50 Shots of America: New York

Oh, man, New York, the Cocktail Capital of the World (okay, so the Web tells me that Tokyo is actually the cocktail capital of the world, but Hudson, NY, was the first place that the word cocktail can be c0nfirmed in use, so :P) comes in as the 11th state of the Union having ratified the Constitution on July 26, 1788. No pressure or anything, right?

Suddenly I’m thinking in TMBG lyrics:

just like old New York was once New Amsterdam

Of course we know why they changed it. Though originally settled by the Dutch and French, the Duke of York decided that Long Island just wasn’t enough for him and he took forceful possession of New Amsterdam in 1664.

I’ve been told that there is more to New York than just the island of Manhattan though, since I’ve not actually seen it myself (only been to the island for 2 days a few winters ago), I’ll have to take their word for it. Apparently those areas are great for apple orchards, cherries and a vast wine-producing segment as well as the largest cabbage production of the US. Maybe it should be called the Big Cabbage instead of the Big Apple?

But the Big Apple it is and, try as I might to avoid an apple drink I just couldn’t help myself when the following occurred to me:

Little Big Apple Dumpling

.75 oz Apple Pucker
.5 oz Apple Juice
.5 oz Butterscotch Schnapps
.25 oz Goldschlagger

Combine all in a small cocktail shaker over ice and give it a Bronx salute or two. Strain into a chilled double shot or cordial glass and think glittery apple thoughts.

I’m…  not even going to try and paint a picture of New York’s culinary landscapes. Books, entire websites, have been devoted to the subject, I’m not going to be able to do it justice in 5oo words. What I can do is share the menu I created for my American Regional class in Culinary School. I was assigned New York, obviously, and wanted to do something to highlight some of the more dominant cultures that the area represented. I figured there were 5 boroughs so I’d pick 5 cultures and serve 5 courses. This was our first opportunity to create a menu, play executive chef to our fellow students and actually have guests come to dine. We had to set the table/decorate, time the courses,  introduce and answer questions about each and deal with whatever came up. Crazy but fun is what I remember most from the evening. That and my salad guy not pitting the Kalamata olives for the Greek Salad (my mother had to ask our dean what the etiquette was on removing said pits from one’s mouth–oops!).

Appetizer (Jewish)
Potato Latkes w/Sour Cream & Applesauce
Soup Course (Russian)
Traditional Borscht
Entree (Irish)
Dingle Pie (lamb, parsnips & turnips), Creamed Mushrooms w/Chives
Salad Course (Greek)
Traditional Greek Salad
Dessert & Coffee (American-ish*)
New York Cheesecake

I don’t need to look it up (even though it was 10 years ago)–of course I got an A. I built a paper model of the top of the Chrysler Building for the centerpiece, for crying out loud (and can’t believe I finally threw it out during the last move–what was  I thinking?!). I also happened to have gone first, thankfully, as we lost a lot of students during that module.

*Cheesecake’s origin is technically from Greek cheese pie that was introduced to the rest of Europe by the Romans but bears very little resemblance to the cottage cheese pie immigrants made in early American days. Cheesecake, as we know it, is essentially an American invention with German and Jewish influences and new-world innovations like the graham cracker crust. We’ll just call it the ultimate melting pot dessert and enjoy it 🙂

50 Shots of America–New Hampshire

We’re already up to our ninth state, New Hampshire, which ratified the Constitution on June, 21, 1788. (So much for coincidental dates, I suppose we can save that lotto ticket!)

The Granite State was, of course, one of the original 13 colonies to rise up against British rule and I’m a bit confused as my sources (read as: Wikipedia) claim that our last state, South Carolina, was the first to declare independence from Great Britain and now New Hampshire wants that honor. You know what? Allowing for a certain possibility of error AND the zeitgeist that undoubtedly roosted in the minds of the various colonies, I’m gonna let last week’s statement stand and just go with the fact that they both had the idea at or around the same time.

I never said I was good at history, folks. This is, after all, about cocktails. I’m just looking for something interesting to base a drink around and holy cats are all these original colonies starting to sound alike! Moving on…

One of the salesmen at my office is from New Hampshire and is a very nice man. Based on he and his wife being the only New Hampshireans I know, I’m going to go with the presumption that all from the state are similarly lovely people as well as equally puzzled about the concept of sales tax and it’s various exemptions. Because New Hampshire has no sales tax or personal income tax (with the exception of dividends and interest), which is very cool. But before you start packing up and plan to move, you should probably also know that NH has one of the country’s highest property taxes as a result. It’s all a balancing act.

Just like mixing drinks! (Nice segue, there, doncha think?)

Blackbeard’s Orchard

1.5 oz Apple Juice(1)
.75 oz Spiced Rum(2)
.25 oz Goldschlagger(3)
splash Maple Syrup(4)

Combine all of the ingredients over ice in the mixing vessel of your choice(5). Shake like a leaf on the top of Mount Washington and strain into a chilled cordial or double shot glass.

Apparently Blackbeard the Pirate (2) used the Isle of Shoals (just off Hampton Beach) for, among other things, his honeymoon and it’s rumored that some of his treasure (3) is still buried there. Granted, it’s possible the treasure is on the Maine side of the Shoals but let’s not stop the inspiration train rolling, shall we?

Even though the state fruit of New Hampshire is the pumpkin, they do a considerable amount of agricultural dealings in apples (1). Then there’s the annual spring open houses at the sap houses (4); you’ve got some considerable sweetness going on in that state. And, despite the annual PorcFest (Porcupine Freedom Festival), this drink is rather smooth thanks to the addition of the maple syrup.

Finally, we kitcheny types owe a major debt to Mr. Earl Tupper of Berlin, NH, as he invented the wonder that is Tupperware(5) in 1933. For that reason I would suggest you forgo your usual cocktail shaker (be it the 3-piece or Boston versions) and, instead, mix up a batch of these for your next home party in the Quick Shake for that extra bit of special.