June 30, 2010
Admittedly, I’ve always had a much easier time coming up with cocktails than coming up with names for cocktails. But every now and then, after concocting something I consider worthy of sharing with you all (you should see the pile of cocktail recipes that didn’t make the cut), a fitting name reveals itself without too much undue fuss.
Today’s cocktail is called the Literary Agent. It is a cross between a Whisky Sour and a Hemingway Daiquiri (not just one of my favorite summer cocktails, but one I like to tinker with quite often), with a Japanese twist and a bit of history which provide context for the drink’s name.
Writer, adventurer, ravenous drinker, hunter, early supporter-turned-critic of Fidel Castro, exuder of much machismo, and all around man’s man and true bon vivant–these are all the various adjectives and aspects of Ernest Hemingway’s life that most recall when describing the man. But there’s one more aspect that’s lesser known, and has only come to light in the last few years, that during the early years of World War II Hemingway served as a U.S. spy in Asia, working for the OSS (Office of Strategic Services, pre-cursor of the CIA) at the request of President Roosevelt. Under the guise of a honeymoon with his third wife, journalist Martha Gellhorn–a respected literary figure in her own right–the two were charged with the task of reporting back on the developing war between China and Japan.
Both Hemingway and Gellhorn were well known by that time, so they certainly wouldn’t have been able to do anything undercover, but therein may have lied the logic and genius of the idea. Perhaps their high profile more easily enabled them to gain access to Asian dignitaries. And few could argue against Papa Hemingway’s charm, not to mention he was probably a really good drinking buddy, two very useful traits in the art of eliciting secrets.
1 1/2 oz Yamazaki 12 yr whisky
3/4 oz yuzu juice (I used Yuzu Passion)
3/4 oz fresh grapefruit juice
1/2 oz rich muscovado syrup (2:1 ratio of muscovado sugar to water)
1/4 oz Maraschino liqueur
Tools: shaker, strainer
Glass: chilled cocktail glass or coupe
Place ingredients in an ice-filled cocktail shaker and shake like the Kuomintang in the presence of the Red Army–or at least until the shaker is well-chilled and frosted. Strain into your glass and twist the grapefruit peel over and into the drink.
For the uninitiated, yuzu is a variety of Asian citrus that’s thought to be a cross between the mandarin orange and the Ichang lemon, both native to East Asia. For the sake of easy comparison, it’s most similar to a lemon, yet much more tart and sharp, with a very slight tinge of sweetness.
Although I normally eschew using pre-bottled juices in favor of freshly squeezing your own, an exception has to be made in the case of yuzu, as the fresh variety is rather difficult to come by. Even a trip to NY’s Chinatown is hit or miss. The one thing to keep in mind when purchasing bottled yuzu juice is that not all bottled yuzu juices are equal. Even quality aside, many have added salt, which is not what you want, at least not in this cocktail. Yuzu Passion is a good brand to look for, and is pure yuzu juice and nothing else.
Cheers, and see you next week, as the theme all month at Umamimart will be HOT HOT HEAT! Think cocktails that both refresh you from the heat and tingle your tongue.
*Got a cocktail question? Hit me on twitter @paystyle, email me at payman(at)lifesacocktail(dot)com, or simply drop me a comment below.