Cocktail of the Month
Jody Kurash • June 4, 2014
No matter where you go in Indonesia, you will see them. A small storefront with a counter, a vendor on the street. They are dispensing drinks of an odd consistency: most of them thick and gooey, like globs of brownish mud. These curious potables can be purchased at one of the incalculable number of jamu shops that fill this island nation.
Jamu is a traditional herbal medicine from Indonesia, dating to ancient times. While little known in the States, jamu is widely used by locals. Indigenous healers, or dukuns, were the original jamu practitioners, but now it is more widespread than CVS in D.C.
A mixture of plants, leaves, seeds, herbs, bark, spices, fruits and flowers, jamu is purported to cure everything. It can treat diabetes, lower cholesterol, eliminate body odor, improve sexual stamina, cool the body, cure arthritis and even provide harmony within your family. The list goes on and on. Depending on the ailment, a different combination is prescribed.
Commercially prepared jamu is widely available, but most prefer to have it freshly made at a shop, where they can get a custom blend. It comes in tablets, powders and teas, but is most commonly consumed as a drink. Sometimes it is served in a combination of these.
My first jamu experience came courtesy of my friend Henry Kunjuik, who runs three jamu shops in Denpasar, the busy capital of Bali. Over the course of my nine months in Indonesia, Henry has treated me for a leg infection, hangovers and cuts and scrapes.
Henry comes from Padang, a region of Sumatra famous for its spicy food. He has been practicing jamu in Bali for more than seven years. He and his older cousin learned to make jamu from a master jamu guru in Java. Henry works at one of his stores and has taught his younger brothers how to run the other two.
Located on a busy thoroughfare, his main store opens around 4 p.m. every day to provide a relief for tired souls coming home from work and looking for a pick-me-up. He stays open until 1 or 2 a.m. In the meantime, his shop becomes a gathering point for a truckload of friends he refers to as brothers.
The typical jamu order is a customized combo of a thick, freshly prepared natural smoothie with a shot of juice or tea and a tablet on the side. The most popular requests can be ordered from a menu, divided into jamu for men, jamu for women and jamu for both sexes. An average serving costs about 8,000-12,000 rupiah (72-94 cents), depending on the mixture and the type of egg used (duck or chicken).
Jamu Pegel Linu, which relieves muscle fatigue and helps one get a good night’s sleep, is the most frequently ordered item on the menu. Customers can expect to wake up the next morning rested and ready to go. “You work hard all day, then you’re so tired, “ says Henry. “Then you drink jamu before you sleep and when you wake up you much feel better.”
When I ask Henry for an analysis of the natural ingredients, he recites a list of Indonesian words. While some are familiar – like ginger, citrus and turmeric – most of the words can’t be deciphered by Google’s online translator. In Indonesia, words vary not only from English, but from one island to another.
Two of the ingredients common to most jamu drinks are egg and honey. It is generally believed in Indonesia that when mixed together they increase stamina. (If you want to make jamu at home, you will have to have most of the ingredients shipped to you, since they are native only to Indonesia. You can also order commercially made powders online.)
Henry mixes up a concoction to relieve my insomnia and teaches me to drink like a local. First, he whips up a thick sludge using a mixer mounted to the counter. I watch as he cracks an egg into a cup and throws in various powders, Beras Kencur –a locally produced juice infused with herbs – and a special honey only made and sold for jamu.
After a series of whirs and clanks, Henry pours a thick goop into a glass. He offers me a sample first. It’s bitter and medicinal, a bit like Jagermeister. He rims the glass with lime and squeezes the remaining juice into my glass, which adds a pleasant citrus flare.
My prescription is served on a plate, along with a sunny glass of Henry’s handcrafted ginger tea, a tablet of commercially made jamu and a piece of candy for dessert.
I am instructed to chug the jamu and chase it with the sugary tea. The smack of the sweet and spicy ginger provides a lovely contrast to the herbaceous jamu, washing down the slurry with a refreshing twist. I finish up by taking the tablet with the remaining tea and skip the candy.
Maybe it’s the power of suggestion, but I begin to feel invigorated almost immediately. When I go home that night, I ease into a soothing slumber.
Cocktail of the Month
Jody Kurash • February 13, 2014
Naming cocktails after current events is nothing new, especially in a wonky city like Washington. Whether it’s an election, scandal, debt ceiling, snowstorm or government shutdown, there is always a cocktail commemorating something in D.C.
Two of my favorites in recent years have been the “Binders Full of Women,” a Mitt Romney-themed election tipple from the Mt. Vernon Square bar and restaurant The Passenger, and BLT Steak’s “Gun to a Snowball Fight,” named after the 2009 incident in which a cop in plainclothes pulled a gun during a snowball fight on U Street.
What about naming a cocktail after an international court ruling? This occurred in Peru last month after the International Court of Justice gave Lima economic rights over a slice of Pacific Ocean maritime territory in a 100-year-old dispute with neighboring Chile.
