and yellow, support the contemplative order.

Though the Carthusian monks were handed the manuscript for the "Elixir of Long Life" in 1605, it took over a century for them to decode it into something drinkable, the Elixir Vegetal de la Grande-Chartreuse which was first distilled in 1737. 130 different botanicals and plant extracts are used as ingredients, and the drink takes is signature color from the chlorophyll therein. The original stuff was a 71% alcohol, 147 proof, but recognizing the popularity of chartreuse as more than just a medicine, the monks created a more palatable 55% alcohol, 110 proof version which is what we know and love as green chartreuse today. In 1838 the Carthusians introduced the even milder, sweeter yellow chartreuse, which weighs in at 40% alcohol, 80 proof. A kinder, gentler version of the stuff and where you might want to start if you're new to drinking/mixing with it. White chartreuse was also produced once upon a time (1860-1900), as was a special V.E.P. in the (1960s.)

The complexity of the recipe is part of what has kept it secret for centuries. When the Carthusians were expelled from the France (along with members of all other religious orders) the recipe was nearly lost. According to the lore, the monk entrusted with the original manuscript was arrested and jailed during this time. He managed to smuggle it out of prison to another Carthusian who was also on the lam, but the recipient could make no sense of the recipe. Befuddled by the complicated instructions and believing the Chartreuse Order shuttered forever, he sold the manuscript to a Grenoblois pharmacist named Monsieur Liotard, who also didn’t “get it”. He was unable to do anything with the recipe, and his heirs returned it to the Carthusian monks after his death in 1816.

Similarly, the French government was unable reproduce the stuff after they "nationalized" the chartreuse distillery in 1903 causing the monks to flee to Tarragona, Spain. The government’s, Chartreuse-branded product failed in the marketplace within a decade (see right.)

Who wouldn't want to sip on a liqueur that's...

1. Made by an order of contemplative monks in the French Alps?
2. Based on an ancient recipe for an Elixir of Long Life?

3. Such a highly guarded secret that only two monks are entrusted with the recipe, and never known to any one person at a time?
4. Made from 130 different herbs and botanicals, secretly processed and mixed?
5. Has its own color scheme named after it?
6. So deliciously complex that its behavior in cocktails can be a total surprise?

Mix up any one of these and you'll know what we mean:

*Adapted by Contessa from a recipe she originally sampled at Bourbon & Branch

2 oz Plymouth Gin
1 oz lime
3/4 oz yellow Chartreuse
3/4 oz St-Germain

Shake in a cocktail shaker, strain into a chilled cocktail glass.


1.5 oz gin
.5 oz Yellow chartreuse
.5 oz fresh grapefruit juice
.25 oz lemon juice
.25 oz simple syrup

Shake in a cocktail shaker, strain into a chilled cocktail glass.


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Genever - its a Dutch thing

by Pink Lady

When I studied abroad in Ireland my junior year, I was shocked to learn that my Irish roommates preferred Budweiser to Guinness. The American import was pissier and more expensive than their native stout, yet none of the lads would be caught in the pub with a Guinness in hand. I chalked this up to the tendency to always want what you haven't got, and related to their impulse to eschew the familiar for the exotic.

This is not necessarily so, however, in Holland, where every fourth bottle of spirits sold is a bottle of genever. I learned this fun little fact from Bols brand ambassador Simon Duff at the Juniperlooza seminar at Tales of the Cocktail, and decided to put this theory to the test by contacting up my good friend Alexander, who hails from Amsterdam.

"Do you drink genever at all? Is it popular at home in Holland?" I texted him quite out of the blue last week while working on this week's Weekly Dig column about different types of gin.

"Yes I do! I have a bottle in my freezer! It's running low. Reminds me of my dad. I only drink it on special occasions..." he responded immediately.

So, there you have it folks, straight from the tall Dutchman's mouth. The stuff is indeed popular in Holland, if impossible to come by in the US.

We had a chance to try a small sip of both jonge and oude genever while in New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail, and sampled it again at a recent meeting chez Bourbon Belle. President Hanky Panky managed to smuggle several bottles back to the states with her on a trip to Amsterdam last spring.

The strong juniper flavor inherent in genever makes no bones about being a great-great-great grandparent to the modern dry styles of gin we know and love today. That said, its fuller and gads maltier than the stuff you put in a modern gin and tonic, a totally different gin-drinking experience. It is indeed special stuff, and though the real Dutch spirit is hard to come by in the United States, Genevieve by the San Francisco-based Anchor Distilllery stands in as a delicious take on the product.

So here's the ultimate challenge: get your friends who live in London to smuggle you back some Old Tom Gin and your very own tall Dutchman to return from Holland with a suitcase full of Hollands. Then mix them up in alternating batches of the following cocktail, as Seamus Harris of Bunnyhugs did and reported on here this past June.

