Cuba is many things to many people. For vacationers from Canada and Europe, it is a tropical Caribbean getaway. For cigar aficionados the island is renowned for its celebrated stogies. For music lovers, Cuba is a jazz hotbed that spawned legendary performers like Tito Puente, Celia Cruz, and the Buena Vista Social Club. It is a place to step back in time and wander the narrow streets of Old Havana and watch the antique cars cruise along the oceanfront Malecon roadway. For drinkers, not only is Cuba the rum-soaked first home of Bacardi, it also holds an important spot in cocktail history. The daiquiri and mojito are two noteworthy drinks that trace their earliest roots to Cuba. The Museum of the American Cocktail hosted a seminar at Georgetown’s Mie N Yu restaurant in June celebrating the rich cocktail history of Cuba. Phil Green, a founding member of the museum, and Charlotte Voisey, an internationally renowned mixologist, emceed the event. Attendees were treated to a range of drinks, including the historical El Presidente cocktail and the Moveable Feast, a Hemingway-inspired punch that Charlotte created for a Cuban-themed lounge in New York. Charlotte and Phil discussed the history of Cuba, as a Spanish colony, during independence and post-Castro. Much of the evening was focused on Cuba’s role as a drinking destination during Prohibition. When alcohol became illegal in the states, Havana became the unofficial U.S. saloon. It was easy for Americans to travel there. Airlines offered non-stop flights and steamer ships transported merrymakers from Florida. Popular bars such as the Floridita (Hemingway’s favorite), the U.S. Bar and La Bodega del Medio catered to American travelers. During this time, a myriad of talented bartenders fled the U.S. in order to work in their professions. Phil described Cuba, along with England, France, Italy and others, as being one of the “carriers of the torch,” keeping the craft of the cocktail alive. In an effort to appeal to tourists, many cocktails were named after celebrities like the E. Hemingway Special, the Mary Pickford and my favorite cocktail of the evening, the Josephine Baker. Famous for her risqué costumes and no-holds-barred dance routines, Baker, an American expatriate, became the talk of Paris during the Prohibition era. Her namesake tipple lives up to the hype of this notable entertainer. The concoction is forged from a mixture of cognac, Port wine and apricot brandy, combined with an egg yolk for a frothy texture. The cocoa-colored cocktail has a sophisticated taste and a thick, smooth consistency. Its multi-layered flavor is subtly fruity and not overly sweet. A dusting of cinnamon adds a spicy kick. While it may not be possible for U.S. passport holders legally travel to Cuba on a cocktail pilgrimage, the Josephine Baker is an easy drink to whip up at home. Josephine Baker: 1 1/2 ounces Cognac 1 1/2 ounces tawny Port wine 1 ounce apricot brandy 1/4 ounce simple syrup 1 egg yolk Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish with lemon peel and dust with cinnamon. If you are concerned about consuming raw egg yolks, use pasteurized eggs. Ingredients to make the Josephine Baker are available at Dixie Liquor at 3429 M St. in Georgetown. For more information about the Museum of the American Cocktail, check out their Web site at www.museumoftheamericancocktail.org. [gallery ids="99158,102944" nav="thumbs"]
-The most recent Cocktail column focused on the early career of Joe Scialom, who tended bar at the celebrated Shepheard’s Hotel in Cairo during World War II, where he invented the tiki-bar staple, the Suffering Bastard as a hangover remedy for his clientele of royalty and celebrities. Because Scialom spoke eight languages fluently and entertained diplomats and journalists, he was suspected of espionage and eventually expelled from Egypt. He went on to tend bar at famed hotels around the world, including the Ritz in Paris and New York’s Four Seasons. Scialom is the subject of an upcoming book by Jeff Beachbum Berry, a cocktail connoisseur and tikki historian. Berry, along with the museum of the American Cocktail recently hosted “The Suffering Bastard: Joe Scialom, International Barman of Mystery” lecture at the Occidental Grill. During Scialom’s time in Egypt one of the many wealthy guests he befriended was Conrad Hilton. When Scialom left Egypt, Hilton tapped him to work for him in Puerto Rico. The Caribe Hilton, built in 1949, was in first grand tourist resort on the island. Its famous guests, included Gloria Swanson, Elizabeth Taylor and John Wayne. At the Caribe, Scialom began applying his trade to rum drinks. One of the most popular cocktails Scialom took credit for was the Tropical Itch. It was a colossal drink, designed to cater to