COCKTAILS | Drop into the Stork Club

StorkClubCocktailThe Stork Club cocktail, a liquid relic of Old New York.

Stork Club barA couple of evenings ago, deterred from going out to dinner by the arctic cold, we turned to Dale DeGroff. No, we didn’t ring him up; we opened up his “Essential Cocktail.” From the extensive menu, we selected the Stork Club cocktail, a relic of one of New York’s greatest old night clubs.

The Stork, opened in 1929 by Sherman Billingsley, was among the most exclusive night spots in Old New York. A seat in the club’s storied Cub Room signaled your arrival. Among the cocktails sipped at the Stork Club, was its siganture, a gin, Cointreau and citrus and Angostura. It was one of countless cocktails mixed every night at the bar, left.

We were pleased — particularly because DeGroff’s recipe called for a flamed orange peel, which is accomplished by lightly seering a small peel of orange.

Billingsley’s daughter, Shermane, maintains a charming online archive of the place, which includes an adequate history, radio and TV clips and other electronic ephemera that document the famous 53rd Street haunt. Here’s a particularly entertaining video from the dawn of television:

Here’s the recipe for the cocktail:

• 1 1/2 ounces gin
• 3/4 ounce Cointreau
• 1 ounce orange juice
• 1/2 ounce lime juice
• Dashes Angostura
• Flamed orange peel

Combine your gin, Cointreau, orange juice, lime juice, Angostura in a shaker over ice. Shake over ice and serve up in a cocktail glass. Garnish with the orange peel.

COCKTAILS | Gin Daisy nods to Prohibition

GinDaisyThe Gin Daisy, a Depression-era cocktail featured in Al Hirschfeld’s ‘The Speakeasies of 1932.’

A favorite book of recent years is the fabulous reissue of illustrator Al Hirschfeld’s “The Speakeasies of 1932.”

Speakeasiesof1932First published by E.P. Dutton and Co. as “Manhattan Oases,” the book captures Old New York in one of its darkest hours: the waning days of the Noble Experiment and the depths of the Great Depression. Hirschfeld and his collaborator, screenwriter Gordon Kahn, travel up and down Manhattan, profiling the great speakeasies that defined the Roaring 20s and then dressed the wounds of deep financial crisis. Hirschfeld illustrates a bartender and Kahn offers a few pithy paragraphs describing the patrons, the drinks, the food and the general despair of New York’s speakesies.

The book was rereleased in 2003 by Glenn Young Books.

Among the establishments they visited — and the only one still remaining so far as I can tell — is ‘21.’ Still known as Jack and Charlie’s in 1932, the place was rated the second-best speak on the Island by Hirschfeld and Kahn. The latter writes:

Frequented by writers of the better order; the cosmopolite; the men who go to the nearby picture galleries; understand Matisse, Ravel and Ernest Bloch; who know “canarad a la presse,” drink hock, and call for the whiskey by name. …

… The bar is spacious, comfortable, and meticulously operated. The back-bar is sightly with statuettes of the White Horse whiskey steed himself ad the Nicolas porter you’ve seen on the Continent The beer steins on the mantel weren’t turned out in gross lots either.

Probably the only place on the island where you can call for Dewar’s, Teacher’s, Walker’s Black Label or any other brand of whiskey and get just that.

Thank me.

Bill, the bartender, recommended the Gin Daisy, a sour that’s has a bit of a sweet spot. It’s a terrific cooler for these waning warm weather nights. We’ve had them a couple of times in the last few weeks and have been delighted again and again.

• 2 1/2 ounces gin
• 1 ounce Cointreau
• 1 ounce Lemon juice
• Dashes grenadine
• Lemon garnish

Pour the gin, Cointreau and lemon juice over ice in shaker. Shake vigorously and serve over ice in a low tumbler. Add the grenadine and the garnish. Serve and enjoy.

CLIPS | The Long Island Express, 1938

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COCKTAILS | Take flight with the Aviation

DSC_0714The Aviation cocktail.

Gin continues to be my muse — it worked for Cheever, too, as contributor Maxell Eaton III recently pointed out — and I’ve been itching to try the Aviation.

A classic that’s not much served in the mainstream, the Aviation is allegedly the creation of Hugo Ensslin, a bartender at New York’s late Hotel Wallick. The original recipe called for the addition of crème de violette, but a later, 1930 offering from Henry Craddock’s Savoy Cocktail Book omits it. I opted for Craddock’s version and both Mrs. F. and I were pleased with the results.

