Bedford and Killer Cocktails

My collection of cocktail books has been growing quite fast as of late, and while organizing them (where does one begin?) I began to realize that some of my best books are the ones, for some unknown reason, that I read the least. While I’m pretty sure that I know why I barely touch my Embury, (it’s a first edition in pristine condition, and I would hate to think that I was contributing to its deterioration) it took me a while to realize why I barely go to David Wondrich’s Killer Cocktails.

Killer Cocktails is chock full of fantastic recipes organized by style or family. Mr. Wondrich hasn’t just plunked down a bunch of recipes for us to try, he gives you little tasting notes or some history for each drink as well. When I first received this book some 2 years ago I recall trying recipe after recipe and loving most of the results. It seemed as though Mr. Wondrich and I had the same palate, which is quite rare, as I normally end up adjusting the ratios of the ingredients of most of the recipes that I find. This tome is also quite beautiful, with gorgeous pictures of many of the cocktails and a font that is easy to read, being neither too large nor too small.

So why, then, has it been so long since I’d turn the pages of this treasure chest of cocktails? It’s all about the format. Some brain surgeon (I have it on good authority that it wasn’t Mr. Wondrich, who fought the final layout) decided that this should be a flip book. Now that wouldn’t be so terrible, but the way the pages are laid out, the “proper” way to read this book is to fold out the “base” and stand the book up. You then flip the pages (like any other book) with the exception that you have to keep turning the book around, to read the front and then the back. This makes for some very cumbersome reading, to say the least. The one bonus of this layout is that if you are neophyte in the art of mixing, and have the memory of a gnat (guilty), you can have the recipe staring you in the face as you concoct it.

Now having complained about the format for long enough, let me restate that this is still truly one of my favorite cocktail books, as I know I can randomly flip to a page, and find a recipe that I’d enjoy. If you don’t already have this book, please go and buy it, and if you do have it, pull it out and rediscover the beauty of Mr. Wondrich’s handiwork.

Now please join me in a cocktail discovered by Mr. Wondrich at the now defunct (1994) Grange Hall in New York City’s West Village. Created by head bartender Del Pedro, this is yet another adaptation of that classic of classics, the Manhattan.

When making this drink, it’s important for all of you (us?) Canadians out there to realize that most of the whiskey that you call “rye”, is actually a blended whiskey with little to no rye in it. This drink doesn’t truly shine until you use a straight rye whiskey. I’m a big fan of Rittenhouse 100 proof bonded rye, but if you’re north of the 49, and in the west, you’ll probably have to use Alberta Springs.

2 oz rye whiskey
2/3 oz Red Dubonnet
1 tsp Cointreau
2 dashes of orange bitters
orange peel garnish

Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Twist a piece of orange peel, releasing the oils and drop in drink.
Sit back and enjoy.



Picture taken by:
Jamie Boudreau


~ by Jamie Boudreau on June 19, 2007.

7 Responses to “Bedford and Killer Cocktails”

  1. I wasnt aware that rittenhouse was 100% rye. That said alberta springs and premium are.

  2. You are probably right about the Rittenhouse. I had meant to say “straight” rye and have ammended the post.
    Having said that, I could find no information on the mash bill of Rittenhouse, even on their website. The point of the statement, however, was that things like Crown Royal and Canadian Club, are not rye. They are actually far from it, being a mere shadow of a whiskey when compared to true rye. Many people, and yes, this even includes many, many bartenders, still think that all Canadian whiskey is rye. Go to any Canadian bar and ask for a rye and ginger and see what you get, if you doubt….

  3. I have no doubts that most canadian rye is lacking in rye. But I know of only 2 ryes from the states (anchor) that are straight rye. I know of 4 to possibly five that are straight rye from alberta and ontario.

  4. Straight rye, by definition, is a rye with a mash bill of at least 51% rye. Straight rye does not mean a mash bill of nothing but rye.
    While I did suggest that Canadian whiskey is lacking in rye, what I meant to infer is that it is also lacking in character. Greatly.
    This is a generalization, and I am aware of some Canadian whiskies that have big flavor and depth while at the same time being complex and interesting, but for the most part, Canadian whiskies are very light, and a good stepping stone for people who are just getting into whiskies. I rather have someone who is curious about whiskey start with the C.C. Reserve than the Laphroig 10 yr, for example.
    I also wanted to make the difference between most Canadian whiskies and rye. I didn’t want someone to read the word rye, and think any Canadian whisky. In the States, I’d hazard to postulate that 90% of the bartenders here think that Crown Royal (a HUGE favorite here in Seattle) is rye, and that number is probably low.
    The Bedford would be an uninteresting, unbalanced drink made with Crown Royal, given the measurements stated.
    Nuff said.

  5. Jamie! Your fellow Canadian needs help!

    I’m in Ontario, and my Rye options are limited. I’ve got access to Alberta Springs, and I’ve just discovered Alberta Premium which claims to be made from “100% Rye” which I am unsure of having read this thread. Any thoughts? Or names of Ryes I can get here?

    Oh, and 300rwhp? Could you share the ones you know from Ontario? Thanks, guys!

  6. Ginty:
    If it says rye on the bottle, then it’s rye. The point was that Canadians call Canadian whiskey rye, when in fact it is not. Some of it used to be rye, but mash bills have changed over the years….

  7. Thanks Jamie! I love an easy answer.

    300rwhp: Any other names from Ontario I should look out for?

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