Monday, January 24, 2011

Empirical Formulas: Top Boston bartenders create cocktails straight out of Boardwalk Empire

Consider if you will the top-notch television dramas that have become part of the pop-culture landscape over the past few years - Mad Men, Big Love, Breaking Bad, and, of course, Boardwalk Empire, just to name a few all-stars. Thanks to their stellar acting, rich storylines, multifaceted characters, and sumptuous production values, staying in with the DVR set to "stun" is the new going out. 

So for this year's Cocktails issue, we decided to filter our normal boozy coverage of the city's best imbibing locales, their libations, and their mix-masters through our current (and since the season ended, painfully missed) obsession: Boardwalk Empire. If you've never seen the show, think violence, sex, corruption, politics, illegal booze, and, oh yeah, killer costumes.

We decided to ask some of our favorite mixologists to create era-appropriate, Prohibition-y cocktails inspired by the show's dynamic characters. No, you don't have to wear two-tone wingtips to drink them (though nobody would fault you if you did). So sit back, throw a little Eddie Cantor on, and enjoy.

Nucky's English CousinInspired by Nucky Thompson
Created by Sabrina Wilhelm of Noir
2 oz. Canadian Club whisky
1 oz. Pimm's No. 1 Cup
.5 oz. Aperol
2 dashes of Regans' Orange Bitters 
Add liquors into a mixing tin over ice. Stir and strain into a cocktail glass. Top with two dashes of Regans' Orange Bitters and garnish with an orange peel. 
"Enoch ‘Nucky' Thompson is the treasurer of Atlantic County. In his spare time he also bootlegs and illegally imports alcohol, most notably Canadian Club. Mixing this whisky, the English-bred spirit Pimm's, and Aperol (born in 1919, the same year Prohibition was ratified) creates a smooth and lightly smoky but not overpowering flavor with a bright orange aroma." 

The Mickey Doyle Inspired by Mickey Doyle
Created By Kevin Martin of Eastern Standard
1.5 oz. U'Luvka Polish vodka
1.5 oz. Cocchi Americano
2 dashes of Regans' Orange Bitters No.6
Mount ingredients in a mixing glass, add ice, and stir. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon twist.
"This cocktail is named for the character Mickey Doyle, who is patterned after the real-life Mickey Duffy, the son of Polish immigrants who changed his name to fit in with the Irish mob. It drinks smooth but strong and expresses a balance of both sweet and bitter." 

The Commodore Inspired by Louis Kaestner
Created by Jamie Walsh of Stoddard's Fine Food & Ale
2 oz. Old Overholt rye
.25 oz. Green Chartreuse
.5 oz. honey syrup
Stir over ice and pour strained into a chilled double Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with an orange peel.
"Prohibition had just started, and I had to think about what was available and what these guys were drinking at the time - rum, brandy, bourbon, etc. I went with rye. The production had ‘stopped,' but I am sure they might have had a bottle around. My favorite character is the Commodore, Louis Kaestner, played by Dabney Coleman. He was a mean SOB who wouldn't want anything too fancy. Nice and simple. I really like the look of this cocktail. [It has a] good balance and has a kinda Sazerac feel to it."  

Inspired by Chalky White
Created by Johnathan O'Brien of Restaurant Dante
1/2 pound unsalted butter
1 liter of spiced rum
1 gallon of house-blended tea 

This recipe for house-blended tea with brown-butter rum makes 15 servings (for individual servings, combine tea and rum in a four-to-one ratio). To make the brown-butter rum, brown off a half pound of unsalted butter. While it's still warm (but not hot), add your choice of spiced rum. Give the mixture a good stir and transfer it into a container that will fit into your fridge. Let the mixture sit overnight. Once the butter separates in the morning, you can take the butter from the top and strain the rum back into the bottle using a funnel and cheesecloth or a fine strainer. To make the tea, use one part each of rosemary, clove, juniper, whole nutmeg, cinnamon stick (broken up, but not ground), lime peel, and lemon peel, plus two parts orange peel and three parts dried hibiscus. Mix all the ingredients and place on a baking sheet overnight while your rum separates. (You can also use a hibiscus tea bag and a Constant Comment tea bag for a similar effect.) Combine tea and rum and serve hot.  