The new elixir, called the La Haya Sour (The Hague Sour) after the Dutch city where the ICJ is based, is a variation on the Pisco Sour, Peru’s national drink. According to Agence France Presse, the cocktail was unveiled on the eve of the country’s Pisco Sour Day.
Peruvians are so crazy about pisco, they have not one, but two national holidays commemorating their flagship spirit: National Pisco Sour Day (the first Saturday in February) and National Pisco Day (the fourth Sunday in July). The official website of the Peruvian government has a link to a site called “Pisco es Perú.”
According to AFP, which interviewed the drink’s creator, bartender Javier Perez, the concoction’s intense blue comes from a dash of Curacao, to “give it the color of the sea.” Says Perez: “It’s a drink that pays tribute to The Hague ruling in favor of Peru and that puts an end to border problems with Chile.”
Naming a pisco drink after Peru’s court victory is a double smack in the face for Chile. Peru and Chile have been fighting for decades over who invented pisco (a grape brandy produced in winemaking regions of Peru and Chile). Both countries also claim the Pisco Sour as their national drink. While it may sound trivial, the debate can become fierce between these neighbors.
There is actually a town named Pisco in both countries, so each can lay international claim to an “appellation of origin,” a direct link between the product and the land. This is similar to France, where Champagne, Bordeaux and Burgundy can only be labeled as such if they’re produced in those specific regions.
The Peruvian city by that name dates back to 1574, while the Chilean town was given its moniker in 1936, when then Chilean president Gabriel González changed the name of La Unión to Pisco Elqui. Many believe the name was only changed in an attempt to steal the Pisco name from Peru.
In 2013, the European Commission ruled that Peru will be recognized as the original home of pisco. The decision established the Peruvian village of Pisco as the geographical origin of the drink and protects the country’s right to claim its provenance in the European market.
The rivalry between these two nations goes back to the War of the Pacific (1879-1883), which pitted Peru and Bolivia against Chile. During the conflict, Chile invaded Peru, occupying the capital, Lima, and delivered a crushing defeat to its Andean enemies. Peru, which lost the territories of Arica and Tacna, fared better than Bolivia, which lost its entire coastline to Chile. Tacna was returned to Peru in 1929.
Some Peruvians say that Chile stole the production of pisco during these years of disputed borders.
“Chile, they try to claim everything from Peru as their own,” says Lowell Haise Contreras, a musician from Villa María del Triunfo, a district of Lima that was on the front lines during the 1881 battle for the capital. “Pisco, ceviche, empanadas. . . . They don’t make anything of their own, so they try to take credit for the great creations of Peru.”
As for me, since I consider Peru my second home, I have to side with the land of Macchu Picchu.
La Haya Sour (The Hague Sour)
1 egg white
3 ounces Peruvian pisco (I prefer Macchu Pisco)
1 ounce lime juice
½ ounce simple syrup
½ ounce blue Curacao
In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine the first five ingredients. Shake vigorously for 15 seconds, then strain into a cocktail glass. Top with a few drops of bitters. Garnish with a lime.
Cocktail of the Month
Jody Kurash • January 15, 2014
As Washington – and much of the United
States – thaws out from one of the biggest
cold spells in recent memory, I
have been relishing my new tropical home on
the tranquil island of Bali. Enjoying an average
daily temperature of 85 degrees and a 10-minute
commute to the beach, just looking at the cold
weather on CNN sends shivers down my spine.
But if you can’t move to Polynesia, one of
the best ways to bring the beach to you is with a
tropical umbrella drink. While a hot toddy may
warm your soul, nothing quite says sunshine and
happiness like a tiki bar.
The original tiki bar was Don the
Beachcomber, created by Ernest Gantt in 1933
in Los Angeles. (Author Wayne Curtis tells the
story in “And a Bottle of Rum: A History of
the New World in Ten Cocktails”). Gantt, who
had spent much of his youth rambling about the
tropics, rented a small bar and decorated it with
items he’d gathered in the South Pacific, along
with driftwood, nets and parts of wrecked boats
scavenged from the beach.
Gantt stocked his bar with inexpensive rums,
available in abundance after Prohibition, and
invented an array of faux-tropical drinks using
fruit juices and exotic liqueurs. His bar became
incredibly fashionable, attracting celebrities and
prompting Gantt to legally rename himself Donn
The other iconic tiki bar was Trader Vic’s,
founded in 1934 in Oakland, Calif., by Victor
Jules Bergeron, Jr. Originally called Hinky
Dinks, Bergeron’s small bar and restaurant
soon morphed into a Polynesian-themed spot
with tropical drinks. It was renamed Trader
Vic’s at the suggestion of Bergeron’s wife, who
thought it would fit because her husband was
always involved in some type of deal or trade.
According to Curtis, Bergeron admits he swiped
the tiki concept from Gantt.