thirsty tourists, made with 5 oz of booze, Curacao, mango and lime juices. It was served in an oversized hurricane glass with a backscratcher. When the AFL-CIO held a convention at the hotel, a Time magazine reporter spied some of the delegates enjoying Tropical Itches at the hotel and used the drink by name in his article. Scialom’s next stop was Cuba where Hilton was trying to muscle his way into the established luxury hospitality market. With 630-rooms, the Havana Hilton was the largest building in Latin American. Hilton took a unique approach and positioned his resort as the only hotel-casino not being run by mobsters Scialom’s success in Havana was cut short by the Cuban revolution. Just as in Egypt, where Shepheard’s hotel was considered the symbol of British dominance, The Havana Hilton became the symbol of American imperialism in Cuba. Fidel Castro and Che Guevara entered Havana in 1959 and took over the Hilton. One of the restaurants that Scialom managed became a mess hall. Once again Scialom found himself displaced. He moved to New York and worked for Hilton at the Waldorf Astoria where he entertained clients at the private Marco Polo Club, an exclusive circle whose members were required to have a net worth of $2 million. It was here that Berry joked that “Scialom found himself serving Suffering Bastards to rich bastards.” Scialom’s fame continued to grow. He traveled frequently opening bars for Hilton Hotels including Paris, Rome, London and, locally, the Statler Hotel in Washington. He was contracted by alcohol companies to create drinks. One very notable cocktail Scialom made was the Julietta for Plymouth Gin. The result was a very light and delicately balanced elixir. Back in New York, Scialom continued his odyssey at the Four Seasons and eventually made his final call at Windows on the World, a restaurant located in the then-newly opened World Trade Center. Scialom retired to Florida where he lived into his 90s. He survived to see the fall of the twin towers, which, according to Berry, he likened to the bombing of Shepheards hotel and the takeover of the Havana Hilton. While the Suffering Bastard may be Scialom’s most well-known concoction, the Julietta is a forgotten gem. Its recipe was unearthed by Berry for his upcoming book. Plymouth Julietta 1 1/4 ounces Plymouth Gin 3/4 ounce dry vermouth 1 ounce orgeat syrup 2 ounces grapefruit juice 2 ounces orange juice Shake well with plenty of crushed ice. Pour unstrained into a tall glass. Garnish with an orange slice, cocktail cherry, and mint sprig. Plymouth Gin may be purchased at Dixie Liquor (3429 M Street in Georgetown.) For more information books by Beachbum Berry visit http://beachbumberry.com or http://museumoftheamericancocktail. com
Blue Hawaii may be one of Elvis Presley’s most iconic movies. In the 1961 musical, Presley plays a young man, newly released from the Army, who is enjoying Hawaii with his surfboard, beach buddies, and girlfriend. It could be argued that this film set the tone for Presley’s film career: gorgeous women, pretty scenery, dull plots, and plenty of upbeat tunes. The soundtrack for this movie became Presley’s most successful chart album. The cocktail that shares its name follows the same basic formula. The Blue Hawaii is a visually stunning drink due to its radiant, deep blue hue. Often enjoyed by vacationers in an idyllic beach setting, it is composed of unremarkable ingredients, and when served at a tourist spot, it usually contains plenty of alcohol to keep the good times rolling. It’s one of the most requested libations in its native state. According to Jeff Berry, author of “Sippin’ Safari”, a bartender named Harry Yee invented the “Blue Hawaii” in 1957, at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort & Spa in Waikiki. Yee was asked by a representative of Bols to create a drink using the company’s new Blue Curacao liqueur. After a little experimentation, the Tiki classic was born. Berry also credits Yee with being the first to use paper umbrellas and orchids as garnishes. If you follow this timeline, the drink predates the movie by four years. It is believed that Yee named the cocktail after the film’s title song, a piece first composed for the 1937 Bing Crosby film Waikiki Wedding. Few cocktails are as recognizable by their color. The brilliant sea tone comes from Blue Curacao. According to the Bols website, Curacao is a sweet liqueur distilled from a blend of herbs, sweet red oranges, bitter Curacao oranges, and Kinnow oranges. However, its distinctive tint is artificial. Curacao is also available in orange, green, and clear varieties. If you wish to try the sweet and frosty drink in context, take a trip to Honolulu where every watering hole near Waikiki serves cocktails in ornamental