• Weekly Cocktail #27: The Junior (and the Frisco Sour)

    The Junior Cocktail

    With the labor day weekend coming up we decided to give you an extra cocktail…. In reality, the Junior and the Frisco Sour are both great drinks but serve to illustrate just how different you can make a cocktail by just changing a key ingredient. In this case, both the Junior and Frisco Sour include rye whiskey and Benedictine, but the Junior includes lime juice and a dash of bitters while the Frisco Sour includes the more traditional lemon juice.

    And we say “more traditional” because most citrus drinks that include whiskey or cognac use lemon juice. Meanwhile, most gin and tequila cocktails include lime juice. (Rum plays well with anything and everything, it seems). But rules or traditions are meant to be broken, particularly in the world of food and spirits- so it is fun to play with aberrations like the Junior. And the Junior is a good cocktail. The spice of the rye goes well with the sour lime and herbal flavors of the Benedictine and bitters. But it is a tart sip- we like it, some may not. If you like a smoother and sweeter cocktail, the Frisco Sour with its lemon juice and no bitters might be the best choice. Basically, the Frisco Sour is a more complex (and much better IMHO) version of the Whiskey Sour. But since its pretty easy to make both of these cocktails, try them and decide for yourself.

    As for the spirits in these cocktails, any good rye whiskey will do. Both Bulleit and Rittenhouse are good and inexpensive rye. We also like the High West rye and Redemption, but they are a bit of a step-up in price. And as our exploration of rye continues, we very much recommend it as a key spirit in any home bar. From Scofflaws to Manhattans, we think rye makes great cocktails. And there is no real substitute for Benedictine, but since we already have some for Lani-Honis (very similar to a Frisco Sour, btw) we like to use it. But Benedictine is a good classic cocktail ingredient, and a little goes a long way- so worth seeking out.

    As for the names and provenance of both drinks, their origins are lost to history. But as any long time Bay Area resident can tell you, nobody says “Frisco” to describe San Francisco, but maybe they did 100 years ago, who knows? Regardless, there is a good New York Times article on the Frisco Sour here that describes how murky cocktail recipes and history can be. Unfortunately, there is even less information on the Junior cocktail out there. Even cocktail historian David Wondrich has little to offer other than saying the Junior is a tasty, if somewhat off-beat drink. But, in the end, a tasty drink is more than enough for us.

    The Junior Cocktail:

    Ingredients:

    • 2 oz. rye whiskey
    • 1/2 oz. lime juice
    • 1/2 oz. Benedictine
    • 1 dash Angostura bitters

    Assemble:

    1. Combine all ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake thoroughly and strain into a chilled cocktail glass, flute or coupé. Serve.

    —–

    The Frisco Sour Cocktail:

    Ingredients:

    • 2 oz. rye whiskey
    • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
    • 1/2 oz. Benedictine

    Assemble:

    1. Combine all ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake thoroughly and strain into a chilled cocktail glass, flute or coupé. Serve.
    Advertisements
  • Bonus Cocktail: The Lani-Honi

    Lani-Honi Cocktail.

    Some cocktails we expect to be good. They are famous, they are everywhere, people write songs about them, name bars and casinos after them. Yes, I am talking about Margaritas, but the same can be said for Martinis, Mai-Tais and Manhattans. These cocktails are icons. And they are (mostly) great drinks.

    But then there are surprises. Cocktails you would never think of, often with somewhat esoteric ingredients, but that just taste great. This week’s bonus cocktail, the Lani-Honi is one of the surprises. And a very pleasant surprise, at that.

    The Lani-Honi has only three ingredients and is easy to make.

    The pleasant surprise is that the Lani-Honi is, technically, a tiki drink, but it includes just three ingredients: Benedictine, white rum and lemon juice served on the rocks. It tastes like a rich, lemony and slightly herbal punch- a simple drink but a good one. And it goes down very, very easy. And not only is the Lani-Honi an easy drink to like, it takes almost no effort to make, and you can make/serve it in batches. The Lani-Honi’s only real downside is that it could be a “dangerous” drink. And perhaps one extra downside is that you need some Benedictine.

    A good excuse to get some Benedictine.

    Benedictine is a French herbal liqueur that’s been around (depending on who you believe) since the 16th century. The provenance and the recipe are somewhat in question, but we do know that Benedictine was mass-produced (and well-marketed) starting in the 1860’s. With sweet, spicy and herbal notes, that some liken to cola, Benedictine became a very popular cocktail ingredient until the middle of the 20th century, when it started lose favor. But many home bars will have a bottle of Benedictine gathering dust somewhere, and the Lani-Honi is a good reason to break it out, or even buy a bottle.

    We found this recipe in Jeff “Beachbum” Berry’s iPhone Tiki Drink app. We bought a bottle of Benedictine for some classic cocktails, but we didn’t find anything we loved (yet), so we started to look at other uses and searched the Tiki Drink app for Benedictine. More famously, Benedictine is in the Singapore Sling, but the Lani-Honi looked tasty and easy to make. And it was. Carolyn and I both loved the Lani-Honi and we plan to serve it at a few summer parties. We think almost everyone will enjoy it, the Lani-Honi just feels like a cocktail that will please a crowd. Continue reading