Archives for posts with tag: Manhattan

The Grog Dog is not a sentimental type; even after lapping up one too many cocktails, I won’t be howling over texts from an ex. But everyone has their emotional weakness, and cheeky word-humor is one of mine: Post a sly pun on my Facebook feed and I’ll follow you anywhere.

It was over beers with a friend – of one of the many brands specializing in name-puns – that I was reminded of “the language of flowers”, or floriography: a means of sending silent messages to friends, enemies, and lovers using blossoms that had specific, well known meanings. While flowers had been a staple of romantic communication for centuries, their cryptographic use became wildly popular in England and the U.S. during the repressed Victorian era.

Red_Rose_Wiki commons

Strict social mores precluded young sweethearts, for example, from writing or speaking their ardor. To transmit their feelings or indicate their preferences, they would give, hold, or arrange specific blooms in accordance with floral dictionaries, so their intended recipient would know their meaning. Even the scent of certain love flowers, discreetly daubed on a handkerchief, could speak volumes to a suitor.

After imbibing a few brews chosen for their clever names rather than their flavors (I can’t resist a good pun or a bad one), I wondered whether cocktails might also be used to subtly communicate certain sentiments – specifically, cocktail names. Like stringing together an entire story with emojis, cocktail messaging could become a new bar craze among literary types… Cocktail EmojiOr introverts, who may not wish to be approached by a boozed-up barfly, but could carry on a (very) quiet conversation with that other single who has a sophisticated drink and a Kindle, and understand each other perfectly.

Let me be clear: I am not talking about the cocktails that proliferated during what the Corpse Reviver of the American cocktail, David Wondrich, called the Dark Ages: the Sex on the Beach, the Slippery Nipple, the Slow Comfortable Screw, etc. (I refuse to provide links; if you must, look them up yourself.) As he noted in an Esquire column, “those drinks resist craft”. They also resist taste, subtlety, and class.

To make the cocktail-name-conversation thought experiment a little simpler, and classier, I went back to Victorian times – or at least pre-Prohibition – to imagine a more romantic scene.

1st round: Jack Rose, Margarita

2nd round: ManhattanBrooklyn

3rd round: Tuxedo, Champagne Cocktail

blueblazer.it4th round: Hot ToddyMaiden’s Blush

5th round: Hanky Panky, Morning Glory

6th round: Old FashionedBijou

7th round: Scofflaw, White Lady

8th round: South SideTom Collins

9th round: Blue BlazerLast Word

Final round: Turf ClubMerry Widow

While the game is obviously much more fun when your cocktail companion knows you’re playing, you can amuse yourself for hours (or until you hit your limit) using your drink order to comment on life and the world in the moment. mutt-ropolitan-opera-calendar_merry-widow_operatoonityA friend of mine shakes up a Merry Widow when she’s particularly annoyed with her husband… Which may not change his habits, but fortifies her for the next round.




Image credits: Red Rose – Wikicommons; Martini Emoji –; Blue Blazer –; The Merry Widow –

It could be the festive Christmas lights or Santa’s snow-chilled cheeks, but at GrogDogBlog that warm, red glow means Maker’s Mark bourbon! The GrogDogs recently attended a wonderful evening of Maker’s Mark cocktails and fellowship with local Maker’s Mark Ambassadors at the County Cork Wine Pub in Eldersburg, Md. World Whiskey Specialist Ryan Lyles (yes, that’s a real job, and I am envious of it) provided a wee taste of Maker’s 46 in a souvenir wax-dipped glass as well as some education about Maker’s 46 and what makes it so special. (Hint: It’s in the barrel. See that nicely charred stave in the photo? It smells amazing!)

GrogDogs at Maker's Mark Ambassadors Event - County Cork Wine Pub, Eldersburg, Md.

Maker’s 46 ages in charred French oak barrels for intensified vanilla and caramel flavors.

While true GrogDogs enjoy just about any spirit that makes a good cocktail, I’ve been a Maker’s Mark Ambassador for many years, and it’s my go-to bourbon for mixing, cooking, or just plain drinking. (Maker’s 46, the longer-aged version, I save for special occasions.)

The County Cork Wine Pub offered a light buffet featuring – what else? – Meatballs in (MM!) Bourbon Sauce and other delicious noshes to accompany the featured Maker’s cocktails: Old Fashioned, Manhattan, Mint Julep, Side Car, Maker’s Mule, Kentucky Coffee, Maker’s (non-egg) Nog, and Maker’s Hot Cider. Here’s one recipe as provided by the excellent County Cork bartender:

Side Car – 1 oz Maker’s Mark, 1/2 oz triple sec, 1/2 oz fresh lemon juice. Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Check back for more recipes soon, and in the meantime, enjoy that warm, red glow throughout the holiday season!

