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One of my favorite recent books is Dale DeGroff's The Essential Cocktail: The Art of Mixing Drinks, a lavishly photographed how-to by "King Cocktail," who probably more than anyone is responsible for the current cocktail renaissance. So I jumped at the chance to shake the legend's hand at the local launch party last night at the Violet Hour.
There was a set drink menu for the occasion, five from the book, including a classic Manhattan, the perversely named Monkey Gland, and yes, a Cosmo, which DeGroff didn't invent but helped to popularize before it was adopted by Carrie Bradshaw and company. "This is the only time you'll be able to get a Cosmopolitan at the Violet Hour," cracked a VH bartender. One of the nice things about DeGroff is that he isn't some reactionary cocktail snob, and like it or not the Cosmo has its place in history.
You know those dramatic flaming citrus peels they do over some of the drinks at the Violet Hour? DeGroff reintroduced that too around the time the Cosmo was taking off ("He also created the orange," deadpanned another wacky barkeep).
What you see in the warm VH gloom pictured above is DeGroff's Manhattan East, a horrible sounding but quite tasty potion of bourbon (not rye), dry sake, the ginger liqueur Domaine de Canton, and orange bitters. With the sake standing in for the standard vermouth it isn't nearly as sweet as a regular Manhattan. It gets the flaming peel treatment at the finish. For me, the aroma of the burnt citrus oil settling over the glass makes feel like I can slip out of the straitjacket and into some slippers.