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Subway Cocktail


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#1 Splificator

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 07:06 AM

Today is the 100th anniversary of the mighty New York City subway system. Oddly enough, with all the drinks that are named after parts of New York City and its institutions--the New York, the New Yorker, the Manhattan (and the Manhattan Jr., and the Mr. Manhattan), the Bronx, the Bronx Terrace, the Brooklyn, the Queens, the Croton (named after the city's first aqueduct), the Fifth Avenue, et al.--there has never, as far as I can tell, been one dedicated to the subway. The closest mixology has come to it is the three versions (at least) of the "Third Rail," the earliest of which must've been inspired by the subway. Still, no Subway Cocktail. This absence, while deplorable, is also an opportunity.

Any suggestions?


--DW
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#2 slkinsey

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 09:00 AM

Hmmm... three things immediately come to mind:

1. Using a base liquor historically associated with NY.

2. Using a combination of liquors from a variety of countries, since the subway is truly reflective of NYC as a multicultural melting pot.

3. Creating not one cocktail, but three: the IRT Cocktail, the BMT Cocktail and the IND Cocktail.
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#3 Fat Guy

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 09:16 AM

Should there not be a "Straphanger"?

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#4 slkinsey

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 09:19 AM

Thinking of #2 above, I've always thought that Chartreuse gave a cocktail a certain essence of far-away places. What about something like:

1.5 oz : straight rye whiskey (I'm thinking Wild Turkey 101)
0.5 oz : applejack
0.5 oz : fresh lemon juice
0.25 oz : green (or maybe yellow?) Chartreuse
1 dash : orange bitters


The rye and applejack seem old-school NY to me, while the Chartreuse is a "taste of multiculturalism." This could suck, of course, and might need some adjustment to balance the acid. But it's something that at least sounds interesting on paper.
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#5 Fat Guy

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 09:21 AM

How about a tall boy in a paper bag?

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#6 slkinsey

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 09:22 AM

How about a tall boy in a paper bag?

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Garnished with a used crack pipe?
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#7 Splificator

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 09:46 AM

The first thing I ever drank on the subway was a Heublein "Brass Monkey"--a really very nasty bottled cocktail (do they still make them?)--that a group of city teens was drinking from styrofoam cups and thoughtfully offered to share with me and my girlfriend, who were in from the 'burbs looking for fun. We found it. For me, anyway, the Brass Monkey will always have a claim to the Subway Cocktail title, as will the tallboy in the brown paper bag, the ass-pocket bottle of Jack Daniels (also from high school) and the blunt.

But such things aside, I like the rye/applejack/lemon combination, but that does seem like an awful lot of Chartreuse, as much as I like Chartreuse.

Another New York spirit is genever gin (what with Manhattan being Dutch and all). Perhaps something with genever, tamarind (which brings in both Asia and the Caribbean) and sherry (Latin America)? If I didn't still have an afternoon's worth of writing to do I'd start mixing some drinks.

We may have to have an in-person shake-off to decide things.
aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

#8 slkinsey

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 09:54 AM

We may have to have an in-person shake-off to decide things.

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Sounds like fun. We should.
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#9 Splificator

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 10:00 AM

Oh yeah, and on second thought, the applejack? Since its other name is "Jersey Lightning" and it is, or was anyway, the state spirit of New Jersey, I think it must be disqualified from the competition. Strictly for "farmers," as New Yorkers used to call everyone from the Garden State, no matter what their employment. (Not that I harbor these attitudes myself, mind you, but one must take history into account.)
aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

#10 FistFullaRoux

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 10:03 AM

I'll refrain from making bad jokes about screwdrivers (think about it....)

I do have a name for it... Third Rail
Screw it. It's a Butterball.

#11 Jason Perlow

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 10:44 AM

I think the Subway cocktail should be an interesting variation of the Manhattan.

Your basic manhattan is 4oz of Bourbon to 1oz of sweet vermouth. I'm thinking you could infuse the bourbon with an interesting flavor, like perhaps Laird's Applejack (for the "Big Apple" part) and garnish with apple slices. Or add NY State Apple Cider to it.
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#12 Squeat Mungry

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 11:02 AM

I think it should be a combination of a Manhattan and a Brooklyn Cocktail. Maybe add dry vermouth and Amer Picon to a Manhattan? I like the apple garnish. Call it "The Hole in the Ground".

Cheers,

Squeat

#13 cdh

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 11:19 AM

Doesn't NYC have a long historical connection to rum as its booze? I seem to recall reading about some connection between the carribean sugar business and new york and new england...

So maybe the Subway could be a Manhattan made with Anejo rum in place of (or addition to) the whisky.

