- Cocktails and Spirits
January 3, 2012
Created by Jim Ryan, mixologist for Hendrick's gin, this frothy, aromatic creation makes a clever pairing of gin and yellow chartreuse.
- 1 part Hendrick's gin
- 1 part yellow chartreuse
- 1 part simple syrup
- 1 part lemon juice
- 1 part egg white
- 2 dashes Regan's orange bitters
- Lemon twist
Combine ingredients. Dry shake. Add ice and shake well. Double strain up with lemon twist spritz and discard before serving in martini glass.
- 2 packages active dry yeast
- 3 ½ cups warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
In a bowl dissolve active dry yeast in warm water (105 degrees to 115 degrees). Stir in all-purpose flour, warm water (105 degrees to 115 degrees), and sugar. Beat until smooth. Cover with cheesecloth. Let stand in a warm place overnight. The starter is ready to use in any of the sourdough recipes. (It will look bubbly and a clear liquid may rise to the top.) Stir before measuring. Pour remaining starter into a 2-quart or larger covered plastic container. Cover and refrigerate. Makes about 5 cups.
To use refrigerated starter, bring desired amount to room temperature. For every 1 cup used, replenish starter by stirring in 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, 3/4 cup warm water (105 degrees to 115 degrees), and 1 teaspoon sugar. Cover with cheesecloth and let stand at room temperature 8 hours or overnight. Cover and refrigerate for later use.
If starter isn't used within 10 days, stir in 1 teaspoon sugar. Repeat every ten days unless replenished as above.
Remember to replenish the starter (or stir in a teaspoon of sugar) every ten days. The starter will keep indefinitely in the refrigerator as long as it is replenished regularly.
Mastering the Alaska With Jim Kearns
It might seem like a small tweak: London dry gin out, Old Tom in. But, according to Jim Kearns, “it was a revelation.”
Swapping the slightly sweeter Old Tom gin into the Alaska, a Martini-style drink with a splash of yellow Chartreuse in lieu of vermouth, resulted in a cocktail that was “completely different” and “even more delicious,” says Kearns, a veteran New York bartender.
In researching the drink’s origins, he discovered that the original recipe, as published in Drinks, a 1914 book by Jacques Straub, featured Old Tom gin, a rounder style common in the 19th century, along with an unexpected addition of orange bitters, which are omitted in the popular version that appears in Harry Craddock’s The Savoy Cocktail Book, published in the 1930s. “I’d been making it with Plymouth gin for years at that point, because that was how I learned it,” says Kearns. But once he tried the recipe with Hayman’s Old Tom, “I said, ‘Oh my God, it’s a game changer.’”
It was this version that he placed on the menu at Slowly Shirley, the subterranean bar he co-opened below Happiest Hour in the West Village, in 2015. (He is no longer affiliated.) “It seemed like a shoo-in: a boozy, more herbaceous, sweeter version of the classic Martini,” recalls Kearns.
Jim Kearns’s Alaska
A Martini-style drink with less bite and a little more roundness.
Compared to the drier 1930s version, “Old Tom made it more of a nice, mellow, rounder, easier drink,” Kearns notes. “It just integrated all of the elements really well, and played up the yellow Chartreuse.”
In a departure from both the Straub and Craddock versions, Kearns tweaks the ratio of his Alaska to what he calls “a cross-adaptation” of the two, with 2 1/4 ounces gin (which he readily admits is a “funky measurement,”) that subdues the ¾-ounce pour of liqueur. “I wouldn’t want that much yellow Chartreuse to something as gentle as Old Tom,” he explains. “It would throw the drink out of whack and you’d end up with something a little too sweet.”
To keep the mixture from becoming cloying, he also adds a dash of Bitter Truth orange bitters, a versatile option he finds reminiscent of the popular Fee Brothers–Regans’ mash-up known as “Feegans,” and a lemon twist garnish. “It adds the citric element, and dries it up as much as necessary,” says Kearns. The lemon twist, however, wasn’t part of the Straub original. “It evolved from being an Old Tom to a dry gin cocktail between 1914 and 1934—the lemon twist came around with the dry gin,” explains Kearns, who opts to retain the lemon garnish for a refreshing burst of citrus.
