Catering to lovers of the well-written word and the well-mixed drink, Cocktail Noir.A lively look at the intertwining of alcohol and the underworld–represented by authors of crime both true and fictional and their glamorously disreputable characters, as well as by real life gangsters who built Prohibition-era empires on bootlegged booze. It celebrates the potent potables they imbibed and the watering holes they frequented, including some bars that continue to provide a second home for crime writers.
Highlighting the favorite drinks of Noir scribes, the book includes recipes for cocktails such as the Gimlet described in Raymond Chandler’s The Long Goodbye, the Mojito MulattaT.J. English drank while writing Havana Nocturne and the Dirty Martini favored by mob chronicler Christian Cippolini. Cocktail Noir also lets us in on the drinking habits of notorious organized crime figures, revealing Al Capone’s taste for Templeton Rye, Meyer Lansky’s preference for Dewar’s Scotch and Gambino family hit man Charles Carneglia’s habit of guzzling Cutty Sark. With black and white illustrations throughout, Cocktail Noir is as stylish and irreverent as the drinks, often larger-than-life figures and culture it explores.
There are a number of coktails that are named after mobsters. I explore the intersection of gangsters and libations in my forthcoming book, Cocktail Noir: From Gangsters and Gin Joints to Gumshoes and Gimlets. From the depth of Prohibition through the current cocktail revival, mob nicknames have been both the inspiration and direct result of cocktails. Here are a few of my favorites:
Meyer Lansky Sour
Named after the legendary Jewish mobster, this cocktail is found on the menu of the DGS Delicatessen in Washington D.C. While inspired by Lanksy’s name, the real Lanksy probably would not drink it. He was a Scotch man.
2 oz. gin
1 ½ oz. Meyer lemon juice
1 dash orange bitters
Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake for 30 seconds. Strain into chilled glass.
The Lucky Luciano (Recipe from Saveur magazine, April 2014)
This drink is an after-dinner cocktail. It’s suave and sophisticated, just like Lucky Luciano, partner of Meyer Lansky, and one of the fabled architects of modern organized crime.
1½ oz. Benjamin Prichard’s Rye
½ oz. Mancino Vermouth Rosso
½ oz. Mancino Vermouth Secco
¼ tsp. Fernet-Branca
1 Griottines or Luxardo cherry, for garnish
Stir rye, vermouths, and Fernet-Branca in a mixing glass filled with ice; strain into a chilled eggcup or small cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.
Saveur magazine printed this recipe, from Brooklyn bartender John Bush. The Al Capone is a close cousin to the Boulevardier, itself a takeoff the classic Negroni.
3 oz. rye whiskey
1½ oz. vermouth
½ oz. Campari
Orange zest, to garnish
In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, shake the whiskey, vermouth, and Campari. Strain the mixture into two tumblers, and garnish each with an orange twist.
The Red Italiano
I created the Red Italiano after the ginger-haired Tampa mobster, who fled the Cigar City during the early 1950s mob war and lived the last years of his life in Mexico. The dirnk brings together Campari, signifying Red’s Italian heritage, with the southern staple of moonshine (corn-based white whiskey).
1 ½ oz corn whiskey
(for a real Florida feel, you can use Bear Gully, made in Winter Haven, FL)
1 oz Campari
1 oz dry vermouth
Dash of orange bitters
Mix ingredients in mixing glass with ice. Stir for 30 seconds. Strain into glass with ice. Garnish with orange slice.
You can buy the book at Amazon.com
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