Food & Drink
3 Writers Pick their Desert Island Beer, Cocktail and Wine
Published: December 23, 2013
So instead of a desert island, let’s say it’s an isolated research station in some remote, icy location, and I’ve got a lifetime supply of pre-batched cocktails sitting in barrels. What would that one cocktail be? In order for me to decide, I think I need to go back to California. Not actually go back, just go back in my memory, and take you along for the ride.
On cold, rainy days living in the Bay Area, we used to go to a San Jose diner named Original Joe’s. We would take a seat at the counter, order a porterhouse steak and watch the cooks slather both sides with butter before placing it on the grill in front of us. You could feel the fire on your face and smell the meat charring and sizzling. One time, my buddy went into the back of the restaurant, into the cocktail lounge, and came back with a Maker’s Mark Manhattan. I’d never really considered cocktails before that. I’m sure I’d had a few, mostly margaritas or other things of the sour variety. This was something different. It was lovely, a sort of reddish-gold liquid in a stemmed martini glass with a single cherry. And the taste! It was strong and complex. How can I describe how it first tasted? It’d be as difficult for me as describing my first kiss with an honest-to-goodness woman, or holding the hand of someone I thought might die. It’s for me. All I’ll say is, it was boozy and I was in love.
The Manhattan has all the subtle complexities I love in really fine cocktails. There would be plenty for me to discern drinking it every day on my desert island–I mean, isolated research station. There are many ways to make a Manhattan; adjust to your tastes. I happen to enjoy something like this:
Manhattan 2 ounces bourbon 3/4 ounce sweet vermouth Dash of Angostura bitters Maraschino cherry
Build in mixing glass, add ice and stir until chilled. Pour into a coupe, garnish with the cherry and enjoy, forever, until you die or are rescued.
–Jacob Coltrane Burris
Yes, I know not to take the desert-island assignment literally. But it is amusing to contemplate what wines might actually go with raw fish and coconut—presumably ones that also don’t need refrigeration. But let’s assume instead a Lost-style situation in which wines that mysteriously drop from the sky can be lightly chilled (when necessary) in pristine springs. Here’s what I’d pray to the gods of primetime for:
There would need to be some razor-sharp whites in case of clams or conchs; a dry riesling such as the Ravines from New York’s Finger Lakes would work, but let’s instead say a chalky Sancerre (sauvignon blanc) such as the 2010 Claude Riffault Les Boucauds. Assuming the seafood is being topped with a tropical fruit salsa, I might move sideways to a chardonnay-based Chablis such as one from William Fevre or, for a less pricey option, from Domaine Christian Moreau. If my deftly harvested oysters are being grilled over a driftwood fire, I’d look to a new favorite white, the godello from northwest Spain for its fruit and body. Consider the 2010 Godelia Godello Bierzo Selección.