In my last post I offered a list of basic spirits that will serve you and your guests well. But drinkers do not live by spirits alone, for the most part, and everyone enjoys a little variety. So what else should you keep on hand so you can have a delicious cocktail any day of the week?

Fresh lemons and limes and oranges are great, though you’re the only one who will know if you use bottled juice. (I keep bottles on hand myself, in case my fruit goes bad or I just don’t feel like squeezing. Purists will damn me for it, but whose drink is it anyway?) You can get larger bags of citrus at a warehouse store like Costco, and if you drink a cocktail or two a day (or several on weekends), you will generally use them up before they turn brown or grow mold. A half-lemon or half-lime produces around 1 oz of juice, but if you’re OK with your cocktail being on the tart side, don’t get too precise: just squeeze in half the fruit and get on with it. Thus one lemon or lime makes two drinks, which is probably more than your doctor would be happy about, but at least you can tell him you’re adding fresh juice to your diet.

Mixers: Tonic water, club soda, ginger ale. I don’t use tonic or ginger ale much, so I spend a bit more on the six-pack of tiny bottles so I don’t waste it. I can make about two Gin & Tonics from one of those little bottles, which makes for a nice happy hour. But I go through gallons of club soda (because I also drink it straight), so I pick up the 5-for-$4 liter-bottle deal at my local supermarket. If you use them often, keep your mixers in the fridge – you will not enjoy the watery result when room-temp soda hits the ice. My policy is one-out, one-in, so I always have at least one chilled bottle on hand.

Bitters: Angostura bitters are readily available at supermarkets and are used to add some depth and (obviously) a slightly bitter flavor to many of the common sweet cocktails. It’s tempting to look at the per-ounce price and go for the large bottle, but until you have a reason to shell out for that much (like, you’re writing a cocktail blog and do a lot of taste-testing), just buy the small one. You’ll only use a few drops at a time, and the small bottle will last a good while.

I also recommend orange (or blood orange) bitters, which are stocked at most larger liquor stores. There are several classic cocktails that call for them, and you don’t want to miss out on a more complex flavor for want of a simple ingredient.

Vermouth: Keep a small bottle each of red (sweet) and a white (dry) vermouth. If you tend to drink Manhattans or Negronis frequently (recipes below!) and know you’ll use it up, go for the larger size. But this is an inexpensive, widely available ingredient, so just restock when you need it.

Campari: I have used a surprising amount of Campari since I started drinking cocktails. It’s a bitter herbal liqueur that’s shockingly red in color, which makes an attractive drink. I used to think it tasted like cough syrup (and it does, somewhat), but it makes a very nice balance to vermouth and other sweet flavorings. It can be an acquired taste, so pick up a small bottle at first, and experiment with the proportion of Campari-to-sweetness in your Negroni or Boulevardier. You may find you enjoy it more than you expected.

Other liqueurs: I happen to like Chartreuse and St-Germain (floral/herb-based liqueurs), and I keep 750ml bottles in my bar because I use them. But many specialty liqueurs are available in small sizes or even miniatures behind the counter at your neighborhood liquor store, so you can sample something new without shelling out for a huge bottle that may end up gathering dust. (More recipes to come in future posts using those and other “exotic” ingredients!)

Garnishes: Ordinarily I don’t bother with garnishes because they seem a little high-maintenance for a drink you just want to sip while heating leftover spaghetti and catching up on the evening news. But there is a science behind their use, and I’ll get into that in a future post.

RECIPES! I referred to a few cocktails above, so here are the recipes that use many of the ingredients in this post.

Manhattan: 1 oz each whiskey (preferably rye) and sweet vermouth, with a dash of Angostura bitters. Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Boulevardier: 1 oz each bourbon, sweet vermouth, and Campari, stirred in a short glass with ice.

If a Manhattan or Boulevardier is a little too sweet for you, you may enjoy the Old Pal: 1 oz each whiskey, dry vermouth, and Campari, stirred in a short glass with ice.

If you like your Boulevardier on the bitter side, you could expand your repertoire to the more astringent Negroni: 1 oz each gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari, stirred in a short glass with ice.

The ice helps blend and smooth out the flavors in each drink, and the slight chill is reviving.

Now you have a choice of four simple cocktails to help your no-hassle transitions from workday to evening. Cheers!