Recipe adapted from
Imbibe! by David Wondrich

1 dash of aromatic bitters
2 dashes of maraschino
1 oz Old Tom Gin or Genever
2 oz Italian vermouth

Stir over ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

This drink is believed to be a predecessor to the modern martini, and was originally concocted with Old Tom Gin. The genever version is delicious as well. I wonder -- what would happen if I served this to the next person who requested "a martini" at the restaurant where I work...hmmm...

Cin-cin, or as the Dutch say, Proost!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Dead or Alive: The Sour Apple Martini

On August 15, the DeKuyper(R) brand announced the bottling of its five millionth case of DeKuyper Pucker(R) Sour Apple, the neon green key ingredient in that “iconic” cocktail, the Appletini. Little did they know that to leading mixologists and cocktail aficionados , the Sour Apple Martini is officially dead.

The Sour Apple Martini was declared officially deceased on July 19th at the Tales of the Cocktail Festival in New Orleans, nearly a month prior to the DeKuyper(R) brand’s announcement. A traditional New Orleans style Jazz Funeral was held in the drink’s honor. Covering the event for the Tales of the Cocktail blog, Cocktailnerd Gabriel Szaszko writes:

There was brilliant and uplifting music played in a classic jazz funeral style and a well-attended processional of the casket with Robert Hess in the vanguard...After the processional attendees were invited to enjoy drinks and scantily clad ladies in Cafe Giovanni where a “Bartender’s Breakfast” was held. Unfortunately, the talented ladies likely couldn’t be seen due to the number of celebrants trying to get a real, true, non-floor polish-infused, drink from the veteran and highly regarded bartenders. There was also dancing in the street; it was very Martha and the Vandellas.
Complete coverage of the funeral event can be found here and here. DeKuper’s release can be read here.

Now, why don’t you hunker down with a bottle of applejack and celebrate the great Sour Apple Martini debate with a drink? The blended stuff you’re most likely to find on local shelves is delicious in the following drink. If you have friends or family in Jersey, ask them to help you procure a bottle of Laird’s Old Apple Brandy, which it bills as the “original historic Applejack”, or the older still 12 Year Old Rare Apple Brandy (which you can read up on here.) My mother is traveling in the region as we speak, and was perfectly happy to be my mule. As we all know, a family that drinks together stays together.

The Jack Rose

2 oz Laird’s Applejack
3/4 oz fresh grenadine
1/2 oz fresh-squeezed lemon juice

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, garnish with a lemon twist.

Monday, August 25, 2008


What would the perfect cocktail bar look like? When posed with such a question, a LUPEC broad's mind wanders...

"Vintage glassware would be a must," responds one broad. "Glasses like the ones I can't stop buying on Ebay."

"And corners...lots of corners. No one likes to crane their necks to talk to each other, like they're sitting on some bench, waiting for the bus," posits another.

"I dream of massive blocks of ice like they used to use before there were ice-makers," says the third. "Imagine walking into a bar and seeing a huge chunk of ice sitting back there, waiting to be hand chipped into my drink."

The LUPEC broads grow quiet, dreaming of the day they might walk into such a place.

According to this preview of Barbara Lynch's new cocktail spot, such a place will open in Fort Point Channel on Sept 15th.

We are counting the days.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Total Pimm’s-sanity: Variations on a Pimm’s Cup Theme

by Pink Lady

If you checked out this week’s LUPEC Boston column in the Weekly Dig you’re aware that creator James Pimm began to commercially produce his No. 1 Cup in 1851. The next century-plus saw the brand grow to include a total of six variations on the liqueur’s original theme – and a franchised chain of Pimm’s Oyster Houses. One can guess that the debut of each product was a sign of the times and indicative of en vogue spirits:

• In 1851 whisky-based Pimm’s No. 2 and cognac-based Pimm’s No. 3 were introduced, along with the premiere commercial version of Pimm’s No. 1
• Rum-based Pimm’s No. 4 came after the end of World War II
• Rye-based Pimm’s No. 5 and vodka-based Pimm’s No. 6 were born in the ‘60s

Pimm’s No. 2 – 5 were phased out in 1970s and around that time the oyster houses closed, too. Vodka-based No. 6 is allegedly available, if only in England, and a revamped version of brandy-based No. 3 was introduced in 2005 and dubbed the Pimm’s Winter Cup. The original Pimm’s No. 1 remains the easiest to find.

As a cocktail, the Pimm’s Cup has a home on each side of the Atlantic, both in Southern England and in New Orleans, coincidentally also in “the South”. The English-style quaff is made a little differently from the Napoleon House recipe we included in the Dig:

• First of all, the Pimm’s Cup is a high-class drink favored by Southern England’s upper crust. While New Orleans’ Napoleon House exudes an inimitable brand of faded-glory charm, it is also decidedly casual (see photos, right.)
• James Pimm poured his original in a small tankard, so if you’re a classicist, use a mug.
• “Lemonade” means lemon-lime soda in the King’s English, and British recipes are usually made with a U.K. version of Sprite or 7-Up, the exact likes of which may be tough to find here.
• Brits garnish their Pimm’s Cups extravagantly with fruits/herbs in season, such as borage, mint, orange, lemon, line, and strawberries. How common our lonely stateside cucumber must feel.