As Kearns recalls, it’s a rare example of a drink that clicked right away. Although he’s experimented with other gin brands as the base, he ultimately returned to Hayman’s, which in 2007 became the first Old Tom gin to hit the market after the style had been discontinued since the mid-20th century. “It works best. It doesn’t have any real forceful, specialized qualities to it,” explains Kearns. “It was just a nice, all-around, easygoing participant in the recipe.”
As new gin bottlings proliferate at meteoric rates, however, Kearns doesn’t anticipate veering from his tried-and-true formula. “I don’t know if that’s a drink I’d mess with as a whole,” he says. “It all works together extraordinarily well.”
Jim Kearns's Alaska
Orange bitters keep the Chartreuse-laced Alaska from becoming too cloying.
True to the original, Jim Kearns's Alaska opts for Old Tom gin as the base spirit.
A lemon twist adds a refreshing burst of citrus.
“It all works together extraordinarily well,” says Kearns of the mellower Martini variation.
An Unofficial List of Every State’s Signature Cocktail
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I’m unsure if there is anyone out there who doesn’t love alcohol, even if it’s the occasional beer or nightly glass of wine. So, in celebration of this country’s patriotism (toward alcohol), we have rounded up the signature cocktails for every state… including Washington DC.
We based this list on popularity, relevance and origin of each cocktail. Grab a drink – preferably one with high alcohol content – and see which cocktail best represents your home state. And once you try every cocktail, be sure to visit the most unique bars in every major city. Cheers!
A photo posted by josiemoser (@josiemoser) on Sep 20, 2014 at 12:27pm PDT
The Tuscaloosa bar, Gallette’s, sells 4,000-5,000 Yellowhammers at every University of Alabama home game… That’s when you know it’s good. The Yellowhammer is Gallette’s trademark beverage. Essentially, if you live in Alabama, you’ve been to a University of Alabama game and have indulged in the beloved (and strong) Yellowhammer.
Alaska: Duck Fart
Photo courtesy of wikipedia.com
Serious question: Does this shot taste better than it sounds? I sure as hell hope so, ’cause Alaskans go crazy for this layered shot of Kahlua, Bailey’s Irish Cream and Crown Royal whiskey. They claim that the “flavors mesh so well together.” I’ll just take their word for it.
Arizona: Tequila Sunrise
Photo courtesy of callmefudge.com
The OG tequila sunrise originated in Arizona in the 1930’s as a mix of tequila, crème de cassis, lime juice and soda water. The modern (and more deadly) version of tequila, orange juice and grenadine came later from young bartenders in California. So, like, that’s irrelevant and Arizona drinks more tequila sunrises anyways.
For all those kids out there that go to NAU, I’m jealous of Tequila Sunrise. If you don’t know, downtown Flagstaff’s bars kick off the university’s homecoming festivities with a (read: many) glasses of this classic Arizona drink. Now ya know.
Arkansas: Arkansas Razorback
Photo courtesy of cocktailcoop.com
Woo Pig Sooie! This cocktail consists of fresh raspberries, fruit punch and turbinado sugar, and is the perfect way to celebrate the Razorbacks. If you drink enough of them, they will keep you warm during those chilly winter tailgates.
California: Napa Valley Wine
Saturday vibes at @signorelloestate! #VisitNapaValley
A photo posted by Napa Valley (@visitnapavalley) on Jul 25, 2015 at 12:54pm PDT
All trendy drinks aside, it can’t be denied that California will forever be known for their wineries up north. These grapes create some of the best wine in the world, and you are insane if you are from California and have never been to Napa.
Californian’s do what they can for a bottle of wine from Napa, even if it’s 15 dollars and sold at Costco. End of story.
Colorado: Colorado Bulldog
A #coloradobulldog to honor our last day in #denver #girlsvacay
A photo posted by Jenny Canzoneri (@jennsmooter) on Aug 6, 2015 at 1:57pm PDT
The difference between a Colorado Bulldog and a White Russian, you ask? The Bulldog is bubbly… Just like the peeps from Colorado.
It is claimed that the name of this beloved drink was derived from Peanuts, an English bulldog and the original Colorado State University mascot. This was before they became the Aggie Rams. We owe you one, CSU.
Connecticut: Dark ’N Stormy
Photo courtesy of movitabeaucoup.com
You know people are serious about a drink when they claim that “a Dark ‘n Stormy is only a Dark ‘n Stormy when served with Gosling’s 80 proof black seal Bermuda rum.”