Both bars expanded to multiple locations,
sparking a nationwide craze that spawned dozens
of imitators, all rushing to replicate each
other’s colorful tipples.
Gantt was a talented mixologist who crafted
complex drinks with lengthy ingredient lists,
including multiple rums, homemade syrups and
fresh fruit. But as more tiki-themed bars opened
and Trader Vic’s turned to franchising, the
intricate cocktails became watered-down and
Perhaps the most duplicated tipple is the
quintessential tiki drink: the mai tai. Both Gantt
and Bergeron claimed to have invented it, but
their recipes vary wildly. The name is derived
from “Maita’i,” the Tahitian word for “good.”
Though it later fell out of fashion, the mai
tai was one of the most popular cocktails in the
1950s and ’60s. It featured prominently in Elvis
Presley’s chartbuster movie “Blue Hawaii.”
In their heyday, tiki bars were popular places
to celebrate a big occasion. Trader Vic’s at the
Washington Hilton was a hot spot for power
lunches. It was a favorite of Richard Nixon, who
had a fondness for mai tais.
According to Curtis, a mai tai was the first
thing requested by Patty Hearst, the Symbionese
Liberation Army kidnap-victim turned conspirator,
when she was released on bail in 1976.
Eventually the tiki bubble burst. With
scores of cheap imitators and poor locations,
the Polynesian fad began to lose its luster. None
of the original Don the Beachcombers are still
in existence and Trader Vic’s has only a few
remaining outposts. Perhaps the trend’s last
stand came in 1989, when the ever-brash Donald
Trump closed the venerable Trader Vic’s in New
York’s Plaza Hotel, calling it “tacky.”
Tiki crawled back into the spotlight over the
last decade and a half as retro-hipsters embraced
its kitschiness. Its comeback has continued with
the recent cocktail renaissance. Modern mixologists
have begun to uncover some of the original
tropical recipes with their multi-layered rum
profiles, fresh juices and handcrafted syrups.
The craft tiki cocktail movement arrived in
full force at the Georgetown waterfront in 2009
with mixologist Jon Arroyo’s extensive list of
authentic cocktails at Farmers Fishers Bakers.
Imbibers can sample homemade mai tais based
on the recipes of both Bergeron and Gantt.
Another option is Hogo, a Caribbean-themed
rum bar on 7th Street, NW, featuring highend
island cocktails. The man behind Hogo,
launched just over a year ago, is Tom Brown,
a partner in Washington’s craft cocktail palace
So when the January frost is nipping at your
nose, remember the words that Donn Beach
would tell his customers: “If you can’t get to
paradise, I’ll bring it to you.”
Don the Beachcomber’s Mai Tai
1 1/2 oz. Myers’s Rum
1 oz. Cuban rum (use a medium-bodied rum such as
Appleton or Barbancourt)
3/4 oz. lime juice
1 oz. grapefruit juice
1/4 oz. falernum syrup
1/2 oz. Cointreau
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Dash of Pernod
Trader Vic’s Mai Tai
2 oz. aged Jamaican rum
.5 oz. orgeat syrup
.5 oz. orange curacao
.25 oz. rock candy syrup
Juice from one fresh lime
For both drinks: Shake everything with ice and
strain into a double old-fashioned glass full of
crushed ice. Garnish with pineapple spear, lime
shell and a sprig of fresh mint.
Cocktail of the Month
Jody Kurash • December 5, 2013
When one thinks of liquor and Japan, sake immediately comes to mind. With its history dating back to the 700s, complex serving etiquette and array of fancy drinking vessels, this fermented rice wine is synonymous with Japan.
But during my recent excursion to the Tokyo area, I discovered another beverage that is booming in popularity in the land of the rising sun. Sh?ch? is a distilled beverage, mostly forged from barley, sweet potatoes, wheat or rice.
It varies in alcohol content from 20 percent to 25 percent and sports a crisp dry taste comparable to vodka or arrack. Multiple-distilled sh?ch?, which is generally used in mixed drinks, may contain up to 35-percent alcohol. The main difference between sake and sh?ch? is that sake is brewed, whereas sh?ch? is distilled.
Sh?ch? originated in Kyushu, the most southwesterly island in Japan, where it has been drunk for centuries. In recent years, its popularity has surged. According to the Japan Times, sh?ch? had long been thought of as being “cheap and nasty.” But as premium brands emerged and it was discovered by a new generation, the last two decades have seen triple-digit growth in sales. Trendy bars specializing in sh?ch? began popping up all over Tokyo.
Once considered stodgy, sh?ch? has been embraced by younger drinkers. Kimiyoshi Utsugi, a Tokyo resident, says he drinks sh?ch? every day. “My father always drank sake, but I drink sh?ch?,” he said. “The younger generation believes it’s much better for you.” Kimiyoshi says there is less sugar in sh?ch? and it won’t make you fat.
