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Cocktails with Chris

hosted by Christine Potter   //   Friday at 4p est

"I'm just a gal who likes to mix things up: music, strange cocktail ingredients, and a swanky Nick & Nora ambiance with old school free form rock and roll radio.  It's no secret that I'm a little obsessive about all things Robyn Hitchcock, but my husband's OK with it.  Besides, I end every Cocktails with Chris by standing next to one of the world's great pipe organs for a few minutes and subjecting my listeners to the sometimes-deafening results.  I promise you a tasty cocktail recipe every week, along with music that starts with The Comedian Harmonists, careens through psych and prog rock, and often smashes into the shoals of roots and jazz.  Not to mention a sprinkling of indie pop, and Brit folk. Join me high atop the Potter building, in a swanky neighborhood near you." - cp


Cocktail of the Year, 2011: The French 75

So it's Making A List time again.

I can't begin to do that.  Especially musically, I'm way too all over the map to have a top ten for the year.  And a lot of what I like the most got recorded in 1968 or 1988 or 1928, not to minimize the talents of the contemporary musicians I like to feature on my show, too.  But I did name a cocktail of the year last year, so I imagine I should do it again. 

I spent some time reading back through my blog.  There were drinks I really loved, like the Cherry Smash of about a month back (yeah yeah Treavor, that's what she said).  And there were a few worthy creations of my own, like the coconut water and mint-flavored Harry, named for Harry Nilsson's "you put de lime in de..." song.  Not to mention The Treavor, my attempt at a modern Bajan rum punch, in honor of our (that's what HE said) Area 24 program director.  A recipe called a Live Basil Gimlet, found in the NY Times during the summer, was WONDERFUL (gin, muddled basil leaves, fresh lime juice, simple syrup or agave). 

But none of them really said 2011 to me.  it was a singular time for us at Area 24, as it was for many folks in our Hudson River Valley nabe.  We Got Through It seems to be the summation I'm hearing most as friends and family look back on the last twelve months, and I think that's about right.  It was not an easy year.  2011 started in blizzards, segued rapidly into one of the wettest summers on record with some brutal heat thrown in, rattled its way through an earthquake, opened the door to a monster hurricane that got us locked out of our studios for two weeks, and faded out into a curiously mild autumn capped with (what else?) a WTF Halloween blizzard.  Area 24 managed to stay on the air for most of it, but the local cable company ran our signal through some sort of electronic Cuisinart for awhile in November and December--and of course, there were the odd power failures.  High winds.  Lines down.  DJ's careening down Route 9W with branches crashing onto the road in front of their cars.  Yikes.

Yeah, we got through it.  How?  And what is it that we need for the New Year, the hopefully not-so Mayan 2012?  COURAGE, Mr. Cowardly Lion.  And A French 75 or two wll give you just that.  So.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the Cocktails with Chris 2011 Drink Of The Year...


For each drink:

1/4 oz each gin, cointreau, and lemon juice

4 oz champagne

Shake the gin, cointreau, and lemon juice in an iced cocktail shaker and strain into the bottom of a good-sized champagne flute.  Garnish with a long, curly lemon twist.

Alternately, you can use 1 and 1/2 oz of gin and a half oz each of the lemon juice and cointreau, shake, and pour over ice cubes in Collins glasses, topping off with the champagne and garnishing with lemon twists and home made maraschino or brandied cherries.  A much stronger but equally tasty drink.

At home, Mr. Potter and I always make up a batch of these when we take the Christmas trees down on January 6th (Epiphany or 12th night).  It puts a good spin on the New Year.  And gives you the guts to keep on keeping on!

Courage, everyone!  Skol, and see you on the air at 4. 




Time For Fish House Punch Again!

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, and A Joyous Solstice to ALL!

High atop the Potter building, we like Fish House Punch better than any other concoction when it comes to making spirits bright for a crowd.  This punch is a venerable drink, dating back to colonial times here in the States and a gentleman's club that fancied itself its own nation, The Schuylkill Fishing Club in Pennsylvania.  Our founding fathers knew how to make this.  And so should you.  Here's how:


for 30 folks

First, mix up the base:

3/4 lb (just over one and one half cups) of superfine (bar, not confectioner's) sugar

24 oz lemon juice

40 oz water

Use a little of the water to dissolve the sugar and add the juice.  Stir and chill a couple of hours or overnight. I store this lemonade-y stuff in the fridge in a couple of big plastic pitchers with snap-on covers. When it's icy cold, add the following booze (and there's plenty of it):

36 oz dark rum (I use Myers)

25 oz brandy (don't go nuts, but use the best you can afford in this quantity)

4 oz peach brandy or schnapps

You need a GI-NORMOUS bowl or even a clean bus bin to put this much drink together. I make up the whole thing a couple of hours in advance of the party and store it back in the fridge, ladled into big plastic pitchers, until it's needed.  Taste before you serve; you may want a little more peach brandy. Then, pour it into a pretty punch bowl with ice molds and slices of orange floating in it, bringing it out about a third of the stuff at a time.  Keeping the punch cold in advance of service keeps it from getting too dilute during the party. 

