Yes indeed, friends, 80 years ago today, we won back the right to dream, create, craft and imbibe whatever we like, whenever we like, without the threat of incarceration, an ax-wielding Carrie Nation or the residual bad Jake Walk affliction from drinking bad hooch. In fact, you can even go to an awesome bar called JakeWalk and drink really, really good, utterly untainted cocktails to your thirst’s content. See how things have changed?
Legalities aside, as we all well know, one of the outcroppings of America’s Dark Ages of Drinking was a loss of the prior imbibing era’s ingenuity and savoir faire, if you will, in using ingredients — and the residual disappearance of many of those ingredients from our shores. Thanks to the tenacity and dogged research of writers and cocktail crafters like Dave Wondrich and others, certain dusty, long-forgotten and even longer-absent liquids began to reappear around town. So much so, that now we can gleefully take for granted that lovely crème de violette in our Aviator or the earthy, malty flavor of genever in a Gin Fix or the heady hoo-ha of overflowing punch bowls that do not contain sherbet everywhere from the Clover Club to the delightfully reviving Dead Rabbit (whose delicious Bankers Punch recipe is featured in the video above).
Another of my favorite post-Prohib exhumations (is that a word? whatever — it is now) is the rise and rise of vermouth. Not only do we have the option of once-absent European options, but even a few craft vermouth producers have emerged right in out own darned backyard in the form of Bianca Miraglia’s Uncouth Vermouth, Adam Ford’s Atsby, and even winemaker Christopher Tracy’s handiwork at Channing Daughters Winery on Long Island — all of whom are sourcing some if not all of their ingredients locally.
In celebration of this wonderful, auspicious day, may I present to you an excellent way to kick-off your night: The Stirling. A couple of weekends ago, I was in Greenport, Long Island, hanging out and making dinner with some friends and fam and was tasked with the important assignment of making a pre-dinner cocktail. There were some pretty good options at my fingertips, but what caught my eye was a cold bottle of sparkling wine; a bottle of Atsby Armadillo cake vermouth, and some Fee peach bitters. Earlier in the day, I’d learned that Greenport actually used to be called Stirling — long before Claudio’s needed a trap door behind the bar to hustle hooch to a secreted subterranean spot, or vines became the king crop, or the town became the cool little wine-country get-away it is now. And so was born the Stirling — I’m still tinkering with the sparkling, but as it stands now, it’s an all-NY aperitif and a pretty good clinker to ring in the 80th anniversary of being able to raise a glass without looking over your shoulder.
Pour vermouth in glass. Top with sparkling wine and follow with the bitters. Celebrate your freedom.
Photo credit: Facebook / Dead Rabbit NYC