glasses garnished with umbrellas and tropical fruit. Visitors may sample the Blue Hawaii at its birthplace at the beachfront Hilton Hawaiian Village. The resort, which boasts multiple bars, is enjoying a recent renaissance, with scenes from the new television series Hawaii Five-O being shot on the hotel’s property. Wherever you choose to enjoy your Blue Hawaii, pick a spot with an ocean view, where you can sip your cocktail and compare its color to the vivid cerulean-colored Pacific. As you gaze at the romantic Polynesian scene of Waikiki, you’ll suddenly realize you’re a long way from Rehoboth. Normally, I don’t care much for sugary cocktails, but when caught up in the moment, this drink fits perfectly into the dreamy Hawaii experience. One word of caution, when consumed in quantity the Blue Hawaii will leave you with a temporary souvenir, much like the white mustache celebrated by milk advertisements. If your lips turn purple, don’t worry about your health. Wipe your lips with a napkin and keep drinking. Aloha! The Blue Hawaii 3/4 oz Light Rum 3/4 oz Vodka 1/2 oz Blue Curacao 3 oz Pineapple Juice 1 oz Sweet & Sour Mix Combine ingredients and mix well. If using ice, mix in a blender. Serve in a tall glass. Garnish with a pineapple slice. (Recipe from Hilton Top Chef) Ingredients to make the Blue Hawaii may be purchased at Dixie Liquor at 3429 M Street in Georgetown.
George Bernard Shaw once said, “Whisky is liquid sunshine.” If that is the case, then the Emerald Isle of Ireland would be one of sunniest places in the world. While the land of James Joyce has a reputation for rainy weather, the friendly country makes up for its meteorological woes with its world-renowned whiskey. From the Bushmill’s distillery north of Belfast to the lyrically named Tullamore Dew, tourists have a wide choice of whiskey distilleries and museums to visit in Ireland. One of the most frequented spots is the old Jameson Distillery in Central Dublin. I head to Jameson’s Old Bow Street distillery on a notably overcast morning looking for a way to brighten my day and ease my jetlag. Even though the sky is gray, I feel my spirits lighten as I reach the front entrance, which is tucked away in a courtyard on the West side of the River Liffey. The visitors’ center is located inside the original Jameson distillery. Whiskey was made here for nearly 200 years, until its closure in 1971. Jameson is now distilled in Southern Ireland in Middleton, in County Cork. The center has recreated the old distillery on a smaller scale. A cordial guide walks us through every step of the whiskey-making process, from malting and storing barley, to mashing and fermentation, to distilling and maturation. While I find the tour both interesting and educational, I am eager to enjoy the tasting sessions that follow. For the first part, we are presented with three distinct whiskeys—a Scotch (Johnnie Walker Black), an American bourbon style-whiskey (Jack Daniels) and Jameson. We’re encouraged to savor and compare each one. The scotch has a dry, slightly smoky taste, while the American whiskey comes in with a sweet, faintly harsh finish. Finally we try the Jameson. It boasts a smooth and full taste with floral and fruity characteristics. It finishes with a hint of vanilla. I feel like Goldilocks eating porridge, proclaiming, “This one is just right.” Before bellying-up to the bar for another sample, we are shown a flashy commercial about the different ways Jameson is served throughout the world. In Moscow Jameson is popular on the rocks while New Yorkers prefer theirs neat. Londoners drink it with ginger ale, and in Paris Jameson and Coke is a fashionable tipple. The most popular mixer in Dublin is cranberry juice. Although this seems like and odd combination, I order my drink this way. I am pleasantly surprised. The twang of the cranberry works as a delicious foil to the rich sweetness of the whiskey while not covering up its slightly oaky flavor. A squeeze of fresh orange adds a touch of warmth. This simple highball would make a great Thanksgiving or Christmas cocktail. When I leave the visitors’ center, I feel a slight spring in my step, I am ready for my remaining day of seeing the seeing the sites of Dublin – cloudy or not. As the weather in Washington begins to turn chilly and darkness comes earlier in the day, I’ll catch myself peeking over to my liquor cabinet and eyeing up my bottle of Jameson I brought home as a souvenir. Just a quick glance, gives me warm and sunny feeling. Jameson, Dublin Style I part Jameson 2 parts cranberry Squeeze of orange or tangerine Pour Jameson into a highball glass. Add ice and cranberry juice. Squeeze fruit. Stir to mix Jameson Irish Whiskey may be purchased at Dixie Liquor at 3429 M Street in Georgetown.