The Aviation takes flight on energy borne from the marriage of gin and maraschino liqueur. The latter is not something everyone stocks, but I was able to find Luxardo at Westchester Wine Warehouse in White Plains. The drink can be viewed as either a refresher or an apertif. It’s well worth a try.


• 2 ounces gin
• 1/2 ounce lemon juice
• 1/2 ounce Luxardo maraschino liqueur
• 1/4 ounce crème de violette

Combine ingredients in a shaker over ice. Shake or stir vigorously and serve up in a cocktail glass. Garnish with one maraschino cherry. Enjoy.

COCKTAILS | The Fourth Regiment, a British twist on the Manhattan

FourthRegimentCocktailThe Fourth Regiment Cocktail, another classic from Charles F. Baker Jr.

Mrs. F. was tied up with a work commitment well into Thursday evening and so, with the cat away, the mouse played. She’s not a rye drinker and so it seemed as good a time as any to experiment with the Manhattan.

Charles F. Baker Jr. offered one recipe that I thought was well worth a try. From his inestimable catalog I selected a cocktail with roots in the final hours of the British Empire.

The Fourth Regiment cocktail, which Baker writes, “was brought to our amazed attention by one Commander Livesey, in command of one of His Majesty’s dapper little sloops of war off Bombay in 1931,” is essentially a Manhattan adapted for equatorial palates. Of course, the whiskey and vermouth are present, as is the Angostura. Joining them aboard the Fourth Regiment are orange bitters, a twist of lime, and if you have them available, celery bitters.

I found the lime did wonders to this old standard, as did the additional varieties of bitters. It’s a wonderful cocktail and I recommend it strongly.

• 2 ounces rye whiskey (or whatever you prefer in your Manhattans)
• 3/4 to 1 ounce sweet vermouth
• Dashes Angostura
• Dashes orange bitters
• Dashes celery bitters
• Twist of lime

COCKTAILS | Mexican Firing Squad Special takes dead aim

Firing SquadThe Mexican Firing Squad Special, another classic from Charles F. Baker Jr.

The steamy nights of recent weeks have called for cocktails whose cooling effects are a bit out of the ordinary. We’ve turned again to Charles F. Baker Jr., whose travels took to him to equatorial destinations around the globe.

With a Mexican menu planned for dinner, we selected a Mexican entry from Baker’s cocktail diary.

“[The] Mexican Firing Squad Special … is a creation we almost became wrecked upon in — of all spots — La Cucuracha Bar in Mexico City in 1937,” he writes. “Now and again we found ourselves just a little fed up with rather casual Mexican mixes, and the guidance of two young Mexican caballeros whose parents mattered in official circles in that city of Mexico. We were herded into fancy, rather dull places, served too warm drinks. And finally on one occasion we broke quietly by ourself, sought out this bar — where an aristocrat native ought’n be seen! — and ordered things in our own way.”

Tequila was evidently rare north of the border when Baker’s “The Gentleman’s Companion” was published, as he goes on to describe the distillation’s background and advises his readers to “purchase a good brand, for there are many raw distillations.”

The Mexican Firing Squad Special is a nice mixture of tart citrus and tequila with the additional complications of bitters and grenadine added in. As I’ve written before, my palate has a deep appreciation for all things lime, so I was particularly keen on this cocktail.

• 2 jiggers tequila
• Juice of 2 small limes
• 1 1/2 tsp of grenadine or simple syrup
• 2 dashes Angostura bitters
• Garnishes: all optional: orange slice, lime slice, pineapple slice and a red cherry

Mix the ingredients together well in a shaker and serve over cracked ice in a collins glass. Garnish and take aim!

TASTES| Pimento cheese journeys north

PimentoA batch of Pimento Cheese concocted by Mrs. F for Derby Day.

A couple of weeks ago now, thinking about what she might make for the Derby Day party we were getting together with friends Tim and Lindsey, Mrs. F. asked if I’d like her to make a batch of Pimento Cheese, the southern delicacy we’d read about last year on Trip Reed’s very fine blog, A Trip Down South. I replied that I would and she set to work.

Using a recipe she tracked down in “The Joy of Cooking” and advice we garnered from Trip and his blog, to add Worcestshire and hot sauces and some finely diced onion and to use not too much mayonnaise, she set to work.

