One Ingredient, Three Speeds

Tempering alcohol with other substances to add medicinal (or epicurean) properties is an ancient tradition, but conceptualizing and ritualizing that practice is a relatively modern, and very American, thing to do. Christian Dior actually referred to the cocktail as the “symbol par excellence of the American way of life.”
By / Photography By Brent Harrewyn | April 27, 2016

About this recipe

The cocktail first appeared in the American vernacular in 1803 in a New Hampshire journal called The Farmer’s Cabinet: “Drank a glass of cocktail—excellent for the head.... Call'd at the Doct's. Found Burnham—he looked very wise—drank another glass of cocktail.” It wasn’t until 1806, however, that the word began to appear often enough to require a definition for the general public.

A reader of the Hudson, New York, newspaper The Balance and Columbian Repository had heard tell of this hip new creation and wrote to the editor asking, “What is a cocktail?” The editor, Harry Croswell, replied:

Cock-tail is a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters—it is vulgarly called bittered sling, and is supposed to be an excellent electioneering potion, in as much as it renders the heart stout and bold, at the same time that it fuddles the head. It is said also to be of great use to a democratic candidate: because a person, having swallowed a glass of it, is ready to swallow any thing else.”

It would be difficult to find an election season that has left more of us in need of a soothing elixir to embolden our hearts, head-fuddling be damned. Guy Ladouceur, head bartender at Peck’s Arcade, has created three strikingly American, election season–friendly cocktails featuring vermouth, technically an aromatized and fortified wine flavored with botanicals. The modern version of vermouth hails from Turin, Italy, in the 18th century, but most mass-market versions are syrupy sweet, without the complexity that herbal elements can add.

“The vermouth we use at the bar is much different than the sweeter version that most bars still use,” Ladouceur says. “Uncouth Vermouth, made by a woman in Brooklyn, is a whole line of sophisticated, layered vermouths, each one offering a different layer of aromas and floral elements that are still exceptionally dry. It changes the spirit of any cocktail.”

All of the herbal, bittering fruit and vegetable ingredients that she uses, Ladouceur adds, are locally sourced in New York State. He has created three cocktails requiring varying degrees of skill sets, the most advanced of which should certainly not be attempted directly after consuming the novice and moderate versions.

 

Instructions

For the cocktail novice: 

 

Uncouth Martini
 

The origin of the martini is disputed—some historians point to a New York bartender in 1911, while others credit a miner during the Gold Rush in California—but no one can argue that it is one of the classic, founding cocktails of America, and delicious to boot. 
 
Makes one cocktail
 
2 ounces Berkshire Mountain Distillers Greylock Gin
½ ounce Uncouth Vermouth Beet Eucalyptus 
Twist of lemon
 
Measure the gin and vermouth into a mixing glass. Add ice and stir until chilled. 
Strain into a martini glass. Twist lemon over drink and serve. 
 
 
Intermediate: 
 

The Stuyvesant 
 

Peter Stuyvesant (1612–1672) was the last Dutch director-general of the colony of New Netherland, from 1647–1664, when it was ceded to the English and renamed New York. It’s probably fair to say that he wouldn’t approve of a cocktail named in his honor. Stuyvesant was one of the earliest regulators of alcohol in America, creating a laundry list of rules regarding its consumption and distribution to prevent “the debauching of the common man and … what is still worse, of the young people from childhood up who, seeing the improper proceedings of their parents and imitating them, leave the path of virtue and become disorderly.”
 
Makes one cocktail
 
2 ounces Albany Distilling Company Ironweed Rye Whiskey 
½ ounce Uncouth Vermouth Beet Eucalyptus 
¼ ounce Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao 
¼ ounce Cynar 
1 dash Regan’s Orange Bitters No. 6
Twist orange 
 
Measure top 4 ingredients into a mixing glass. Add ice, stir, strain into a rocks glass. Top with bitters, twist orange over drink, and serve. 
 
 
For the cocktail expert: 
 

One Is En-Oeuf

 
Adding egg white to a cocktail gives it a whole new depth, richness and body. Because egg whites are essentially flavorless, their presence lends a silky mouthful and added texture. Agitating the egg white adds foam as it does in baking (think: mousse, meringue), but because of the alcohol and the absence of heat, it remains liquid. 
 
Makes one cocktail
 
1 egg white (pasteurized if necessary for health concerns)
1½ ounces Albany Distilling Company Quackenbush Still House Rum 
½ ounce Uncouth Vermouth Apple Mint
½ ounce fresh lime juice 
½ ounce simple syrup infused with pink peppercorn (recipe follows)
1 tablespoon ground pink peppercorns, plus more to grind
 
Place all ingredients, except ground peppercorns, in a mixing cup. Give it a shake to texturize. Add ice and stir until chilled. Strain through mesh strainer. Moisten the rim of half of a coupe glass and dip in the ground peppercorns, garnish cocktail with a few more grinds of pink peppercorn, and serve. 
 
 
Infused Simple Syrup
Pink peppercorns are floral and less aggressive than other peppercorns, which is why they are often used in tea preparations. They harbor a flavorful oil in their shell, and the spiciness inside only emerges when they are ground up. 
 
Makes 1½ cups
 
1½ cups water
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons whole pink peppercorns
 
Combine all ingredients in small saucepan and bring to boil over medium-high heat until the sugar dissolves. Simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat, strain, and keep in fridge. 
 
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