This stuff is delicious, so warn your non-cocktail-ista pals of its potency!!



Putting on the High Hat...

So I embraced my inner child's love of cherries last week with a Cherry Heering cocktail, the Cherry Smash.  Now I've got a bottle of Cherry Heering and it's not Singapore Sling weather, to put it mildly.  And those Cherry Smashes do sneak up on you!  I went out looking for another delicious cocktail with the beloved cough syrup-esque liqueur in it and came up with something called a High Hat.  I don't know what era it's from, but the name suggests Classic Cocktail Era, perhaps pre-Prohibition, or perhaps during, as it calls for rye, which was smuggled down from Canada.

Here's the Internet Cocktail Database take:

The High Hat

1 and 1/2 oz rye

1/2 oz Cherry Heering

1/2 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice.


So it's basically a rye sour.  Cue the Old Overholt, although I'm sure it would be even better with fancier rye. Shake hard over ice, strain into chilled cocktail glass, garnish with a lemon twist.  I've seen some recipes up the rye to two ounces, and I think (although it'll be a bigger, stronger drink) that is actually a bit better.  




Today on the air: Laura Nyro's induction into the R&R hall of fame, a little Christmas, a little John Lennon.  See you at 4!





Possibly The Most Delicious Cocktail I Have Ever Tasted


Really, really.

Were you that kid who suffered through the lime and lemon Lifesavers just to get to the cherry Lifesaver?  Did you fight with your sibling over the one or two measly bits of cherry in the canned fruit cocktail your mom doled out after dinner?  If so, I've got something that will make you roll around on the floor because it is just that delicious.

The tipple's from David Wondrich's Imbibe!, a book of cocktail recipes and history I heartily recommend.  Wondrich takes you on a yummy and quite intoxicating trip from proto-Martinis (a drink called the Martinez is a rather nice one) and evil punches through contemporary cocktails that were created in the spirit (so to speak) of the historic ones.  Such is the absurdly wonderful Cherry Smash.

I will not bore you with Smash theory (a Smash happens to be a particular kind of antique drink, but if you're thirsty, you don't need the story now).  What you need is the recipe, and here it is.

The Cherry Smash

4 brandied cherries (buy a jar of German sour cherries, dump out most of the juice, and replace with brandy and a splash of Cherry Heering. Taste.  Add a little agave or simple syrup if you like it a little sweeter.  Let steep for at least a few hours.  Overnight is better.  Keeps indefinitely in the fridge.)

1 and 1/2 oz cognac

3/4 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice

3/4 oz orange curacoa (you don't want Cointreau here, but use a good brand)

1/2 oz Cherry Heering

Put the cherries in the bottom of a cocktail shaker and muddle them (cocktail speak for mush 'em up a bit with a wooden spoon, but don't demolish them).  Add the rest of the ingredients, plenty of ice, and shake hard, muddled cherries and all.  Strain into chilled cocktail glass and garnish with another brandied cherry.

This is suprisingly strong, so go easy.  It tastes utterly innocent.  But what a perfect Christmas season cocktail--it's the perfect red color. 

Cheers, and I'll see you on the air at 4 on Thursday!!


There's a Manhattan...and a Bronx...and a...

...Jersey City.  That's right, there's actually a cocktail named after Jersey City.  When I found out about it, I had to go look it up online, find a recipe, and try it.  And what do you know about that?  It suited our needs here high atop the Potter Building! 

First of all, it'll use a tad bit more of that pricey organic pineapple juice I bought last week.  But only a tad bit.

Secondly (and really much more importantly), it jibes with the whole pre-Thanksgiving thing I've been into lately.  Which is to say it uses applejack, which I'd bought some of 'cause it always seems a good thing to have around in the fall.

I found this cool quote from the NY Times back in the late 19th century about applejack, by the way.  Check it out: 

There are few compounds that are more sinful than the applejack of New Jersey.  The name has a homely, innocent appearance, but in reality applejack is a particularly powerful and evil spirit.  The man who intoxicates himself on bad whiskey is sometimes moved to kill his wife and set his house on fire, but the victim of applejack is capable of blowing up a whole town with dynamite and reciting original poetry to every surviving inhabitant. 

From "A Wicked Beverage" The NY Times, April, 1894

Well, then. Applejack is, for your information, the state booze of New Jersey.

And so here's a Jersey City Cocktail:

2 oz of applejack

1/2 oz pineapple juice

dash or two Angostura bitters

1/2 tsp. bar sugar

Shake hard in a cocktail shaker over ice, strain into chilled glass. This is a small, potent drink.  Do not have too many, being as...well you read what I just wrote, right?   Those wanting a less rumbling blast-off to their evening might try a Jack Rose, which is essentially an applejack sour with grenadine.

See you on the air at four!