Cocktails, literary, Liturgical Calendar of Cocktails, Uniquity

These Drinks I Had on Crispin’s Day

This is the first drink I’m posting as part of the Liturgical Calendar of Cocktails series; in fact, Sts. Crispin and Crispian (or Crispianus, depending on whom you ask) were among the first saints to inspire said calendar.  Why?  As I wrote on my other blog last year, they’re remembered as much for being mentioned in Henry V as they are for their own sainted lives.

That was something of a guide as I crafted a drink for them.  One could commemorate Crispin and Crispian simply by drinking Crispin Hard Cider, but that seemed lazy.  I spent some time in discussion with my friend Emily to determine what would be appropriate for Crispin’s Feast:

Em: I’m thinking something with anguished cries of dying soldiers, the dirt of hallowed ground, and the dreaded sounds of war horses’ hoofbeats, with a hint of bitter irony
T: Hmmm.  So we’ve got…Fernet Branca…either gin or whiskey…not sure about the hoofbeats, but they may be “garnish with a nail”…and maybe some bitters on top.
Em: And of course you TELL people there’s honor in it, to make them think they taste it, when there’s actually no such honor in it.
T: Haha!  Okay, so I’m going to toss in a bit of grenadine for bloodcoloredness, and see how that all works.  If it’s too much to swallow, I may add some Drambuie.  …admittedly, I think we’re passing over Crispin and Crispian in favor of battles fought on their vigil feast, which is different.  Hmmm.  …
Em: Hmmmm.
T:  Whiskey, Fernet, bitters, grenadine, and a nail still sound legit for Crispin and Crispian, I think.

So with all that in mind, I went to work.  As I gathered my bottles, I remembered having sweet vermouth in the fridge, which seemed more appropriate than grenadine, so I added it with the Fernet Branca to three different spirits: cognac, Irish whiskey, and Scotch.  Unsurprisingly, the cognac melded best with the vermouth and the minty Fernet.  Should you find yourself without Fernet Branca, sub in Jägermeister.

[I mixed half an ounce of cognac with a teaspoon each of Fernet and vermouth, so as to not waste my spirits or get utterly sloshed whilst testing]

Having tested it, I then compared the nascent drink with other combinations: cognac/Fernet/vermouth with a dash of applejack, and cognac/Fernet/vermouth with Drambuie added.  The applejack wasn’t a distressing addition, but it wasn’t very helpful either; the Drambuie simply stomped over all the other flavors.

Having concluded that the mini-drink had the proper proportions, I set out to make a full-sized version.  I opted to add ice rather than shake, stir, or leave it neat, and added the promised nail by spearing some lemon slices.  Unfortunately, while this made for a neat visual, it destroyed both the aroma and the flavor of the original beverage: the lemon smell overpowered the other scents, and the ice melted alarmingly quickly so as to water the whole thing down.

So then came the final proof: a chilled glass meant for a smaller amount (4-5 oz) of liquid, with the following stirred with ice in a shaker then strained into it:

1.5 oz cognac
.5 oz Fernet Branca
.75 oz sweet vermouth

Just the thing for both sainted cobblers and soldiers at Agincourt.

Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day: then shall our names.
Familiar in his mouth as household words
Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly remember’d.

Liturgical Calendar of Cocktails, Uniquity

The Calendar Project

Too long have I kept silence.  Once again, I confess that I have not ceased mixing; I’ve just stopped sharing the bounty of the vine and the still with you.  Some drinks have been suggested or perfected by others; some are my own attempts at drink creation.

But the time has come to tell you all about the cocktail project which will keep me mixing busily for some years to come:

The Liturgical Calendar of Cocktails.

This is the brainchild of my friend Michelle, who enjoys celebrating high holy days in a particularly festive fashion.  She and I are both members of what we call the Traveling Scriptorium, which is to say that we have a healthy affection for all illuminated writing.  Between the Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican, and Orthodox calendars of saints, we reckon that every day is a red-letter day.

We’ve begun going through our lists of saints and drinks, attempting to pair them up as appropriate.  Stephen gets the Old-Fashioned for being the first martyr; John the Evangelist, writer of the book of Revelation, the Last Word; St. Bernard of Clairveux, the “Mellifluous Doctor,” the Milk and Honey; St. Thomas the Apostle (and patron of India) the Bengali Gimlet; and so on.

As Traveling Scriptores, Michelle and I dream of crafting a hefty tome of vellum and ink, which will describe the saint’s life (and the rational for choosing each drink) on one side, with the drink recipe on the facing page.  The pages below are our inspiration; some of them come from the Book of Hours, which (among other things) marks down those red-letter days, that one may prepare accordingly for them.

So look for such posts.  They’ll be filed under “Liturgical Calendar of Cocktails,” and will note what feast day they’re meant for.