The way sh?ch? is served depends on the quality. According to Kimiyoshi, if it’s of good quality, it’s drunk neat or on the rocks. Brands of lesser quality are mixed with fruit juice, tea, lemon or cola.
The most popular sh?ch? cocktail is ch?hai (pronounced Shoe-High), which is a mixture of sh?ch? and lemon juice topped off with club soda for a fizzy finish.
Douglas Ford, my fun-loving host during my holiday, introduced me to the ch?hai cocktail. After a traditional Japanese dinner, we stopped by Wesley’s, one of his preferred watering holes for a nightcap.
We were in Fujisawa, an industrial city a short distance from his home in Kamakura. While the city lies about 46 kilometers south of Tokyo’s city center, to me it felt like part of the L.A.-type sprawl of Japan’s capital city.
As we walked down a dark side street near the train station, we stopped at a narrow doorway that opened to a steep flight of enclosed stairs. Nothing from the street level indicated that anything at all was located in this dim building. But sure enough, once we ascended we arrived in a small cozy den of eclectic regulars. The walls in this dive bar were plastered with marker graffiti and a collection of posters and customer photos. It reminded me of CBGB’s meets Cheers.
The true highlight of Wesley’s is the owner Kagefumi Yoshimora. Yo-Chan, as he is known, is an adorable bespectacled man with cute fuzzy eyebrows and a matching mustache. He becomes an instant friend with all his patrons. Not to be missed are the special nights when Yo-Chan plays guitar with his jazz band.
Doug suggested that I try Yo-Chan’s special version of ch?hai. My drink, a bright yellow concoction, arrived in a handled beer mug. The flavor was bright, refreshing and effervescent. The pungent lemon shined while being softened by the fizzy soda. The sh?ch? added an invigorating bite.
After a 90-plus degree summer day, this tipple is a perfect way to quench your burning thirst. Be forewarned, Yo-chan’s ch?hai packs a punch. After a frustrating day plodding through airports, his cocktails went straight to my head on my first night in Japan. After asking for his recipe I discovered why his ch?hai is so lethal: there is an approximate 5-1 ratio of sh?ch? to mixers.
Ch?hai is not just popular in bars. It’s commonly found as a canned pre-mixed drink in supermarkets, convenience stores and even vending machines in train stations. Popular beverage companies like Kirin (beer) and Suntory (whiskey) produce their own ch?hai canned drinks.
While pre-mixed versions may be a convenient option, some of my fondest memories of Japan are huddling around the cramped bar at Wesley’s, cooling down with a glass of “high test lemonade” and listening to Yo-chan jam with his mates. Domo arigatou.
150 ml Sh?ch?
30 ml Lemon Juice
Pour in a beer mug and top with club soda.
Cocktail of the Month November 6, 2013
Jody Kurash • November 6, 2013
I can hear the faint rumble of the ocean over the chill sounds of a mellow reggae beat. The cool sea breeze laps at my hair as my partner and lounge in an oversize bean bag chairs with a candle lit between us. Brightly colored paper lanterns glimmer in the dark as they hang from the large ketepeng tree. In the night, I watch the glow of the moonlight as it catches the waves that slash on shore. I can smell the salt in the air and the feel sand between my toes, as I sip on a cool cocktail.
Welcome to the JAJ beach bar on located on the Double Six beach in Legian on the tranquil isle of Bali, Indonesia.
What feels like a dreamy paradise, is actually quite a simple concept. JAJ, which is short for ?Jing a Jing? is not much more than a crew of three or four with a makeshift bar under the trees.
The beaches of South Bali are lined with these so-called beach bars. While not bars in the standard sense, these gathering spots usually consists of a cooler or two, filled with soft drinks and beers, beach chairs, umbrellas and some Indonesians hosts, happy to entertain you with jokes, guitar melodies and magic tricks, while you soak up the sun and surf. Each little place is like a mini ?Cheers? where everyone knows your name.
But JAJ has managed to take the concept a little further. They have cashed in on in on the natural beauty of Bali, postcard-worthy sunset every night and the magical sea – to create a serene and blissful atmosphere. Lounge chairs, romantic lighting, a high quality sound system and a small menu of beachy cocktails add to the island vibe. The bar opens at 4 p.m., about two and half hours before sunset and stays open until about 1 am.
The main man behind the bar is Irvan Blueocean who says he has been working on the beach for more than half his life. Irvan has been a fixture here since 2000 playing guitar, renting beach chairs, giving surf lessons and mixing drinks. Whether you just want a simple tumbler of Johnny Walker, a classic mojito or a tropical creation, he will mix it up for you with a smile. Irvan and the others who man the bar call themselves ?the crew of happiness.?
The name of the bar itself is an acronym for happy. ?Jing a jing? which is a Balinese translation of the Indonesians phrase ?sik a sik ? is derived from the word, Asik, which means to enjoy yourself.