And it must contain Fee's aromatic bitters in place of the Angostura, for its connection to the rest of NY state.
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#14 Al_Dente

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 11:22 AM

Are there any liquors with a urine aroma? :shock:
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#15 Jason Perlow

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 11:24 AM

Doesn't NYC have a long historical connection to rum as its booze?  I seem to recall reading about some connection between the carribean sugar business and new york and new england...

So maybe the Subway could be a Manhattan made with Anejo rum in place of (or addition to) the whisky. 

And it must contain Fee's aromatic bitters in place of the Angostura, for its connection to the rest of NY state.

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Yeah, thats brilliant. An older rum (Maybe even use a domestic rum, like Pritchards or New Orleans Rum), perhaps infused for a couple of weeks with apple slices to impart a apple taste to it, with Fee Bitters and sweet vermouth, garnished with apple.
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#16 Chef Shogun

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 11:34 AM

The first thing I ever drank on the subway was a Heublein "Brass Monkey"--a really very nasty bottled cocktail

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That funky monkey.
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#17 slkinsey

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 11:38 AM

Oh yeah, and on second thought, the applejack? Since its other name is "Jersey Lightning" and it is, or was anyway, the state spirit of New Jersey, I think it must be disqualified from the competition. Strictly for "farmers," as New Yorkers used to call everyone from the Garden State, no matter what their employment. (Not that I harbor these attitudes myself, mind you, but one must take history into account.)

View Post

I'd think that NYC's nickname "Big Apple" would be enough to make applejack acceptable in an NY-named cocktail, though. Mostly, though, rye and applejack struck me as two old-school spirits that are a little rough around the edges, so I thought it might be interesting to combine them. That neither one gets the attention it deserves is extra gravy, as far as I am concerned. Are we aware of a cocktail using both rye and applejack? I can't think of any, but of course that could be because they don't combine very well.

You're right about too much Chartreuse in my thought above (whatever it ends up being named, if it turns out to be good). Just rinsing the glass would probably do it, since it's a small drink at those volumes.

I like your genever idea, too. Trying to think of ingredients associated with ethnicities associated with NYC to consider:

Dutch: genever
English: dry gin
Asian: tamarind, ginger, sake
Irish: Irish whiskey
Italian: something like Strega could be interesting
Caribbean: falernum, rum
Latin America: rum, pisco, Cachaça
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#18 Jason Perlow

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 11:42 AM

Actually Irish Whiskey like one of the better Jamesons would go really good with some apple cider and vermouth.

Most of the people who built the original NY subway were Irish immigrants, weren't they? I also recall that during the 40's-60's at least 50 percent ot the NY transit workers were Irish.
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#19 slkinsey

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 11:45 AM

The problem with Irish whiskey is like the problem with Scotch... it just doesn't lend itself to blending.
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#20 Splificator

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 11:53 AM

Dutch: genever
English: dry gin
Asian: tamarind, ginger, sake
Irish: Irish whiskey
Italian: something like Strega could be interesting
Caribbean: falernum, rum
Latin America: rum, pisco, Cachaça

View Post


I hope you're not suggesting:
1 oz genever gin
1 oz London dry gin
1 oz Irish whiskey
1 oz tamarind juice
1/2 oz Falernum
2 dashes Strega
Shake well with cracked ice, strain into chilled large cocktail glass, float 1/2 oz of pisco on top and garnish with slice of rum-pickled ginger? (On the other hand, I've probably had worse. Those Brass Monkeys, for one.)

I'm not convinced that an adaptation of the Manhattan and/or the Brooklyn would be the best way to go, if only because that's so often the way things end up in New York: Manhattan and, to a lesser extent, Brooklyn claim they're speaking for everyone, while Queens, the Bronx and Staten Island don't have any actual say in the matter.

The apple-infused rum sounds like a better idea, although if it's gonna be a Subway cocktail you've got to be able to catch it in a hurry.

--DW
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There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

#21 slkinsey

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 12:00 PM

I hope you're not suggesting:
    1 oz genever gin
    1 oz London dry gin
    1 oz Irish whiskey
    1 oz tamarind juice
    1/2 oz Falernum
    2 dashes Strega
Shake well with cracked ice, strain into chilled large cocktail glass, float 1/2 oz of pisco on top and garnish with slice of rum-pickled ginger?

View Post

Whoa! It's like you're reading my mind or something. Spooky.

You forgot: garnish with a well-washed, sterilized and polished NYC subway token.
Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

#22 Splificator

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 12:07 PM

garnish with a well-washed, sterilized and polished NYC subway token.

Won't the drink take care of all of that?
aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

#23 slkinsey

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 12:11 PM

garnish with a well-washed, sterilized and polished NYC subway token.

Won't the drink take care of all of that?

View Post

Heh. Would have to include some 151 demerara rum just to make sure.