The holiday season is in full swing. Our calendars are quickly filling up with festive parties, from elaborate formal events to cozy family gatherings. For those who plan on hosting their own soiree, I’ve asked my friend Jerry LeNoir, one of the men behind the ultra cool Mr. Booze website, for some entertaining tips. Mr-Booze.com, which is dedicated to creating the perfect cocktail vibe in your home, features numerous drink recipes, historical anecdotes, music suggestions and a how-to guide for setting up your home bar. According to Jerry, the key to hosting a successful party is setting the mood and prepping ahead. “Especially during the holidays, guests should feel they’re someplace special the moment they enter the door,” he says. “Sure, it’s just a house or apartment, but with just a bit of decorating and set-up, the music on and ready to go for a couple hours, your guests can feel like they’re having a true night out.” The Mr. Booze website features Jerry’s top Christmas music picks for 2010. He describes the list, which includes tunes from Dean Martin, Ramsey Lewis and Harry Connick Jr., as, “So covered in silver tinsel and December snow that you’ll have no choice but to try a few, mix a fatty, and drift off to a time when holiday parties were called Christmas parties and candle-lit living rooms overflowed with little black dresses, sport coats, cheese puffs and pipe smoke.” Hosting a party is hard work, and in order to free up your time to mingle with your guests, Jerry suggests creating a set cocktail menu so you aren’t stuck mixing drinks all night long. Then prepare a batch or two ahead so you’ll have more time to socialize. A punchbowl is also another convenient option. One of Jerry’s favorite holiday drinks is the Northern Spy, a recipe he found in Imbibe magazine. The cocktail, which consists of Lairds Applejack, apricot brandy and cider with a cinnamon sugar rim, was invented by by Josey Packard, a bartender at Alembic, one of San Francisco’s top creative cocktail bars. Its combination of warm flavors makes it a perfect tipple to serve from Thanksgiving all the way through winter. “It’s a great looking drink for the holidays.” Jerry says. “It smells wonderful as you take your first sip; the cinnamon, applejack and cider combine in fantastic ways. It tastes just like a Christmas drink should taste: rich, spicy and flavorful. The cinnamon and sugar rim lets the drinker know that the season’s well under way.” While the story behind the drink’s moniker is unknown, Jerry projects a holiday theme into the name. “It sounds Christmassy, “ He says. “Isn’t Santa himself, when he’s spying on who’s naughty or nice…something of a northern spy?” So whether you decide to be naughty or nice this year, mix up a merry northern spy and enjoy the party. The Northern Spy 2 oz Applejack 1 oz Apple Cider ½ oz Lemon Juice ½ oz Apricot Brandy Rim a cocktail glass with lemon juice then cinnamon sugar. Mix ingredients together with ice in shaker until cold and pour into glass. Garnish with fresh cranberries. Jerry LeNoir will be one of the presenters at the Museum of the American Cocktail’s third annual Holiday Cocktail Seminar, Dec, 12 at PS-7. For more information visit Mr. Booze.com or The Museum of the American Cocktail Ingredients to make the Northern Spy may be purchased Dixie Liquor located at 3429 M Street in Georgetown.