Most of the drinks on the cocktail menu are fairly simple, but what makes them special is Irvan?s special mixer that he calls ?jungle juice.? A secret blend of fresh tropical fruits including pineapple and sweet orange. It?s bright and crisp flavor make a refreshing tipple that mixes in harmony with the sunny setting.
For me, my favorite tipple to enjoy here is a freshly-forged mojito, sans sugar. For this Irvan will grab a handful of green mint leaves from a basket and muddle them together with limes. Topped off with rum and club soda, this brisk and chilly cocktail is perfect for someone that doesn?t like sugary drinks. But if you prefer your elixirs on the sweet side, that?s no problem either, Irvan will customize it to your taste.
A popular choice is the bar?s namesake cocktail, the Jing a Jing Sunset. It is a fruity concoction of Absolute vodka, ?jungle Juice,? lemon and grenadine. The combination provides a refreshing burst of flavor, reminiscent of the original tiki drinks that were made by hand, before pre-made mixes became the norm. The red grenadine, combines with bright yellow juice to form a drink with the brilliant hue of an island sundown. Ask for this drink with rum instead of vodka and the result is a cocktail similar to a Mai Tai.
As the drinks and conversation flow, the Irvan dispenses tidbits of joyful advice, like ?Make the world green,? ?Love your life? and ?It?s all good,? as he jokes with the happy bunch of fellows that gather here. Whether you chose to indulge or not, it?s hard not to leave JAJ in a better mood than you came with.
**JING A JING SUNSET**
2 jiggers vodka (1.5 oz each)
1 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
4 oz fresh fruit juice
1 teaspoon grenadine
Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into glass full of ice. Enjoy (Jing a Jing!)
Cocktail of the MonthAugust 7, 2013
Jody Kurash • August 8, 2013
**VINCENT: Did you just order a five-dollar shake?
MIA: Sure did.
VINCENT: A shake? Milk and ice cream?
VINCENT: It costs five dollars?
VINCENT: You don?t put bourbon in it or anything?
VINCENT: Just checking.**
Movie aficionados will recognize this conversation from Quentin Tarantino?s 1994 cult favorite ?Pulp Fiction.? Hit man Vincent Vega, played by John Travolta, is taking out his boss?s wife, Mia Wallace, played by Uma Thurman, for a night on the town while the big man is away. Vincent is questioning the high price of Mia?s choice of beverage. While he does later recant after sampling it, ?I don?t know if that shake?s worth five dollars but it?s pretty damn good.?
Well, if Vincent would have lived through the movie, he would have been able to indulge in an adult milkshake that bears his name at the Satellite Room bar near the 9:30 Club in D.C. The ?Vincent Vega? is a creamy vanilla shake, spiked with Bulleit bourbon. Although Vincent may have gone into sticker shock at the $10 price tag. Yes, prices have risen since 1994. But just like the movie, the same shake can be ordered without alcohol for only $5.
Adult milkshakes have been one of the hottest trends in D.C. in recent years, a perfect have-my-dessert- and-cocktail- too treat, for the area?s scorching summers. These concoctions are basically your cherished childhood treat boozed up with liquors ranging from rum to Kahlua to cr?me de menthe.
[Ted?s Bulletin](http://tedsbulletincapitolhill.com/) on Capital Hill started the trend. Their Baileys caramel macchiato will make you wish that Starbucks could add a lethal shot to their frappuccinos while their white Russian shake, would probably earn the approval of ?the Dude.? If fruit is more your style, Ted?s offers the buzzed berry forged from raspberry schnapps and rum.
In Adams Morgan, the weekend gathering hub, the [Diner](http://www.dinerdc.com/) has four adult milkshakes on its menu. The apple bottom is creative mixture of Sailor Jerry?s rum, vanilla ice cream whipped together with apple pie. The peppermint shake combines, cr?me de menthe, with ice cream and crushed candy canes. But perhaps the most interesting concoction merges the adult shake trend with the ?bacon in everything? craze. The bacon bourbon float takes and old-fashioned brown cow (or root beer float) spikes it with Jim Beam and tops it off with fluffy head of whipped cream covered in freshly made bacon bits.
I recently indulged on the Diner?s bacon bourbon float for a late-afternoon pick-me-up. The D.C. heat index was 105 degrees. I had spent two painful hours at the dentist, and I was looking for something satisfying, cooling and numbing at the same time.
Like so many other bacon foods, it may sound strange, but the hearty salty smoky bacon, merges well with the spice of the root beer, with the bourbon lending a sweet, oaky and powerful bite. My companion Dan Breen, a Baltimore-based artist and music promoter, gave it a thumbs up as well.
[The Satellite Room](http://satellitedc.com/) has the longest list in town, with ten celebrity-named ice cream elixirs. In additional the Vincent Vega, customers can say ?cheers? with the Norm Peterson shake, made with Murphy?s Irish stout or an ?Absolutely Fabulous? Patsy Stone made from pineapple, coconut, orange and nutmeg with Captain Morgan spiced rum.
