We are sure that food is a profound part of the culture of the places we visit. But what about drinking instead?
Back from my trip to New York I didn't have many ideas on what to write. I had already discarded the idea of posts like “How to plan a trip to New York” or the “10 things to do in New York” since the web is already full of them. Then I gave Giovanni a facade inside.
Journalist, writer, blogger, passionate cocktail lover and above all an excellent storyteller, Giovanni kept me hooked with his stories about Cocktail di New York for hours and then I thought I would like it if he wrote something for me.
The Manhattan was born in New York, think more than 100 years ago, in 1874 !!!
So here are the cocktails that you can't miss if you visit the Big Apple!
Talk about the Satan’s Circus one of the historic cocktails of the "old" New York for me it's like talking about a close relative.
I discovered it in the months when I was working on my novel of the same name and by chance I came across the recipe for this cocktail that was born in New York of which I was telling. We are shortly after the mid-800th century and NY is very different from what we know now.
Storia del Satan's Circus
The city was concentrated in the lower part of the island of Manhattan and it was not long ago that the inhabitants of the island had to defend themselves from the attack of the redskins.
NY was one of the most important ports in North America: here came thousands of immigrants fleeing wars or persecutions of the old world in search of a new beginning.
As described in the book - investigation "The gangs of New York" by Herbert Asbury, then brought to the cinema by Martin Scorsese, this great influx of people led to a very strong degeneration of the criminal life in New York in which all kinds of ill-things were concentrated.
In large areas the city was controlled by gangs, gangs of criminals mostly divided by nationality, among which the so-called "Natives”, children of the first settlers, Americans for three generations, who essentially managed the migratory flows arriving on behalf of the political power of the time and held control of the city.
Also Irish, Dutch and German they in turn had the reference gang and control of smaller sections of the metropolis.
The nodal center of this ancient NY was the “Five points”, the area, now narrated only in legends, where the most profligate criminals walked with impunity along the street together with their accomplices with the approval of the corrupt police and conniving with criminals.
Here every morning there were corpses of dead killed in the street that were taken to the cemetery without asking many questions. And it is precisely in this area that it was born “Satan’s Circus” originally as an indication in the picturesque toponymy of the area.
The "Satan's Circus" was the crossroads where there was the greatest concentration of brothels and where even the most zealous missionaries who had arrived there to save the souls of those lost people lost their virtue.
It is from this neighborhood that the cocktail takes its name. Legend has it that the New York aristocrats loved to visit that place from time to time: many of them had illegal interests in the ownership and use of those buildings, others for the classic "hit of life" as we would say today.
We can imagine them in some luxurious Victorian living room, on the wall hanging the portraits of George Washington e Benjamin Franklin, smoking cigars and laughing at each other about past adventures and getting ready for the next ones.
One of these, absolutely unknown, probably with some medical and pharmacistic knowledge, came up with the idea of Satan's Circus, a cocktail that would prepare or refit for the sinful excursion in the "red light" district.
How to drink
The classic recipe is based on an infusion of chilli pepper dipped in a type of liqueur now no longer on the market but which resembled our Aperol. Once this “spicy” infusion is obtained, it is mixed with cherry, whiskey and the addition of lemon and a cherry in alcohol.
The result is an “old style” cocktail with a sweet, moderately alcoholic flavor, in which the spicy element predominates. For the moment it is possible to taste it at the Liquoreria Marescotti in Piazza Fossatello in Genoa but it is hoped that the “Satan's Circus” will spread further.
6 cl. of rye whiskey, 2,25 cl. of cherry liqueur, 2,25 cl. of chilli pepper infused in Aperol or a few drops of Tabasco (as you prefer to make it more or less spicy), 2,25 cl. of lemon juice.
Pour the ingredients into the shaker together with the ice then shake for 30 seconds until the container is cooled. Pour into a classic cup and garnish with a cherry in alcohol.
There are two versions: a "winter" a little more intense and strong, more emphasized by the spicy element of the pepper and a more summery one similar to the "long drink" formula with a greater prevalence of lemon juice.
