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Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Mix Master

My husband Ted is big into the cocktails.  More than the drink itself, I think he really enjoys the history of the drinks and the actual mixing of the drinks.  All of this is not to say that he doesn't enjoying the drinking of the drinks, but as if often the case with Ted, it's not so much the destination, but the journey that he finds inspiring.

In Pennsylvania, you have to purchase all of your liquor in state liquor stores.  This was something new for me because I'm from California where you can buy a six pack in a gas station.  Not only are the state liquor stores the only game in town, they tend not to have as full a selection of the gourmet liquors as an aficionado like Ted thinks he needs.  The answer to this is not to make do, something Ted has never been very good at, but instead to stock up when we're out of town.  Oh, don't look askance as us.  Ted's friend George does the same thing, and I have been regaled with numerous stories from other friends as to how they've actually gotten the contraband shipped to them here in good old PA.  Whenever we go up to New York, we make a stop at Astor Place Liquors and pretty much buy the place out.  I'm not kidding.  We drive up to New York, instead of flying, so we can bring back the booze.  Sad but true.  (It also makes it easier to bring back those big boot boxes after I take a trip to Barneys.  I don't like to pay shipping.)

Anyway, I thought it would be nice to share a cocktail or two with you this week in honor of the upcoming holidays.  So here, with a brief  introduction by Ted, is something nice with which to dazzle your friends and family.  Cheers!

And now, without further ado, my husband and chief mixologist, Ted...

French 75

What is more festive than a glass of champagne?  The same principle applies to cocktails, where those with champagne as a key ingredient somehow just seem zippier than the average Manhattan, Martini or Old Fashioned.  There is always the classic Champagne Cocktail (soak a sugar cube in 2-3 drops of bitters--you can use Angostura or orange or really almost any type of bitters--drop the sugar cube in a champagne flute and fill with champagne).  And, of course, famous cocktails like the Bellini and the Kir Royale are champagne-based.  But today we are doing the French 75, an old classic having a bit of a renaissance these days.   This drink is somehow named, by the way, after a type of artillery used during the First World War and is absolutely delicious.  Indeed, Nadine, not much of a booze hound, loves it and orders it whenever she thinks the bartender will know how to make it.


1 ounce gin
1/2 ounce lemon juice, fresh squeezed
1 teaspoon sugar
5 ounces chilled brut champagne or other sparkling wine (should be eminently drinkable but don't use your most expensive French champagne for this)
Lemon twist for garnish

Shake gin, lemon juice and sugar with ice.  Strain into a chilled champagne flute.  Slowly top with champagne.  Garnish with a lemon twist.

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