Monday, January 17, 2011

Alex, I'll Take Potent Potables for $200

Here's mud in your eye.

I've been giving a lot of thought to house cocktails lately. A few months ago, House Beautiful asked me to come up with a cocktail that would be fitting to serve at one's mountain house. The first thing that popped into my head was "Southern Cola", a cocktail for which I absolutely cannot take credit. The creator of this libation was mixologist extraordinaire Greg Best of Holeman & Finch in Atlanta. The drink, by the way, is made of Coca Cola, Amaro, and a lime juice ice cube, and it's really quite delicious.

More recently, my neighbors David and Scott served me a variation on the Satsuma Mojito, a drink favored by Julia Reed. David's version- he calls it the Satsuma Stinger- consists of Satsuma juice, soda, vodka, and mint. It was refreshing and fizzy and yes, it's so good that before you know it, it's 1am and you're stung. This needs to become David and Scott's house cocktail.

And finally, over Saturday lunch with my Charleston friends Mitchell and Randall, I asked what the hot cocktail of the moment was in their hometown. The response was spritzers and cocktails made from Elderflower syrup or St-Germain (an elderflower liqueur that's especially delicious when mixed with champagne and soda.)

All of this talk about cocktails led me to the decision that I need to come up with a house cocktail to serve my guests over the coming months. This actually is of vital importance to me as I live in a building where all we seem to do is eat a lot, drink a lot, and stay up well into the night discussing important matters like gossip, old Atlanta, and decorating. Hey, why not when all you have to do to get home is simply get on the elevator and press a button-hopefully the correct one to your floor.

I do already serve Kir Royales from time to time, so this could be an option. It's classic, something that I like. In fact, I believe that the first time I had one was at The Carlyle when I was college-aged, so this drink just might be the sentimental favorite for me.

Of course, I could channel Nan Kempner and start proffering Bull Shots to my guests. Don't we all remember that W article in which Nan downed her Bull Shot, claimed she was "pissed drunk", and then proceeded to say that she "loathed fat people"? Do you think Bull Shots make you fat?

Maybe I need a house cocktail that contains Bourbon because after all, I'm a Southerner. If you could bottle Sid Mashburn's classic and cool, traditional yet hip Southern vibe and mix it with bourbon, then that just might be the perfect Southern cocktail.

If all else fails, I could serve what I oftentimes do: Riondo Pink Prosecco. The taste is crisp and dry, the hue a rosy shade of pink, and the bottle's label is chic. What's not to like? But it's a new year, and it's time I venture out of my cocktail comfort zone and serve something different. I need help! You're a fun-loving group of people. What do you think?

Top image from House Beautiful, Fernando Bengoechea photographer; champagne photo from Glorious Food by Christopher Idone; Campbell's Beef Broth silkscreen by Richard Pettibone; julep cup photo from Park Avenue Potluck Celebrations: Entertaining at Home with New York's Savviest Hostesses; prosecco photo by Jennifer Boles.


  1. We have two favorite cocktails - the Celt's is a Negroni and mine is a Manhattan made with antica formula vermouth.

  2. Blue, I'll take one of each next time I visit you.

  3. Jennifer, with your skills as a gracious and hospitable hostess, you could serve tap water and most would still be intoxicated.

  4. TDC- You are far too kind!

  5. In the Summer, Mount Gay Southsides are a favorite in our household. In the winter Proseco is the houshold staple.

  6. Love this very urbane post. We don't have a house cocktail but champagne (and prosecco) are my favorites so a kir royale is always served. I now am also sure to have in stock the Cipriani bellini mix which comes in cute little six (or is it 4) packs. Love your very elegant shot with you beautiful cobalt glasses! And sounds like I want to live in your building!!

  7. Hmm...I'm of two minds about House Cocktails.
    They do lend a sense of Occasion to a little gathering
    but as you say, some of those concoctions can be
    lethal and even sick-making! I must be of the old
    school, preferring to mix my own drink at the grog
    tray and leaving everyone else to their own devices.

  8. I am loving Cava (prosecco's Spanish cousin) these days. Two I love are Cristalino and Kila. At $8a bottle it's a steal and an elegant and yummy substitute for champagne.

  9. Hi Jennifer. Yum. Cocktails. We have two rotating house cocktails. Well, actually 3. Uh oh, does that mean we have a problem?

    The first is a Ketel One Vodka Gimlet up with Fresh Lime Juice and a splash of Trader Joe's Organic Agave Sweetener.
    *4oz Vodka
    *juice of 1 lime
    *Agave sweetener to taste.
    Shaken and poured in to chilled Martini glass, of course.

    The second is a variation. We call it the Gimlet Chinoiserie. You substitute 1 oz of the 4 with Yazi Ginger Vodka.

    The third is a White Lady. Here are the classic ingredients. We make ours larger, though. Ha ha.

    * 1 1/2 oz gin
    * 3/4 oz Cointreau
    * 3/4 oz lemon juice

    This is also served up.

    I win the prize for the longest comment.

  10. Try an Aviation, created in the early 1900s by Hugo Ensslin, the head bartender at the Wallick Hotel in New York City's Times Square. The Crème de Violette can be challenging to find, but well worth it.

    * 2 oz gin
    * ½ oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
    * 2 tsp maraschino liqueur (try Luxardo)
    * 1/4 oz Crème de Violette
    * Lemon twist for garnish

    Combine first three ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake to chill well, then strain into cocktail glass. Drizzle the Crème de Violette into the glass and garnish with a lemon twist.

  11. PS
    There was a well respected bartender at the Savoy in London who was shown mixing up a Bullshot in
    the film about the life of Noel Coward, whose favorite
    drink it was. When the time came to pour in the beef
    boullion, it was instead jellied consommé~ which most
    likely made all the difference in the world.

  12. While more English than Southern, I am highly partial to a Pimm's with ginger ale or lemonade and some fresh fruits. Love the post and the comments!

  13. Wow! Thank you all. These are all fantastic suggestions. I plan to try them all...though not all of them in one night. That might spell trouble.

  14. Jennifer-

    Absolutely charming--and a vivid picture of life in Atlanta. I can't wait to visit.
    Whatever you serve, it will be enjoyed so much by your fortunate guests.
    cheers, DIANE

  15. Diane, Come visit us in Atlanta and join the party! We'd love to see you.

  16. What an original post. Hmm, is it too early for a drink?

  17. Joyce- It's after 5pm here so I see no problem with it!

  18. Anonymous6:26 PM

    Oh, the famous New Orleans Ramos Gin Fizz, yummy.
    I found it here, the recipe and the history.


  19. Hi Jennifer,

    Do you have a recipe for a Sazerac? I am tired of negronis and manhattans...

    Dean in Naples

  20. Jennifer, Dear, whenever you are ready to start trying all of these lovely suggestions, please do call. I will gladly volunteer my time and liver to this endeavor.

  21. These are great cocktail suggestions.

  22. Is it happy hour yet? Being from Atlanta and a resident of Charleston...I must try them both!

    I just wanted to thank you for speaking at the Blogging seminar at market last week. I really enjoyed hearing everyone's varied blog history and learning how it has evolved professionally for each of you!

    Sidney Wagner

  23. Sidney- Thank you so much for coming! It was a lot of fun, but it wouldn't have been half as much fun if we hadn't had that great audience!