When I was a child my mother had a punchbowl that came out on special occasions, usually around the December holiday season. The snowy white centerpiece and matching glasses where formed from Indiana milk glass molded into a leaf pattern. The cups had little red hooks that were used to hang the glasses on the side. The collection was rounded out a ruby red clear plastic ladle. It was back in the 1970’s, my mom would dress in a polyester pantsuit with flared legs and my dad would wear a plaid sport jacket with wide lapels and an even wider necktie. Mom would make Chex mix from actual cereal and the adults would nibble on deviled eggs, Jell-O salad and Ritz cracker hors d’oeuvres. While the men would stick to beer, the ladies would ladle out brightly-colored drinks with floating garnishes. If I was well-behaved I would be treated to a small cup of watered-down punch to enjoy before I was sent to bed. It sent me off into a slumber where I dreamed of hosting my own parties as an adult. When the punchbowl wasn’t in use, I begged to play with it. Unlike most young girls who hosted tea parties with their dolls, I threw lavish cocktail soirees with my eclectic group of plush animals, including an alligator, a blue elephant and a smiling watermelon. (And you thought the bar in the original Star Wars was weird.) Punchbowls were a popular entertaining vehicle for people in my parents’ generation. But the origin of punch dates back hundreds of years. According to Wayne Curtis’ 2006 book “And a Bottle of Rum,” the English made punch in India as early as 1673. The name punch most likely came for the Hindu word panch, meaning five. Ancient punches were forged from five ingredients traditionally tea, lemon, sugar, water and arrack, an Asian spirit distilled from palm sap. My mom’s punch recipe came curiously enough from 7-Up. During a recent visit, while sifting through mom’s recipe books, I came across a stained and well-used magazine insert tucked away in a cookbook. The small advertising brochure cheerily entitled “Merry Punch Bowl to You!” featured four punch recipes with photos - each in a distinctive hue – red, green, yellow and orange. The ad copy was notable dated, proclaiming, “Gay parties just naturally center around a sparkling punchbowl,” and touting 7-Up as the “magic ingredient.” Like many recipes of that era, the components concentrated on canned and premade ingredients. The 7-Up was measured in 7 oz bottles, a far cry from 20 oz super-sized single serving plastic bottles of today. However the recipes weren’t that different than the original five-ingredient “panch” formula. Just for fun during the Thanksgiving weekend, my mom and I whipped up a green batch of 7-Up Emerald Punch. We garnished the colorful mixture with pineapple rings, maraschino cherries and mini-marshmallows. We dragged out the punchbowl from storage, decorated the table festively and talked about holiday memories. This time though we left the polyester in the closet and I stayed up to finish the last glass. 7-Up Emerald Punch 1 can (46 oz) sweetened pineapple juice. 4 cans (6 oz) limeade ¼ cup honey 1 bottle gin (1/5 gallon) 12 bottles (7 oz each) 7- Up Combine pineapple juice and concentrate in punch bowl. Add honey; stir. Add gin; then 7-up. Add a few drops of green food coloring if desired; add ice. Garnish with fruit. Ingredients to make punch may be purchased at Dixie Liquor, 3429 M Street in Georgetown.