The result was marvelous and proved a hit at the party. We finished a second batch at cocktail hour last night. “Joy” reports that a Pimento Cheese recipe appeared in its editions from the 1930s to the 1960s and that the 1936 cookbook called the recipe “a grand spread for hot or cold sandwiches.”

Definitely old fashioned and definitely not something I’d want to eat every week, it definitely is a classic appetizer. We served it with crackers and, as Trip recommended, with celery.

Here’s the recipe from our copy of “Joy,” with adjustments:

Pimento Cheese
In a medium bowl, combine:
• 1 four-ounce jar of chopped pimentos (or roasted red peppers if you prefer)
• 3/4 cup of mayonnaise or less, depending on your taste
• 1 garlic clove, minced
• 1 small onion, finely diced
• 1 tablespoon lemon juice
• 1 teaspoon dry mustard
• 1 teaspoon Worcestshire sauce
• 1 teaspoon ground red pepper
• Hot sauce

Beat with a wooden spood or an electric mixer at medium speed until blended. Then add 4 cups of grated Cheddar. Mix until you’ve got the consistency of cottage cheese.

Again, serve with crackers and celery and enjoy.

COCKTAILS | Baker’s Jimmy Roosevelt is a bubbly relief

JRsJimmy Roosevelts, champagne cocktails named for FDR’s son.

After a particularly stressful attempt to cross the Hudson to my native New Jersey, in which our car’s tailpipe became dislodged and in which we were stranded in a rain-soaked Fort Lee for the better part of a recent Sunday, it was time for a drink.

To ease our pain, we turned again to Charles H. Baker Jr.’s “Jigger, Beaker and Glass.” Mrs. F., who has never met a glass of champagne she couldn’t tolerate, suggested we look at recipes that relied on the bubbly. Baker offers a range of champagne cocktails, but we zeroed in on one: the Jimmy Roosevelt.

The drink was conceived during Roosevelt’s visit to Java Head, Baker’s Coconut Grove, Fla. residence in the spring of 1938. Baker writes:

“Last spring, we had the pleasure of turning our house into an oasis, between planes, for Colonel Jimmie Roosevelt and Grant Mason of the Civil Aeronautics Commission. No citizen — Republican, Democrat, Townsendite, or any other political breed, can meet Jimmie and not be at once taken with his smile, his sense of humor and hid affable charm. It was warmish and, being a sort of Nephew-in-Law of Paul Garrett, dean of American Vintners, and present “father” of Virgina Dare, we brought out 2 chilled bottles of Garrett Champagne, and created this one.

JimmyRoosevelt, pictured, was the oldest son of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Born in 1907, Jimmy attended Groton, Harvard and the law school at Boston University. His career included stints in the law, the insurance industry and politics. He served as an aide to his father in the 1930s and, at around the time this drink was created, he was working as a producer for Samuel Goldwyn in California. During the war, he served with distinction as a Marine in the Pacific. After the war, he returned to business and politics, running unsuccessfully for governor of California against Earl Warren in 1950. In 1954, he was elected to the House where he served until 1965. He died in Newport Beach, Calif. in 1991.

Back to the drink.

It’s a big one. We used our largest Collins glasses to bring it to life. These, we thought, were the best stand-ins for Baker’s “big 16 ounce thin crystal goblet.” I used cubes of granulated brown sugar as that’s all we had (and all the Bronxville A&P vends). It would seem any Champagne or dry bubbly would do, though I would be sure to use green Chartreuse.

• Lump of sugar, saturated in Angostura
• 2 jiggers of Cognac (3 ounces)
• champagne
• 1/2 ounce Chartreuse

Over the Angostura-saturated cube add ice, preferably semi-crushed, then the Cognac. Top off with champagne and float the Chartreuse on top.

“It is cooling, refreshing, invigorating, a delight to eye and palate,” Baker writes. Indeed it is.

COCKTAILS | Sail to Bermuda with the Mid-Ocean Highball

MOHballThe Mid-Ocean Highball, another classic from Charles F. Baker Jr.

Spring is here and with the welcome change in weather, I’m more interested in cocktails that rely on either tonic water or soda. Charles F. Baker Jr.’s aforementioned “Jigger, Beaker and Glass” offers a wonderful selection of cocktails from warm and exotic climes around the globe.

