The old Nibelung showed up at the NipJoint this morning with seven Libbey 9570 L-1026 cocktail goblets!
These goblets were one of many by Libbey and other makers that had etched lines in them to show the volume that a modern (now almost extinct — as opposed to the old-fashioned method), true cocktail [2 dashes petite bitters + a teaspoon or maybe 1/4 fl-oz. of simple syrup + 2 fl-oz. of liquor + ice -- stirred and strained] should reach if stirred long enough to be fully cold. Before prohibition, modern cocktails were often stirred with just one lump of ice. That meant that they did not get as cold or as much added water as later. The etched line in the L-1019 goblet mentioned in the image above (but not actually pictured) would have measured such a true cocktail appropriately. However, after prohibition, all finally agreed that stirring a cocktail with plenty of ice made the drink colder and better, even though it added about an extra 1/2 fl-oz. of water. Hence both L-1019 and L-1026 versions.
The per-piece price that I sold the last batch of Libbey 9570 L-1026 Columbian cocktail goblets for was $20. They sold out in a single afternoon. The Nibelung has gotten me these seven at a lower cost, so they will be sold for the price of $15 per piece!
I will list them for sale through the glassware section of the Elemental Mixology storefront later today. Watch for them!
Do you remember this label on a jar of cherries? Some of you must. I remember it very well. There was a time when I used to tell my students how nice it was that Luxardo didn’t try to sell its lovely marasca cherries with any lie that they were somehow maraschino cherries. The label simply, and correctly, identified the product as marasche — plural in Italian for marasca. The label also stated that the product consisted of marasca cherries in a pure, marasca cherry syrup. I recall how I would praise Luxardo’s integrity versus the shameful lie on the label of any so-called “maraschino cherries” found in an American supermarket.
Then some handful of years ago, Luxardo went and did this:
Imagine my disappointment.
They didn’t bother to remake the product’s name on the can — so if you procure that item, you will still get the truth:
So it goes.
There was a time before the prohibition of alcohol in the U.S.A. killed off the huge north American demand for the true, alcoholic, maraschino cherry. Here is what the U.S. Board of Food and Drug Inspection decided in their decision number 141 of 1912:
Note the decision by the board that:
That simple, obvious standard would mean that there is no such thing as maraschino cherries in the world today — at least not commercially-available ones. Dear reader, you have never had a true maraschino cherry.
That is why, in my book, I instruct the reader to garnish those drinks calling for a cherry with a “marasca cherry” instead of a “maraschino cherry.”
Over the years, I have toyed with the idea of taking some of Luxardo’s marasche, rinsing the syrup off of them and placing them in a jar and then covering them with Luxardo’s maraschino liqueur. But, for the liqueur to really permeate the cherries, I expect they would have to be fresh — not already saturated with heavier-than-liqueur syrup. I have never been willing to spend so much money to try something that common sense tells me would not yield anything like the correct result.
The good, old standard (and the governmental body that set it) is long gone. Now we have so-called “maraschino cherries” that are not marasca cherries — nor cherries of any type preserved in maraschino liqueur. Luxardo’s cherries really are marasca cherries, so it was understandable that they would want to cash in by joining those that had been stretching the ‘maraschino cherry’ truth for so long. Though I understand the financial motivation behind it, I find Luxardo’s labeling change to be vulgar and distasteful.
I wish, instead, that Luxardo had brought to market some true maraschino cherries. They would have been expensive — their marasca cherries in syrup already are so without the inclusion of maraschino liqueur. I imagine that the cherries preserved in Luxardo’s good maraschino liqueur might have cost a lot more money. But, I would have bought at least a couple of jars. Plenty of our nation’s more pretentious drinking establishments would’ve have made an ostentatious display of using them. Luxardo could have sold both marasca cherries (marasche) and true maraschino cherries.
But why bother when a little lie is so much easier? Luxardo’s marasche are very good — even when called something that they are not. Who would ever know the difference, anyway? Well, you do — now.
The historic liqueur called Curaçao is almost universally misunderstood. When one mentions its name, many people say, “Do you mean blue Curaçao?” Even a majority of the minority who understand that triple-sec is only an adjectival phrase (describing a type of Curaçao liqueur) seem to mistakenly believe that the phrase means “triple distilled” instead of the clear French meaning “triple dry” (as opposed to sweet). Some assume that Curaçao liqueur was originally an orange-flavored brandy liqueur like Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge or Pierre Ferrand’s poorly named “Dry Curaçao.”
So, this article will present many historic documents that make the case for what Curaçao liqueur is and was.
Anything called Curaçao liqueur should be made of the zest or peel of Citrus aurantium currassuviencis, the Curaçao orange, an especially bitter variety of Citrus aurantium, the bitter orange. The Curaçao orange grows on the island of Curaçao in the Netherlands Antilles. Surfin [‘superfine’] Curaçao liqueur is specifically distilled off of a maceration of the peels in an overproof spirit. It is considered the standard. Surfin Curaçao Liqueur may be colored or left ‘blanc’ and colorless. Using bitter orange peel from a point of origin other than the island of the same name, or simply compounding the liqueur without ever distilling a Curaçao spirit, should be thought of as producing an imitation product.
