Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Pink Lady Cocktail

by Pink Lady

Hopefully you all caught the debut of the LUPEC Boston column in this week's issue of The Weekly Dig. As promised, here's a little more info on our favorite recipe for the Pink Lady, and a few notes on why I thought it an appropriate choice as the very first cocktail for our very first Dig column.

At first glance The Pink Lady appears to bear all the trappings of a "girly" drink - a feminine name, an approachable frothiness, a pastel hue. But the Pink Lady is no drink for the faint of heart: its tart-dry flavor is a far cry from the cloyingly sweet "girly" cocktails we're wary of in this modern era of drinking. And its boozy gin & apple brandy base packs a whallop. As Eric Felten wrote in his Wall Street Journal column on the topic, "though a tasty drink worthy of inclusion in the cocktail canon, the Pink Lady has found its reputation dogged by association with a dubious aesthetic." It is a cocktail that is easily underestimated. After enjoying one or two of these, though, I'm sure you'll agree: ladylike as she is, the Pink Lady kicks ass and takes names. She's a LUPEC kind of gal. Our favorite recipe is below:

Pink Lady Cocktail

1-1/2 oz gin
1/2 oz applejack
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz grenadine (preferably homemade)
1 egg white

Combine ingredients in a shaker and shake vigorously without ice.
Add ice; shake continue vigorous shaking.
Strain into your favorite vintage cocktail glass.

There are two classic cocktail lessons inherent in the making of a Pink Lady:

Lesson #1: Quality of ingredients: your drinks will only taste as good as the stuff you use to make them. Most of the cocktails the ladies of LUPEC Boston are intent on reviving were invented in the days before preservatives kept juices intact for weeks on end. When trying them out at home, you too should use the freshest ingredients you can find. For the Pink Lady you'll need fresh lemons and we highly recommend using homemade grenadine: the flavor is leaps and bounds beyond the stuff you can buy in a bottle, and it's really simple to make. Hanky Panky's recipe is below.

Grenadine

Combine equal parts pomegranate juice (Pom, par example) and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for 7 minutes. Remove from heat and add 1 tsp orange flower water for every 1/2 cup pomegranate juice used. Cool.

Lesson #2: Eggs in cocktails: We know, we know. The whole "egg thing" is a really weird concept for many classic cocktail novices, but I promise you, your trip down classic cocktail lane won't be nearly as fulfilling if you can't get over it. As you cozy up to the raw-egg-in-a-drink idea, ask yourself: when is the last time you ever heard of someone in America actually getting salmonella? And if I offered you a taste of delicious raw batter from the cookies I've just whipped up, would you decline? I thought not. If you're still having doubts, check out this recent article in the New York Times: see, eggs are HUGE in New York.

Once you're ready to take the egg plunge, get your biceps ready. For egg cocktails to reach the delicious, frothy state that is their hallmark, you've got to shake the bejesus out of them. First, however, the egg white must be emulsified, hence the instruction to combine all ingredients in your shaker and give 'em a good shake BEFORE adding ice. A very insightful post on the topic can be found on the Robert Huegel's Explore the Pour blog: the author advocates shaking ingredients ten times, then add just slightly more ice than the amount of standing liquid in your shaker.

After adding ice, shake...and shake...and shake...and shake your Pink Lady, remembering all the while that egg cocktails take time -- a LONG time -- but once they are perfect and complete in your cocktail glass, just seconds from slipping down your throat, they are oh so worth the labor and the wait.

Like anything worth doing, really.

Cin-cin!

Pink Lady photo borrowed from the Thinking of Drinking blog.



2 comments:

frederic said...

Grenadine, simple, and gomme syrups are easily made in the microwave using a Pyrex mixing cup or for smaller sizes a coffee mug (although this doesn't allow the ability to see the frothingness which is a precursor to overspilling).

Perhaps not old school, but it's not only faster, it also doesn't carmelize the ingredients as much (unless that's what you're going for).

montuori said...

regarding salmonella: food scientist robert wolke maintains that salmonella might rarely be found in the yolks of eggs but usually not the whites, making the pink lady a far safer bet than cookie batter. and, in accordance with lesson #1, eggs (and other meat products) from small farms will almost never have salmonella anyway. so buy locally and drink up! k.

(what einstein told his cook 2, pp. 104, 2005)