Mixing the Museum – The Bijou

I’m taking some liberties in our visit to the Museum.  I’m skipping a couple of drinks (Between the sheets – a great cocktail, and one we’ll revisit someday; The Berlin Station Chief – sounds weird and I just can’t bring myself to make it yet; The Bellini – I’m waiting until peaches are in season) and moving onto the Bijou.

The Bijou Cocktail was created by Mr. Harry Johnson and the consensus is that the recipe first appeared in his book The New and Improved Bartenders Manual.  This is a spirit-forward herbal cocktail, containing equal parts gin, vermouth, Green Chartreuse and bitters.  Let’s take a look at one of the ingredients of this cocktail, and special favorite of mine.

Green Chartreuse (it also comes in Yellow) is an herbal liqueur made by Carthusian monks, and it really is green.  The recipe is thought to have originated in 1605 as an “elixir of long life.”  The recipe is a carefully guarded secret, and to this day, supposedly only two monks at any one time know the recipe for the herbal mixture that is used to make Green Chartreuse.

Fun DrinkScience Fact

(I’ll do the research so you can impress your friends at your next cocktail party):

The liqueur’s emerald green color is derived from this stuff:

The 'Green' in Green Chartreuse

The ‘Green’ in Green Chartreuse is Chlorophyll B which is produced by the 132 botanical ingredients used to make the liqueur.  (Interestingly, chlorophyll also contributes to the color of absinthe).

Chlorophyll donates an electron in this reaction.

Chlorophyll is involved in a cascade of sophisticated reactions known as Photosynthesis (simplified above).  This is how plants get energy and produce oxygen, and is in fact the source for the majority of all oxygen in our atmosphere.

So it is with no great surprise that Green Chartreuse was known as an elixir of long life, for the same ingredients that make this liqueur, also contribute to the air we breath.

The Bijou Cocktail 

  • 30 ml Plymouth Gin
  • 30 ml Green Chartreuse
  • 30 ml Dolin Sweet Vermouth
  • Dash of Orange Bitters
  • Stir, strain in to  a chilled cocktail glass, garnish with cherry and lemon twist.  Cheers!

    The Bijou by Sugar Sand Photography

Advertisements

>Mixing the Museum – The Bamboo Cocktail

>


As work and life (too much of the former; the latter all good, more please) happen and diversions occur (one of which was an awesome trip to some of the best cocktail bars in DC – we’ll read about that in a future post), we are still slowly making our way through the Mixing the Museum exercise. Turning the page from The Barcardi Cocktail, we come to The Bamboo.  Again, a cocktail that is novel to me, reinforcing my justification for our mock Julie/Julia blogging.  

Though originating in Japan, The Bamboo cocktail is credited to a German gentleman, Mr. Louis Eppinger, who managed the luxurious Grand Hotel in Yokohama, Japan in the 1890’s.  In the late 1800’s this elegant hotel, a playground for affluent Westerners, opened in Yokohama, a major trading center of the time.  Yokohama was one of the first major port cities in Japan, and is today, Japan’s second largest city.  Because of its prominence in foreign and Western trading, the city quickly became home to many foreigners and was influenced heavily by those from Great Britain, Germany, and America.  Mr. Louis Eppinger likely created the Bamboo cocktail to cater to his Western clientele.  Except for originating in Japan and the distinctive botanical name, there is nothing very Japanese about the cocktail.  

Unfortunately much of Yokohama and the Grand Hotel was destroyed by a large earthquake in September 1923.  The earthquake and Tsunami that devastated Japan in March 2011 was Northeast of Yokohama, and thus little damage occurred there.   

The Bamboo
1 oz. Dolin Dry Vermouth
1 oz. Lustau Dry Amontillado sherry
1 dash Angostura Bitters
2 dashes Orange Bitters (Regans #6)
Stir and strain into a vintage cocktail glass. 
We garnished ours with an olive.

So mix it, drink it, enjoy it.

>Mixing the Museum – A Triumvirate to Start

>I’m certainly glad I didn’t commit to 100 drinks in 100 days.  After more than two weeks of mulling things over and numerous delays, we are finally kicking off the “Mixing the Museum” project we described in our last post.   The book, the Museum of the American Cocktail Pocket Recipe Guide (MOTAC) compiled and edited by superstar cocktail aficionados Robert Hess and Anistatia Miller, is a brilliant little tome that everyone must have in their cocktail libary.  There are 100 cocktail recipes that we will be working our way through in the days to come.