One such recipe comes from the Mid- Ocean Club in Tucker’s Town, Bermuda. The Mid Ocean Highball was discovered by Baker during a stay on Bermuda in the late 1920s or early 1930s. He writes:

“Not so long ago we went to this charming island with St. Georges as a base camp. We pedalled, sailed, fished and golfed. Swam naked as Adam off small isolated islands with beaches like faintly rose-tinted granulated sugar. The Mid-Ocean Country Club had a gentleman back of mahogany who, then at least, took his art seriously. Actually called it a ‘cocktail.’ Burt MacBride — Associate Editor of Cosmopolitant — who flew down on the first Bermuda Clipper with Pan-American Airways and first told us about the drink, called it a “highball,” but in spite of this odds-on risk, we call it a ‘fizz’ still.

I find the Mid-Ocean somewhere between the highball and the fizz but, regardless of how you choose to classify it, I imagine you’ll still enjoy it. Relying on cognac, French vermouth and gin, it adds soda and a twist of lime to amplify its refreshment. Should you not care for vermouth, as I generally don’t, you may choose to scale its role in the performance back.

• 2 ounces gin
• 3/4 ounce French vermouth
• 3/4 ounce cognac
• Dashes orange bitters
• Soda
• Twist of lime

Gather the gin, vermouth, cognac and bitters together over ice in a shaker and shake well. Strain into a highball glass and add soda and the lime peel. An alternate would be to serve sans ice and soda in a cocktail glass.


ARCHIVE| Life at the San: Saranac Lake, 1937

BroadwayLooking southeast on Saranac Lake’s Main Street toward the Harrietstown Town Hall, 1937. This view looks nearly identical today.

Though I tend to write quite a lot about Lake Placid, I also harbor a deep affection for its neighbor, Saranac Lake, the Little City of the Adirondacks.

First settled by the Moody family, who came west from Keene, New Hampshire in 1819, the Saranac Lake we know today largely grew up around the Adirondack Cottage Sanitarium, a cure center for consumptives founded by Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau in 1884. Spending long periods of time outside, even in the coldest hours of winter, was Trudeau’s chief prescription for those seeking to cure.

Trudeau, born in 1848 in New York and educated at Columbia, contracted tuberculosis in 1873. To quell his disease, he moved north to the clear, cold air of the Adirondacks. By 1876, he was well enough to start a medical practice that eventually became what everyone in town still calls “the San.”

TrudeauTrudeau doctors inspect tubercular lungs, 1937.

The hospital’s beginnings were modest. “Little Red,” the cottage that housed the first two patients, two sisters from New York, is preserved on the grounds of the Trudeau Institute. But Trudeau’s practice, and the village with it, grew quickly. Robert Louis Stevenson was a patient in 1887. By 1915, when Trudeau died, the San was a sprawling campus that included a number of cure cottages, a post office, a chapel dining facilities and so on. Other sanatoriums were constructed in neighboring Ray Brook and Gabriels, and the Will Rogers Hospital was built in Saranac Lake in 1927. But demand for the cure was such that hundreds of private “cure cottages” opened across Saranac Lake. The village’s entire economy centered around its position as a health resort.

After World War II, however, with the advent of Penicillin and other treatments, sanatoriums fell out of favor. The San, renamed for Trudeau on his death, closed in 1954. Larry Doyle, a baseball star on the New York Giants in the 1910s and 1920s, was its final patient. He stayed in Saranac Lake and died in 1974 at age 87. The Trudeau family stayed too. Trudeau’s grandson, Dr. Francis B. Trudeau, Jr., sold the San property in 1957 to the American Management Association, which retains ownership today. In 1964, he opened the Trudeau Institute on Lower Saranac Lake. It is a world-renowned biomedical research center. Frank Trudeau died in 1995; his son, Garretson Beekman Trudeau, is the creator of “Doonesbury.”

For more on the history of the Little City, visit Historic Saranac Lake.

SLBerkeley Square at the intersection of Main Street and Broadway, Saranac Lake, 1937

Here, though, is Saranac Lake in 1937. These photos, from the Life Archive, were shot by the prolific Alfred Eisenstaedt for a story that was published in the magazine’s Nov. 29, 1937 issue. Titled “Tuberculosis: A Menace and a Mystery,” the piece explored the treatment of the disease in Saranac Lake. A number of Saranac Lake icons are here: There are shots of a WNBZ broadcast, a woman sitting a recliner no doubt from Fortune’s reading the Enterprise, Little Red, the Harrietstown Town Hall and the Hotel Saranac, Berkeley Square and so on.

I’ve harvested 96 images, so be sure to scroll through to see them all:

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