Classic cocktails were on tap at the Aster Pantry & Parlor on Sunday afternoon, April 17th to celebrate the restoration of the Hotel Syracuse. The demonstration, sponsored by the Onondaga Historical Association, featured five cocktails. A crowd of about 40 people, including yours truly, witnessed how they were made before sampling a taste of each one. Then, with hors d’oeuvres served up, guests could order up a complimentary cocktail from an array of choices.
First a little history, the Hotel Syracuse was completed in 1924 during the era of Prohibition. Classical cocktails, such as those on display at Aster Parlor & Pantry, would have been first served up to patrons of the hotel beginning in 1933 with Prohibition’s repeal. The decline of the grand hotel in the late 1990s has always been a bit of a sore point for many Syracusans. Attempts had been made to revive it, but sadly didn’t work out. Until last year.
In 2015, renewed efforts have been bringing the hotel back to life, restoring many of its features to their original grandeur. With the Hotel Syracuse slated to open in June/July 2016, events celebrating this revival have been cropping up locally.
Aster Pantry & Parlor, which prides itself on serving up classical cocktails, made for a perfect spot to spend an afternoon witnessing how these concoctions were made. First up was Between the Sheets with its mix of cognac, white rum, Cointreau, and lemon juice. This was followed by the Ramos Gin Fizz, the Ward 8, Jack Rose (made with Applejack, Grenadine, Lemon Juice and Bitters), and the Mary Pickford. Hors d’oeuvres served included deviled eggs, seasonal flatbread, stuffed mushrooms, and bruschetta. And each guest was given a recipe book of more than 25 cocktails, including the one’s the featured at the event.
As a special treat, each guest was able to order up one full cocktail to try, and I decided to have the Last Word.
According to the recipe book, the Last Word originated in Detroit in 1920, disappeared from the scene during Prohibition, only to be rediscovered in 1951. Makes one wonder just how many cocktail recipes were lost to the ages during the thirteen years of Prohibition.
What you’ll need: Green Chartreuse, Gin, Maraschino Liqueur, and Lime Juice.
Pour equal portions (3/4ths of an ounce, recommended) of each ingredient in a shaker of cracked ice. Shake and strain into a cocktail glass. Optionally, garnish with a twist of lime.
How I like it: Not being familiar with this drink–it’s not in my trusty 1964 edition of Old Mr. Boston De Luxe Official Bartender’s Guide–I find I liked it exactly as served. It’s similar to a Gin Gimlet. However, the chartreuse gives it that extra bit of flavor, an herbal one that tastes a bit like anise.
Having a designated driver for an event like this is always smart as is drinking responsibly!