Either way you choose to enjoy your Pimm’s Cup is fine with us.

Tally ho, y’all – bottom’s up!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Clearly, Ice

by Pinky Gonzales

A world without ice implies no cold drinks - and that would be a terrible, terrible world. There of course was a time not too long ago when the world did not have chilled drinks. How did we get 'em? Boston's own Frederic Tudor, a Beacon Hill ice trade maverick dubbed "The Ice King" was Beginning in the early nineteenth century he shipped out blocks harvested from local ponds (such as Walden) and created a worldwide demand. Thanks, Fred!

Ice and ice melt, a.k.a. water, make our cocktails more drinkable. A martini needs to have a little melt, otherwise you're crazy hammered in a minute (unless your name is John Myers.) Ice gadgets for the home make it all more fun. Not everyone can have a Kold Draft machine at their house (let alone their bar), but we can stock up on a few tools & gadgets to enhance cocktail hour. (I mention these in this week's Weekly Dig):

Silicone trays. A company called Tovolo makes soft trays which render perfect, roughly 1" cubes, non-messy, and which look
swell stacked high in a Collins glass. $11.95 set of 2, Kitchen Arts, Newbury St. Note: You can find elsewhere all sorts of novelty shapes too, if you must, ranging from dog bones to Playboy bunnies. I have found some of these shapes exceedingly tricky to remove, however, so be wary.

The Lewis Bag & Ice Crush Kit. A great way to get your frustration out, make your guests chuckle, and have lovely cocktails. Sturdy canvas bag with a wooden mallet. $15, BeverageFactory.com.

Manual crushers.
Vintage or retro-new, hand-crank, choppers, tappers, all good. Some nice ones are made by Ice-O-Mat, Dazey, and look for the neat-o Tap-Icer gadget. And speaking of the latter, which is an old tool, the back of a good bar spoon cracks ice held in the hand just as well. Check Buckaroo's Mercantile, Cambridge, for the occasional vintage nugget.

Electric crushers. Less charm, less work. Bought mine at Goodwill for five bucks - same one I used in 1975.

Ice pick and block. Freeze water in a pan, dislodge with spot of hot water, chip away with an old pick. Drop piece into rocks glass. Fill with rye, stir with finger. Satisfyingly toast to Mr. Tudor.

For more on ice, check out what local (welcome back!!) bartender Josey Packard has to say about it here:

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

LUPEC Boston’s own takes home First Place at Hendrick’s Gin Beantown Bartender Battle

by Pink Lady

We are pleased to announce that LUPEC Boston’s own Bourbon Belle took home first place at the Hendrick’s Gin Beantown Bartender Battle held at Green Street last night.

Just five talented finalists were selected from the vast contestant pool to mix their cocktails at the event. The challenge? To wow the judges with a Hendrick’s based cocktail showcasing one of the signature Hendrick’s botanicals, presented with no more chatter than a witty, five-lined limerick.

“I took one sip of her cocktail and I knew instantly that Bourbon Belle was going to win,” said one Green Street staffer affiliated with the event (but not on the judging panel), who asked to remain anonymous.

The competition was fierce and the judges were tough. Other contestants included Justin Falcone, a Boston-area freelance bartender, Jeff Grdinich, bartender at the White Mountain Cider Co. restaurant in Glen, NH, Claudia Mastrobuono, bartender at Highland Kitchen in Somerville, and Chris O’Neil, bartender at Upstairs on the Square in Cambridge. The tasting panel included chef Barbara Lynch, Boston Globe writer Liza Weisstuch, bartender and cocktail historian John Myers of Portland, Maine, and Hendrick’s brand ambassador Charlotte Voisey.

Bourbon Belle was the third contestant to compete and seemed un-phased as she measured, shook, and strained, despite the high stakes of the competition. Fans and LUPEC members crowded around the bar to cheer BB on as she mixed and garnished; her screwdriver Seth remained close at hand, ready to assist or mop sweat from her brow as required.

First prize is a complimentary trip anywhere in the U.S. courteous of Hendrick’s gin. When asked where she’d like to celebrate her victory, Bourbon Belle responded without hesitation: "San Francisco. Drinking.”

We’ll drink to that.

Here’s the recipe for the 1st Place libation:

Nobody's Darling

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add:

2 oz Hendrick's Gin
.5 oz Yellow Chartreuse
1 oz Angelica Root infused Honey
.75 oz fresh celery juice
.5 oz fresh lemon juice

Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.


An elixir of cucumber and rose
With a scent that amuses the nose
Angelica-honey we’ll pair
Then some celery sounds fair
Yellow Chartreuse, lemon juice and there goes!

Monday, August 4, 2008

The return of rye

A bar without rye whiskey is like a story without action.

