We like to keep things fairly light-hearted here in the boozy world of Bit by a Fox. Cocktails (and cocktail culture) are happy making for the most part. And the tone is a pretty jovial one. Today’s cocktail post was created (originally) to honor the recent launch of the gorgeous book Paris Cocktails, written by Doni Belau creator of the popular site Girl’s Guide to Paris. And I don’t want to take away from that. But in light of the multiple tragedies that took place in Paris just a few days ago, I realized this post can’t help but take on a different tone. I couldn’t NOT address the world outside the bubble of this care-free blog, even for just a moment.
I lived in New York City during the World Trade Center attacks. It was a devastating time. But the city, and the world around us, came together in a way that still moves me when I think back on it. When first hearing of the coordinated attacks on the beautiful City of Light this last Friday, I was immediately reminded of that overwhelming heartbreak and helplessness. I was also reminded of the generosity of spirit from total strangers and the solidarity that the rest of the world showed us during our city’s darkest hour. That was so crucial in the healing of our city.
To show my own sort of solidarity, I’d like to dedicate this post to the people of Paris, whose joie de vivre, lust for life is forever an inspiration to me and this little blog. The City of Light will not be dimmed by the dark hearts of others.
The Boulevardier is a pre-prohibition era cocktail that is often described as a whiskey Negroni. Bourbon or rye takes the place of gin. Like the Negroni, it is traditionally made with equal parts Sweet Vermouth and Campari. When I was asked to recreate a classic French cocktail or put my own twist on a favorite, I immediately thought of The Boulevardier. It’s easily one of my favorites, and is remarkably adaptable by switching out or adding additional ingredients. While this cocktail was actually created by an American ex-pat, Erskine Gwynne who was living in Paris at the time and founded a Paris literary magazine in the 1920s called…the Boulevardier(!), the drink is most associated with Harry’s New York Bar in Paris. I thought it fitting to include a cocktail that is part New York City and part Paris. We’ve always adored one another!
What makes this particular version even MORE French is the addition of French Whisky, Bastille 1789 (the year of the French Revolution). Hand-crafted in the Cognac region, this blended whisky, made in a Scotch style and aged in French Limousin oak, is softer and lighter than the usual bourbon or heavy-duty rye. Oh! And did I mention there’s Champagne?!
That’s my big twist! I ADORE adding bubbly to a Negroni. And it totally works with The Boulevardier as well. It makes it feel even more festive. This is actually the perfect type of drink this time of year. And four ingredient cocktails are a must when entertaining for the holidays…
Speaking of the holidays…Paris Cocktails would be a delightful gift for anyone in your life who is a Francophile, cocktail enthusiast, avid traveler or aesthetically inclined. Belau documents the rise of the cocktail culture in Paris and profiles many of the go-to bars and the bartenders that have helped shape that scene. There’s also a TON of cocktail recipes both classic and modern, inspired by the City of Light. Purchase the book directly from Belau’s site: Girls Guide to Paris.
The Bubbly Boulevardier
1 oz Bastille 1789 French Whisky
1 oz Campari
1 oz Sweet Vermouth
1 oz Brut Champagne
cocktail cherry for garnish
In a mixing glass filled with ice, stir whisky, Campari and sweet vermouth for 30-40 seconds, until well chilled. Strain into a coupe glass with a cocktail cherry already at the bottom of the glass. Top with Champagne. Santé
Tonight (in just a few short hours!), I’ll be joining Van Brunt Stillhouse, the Red Hook, Brooklyn based distillery I’ve profiled here before, at Atlantic Cellars for a spirits tasting. They will be sampling a number of their products that range from a limited edition grappa to a smooth, delicate amber-colored rum called Due North, to a variety of excellent whiskeys. I’ll be mixing up a classic cocktail tonight, using their delicious Malt Whiskey.
The Boulevardier is a pre-prohibition era cocktail that is often described as a whiskey Negroni. Bourbon or rye takes the place of the gin. However, this cocktail, while not as popular, pre-dates the Negroni and the proportions can be slightly different. While the Negroni is typically made with equal parts gin, Campari and sweet vermouth, the Boulevardier backs off on the Campari and sweet vermouth and goes a little heavier on the spirit, with the addition of whiskey making up a part and a half or, sometimes, two parts of the cocktail. You also have the option to strain the finished cocktail over rocks or into a coupe, straight up. I tend to like my Negronis on the rocks.and my Boulevardiers straight up. Some people like their Boulevardiers with bourbon, others prefer rye but the Van Brunt Stillhouse Malt Whiskey, created entirely from malted barley and matured for nine months in American oak casks, works beautifully in this cocktail. Woodsy and spicy, with a hint of nuts and tobacco offset the herbal, bitter and sweet notes of the other ingredients. In any case, this is a perfect winter cocktail!
