Well, that took a while.

(Partly because, in moving, I seem to have lost my camera’s mini-USB cord.  No photos until I can locate it again.)

Since moving to Vermont, I’ve discovered that I only thought Illinois was an alcohol-wasteland.  VT is, to my great chagrin, a liquor control state.  Actually, everywhere in the US – except for DC – has some form of liquor control board that states the conditions under which liquor wholesalers can operate, but VT is particularly benighted (Editor’s Note: if anyone is an expert on liquor laws, especially in VT, and wants to teach me how to research them, I’d be greatly obliged).  As far as we can suss, while VT allows the sale of beer and wine (only un-fortified) in grocery stores, hard liquor is sold directly by the state only, and only at one outlet per village or township or shire or other delightfully parochial term they use up here.  And they all have the same thing.  No real point in going to the next town over; they’re gonna sell you the same damn bottle of Canadian Club.

The bars are similarly terrible: they have a wearyingly predictable selection of liquor (hello, Diageo Scotch portfolio!), making me think that a single, terribly convincing sales rep for the state liquor monopoly works the whole tri-city area, convincing people that their bar will attract only lepers and syphilitics if they don’t toe the line pretty damn closely.  We’ve found one beautiful exception in the Bluebird Tavern, but as they are pricey and I am, if anything, poorer than before, it’s not a regular destination.

So I’m going to try to institute a new feature here at Liquor Is Quicker (you know, I’ve often thought about changing the name to “Under the Host”, but it might be too subtle).  Every week The Burlington Free Press runs a cocktail column, which is outrageously not written by me.  Because this is Vermont, this cocktail column features a depressing list of cocktails that were last current in the mid-90s.  Highlights (from just the time I’ve been here): I kid you not, an “Apple Pie Martini” (spoiler alert: neither gin nor vermouth makes an appearance, and, wait, didn’t we have a funeral for this goddamn drink years ago?); an artificially colored variation on a Cosmo (for the questionable instance of an avid-football-fan-meets-Sex-in-the-City crowd, apparently); a Jack Daniels’ and cherry brandy Manhattan variation (this might pass muster if not for the sexist and gross alternative recipe provided); and a Cotton Candy Martini (I don’t have to explain why this is bad).  I, hero that I am, am going to actually read the prose for each recipe (this in itself is a chore), try to divine the reasoning behind it, and then rework it into a cocktail that doesn’t make me die inside or need more expensive dental work.  Or, if it’s un-reworkable (I’m looking at you, Football Cosmo), I will guide you to something thematically related which you can drink without embarrassment.

Dear Vermonters: you’re welcome.

We’re starting off with a doozy, actually (article is yet to be posted on the Burlington Free Press website).  Galliano, citrus vodka, and sparkling wine.  Have I posted a recipe for a French 75 yet?  Apparently not, to my actual surprise.  Well, this just got easier.  Many will tell you that this is a brandy drink.  You are smarter than them; do not listen.  Many will tell you they don’t like gin; this will change their minds.

French 75

  • 1.5 oz dry gin
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • 1/4–1/2 oz simple syrup
  • 2-3 oz sparkling wine, chilled (something made in the méthode Champenoise, if possible)
    Combine gin, lemon juice, and syrup in a shaker, add ice, and shake.  Strain into a flute, top with sparkling wine, and stir gently to combine.  Garnish with a long lemon twist.

This drink is simple, classic, festive, a bit of a Maiden’s Prayer (if you know what I mean), and actually tastes good.  It’s not news to most of the cocktail-world, sure, and somehow has never acquired the cachet of a Bee’s Knees or a Last Word, despite being nearly as forgotten.  Nevertheless, no-one can sneer at you for drinking a French 75, and you won’t be too displeased, either.