Rock & Rye

A Drink On The Rocks…..


March 2011

Vintage Cocktails #53: The Seelbach Cocktail

Created in 1917 as the signature cocktail of the Seelbach Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky, this cocktail lay forgotten to the world until the mid 1990’s when it was brought back to life by Adam Seger, restaurant manager at the Seelbach. I do not know why this drink ever faded into obscurity as it is a fantastic champagne based cocktail. The sweetness of the champagne and liquer is perfectly balanced by the extra large dose of bitters, and the bourbon creates a great backbone flavor. The higher proof the bourbon, the better this drink will be. A 100 proof rye works excellently as well. Cheers!

The Seelbach Cocktail
1 oz Bourbon
1/2 oz Cointreau
7 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
7 dashes Angostura Bitters


Beer of the Week: Bosun’s Black Porter

This past weekend I had the chance to stop by the Jolly Roger Taproom, the pub at Maritime Pacific Brewing. The food there is excellent, but we are talking about drinks here, so lets get to that. They have 14 beers on tap, including cask conditioned ales served using beer engines. For my beer, I chose the Bosun’s Black Porter served on nitro.

A blend of malted barleys, wheat, and U.S. Goldings hops, this porter pours a opaque black with a fairly thin cream colored head. There are a ton of roasted malt aromas, but not much else on the nose. On the tongue there are the dark, roasted malt flavors accompanied by some slightly smoky oat and just a hint of chocolate. The hop flavors are very subdued, almost detrimentally so. The finish is very dry with a hint of coffee and minimal bitterness. Overall, I think it is a pretty decent porter. If you find a bottle, pick it up and give it a try, but probably not worth seeking out if it is not readily available. Cheers!

Vintage Cocktails #52: The Moscow Mule

In 1934, Rudolph Kunetchansky secured the rights from Vladimir Smirnov to produce Smirnoff Vodka in the US. At this time vodka was a relatively new product in the US market, not very popular, and was mostly sold to european immigrants. Trying to sell an unpopular spirit was not working financially for Rudolph, and in 1939, Rudolph sold the business to John Martin, an executive for G.F. Heublein Brothers, Inc., an east coast spirits company. One of John Martin’s good friends was Jack Morgan, president of Cock ‘n’ Bull Products (which produced ginger beer) and owner of the Cock ‘n’ Bull Tavern, a bar on Sunset Boulevard in Los Angeles. In 1941, these men would change the spirit world forever with their push to use vodka as a predominant mixing spirit. An article from the New York Herald Tribune recounts the tale:

The mule was born in Manhattan but “stalled” on the West Coast for the duration. The birthplace of “Little Moscow” was in New York’s Chatham Hotel. That was back in 1941 when the first carload of Jack Morgan’s Cock ‘n’ Bull ginger beer was railing over the plains to give New Yorkers a happy surprise… Three friends were in the Chatham bar, one John A. Morgan, known as Jack, president of Cock ‘n’ Bull Products and owner of the Hollywood Cock ‘n’ Bull Restaurant; one was John G. Martin, president of G.F. Heublein Brothers Inc. of Hartford, Conn., and the third was Rudolph Kunett, president of the Pierre Smirnoff, Heublein’s vodka division. As Jack Morgan tells it, “We three were quaffing a slug, nibbling an hors d’oeuvre and shoving toward inventive genius”. Martin and Kunett had their minds on their vodka and wondered what would happen if a two-ounce shot joined with Morgan’s ginger beer and the squeeze of a lime. Ice was ordered, limes procured, mugs ushered in and the concoction put together. Cups were raised, the men counted five and down went the first taste. It was good. It lifted the spirit to adventure. Four or five later the mixture was christened the Moscow Mule…

John, Jack, and Rudolph had created a drink that would become hugely popular throughout Los Angeles, and soon spread coast to coast, taking vodka with it. But what of the mug? As luck would have it, John Martin’s girlfriend happened to inherit a copper goods business, and he used her company to further his marketing campaign. Engraved copper mugs were ordered, and Martin began his tour across the country. In every bar he stopped at, he would take a polaroid picture of the bartender holding his copper mug and a bottle of Smirnoff. These pictures would then be shown at the next bar, giving credence to their products. This marketing campaign was so successful that between 1947 and 1950, Smirnoff case sales nearly tripled.

Although the drink was popular for a time, its season soon faded as ginger beer never really caught on as a mainstream product. In addition, nice shiny copper mugs made pickpockets out of otherwise upstanding bar patrons. Vodka was now used in a majority of cocktails, and it was easier to take the drink off the menu than replace mugs and stock ginger beer. Luckily for us, ginger beer has seen a renaissance recently and you can find several high quality varieties at most grocery stores. Cheers!

The Moscow Mule
2 oz Vodka
1/2 Lime
Ginger Beer

Absinthe: A Documentary

A new documentary is coming out on the most notorious of spirits in history. Directed by Christopher Buddy, this film features Ted Breaux, the creator of Lucid Absinthe. You can currently stream the film through Amazon, more options may be coming in the future.

The Beer Is On Tap

Thanks to my awesome wife, I can now enjoy my beer from a chilled stainless tap, rather than an awkward picnic tap coiled up in the refridgerator.
Thanks Love!

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