The sun also ariseth and the sun goeth down and hasteth to the place where he arose.
The wind goeth toward the south and turneth about unto the north;it whirleth about continually,and the wind returneth again according to its circuits.
All the rivers run into the sea;yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come,thither they return again.”
emingway, the master of deep dark stories, war hero and legend as well as legendary drinker, Hemingway and his generation that endured the First World War and came out the other side darker and disillusioned and yet in some ways emancipated from the morals and traditions that their ancestors held so highly . The quote above from Ecclesiastes discusses our impermanence , the cycle of life-death-life, how everything that is returns to where it came from, it is also where the book gets it’s title from. WWI was the catalyst that made a good portion of the world examine this Zeitgeist, writers, painters, poets all wondering and exploring who are we, where did we come from, where are we going, a major theme in this story of the lost generation in The Sun Also Rises, who wander empty filling their time with partying, drinking, traveling , chasing after what they can’t have and searching for the unknown to make them feel whole again , no-one exemplifies this more than the main protagonist Jake Barnes.
In an alternate universe where the war had never happened, Jake would be considered a total stud, men want to be him and women want to be with him, but Hemingway decided to emasculate this poor chap who’s war scars are not only mental but physical too. After suffering a serious injury he is left impotent ( I think the one thing men fear most ) its almost cruel that papa doled out such a heavy burden on this poor chap, there’s not much else for him to do but to drink and hide himself in a glass of beer, brandy ,absinthe, wine and back to beer again, yes this guy knew how to hold his drink , and sometimes not, in every way but one the true man’s man . The other major theme for Jake’s character is his relationship with Miss emancipation herself Lady Brett Ashley, she nursed him through his war wounds then tears his heart to shreds all through the book , all because she can’t live a life without S.E.X.
So in following Jake through the book I decided to concoct drinks for him through various points in the story, there’s a lot of travel and back and forth, Paris, San Sebastian, Pamplona, Madrid and stop offs in between, Hemingway had a deep affection for Spain, along with fellow journalist Martha Gelhorn he covered the conflict of the Spanish civil war and became an aficionado of bullfighting, the flavors of Spain are my starting points in most of the drinks, from the saffron and fennel in Paella, cherries and chocolate in Basque country , to Jamon and sherry in Jerez.
Hotel Crillon, Paris
Its Five O’clock and I’m waiting for Brett, but she’s not here, I fill my time writing letters, they’re not very good letters but they’re on Crillon stationary so I hope that’ll make them better. At a quarter to six Brett still has not shown up so I head down to the bar to see George the bar-man, he fixes me the popular drink of the day a Jack Rose, I take a sip and give a deep sigh , where could she be?
The classic Jack Rose is made from applejack brandy, grenadine and lemon, simple and tasty enough but what if we tweaked the ingredients and gave it some complexity and Jake Barnes something else to think about other than the heart stomping “Lady” Brett.
1 1/2 oz Lustau Spanish Brandy de Jerez infused with black peppercorns for a couple of days ( 1/4 cup black peppercorns to 1 750ml bottle brandy)
1 oz Spanish rioja/tempranillo
3/4 oz pomegranite grenadine ( I used Wilks & Wilson)
3/4 oz lime juice
2 dashes peychauds bitters
two drops rosewater
1 drop vanilla
1/2 oz egg white
fresh ground black pepper
strawberry lambic ale for finishing
Toss everything but the ground black pepper and lambic ale into your shaking tin with 4 ice cubes, shake for about 20 seconds, and strain into a chilled coupe or martini glass, top with splash of lambic ale and finish with ground black pepper
Fishing in Burguete
It was a long walk and the country was very fine, but we were tired when we came down the steep road that led out of the wooded hills and into the valley of the Rio del la Fabrica. The road came out from the shadow of the woods into the hot sun. Ahead was a river valley.Beyond the river was a steep hill.There was a field of buckwheat on the hill. We saw a white house under some trees on the hillside.It was very hot and we stopped under some trees beside a dam that crossed the river. Bill put the pack against one of the trees and we jointed up the rods, put on the reels, tied on leaders and got ready to fish…..this is thirsty work and we hadn’t even begun!
