Saturday, October 25, 2008

A Balanced Glass: The Yellow Parrot

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I can hardly believe that I haven't updated the blog in two-and-a-half months.

What happened this year is what happens every year -- working full time while attending graduate school doesn't leave much free time to update blogs, have an elaborate social life, or, for that matter, sleep. Between the anxious medical students crowding my office at work and my own academic requirements, I'm afraid that this food blog, and you, dear reader, have been neglected by me.

That's not to say that the Pasta Burner and I haven't been cooking all this while! On the contrary, while I've been away from updating this page, we've roasted whole ducks, experimented with a myriad of soups, brewed several batches of beer, and cooked whatever our hearts (and stomachs) desired from the plethora of aquatic life found at the 10th and Arch fish market in Chinatown. So, don't worry about us. We're well fed.

But now, as ever, is a good time to get back into the swing of things, to start updating the blog -- not every day, perhaps not every week, but on some sort of regular basis, once more. It's about balance, about a particular fearlessness towards academic pursuits tempered by the ability to relax during the little downtime I have. To study historiography during the day, but still read for pleasure at night. To sleep in late on Saturday morning, but still go for a eight-mile run later that afternoon. You get the idea.

And, so, with that spirit, (and with alcoholic spirits), I present today's recipe -- a "lost" cocktail. It's from the era of Art Deco, savory, sweet, and herbaceous, made with three main ingredients, in equal measure: The Yellow Parrot Cocktail.

It all starts with the photo at the top of this post. The object in my hand is colloquially referred to as a Jigger, or Measure, if you want to be British about it. To be honest, my measure (purchased from the always dependable Crate and Barrel) can't be called a jigger, as a traditional jigger must measure out 1.5 ounces on its widest end, 1.5 ounces being the traditional measurement, originally referred to as a "jigger", and today known as a "shot." See? You get a free history lesson and a cocktail with today's post! Almost makes up for that month-and-a-half absence, I know.

Anyway, my measure is 1 ounce on the wide end, and a half-ounce on the small, and today, we're going to use that small end, repeatedly.

The yellow parrot has three ingredients, traditionally: Yellow Chartreuse, Anisette Liqueur (Sambuca works nicely), and Apricot Brandy.

Now, I know what you're saying -- as good as this drink may be, do I really need 750 milliliters of Anisette or Chartreuse lying around the house? And you're right, you don't. But there's an easy way around this that's good for your wallet, your liver, and your shelf space.

(Incidentally, it is worth your time to buy a large bottle of Apricot Brandy, as it is a key ingredient in either Red or White Sangria. You never know when you'll need to whip together a batch.)

So, anyway, the answer to your large bottle woes? Easy. The 50 milliliter bottle.

You've seen them, in their little racks, right by the checkout, and you've wondered about what each tastes like, what you'd use them for, wondered if the price per liter is a rip-off. Well, guess what? If you compare the per-liter price of most 50 milliliter bottles to their traditional 750 milliliter counterparts, for the most part, the price point is nearly the same. And, like I said, because you don't need that much Anisette, the extra fifty cents is worth it for the extra packaging. I mean, um, save the earth. Yes. Moving on!

I selected the Yellow Parrot for today's post because it does represent balance -- one part Charteuse, One part Anisette, and one part Apricot Brandy. Now, there are variations. Some folks like a dash of rose water or dry vermouth, but I don't think it's really necessary. The beauty of this drink is the equal measure, the unlikely harmony. The bitter herbal notes from the Chartreuse blends perfectly with the woody, deep Anisette, while the warmth from the brandy fills out the rest of your palate's needs. Above it all, the light fruitiness of Apricot adds a grace note. Seems odd, even a little impossible, but that's what balance is about -- no matter how you measure it.

The drink I made was for the Pasta Burner. I went with a half-ounce of each ingredient, shook them with ice, and poured it into a new acquisition of mine, a one-and-a-half ounce stemmed glass -- classic stemware, for a classic drink, for a classic (and wonderful) woman. A picture or two below:

Well, that's it for today. And take it easy on those Yellow Parrots -- they pack a harder punch than you might think at first. Keep an eye on the page, as we'll have some new and exciting updates soon. Well, sooner than two-and-a-half months from now, at least. Instead of music on the way out today, a little something to chuckle over is below:

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