Taverns in early America served a variety of drinks including beer, wine and spirits. Mixed drinks weren’t the sophisticated quaffs we know today. Often combining liquors for the best bang, heavily spiced and including for body, nutrition and froth, early American cocktails were served room temperature, warm or even hot since ice was not available. A common sailor’s drink, The Flip featured beer, rum, and molasses that was heated with a hot iron and served warm.
1 large egg
½ ounce (1 tablespoon) Simple Syrup*
2 ounces (¼ cup) East India Solera Lustau Sherry or sherry of your choice
Nutmeg for garnish
Makes 1 drink
Crack the egg in a small bowl then pour the egg into a cocktail shaker or blender. Cracking the egg into another vessel allows you to remove any bits of shell and to also ensure the egg is fresh enough to use before pouring into your main mix.
Add the simple syrup and sherry. Seal the shaker and shake vigorously away from you for 30 seconds. Alternatively, if using a blender, mix in high speed for 15 seconds.
Lucien Gaudin was a French fencer during the 1920s who medaled in no less than three Olympic competitions in that decade which became known as the Annes Folles or “Crazy Years”. Gaudin quickly became a national hero for his efforts and the cocktail that bears his name was born and enjoyed in the myriad cafes, bars, and restaurants around Paris where a vibrant new-century social culture bloomed.
1 1/2 ounce (3 tablespoons) gin
¾ ounce (1 ½ tablespoons) Campari
3/4 ounce (1 ½ tablespoons) dry vermouth
3/4 ounce (1 ½ tablespoons) Cointreau
Orange, washed, for twist (optional)
Makes 1 drink
Add all ingredients to a mixing beaker with a generous amount of ice.
Stir for 10 to 15 seconds. Strain and pour into a chilled martini glass.
Using a vegetable peeler, peel a 3 inch piece of rind from the washed orange and garnish cocktail.
It may be surprising but chocolate cream pie, or chocolate tart was a common dessert during Colonial times. Chocolate arrived in America via the West Indies and was used in drinking chocolate (cocoa) and the shells of the cocoa beans were used to make a light tea.
Eighteenth century chocolate was far different from what we know today—it was a grittier product and usually flavored with spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, and allspice in a recipe similar to traditional Central American and Mexican preparations. The smooth, creamy chocolate we know today wasn’t available until later in the 19th century when machinery was invented to grind the pure cocoa paste more finely and add back cocoa butter and sugar during the refining process.
Chocolate Tart recipes are quite common in cookbooks of the period such as Englishwoman Hannah Glasse’s 1747 book The Art of Cookery Made Plain And Easy. Modern readers might be surprised that Glasse’s recipe (and most others of the time) calls for rice flour which is used as a thickening agent. Rice and rice flour were commonly used at the time since rice came to England and later America, via the robust British trade with the East and West Indies. Later, rice was grown in the southern American colonies as well. This recipe uses cornstarch as a more effective thickener however you can harken back to tradition and substitute rice flour instead.
Traditionally this tart would have been served with a sugar crust on top like a crème brulee but we prefer to serve it with Chantilly cream (sweetened whip cream). You can find that recipe here.
1 tablespoon cornstarch or rice flour
¼ cup sugar (or to taste)
4 large egg yolks
2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon whole milk
6 ounces semisweet chocolate chunks or chips
Pinch of salt
1 9-inch pie shell, frozen or use our recipe here
Makes 1, 9-inch pie
In a medium bowl mix together cornstarch or rice flour, sugar and egg yolks and set aside.
Mix together the cream and chocolate in a medium sauce pan over medium heat and bring just to a boil, stirring constantly until the chocolate is melted. Do not allow the mixture to boil.
Add the milk and pinch of salt. Stir well.
Using a ladle, pour 1/2 cup of the chocolate mixture in a very thin stream into the egg mixture, whisking vigorously the whole time. You may also do this in the bowl of a stand mixer.
Add the egg and cream mixture back to the pot with the remaining chocolate cream mixture and whisk well. Heat over medium heat, whisking well until thickened, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely.
Preheat the oven to 350F. If using homemade pie crust, line a 9 inch pie plate with rolled out crust. Pour the cooled chocolate mixture into the pie crust and bake until firm—about 40 to 45 minutes.
Remove from oven and cool completely. Wrap in plastic and cool at least 8 hours but preferably overnight. Serve with Chantilly Cream.
Sweetened whipped heavy cream by a fancy name is Chantilly Cream—a popular and delicious accompaniment to everything from fresh fruit to ice cream to pie and more. Culinary legend attributes this delightful airy concoction to the 17th century French chef, Vatel, who worked in the Château de Chantilly in France. In Chef Vatel’s time, as today, a copper bowl works best to whip cream—especially by hand. However, a good stand mixer and balloon whisk attachment make quick work of the job.
1 cup cold, heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Serves 6 to 8
Combine all the ingredients in a copper bowl or metal bowl of a stand mixer.
Whip until firm peaks form that hold their shape when the whisk or whisk attachment is lifted up and out of the bowl.
Branden Hahn, General Manager at Chef Bill Taibe’s popular downtown Westport eatery, Jesup Hall, offers this modern take on the classic Prohibition era cocktail called “The Bee’s Knees” (find the original here). Hahn’s spicy, sophisticated version of the drink uses vodka instead of gin and offers a kick with ginger syrup sweetened with demerara sugar, a unique, partially-refined large grained brown sugar grade originally milled in South America.
For the Honey Syrup:
½ cup honey
½ cup water
For the Spicy Ginger Syrup:
4 ounces ginger, chopped
1 cup water
1 cup demerara sugar
For the Cocktail
2 oz. (¼ cup) Vodka
.5 oz (2 teaspoons) Honey Syrup
.5 (2 teaspoons) Spicy Ginger Syrup
.5 (2 teaspoons)fresh lemon juice
Club Soda as needed
1 lemon for twist to garnish (Optional)
Make the Honey Simple Syrup: Combine the honey and water in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Simmer until reduced by half—about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and store in a sealable glass bottle.
Make the Spicy Ginger Syrup: Combine ginger and water in a blender or food processor and process to a smooth liquid. Strain the liquid into another bowl or a glass jar. Mix the ginger mixture and demerara sugar together in a small saucepan and place over medium low heat and bring to a simmer. Simmer until all the sugar is dissolved and remove from heat. Store in a sealable glass bottle.
Make the Cocktail: Combine all the cocktail ingredients except the club soda in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Strain over ice into a Collins glass or tall, narrow tumbler. Top with club soda.
Make the Lemon Twist: Take a potato peeler, sharp paring knife or small channel knife and peel a narrow strip of rind around the lemon crosswise. Place the strip on a flat surface, pith side up, and roll away from you in tight coils—as if rolling a rug. Uncoil and use in your cocktail as a garnish
ProTip: Use the edge of a teaspoon to peel ginger. Hold the spoon with cup facing toward you and use the edge to scrape away the skin. The shape of the spoon allows you to get into ginger’s knobby nooks and crannies without losing too much of the flesh itself.