A classic refreshing drink to partake in when you’re hot and parched is the Gin & Tonic, a drink that the Spanish have come to claim as one of their national drinks, sipped at lunch with boquadillos or at the beginning of a late late dinner. I’ve been playing with flavoring tonic water for a while, my most successful were a red pepper tonic where I used red pepper juice instead of water or my other favorite a pinch of saffron that gives that golden hit of yellow and intense, complex flavor.
One of the quintessential seafood dishes of Spain is Paella, rice flavored with saffron and fennel that is baked in skillets with a selection of seafood, mussels, clams, shrimp, calamari or whatever came fresh from the water that day, peppers and pimenton also imbue this dish with fruity and earthy flavors.
Tie me up, Tie me down
1 1/2 oz Bols genever gin ( maltier than a regular gin)
1/4 oz kubler absinthe
3/4 oz genepy
3/4 oz dolin or martini blanc vermouth
3/4 oz white verjus
for the saffron tonic
if you want to be adventurous you can make your own tonic syrup but you have to be very careful about the amounts of cinchona bark you put into the mixture, too much can make a person quite sick.
if you feel like cheating as I very often do, ( not from laziness more that I’m incredibly impatient) try this hack…
1 liter bottle tonic water
4-5 strands saffron
add saffron strands to tonic water and tighten bottle so you limit the bass that escapes, if you’re luck enough to have a CO2 tank at home and the carbonating apparatus that goes along with it then you don’t have to worry, and good for you! The Saffron infuses fast so don’t worry too much about time on this one
For the drink
Build your ingredients into a mixing glass, add 5-6 ice cubes and stir for twenty seconds or so. Strain into a chilled collins glass filled with ice cube of choice, top off with the saffron tonic, and garnish with a long fennel frond and if in season some halved pea pods and a pea tendril make this drink really super pretty as well as tasty.
Fiesta of San Fermin, Bullfights and Pamplona…
“I leaned over the wall and tried to see into the cage. It was dark. Someone rapped on the cage with an iron bar. Inside something seemed to explode. the bull, striking into the wood from side to side with his horns, made a great noise. Then I saw a dark muzzle and the shadow of horns, and then, with a clattering on the wood in the hollow box, the bull charged and came out into the corral, skidding with his forefeet in the straw as he stopped, his head up, the great hump of muscle on his neck swollen tight, his body muscles quivering as he looked up at the crowd on the stone walls. The two steers backed away against the wall, their heads sunken, their eyes watching the bull.
“My god isn’t he beautiful?” Brett said
Bloody Mary/Bloody Bull
The Bloody Bull is a drink similar to a Bloody Mary but has the addition of beef stock, the Bloody Mary ( or Bucket of Blood as it was first called)has its origins in early 19th century Paris made in Harry’s Bar ,an American bar that had been shipped over to Paris and reassembled just in time to rehydrate all those thirsty expats who had decamped in the city around the time of Prohibition, also just after the Russian Revolution happened, Paris was flooded with that odorless , clear spirit called Vodka, that the bartender at Harry’s began mixing with tomato juice , salt, pepper and other seasonings. It quickly caught on with the American contingency as a hangover cure and was renamed sometime in the Forties as the Bloody Mary.
Rather than use beef stock to flavor my version I used a ham bone and some bacon fat, that I sealed in a vacuum bag with vodka and allowed gentle heat to do the rest. I’m also quite obsessed right now with making a clear drink that looks like water but packs a punch of flavors so instead of tomato juice I made tomato water, made by hanging pureed tomatoes in muslin over a container where the tomato water drips into, all the flavor of sweet ripe tomatoes without the chunky bits.