1.5 oz Whiskey (Van Brunt Stillhouse Malt Whiskey)
1 oz Campari
1 oz Sweet Vermouth (Carpano Antica Formula is a favorite)
Orange peel or cherry (for garnish)
In a mixing glass filled with ice, stir all ingredients 30-40 seconds, until well chilled. Strain into a chilled cocktail or coupe glass. Garnish with orange peel or cherry.
We’ll be exploring three more whiskey cocktails, building on the simple classics we discussed in the first class, and diving into a little more complex flavors and recipes.
The Boulevardier will be our boozy, stirred cocktail; The Penicillin, a variation on a whiskey sour, is a modern classic that calls for a blended and a single malt scotch; and like the Sazerac from last week, the Vieux Carre is an historic New Orleans original.
It’s here – my most favorite time of year! We get to surround ourselves with loved ones, think about all the things we are grateful for, and eat our weight in mashed potatoes! Wheeee! What more could you want? Well, booze of course, duh. Don’t worry your sweet potato head about it. I gotchoo, boo.
I always tend to think this special occasion is deserving of a special cocktail. I mean, what kind of cocktail blogger would I be if I didn’t think you should go big or go home for your signature Turkey Day cocktail?! Let’s bring in the big guns…
Just look at that sexy mofo. Beautiful Art Deco cuts and curves and swerves, and inside that beauty is an exquisite high rye bourbon blend of aged reserves to match. Style & substance – my favorite combo. Swoon-worthy on many levels.
As of last Monday – the birthdate of legendary “King of the Bootleggers,” George Remus – the American distilling powerhouse, MGP Ingredients has added a limited release, premium bourbon, Remus Repeal Reserve Bourbon to its expanding spirits portfolio. MGP, a historic 170-year-old distillery in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, (that I was lucky enough to visit recently!) is known for producing quality juice for some of the top whiskey brands in the country. They have only recently dipped their toes into producing their own line of products. And they’re taking their time to get it right. For their first reserve bourbon, the talented distillery team at MGP has chosen to use high rye bourbons from 2005 and 2006 to create a spicy, complex whiskey that will have you wondering if it’s an aged rye or unusual bourbon. Perfect for an Old Pal cocktail!
A close relative of the Negroni and Boulevardier, as it’s usually made with equal parts spirit, Campari and vermouth, the Old Pal, unfortunately, is often forgotten about. It was first published in 1922 – at the height of George Remus’ fame – in Harry’s ABC of Mixing Cocktails written by Harry MacElhone of the famed Harry’s New York Bar in Paris. I can’t help but think that if old George Remus actually drank (that’s right, he was a teetotaler!), this might be one of his favorite cocktails!
Aside from wanting to share this oft forgotten about cocktail, I also want to note how the Old Pal is the PERFECT spirit forward cocktail that you’ll need to whet your whistle with before that bird comes out, during the feast and after, with dessert. Remus Reserve holds up to the bold personality of Campari, and the blend of dry vermouth makes it less sweet than a Boulevardier. Upping the amount of whiskey versus using equal parts makes this cocktail really let the whiskey shine. So, grab that special bottle and make this classic cocktail for a memorable day of thanks, indeed!
1 1/2 oz Rye or Bourbon – Remus Repeal Reserve recommended!
3/4 oz Campari
3/4 oz Dry Vermouth
Garnish: Lemon Peel
Place all ingredients in an ice-filled mixing glass and stir until well chilled. Strain into a chilled coupe or cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon peel.
Remus Repeal Reserve will be available in select markets across the country, rolled out in a series of events leading up to Repeal Day, December 5, commemorating the end of Prohibition.
You know that magic that happens when something just comes together so perfectly you can’t imagine a time when it wasn’t a thing that existed in the universe? Like kindred flavors that seemingly compliment one another in a bewitching way – like coffee & chocolate, for instance (relevant to this post). Or kindred spirits that make everything around them better just by the mere fact they’ve found one another…like food blogging duo, #relationshipgoals, and life partners giving me life, The Husbands That Cook (also relevant).
