Sunday, March 20, 2011

Exhibit #56: Seminar in Sour pt. I

Ah, the lowly Sour. It doesn't get much respect. When I suggest one to a customer the reaction is usually quizzical, as if liquified cotton candy were being offered rather than a Proper Drink. Perhaps its longevity is partially to blame - it lacks the seemingly exotic, historically distant quality of a Fizz, for instance. Or perhaps having been victim to sour-mix-on-the-gun for so many years is the cause of its sketchy reputation. In any case, it is a fine drink when made with real juice and sugar, and given its century and a half of popularity deserves a closer examination. Tonight we'll mix the basic sours of the 19th century, with the option for assembly in either mid century style (on the rocks, sweet balanced with sour) or that of the late 19th century (up, more tart, with a dash of curacao and lots of fruit). Next week we'll look at some of the more unusual sours of the 1880s and 90s.

The Original Sour $6.50
(Brandy Sour, Rum Sour, or Whiskey Sour)
As prepared in the mid 19th century: 2 ounces spirit, the juice of half a lemon, water, sugar and ice, built in the glass. Early on, the Brandy Sour was the most popular, but was later eclipsed by the whiskey version - that phylloxera epidemic again.

Late 19th Century Sour $7
(Brandy, Rum, or Whiskey)
In keeping with its era, the Sour became a bit more fancy for a time. This is essentially the same drink as above but adds a dash of curacao, is mixed with syrup instead of sugar, shaken instead of stirred, and is served up with a splash of soda, along with pineapple and orange slices for garnish. It was around this time that the sour acquired its own distinctive glassware: a short, footed glass - still common today.

Jersey Sour $7
As above, but made with applejack.

New York Sour $7
Built like the original sour with half as much sugar, and with a red wine float and compounded with rye whiskey instead of bourbon. Also known as a Brunswick Sour, or Continental, or Southern Whiskey Sour, this variation was most likely invented at the old Hotel Brunswick in NYC in the 1880s.

That wine flourish caught on - particularly in Chicago and the urban Midwest, where it became common practice to finish every sour with a "claret snap." Add one to any of the sours above - just ask.

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