If you are looking to give your childhood treat an R-rated makeover many of these ice cream cocktails can be easily made at home with a blender, a pint of Haagen-Dazs and your favorite spirit. Get creative, or use a popular cocktail as a guideline. For example, for a pi?a colada mix together rum, pineapple juice and coconut ice cream.
**If you would like to replicate the Diner?s sinful treat, here is a simple formula:**
Add two ounces of bourbon to a parfait or pint glass. Add one large scoop of vanilla ice cream slightly softened. Fill the glass with your favorite root beer. Cover with a generous dollop of whipped cream. Sprinkle generously with bacon pieces. ?
Cocktail of the MonthMarch 13, 2013
Jody Kurash • March 12, 2013
Aside from being a literary genius, Ernest Hemingway is also known for his legendary drinking habits. Evidence of his fondness for the bottle can be found throughout the world.
In Havana, the El Floridita erected a statue of Hemingway at the bar where he consumed his favorite papa doble Daiquiris. The author loved the bar at the Paris Ritz so much that when they renovated it in the 1990s, they named it after him. In Key West, visitors from across the globe flock to Sloppy Joe?s bar for the annual Hemingway look-alike contest, part of the island?s Hemingway Days celebration.
Many of Hemingway?s favorite tipples make appearances in his written works. In ?The Sun Also Rises,? the main character Jake Barnes drinks a Jack Rose in Paris while waiting for Lady Brett Ashley. In ?A Farewell to Arms,? Hemingway describes martinis as ?cool and clean? and in ?Islands in the Stream,? he mentions two of original concoctions: the Green Isaac?s Special, named for the Isaac Islands in the Bahamas, and the papa doble Daiquiri.
While much has been written about Hemingway, Phil Greene, a Washington resident and founding member of the Museum of the American Cocktail, has managed to capture another side of this prolific man. Greene?s book, ?To Have and Have Another,? is a historical account and collection of drink recipes based on the writer?s life and work. Greene focuses on Hemingway?s peculiar drinking habits and written descriptions of food and drink.
Greene, who discovered Hemingway in high school, says he ?was drawn to him for his style of writing, the vivid and compelling way he described scenes, people, food and drink, so much so that you could see, feel and taste what the characters were seeing, feeling, etc.?
As far as his interest in cocktails, you could say he was born into it. Greene is a descendant of Antoine Peychaud, the New Orleans pharmacist who created Peychaud?s Bitters and is credited with inventing the Sazerac, which was declared the official cocktail of New Orleans by the Louisiana legislature in 2008.
These two interests collided while Green was in his 20s. ?I sought to learn more about beer, wine and cocktails, I naturally took notice when Hemingway wrote about them,? he says ?When I encountered a drink I?d never seen or tasted before, the Jack Rose, absinthe, the Fine a l?Eau, Chambery Cassis, etc., I wanted to know what he/his characters were drinking. As a cocktail historian, it was a natural that I?d want to dig a little deeper here.?
?And finally, all through my 20s and 30s I wanted to write like Hemingway,? Greene recounts, ? By the time I reached my 40s, I figured I might as well write about Hemingway.?
Greene?s book is filled with interesting anecdotes about Hemingway?s preferred drinks. For example, he was not a fan of sweet drinks. ?For the Daiquiri,? Greene writes, ?he didn?t want sugar in his drinks (likely because he was diabetic), so he called for just a touch of maraschino liqueur in its place, and also added grapefruit juice to the usual lime juice.
Hemingway liked his martini ice cold. Greene describes the way he ?froze the glasses, made giant ice cubes at 20 degrees below zero using metal tennis ball cans, he froze his cocktail onions so they?d help keep the drink cold.?
Most of Greene?s research was done by scouring through Hemingway?s writings, biographies and letters. He traveled to Key West to interview Hemingway?s friends and children of friends and to Boston, where the Hemingway Collection is housed within the JFK Presidential Library.
Even if you are not a Hemingway buff, this book is full of interesting tidbits that make it a delightful read. ?I?d like to think there?s something for everyone,? Green says ?biography, literature, drinks recipes, folklore, pop culture, great old photos and ads, you name it.? The book is available at local stores including Politics & Prose, Kramerbooks, Barnes & Noble, Salt & Sundry and Coco Blanca.
**Green Isaac?s Special**
-2 oz. Gin
-4 oz. green coconut water
-1 oz. lime juice
-4 drops Angostura Bitters
-Fill highball glass with ice, add all ingredients, stir, serve. Optional garnish, wedge of lime.
To learn about upcoming events with Greene, visit [www.museumoftheamericancocktail.org](http://www.museumoftheamericancocktail.org)
Cocktail of the WeekDecember 12, 2012
Jody Kurash • December 13, 2012
During this festive season, Washington revelers will gather at holiday soirees and indulge in glasses of punch, eggnog and seasonal cocktails. The year 2013 will be rung in with Champagne toasts. But in Peru and other parts of South America, special occasions have been marked by drinking chicha, a tradition that dates back more than 1,000 years.