Every bartender in the Connecticut area has perfected a Dark ‘n Stormy recipe because someone is bound to order one. Whether it’s to take a cool break from the hot summer weather or to prepare for the impending rain and snow storms.
Delaware: Dogfish Head Ale
Since opening in 1995 in Milton, Delaware, Dogfish Head Alehouse essentially began the craft beer craze that’s goin’ on today. The people of Delaware even changed their laws to open the brewery because they love these “off-centered ales for off-centered people” so much.
Florida: Rum Runner
Rumor has it, the Rum Runner cocktail was invented at the Holiday Isle Tiki Bar in Islamorada, Florida. When the head bartender was forced to get rid of old alcohol, he came up with the Rum Runner – a mix of pineapple juice, orange juice, blackberry liqueur, banana liqueur, light rum, dark rum and grenadine. Oh, don’t forget the shot of Bacardi 151 that sits on top.
Since then, Floridians have made it their mission to perfect the rum runner recipe. No doubt that it’s a perfect cocktail to sip while getting your tan on.
Georgia: Scarlet O’Hara
Photo courtesy of emmamartiny.dk
In celebration of the southern belle in Gone With The Wind and the gem of the south that is Southern Comfort, the Scarlet O’Hara has been given the title of Georgia’s signature cocktail.
It may not be the most ordered or most popular cocktail in the state, and frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn. However, it definitely represents its southern roots.
Hawaii: Mai Tai
Photo courtesy of hawaii-aloha.com
Yeah, yeah, I know. The Mai Tai was created in California, but the Mai Tai is way more popular in Hawaii. There isn’t a bar in the state that doesn’t claim that the Mai Tai is their most ordered cocktail.
Mai Tai + Hawaiian beaches = heaven. Obvi.
Idaho: Evan Williams Bourbon
Photo courtesy of dailyfinance.com
It’s no doubt that America loves whiskey more than any other alcohol, but when Idahoans head to the liquor store, they know the right brand to buy. Thank you, Kentucky, for creating Evan Williams. It is such a beautiful masterpiece. Idaho appreciates it.
Photo courtesy of thewanderlush.com
Between the Illinois Irish, the Notre Dame Irish and turning the Chicago River green on St. Patty’s Day, it’s no surprise that Illinois is in love with all things Irish. Why should their signature cocktail be any different? Jameson Irish Whiskey couldn’t represent this state better.
The Jameson Ginger and Lime is the most refreshing mix of a trendy cool beer (cause we all know that Chi Town is the trendiest) and the state’s most consumed alcohol.
Photo courtesy of mankind.co.uk
Jägermeister is one of the most purchased alcohols in Indiana, so you can’t go wrong with a Jägerbomb. These shots are fun to take, but don’t drink too many of them. Take it from the Hoosiers (and not just IU students) who have mastered the art of jägerbombs.
Iowa: Templeton Rye
Templeton Rye, better known as “The Good Stuff,” is one of Iowa’s finest productions. Based on a prohibition era recipe, every bottle of Templeton Rye is smooth as smooth can be. It’s so good that it’s typically consumed on the rocks. If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, use it to create the smoothest old fashioned or manhattan that you’ve ever tried.
The Horsefeather first appeared in Lawrence, Kansas in the 1990’s and has since flourished throughout the state. If you’ve never been to Kansas before, you’ve probably have never heard of this spicy cocktail. Think Moscow Mule, but whiskey instead of vodka. Oh, hell ya. This is something you should be proud of, KS.
Kentucky: Mint Julep
Photo courtesy of kentuckyderby.com
Okay, this one is a no brainer. Who doesn’t know that the Mint Julep is THE drink in Kentucky. Just to prove it to you, each year almost 120,000 Mint Juleps are served over the two-day period of Kentucky Derby weekend at Churchill Downs Racetrack.
The sazerac came about in a New Orleans apothecary way way back in 1838 as the world’s first cocktail ever. So, clearly it deserves its place as Louisiana’s signature cocktail.
Maine: Allen’s Coffee Brandy and Milk
Photo courtesy of punchdrink.com
This drink, also known as the sombrero, is a crucial staple in the diet of anyone who lives in Maine. You can’t find a bartender who DOESN’T know what an Allen’s and Milk is.
