Thursday, November 6, 2014

An evening of antique drinking and games: The Brooklyn Cocktail and Mah Jongg

An old fashioned game and an old fashioned cocktail to go along with it made up my tuesday evening.  Here is old-fashioned style black and white to get in the mood. 

What sort of cocktail, say you? Nope, not a an Old Fashioned. Nor a Manhattan. It's a Brooklyn! The evening's plan was to play Mah Jongg with my fabulously fun aunt. She was recanting a tale about an impressive cocktail she had enjoyed the evening previous at Rialto while celebrating her anniversary. So, we decided to keep celebrating and make a few Brooklyns.
Rye whisky, Picon, Dry Vermouth, Maraschino Liqueur. And a cherry if you please.

Wait a minute, what is Picon? It is rare around here, very difficult to find in the US. A French aperitif, made from bitter oranges. It reminds me of marmalade. The glorious parts of marmalade flavor in booze. I loved it from my first taste when I was last in France. It is commonly served in a Picon Biere, simply a pale beer with the aperitif added. For one thing, it makes the so-so beer taste more interesting. A picon biere is are nice on an afternoon after a walk when the sunshine has warmed the stones underfoot and there is nothing left to do but pull together dinner. People mix it with white wine too. 

I dragged this bottle of Picon back in my suitcase and have been enjoying it slowly, hoping the day never arrives when it is empty. (Honestly, I forget about it for long stretches of time which is why I still have it)

Ok, so you didn't bring Picon back in your suitcase (but now you wish you did) so what can you use? Torani Amer, perhaps Cynar. Or mix Campari and Triple Sec for a balanced sweet-bitter profile.

The equipment is simple enough. Stirring glass, bar spoon, measuring device. And a glamorous coupe to serve it in. There should also be a strainer here, to keep the ice behind in the cup.

Brooklyn Cocktail

1 3/4 ounce Rye Whisky
1/2 ounce Dry Vermouth
1/2 ounce Maraschino Liquer (Luxardo)
3/4 ounce Picon or other digestif
Combine all ingredients in a stirring glass with plenty of ice. Stir until very cold. The sides of the cup should be covered with condensation. Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.

This is what mah jongg looks like. Previously I only knew some ancient computer game where the tiles seemed to be stacked like a pyramid. That is not this as far as I can tell. This is a mind bogglingly old game from China. It is also mind boggling to learn it, but well worth it. Similar to poker or bridge, although I have never played bridge. There are suits, numbers, jokers, and you try to make patterns.

 Mah Jongg became popular in the US in the 1920's, so a lot of the sets are vintage bakelite which makes it fun to play with them! There is a portion in the beginning of each hand called "the charleston" where players trade tiles. It mimics the footwork of the Charleston dance, (popularized at the same time) so at a previous game I got up to dance the charleston in front of my opponents to demonstrate this right-over-left / left-over-right pattern. Such a good teaching moment. 

Happy playing, cheers!

1 comment:

  1. I've never played real Mah Jongg, but there's a set around the house. Will have to go hunting some rules :)


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