Saturday, November 26, 2011

Exhibit #86: Holiday Booze

Billy Dawson’s Punch $6

A hot punch from the early 19th century: rum (El Dorado 15yr and Smith & Cross), cognac (Martell VSOP), a little Schlafly Porter for body, a little Batavia Arrack for extra funk, sweet lemon oil, lemon juice, hot water, grated nutmeg garnish.

Mr. Hunt’s Bourbon Nogg $8
Bourbon, eggs, sugar, milk, cream, nutmeg, and a little cognac and rum, aged for 11 months. Incredibly smooth for its high gravity and a rare, unique opportunity.

Egg Nogg has been a popular beverage dating back to colonial times. But back in the day, just like with the Julep, to use whiskey for the drink was considered a strictly backwoods affair, if not downright vulgar. But times change – and when the cognac became scarce in the 1870s and pennies needed to be pinched – all that affordable domestic bourbon started to look awfully good – and truth is, it makes a damn fine nogg. This particular recipe from the Prohibition era has been widely disseminated and comes to us from George Hunt, an American businessman stationed in Shanghai, who secured the recipe from x, who got it from y, who got it from… In any case, Mr. Hunt made a big to-do over the annual making of the nogg, inviting only his 8 closest associates, and with varying degrees of honor attached to different tasks in the nogg-making.

Tom & Jerry $7
Camus VS cognac, Smith & Cross and Mt. Gay Eclipse rums, T&J batter, hot milk, grated nutmeg.

Top Shelf T&J $9
As above but with Martell VSOP, Matusalem Gran Reserva, and Appleton 12yr.

"Life in London or, the Day and Night Scenes of Jerry Hawthorn, esq., and his elegant friend, Corinthian Tom, accompanied by Bob Logic, the Oxonian, in their Rambles and Sprees through the Metropolis" doesn't exactly roll off the tongue the same way as "Twilght" or "Harry Potter," but was a phenomenon of that stature in the early 1820s. The author, Pierce Egan, was a sporting man (drinking, horses, boxing) and his book detailed the adventures of that life dosed with up to the minute slang. In America, the story was presented on stage for several years as "Tom and Jerry, or Life in London" and the very phrase Tom & Jerry quickly took root as a catch-all term for any sort of mischief, especially the alcohol-fueled sort. And then there's the drink itself, created by Egan to promote his franchise. Americans cottoned to "the preparation" straight away, with both the drink and the phrase living on long after Egan's book and several stage adaptations were forgotten. The names given to that cartoon cat and mouse we all know ... not an accident!

Tom and Jerry remained a popular cold-weather drink throughout most of the 19th century, but began to atrophy over time into a holiday drink. At this point it is mostly unknown outside the upper midwest, where the batter is still sold in groceries during the holidays. This "dope," as it is known in northern Michigan and Wisconsin bars, is a mixture of eggs, separated, beaten, then recombined with sugar, cinnamon, allspice, cloves and a little rum. A tablespoon of the resulting batter is added to an ounce each cognac and rum, hot milk and grated nutmeg to make the final drink.

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