This post is brought to you by all of that – a marriage of complementary flavors and humans. Adam and Ryan, the lovely gents behind the delightful food blog, Husbands That Cook, have been KILLING it this year. They have a large following on Instagram, a devoted and receptive fan base, and were finalists in this year’s Saveur Magazine Blog Awards for Best How-To Food Blog. Amazingly, they agreed to partner with me for a sexy Valentine’s Day post!
Both of the cocktails featured here came out of me playing around with a homemade coffee liqueur. They’re both very different from one another but, real talk, I’m EQUALLY OBSESSED with them. The first one is an equal parts cocktail, ala Negroni or Boulevardier and sounds, on paper, like an odd combo of flavors – bourbon, Aperol and coffee liqueur . But I promise, it totally works! And I don’t want to make any rash proclamations or anything but this just may be a new instant classic! You may just fall in love…
Amore Mio “My Love”
1 oz bourbon
1 oz coffee liqueur
1 oz Aperol
Fill a mixing glass with ice and all ingredients. Stir mixture until well chilled. Strain into chilled coupe glass. Garnish by floating espresso beans on top.
This second cocktail was another sort of happy accident when I decided to cross a White Russian with a chocolate Egg Cream soda. I know I’ve said this before but ZOMG SO GOOD. Seriously, why has this never existed before? I’ve looked on the internet! This recipe does not exist! If you could trademark cocktail recipes, this is the one that would make me rich and famous, I just know it. Right now, it’s just making me drunk and happy and I cannot stop.
2 oz Vodka
1 oz Coffee Liqueur
1/2 oz Half & Half
1/2 oz Chocolate Syrup
In an ice-filled shaker, add vodka, coffee liqueur, half & half and chocolate soda. Shake until well chilled. Strain into an ice-filled collins glass, top with soda and stir.
Adam and Ryan decided to complement these buzzy drinks, and continued the coffee/chocolate relationship, by making oozy gooey, Chocolate Mocha Lava Cakes.
CHOCOLATE ERUPTING MINI CAKES. If that doesn’t scream V-Day, I don’t know what to tell you. You might be dead inside. Head over to Husbands That Cook to see this in action and get the full recipe. And then make all of these treats and spoil your lover so hard. And when I write “lover” that could totally mean yourself. Self love is v. important during times like these, foxy friends. Make it a double!
Homemade Coffee Liqueur
1/4 cup fine ground espresso
2 1/4 cup water (divided)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 tbsp bourbon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups light rum
Make a cold brew of the coffee by combining the espresso grounds and 1 1/4 cups of the water into a sealable glass jar, shaking it, then refrigerating the mixture for 12 hours. Strain through a coffee filter into another sealable glass jar. Combine the sugar and 1 cup of water in a pot and bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let this syrup cool to room temperature. Combine the cooled syrup and cold brew coffee, add rum and vanilla extract. Let that mixture steep for 3 days. Enjoy!
Did you make New Year’s resolutions this year? How’s that going for you? Now that we’re full-on into mid January, have you stuck to your guns or chucked those notions of perfection out the window? In the past, I’ve done the ‘Dry January’ thing and I considered doing it again this year, but then I was like…”no”.
I’m not saying it’s a bad idea to take a break from the hard stuff after the booze-festation of the holidays, but going cold turkey may not be realistic. For me. Right now. Ok, I may do it in February! That’s a shorter month anyhow.
In any case, I am trying to make an effort to be healthier. While whiskey may be considered vitamin-enriched health food, cocktails, not so much. Mixed drinks tend to be high calorically due to a lot of added sugar. I don’t care for super sweet cocktails and I tend to keep my recipes lower on the sugar spectrum, but in order to achieve a balanced drink, there does need to be a sweet element. A lot of times people reach for sugary sodas or pre-made mixers to fulfill this component. And, if they are trying to be “healthy”, they’ll use a diet soft drink or something with “skinny” in the name. Ugh. Please don’t do that. Whenever I hear the word skinny next to the word cocktail my hackles get raised. The ingredient list in those things is, undoubtedly, long, indecipherable and 100% garbage. Don’t mess with my cocktails, skinny bitches! LOLz. JK, I love skinny people.
But, not all low calorie, sugar-free cocktail mixers are created equal.