Chicha is a fermented alcoholic beverage made from corn that originated with the Incas, who used it during rituals and festivals. Mills in which chicha was made were found at Machu Picchu. Archaeologists from the United States uncovered an ancient chicha brewery in the mountains of southern Peru believed to be more than 1,000 years old. When I visited the ruins of the pyramid tombs of Sipan in late November, the unearthed buriel sites included, along with human remains, gold and semi precious adornments and idols, and ceramic pitchers used for chicha.
While chicha de jora, the traditional indigenous drink is forged from corn, across the Latin America chicha is made from many different grains and fruits including quinoa, apples, cassava and grapes. Another popular beverage in Peru is chicha morada, a deep purple non-alcoholic drink made from purple corn, lemon and spices.
Chicha de jora is prepared from a specific kind of yellow corn called jora. It has a pale yellow hue, a somewhat opaque milky appearance, and a somewhat acerbic and sour taste that some find similar to an unfiltered beer or a strong hard apple cider. While the flavor is a somewhat acquired taste, I found it to be quite refreshing when enjoyed outdoors under the powerful Andean sun.
Chicha is prepared by germinating corn, extracting the malt sugars, boiling the worth, and fermenting it in large vessels, traditionally huge earthenware vats for several days. The process is similar to production of beer.
Traditionally, Inca women made chicha by chewing corn to a pulp and then spitting the mixture into a vat of warm water. Once the corn was masticated and spit into the warm water, it would sit for a few days before it was ready to drink.
Today chicha is not commerically produced, it is generally an unregulated and unlicensed business similar to moonshine. Many people make it in their homes or restaurants and it is often sold straight from the ceramic containers where it was brewed.
I was first introduced to Chicha, by my Shaman, Illapa Naveda. He purchased it from a small bodega, it came in a large unmarked recylced glass bottle sealed with a cork. He touted it to me as a healthier choice than other alcohol such as commerically produced beer or rum, since it is homemade from natural ingredients. There may some truth to his statement, at only about 2- to 3-percent alcohol, chicha is a better alternative than higher-proof potables.
Before drinking the chicha, he dripped a portion of on the ground while saying the word ?Pachamama? which is Quechua (Incan language) for ?mother earth.? This ritual is an indigenous tradition. He explained to me that the earth is hungry and the chicha was a ceremonial offering for the earth.
Today Chicha remains an important part of Peru?s history, and is often used to mark special occasiocns and celebrations such as weddings, baptisms or holidays. It is a communal drink and generally served in a small, hollowed-out gourd, called a pilche, and passed from person to person.
So this year, going with my ?When in Rome? mantra, my holiday plans include, celebrating the Navidad season with my new friends and enjoying this unique and historical tipple.
Cocktail Of The WeekSeptember 19, 2012
Jody Kurash • September 20, 2012
Travelers have flocked to Latin America for years as a means of escape. As you head south of the border, the climate heats up, the beaches become more tropical and the party starts a little earlier in the day. In places like Rio de Janeiro, Costa Rica and much of Mexico, the clock always seems to read 5 o?clock.
Many Latin American countries produce their own native liquors, which are as varied as their people. These drinks are a source of pride and nationality. Mexico?s tequila is probably the most well known. In Brazil, the most popular cocktail is the caipirinha, which is forged from cachaca. And anyone who reads my column should be familiar with pisco, after my posts from my Peruvian summer.
Before Peru, I had the luxury of stopping for two weeks in Colombia. The most popular drink there is aguardiente. This local spirit is a somewhat sweet elixir made from sugarcane and flavored with anise. Aguardient is not aged, so it boasts a strong and robust flavor. Aguardiente literally means firewater in Spanish; the name combines the Spanish words for ?water? (agua) and ?fiery? (ardiente).
Arriving in Medellin in June was a delight in itself. When I left D.C. earlier in the day, it was 104 degrees and humid. Medellin, perched in the Andes, is known as the city of everlasting spring due to its pleasant year-round climate, which averages in the mid 70s. Humidity is low, and fresh air rushes in from the surrounding jungle-filled mountains. In addition to its near-perfect weather, Medellin boasts a vibrant art scene, where Fernando Botero is a native. The city also has a thriving nightlife.
Many of the fashionable bars and clubs are located around Lleras Park in the tiny Poblado neighborhood. I quickly find the locals have a very relaxed partying style. While the open-air watering holes that ring the park are filled with partygoers, so is the park itself. Folks gather together on the benches and ledges to enjoy each other?s company while sipping on a tipple. Open containers laws do not apply here.
It is here I get my first taste of the local firewater. As I?m enjoying a beer on a park bench, my seatmates Carla and Roberto eagerly offer me a taste of their aguardiente. The flavor is strong and torrid. It burns and makes me grimace. I am happy to have my beer to chase it. In defense of the aguardiente industry, I don?t believe my first taste was of the highest quality. It came packaged in a box.