A swim up bar is not the place a cocktail snob typically goes for a quality drink. Usually this fun resort amenity is associated with mass -produced frozen drinks, made from bottled mixes thrown together in industrial size blenders to satisfy the all-you-can-drink party crowd. But at the Caribe Hilton in San Juan, Puerto Rico, this is not the case. This time-honored resort boasts a lengthy cocktail history. It is well known as the birthplace of the Pina Colada. Bartender Ramon “Monchito” Marrer introduced the classic coconut cocktail in 1954, at the hotel’s now-defunct Beachcomber Bar. Joe Scialom, the inventor the classic Tiki drink, the Suffering Bastard, also tended bar at the Caribe Hilton in the 1950s. Continuing this long legacy of fine mixology is Ariel Rosario, who presides over the resort’s pool bar. Rosario, a rum connoisseur, has created an extensive list of signature cocktails. He’s even improved upon the pina colada, serving it in a hollowed out pineapple, carved into a whimsical sculpture, and fashioned with a smiling pineapple and cherry face. His creations highlight the distinct flavors of local rums and the abundance of tropical fruit. According to Rosario, many people think of rum as an unsophisticated spirit because of its history with pirates and people making it at home during prohibition. But this is not true, he says. “In 1952 Puerto Rico created laws to govern the rums that are made here.” He points out. “Even the cheapest rum, if it’s made in Puerto Rico, goes through very strict regulations and processes. “ Puerto Rican rums are made from molasses and are aged for at least one year, which makes them a high quality spirit with much complexity according to Rosario. One of the most popular poolside libations is Rosario’s update on the vintage Zombie cocktail. The original Zombie was invented by Earnest Raymond Beaumont Gantt, the founder of the string of Don the Beachcomber restaurants that were popular during the Tiki era. His recipe consisted of fruit juices, liqueurs, and various rums, and it was named for its perceived effects upon the drinker. To make his Puerto Rican Zombie cocktail, Rosario uses five types of rum, four from Puerto Rico, as well as orange, pineapple, and guava and lime juices. “It has a lot of power and a lot of flavor,” he says. The beauty of Rosario’s concoction is that, despite its lengthy list of ingredients, the drinker can still detect the distinctive flavors of the various rums. “Each rum has unique flavor because of the way it is made,” he says. “So if you mix different types of rum, you will have a blend of tastes. You will notice the difference in a way you can’t achieve with other spirits.” At Rosario’s suggestion, I try the drink first from the straw for a hit of flavor from the bottom and then sip it from the rim. Each way, I notice the subtleties. The top is lighter and fruitier while the swig from the bottom has a deep warm rum twang. I can pick out a syrupy caramel hint from the Meyers, a rich vanilla tone from the Barillito, the punch from the Bacardi 151, and the pleasant mixture of fruity tastes from the infused rums and tropical juices. While the drink doesn’t necessarily taste “strong,” I stop after one, not wanting to float away from my barstool. The Puerto Rican Zombie ½ oz Meyers Dark Rum ½ oz Rum del Barillito ½ oz Don Q Limon ½ oz Bacardi Peach Red ½ oz. Bacardi 151 1 oz pineapple juice 1 oz orange juice ½ oz guava juice ½ oz lime juice Splash of grenadine Combine ingredients and mix well in a cocktail shaker. Serve in tall glass over ice. Garnish with fresh fruit. Ingredients to make the Puerto Rican Zombie may be purchased at Dixie Liquor at 3429 M Street in Georgetown.