Maryland: Black Eyed Susan
Photo courtesy of baltimoresun.com
The Black Eyed Susan is the official drink of the Preakness, an American horse race held each year in Baltimore, Maryland. This beautiful mix of vodka, St. Germain, pineapple juice, lime juice and orange juice is the perfect representation of this small state, as well as the most refreshing way to celebrate the winning horse.
Massachusetts: Cape Codder
Photo courtesy of uk.thebar.com
With Ocean Spray cranberry juice headquartered in Massachusetts, their signature cocktail MUST feature this yummy drink. What’s better than a basic as f*ck vodka cranberry? Add a lime and call it a Cape Codder.
Michigan: The Hummer
Photo courtesy of theviewfromgreatisland.com
Born in Detroit at the Bayview Yacht Club, The Hummer cocktail became nationally famous thanks to Jerome Adams. Bars throughout the state (and even from other states) began begging for the recipe because club members would enter other bars asking for a Hummer.
Though every bar has their own modifications on the recipe now, they are all delicious and representative of Michigan’s love for alcohol.
Minnesota: The Bootleg
Photo courtesy of mygourmetconnection.com
The Bootleg is the official drink of Minnesota and the happiest medium of a gin and tonic and a mojito. The only thing is, you’ve gotta be bougie and have access to a country club in Minnesota to actually purchase the mix. OR you could just be janky and make them at home.
Mississippi: Mississippi Punch
Photo courtesy of mincocktail.blogspot.com
You would think that this mix of three alcohols would have originated on Ole Miss’ frat row in attempts to get college kids druuuunk. However, it has actually been around since the 1860’s and it surprisingly doesn’t taste like gasoline.
Between the French cognac, American bourbon and Jamaican rum, this cocktail is essentially Mississippi history in a glass that WILL get you drunk.
Missouri: Caribou Lou
#cariboulou #151 #cocktails #malibu Yummy cocktails with my hubby @tony_zombos
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“We mixed it up and then I say we treat Caribizzle like our lady. Originated in Kansas City, Missouri since 1995 baby.” Thanks, Tech N9ne for teaching Missouri the classic 151 rum, pineapple juice and Malibu mix. It’s a real hit.
Montana: Whiskey Ditch
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Quick english lesson: Ordering a drink followed by “ditch” means “with water.” Montanans don’t f*ck around when it comes to alcohol, so they obviously only use water as a mixer.
The next time you’re in Montana, order a whiskey ditch to fit in, but make sure that you know what you are getting yourself into.
Nebraska: Founders Brewing Curmudgeon Old Ale
#brewedfor classic seafaring ports, local pubs and weathered old fisherman…
A photo posted by Founders Brewing Co. (@foundersbrewing) on May 8, 2015 at 12:46pm PDT
Specific, I know, but Nebraska loves their beer and they want to find the best craft beer, even if it means that it comes from Michigan. This microbrew was the most purchased beer in Nebraska for the past few years, so it must be good.
Nevada: The Nevada Cocktail
Photo courtesy of cocktailia.com
Given that weekends in Vegas are both sweet and sour, this cocktail reflects those feelings exactly. In thanks to the state that brought us endless fun, drinks and gambling, it deserves nothing more than a cocktail named after it.
New Hampshire: Fireball
It is literally proven that New Hampshire is America’s booziest state. With that being said, they deserve a cheap alcohol that you can never get tired of. Fireball is exactly that. Everyone drinks so much more of it than they think… Then it’s game over.
New Jersey: Jack Rose
Photo courtesy of temperedspirits.com
New Jersey bartender, Frank J. May, created the Jack Rose in the early 20th century. The people that live in the dirty Jerz are proud of their apples, so this cocktail incorporates applejack, grenadine and lemon juice.
New Mexico: Chimayo Cocktail
Photo courtesy of mixmentor.net
A tequila and apple cider based drink, the chimayo cocktail was created at a restaurant ten miles outside of Santa Fe. This cocktail even features apples that are grown in the Chimayó valley.
New York: Long Island Iced Tea
Photo courtesy of wikipedia.com
Manhattan.. Def LIT. Even though New York is one of the states that apparantly drinks the least, when they do, this heavy duty cocktail is just what every New Yorker needs. There also isn’t a better cocktail to represent this state.
