Shortly after getting engaged, Brian and I took a trip down to the Big Apple. We had been on a speakeasy kick ever since visiting the Violet Hour in Chicago and then discovering Back Bar right in our very own Union Square. Our tiresome research (okay Brian’s) led us to the Raines Law Room.
In true speakeasy fashion we wandered up and down the street searching for the nondescript entrance to our destination. We found the smallest of signs telling us to a ring a bell. A few minutes later, the door cracked opened to reveal a quarter of a man’s face & his pin-striped bow tie.
“Hi, we’re here for the Raines Law Room.”
“Yes, it will be about 2 hours. Ill write down your phone number. You’ll receive a call from a blocked number”.
Sure enough. They did call. From a blocked number. Earlier actually than expected. “Hi, we have standing room at the bar if you want to come. A table might open but we make no promises,” said a dry, deep, quiet voice like one you’d hear from a KGB spy on Alias.
We wandered back and were ushered into the most marvelous of little establishments complete with dim lighting, velvet chairs, the most beautiful of black island bars, and a little doorbell light you pressed to signify that you were ready to order. We saw the Self Starter on the menu, ordered it, instantly claimed it “the best drink we ever had” (we do that somewhat frequently), and quickly developed a hot and cold love affair with the Raines Law Room. The affair went cold when we tried to go back and were reminded of just how utterly pretentious they are; they once again told us there was a long wait, took our number, and then called us ten minutes later just as we were settling in someplace else. When we got there, we noticed that several of the tables were actually empty. We were fuming and upset at the injustice of just how rude they are, until they served us some delicious creation in a pretty glass and we instantly forgot all of our malicious feelings. Hot again.
Through our ups and downs with Raines Law Room, the Self Starter has remained a favorite though. It made it onto our wedding cocktail list. It’s light and intense all that same time, the anise liqueur and the brandy pair together in this wonderful way, and the Cocchi, well, you know my opinion that Cocchi makes just about anything better.
The Self Starter
- 1.5 oz gin
- 3/4 oz cocchi americano
- 1/4 oz apricot brandy
- 1/4 oz absinthe
The standard recipe, with cocchi, apricot brandy, and absinthe is excellent. We also think it stands up well to substitution. We notice no difference at all between absinthe and other anise liqueurs. We also freely swap out the apricot brandy, for apple brandy or straight brandy; if you’re working with our suggested 9 bottles, the orange liqueur would work. If Cocchi isn’t your #9, use dry vermouth instead. Our only nonnegotiable has been gin and some sort of anise.
#1: Wash martini glass in absinthe
In case you are like me and didn’t know what ‘an absinthe wash’ is, let me explain. Pour the absinthe into the bottom of the martini glass. Over a sink or another glass, slowly swirl the absinthe around until the entire inside of the glass is covered with liqueur. If a little happens to spill over the sides, don’t fret. In fact, unless you’re like us and want a little extra anise flavor, you’ll want to discard any excess anyway.