Washington, D.C.’s Third Annual Holiday Cocktail Seminar

On December 12, the Museum held its third annual Holiday Cocktail Seminar at one of D.C.’s finest bar/restaurants, PS7’s, in Chinatown.  Chef Peter Smith and Gina Chersevani and the staff at PS7’s were amazing hosts for this great event.

Thanks to our loyal sponsors

Derek Brown started the evening off with his famous recipe for Glogg, which is a red wine-based Holiday tradition in Northern Europe (Derek managed to extract the recipe from a 90-something woman in Denmark, the story is almost as rich as the drink).

Derek Brown describes Glogg

The recipe follows:

Yule Glogg Recipe

4-6 oz. Punch Cups or 8-10 oz. Small White Wine Glasses

1 1/2 bottles of full-bodied red wine (Derek used a nice, inexpensive Tempranillo)

1 cup Aquavit (Derek made his own using Skyy Vodka as a base)

1 tsp. crushed cardamom seeds

2 tsp. cloves

½ tsp. freshly grated ginger

2 tsp. freshly grated orange zest

4 cinnamon sticks

1 cup almonds – blanched

1 cup seedless raisins

1/2 cup brown sugar

Bring wine to boil. Tie spices and zest in to a cheesecloth bag. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add in almonds, sugar and raisins; cook for 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat. Add in Aquavit. Stir, and remove spices. Serve hot.

Just some of Jerry LeNoir's amazing collection of Holiday collectibles

Next up was Jerry LeNoir, co-creator of www.Mr-Booze.com, a great Web site all about home bartending, décor, music, and the whole cocktail vibe.

Jerry LeNoir making Tony Abou-Ganim's Cable Car

Jerry offered a drink that was adapted from the classic Sidecar (lemon juice, Cointreau, Cognac) by world renowned bartender Tony Abou-Ganim:

Cable Car

1 1/2 oz Sailor Jerry Spiced Rum

1/4 oz Cointreau

1 oz fresh Lemon Juice

1/2 oz Simple Syrup

Coat the rim of the cocktail glass with cinnamon/sugar, then chill the glass. Shake the drink well with ice.  Strain, garnish with orange twist float.

Jerry makes the Yule Mule

Jerry’s next offering was yet another variation on a classic, this time the Moscow Mule, which was invented in the 1940s as a marketing ploy by the good people at Heublein, looking for a way to start moving the relatively exotic import called Smirnoff Vodka off the shelves.  While the original Moscow Mule is made simply with ginger beer, vodka and lime juice, Jerry’s Yule Mule goes something like this, and a one-a, and a two-a:

Yule Mule

2 oz Wray & Nephew Overproof Rum

2 1/2 oz Cranberry Juice (Jerry’s no snob, Ocean Spray is fine)

1/2 oz fresh Lime Juice

4 oz Ginger Beer to fill (Jerry prefers the spicy, and inexpensive, Goya)

Mix rum & juices together in a Collins glass. Add ice & stir. Fill to top w/ ginger beer and garnish with raspberries, blackberries or blueberries. Serve w/ swizzle stick or straw.

Gina makes her Scorched Milk

Next up was the effervescent, ebullient, loquacious (remind me to look up those words later) and always fabulous Gina Chersevani, who runs the bar at PS7’s.  Gina broke out a propane stove, and made an amazing drink called Scorched Milk:

Scorched Milk

In a shaker, fill with ice, then add:

1 ½ oz of Wild Turkey 101 proof Bourbon Whiskey

1 oz of Sauternes

2 oz of scorched milk mix*

Shake until frothy, then strain into a coupe, garnish with 2 flakes fleur del sel, and a pinch of cinnamon

*To make the scorched milk mix, bring 4 cups of milk to a boil along with 1 cup of sugar.  Chill it immediately to shock it, by placing the pot into a bowl of ice water.

As her second drink, Gina created a wonderful dessert drink, which she called the

Sitting by a Crackling Fire

In a mug, add 1 1/2 oz of candy cane infused Skyy vodka (Gina insists on the candy canes at Whole Foods).  Then fill with hot spicy chocolate mix (sugar and cocoa) and top with Frangelico-infused whipped cream.

Next up was Philip Greene, who donned a Santa Claus costume for the occasion.  Phil offered a brief history of punch, which was perhaps civilization’s first “mixed drink,” and granddaddy of the cocktail.  The punch he served was the famous Fish House Punch, said by Gary and Mardee Regan to have been created “at the Fish House Club, also known as the State in Schuylkill, or simply the Schuylkill Fishing Company in Philadelphia, an organization formed in 1732 by a group of anglers who liked to cook.” While there is dispute as to when it was developed, and by whom, Phil prefers the version of the story about how the drink was created in 1848 by State club member Shippen Willing, on the occasion of the Club’s allowing women to attend the Fish House’s annual Christmas Party.  As the story goes, the goal of the Fish House Punch was said to have been “something to please the ladies’ palate but get them livelier than is their usual wont.”  Ahhh, as Ogden Nash once said, “Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker.”

Chef Peter Smith, Gina, and Santa regale the crowd

An attorney with the  U.S. Marine Corps by day, Phil also told the story of how the great Marine Corps General Victor Krulak used to serve Fish House Punch to celebrate his birthday (January 7), and how it became (and continues to be) a USMC tradition around the Holidays.  According to military historian Robert Coram, in his book Brute, General Krulak’s “Fish House Punch is an insidious drink that, after two glasses, causes a peculiar numbness around the ears. After three glasses, a man believes he is the smartest person God ever created. Then comes the moment when he thinks bugs are crawling all over his body.”  While that might be a tad harsh of an assessment, I prefer that offered by the Wall Street Journal’s excellent columnist and cocktail aficionado, Eric Felten, who quoted a 1903 Lincoln Evening News story on Fish House Punch thusly:  “It is said of this punch that if one will drink enough of it he will reach a condition of optimism where he builds yachts and buys real estate by the block.” Here’s how:

Fish House Punch

1 1/2 cups superfine sugar

2 quarts water

1 quart lemon juice

2 quarts Appleton’s Extra 12 Year Old Dark Rum

1 quart Remy Martin Champagne Cognac

4 ounces peach brandy

Dissolve the sugar in the water, add the fresh lemon juice and all other ingredients.  Make a large slug of ice (using a container left in the freezer overnight), and gently add it to the punch.  Enjoy.

As always, J.P Caceres (Againn) worked miracles behind the scenes

The Museum of the American Cocktail extends to you and your families the warmest greetings for the Holiday Season.  Stay safe and be well.  Cheers!

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