Mary Pickford Cocktail (Tiki in disguise)

Mary Pickford Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

Let’s begin this post by acknowledging that this darling cocktail is not one of my originals (in case you didn’t know). However, in the buzz surrounding Oscar weekend, I thought I’d bring out a classic. Do we need to start with who Mary Pickford is? Mary Pickford won the first best actress Oscar for a “talkie” in 1930. Considered “America’s Sweetheart”, this cocktail, created by Eddie Woelke, borders on the fun and fruity side.

In fact, it’s really just a Tiki drink in disguise. Seriously guys.

A lot of rum, some pineapple, a touch of grenadine… so far all of this works. Maraschino liquor? Sure, that can work too. Give it a grand garnish and you’ve got yourself an afternoon sipper while you throw rubber darts at Ryan Seacrest on tv.Mary Pickford Cocktail // stirandstrain.com

2 oz. white rum, such as Caña Brava
1-1/2 oz. fresh pineapple juice
1/4 oz. grenadine, homemade preferred
barspoon maraschino liqueur, such as Maraska

pineapple wedge, lime wheel and cherry for garnish (and some edible gold stars if you got those hanging around too!)

In a shaker 2/3 filled with ice, add all ingredients and shake for 20 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

After one sip your mind goes straight to tropical. The grassy rum holds up next to the sweetness of the other ingredients while a tart pop rounds it out. Fresh pineapple juice is not as cloyingly sweet as out of the can, and here it’s just superior where you need that freshness to cut through the liqueurs. You only need just a small amount of maraschino, as a little goes a long way. Light and fruity, it’s a great starter drink for your afternoon.

Note: you may notice that this drink is not very pink like the other versions you might find. The reason being that maraschino syrup is not used, which is often dyed red. Maraska is clear in color, so your two coloring agents are the yellow from the pineapple juice and red from grenadine.

Improved Aviation Cocktail

improved aviation cocktailAmazon is both a pleasure and a curse. When a box arrives on our doorstep, the first thing I think is “Oh crap. How much did we spend this time?”. And then I open up the box and all questions of financial insanity are wiped clean away. Because I got a new cocktail book! My husband was browsing this time around and picked it out due to the crazy techniques in the description he found online. A Japanese take on cocktails, Cocktail Techniques by Kazuo Uyeda instructs the reader on making an ice sphere by hand, and the author’s well-known technique of “hard shaking” to mix cocktails. He thought it would make for an interesting break from the cocktail books I have been reading.

Not very far into this book and I’m already feeling schooled. There is a discipline that Uyeda not so subtly is trying to get across to the reader. Mainly, I should know how to make all great cocktails well first before I try and make my own. Well, hrm. This blog would start to get very boring if I just ran through the roster of drinks you’ve already heard of. One point he makes that stuck with me is that once you can make a cocktail, make it better. That doesn’t mean that you have to go out and re-make the martini, but what I got from this was go out and make it great and to your liking.

Which brings us to the Aviation cocktail.

Personally, I find it boring. With it’s unique blend of ingredients (VIOLET!) there should be more… flavor? Balance? Anything. Taking the cue from Uyeda I decided that I’ve had this enough out and at home that I think I could find a way to improve upon it. In the end I believe, for my preferred tastes, that I have.improved-aviation-3

2 oz Plymouth Gin
3/4 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 oz Maraska Maraschino Liqueur
1/4 oz The Bitter Truth Violet Liqueur
1/4 oz Bénédictine
3 drops Miracle Mile Sour Cherry Bitters
2 drops Regan’s Orange Bitters No. 6

In a shaker 2/3 filled with ice, add all ingredients and shake. Strain into a chilled coupe.improved-aviation-2

The resulting cocktail has more layers of flavor. In short, less boring. They are not loud, in your face flavors, but they balance the drink out considerably. Lime works as a better acid with the floral violet than the  lemon did. Adding the Bénédictine and both bitters creates those more complex layers this drink needed, as well as a more pleasant citrus and cherry nose instead of the heavily perfume-y nose it originally had.

So is there a well known drink you’ve had but are not wowed by it? Go ahead and let yourself make it better. You’re the one who has to drink it.

The Eagle Rock

Read through any cocktail book and there are more recipes that start with ‘this is a variation on…’ then one realizes. Mad scientists behind the bar, a mixologist/bartender/whathaveyou finds themselves looking at a base recipe and seeing where it can take off.

This cocktail recipe is a riff, on a take, on a variation with its beginnings at the turn of the 20th century.

To explain further, the PDT Cocktail Book does a great job of briefly setting up some ingredients and ideas for seasonal cocktails, and in the ‘Fall’ category use the Newark as an example of a cocktail that lends itself well to multiple variations. The drink itself is based on the Brooklyn cocktail. So I went with my own variation, and named it after my neighborhood. Well, sort of my neighborhood. My actual neighborhood is so small that even people living in it don’t necessarily know it’s technically separate from Eagle Rock, or Glendale. So I’m naming it the Eagle Rock. (Apologies to everyone not in Los Angeles, for which this makes no sense. Now would be a fun time to go look at Google maps, or just continue reading).

The Players

2 oz. Wild Turkey 81 Bourbon
1 oz. Punt e Mes
1/2 oz. Maraska
1/2 oz. Fernet Branca

Pour ingredients into a mixing glass 2/3 filled with ice. Stir and strain into a chilled coupe.

The combination of Punt e Mes and Fernet Branca made me think of a more herbal variation on a Manhattan. The drink is dry, sharp and bitter with some sweetness from the Maraska and Punt e Mes, and a strong herbal undertone. And why the Wild Turkey Bourbon? It’s what I had on hand, and it added a nice layer of spice too.