Jamon , Jamon
2 oz smoked ham and bacon fat washed vodka
2 oz tomato water
1 oz fino sherry
1 oz white verjus
good 2 pinches of maldon smoked salt
1 pinch ras el hanout
1 pinch pimenton espellete
3 dashes celery bitters
baby radish with leaves to garnish
For the tomato water
blitz 15-20 roma tomatoes in a vitamix, pour liquid tomatoes into a heavy bottomed pan and set on a medium heat until it starts to simmer and the pulp rises to the top of your pot. whilst this is happening line a large chinoise strainer with an even larger coffee filter and place over a pot or large pitcher. Once the tomato liquid has bubbled up, pour it into the chinoise strainer and allow the tomato water to drip through without agitating it. The yield should be about 2 quarts, store ing the fridge it will last a couple of days.
For the Jamon vodka
for those of you without fancy gadgets here’s a hack to achieve similar result to sous vide….
1 liter bottle vodka
1 ham bone ( your local butcher can provide and also chop in half if needed)
1 tablespoon smoked bacon fat ( a good excuse to make BLT’s, save the bacon fat after cooking)
1 large ziplock bag
1 ice cooler ( igloo will do, keeps ice cold but also hot things hot due to its insulation)
a long cooking thermometer
Add your vodka, ham bone and bacon fat to the ziplock bag, zip up the bag until almost closed, leave a small opening where you can squeeze the air in the bag out, if you don’t the bag will not sink the air keeping it afloat and the vodka will not infuse fully) once the air is removed seal the bag fully. To your igloo ice chest add 60 degree celsius hot water, insert thermometer and bag of vodka/ham. Close lid on chest, I’ve gone so far as to place my igloo in a box surrounded by a blanket ( no I did not sing it a lullaby ) The water temp can go down as far as 54 degrees but you will need to top it off with hot water once it starts to dip below 55, so have a kettle of hot water ready to go. Let the bag sit for a couple of hours, then remove and allow contents to cool off before straining out fat and ham bits. Pour vodka into a sealable container , put on lid and store in fridge for 3-4 hours until fat has frozen solid and is easy to scoop off. Strain vodka again then store in airtight container back in the fridge till ready to be used.
For the drink
add all ingredients to a mixing glass with 4-5 ice cubes, stir for about twenty seconds , strain into a chilled collins glass filled with ice , garnish with a pickled or non pickled radish and a spindle more of smoked salt and pimenton. You can also garnish with pickled peppers or baby tomatoes, the choice is yours.
After Fiesta and back to Bayonne
“It was pleasant to be drinking slowly and to be tasting the wine and to be drinking alone. A bottle of wine was good company. Afterward I had coffee. The waiter recommended a Basque liqueur called Izzarra. he brought in the bottle and poured a liqueur glass full. he said Iazzarra was made of the flowers of the Pyrenees. The veritable flowers of the Pyrenees. It looked like hair oil and smelled like Italian Strega. I told him to take the flowers of the Pyrenees away and bring me a vieux marc. The marc was good. I had a second one after the coffee
Bayonne , a town that straddles the Pyrenees on one side of it Gascogny on the other the Basque region,( oh, no you thought I meant Bayonne NJ famous for its drugs, prostitution and mob influences as well as for producing Shaquille O’Neil) no the original French Bayonne is famous for its chocolate making, wine production and scenic vistas and is slightly more civilized. Vieux marc is a dessert brandy made from grape pomace similar to grappa, a great accompaniment to the classic Basque dessert of cherries, kind of like a cherry soup , officially known as Gerezi beltza arno gorriakin, mmm, yes long isn’t it? Imagine trying to say that after making friends with a bottle of wine and a couple of brandies. This cherry soup served with a dollop of fresh cream to balance out the sweet tartness of the fruit, all you need is chocolate curls and you’d have a liquid Black Forest cake…so I got to thinking
For my cherry soup I kinda sorta made a version of a Ramos Fizz crossed with an egg cream, but with a cherry shrub and Maraschino instead of lemon and orange flower water, and chocolate chili bitters with a dusting of chocolate powder atop, and to give it some base a touch of dry oloroso and topped off with soda.
