Thursday, September 29, 2011

mr. hoy

2 oz Old Overholt Rye
1 1/2 oz Pineapple-infused Dolin Dry Vermouth(*)
2 dash Bitter Truth's Celery Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass.
(*) To make the pineapple-infused vermouth, treat it like making a pineapple syrup. Chop up 1/2 pineapple (without peel or core) for every 16 oz of vermouth. Infuse in a jar or covered bowl overnight and strain.

Tuesday last week, I paid a visit to bartender Ted Kilpatrick at No. 9 Park. For a starter, I selected the Mr. Hoy off of the menu which Ted described as his riff on the Algonquin. Ted related his tale of dissatisfaction with the classic, and after trying all sorts of whiskeys, pineapple juices (including fresh, bottled, and canned), and dry vermouths, he decided that the Algonquin just needed a major overhaul. Therefore, he captured a more ethereal aspect of the pineapple by making an infused dry vermouth. For a name, Ted paid homage to Hoy Wong who was the country's oldest bartender before he retired in 2009 at the age of 93. Hoy spent the last 30 years of his bartending career working behind the stick at the Algonquin bar. On his 90th birthday, he was still very optimistic and describing the reasons for his longevity and vigor, "Not many secrets. Eat right, take a nap and every day get exercise working. Don't worry about money. I don't plan to retire. I love my job. I love to meet people. President Bush needs money, he needs income taxes, so I will help."
The Mr. Hoy cocktail began with a rye aroma. The sip contained the rye's malt along with a light pineapple and wine note. Next, the sip contained the rye's heat and a light vegetal finish perhaps aided by the celery bitters. Later, as the drink warmed up, the pineapple flavors began to blossom on the swallow. When Ted asked me what I thought of the drink, I told him that I found the pineapple infusion very curious for the pineapple was very hide-and-seeky in the drink.
In the earlier discussion about the drink, I mentioned that the Algonquin was one of my lazy, go to summer drinks back in 2007. I used a 3:2:1 ratio of 1 1/2 oz rye, 1 oz pineapple, 1/2 oz dry vermouth which I quite enjoyed. I wondered if some people would like this drink more if the vermouth was switched to a blanc vermouth for extra sweetness and floral notes, such as what has been mentioned for the El Presidente by others. The Mr. Hoy is the second Algonquin variation I tried this year; the other was Ryan Fitzgerald's Far East Algonquin at Tales of the Cocktail. And looking back, I cannot help but think of Scott Holiday's Whiskey-A-Go-Go for it is one of the more elegant abstractions of this classic that I have quaffed.

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