Hail the Wale and the Two Item Rule

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Long time readers know that I have a possibly unhealthy love of corduroy fabric. I have corduroy pants, jackets, and hats. Even my laptop case is lined in corduroy, which was a big selling point for me when I bought it. When I first considered moving to Portland from Washington, DC I thought, “That is a city with a relaxed sense of fashion and many cool rainy days. I could probably wear a lot of corduroy there.”

In some sense every day is a day to appreciate corduroy, but in another sense there is only one true Corduroy Appreciation Day, as declared by the venerable Corduroy Appreciation Club. That is 11|11, the date that most resembles corduroy. And this Friday being 11|11|11, it is the date that most resembles corduroy, ever. (Except for 11|11|1111, but I’m pretty sure the people of that time had yet to discover essential comforts like modern medicine, indoor plumbing, and finely waled fabrics.)

Corduroy Appreciation Club founder Miles Rohan has planned an amazing series of celebratory happenings in New York this week, including the installation of the Corduroy Messiah. Unfortunately I cannot be there. However I have teamed up with Portland’s The Hop and Vine to organize a celebration of our own. From 5-8 pm this Friday, The Hop and Vine’s new chef will be serving a special menu of twists on food from the Golden Age of Corduroy, with items such as smoked pork, beef, and lamb Swedish meatballs. We’ll also have a special Two Item Rule cocktail for the occasion, named after the Two Item Rule in effect at the Club’s official meetings. Wear one item of Corduroy, get a dollar off. Wear two items and get two. Wear three and, well, you still only get two dollars off, but you will have won the admiration of all who gaze you upon you.

What’s in a Two Item Rule cocktail? In a nod to the fabric’s reportedly English origins, I aimed to use only English or English-inspired ingredients to create a drink as smooth and lush as corduroy itself. It features the very lightly sweetened Old Tom style gin, authentic sloe gin, and cream sherry, a type of sherry originally targeted to the British market.

1 1/2 oz Ransom Old Tom gin
1 oz Dios Baco cream sherry
3/4 oz Plymouth sloe gin

Stir with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and garnish with a lemon twist. The Dios Baco cream sherry is not too sweet, so adjust the recipe if using a different sherry. And definitely use real sloe gin, not the cloying artificial stuff from the liquor store’s bottom shelf. Consume while wearing at least two items of corduroy or while reclining on a corduroy couch.

If you’re in Portland, join us this Friday to toast the world’s greatest fabric. Details are here. For last minute corduroy needs, Bonobos and Betabrands make good stuff. And be sure to check out the official page of the Corduroy Appreciation Club for all things corduroy.

Hail the Wale!

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Hothouse Fizz

Hothouse Fizz

By the time I got into cocktails the sloe gin fizz was long out of fashion, at least in my part of the country. And with good reason: the long-ignored bottles you see on the bottom shelf at the liquor store are reportedly some sickly sweet stuff.

That’s finally changing. A few years ago Plymouth gin (my home bar standard) dusted off its 1883 recipe. It’s made by infusing sugar and fresh sloe berries (the sour fruit of the blackthorne tree) into still-strength gin. After a few months the liquor is sweet, sour, fruity, and complex, with a hint of nuttiness from the pits. At its final 52 proof strength it’s enjoyable on its own, but most famously combined with lemon, soda, and simple syrup in a sloe gin fizz.

This year Plymouth finally exported its sloe gin to the US. It’s available in limited quantities and runs a little over $40 a bottle in DC (Central Liquors and Sherry’s are both carrying it). Anticipating its arrival, Washington Post spirits columnist Jason Wilson challenged area bartenders to reinterpret sloe gin standards with the new, good stuff. Though I’m no longer working at a bar where I can feature it, I’m happy with this variation on the sloe gin fizz. The Hothouse Fizz cuts the sweetness and adds a little cucumber to the mix for a refreshing, summery treat:

1.5 oz. Plymouth gin
1.5 oz. Plymouth sloe gin
.5 oz. lemon juice
.25 oz. simple syrup
2 wheels cucumber
soda water

Muddle the cucumber with the simple syrup, then shake over ice with the gins and lemon juice. Strain over ice, and a bit of soda, and float a cucumber garnish to complete the drink. The cucumber adds a really nice vegetal element to the drink; just don’t use too much or it will overpower the other flavors. It’s tempting to use Hendricks here, but sticking with Plymouth and using a hothouse cucumber keeps the British theme going.

Update 8/19/09: I tinkered with the recipe a bit when putting it on the menu at Carlyle. Here’s how I’ve been making it there:

1.25 oz Plymouth sloe gin
1 oz Plymouth gin
.5 oz lemon
muddled slice cucumber
splash soda

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