1 1/2 oz bourbon
1 oz cherry shrub
1 oz dry oloroso sherry
1/2 oz maraschino liqueur
1/2 oz simple syrup
1/2 oz cream
1 oz egg white
3 dashes chocolate chilli bitters
1-2 oz soda water
For the cherry shrub
pit about a pound of cherries and let them cold macerate with 1 cup of sugar in the fridge for a couple of days, the juice should be drawn out of the cherries , then add 1 cup of banyuls vinegar, stir and put back into the fridge to allow, fruit, sugar and vinegar to get on first name terms. Leave for further 2 days. When finished strain liquid through a cheesecloth and chinoise strainer, taste, you are looking for a balance between perfect tartness and a little sweet, you can add sugar or vinegar as needed but remember you don’t want to wash out the cherry flavor.
Add everything except the cream and cola to your boston shaker with 2-3 ice cubes, whip shake to froth up the egg for about 40-50 seconds. Add cream and gently stir in, pour into a chilled collins glass and top off with coca cola, dust on top a pinch of chocolate powder. Garnish with fresh or homemade maraschino cherries.
Madrid, to pick up the pieces of Lady Brett
The Norte station in Madrid is the end if the line. All trains finish there. they don’t go on anywhere. Outside were cabs and taxis and a line of hotel runners.It was like a country town. i took a taxi and we climbed up though the gardens by the empty palace and the unfinished church on the edge of the cliff, and on until we were in the high, hot modern town. the Taxi coasted down to Puerta del Sol and then through the traffic onto the Carrera San Jeronimo. All the shops had their awnings down against the heat. The windows on the sunny side of the street were shuttered. The taxi stopped at the curb. I saw the sign HOTEL MONTANA on the second floor. The taxi driver carried the bags inside and left them by the elevator. I could not make the elevator work so I walked up. On the second floor up was a brass sign: HOTEL MONTANA. I rang and no-one came to the door. i rang again and a maid with a sullen face opened the door.
“Is Lady Ashley here?” I asked, I knew what was waiting, Brett would fall into my arms and I’d make her feel safe but she would never truly love me , it was pretty to think we could have had a damned good time!
To come to Jake’s aid on this hot summer day in Madrid , were I the maid opening the door I would be handing him a cold refreshing glass for his thirst and his woes, this drink below is based on Ajo blanco or what is sometimes called a white gazpachio, that uses grapes , almonds and bread, instead of bread am using manzanilla sherry for a touch of nuttiness and depth , for the almond factor a delightful orgeat from the gents at Wilks & Wilson and then of course crisp , sweet grapes with dry Txakoli as a spritz, its a sort of take on a Rebujito a couple of these and a plate full of pintxos and he’d forget all about that fickle lady he lost his heart to, at least for a moment !
2 1/2 oz good manzanilla sherry, Lustau is my current favorite
1 oz orgeat
1 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz amaretto
6 or so ripe green grapes, plus a small bunch for garnish. If you can get muscat grapes even better
2-3 lemon verbena leaves plus a sprig or two for garnish
1-2 oz Txakoli ( a sparkling dry white wine drank in regions of Spain as early as breakfast, I mean we have champagne brunches so why not eh)?
In your trusty Boston shaker muddle lightly grapes and lemon verbena leaves with orgeat and lemon, add the rest of your ingredients plus 5-6 ice cubes. Shake for about 20 seconds then dump into a vessel of your choice. Top off with the sparkling Txakoli , garnish with either a mini bunch of grapes or a few grape halves plus a lemon verbena sprig.
Next up….an ode to Autumn