At the new Port Fonda restaurant in Westport, there are currently 13 imaginative craft cocktails on the drink menu, including a Technicolor pink Roselle Margarita (made with house-made hibiscus syrup and Solerno blood orange liqueur). The unexpected offering on the list is a classic cocktail that dates back to the early days of the 1900s, if not before. It's so classic, in fact, that Port Fonda is one of the few places in Kansas City — besides Manifesto, of course — where you can find one.
The cocktail in question? The Jack Rose — a combination of applejack brandy, lemon juice and grenadine — that
was the featured alcoholic beverage (the only one, actually) in one of the most lavish private homes in New York City: 840 Fifth Avenue, the mansion owned by the imperious Mrs. William Astor. The Mrs. Astor, who ruled New York society wearing fabulous diamonds and a purple-black wig from the mid-1800s until 1905. Guests at her dinner parties were permitted one cocktail before dinner: a small glass of Jack Rose.
"The 1980s ruined the reputation of the daiquiri," says veteran bartender Shawn Moriarty, currently the featured mixologist at the Majestic Restaurant. "Before they became known as a fruity blender drink, the original daiquiri was a very light, simple cocktail of sugar, rum and lime juice. Very refreshing for hot climates, like Cuba."
Or Kansas City during a blistering hot July, as it turns out. The first daiquiri was concocted in Cuba in the 1890s, reportedly by an American mining engineer then living near the town of Daiquiri. This true daiquiri cocktail bore absolutely no resemblence to the mushy, slushy, sweet concoction that now bears that name. Although the daiquiri was considered a sophisticated summer cocktail in the 1930s — it was a favorite of many hard-drinking celebrities, including Ernest Hemingway — its real heyday was in the 1960s. During that decade, my mother ordered daiquiri cocktails in lounges and restaurants and, more often than not, took a sip and sent it right back to the bartender.
When life hands you lemons, make something. Lemonade will do, particularly as a way of cooling down during the blistering hot afternoons we've been experiencing lately. The beverage isn't as old as wine or beer but has a distinguished history: The Egyptians sipped an alcoholic concoction of honey, dates and lemons in the 14th century, and the less intoxicating shikanjviin Northern India and Pakistan is tarted-up lemon juice with ginger, saffron and cumin.
Kansas Citians have long been fans of the citrusy beverage, even when fresh lemons were a luxury. (A local company, the George A. Fox Products Co., made lemon syrup for drugstore soda fountains during the 1930s and 1940s). Because it's not so easy to find a neighborhood drugstore soda fountain these days for a refreshing lemonade, lemon soda or lemon phosphate, it's up to Fat City to point out places for the best lemony beverages in the city. Here are five choices for your consideration.
But where do you find them? Many local watering holes don’t include nonalcoholic drinks on their menus, and finding a place that has put some thought and craft into its mocktails is a time-consuming, frustrating task. (Don’t even try a Google search with the words virgin and drink, an errand that yields unfortunately eye-opening and soul-crushing results.) Bartenders often are up to the challenge of de-boozing a favorite drink, though, so sitting at the bar helps.
Boulevard brewmaster Stephen Pauwels and founder John McDonald announce in this YouTube video that some batches of its popular Chocolate Ale had flavors that were not anticipated. So they're offering refunds on batches 2011-01, 2011-02 and 2011-03. Go to Boulevard.com for more details.
"Pour it slowly," he said, gesturing to the remaining cola in the bottle. "It foams up pretty quickly."
What he didn't tell me was to sip it slowly, which I chose to do on my own because my nerves and heart responded pretty quickly to the nitro-injection of caffeine.
Fat City's sister blog, the Wayward Blog, has some terrific Brooke Vandever photographs from last night's Greater Kansas City Bartending Competition held at the Uptown Theater. There was drama, excitement and potent raw talent. See it all for yourself by going here.
You probably thought you left behind the evil genius at the soda fountain when you turned 12 and recognized that though it was fun to push the dispenser, your drink tasted awful. Now 7-Eleven is aiming to rekindle that poor-decision-making part of your adolescent brain.
The dual-chambered Slurpee will be unveiled in June with a cup that is capable of holding two distinct choices that can be combined via a special bifurcated straw only seconds before they hit your tongue.
Back in my day, it was just enough that a diet soda didn't taste like hot copper. It was a bonus if the taste actually resembled the full-calorie version.
Among my diet-swilling friends, Diet Dr Pepper has always had cache. Introduced in 1963 as "Dietetic Dr Pepper," I have been repeatedly told that it's the diet soda that most clearly evokes the flavor of the original soda. Still, man and soft-drink companies can't leave well enough alone. Seeing as Kansas City is one of the initial test markets for Dr Pepper 10 -- a new diet soft drink aimed specifically at men -- I decided to put it up against Dr Pepper and Diet Dr Pepper in a taste test.
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