My cocktail lineup is pretty thin. Knowing how to masterfully create one drink (this martini) will never make me a successful spirits manager. I’ll lose every game without some variety. I need to start building my team’s depth chart, and I know just who to ask.
Before I reach out to Stephanie, let’s talk some baseball.
It’s September and time for roster expansion in Major League Baseball. Clubs call players up to the big leagues for a myriad of reasons. Some arrive to play daily and are gifted the chance to prove their worthiness to break camp with their team next season. Others are pegged for one specific reason, like Billy Burns in Oakland. Billy will likely be used exclusively as a pinch runner. Some men are called upon for their ability to hit right handed pitching. Each player is unique in his skill-set and his value to his club. Some players, however, rise above this. They are your rock solid superstars, the ones you will depend on in the big games.
I want a cocktail like that player. Suppose one of my boys from high school comes to the crib for a barbeque. My 1/2 cow just arrived and I’m going to throw some steaks on the grill.
“Kap, hook me up with a Mickey’s for old times sake.”
“Tsk-tsk, Dusty. I’ll be preparing something a little more civilized for you, my brother.”
Emerging from my daydream, I realize it’s about time I reach out for help. I obviously have no clue what my pairing for the aforementioned steak will be. Independent of my fantasy, I’m pining for versatility. A one-tool drink is simply inefficient at this juncture.
“Steph,” I said. “My classic martini is my Mike Trout. What cocktail will start game one? I need my Kershaw.” As you expect, she can repeat her delivery.
Everyone pairs wine with foods. Plenty of people pair cocktails with food. I think I may have found my new job: pairing cocktails with baseball players.
Let me get this straight, sport. You can riff on raw dog food, cocktails and baseball too? You better bring it, or I’m calling you out in front of the family. Go on, we’re listening. rolls eyes
What do we know about Clayton Kershaw? He’s a lefty, so we need to go a little bit out of the box with this one. He’s not your traditional soft-tossing crafty lefty though, so we need to go with a big, powerful cocktail. He brings the heat in the mid-90s, so we’ll go with something smoky…too much of a stretch? Probably, so I won’t make my reference to needing some oranges because he pitches in LA. That’s more of an Angels thing anyway.
Hey, hey, hey. Stay in your lane and leave the wordplay to me. I’ll put my insecurities about you taking my baseball analyst job only because I love the readers, and you’re about to walk-off with a win. No more interjections from me. Do your thing, superstar.
Perhaps I took this challenge a bit too literally. I’m committed, and this works too well with my previous recommendation for a Scotch cocktail, the Blood and Sand. I freely admit, it isn’t the most appetizingly-named drink in my repertoire. The name comes from a 1922 silent movie of the same name starring Rudolph Valentino as a man who worked his way up from poverty to become a famous matador (see, I’ve even worked in the cow!). Upon his death in 1926 (Kershaw is 26; I can keep this going all night), he remarked that he wanted to be remembered for Blood and Sand above all his other works. No one remembers the movie now, but the cocktail appeared in print for the first time in 1930.
The original recipe, for one cocktail:
- 3/4 oz blended Scotch
- 3/4 oz orange juice
- 3/4 oz sweet (red) vermouth
- 3/4 oz Cherry Heering
Pour all the ingredients into a glass and stir for 30 seconds or so. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a flamed orange peel.
There are variations. Personally, I prefer to double the Scotch (1 1/2 oz) for a bolder flavor, but that’s a personal preference.
The important considerations are:
- Use a blended Scotch (don’t burn your $100 bottle of Macallen 15 on this). Different Scotches will give you different results. Monkey Shoulder works brilliantly, Famous Grouse is generally considered the default, and for an extra smoky punch, try the Corsair Triple Smoke.
- Use fresh-squeezed orange juice that you squeeze from real oranges. We use fresh ingredients in our food on this blog, cocktails are no different. Your result will only be as good as your worst ingredient. Be careful upping the amount of OJ though; it can overpower the drink. I experimented with using the juice from smoked oranges in this cocktail and really enjoyed the result.
- The same rules from the martini post apply here. Use good vermouth and keep it in the fridge.
- Cherry Heering (not herring, there are no fish involved) is an item that can’t really be substituted. You’ll walk into your local store and find all sorts of “cherry” spirits. Run away from all of them; they taste like a combination of cherry kool-aid and Nyquil. Cherry Heering, by contrast, is a mix of Danish cherries and spices which are soaked in grain alcohol. The result is then aged in casks for five years. I’ve tried making my own cherry brandy, but it simply doesn’t compare. This is close to dark chocolate – there’s a sweetness, but it’s tempered by a bitterness that adds amazing depth to your cocktail.
There are very few good cocktails made with Scotch. This one is pretty much guaranteed to be a hit (wait, no, Kershaw is a pitcher; hits are bad). The sweetness and acidity tone down some of the burn from the Scotch, but while it’s approachable for even non-whisky drinkers, every time you think you’ve figured it out, you’ll find another layer of complexity.
Ughhhhh. Stephanie knows all the tricks. She lures you in with the promise of alcohol, then spits descriptive fireballs at your ass. Lucky for me, she doesn’t have a penis or I’d be out of this job, too. Go ahead, tell the readers what it’s like for a man dead-lifting 500 for the first time, smarty-pants.
I need a drink,