As I explain in this week's LUPEC Boston cocktail column in the Weekly Dig, rye has evolved from a nearly defunct, old-man drink to a much sought-after spirit by men and broads alike, thanks to the revival of classic cocktails. The "old fashioned" Old Fashioned (which I mention in the column), the Scoff Law, the Saratoga, the Old Pal and, of course, the original Manhattan -- all get their personality from rye whiskey, the drier, spicier counterpart to bourbon. The Ladies of LUPEC Boston are known to knock back a rye drink or two at our monthly meetings and our favorite local bars.

Wanna know more about rye? Here are a few fun facts:
  • U.S. law mandates that rye whiskey be made with at least 51 percent rye (though most are made with 65 percent or more). The rest of the grain bill usually consists of corn and malted barley.
  • Rye whiskey is America's oldest whiskey. George Washington distilled it.
  • Rye whiskey, in its early days, was produced in the Northeast, particularly Pennsylvania and Maryland. Most of the Northeast distilleries closed during Prohibition, and today rye is primarily produced by the Kentucky distilleries that make bourbon.
  • The "whiskey" in the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794 refers to rye. Western Pennsylvania farmers who distilled rye protested an excise tax on their product so fervently that President George Washington had to deploy a militia to quell the uprising.
  • Rock and Rye is a rye-based liqueur flavored with rock candy and citrus fruits.
Check out these two articles on rye whiskey: All but lost, rye is revived as the next boutique find (NYT) and Rye, resurrected (SF Chronicle).

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Some classy cocktails to get the party started this summer...

Get your hands on a bottle of sloe gin, turn up Rumors by Fleetwood Mac, and let the games begin!

Sloe Comfortable Screw
from Dale DeGroff's Craft of the Cocktail

1 oz sloe gin
1 oz Southern Comfort
4 oz fresh orange juice
Orange slice for garnish

This drink has sloe gin, southern comfort, and OJ -- get it? A sloe, comfortable screw. Build in a highball glass. Garnish with an orange slice.

Alabama Slammer
from Dale DeGroff's Craft of the Cocktail

3/4 oz Southern Comfort
1 oz vodka
3/4 oz sloe gin
4 oz fresh orange juice
6 dashes grenadine, for garnish

Shake all ingredients hard with ice, strain into six 1-oz shot glasses, and dash the top of each with grenadine. Bottoms up!

Trader Vic's Bartender's Guide Revised Edition has a whole section devoted to Sloe Gin (and Pisco!) so pick up a copy and get inspired. I tried this cocktail and loved it -- it's surprisingly well balanced, sweet but not cloying, and utterly imbibeable.

San Francisco Cocktail

3/4 oz sloe gin
3/4 oz Italian vermouth
3/4 oz French vermouth
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 dash orange bitters

Shake with ice cubes. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Add a cherry.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Grenadine is NOT from grenada & simple syrup is NOT simple

by Pink Lady

While putting together this week's Weekly Dig column on syrups I became intrigued about the origins of grenadine. This delicious pomegranate syrup is a key ingredient in both my namesake cocktail AND my favorite kiddie cocktail (the Shirley Temple). But when, exactly, did this delicious syrup become a fashionable mixer?

While writing about the Daisy in Imbibe, David Wondrich refers to the cocktail circa the 1870s as "something of a dude's drink, a little bit of fanciness that came empinkened with grenadine." Maybe it started then-ish?

Who knows. The I could find little data on who innovated the use of grenadine in cocktails, but a few of the following, totally unrelated facts popped up repeatedly as I searched:
  • There is a chain of Islands located in the Caribbean that share the same name as the delicious syrup. Nary a pomegranate grows on these islands, though. Nor to they grow on the adjacent island of Grenada.
  • The French word for pomegranate? La grenade. The Spanish word? La Granada. There is some speculation that these islands got their name from early settlers who thought the island’s shape resembled that of the fruit. I mean, maybe that happened…
  • There is an odd/fascinating legal situation a-brew wherein Grenada and/or the Grenadine islands are looking to claim rights to the name of the ruby red syrup, thus profiting from the sales of Grenadine with a capital "G". Read more about it here.
Irrelevant facts aside, some more recipes for the stuff can be found at the end of this post.

I also learned that "Simple Syrup" is pretty much anything but, thanks to an illuminating article chemist-turned-mixologist Darcy O'Neil contributed to the first edition of Mixologist: The Journal of the American Cocktail.

The task at hand will always involve dissolving sugar in water, of course. But the method by which you do so -- over heat, or hot process, vs. cold process -- will have a dramatic effect on the flavor & consistency of your syrup. Heated syrup will be thinner, due to a higher presence of fructose, whereas syrup dissolved at room temperature will be nice and thick, and 100% sucrose. Rather than butchering Mr. O'Neil's eloquent explanation, I suggest you purchase a copy of the book and check out his excellent blog. In the interim, here are simple syrup recipes for you to play around with.

As with all things cocktail, make a few batches, try 'em in a few cocktails, and use whichever suits you best.

