Larry’s Pick-me-up

Larry’s Pick-me-up

No matter the political bend, Rachel Maddow makes one hell of a cocktail. When I’m not reprimanding her over her beer choices, I’m enjoying her “Cocktail Moment” segments on The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC. Ms. Maddow is a vocal advocate of pre-Prohibition and Prohibition-era cocktails. Harry’s pick-me-up, from the The Savoy Cocktail Book, by Harry Craddock, was recently featured on her show.

Harry’s Pick-me-up

  • Servings: 6–8oz
  • Difficulty: advanced
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Ingredients

  • 1 oz. brandy or Cognac
  • Juice of half a lemon (about 1 oz.)
  • 2 tsp. Grenadine
  • 4–6 oz. of Champagne, sparkling wine, or Prosecco

Directions

Stir brandy, lemon juice, and Grenadine in mixing glass with ice. Shaking will cloud the mixture! Strain it into fluted glass. Top with Champagne.

When the episode aired, my curiosity was piqued, but Champagne cocktails are troublesome at home, since I’m not one who keeps a bottle of chilled Champagne in my fridge. I am, however, a person who enjoys a good lambic. And it just so happened I had a bottle of Timmermans Oude Gueuze Lambicus ready to serve. Lambics are a style of beer brewed traditionally in Belgium. Unlike other beers that are fermented with specific strains of brewer’s yeast, lambics are produced by exposure to wild yeasts and bacteria that are in the air. Although the yeasts are wild, most Belgium lambic makers are in the same general area, south of Brussels, which gives the beer its unique flavor: Dry, cidery, funky/barnyard, with a tart/sour aftertaste. Gueuzes are blends of usually one- to three-year old lambics.

I find that gueuzes and lambics share a certain flavor profile with Champagne, so I thought it to be the perfect substitution. Hence, the name of this my lambic-centric cocktail: Larry’s pick-me-up.

Larry’s Pick-me-up

  • Servings: 6–8oz.
  • Difficulty: advanced
  • Print

The cast of characters for this drink

Ingredients

Directions

Stir brandy, lemon juice, and Grenadine in mixing glass with ice. Shaking will cloud the mixture! Strain into bell glass. Top with lambic.

A very pretty Larry’s Pick-me-up

I thought the lemon would “over-tart” the cocktail, but it actually added a level of freshness and sweetness, while the brandy toned down the sour/funky nature of the gueuze. I tried making it with a whole lime instead of a lemon, but found it to be disappointing—it just didn’t work.

Beer cocktails can seem scary. I was reluctant to try it, but I urge everyone to try this simple substitution to the classic Harry’s pick-me-up.