North Carolina: The Cherry Bounce
Photo courtesy of thebigdrinksf.blogspot.com
Originating at Isaac Hunter’s Tavern, a bar ten miles outside of Raleigh, the cherry bounce is considered the official cocktail of the state’s capital city. But this cocktail isn’t just found in Raleigh. The entire state loves this mix of cherries, sugar and hard alcohol (the choice is yours).
North Dakota: Fargo Brewing Company Iron Horse Pale Ale
Woah, North Dakota is one of the six states in the country that consumes over 40 gallons of beer per person over 21 per year. So, like, they’re hopivores, right? Since they love beer so much, Fargo Brewing Company spent five years growing into the most popular craft brewery in North Dakota.
Ohio: Buckeye Martini
Photo courtesy of garnishblog.com
Named after the beloved Ohio State University mascot, Brutus Buckeye, this cocktail is simple and to the point. A mix of gin, dry vermouth and black olives is the perfect tribute to this effortless state.
Oklahoma: Bloody Mary
Photo courtesy of foodandtravelfun.com
The variety of Bloody Marys that have made their way to Oklahoma is SO many. Mainly because Oklahomans can’t stay away from brunch. You can even order the Tiger’s Blood, the Bloody Mary to end all Bloody Marys, at S&B Burger in Oklahoma City.
Oregon: Sloe Gin Fizz
Photo courtesy of chowhound.net
“Well Portland, Oregon and sloe gin fizz, If that ain’t love then tell me what is.” Thanks, Loretta Lynn. You essentially dubbed the sloe gin fizz as the drink of Oregon.
Thumbs up to ending the week right. #TGIF #yuengling #lagerlove #beerhere
A photo posted by D.G. Yuengling & Son, Inc. (@yuenglingbeer) on Sep 25, 2015 at 3:40pm PDT
D. G. Yuengling & Sons, based in Pottsville, Pennsylvania is the oldest operating brewing company in the United States. This german beer is not only America’s #1 favorite brew, it is one hundred percent Pennsylvania’s pride and joy. Don’t be caught with a Bud Heavy in your hand… Just don’t.
Rhode Island: Rhode Island Red
Photo courtesy of liquor.com
One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, FLOOR! This is one big drink for one little state. When Rhode Islanders do it, they do it big with a killer mix of tequila, Chambord, lemon juice, orange bitters and ginger beer. It just sums up the state so well.
South Carolina: Firefly Sweet Tea
Who thinks of the south and doesn’t think of sweet tea. On Wadmalaw Island in South Carolina, Firefly Spirits produced the world’s first Sweet Tea Vodka. Seriously genius. This spirit is a taste of southern hospitality at its finest.
South Dakota: Bud Light
I feel like every South Dakotan’s idea of a night out is grabbing a 12-pack of beer from the store and splitting it between the boys. Bud Light is no craft beer, but it’s cheap AF, and that’s all that matters, right? SD, I think you’re doin’ it right.
Photo courtesy of olesmoky.com
Back in the day, moonshine was an illegal, untaxed liquor that was created by the light of the moon (or so they claim). When the state’s laws changed to allow the distillation of spirits, Ole Smoky changed the game and now it’s the love of every Tennesseean’s life.
Texas: Frozen Margarita
Photo courtesy of bestmargaritamachines.com
In Dallas in 1971, Mariano Martinez made margs in a soft serve ice cream machine and called it “The World’s First Frozen Margarita Machine.” Over time, the frozen margarita has undoubtedly become the most popular cocktail in the entire state of Texas.
Utah: Polygamy Nitro Porter
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Utah has the strangest liquor laws and the lowest alcohol consumption in the country. However, Wasatch Brewery was the first brewery in Utah and rules the charts for the most popular beer in Utah, especially with the Polygamy Nitro Porter. Utahns apparently really dig dark beers. You do you, Utah.
Vermont: Old Vermont
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Spotlighting the maple syrup that Vermont prides itself on, the Old Vermont is a delicious mix of gin, orange juice, bitters and maple syrup. It might not be frequently ordered at a bar, but it does the state justice.
Virginia: Any Glass from Virginia Wine Country
Beautiful view… My blue heaven! @katiebreuning come home. ??
A photo posted by Colleen Breuning (@colleenbreuning) on Oct 22, 2015 at 1:28pm PDT
Wine, Virginia style, is what’s up. A bottle of wine from Virginia wine country is better than most across the country. If you really want to get authentic, head to one of the 250 wineries in the area and treat yourself to a kayak wine tasting adventure.
