Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Two Classics

Tonight was another lovely ladies of the industry night and good times are always to be expected. It was also a night for some education.

At the USBGNY mixer we were blessed with two guests. Ludo Miazga, formerly of Milk and Honey in London and now the Global Brand Ambassador for Benedictine gave us a spirited and passionate lesson about the 500 year history of this spirits.

Benedictine was indeed created as a medicinal elixir my French monks in the town of Fécamp in 1510. Medieval monks were the cocktail geeks of their time. They wrote and researched many books. Read Latin, Arabic, Greek. Even acted at critic commenting in the margins of the texts they were recording and translating. Why, it was thanks to the hard work of these monks that were are able to see just a fraction of the treasures that were lost in the great fire at the Library of Alexandria (while that silly Cleopatra noodled about!)

Unfortunately even this great recipe for the 27 herbs and spices in Benedictine was lost during that other silly noodling, the French Revolution, when the church became despised for their pompous and greedy ways and the Republic kicked them to the curb (or the Guillotine).

They threw out the baby with the bathwater, however, when they destroyed such great works of beauty and art (see the Angels who lost their heads up near my house at the Cloisters) and this precious recipe for Benedictine.

Luckily, it was rediscovered in 1864 by Alexandre Legrand, just in time for the great liquor revival in the 19th century. This is also the time that Combier and Cointreau came out. Alexandre The Great was also quite savvy in the ways of marketing, employing the great artists of his time to create ads (hello Absolut) and building a Palace to lure tourists to Fécamp to not only see how and where Benedictine is made, but to also appreciate great works of art and design in this pastoral seaside setting.

Benedictine also became the first bottled cocktail in 1938 when B &B, Benedictine and Brandy, was introduced. And interesting and historic spirit, indeed. Not to mention, tasty!

Lynn House from Graham Elliot Restaurant in Chicago was also at the mixer tonight to talk about Women in Mixology and the Chicago bar scene. She is here in NYC as a finalist in the Benedictine Cocktail challenge tomorrow, and I must say her libation was quite delicious. Kick butt tomorrow, Lynn!

Later, I had a glorious dinner at Schiller's with two lovely ladies. We feasted on oysters and shrimp and sipped gorgeous cocktails. I had the Jerry Thomas, but demanded Cointreau and extra bitters. I have long been a fan of Cointreau...I'd say ever since 1995 when I was using it to make Cosmos! Triple Sec? What is that?

My favorite cocktail (went smashingly well with the oysters) was a delightful concoction of Cointreau, bitters and Champagne.

Another classic night! Speaking of classics....maybe I should try that Cosmo again...

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