Simple Syrup:

A cold-process shakey-shakey method from King Cocktail, Dale Degroff
from the Craft of the Cocktail

Fill a cork bottle halfway with superfine sugar, the other half with water. Shake vigorously until most of the sugar dissolves, about 1 minute. It will remain cloudy for 5 minutes; after it clears, shake again briefly and it is ready to use. Stored in the refrigerator between uses, Simple Syrup will last for several weeks.

Darcy O'Neil's Simple Syrup
from Mixologist: the Journal of the American Cocktail

Ingredients: 2 cups sugar 2 cups water, 1/4- cup corn syrup, 1000 ML bottle (with milliliters marks on the side)

Add 2 - cups of water to a pan and bring it to a simmer, 122 - 140 degrees Fahrenheit, or 'til it's just slightly too hot to put your finger in for more than a few seconds. Add 2 cups of table sugar and 1/4 cup of corn syrup and leave on heat for 30 seconds. Remove pan from heat, stir until all is dissolved. Let solution cool then add to a bottle. Fill the bottle up to 1000 ML and shake.

NOTE: To try this recipe cold process, add sugar, water, and corn syrup to a 1000 ML bottle and shake 'til all is dissolved. Top off with water.


A cold process shakey-shakey method from David Wondrich's
Killer Cocktails
borrowed from Paul Clarke's Cocktail Chronicles

Take one cup of pomegranate juice, and place it in a jar with one cup of granulated sugar. Seal tightly and shake like hell until all of the sugar is dissolved. Add another ounce or two of sugar and repeat.

Clarke suggests: Adding an ounce of high-proof vodka or grain alcohol as a preservative, and storing in a plastic container in the freezer: "the high volume of sugar keeps it from freezing, and you can just tip out a little frigid syrup each time you need it." Thanks, Paul!


Monday, July 21, 2008

LUPEC makes it's small screen debut

Check us out in this short webisode recorded with the Liquid Muse at Tales of the Cocktail on the Small Screen Network!

Cin cin!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

scenes from Tales of the Cocktail: Day #1

Mimi at the Napoleon House, looking like a '70s Album cover

A pair of perfect Pimm's Cups...

Napoleon House's big as your head Muffelatta. This is the "quarter" size.

Chad Solomon of Cuff & Buttons pours sample Pisco Sours at the Emerging Spirits panel. This conference was tough, tough work.

Rebirth...the Remix.

Dancing 'til dawn...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

scenes from Tales of the Cocktail: Pre Tales...

Barbara West is presenting at the conference and had to make sure she had all her materials on hand. Don't expect to get on a plane with a portable bar and a bottle of Picon without raising some eyebrows...

Babs' Contraband

Lunch by the pool with MiMi and longtime LUPEC friend, Em...

Mimi, Pink Lady & Em, at dinner at Jacques-Imo's.

Pink Gin + Fried Roast Beef Po' Boy = Heaven

Hanky Panky & Pink Gin + bubbly = heaven. What else does one drink with a Fried Po' Boy?

Last night we drank these. Try one and live vicariously through us:

Vieux Carre

1 ounce rye whiskey
1 ounce Cognac
1 ounce sweet vermouth
1 teaspoon Bénédictine D.O.M.
2 dashes Peychaud's Bitters2 dashes Angostura Bitters

Mix all ingredients in a double Old Fashioned glass over ice; stir.


The Storied Sazerac

With half of LUPEC Boston in NOLA for the Tales of the Cocktail festival this week, it only seemed right to raise a glass to the Sazerac, the city's official cocktail. It's not just a tag line you know: last month the Louisiana House of Representatives proclaimed the Sazerac New Orleans' official cocktail in a 62-33 vote. (Did those 33 other legislators vote for the Ramos Gin Fizz?)

But you can't write casually about the Sazerac. The history of the cocktail is complex and much debated, "so intricate and entangled in myth," writes David Wondrich in Imbibe!, "it requires a monograph of its own." Wondrich reached page sixteen of his Sazerac treatise before his editor made him stop, and if this historian-come-cocktail authority won't try for encyclopedic in his coverage of Sazerac, neither will we. However, we can guide you to a few fun sources that sketch the lore of the Sazerac. Below are a few facets of the Sazerac myth which may or may not be true, but should absolutely be embellished to provide the most exciting story possible.

The Sazerac is the original cocktail. That's likely false, as Wondrich argues rather compellingly in Imbibe!:

"There is in fact no written record of [the Sazerac] before the first decade of the twentieth century, which is perfectly understandable: When all is said and done, the Sazerac is merely a plain Whiskey (or Brandy)...Cocktail made with Peychaud's bitters and finished with a dash of absinthe. A generation earlier, you could have ordered the same thing in any bar in America that served mixed drinks."

As Wondrich's research reveals, written record of that elusive noun, "cocktail" appears as early as 1803 in a tiny little newspaper produced in a tiny little town called Amherst, New Hampshire (which is coincidentally, where I grew up.) The debate goes on and on, but the nomenclature and the execution of such a drink with such a name likely predate Peychaud's home tippling.