"On a cold night, Chalky could be enticed into having this cocktail, but honestly, he would drink the brown-butter rum neat. When washed, the rum becomes a well-balanced liquor with sweet butterscotch and nutty notes with a deep, long ‘buttery' finish. . . .  [At the time,] all the ingredients or a facsimile thereof (except for the hibiscus) should have been found at an apothecary."

Belle Femme Inspired by Gillian Darmody
Created by Mike Stankovich of The Biltmore
1 sugar cube soaked in Aperol
Place Aperol-soaked sugar cube in champagne flute, top with Prosecco, and garnish with a lemon twist.
"I love the show, and I am really excited about this. The drink is inspired by Gretchen Mol's character Gillian; it's my take on the classic Champagne Cocktail. It's elegant up front with the Prosecco and has a deceiving finish with the Aperol - just like when Gillian double crosses Lucky Luciano. It's a great cocktail and a great show. . . . I do think Gillian would drink this. As a sophisticated, debonair showgirl, she'd find it appealing as a feminine drink with a bitter edge on the finish for her sultry side  She also has a taste for things Italian, considering on the show she caroused with Lucky Luciano."

Fig & Spice Old Fashioned Inspired by Margaret Schroeder
Created by Vincent Stipo of Deuxave
2 oz. fig- and orange-peel-infused rye
.5 oz. spiced simple syrup (with cinnamon, clove, star anise, and allspice)
To make the infused whiskey, let crushed fig and orange peal soak in the whiskey until the desired taste is reached and then strain. To make the spiced simple syrup, steep the spices in sugar and water and then strain. (Ideally, you would toast whole spices and then grind them.) Combine ingredients in a mixing glass. Fill two-thirds with ice, stir briefly, pour full contents into an Old Fashioned glass. and garnish with an orange disc. Squeeze the essential oils over the drink and rub the rim for great aromatics.
"The drink is for and inspired by Margaret because she is really raw underneath it all, but she covers it up with the sweet wholesome front, like the sweetness of the fig covering up the whiskey. She would definitely drink it toward the end of the season, when she is starting to be herself out in public and take part in the fun partying lifestyle that is Atlantic City."

Lucy's Libation Inspired by Lucy Danziger
Created by Kristina Hoffman of Union Bar & Grille
1.5 oz. Citadelle gin
.5 oz. sweet vermouth
.5 oz. Green Chartreuse
A splash of soda water
Stir ingredients with ice, strain into cocktail glass, and garnish with a few maraschino cherries.
"Lucy likes to drink. A lot. She is always flouncing around in flowing green velvet dressing gowns. I thought the Green Chartreuse would give it an appropriate color. And she's childish, so the several maraschino cherries fit - and give her something to play with in her mouth."

Sturdy Eyes Inspired by James Darmody
Created by Chad Arnholt of Woodward
.75 oz. Seagram's Canadian
.75 oz. Laird's Applejack brandy
.5 oz. Yellow Chartreuse
.5 oz. lemon juice
.5 oz. honey syrup
1 dash of The Bitter Truth Lemon Bitters
4 dashes of The Bitter Truth Jerry Thomas' Own Decanter Bitters
Measure ingredients into an ice-filled mixing glass, shake, and double strain into a cocktail glass.
"Included here are traditional ingredients for Prohibition cocktails including Canadian whiskey, apple brandy, honey syrup, lemon, and bitters. Chartreuse was a commonly imported product from France during pre-Prohibition years, and apple brandy was from New Jersey, where the show takes place. James Darmody would casually sip this while methodically planning his next pressured move to support the sins of Nucky Thompson. James is a determined and forceful character, but due to his vulnerable side he has a troubled past that everyone can relate to. The name Sturdy Eyes comes from the toughness he exudes through his character's actions, even through his soft lost soul. The cocktail Sturdy Eyes is synonymous . . . a heavy drink made for a delicate palate."

Written by Erica Corsano and Luke O'Neil. Photos by Joel Veak.

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