Washington: Washington Apple
Photo courtesy of thepikeplacekitchen.com
Most likely inspired by President Washington and his apple tree, the Washington Apple is a tart tribute to this state. Washingtonians even go so far as to support their northern friends in Canada as the Washington Apple always features Crown Royal whiskey.
West Virginia: Copperhead
Photo courtesy of thedrinkkings.com
Much more appealing than the venomous copperhead snake that slithers around West Virginia is the copperhead cocktail. Enjoy one of these babies after indulging in a day of outdoor recreational activities that West Virginia is so well known for.
Wisconsin: Brandy Old Fashioned
Photo courtesy of radiomilwaukee.org
Wisconsinites don’t f*ck around with their Old Fashioned’s. Most versions of this cocktail are made with whiskey, but if you’re in Wisconsin, the cocktail is made with a heavy pour of brandy.
Wyoming: Franzia Chillable Red
For the least populated state in the country, it’s kind of shocking that people love boxed wine. For a number of years in a row, Franzia Chillable Red was the top-selling wine in Wyoming. #slapthebag
A true Pisco Sour requires Peruvian limón, an acutely acidic relative to the limes most of us know and the key to Peruvian ceviche (if it can cook raw fish, it can blow your mind in a sour cocktail). Like drinking in technicolor, a limón-based Pisco Sour turns up the brightness on the South American spirit , while the traditional egg white and swirled bitters keep everything dry as a bone, even with the presence of simple syrup. Key limes make a viable substitute for those drinkers who don’t have access to fresh limón, and regular old limes will do in a pinch, but we highly recommend a jaunt down to Peru when your next sour craving hits.
Five Unexpected Three-Ingredient Cocktails
The Martini, the Daiquiri, the Negroni, the Tom Collins, the Old-Fashioned. If cocktails had a Hall of Fame, the walls would surely be lined with three-ingredient heavy hitters.
This is perhaps unsurprising, considering that by its most technical, 19th-century definition, a cocktail consists solely of three ingredients: spirit, sweetener, bitters—a formula which, over the years, has proved its staying power. As Robert Simonson observes in 3-Ingredient Cocktails, his recent book on the subject: “Triumphant triptych cocktails don’t provoke arguments about whether they’re good or not they start arguments about the way to make them well,” concluding, “it’s taken as an article of faith that they’re good.”
Within the realm of three-ingredient cocktails, Martini riffs prove to be a fruitful source of inspiration. Case and point: the Alaska. Simply gin, yellow Chartreuse and bitters, historical versions of this herbal take on the Martini differ over the use of London dry or Old Tom gin (though Simonson prefers the latter, as called for in Jacques Straub’s 1914 Drinks). Dan Greenbaum’s Remember the Alimony, on the other hand, inverts the typical Martini structure, building on a split base of fino sherry and Cynar finished with a quarter ounce of gin for a more modern take.
The Alaska (left) and the Blinker (right).
The combination of spirit, sweetener, citrus—better known as the sour—offers another nearly infallible three-ingredient template that encompasses everything from canonical classics like the Margarita to more modern examples, like the late Sasha Petraske’s Cosmonaut—a spin on the Cosmopolitan made with gin, lemon juice and raspberry preserves that showcases Petraske’s signature succinctness. On the other end of the sour spectrum, the Blinker—first printed in 1934—stretches the formula to its extreme: Built on a base of rye whiskey, the recipe calls for a full ounce of grenadine and three ounces of grapefruit juice for a potent but surprisingly refreshing cocktail.
But it’s Timothy Miner’s Fumata Bianca—a mixture of bianco vermouth, Suze and mezcal made tall by sparkling water (which Simonson nonetheless considers to be within the three-ingredient canon)—that really captures the unexpected complexity offered by so few ingredients. Seamlessly blending herbal, sweet and smoky profiles, it proves that simple doesn’t need to be simple-minded.
The Sourtoe CocktailView all photos
Established in 1973, the Sourtoe Cocktail has become a Dawson City tradition and is exactly what is sounds like: an actual human toe that has been dehydrated and preserved in salt, used to garnish a drink of your choice.
