Thursday, July 24, 2008

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Moonshine Cocktail: The Corn Popper

Hats off to Erik Ellestad, proprietor over at Underhill Lounge. About two years ago, Erik decided to start working his way through all the cocktail recipes in Harry Craddock’s The Savoy Cocktail Book making each and every one. With over 700 recipes, the bartenders’ guide, originally published in 1930, has gone through several reprints. Erik, bless his liver, is starting at the Abbey Cocktail and working his way to the end, taking photos, recreating obscure or lost ingredients, and—naturally—tasting along the way.

When writing about the Corn Popper cocktail—a Prohibition-era cocktail and one of the few written examples of a recipe intended for mass consumption with even an oblique call for moonshine—he asked me about its call for corn. The recipe was stolen verbatim from inspired by Judge Jr's 1927 book Here's How, a tiny, pocket-sized manual filled with utter cornball humor of the times (see photo and click to enlarge).

Apparently, I had little to do that day, so wrote him a somewhat lengthy reply on the nature of “corn.” The answer reads in part

Now you’ve drifted into some interesting semantic territory rather than merely obscure ingredients. In the Savoy book, some things are what they seem - absinthe is generally that, despite variations in style. So is applejack (usually). “Corn” is a shorthand code, especially a post-prohibition work, merely for illicit spirits (often, but not necessarily, whiskey) that may be made from nearly any ingredient except fruit, but including sugar, wheat, rye, “ship stuff,” sorghum, cattle feed, mule chop, and, on occasion, corn.

Read the rest of the notes, including Erik’s photos and tasting notes, here.

The demi-original Corn Popper (Craddock, cribbing Judge Jr.)

1 Pint Corn (Georgia or Maryland).
1/2 Pint Cream.
The Whites of 2 Eggs.
1 Tablespoonful Grenadine.

Fill highball glasses half full of this mixture and fill up with Vichy or Seltzer.

Erik’s modern Corn Popper (single-serving)

1 1/2 oz clear, pungent, liquid of unknown origin
1 egg white
3/4 oz Cream
1 teaspoon Grenadine (homemade)

Measure ingredients into cocktail shaker. Seal and shake well. Break seal, add ice and shake vigorously. Strain into collins glass. Top with selzer or sparkling mineral water.

Goes well with:

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2 comments:

erik_flannestad said...

But have you tried it yet?

Matthew Rowley said...

I have ~ though I prefer it without the spritz of water; gives it thicker, Midatlantic brandy-milk-punch-you-in-the-gut sort of feel. A hot-weather egg nog or a breakfast pick-me-up-off-the-floor sort of cocktail. I've also tried it with a hit of pimento dram—just a few dashes—and replacing the grenadine with 2:1 simple syrup. Not quite the original Rx, but nonetheless not bad. I guess I fiddled so much because I saw a lot of potential with this...