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Cocktails: A Liquid Year In Review

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Cocktails: A Liquid Year In Review

Food

Cocktails: A Liquid Year In Review

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LIAN HANSEN, host.

Good food should always come with good drink. So to follow up on our conversation about American home cooking, we're going to talk about drinking, the concoctions and the consumption. Ted Haigh is curator of the Museum of the American Cocktail in New Orleans and the author of a book, "Vintage Spirits & Forgotten Cocktails" and he joins us by phone. Welcome to the program.

Mr. TED HAIGH (Curator, Museum of the American Cocktail; Author, "Vintage Spirits & Forgotten Cocktail"): Hi, Liane.

HANSEN: So, what was happening in the world of cocktails at the turn of the 20th century?

Mr. HAIGH: Oh, many things. A lot of intrigue. The cocktails had come from a period where the first book came out, 1862, and there were only ten of them. Well, by the 20th century, there were a multitude of cocktails, but the temperance voices were gaining power.

HANSEN: Ah, so what would be - what are the first American cocktails? I mean, I'm thinking what? Old Fashioned, Manhattan...

Mr. HAIGH: Well, there you go. I mean, that is the direct descendant of the first American cocktail, the whiskey cocktail. And when they first started ordering Old Fashioneds, they were simply ordering an old-fashioned whiskey cocktail.

HANSEN: Interesting. So, what's in, what's out for 2009? I mean, remembering the big cocktail for a while was the Cosmo.

Mr. HAIGH: Right. And after the Cosmo, probably the apple martini was the next thing that sort of ended up having staying power. Fortunately, people have stopped calling every cocktail a martini.

HANSEN: Right. A tini on the end of anything does not make a good cocktail.

Mr. HAIGH: No, no, no. It makes my head explode. I think the big thing for 2009 and 2008 has been a revival of classic cocktail constituents here. One of the ones I revived early on was the Corpse Reviver #2.

HNASEN: Corpse Reviver?

Mr. HAIGH: Yes. And it was called that because it was originally envisioned to be consumed in the morning to revive the corpse, again.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: That'd be perfect for New Year's Day.

Mr. HAIGH: Oh, I cannot imagine drinking this drink like that. It's an ounce of London dry gin, an ounce of Cointreau orange liqueur, an ounce of Lillet Blanc, which is a French aperative wine, similar to Dubbonet, an ounce of fresh lemon juice and that's key, too, and two or three drops of Absinthe, which is newly available in the United States, again.

HANSEN: You'll excuse me for saying, but that doesn't sound like it would revive a corpse, it sounds like it would create a corpse.

Mr. HAIGH: Not even the people who recommended it really wanted to do it in the morning very often, I think.

HANSEN: What do you drink on New Year's Eve?

Mr. HAIGH: On New Year's Eve, I'm making it my point to revive a very old cocktail for 2009 called the Ford(ph) Cocktail. It originally appeared in an 1895 book, and it's just wonderful. An ounce of gin, an ounce of dry vermouth, three dashes of Benedictine, three dashes of orange bitter, stir it together with ice like you would a classic martini and strain it into a glass. It is such a lovely, beautifully balanced drink.

HANSEN: Ted Haigh is curator of the Museum of the American Cocktail and author of the book "Vintage Spirits & Forgotten Cocktails." Cheers to you. Happy New Year.

Mr. HAIGH: Happy New Year, Liane.

(Soundbite of music)

HANSEN: This is Weekend Edition from NPR News. I'm Liane Hansen.

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