[This expansion is in response to a bar-tender's request for additional information]
Do you want to make a historically-authentic Rock and Rye?
Let’s take a look at historic sources for the majority consensus on what that drink was:
Notice Thomas Stuart’s plagiarism.
I serve Rock and Rye giving the whiskey and the syrup separately so that the drinker can mix it however sweet they like.
The drink seems pretty straightforward. Rye whiskey served with rock candy syrup is Rock and Rye. It was good treatment for a sore throat because the alcohol in the whiskey is both antiseptic and temporarily deadens nerve endings, temporarily killing the pain. The rock candy syrup, being the heaviest-possible suspension of sucrose in water, makes the drink viscous enough to coat the throat long enough to do its alcoholic work there better.
It is common today to find flavored rye whiskey liqueur, or flavored rye whiskey served with a stick of rock candy, called “Rock and Rye.” While they can be tasty and worthwhile, they are not the historic drink Rock and Rye. It is misleading to tell guests that such things are something traditional or time-honored. Those who truly do care about drink tradition should give such new concoctions names other than “Rock and Rye.”
The above is from the American Journal of Pharmacy, volume 67, in 1895. It indicates that rock candy syrup is the left-over syrup from the production of rock candy. As such, no sugar should be left to crystallize out of the syrup. In New York State, in 1873, a case was brought to court over an alleged deficiency found in barrels of rock candy syrup. The plaintiffs made clear that they had desired high quality rock candy syrup “that would not crystallize, or the sugar fall down.”
Around the same time, admonitions can be found advising to obtain “rock candy syrup from a rock candy manufacturer.”
Below is from the Western Druggist, Volume 17 in 1895:
Volume eleven of the Bulletin of Pharmacy in 1897, specifies that when cooking the syrup from which rock candy will be produced, no temperature higher than 112º Fahrenheit should be allowed.
The 112º Fahrenheit limit is kept to prevent the conversion of sucrose into invert glucose. Some amount of conversion from sucrose into glucose may be considered acceptable by some people making simple syrup, but it isn’t okay for the production of rock candy. If you want to produce rock candy, you’d best stick to low temperatures and pure sucrose and pure water — in super-saturation so that rock candy will form. Once all of the excess sugar has crystallized out, you will have rock candy syrup.
So, rock candy syrup and buttermilk have this in common: they were both traditionally the stuff left-over after the making of the named thing (rock candy or butter), but are now routinely divorced from those processes and are simply compounded independently.
Notice that, according to some of the above sources, it seems to have became common for other types of syrup to be sold as rock candy syrup. Perhaps the growing difficulty in getting authentic rock candy syrup led to some bars serving an altogether different drink when asked for Rock and Rye. Such recipes as those below make up a tiny minority of published recipes for anything called Rock and Rye, but they do exist.
Note that the above drinks would not relieve a sore throat very well, being without the thick viscosity of actual rock candy syrup. One of the sources, William Boothby, was apparently spoken to so much about the Rock and Rye recipe in his 1891 book that he dramatically added to it for his 1908 book.
To this day, when shown that their methods are out of step, many bar-tenders will still assert that “either way is correct.”
But what about the syrup? Has authentic rock candy syrup become available again?
The above ingredients for Amoretti brand so-called ‘rock candy syrup’ show that, though it may be a heavy syrup, it is definitely not traditional rock candy syrup. Traditional rock candy syrup would not contain dextrose or fructose. Genuine rock candy syrup carefully contains only sucrose and water. Why it would need dextrose, fructose and “natural flavor” is a mystery to me!
So, what if you want to have traditional rock candy syrup? Some old sources state that one of the reasons for the production of so much imitation rock candy syrup is that making the real thing via rock candy production takes time. Unfortunately, that is true. But, if you don’t care how much rock candy you make, the time needed can be drastically shortened.
Bring one part (by volume) distilled water to a temperature as close as possible to, but not higher than, 112º Fahrenheit. An induction cook-top (like this one) that can be set at exactly 110º Fahrenheit is really useful. Add three parts (by volume) pure, refined sugar (sucrose). Stir over the same heat (never exceeding it!) until the sugar is dissolved. It may take some time. Pour the syrup into mason jars. If you want to harvest the rock candy instead of discarding it (stuck to the inside of the jar), suspend a string in the mason jar to which the rock candy will form. Once no more rock candy forms inside the syrup, pour it from the mason jar into a syrup bottle. This syrup will contain the highest possible amount of sugar in a stable solution. It will be the closest thing to genuine and traditional rock candy syrup that you will have ever had.
Please see this new Elemental Mixology post that covers the same information.