The Sazerac was originally served in an egg cup. On The Gumbo Pages, Chuck Taggart provides an excellent overview of the history of the Sazerac. Here we learn that Creole apothecary Antoine Amadie Peychaud moved to NOLA in the early 1800s, set up shop in the French Quarter, and began selling his signature tincture to "relieve the ails of all his clients." After hours Peychaud mixed that magic tincture with a little cognac, water, and sugar for his friends. He served the drink in the large end of an egg cup -- a coquetier en Francais -- and the improper American pronunciation of this term led to the eventual appellation “cocktail”. In that version of the myth, the Sazerac is thus the original cocktail, Peychaud its father, and New Orleans its cradle. It’s as likely as landing a dinner meeting with the Easter bunny, but a good tale nonetheless.

The Sazerac became the Sazerac at the Sazerac Coffee House on Royal Street. Sewell Taylor christened the "Sazerac Cocktail" as the signature drink of his Sazerac Coffee House on Exchange alley in 1853 . The drink was to be made only with Sazerac de Forge et Fils brandy, a popular brand of cognac of which he was the sole importer. Or was it John Schiller who opened the Sazerac Coffee House in 1859, and christened the Sazerac Cocktail its signature drink to be made with Sazerac brand cognac, for which he was the sole importer?

In any case, it was at the Sazerac Coffee House that an innovative barkeep introduced the step of rinsing a glass with absinthe, and it was here, under new owner Thomas H. Handy (or was it John Handy, as cited in The Craft of the Cocktail?) that the principal spirit was changed from cognac to rye whiskey, circa 1870. Reasons for that switch are clear, at least: the phylloxera epidemic in France made cognac hard to come by...or was it simply that the American palate favored rye? Maybe it was a little of both.

Sazerac de Forge et Fils perished in the 1880s, but as one brand dies, another is born: a decade later the Sazerac bar had grown into a Sazerac company who began to bottle and sell the rye-based version of the drink. That same company sells a six-year-old Sazerac brand rye today, as well as many other spirits.

Oh, what a tangled web history becomes when its scribes hit the bottlet! The beauty of these modern times is that all of these ingredients (save the Sazerac de Forge et Fils cognac) are available today -- event absinthe! We suggest experimenting with the ingredients, ratios, and recipes you like the best, and matching it to your favorite foggy detailed story while mixing one up to impress your friends. Here are a few variations to get you started.

Exhibit A: Original(ish) Sazerac
Imbibe! by David Wondrich

This recipe is the first one in print for the whiskey-based version. Reprinted in David Wonderich's Imbibe!, it was first published by William Boothby as the late Tom Handy's recipe in an undated supplement to THE WORLD'S DRINKS AND HOW TO MIX THEM:

Frappe [chill] an old-fashioned flat bar-glass; then take a mixing glass and muddle half a cube of sugar with a little water; add some ice, a jigger of good whiskey, two dashes of Peychaud bitters, and a piece of twisted lemon peel; stir well until cold, then throw the ice out of the bar-glass, dash several drops of Absinthe into the same, and rinse well with the Absinthe. Now strain the Cocktail into frozen glass, and serve with ice water on the side.

A free copy of the LITTLE BLACK BOOK OF COCKTAILS goes to the first reader to try this with a good cognac and an egg cup and report back with pictures!

Exhibit B: King Cocktail's Sazerac Cocktail
The Craft of the Cocktail by Dale DeGroff

Dale DeGroff's version calls for a little bit of everything. The plot thickens...

Splash of Ricard or Herbsaint
1 oz. VS cognac
1 oz. rye whiskey
1/2 oz. simple syrup
2 dashes Peychaud's bitters
2 dashes Angostura bitters
lemon peel for garnish

Chill one rocks glass while preparing the drink in another. Splash the Ricard into another glass and swirl it, then pour it out. Add the cognac, rye, simple syrup, and the two kinds of bitters. Stir with ice cubes to chill. Strain into the chilled rocks glass and garnish with lemon peel.

Exhibit C: NOLA Gals Weigh In
In the Land of Cocktails by Ti Adelaide Martin and Lally Brennan

This modern recipe calls for both Peychaud's & Angostura bitters in uneven ratios, Herbsaint, the local pastis that served as absinthe's understudy during the ban, and shaking, not stirring, the ingredients.

Makes 1 cocktail

1 tablespoon Herbsaint
1 1/2 ounces rye whiskey, preferably Old Overholt or Sazerac rye
1/2 teaspoon simple syrup
4 to 5 dashes Peychaud's bitters
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 lemon twist with the white pith removed, for garnish

Pour the Herbsaint into a rocks glass and swirl to coat the inside. Discard any excess Herbsaint. Fill the glass with ice to chill.

Combine the rye, simple syrup and Peychaud's and Angostura bitters in a cocktail shaker with ice. Cover and shake vigorously.

Discard the ice from the glass and strain the shaker mixture into the glass. Rub the rim of the glass with the lemon twist, add to the drink and serve immediately.

