What we’re drinking


Nicole Lebedevitch’s Ce Soir
Cognac, Cynar, yellow Chartreuse, Regan’s No. 6, and Angostura


I first encountered the drink in early 2016 in Boston when I was doing my book tour for “A Proper Drink.” I believe Nicole herself was there and made it. It is fairly well known among bartenders in Boston, but, for whatever reason, cocktails created in Boston don’t seem to travel much. Case in point: the Periodista.

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I love the idea of local/regional specialties.


It is weird that cocktails don’t travel all that well especially with the lightning fast social media outlets. You could create a drink and post the recipe and have people making it that night thousands of miles away. Here in Chicago most of the drinks created in the city stay in the city (until a new menu comes out). A few Chicago Classics got out thanks to the great book/pamphlet Beta Cocktails but that’s about it-- Easy Does It and the Art of Choke come to mind.

When I was going to school in Lubbock, Texas (:weary:) there was a drink that people used to order called the Chilton. It was basically a salty vodka soda with lemon but to this day I have never seen it anywhere save for bars in the Texas Panhandle. Nice on a hot day…

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Yes, Beta Cocktails (originally titled Rogue Cocktails) did help a few Chicago cocktail achieve something of a national profile, including the Bitter Giuseppe. The Paper Plane came out of Chicago originally, but was really popularized by Sam Ross in New York. I think a lot of it has to do with the media and how much a cocktail is written about. For this reason, most modern classics have emerged from London, New York and San Francisco. There are just more media outlets. Boston has maybe two or three journalists at the most covering the cocktail scene in any serious way.

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Tanqueray Gin, Martini & Rossi Extra Dry, (no bitters, lemon peel discarded)

Usually, I’m a Noilly Prat man but I was out and so was my local liquor store. I prefer not to use orange bitters but from time to time I like the smallest touch of Angostura ala Luis Buñuel. Either way this is a perfect end to a long Thursday. I’ve got the Cubs on the radio and dreary skies over Lake Michigan. My wife whipped up this round and as much as I love making my own 'tini it’s nice to have one made for you. 50 ml gin to 15 ml vermouth.

What are you drinking tonight?

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Martinis as well. Ford’s new Navy-strength gin and a house-made vermouth made by a Minneapolis bartender. 50/50.

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I’m fresh back from London where I visited way too many bars and tasted way too many cocktails, most of which were too unique to feature here.

Two drinks stood out, though.

One is the Apples, from a bar called Coupette. It was my favourite drink of 2018 and probably the best I’ve had so far this year. Simplicity itself: calvados + apple juice, carbonated. Apple variety and calvados change every month so you never get the same drink. It’s a deeply satisfying cocktail.

The other one I had at Swift. Called New Amsterdam, it’s basically a Manhattan twist, made with Rittenhouse and a home-made vermouth (or rather a blend of stuff). Pretty unexciting on paper. The essential ingredient, though, was the 5 ml (yes, five) of Old Duff 100% Malt. Completely changed the drink. I didn’t care at all for the ‘vermouth’ on its own, but once mixed with the other ingredients, it worked. Now that is the the magic of the cocktail.


You now have 100% of my attention. Is the whacky vermouth blend at all essential to this alchemy, or might I use whatever decent red vermouth I have on hand?


I could get the specs for the drink quite easily. The ‘vermouth’ is a mix of Martini Ambrato, Rinquinquin, some gentian so look for something sweet and fruity with a light bitterness and little herbaceousness.
The take-away for me though is how well the Old Duff works as a modifier and I’m pretty sure any Manhattan version with a touch of it has potential.

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I recently enjoyed Apples during a New York pop-up of Coupette. I couldn’t agree more. Great drink.

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Reminds me of a version of Apples I did back in 2000 at Beacon- I also used calvados, but infused fresh apples back into it for more of a fresh flavor, and instead of carbonated apple juice, topped it with Dupont Cidre Bouché. Simple enough, but at that point in time, the Sour Apple Martini still had quite a stronghold on the business, and that drink was in effort to help guests break free of the faux stuff. The struggle was real, and the battle was quite uphill.


Oh, wow, that’s interesting, Audrey! A very nice precedent.

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First absinthe of Spring… my all-time favorite, Jade Edouard.


I like the sound of this. Going to try it at home.


LOVE love love the Edouard. I remember having to smuggle that in before it became legal- such archaic times we lived in. These kids don’t know how lucky they have it :wink:


Last sip of what I’m calling the Re Umberto:
1.5 oz Etichetta Nera Italian brandy
1 oz Paolo Lazzaroni Marsala Ambra
.5 oz Aggazzotti nocino
Dashes of Campari
Stir, strain, orange twist.
Dark and delicious, to my palate anyway.


Martin, are you double-fisting?

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