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Savor a drink 17 years in the making

Police Gazette Cocktail. Styling by Pailin Chongchitnant.

Police Gazette Cocktail. Styling by Pailin Chongchitnant.

Did you ever have to wait too long for a drink? You stand at the bar, put two fingers into your mouth and issue forth a piercing whistle that makes everyone's head spin, but you get no attention whatsoever from that arrogant young reprobate behind the bar.

You try snapping your fingers a few times, but you still get no joy, so as a last resort you try the Spanish method of commanding attention from a server: "Pssst, pssst." Your glass is still empty.

Truth be told, few people use these methods of getting attention from a bartender these days - we've come quite a long way in the have-respect-for-all-others department - but it's good to have a couple of ploys under your belt for those occasions when the bartender just doesn't seem to know you're there.

Waving a $50 bill in the air often commands attention, but I've another trick up my sleeve that works every single time. You walk over to the section of the bar where the bartender is serving a drink to another customer, lean into the bar until the bartender has to turn his or her head to look at you, and as soon as your eyes lock, here's what you say:

"Hi. I can see you're really busy, and I know I have to wait my turn, but when you free up a little, I'm standing opposite the register. Thanks." Smile large at the bartender, and make your way back to the register, and I guarantee you'll be served very quickly.

Francis Schott, co-owner of the Catherine Lombardi and the Stage Left restaurants in New Brunswick, N.J., once waited 17 years for a drink, but it wasn't that he was being dissed. It was the fact that he couldn't nail the recipe that prevented him from making a definitive Police Gazette Cocktail.

The Police Gazette was a gossipy magazine that detailed grisly tales of murder alongside pictures of burlesque dancers and, as strange as this might sound, recipes submitted by bartenders nationwide. The publication's eponymous cocktail is detailed in "Straight Up or on the Rocks," a 1993 book by William Grimes, and the recipe jumped off the page when Schott read the book.

"I've been trying to get this drink right for 17 years and, thanks to the excellent quality of vermouths that have only recently come back to the American market, I've finally succeeded," he says.

I don't blame Francis for refusing to quit his mission to perfect this recipe - it's in a style we rarely see in the 21st century. The backbone is straight rye whiskey, and the modifying agents, a vermouth and two liqueurs, are added in minuscule quantities. The resultant cocktail is very forthright, with a patchwork of interesting distractions.

Schott was kind enough to give me his recipe in great detail, so your local bartender will, no doubt, be happy to make it for you in the same manner you'd expect from one of his bartenders in New Jersey. You might have to wait awhile for the bar to procure the right ingredients, but it's doubtful that you'll have to wait 17 years.

Police Gazette Cocktail

Adapted from a recipe by Francis Schott, Catherine Lombardi and the Stage Left restaurants, New Jersey.

  • 2 1/2 ounces Old Overholt or other straight rye whiskey
  • 1/4 ounce Dolin Blanc vermouth
  • 1/4 ounce Senior's Orange Curacao di Curacao
  • 1/4 ounce Luxardo maraschino liqueur
  • 1 cherry marinated in maraschino liqueur, as garnish
  • 1 dash Angostura Bitters, as an aromatic garnish
  • 1 dash Regans' Orange Bitters No. 6 or other orange bitters, as an aromatic garnish

Instructions: Place all the ingredients, except the cherry and bitters, in a mixing glass. Add ice, stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Add the cherry, and dash the bitters onto the top of the drink.

Gary Regan is the author of "The Joy of Mixology" and other books. E-mail him at wine@sfchronicle.com.

Original article: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/02/21/FD0C1C1URV.DTL&type=printable


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