Be Mixed is a single serving, bottled cocktail mixer that is zero calories, is sugar-free, and is actually pretty yummy. Best of all, it doesn’t have a bunch of chemicals in it masquerading as “skinny”. They use all natural ingredients, including monk fruit, long used in China for medicinal purposes and as a sweetener. Cristina Ros Blankfein and Jennifer Ross, the powerhouse ladies behind Be Mixed, which has been slowly launching since October, came up with their business idea while at Harvard Business School. Jennifer has Type 1 Diabetes and has spent a lifetime avoiding sugar. But not fun! It was important to both of them to create something that was not only enjoyable as a spirits mixer and easy to entertain with, but was also a product that was low in sugar and used natural ingredients.
Their Ginger, Honey, Lime is the first mix they’ve rolled out with, and they are intending to reveal another by next month. The mini bottles are single serving portions. On the bottle itself, you are directed to mix the whole thing with a shot of your preferred spirit, and then you’re good to go! But, after getting my hands on a couple of these babies, I couldn’t help messing with them to create whole new cocktails! And to see if it could go with a variety of spirits. Turns out, it does!
I wanted to experiment with a typically boozy cocktail like a Boulevardier, with the intention of lightening it up with the mixer and a little citrus. Testing out the recipe a few times, I decided to take out the vermouth, up the Italian bitter quotient with Cynar, and back off on the Campari so it wasn’t the dominant flavor.
With equal parts Rittenhouse Rye and Be Mixed, and the addition of Campari, Cynar and lemon juice, The Bitter Rye turns into a decidedly different cocktail, but with remnants of that original pre-prohibition era inspiration.
Shake all ingredients over ice until outside of shaker is nice and frosty. Strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a lemon peel.
For a totally different cocktail using the same exact mixer, I made the The Hayworth Honey – a gin-based highball that uses the entire single serving bottle, as intended. Caledonia Spirits Barr Hill Gin with raw Vermont honey, seemed like a perfect complement to the flavors in Be Mixed. I decided to mirror the other flavors in the mix as well, ginger and lime, by including Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur and fresh lime juice. The touch of Yellow Chartreuse helps to elevate the honey and herbaceous qualities, and the splash of bubbles makes this cocktail slightly effervescent.
Negroni Week is almost upon us! And I’ve been tasked to come up with my own spin on this near perfect and increasingly popular cocktail from the folks helping to sponsor this fun and charitable event, Imbibe Magazine. Pretty tall order, since the original recipe is basically flawless: 1 part gin, 1 part Campari and 1 part sweet vermouth. But, I love a Boulevardier, and I’ve had other variations on this classic recipe that I’ve been into, so I was more than willing to give it a shot!
As I mentioned a few days ago, the Negroni is rumored to have been created in the 1920s when Count Camillo Negroni asked his favorite bartender at Cafe Casoni in Florence, Italy to stiffen up his Americano with gin, and to take out that silly bubbly water, because…more booze. Duh. You know that dude was just getting bit by a fleet of foxes on the regular. But what about Countess Negroni? Did she exist? Was she fabulous? (I suppose I could research this…but, that’s an internet wormhole I think I’ll stay away from now.) In any case, I like to imagine she had a bit of fun too. This cocktail was created with her in mind. Take that, Count! Your lady, who may or may not have existed, has a drink now too!
The Countess Negroni
1 1/2 oz Owney’s Rum
1 oz grapefruit juice
1 oz Campari
3/4 oz Armadillo Cake Atsby Vermouth
grapefruit peel for garnish
All ingredients can be stirred with ice until well chilled. Strain into a short glass with a few rocks and garnish with grapefruit peel.
Even though most Negroni fans can agree that this drink can be sipped year round, since Negroni Week is from June 2nd to June 8th, I wanted to put more of a summery spin on my version. Grapefruit and Campari is like a marriage made in citrus heaven. And white rum always makes me think of summer! Naturally, I wanted to use a BBaF favorite, Brooklyn-made, Owney’s Rum. This deliciously smooth rum works so well in this riff on a Negroni because it’s not overly sweet, has a little spice and works well with citrus and bitter flavors. It also happens to be made by my favorite lady booze maker, Bridget Firtle from The Noble Experiment. It seemed like the perfect fit for this viva la femme cocktail. Keeping it local, I was excited to use a different kind of vermouth, instead of the standard Italian sweet vermouth. And I opted for Atsby “Armadillo Cake” Vermouth. This modern, aromatic vermouth is less sweet and bitter than what most people are used to. It’s earthy and sexy and floral, with a hint of chamomile. I’ve also paired these two local spirits before and loved the result!
photo by luciebelle photography
I hope you get out there next week for Negroni Week! Bars around the world will be mixing up this beloved cocktail and donating proceeds to their favorite charities. Check out the participating bars and drink your charitable ass off!