The first toe is said to have belonged to a miner and rum runner named Louie Liken, who had his frostbitten appendage amputated in the 1920s. Liken preserved it in a jar of alcohol in his cabin for memories. Roughly 50 years later, in 1973, Yukon local Captain Dick Stevenson found the jar containing the toe while cleaning a cabin. Captain Dick brought the toe down to the Sourdough Saloon and started plunking it into the drinks of those who were brave enough. Thus, the Sourtoe Cocktail Club was formed.
Unfortunately, the original toe lasted only seven more years after its discovery. According to the Sourtoe Cocktail Club, “in July 1980, a miner named Garry Younger was trying for the Sourtoe record. On his thirteenth glass of Sourtoe champagne, his chair tipped over backwards, and he swallowed the toe. Sadly, Toe #1 was not recovered.”
Since then, seven more toes have been donated to the bar. Toe number two was given after an amputation due to an inoperable corn. Toe number three came from a victim of frostbite, and was also accidentally swallowed. Toe Four was an anonymous toe, later stolen by a hunter. The fifth and sixth toes were donated by a Yukon old-timer in return for free drinks for his nurses. Toe Seven was an amputation due to diabetes, and toe eight arrived in a jar of alcohol with the message, “Don’t wear open-toe sandals while mowing the lawn.” On August 24th, 2013, a man ordered a Sourtoe shot, swallowed it, paid the $500 fine, and promptly exited the saloon. This is the first and only time the toe was deliberately consumed, and as a result the fine has been increased to $2,500. In June 2017, the toe was stolen, and later returned via mail to the owner.
The rules have changed in the past 27 years. The Sourtoe can pair with any drink, but one rule remains the same: “You can drink it fast, you can drink it slow—but the lips have gotta touch the toe.”
What shape and size of glass deemed appropriate for a Sour has changed enormously over the decades. Back in 1862 Jerry Thomas stipulated to "use a small bar glass", but as the sour evolved, the dedicated eponymously named sour glass, a footed glass, deeper than a cocktail glass, became ever more popular and by 1884, in his Bar-Keeper's Handbook George Winter specifies to "use a fancy sour glass" for some sours and a "large bar glass for others.
In his 1908, The World's Drinks and How to Mix Them William Boothby calls for Sour recipes to be strained into a highball or punch-glass. Then in 1912, in his The Hoffman House Bartender's Guide Charles S. Mahoney says the Dizzy Sour and Gin Sour should be served in a sour glass whereas the Whiskey Sour should be served in a claret glass.
Modern-day Whiskey Sours tend to be served on-the-rocks in an old-fashioned glass, but the same drink could be shaken and strained into a stemmed sour glass and served straight-up. When it comes to Sours, as long as the glass is appropriately sized, pretty much anything goes.
- • 35ml Shetland Reel Simmer Gin
- • 10ml orange and honey syrup
- • 15ml fresh lemon juice
- • Egg white
- • 10ml blood orange
- 1. Shake ingredients in a shaker and dry shake until egg has combined with the rest of the drink.
- 2. Add ice and shake to chill and dilute.
- 3. Double strain into chilled coup and garnish with dried orange slice.
(For the orange and honey syrup: combine equal parts honey and water with orange peel in a pan. Heat until honey has dissolved and reduced slightly. Let it cool and then store it for up to 10 days in a jar/container)
The Fermented Alaskan Goes Wild for Blueberries
I was blown away with Amalga Distillery’s limited release of Blueberry Gin, and I just had to create a cocktail with it. In my homemade limoncello, I use Alaskan Spirits potato vodka because it is so smooth and softens up the bite of the lemon peels.
Have you heard of aquafaba? It’s chickpea water, and I’ve begun using it instead of egg whites. It has a smooth silky texture and is a great vegan option. It has no “wet dog” smell that egg whites in cocktails have sometimes. With aquafaba, you get the aromatics of the ingredients you mix in it, which is what I want in this delicious blueberry cocktail. It also froths up just like an egg white, making for a beautiful foamy cocktail.
Editors’ note: People waited in a line two blocks long in Juneau to buy some of the few hundred bottles of Amalga’s stunning Blueberry Gin when it went on sale June 2019. If you weren’t among them, don’t worry! Use Amalga’s Juneauper gin, or any other favorite gin, and up the amount of Carissa’s amazing homemade blueberry liqueur in the cocktail to 1.25 ounces.