As a new year begins, many Washingtonians are still recovering from a holiday hangover. We make resolutions to diet following a season of rich foods. We give ourselves financial restrictions when our December credit card bills arrive, and we vow to cut back on drinking after indulging during too many holiday soirees. But the lucky folks who attended the Museum of the American Cocktail’s (MOTAC) holiday seminar are looking forward to enjoying a stretch of delightful winter cocktails. The event, held at PS7 in Chinatown, featured numerous cocktails guaranteed to warm up the long, cold season ahead. Guests were treated to potables mixed by PS7’s Gina Chersevani, Mr-Booze-com’s Jerry Lenoir and the MOTAC founding member Phil Greene. Derek Brown, of the Columbia Room, which was named by GQ magazine as one of the 25 Best Cocktail Bars in America, started the party with his recipe for glogg, a Scandinavian mulled wine. Mulled wine, popular in Europe, is made from usually red wine infused with spices and fruit flavors and served warm. It is a traditional drink during winter, especially around Christmas. Derek first tried glogg during a December visit to Demark where he was invited to a traditional Danish Christmas lunch. While a midday meal may sound harmless, Derek said these gatherings can turn into marathon drinking events, lasting over 10 hours. “They start out with glogg,” he says, “followed by Aquavit (a traditional Danish liqueur, flavored with caraway), Tuborg beer, then back to Aquavit and so on.” Impressed with the flavorful mulled wine he was served, Derek asked for the recipe from the 96-year-old lady who made the glogg. She declined his request, telling him it was a family secret. But after about seven shots of Aquavit, Derek said she was willing to share the classified information. He extracted the recipe from her with the help of an interpreter. While Derek’s recipe is simple to prepare, it does take time. After completing all the steps he recommends storing the mixture in the refrigerator overnight, before reheating it the next day. The flavors will continue to infuse and it will give the glogg a fuller flavor. In addition to wine and spices, Derek adds aquavit to his glogg to give it a rich spicy flavor. If you prefer, you may also add plain vodka for a less herbaceous version or omit the additional liquor for a drink with a lower alcoholic content. One immediate difference I notice in Derek’s Danish glogg, compared to other mulled wines I’ve tried, is the inclusion of raisins and almonds in the bottom of the glass. These gems provided a delectable finish. “Have a beautiful, warm mulled wine with raisins and almonds that have been soaked in alcohol,” Derek says. “ If you aren’t warm after you have your first glass, you will be by the time you eat the raisins and almonds.” Yule Glogg 1 1/2 bottles of full-bodied red wine (Derek used a nice, inexpensive Tempranillo) 1 cup Aquavit 1 tsp. crushed cardamom seeds 2 tsp. cloves ½ tsp. freshly grated ginger 2 tsp. freshly grated orange zest 4 cinnamon sticks 1 cup almonds – blanched 1 cup seedless raisins 1/2 cup brown sugar Bring wine to boil. Tie spices and zest in to a cheesecloth bag. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add in almonds, sugar and raisins; cook for 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat. Add in Aquavit. Stir and remove spices. Serve hot. Ingredients to make glogg may be purchased at Dixie Liquor, located at 3429 M Street in Georgetown. For more information about upcoming events visit: MuseumOfTheAmericanCocktail.org or Better-Drinking.com
Rum and Coke may conjure up memories of college fraternity parties or youthful nights sneaking drinks in your parents’ home. It was probably one of the first mixed drinks you tried, back in the day when Natty Boh and Milwaukee’s Best were your choice of beers. But if you head 90 miles south of Florida, the rum and Coke has a more romantic vibe. On Castro’s island, it’s called the Cuba Libre and includes the addition of lime juice. In Cuba, the rum and Coke can trace its earliest beginnings. While the exact circumstances of its birth are unclear, Wayne Curtis, author of “And a Bottle of Rum,” offers a plausible explanation involving Americans soldiers in Cuba during the Spanish-American War. A group of Americans and Cubans were gathered in a bar where the soldiers mixed rum and Coke and called out “Por Cuba libre!” – “To a free Cuba!” The drink migrated north. During Prohibition, Coke was an easy mixer used to mask the taste of bathtub alcohol, and during World War II, when rum was plentiful and whiskey scarce, its popularity increased further. But it was a popular song that blasted the drink into the apex of pop culture. In 1945 the Andrews Sisters’ song "Rum and Coca Cola” entered the charts, where it remained in the number one spot for 10 weeks. The song, which was based on a Calypso song from Trinidad, sold 7 million copies and made rum and Coke an iconic drink for years to come. Its prevalence endured throughout the generic 50’s into the age of Wonder Bread and canned foods. The drink was simple to mix and required no exotic ingredients. Going back to its origins, a proper Cuba Libre, made with fresh squeezed lime, can be a refreshing elixir, especially in the muggy hot Cuban climate. However, while rum flows freely in Cuba, Coca Cola, thanks to the trade embargo, is not readily available everywhere. When your order a Cuba Libre, most bars will mix it with Fiesta Cola, a soft drink packaged in a red can with a white logo that looks suspiciously similar to Coke’s trademark script. A true Cuba Libre should be mixed with Cuban Rum, which is illegal in the states. Luckily, I found a pleasant alternative during a holiday in Nicaragua. While many Americans associate rum with the Caribbean islands, Flor De Cana rum is as ubiquitous in Nicaragua as Bacardi is now in Puerto Rico. Whether you are sitting at an open-air restaurant along the Pacific in San Juan del Sur, a colonial courtyard in Grenada, or at a reggae club on Corn Island, the liquor of choice across the country is Flor de Cana. Any bartender will mix you a “Nica Libre” with Flor de Cana, fresh lime and Latin Coca-Cola. In Latin America, Coke tastes slightly different than what is produced in the states; it’s made with real sugar instead of corn syrup. But there’s no real need to travel afar. This classic highball can be easily mixed at home. However, if you prefer going out (way, way out), I recommend seeking out Isaiah at the Best View Hotel on Big Corn Island. The Nica Libre 2 oz Flor de Cana rum Juice of ½ lime Coca Cola Lime wedge Add first two ingredients in a tall glass. Fill with ice and coke and stir. Garnish with lime wedge. Ingredients to make the Nica Libre may be purchased at Dixie Liquor at 3429 M St. in Georgetown.