Enjoy your Sazeracs, and Happy Tales to you!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

More fun and easy ways to create your own cocktail

by Bourbon Belle

Wishing for a drink that you just haven’t been able to find at your beloved watering hole? Or dreaming about making the perfect cocktail to suit a specific taste? It’s surprisingly easy to concoct a well-balanced cocktail in the classic style, so long as you keep a few basic rules of thumb in mind.

One of the earliest known definitions of the term “cocktail” comes from the May 1806 issue of The Balance, and Columbian Repository, a Hudson, N.Y.-based weekly newspaper of yore: “Cocktail is a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water and bitters ...”

So let’s start with the spirit of your choice—Bourbon's as good as any. Next, you’ll want to sweeten it up for balance. Let’s go traditional and throw in some sweet vermouth. Following the cocktail "definition," we’re going to add some bitters; Angostura bitters make for a traditional Manhattan. Now, let’s make an original by including a flavor you’d like to impart into your drink. What goes well with Bourbon? How about … peaches! Let’s add a touch of peach liqueur—Mathilde Peches is my personal choice. And now you have your own twist on a traditional cocktail, made to suit your own flavor preferences.

Just remember: a spirit, a sweetener, a bitter (fresh citrus juice is also great for balancing out the sweetness) and water (in most cases, just consider the melting ice sufficient).


3 ounces Jim Beam Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
1/2 ounce Mathilde Peches Liqueur
1/2 ounce sweet vermouth (Martini & Rossi or Cinzano preferred)
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Fill a shaker with ice and add all ingredients. Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

More fun and easy ways to create your own cocktail follows this same concept. Take a drink you like, and just put a little spin on it!

Maybe you LOVE a classic Negroni, but sometimes prefer something a touch more smooth. Try another original created by one of our LUPEC ladies called the Contessa. Change up the Campari for Aperol (Campari’s less bitter cousin-as quoted from Hanky Panky the Weekly Dig 7.2.08-7.9.08) and even out the portions of all three ingredients.


Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add:
1.5 oz Beefeater Gin
1.5 oz Aperol
1.5 oz Cinzano sweet vermouth

Stir and strain in a chilled cocktail glass
Garnish with an orange twist

How about a classic Sidecar variation? Swap out the traditional brandy for Belle de Brillet, a pear flavored Cognac, for a smooth and delicious Pear flavored Sidecar.

Belle de Brillet Sidecar

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add:
2 oz Belle de Brillet
.5 oz Cointreau
.5 oz fresh lemon juice

Shake gently and strain into a chilled cocktail glass that has been rimmed with raw sugar.
Garnish with an orange wheel

The sky's the limit. After all, as Imbibe! author David Wondrich writes, "the small, idiomatic differences...are the mixographer's delight!"


Thursday, July 3, 2008

Oh When the Saints...

The ladies of LUPEC Boston are gearing up for our annual excursion to New Orleans for Tales of the Cocktail. For five days we will be learning about everything from Shochu to sensory perception. And for five nights we will be eating, drinking and dancing at our favorite haunts. Sounds like something real close to heaven. So to get us in the mood let's pour out a tasty, low alcohol cocktail from one of NOLA's finest restaurants, Herbsaint.

Half Sinner, Half Saint
2 oz French Vermouth
2 oz Dry Vermouth
.5 oz Herbsaint
Lemon Twist
In a rocks glass combine the vermouths over ice. Float the Herbsaint. Garnish with the lemon twist.


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Go Tiki Yourself

When The Weekly Dig's Christine Liu asked the LUPEC ladies to advise her readers on summertime drinks, we enthusiastically obliged by studying up and drinking our way through the books of Beachbum Berry and Trader Vic. Check out our story in this week's Dig! But could it additionally be possible to get one's tiki on in Boston?

Because of the Puritanical background of Massachusetts one may assume that our fine state was never a part of Tiki Nation. Not so, my dear friends. In fact the Boston area was a hotbed of tiki torch amusements. Those of you who have been in the Boston area for a while will remember Aku Aku, the Polynesian delight that used to occupy the space that now holds Jasper White's Summer Shack near Alewife Station. Boasting sister locations in Worcester and Newton, Aku Aku offered up Polynesian fare and stand up comedy that one could wash down with delicious tiki libations. Heading back to mid-century, Boston hosted Kon-Tiki Ports in the Sheraton at the Prudential Center, Trader Vic's in the Park Plaza Hotel, the Polynesian Village in the Somerset Hotel, Bob Lee's Islander in Chinatown, and the Hawaiian on Boylston St.

And let us not forget the Aloha Lounge!

Talking about tiki of yore can make one thirsty. Fear not! We may not be able to sit in the Kona Hut of the Polynesian Village, but there are still options for those of us longing to have our engines revved by a Jet Pilot. On Beacon St in Newton we find South Pacific. This unassuming store front in a strip mall hides a secret tiki enclave featuring bamboo, tiki fixtures and murals.