KB’s visit was a perfect opportunity to dive into the MOTAC project.  Two super-tasters in the house!…right on!…let’s try to get through a few of these cocktails.  First up…The Algonquin.

A swank hotel that opened in the early 1900’s in New York City, the Algonquin was known for being one of the first hotels to accept single women travelers.  Notably, the early literary feminists Gertrude Stein and Simone de Beauvoir were known to frequent the Algonquin Hotel.  While it is intriguing to think about the conversations these women would have engaged in over a cocktail, their talk would not have been loosened by liquor as prohibition was in full force during much of the time that Gertrude and Simone might have crossed paths in New York City.  Let’s sip an Algonquin in their honor and imagine sharing the bar with these avant-garde women.  

The Algonquin

The Algonquin
2oz. rye (Old Overholt)
1oz. dry vermouth (Dolin)
1oz. fresh pineapple juice

Shake with ice – strain into a cocktail glass.
Garnish with a cherry.

I wanted to like this cocktail.  Rye, vermouth, pineapple juice…what’s not to like?  But the flavor combination just didn’t knock me off my feet.  No complaints from KB and CR.  What’s next?

Turn the page….The Americano.…..  Queue the singing gondolier…

This cocktail dates to the mid 1800’s and was created by Gaspare Campari, and was first served in his bar Caffe Campari in Milan, Italy.  As you probably guessed, Gaspare created the aperitif herbal liqueur Campari.  With a tip of the hat to the ingredient’s brand geography, it was originally known as the Milano-Torino.  Apparently, in the early 1900’s there were such great numbers of Americans in Italy enjoying the Milano-Torino, the people of Italy chose to show their appreciation and affection by renaming the cocktail, the Americano. 

Fun DrinkScience Fact (I’ll do the research so you can impress your friends at your next cocktail party):

The red color of Campari used to come from these little guys:

Dactylopius coccus

The little red beetle makes this stuff:

Carminic Acid = Red Dye

The red dye is also known as carmine.  The cochineal beetles are such impressive carmine factories that the dye actually occurs as 17-24% of the weight of the dry insects.  Besides, Campari, carmine is also used to color a number of other products, such as yogurt and ice cream as well as cosmetics. 

Apparently in the mid-2000’s Campari stopped using crushed Dactylopius coccus as a source of red carmine, and instead began to use “artificial color” to achieve the brilliant red of it’s famous liqueur.  I checked my bottle and sure enough the label reads ‘artificially colored.’

Regardless of whether my red Campari has insect based carmine or FD&C Red 40, let’s mix the Americano.  (I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never tried the Americano).

The Americano

The Americano
1oz. Campari
1oz. sweet vermouth (Dolin)
Soda Water

Build in a highball with ice.  Stir.  Top with soda water.  One more gentle stir.  Garnish with lemon twist. 

Bitter, sweet, tasty.  This is a cocktail that CR and I will enjoy sitting in the steamers looking out at the water next summer.  Or the next time we are in Milan.  Cin Cin!


The last in our triumvirate of cocktails from the MOTAC kick-off party is the Arnaud.  According to Sir Hess and Dame Miller, the Arnaud was “Invented in the 1920’s as part of a promotional campaign in which Booth’s Gin asked famous British stage and screen stars to select their favorite libations.  This particular drink was selected by and named after the French actress Yvonne Arnaud…” 

Yvonne Arnaud

Yvonne Arnaud’s singing and stage career singer spanned from the early 1900’s to 1958.  As a cocktail enthusiast, I have to say I find it impressive in a trading-card-cocktail-geek kind of way that Yvonne has a cocktail named in her honor.  I think one’s prominence in history should be measured by the fact that a classic cocktail bears their name.  Why not?  Sure, all the other stuff that they did to ensure their name is still recognized today carries a lot of weight too.  But a cocktail?  That’s cool.  And a tasty cocktail…even better. 

The Arnaud

The Arnaud
1oz. gin (Plymouth)
1oz. dry vermouth (Dolin)
1oz. creme de cassis (Clear Creek Cassis Liqueur)

Stir with ice – strain into a cocktail glass.
I didn’t garnish, though some recipe variations call for a blackberry garnish.
This was the favorite of the night for KB and CR, and I also enjoyed this cocktail.  We’ll mix it again.  This recipe makes the cocktail notebook for future use.