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Monday, 21 February 2011

Just another Friday

Well, what can you say? Liza Minelli summed it up nicely in Cabaret when, as Sally Bowles, she pronounced "Divine decadence, darling" about life in Berlin to the tyro Brian Roberts, played by Michael York. The following pic neatly encapsulates, too, that lovely feeling when work is over for another week and you can begin to enjoy yourself... Did somebody mention work?

The shaker full of gin and ice, the glass about to be sprayed with French vermouth – just a wee skoosh, as we say in Glasgow – plus three pimento-stuffed olives for the perfect Dry Martini. And the meal? Why a plate of oysters, served with lemon, tabasco, a finely chopped shallot in balsamic vinegar and buttered wholemeal bread. The oysters, beautifully fresh and bought from MacCallums in Finnieston, Glasgow – surely the best fishmongers In Scotland; they also have an oyster bar in Troon. Don't take my word for it; follow this link...

I imagine Miss Bowles would enjoy such decadence – even more so as there's little chance of any horrible Nazis on the horizon to spoil things for everybody. She did like to enjoy herself...

Meanwhile, back in Glasgow, I almost expect Charles Baudelaire and Paul Verlaine to stumble through the door to partake in the festivities. Mind you, there's no absinthe on offer en ce moment. A symbolist moment, perhaps, nevertheless.
And yet it's not realism, as such, that the modern sensualist disdains; it's reality.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

All white on the night

There's something mysterious and fabulously alluring about ordering a cocktail named White Lady. Here's three to be going on with...

As usual, the science is inexact regarding how to mix them, and equally common is the provenance of their invention. There are those who maintain that the White Lady – apparently also known as a Delilah or the rather mawkish Lillian Forever – is essentially a Sidecar fashioned from gin rather than cognac. 

Two American Harrys claim the credit: 
1/ Harry MacElhone at Harry's Bar in Paris circa 1929.
2/ Harry Craddock of the Savoy. If you've been looking closely you'll have noticed I have ranted somewhat about the seeming genius of the latter in a previous post. Craddock published his recipe in the Savoy recipe Cocktail Book in 1930.
And Laurel and Hardy loved a White Lady, so it is reported. That's funny.

The Craddock recipe in the Savoy book goes like this...

1/2 part gin
1/4 part Cointreau
1/4 part lemon juice
Shake well with ice then strain into glass.

Some recipes add the white of an egg and, I must say, this gives the drink a smooth, silky finish. I prefer Triple Sec instead of Cointreau and I'd use Bombay Sapphire gin (I trust you are looking at this, you old Bombay Sapphire distiller, you, and despatch my reward immediately) which I keep in the freezer. Give the mix a jolly good shake. Garnish the rim of the cocktail glass with a slice of lemon or lime and pour. The three glasses in my picture above were made using this method.

What, however, if you believe that the White Lady has been given too much deference and that the Black Lady is a victim of some kind of cocktalian discrimination? In which case, you might use dark rum instead of gin. And lime might be preferable to lemon. I know a couple of Jamaican worthies who would happily go for this amendment.

On a Health & Safety note, you might not wish to carry cocktails around on the tray in my picture. A chum did that very thing one Christmas and broke two of my six exquisite Bohemian glass champagne flutes. A far better plan is to transport them on a clever invention called the Safetray. Check it out in this video...

Ah yes, the best inventions are always the simplest ones.