I have had many great conversations with total strangers about what whisky is in my/their glass - I don't know whether drinking vodka or gin would provide quite the same opportunities for striking up random conversations.
Oh, and by the way, if you haven't yet discovered the joys of the EUVS Vintage Cocktail Book library, you really should! (Assuming you are into cocktails that is. If not, you probably won't find it quite so interesting). They have loads of old, presumably out of print (and copyright), books available to read and download, and not just in English. I particularly like the description of the anglo-american bars in Paris in one of the French books (1927 Petits et Grands Verres). Some of the cover designs and illustrations are fantastic too!
On the Third Day of Christmas my true love sent to me
Three French Hens
Two Turtle Doves
And a Partridge in a Pear Tree
Hmm, so what to have on day 3 of our Christmas Drinks countdown? As soon as I saw this one I thought of some kind of flip, made with a whole egg, to tie in nicely with the hen part of the equation. Flips are basically made from any fortified wine or liquor, shaken with a whole egg and sweetened with sugar. Given that there are some cracking French spirits around out there, this seemed like the perfect solution!
Diffords Guide (always a good source of cocktail inspiration) has a good generic recipe that can be used with your base spirit of choice;
2 shots Brandy/Whisk(e)y/Rum/etc
1 shot Sugar Syrup
1 fresh egg (yolk and white)
1/2 shot Unsweetened Single Cream
Shake all ingredients over ice and fine strain into a martini glass.
Alternatively, serve hot in a toddy glass - just heat the ingredients in a microwave or in a pan over the stove. Although this appeals to me less, this is maybe the more ‘authentic’ version as the original flips, way back in the late 1600s, consisted of a tankard of ale to which a mixture of sugar, eggs and spices was added before being heated with a red-hot iron poker from the fire. I wouldn't recommend trying that one at home.
The subject being 3 French Hens, I would suggest trying cognac, armagnac or maybe calvados as the base spirit. Or why not all 3 to see which works best? It is Christmas after all!
On the second day of Christmas my true love sent to me
Two Turtle Doves
And a Partridge in a Pear Tree.
Okay, so day 2 is looking a bit trickier. Nothing containing or featuring turtles or doves immediately springs to mind. A quick internet search though brings up a cocktail called a Turtle Dove;
2oz vanilla vodka
2 oz Frangelico
1 oz Amaretto
1 1/2 oz full fat milk
Shaken over ice and strained into a Martini glass.
Apart from the fact that it sounds like an alcoholic milkshake (one of my least favourite drinks - milkshakes that is, not alcohol!) it’s also not very imaginative.
Back to the drawing board then, or in this case google, to see what else I can find.
Now doves are generally considered a symbol of love, so maybe that gives us something more promising to work with? Turns out it does. The Phonecian goddess of love, Astarte, is said to have hatched from an egg, warmed by two turtledoves, on the banks of the Euphrates river. The source of the Euphrates is in Turkey (appropriately Christmassy I thought) where the national drink is the anise-flavoured Raki.
Day 2 then in our Christmas countdown, Raki! Similar in style to Greek Ouzo or French Pastis, Raki is generally drunk diluted with cold water, turning it a milky white colour which the Turks call lion’s milk. I’m not much of a Raki connoisseur I must confess so if anyone has any recommendations please share them.
Whisky Impressions is run by Kate Watt. Previously at Springbank and then Glenfarclas, I now design some whisky related stuff and write about it, and anything else that takes my fancy, on this blog.