Thursday, August 5, 2010

Friday Happy Hour: a toast to Justice Elena Kagan! (and a tour of the boroughs)

First and foremost, here's a hearty toast to the 112th justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, Elena Kagan! (and a word of advice: uphold the district court's ruling in Perry v. Schwarzenegger when and if it comes before you!)

Here's a picture of our newest justice:

Secondly, this is finally an occasion to trot out a topic we've been eager to address, but we were waiting for the perfect opportunity. Justice Kagan's arrival to the Supreme Court happens to bring an unusual confluence of New York City justices to the court. Although much has been made of the fact that we now have a record 3 women on the court, and that everyone on the court now is either Jewish or Catholic (no more White Anglo-Saxon Protestants!), another remarkable fact is that 4 of the justices hail from New York. Moreover, they come from 4 separate boroughs: Manhattan (Kagan), Brooklyn (Ginsberg), Bronx (Sotomayor), and Queens (Scalia).

All of which triggers the topic we've been itching to talk about: each of New York's boroughs has a signature classic cocktail -- except Staten Island. Well, a signature cocktail is the least of what Staten Island is missing, not to mention a Supreme Court Justice of its own.

The most famous borough cocktail is serendipitously the Manhattan, the home borough of Justice Kagan, illustrated here from a 60's era recipe booklet from Old Forrester:

Next, as we borough-hop, we have Brooklyn's justice, Ruth Bader Ginsberg:

The Brooklyn cocktail is a little more obscure than its neighbor from across the East River, but here's a recipe taken from the vintage repeal era 1933 edition of "The Drink Master":

Just to pause and compare these two, the Brooklyn specifically calls for rye whiskey, whereas a Manhattan is often made with rye or with bourbon. Also, it's a lot like a "dry" Manhattan (where dry vermouth is substituted for the sweet vermouth), except that it includes a dash of maraschino liqueur, for a little bit of sweetness. It's a great drink, and should be revived.

Following upon that, we have the Bronx Bomber herself:

And the cocktail hailing from the Bronx was once almost as commonly requested as the Manhattan, but has faded away into obscurity (along with almost all gin drinks, frankly). Here's a recipe from a 70s era Fleischmann's booklet:

To wrap up our tour of the boroughs, we land in Queens, home of Justice Antonin Scalia (incidentally, who is now the longest serving justice on the court)(and, just to toss this in for good measure: did you know that he and Justice Ginsberg are very close personal friends? Actually, before Justice Ginsberg's husband died, he and his wife, along with the Ginsbergs, would vacation together. So, go figure.) Here's a picture of him reviewing a precedent he's about to overrule in his conservative activism:

The Queens cocktail is by far the most obscure of our 4 featured specials. In fact, we don't have a recipe to draw upon, even from our vast archives of materials. But, with a little research on the internet, the Queens cocktail is basically a Bronx, except with pineapple juice instead of orange juice. You're on your own for the recipe, but we'll suggest maybe 2 oz gin, 1/2 oz sweet vermouth, 1/2 oz dry vermouth, and 1 oz pineapple juice. This is completely untested, so "buyer beware"! (please post any suggestions, of course)

Now, as interesting as this topic is to students of obscure, vintage, and geographically-based cocktails, it's very bittersweet for Rogers Park Retro, because with Justice Kagan's ascendancy comes the retirement of Chicago's own, Justice John Paul Stevens, who has served on the court since 1975:

In his honor, we offer the Chicago cocktail, also taken from the 1933 edition of The Drink Master:

(and, of course, we have to observe that this is basically a Bronx, minus the sweet vermouth and adding a cherry)

Here's to the SCOTUS! Cheers!

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