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Cocktails for the Potentially Non-Jet-Setting

Maidens cover
I’ve been sifting through the padded envelopes of old cookbooks my mom has been sending me and reacquainting myself with missives I forgot I even owned.

I decided a stiff drink was order now that I’m sick to my stomach over Suvarnabhumi International Airport being shut down by protesters 36 hours before my heavily planned trip (with three hotels already paid for) to Thailand. Seriously, if this gets fucked up there will be hell to pay by someone, something…I’m not sure who will face the brunt of my ire yet.

Luckily, 1965’s lovely Easy to Make Maidens & Cocktails took my mind off of civil unrest in faraway places. I kind of love the unflattering illustrations that punctuate this charmingly sexist bar guide. Each liquor is assigned a type of maiden with a description of her personality. I’ve always thought of myself as a whiskey girl, despite rarely ordering it anymore.

Whiskey maidens
 I know, I know, American whiskeys are super trendy now. But if you go into a non-dive that’s not a prohibition-era-speakeasy, it seems wrong to order something as rough as whiskey on the rocks. Whiskey sours, my old drink of choice, seem too musty (though I thinking of reclaiming it again). And no one is going to know how to make most cockamamie drinks from days of yore such as the Hot Deck (whiskey, sweet vermouth, Jamaica ginger [I’m assuming that’s ginger beer]) or a Beau Brummel (bourbon, orange juice, prunelle, sugar syrup). What’s a civilized way to drink whiskey? It’s still 2008 so that would probably dictate something involving elderflower liqueur or homemade bitters.

Not a question for today. Instead, I flipped through this book for something unique yet doable with ingredients already on hand was no easy task. I kept getting thwarted by lacking crucial items like Amer Picon, Benedictine or Chartreuse.


I finally arrived at the Café Kirsch. ¾ ounce Cognac, ¾ ounce, Kirschwasser, ¾ ounce strong coffee. Shake with cracked ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass. I did as told and came up with a strangely pale tiny drink. I would up the three-quarters to full ounces. Well, assuming I would make this again, which I’m not sure I will.

The scent was coffee, yet the overall taste was strong and bitter, kind of firewatery with a hint of cherry poking through. This is definitely not for sweet beverage lovers. I’m not sure that it’s for anyone. There was a missing component needed to smooth things over.

Cafe kirsch

Maybe I will tackle pousse cafes next. Now, that’s beyond retro. I’ve always been enamored by the layered rainbow effect, but that seem tricky to get right. I was impressed by Ruth Reichl’s skills when she demonstrated the technique on a episode of Diary of a Foodie earlier this year.

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