The Caribe Hilton is one of the most well established resorts in all of Puerto Rico. The hotel is set on the edge of San Juan on its own peninsula amid a lush tropical garden and private beach. It rose to prominence in the 1950s for its famous guests, including Gloria Swanson, Elizabeth Taylor and John Wayne. It even garnered a mention in Hunter S Thompson’s first novel, “The Rum Diaries.” The holiday spot has also earned its spot in cocktail history as the birthplace of the piña colada. Before my visit to San Juan, I learned from my Frommer’s guidebook that the piña colada was created in 1954 by bartender Ramon "Monchito" Marrero at the Hilton’s Beachcomber bar. Marrero spent three months mixing, tasting and discarding hundreds of combinations until he felt he had the right blend. It's been estimated that some 100 million piña coladas have been sipped around the world since then. The resort boasts two watering holes — a casual outdoor grill with a swim-up bar and the sleek and stylish Oasis Bar, complete with a floor-to-ceiling glass view of the churning Atlantic sea. However, I thought the most fitting way to sample the piña colada would be to have one delivered by a handsome cabana boy on my beach chair at the Hilton’s exclusive lagoon. The drink was frothy and sweet. It provided an ample antidote to the scorching Caribbean sun. For a girl who is accustomed to drinking martinis, the recipe was did not pack much of a punch, but its flavor was enhanced by the glamorous beauty surrounding me. Later in the week, as I wandered through the streets of Old San Juan, I came across the Barrachina restaurant with a plaque mounted outside, boldly stating “The House where the Piña Colada was created in 1963.” Intrigued, I headed inside to a bar in the garden courtyard and ordered one. According to the Barrachina, the piña colada was invented when the Barrachino’s owner met Spaniard Ramon Portas Mingot, who had worked in some of the finest bars in Buenos Aires, during a trip to South America. Mr. Barrachina hired Mingot as head bartender. While experimenting, Mingot mixed pineapple juice, coconut cream, condensed milk and ice in a blender, creating the drink known as the pina colada. I guess they’re always two sides to history. The drink at Barrachina was thicker and creamier. The lovely courtyard lined with tropical plants and wrought iron exuded a graceful ambiance that fit in with the charm of Old San Juan. Barrachina’s cocktail had more of a rum kick and the price was bit easier on my wallet. Given a choice between the two, I preferred Barrachina’s version. Still, there’s something to be said for having your cocktails delivered by a suave young man on a private beach. The Barrachina piña colada 48 ounces pineapple juice 15 ounces of coconut cream 10 ounces water Blend ingredients, but do not mix with ice. Instead, freeze the mix, stirring occasionally until it reaches a slushy consistency, or by using an ice cream maker. Pour rum to taste in individual glasses and add frozen mix. Decorate with cherry and pineapple. Ingredients to make a piña colada can be purchased at Dixie Liquor at 3429 M St. in Georgetown.