The deadliest weapon in the United States, the Martini Cocktail
L. Menken said it was "The only American invention as perfect as a sonnet" and Nikita Khrushchev called it "The deadliest weapon in the United States".
We are not talking about literature or rockets, but about the king of cocktails: the martini.
Its genesis is debated and disputed but it is now well established that the invention of this "nectar" is due to the first American 'bartender' Jerry Thomas who in San Francisco, while the Civil War was raging, prepared "something special" for a customer directed to the city of Martinez.
That version consisted of 1/3 vermouth and 2/3 gin, a drink for "hard" men who had to face the terrible moments of that conflict. Over the years, the "z" got lost along the way but the Martini forcefully established itself as the cocktail of the greats of the twentieth century, crossing history and the most difficult moments of humanity alongside those who decided its fate: JFK, the aforementioned Khrushchev, Churchill to name a few and his undoubted charm took him running to Hollywood sipped by the stars of "noir" Humphrey Bogart, the inseparable Lauren Bacall and Mae West.
There are infinite martini recipes but if you approach the cocktail for the first time it is worth referring to the original recipe which has several variations:
il Dry Martini Traditional with two parts of gin and one of dry vermouth;
il Dry Martini Dry with five parts of gin and one part of dry vermouth;
il Dry Martini Extra Dry with eight parts of gin and one part of dry vermouth;
theHemingway with fifteen parts of gin and one of dry vermouth, named after the well-known writer who invented it, also called Montgomery from the fact that General Montgomery never fought except with the certainty of a numerical superiority over the enemy of one to fifteen.
Il Gibson which can be Dry or extra Dry but with a decorative onion in the glass instead of the classic olive.
Un Dry Martini it can also be prepared "On The Rocks“, That is, in an old fashioned glass with ice (this variant is loved by the semiologist Umberto Eco).
Il Vodka Martini with the Russian distillate instead of the gin made famous by the writer Ian Fleming through his character James Bond who, in contrast to tradition, wants it to be “Shaken not Stirred”, shaken and not mixed.
How to drink
Martini is drunk in the classic thin stemmed glass that has itself become a symbol of the cocktail. To drink a good martini, you need to take some simple precautions: a quick glance at the bottles displayed behind the barman behind the counter will already give you an idea of the place's offer: a greater supply of gin can guarantee you when you decide to ask the waiter for a more aromatic or drier cocktail.
The ability to sit down is essential: the martini should be sipped, if possible, in a pleasant gallant conversation or with nice friends. Very slowly.
Essential: the cup must be cold, I even love it frozen. When ordering, it is advisable to have a glass of water brought to you: with this you can quench your thirst and approach the cocktail for a real tasting.
Typically, cocktails are served with some "appetizers" such as chips, olives, and a sandwich cut into small square or triangular pieces. This would be the norm to follow but over time the fashion of the "Apericena" has spread, a bad neologism to indicate an abundant proposal of "appetizer" (the real substitute for a meal) together with the cocktail.
A similar custom has overshadowed the delicate balance of taste of refined cocktails such as the Martini topped by improbable doses of "pizza" and other amenities.
If you want to drink a martini properly, avoid combining it with a "Four Seasons", please. Paraphrasing Ronald Reagan we could say that "those who drink cocktails with dinner are unable to do either thing".
How many martini cocktails can you drink at one time?
Obviously, first of all it must be remembered that it is a very powerful cocktail to be approached with great caution, especially if you do not hold much alcohol; having said this, it is normal that if the conversation is pleasant and has taken the right direction, sooner or later the glass will empty.
At this point Humphrey Bogart comes to our rescue who said: "Martini is like boobs: one is too little and three is too many". Order the second one by quoting old Bogey.
Martini Extra Dry (20%), Gin (80%), Olive, Lemon zest
Prepare in the mixing glass with Martini Extra Dry and Gin (preferably Gin Bosford). Decorate with an olive and / or a lemon zest.
The Manhattan is a cocktail that should be sipped and is suitable for moments of meditation and conversation.
