As a child, I was addicted to Encyclopedia Brown-style mysteries. At the end of each story you’d be instructed to flip to another page or turn the book upside down for the solution, which typically involved some verbal miscue by the guilty party. Favorites included Michael Avallone’s Five-Minute Mysteries and the Two-Minute Mysteries series by Encyclopedia Brown creator Donald J. Sobol. (About the titles: what can I say? Even in my youth I was extremely conscious of time management.)
In one of those books, a crime was committed on a West Coast-bound train with the culprit eventually revealed as a counterfeit conductor. How did the phony tip his hand? By referring to San Francisco as “Frisco,” which no railroad professional would ever do. The moral never left me: only reprobates used that diminutive. Yet there’s a drink called that, and a damn good one. It gets the spotlight this week because I’m just back from San Francisco, where the Noir City Film Festival is having its closing weekend.
The Frisco is the cocktail that brought home the impact of double-straining to me. For years when I made drinks at home I’d strain them once, through a Hawthorne or Julep strainer. But at the Swig Well Academy Bartending 101 course I took taught by Anu Apte of Seattle’s Rob Roy, it was impressed on me that pouring a drink through a second, finer mesh removes ice shards and excess pulp. That’s a fancy trick for your industry types, I figured. The thought didn’t stop me from ordering a tea strainer anyway. The Frisco was one of the first drinks I prepared once it arrived, and the difference was immediate. The technique eliminated some of the lemon’s sourness while leaving its tartness intact, improving the taste markedly. This how-to video features Erik Hakkinen of the Zig Zag Cafe, who will be tending the bar at Noir City tonight in
2 oz. rye
½ oz. Bénédictine
½ oz. lemon juice
Shake. Double-strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
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