Sunday, May 6, 2012

Catdaddy Spiced Moonshine Puts Us in the Catbird Seat. Plus, Rediscovering the Kitty Carlisle Cocktail

The Catbird Seat Cocktail, made with Catdaddy Spiced Moonshine, is a close relative of the Sidecar.
A few years back, we were approached by Piedmont Distillers to come up with a bunch of cocktails featuring their unique brand of moonshine. Dubbed Catdaddy, this 80-proof tipple appealed to our decadent side: it’s sweet and spicy—very southern—and teems with the flavors of vanilla, with whiffs of cinnamon and nutmeg, like frosting on a cake, or better yet, icing on a sticky bun (we did say it was sweet, after all). We had two goals: Our first was to come up with some cocktails to pair with courses for a New Orleans luncheon; our second was to create additional cocktails that would be able to stand on their own.

One such cocktail that fell into the latter category was our Catdaddy version of the famous Sidecar. If you’ve never had a Sidecar, you simply must. It’s a perfect blend of cognac (or brandy), lemon juice, and triple sec, plus a sugared rim for some textural sweetness and a lemon twist for the added citrus oil and aroma. For our version, we swapped out the triple sec for Catdaddy and ditched the lemon twist. And instead of a traditional white-sugar rim, we opted for darker, sexier demerara sugar, like we do in our Sidecar recipe. It adds deeper nuances of sweetness, almost like brown sugar or molasses would.

In naming the new drink, we wished to keep with the vehicular nomenclature of the Sidecar, along with evoking “Catdaddy,” so we racked our brains to find a befitting name—a name that would make you feel a little special while sipping on it, as if you were the main attraction of a parade. Perhaps a parade charging down Bourbon Street, with you waving to all the parade-goers from your enviable position in the high back seat of an old luxury auto. The name Catbird Seat popped into Paul’s head. It’s from a James Thurber story called “The Catbird Seat,” and seemed utterly befitting for several reasons. In said story, one of the characters, Mrs. Barrows, spouts cryptic phrases, such as “Are you in the catbird seat?” at the lead character Mr. Martin, who subsequently learns they are of Southern origin. The phrase, which is synonymous with “sitting pretty,” was then used by P.G. Wodehouse in a novel he wrote called—get ready for it—Cocktail Time. Too perfect.

Whenever we imbibe a Catbird Seat, we feel pretty special, because cognac, no matter what brand you use, seems to elevate a cocktail to a lofty level. (It’s French, after all.) And Catdaddy is pretty darn special too, especially since it’s gone through a makeover: Piedmont Distillers now only uses natural ingredients in the flavoring process, and has changed the name of the product from Catdaddy Carolina Moonshine to Catdaddy Spiced Moonshine, but you can just call it Catdaddy, plain and simple.

Catbird Seat
(created by Cocktail Buzz)

Ingredients
1 1/2 ounces cognac or brandy
1 1/2 ounces Catdaddy Spiced Moonshine
1/2 ounce lemon juice
demerara sugar, for rimming

Method
Shake in ice for 15 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass or coupe, rimmed (or half-rimmed) with demerara sugar.

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A Kitty Carlisle cocktail.
We tried some of the new version of Catdaddy just the other night at The Way Station, an old-school Steampunk-themed bar in our neighborhood in Brooklyn, where our friend, the sultry burlesque chanteuse Rosie 151 performs with the outstanding Red Hook Ramblers the first Thursday of every month. We were honored by Rosie and proprietor Anders Heidel, who featured our very own Kitty Carlisle cocktail, one of the creations we came up with for that New Orleans luncheon. Ah, the Kitty Carlisle. Named after the New Orleans–born legend, this sweet-and-sour sipper is a blend of equal parts Catdaddy, bourbon, crème de cacao, and lemon juice. Imbibing some took us right back to New Orleans, especially with the strains of dixieland jazz and the naughty serenading of Rosie’s lyrical double entendre whipping the crowd into a frenzy of southern decadence. And if that wasn’t all, free shots of Catdaddy were passed out by one Foxy Vermouth so everyone could get a taste of the new all-natural recipe. Let’s hope they keep it on the menu the next time Rosie performs with the Red Hook Ramblers so you too can get a taste of southern hospitality, burlesque style.

Come to think of it, we’d love for the Kitty Carlisle to become a new New Orleans cocktail, much like the Sazerac, the Absinthe Suisse, or the Vieux Carré. Make one and let us know what you think.

Kitty Carlisle
(created by Cocktail Buzz)

Ingredients
3/4 ounce Catdaddy Spiced Moonshine
3/4 ounce bourbon
3/4 ounce white crème de cacao
3/4 ounce lemon juice

Method
Shake in ice for 15 seconds. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass or coupe.

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Food Pairing Ideas
If you’d like to pair some grub with either of these cocktails, we recommend pork barbecue or anything with andouille sausage. We make pierogi that combines the spiciness of andouille with the sweetness of prunes (and a little Catdaddy thrown in for good measure). You’ll be booking your tickets for New Orleans after just a few sips and nibbles.

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