I soon realized that aguardiente was a common thread between the people of Medellin, affectionately called paisas. During my visit, I sampled aguardiente in small bars, people?s homes, trendy restaurants and my favorite hangout, Periodista Park. The flavor, after I had the chance to taste some of higher quality brands, grew on me. The same way the licorice taste of ouzo grows on you in Greece.
Aguardiente is generally served straight up neat in a glass. But when I ventured to Cartagena on Colombia?s Caribbean coast, where rum is the preferred beverage, I noticed that it was also used in cocktails.
The most interesting one I indulged in was a variation on the mojito with aguardientes substituted for rum. While at first the idea of anise mixed with lime and mint sounded a bit odd, I must admit that the combination came off as multilayered, refreshing surprise. Somehow the spicy anise balanced itself with the mint, while the lime provided a pleasing tart background.
The most popular brand in Colombia is Aguardiente Antioque?o, which has won several international awards. If you?d like to experience aguardiente for yourself, the most readily available brand in the Washington area is Cristal. Try it straight up, first but if the taste is a little too overwhelming, mix it in a mojito.
2 oz. aguardiente
8 fresh mint leaves
1/2 lime in wedges
2 tablespoons simple syrup or sugar
Sprig of fresh mint
Muddle mint leaves and lime in a glass. Add simple syrup or sugar; top with ice. Add aguardiente; top with club soda. Stir. Garnish with a sprig of mint.
Cocktail of the WeekSeptember 6, 2012
Jody Kurash • September 6, 2012
On a bitter and chilly night, nothing soothes the soul quite like a toasty warm cocktail. Cold days are not the norm in Washington during August and September, but I spent the majority of this summer in the winter of the Southern hemisphere, where I experienced plenty of recent nippy winter evenings that were heated up with a hot toddy.
In Cusco, Peru, the days are filled with brilliant blue skies and powerful rays of sun due to its altitude of over 11,000 feet in the Andes. Once the sun goes down, the historical city center is illuminated with golden streams of floodlights, and the mercury drops to a brisk spot in the low 50s. While the tourist bars and salsa clubs near Plaza des Arms and San Blas get packed with party-goers downing pisco sours and Cusquena beers, my friend Suzanne introduced me to a mellow locals-only spot tucked away on a side street where we quenched our thirst and warmed our spirits with a steaming pitcher of coca tea and pisco.
This combination blends two of the most popular beverages in Peru. Coca tea or mate de coca, is an herbal tea brewed with leaves from the coca plant, which is grown throughout Northwest South America. The tea can be made by steeping raw coca leaves or commercially made tea bags in boiling water. This Andean beverage has an earthy flavor similar to green tea but with a sweeter finish.
The beverage has many beneficial effects. It is often recommended to combat the effects of altitude sickness. During my months in the Andes, I found no matter what my ailment ? cough, sore throat, hangover ? the locals would convincingly advise me, ?Drink coca tea!? Or, you can skip the drinking altogether and just chew on the raw coca leaves like many native Andean people do.
The tea also works as a stimulant, for it is brewed from the same leaves that are used to make cocaine. Hence, it is illegal to import or sell in the U.S., although I found a few websites, including Amazon.com, where the tea bags were available.
Pisco, which is the national drink of Peru, is a clear white spirit distilled from grapes that dates back to the 16th century. It is considered a brandy and has a distinctive grape flavor.
According to SouthAmericanFood.com, there are numerous explanations for how this brandy got its name. Some say that the word comes from the Quechuan word ?pisqu?, which was the name of a bird found in the Inca valley region of Peru. Another theory is that it is named after the town of Pisco, a port city where pisco was shipped to Lima as well as popularized by sailors. The name is also said to come from the large pre-Colombian clay pots, called piscos that are used to ferment the grapes.
When mixed together to make ?Te Macho? the coca and pisco combination results in a steamy yet potent tipple. Not being one who likes sugary cocktails I found this drink to be delightfully refreshing. The homey and robust tea combines brilliantly with the subtle sweetness and woodsy spice of the pisco.
Soon after my excursion with Suzanne, I discovered that the pisco and coca tea formula was a popular way for locals to enjoy their national beverage and stay snug in their unheated homes. I spent many frosty evenings in the rural town of Huasao sipping pitchers of te macho with my Shaman, Illapa, his brother, Fernando, and their various followers. This easy-going down-to-earth punch, along with the company, had such a comforting and uplifting effect, that soon I felt like I had a home away from home.
2 cups pisco
3 cups boiling water
4 bags mate de coca tea
Add two cups of pisco to heatproof pitcher. Add two cups of boiling water. Step tea bags until the liquid turns a yellowish green color. Serve hot and garnish with coca leaves (if available) Serves 5.