The "Manhattan" is an ancient cocktail and dates back again, we are talking about 1874, when the activity of mixing liqueurs was secondary to that of preparing infusions with herbs that were generally drunk after dinner.
He is an aristocrat par excellence and his name includes a certain form of self-reference: the Manhattan was invented in a place called "Manhattan club" in the heart of Manhattan. It is difficult to boast a clearer geolocation than that.
It is an aristocratic and lucky cocktail because it has an exceptional godmother, Jerry Jerome better known as Lady Randolph Churchill, future mother of the legendary British Prime Minister.
During a banquet that the aristocrat had organized to favor the election of the presidential candidate Samuel J. Tilden asked the owner of the restaurant Lain Marshall to create a drink to match the occasion.
No sooner said than done and the cocktail was so successful that in New York it was requested by referring to the name of the place where it was created and so here it was: “Manhattan”.
How to drink
Composed of rye whiskey (today it is difficult to find this quality and often the cocktail is prepared with bourbon), red vermouth, a drop of angostura and garnished with a cherry in alcohol, the Manhattan is a cocktail that should be sipped and is suitable for moments of meditation and conversation.
To be clear, he himself imposes, from the height of his expressive force, ways and times to be drunk. I recommend very relaxed atmospheres, perhaps in your country estate in front of a lit fireplace, after a nice walk and with your faithful four-legged friend close by.
Martini Rosso (2 cl), Whiskey (5 cl), Angostura (1 drop), Cherry
- Prepare in the mixing glass by pouring the Martini Rosso, the Whiskey, preferably (Jack Daniel's or William Lowson's) and a drop of Angostura. Add some ice cubes and shake everything. Pour into a cup and decorate with a cherry.
Long island ice tea
There are summer suggestions that are part of our collective imagination such as the postcards of Fellini's Rimini, the palm trees of Hawaii or Proust's Balbec, but among these the New York summer of Long Island also deserves a place.
If there is something that bases its reason in the summer image par excellence, it is those long beaches and the amusement park where New Yorkers sought relaxation and recreation not too far from the metropolis, who because they did not have enough money to afford a trip longer, those for the usual Sunday walk before returning to the stressful routine of the metropolis.
A cocktail could not be missing to seal this relaxed and romantic atmosphere and the drink is the Long island ice tea.
Its nature is controversial and very far from the classicism of cocktails, it is a composition of tastes that is based on the blending of different spirits (vodka, rum and gin) and is not particularly loved by bartenders because of this "abundance" that does not respect the golden rules of mixing.
Despite this, the Long Island Ice Tea has conquered its space since 1970, the year of its creation, becoming one of the most drunk drinks in the world.
The cocktail was invented at the Oak Beach Inn of Long island by bartender Rose Rusebud but its originality, also thanks to the abundance of the elements that compose it, means that this drink has countless and changing formulas and you can drink different types of Long Island Ice Tea around the world.
How to drink
Prepare directly in a Juice glass filled with ice. Pour in the Vodka, Gin, Rum, Triple Sec, sour mix (1/3 lemon juice, 1/3 liquid sugar, 1/3 water). Mix and fill with Coca Cola. Decorate with half a slice of lemon and a straw.
A "hot dog" cut into small pieces is a traditional accompaniment to this drink. Even good American peanuts and freshly prepared "French fries" lend themselves to excellent conditions.
1.5 cl vodka
1,5 cl tequila
1,5 cl white rum
1,5 cl cointreau
1,5 cl gin
2,5 cl lemon juice
3 cl sugar syrup
When you go through the list of drinks with the improvised girl who can't handle alcohol, always remember to note that the "Ice tea" formula is deceptive and only valid for the taste that recalls tea. This is a powerful cocktail that should be drunk with great caution.
Giovanni, journalist and writer, author of two bestsellers dedicated to cocktails: "Cocktailsofia" and "The art of drinking in summer"
Giovanni Giaccone, journalist, writer and blogger. He has worked on regional and national TV stations. He has written about fiction and history and two books dedicated to cocktails "Cocktailsofia" and "The art of drinking in summer" both published by "Il Melangolo".