Actually... an interesting thought (although probably not useful): Subway tokens are made with copper, right? I assume that if one put a subway token into a shaker with some reasonable acidic ingredient and shook it up, it would impart a slight coppery flavor.
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#24 Splificator

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 12:17 PM

I assume that if one put a subway token into a shaker with some reasonable acidic ingredient and shook it up, it would impart a slight coppery flavor.

I assume that it would. But here we must ask ourselves: do we want a slight coppery flavor?

Ladies and gentlemen of good will may be permitted to differ.
aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

#25 Pan

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 11:06 PM

Actually Irish Whiskey like one of the better Jamesons would go really good with some apple cider and vermouth.

Most of the people who built the original NY subway were Irish immigrants, weren't they? I also recall that during the 40's-60's at least 50 percent ot the NY transit workers were Irish.

View Post


I'm sure there were plenty of Irishmen involved, but I remember from the PBS documentary that many of the people who dug the tunnels under rivers were black. Also, my grandfather was one of the men who built the subway system, and since his last name was Cohen and not Cohan, I don't think he was Irish. :laugh:

#26 Pan

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Posted 27 October 2004 - 11:08 PM

Speaking of which, what's the Jewish element in this, a dash of Manischewitz? :laugh: :raz:

#27 =Mark

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Posted 28 October 2004 - 12:41 AM

I hope you're not suggesting:
     1 oz genever gin
     1 oz London dry gin
     1 oz Irish whiskey
     1 oz tamarind juice
     1/2 oz Falernum
     2 dashes Strega
Shake well with cracked ice, strain into chilled large cocktail glass, float 1/2 oz of pisco on top and garnish with slice of rum-pickled ginger?

View Post

Whoa! It's like you're reading my mind or something. Spooky.

You forgot: garnish with a well-washed, sterilized and polished NYC subway token.

View Post

That may be difficult as tokens are no longer sold, and an MTA card would not have the same cachet...
=Mark

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#28 Splificator

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Posted 28 October 2004 - 06:36 AM

Okay, so after some lab work I've come up with my contender. Before I get into it, though, here are the criteria I was working with:
1) It should have five ingredients (for the Boroughs, natch)
2) It should reflect both New York's rich past and its dazzling future
3) It should reflect New York's ethnic and cultural diversity
4) It shouldn't be a minor variation of a pre-existing cocktail
5) You should be able to assemble it in a New York minute
6) It should taste good

So...

The Subway
Combine in cocktail shaker:
2 oz Plymouth gin
1/2 oz aged Dominican or Puerto Rican rum (for the Express) or dry sherry (for the Local)
1/2 oz unsweetened coconut water
Shake well with cracked ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass that has been rinsed with Punt e Mes; position a mint leaf on top, as it it were Central Park.

The gin is for history: it reflects the city's Dutch/English past and it used to be popular with the African American community. The Asian/Caribbean/tropical coconut water is for the future. The rum and sherry are Hispanic and the Punt e Mes is Italian. That leaves the emerald-green mint leaf for the Irish and, I'm afraid, nothing for the Jews, unless we can agree to consider the mint a bitter herb.

As for criterion 6, others will have to judge. When's the shake-off?

--DW

P.S. You can get the coconut water in Hispanic or Asian groceries, or there's a new, high-end brand that's starting to show up in health-food stores and the like. The rum I used was Brugal anejo.


Edited to remedy crappy proofreading.

Edited by Splificator, 28 October 2004 - 01:54 PM.

aka David Wondrich

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#29 slkinsey

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Posted 28 October 2004 - 07:09 AM

That sounds very interesting. Especially the gin/rum combination. Not something that would ever have occurred to me -- but, then again, that's why you're the pro and I'm not. :smile:

I didn't have too much time to do any refinement of my idea, which was significantly less ambitious. I just wanted to make something that sounded like it might have been consumed during the early years of the subway. Anyway, as written the acid isn't balanced and the applejack doesn't come through enough. I added around a half-ounce of 1:1 simple syrup to balance it, but I'd be more inclined to balance it by cutting back on the lemon juice in the future. I'd also use either a straight applejack (I used Laird's blended), or would use the blended stuff in equal proportion to the rye.

Found a recipe for the Third Rail cocktail that included dark rum, applejack, brandy and a few dashes of absinthe.
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#30 cdh

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Posted 28 October 2004 - 10:20 AM

Interesting looking drink, Splificator--

How about rinsing the glass with a mixture of Punt e Mes and slivovitz? The plum aromatics might work well in this drink, and you've got the missing Jewish element in the mix, and bring the total number of liquid ingredients to 5. The mint leaf as garnish shouldn't count against the ingredient limit, I don't think.

Edited by cdh, 28 October 2004 - 10:22 AM.

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