Want to head someplace more accessible by T? Head on over to East Coast Grill in Inman Square and limbo on in to the Lava Lounge. This Cambridge institution is known for quality seafood and BBQ, but we heart East Coast Grill for it's tribute to Polynesia. Order up a Pu Pu Platter, sip on your Erupting, Flaming Volcano (serves 2, limit two per couple) and enjoy the sites!

Next on our field trip of all things tiki we find ourselves in Medford at Tiki Island. Although it's not as elaborately decorated as it's tiki predecessors, Tiki Island happily boasts "Exotic Polynesian Tropical Drinks." Who are we to say no?

On Route 1 in Saugus, we find the Kowloon. Established in 1950 by the Wong Family, the Kowloon is a New England Polynesian institution. After passing through the entrance guarded by a 15 foot tiki you have the choice of sitting in the Volcano Bay Room, the Thai Grill Room, the Luau Room, the Hong Kong Lounge or the Tiki Lagoon while you sample an eclectic menu of Szechuan, Cantonese and Thai food.

Heading to the Cape for a long weekend? Don't forget to stop by Tiki Port in Hyannis! Since 1977 the Tiki Port has been serving a blend of Cantonese, Szechuan and Mandarin cuisine along with an extensive menu of Polynesian drinks.

Back from your long weekend and in need of something refreshing to erase the memories of bumper to bumper Cape traffic? Park your car, grab your friends, hop on the T and bang the gong at Pho Republique. Their Scorpion Bowl boasts mango, pineapple, passion fruit and an assortment of rums. Yum!

The post-war Golden Era of Tiki may have passed, but that doesn't mean a new generation can't live it up Island-style.  Also, when's the last time you went to Saugus? Put a little rum in your summer by taking a pilgrimage to any of these Tiki spots.  Or mix up one of these bad boys in the comfort of your own home/Island Oasis.

Jungle Bird
.75 oz Campari
.5 oz fresh lime juice
.5 oz simple syrup
4 oz fresh unsweetened pineapple juice
1.5 oz dark Jamaican rum
Shake well with plenty of ice cubes and pour into a double old fashioned glass or a tiki mug.  Garnish with an orchid, plus a maraschino cherry speared to lemon and orange wheels.  Place a lei around your neck and enjoy.

From the Aviary Bar of the Kuala Lumpur Hilton, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, circa 1978.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Measure of Success

I never thought I would become attached to a kitchen tool. That is, until I met the Oxo angled measuring cup. The 2 oz measuring cup, shown on the right, allows one to accurately measure amounts as small as one quarter ounce. In addition to ounces, their are interior markings for tablespoons and the more traditional exterior markings for milliliters and cups. Mr. Jigger you have served me well, but from now on this detail oriented cocktail lover will be angling for Oxo. Let's put that quarter ounce line to use.

The Hoskins Cocktail
2 oz Plymouth Gin
.75 oz Torani Amer (or Amer Picon)
.5 oz Maraschino Liqueur
.25 oz Cointreau
1 dash orange bitters

Combine ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a flamed orange peel.


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Shaken or Stirred?

Which cocktails should be shaken and which ones should be stirred? If you're a student of classic mixology, you might answer, "That's easy. Drinks with eggs, dairy or fruit juices should be shaken, and 'clear' drinks made with only spirits, vermouth, etc. should be stirred." OK, the first of those mandates is seldom disputed. Stirring an egg drink? Not gonna work. But shaking a Martini? James Bond has some surprising company here.

Take the respected Savoy Cocktail Book: its mixing instructions for clear drinks are all over the map; some recipes say "stir," some say "shake." New York Times restaurant critic William Grimes' much-consulted Straight Up or on the Rocks: the Story of the American Cocktail instructs you to shake a Martini. Even the "Professor," Jerry Thomas, "couldn't make up his mind whether the Cocktail is shaken or stirred," writes David Wondrich in Imbibe! "His brandy Cocktail calls for the spoon, his gin and whiskey ones the shaker. Nor are his professional colleagues much help ... Judging by the numerous depictions of 'tossing the foaming cocktail' back and forth in a huge arc, in the 1860s and 1870s consensus favored this method -- or perhaps it was just the more picturesque one and hence was noticed more often."

That consensus still holds in, like, 99 percent of modern bars. Most drinkers like the theatricality of a shaken drink, and most bartenders are happy to oblige, especially since it's easier for them to employ only one mixing technique. Sure, your Grey Goose with olives will be cloudy with air bubbles, but it'll be drinkable.

Is "drinkable" good enough when you're paying $10-$15 for a cocktail? If you gravitate toward clear mixtures, as the Ladies often do, the answer is probably "no." There's something about a Martini, a Manhattan, a Saratoga or a Gin and It that has been deftly swirled over ice for a good minute, then strained into a chilled cocktail glass without a trace of agitation. What you get is a shimmeringly transparent drink that looks and tastes that much more elegant than its shaken sibling. And consider this: a bartender who takes the time to stir a cocktail is likely going to get its proportions and temperature right, too. Time to re-think your drink, Bond.