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Dec 29, 2013 05:12 PM

Which is the "real" White Hook Cocktail?

After I started getting into making Manhattans, I started finding various variants. One is the "red Hook," which is Rye, Punt e mes (a red vermouth), Maraschino liqueur and bitters. Then I saw one for something called a "white hook," which was made with Bols Genever, dry vermouth, maraschino, and orange botters:

When I recently went to look up the recipe, if found that there's another version:

Th one is "white dog" (unaged corn whiskey), Punt e Mes, and maraschino with no bitters.

Because if recently bought a bottle of Dark Corners Moonshone during a recent trip to Greenville, SC, I was interested in white dog cocktails, so I tried both to compare. Of course, the were both good, but I'm curious, whoch is the "authentic" "White Hook?"

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  1. Jamie Boudreau in 2012 with a video. Close variant to a Red Hook.

    Ryan Lotz (small Cambridge, MA restaurant called Ten Tables) in 2010 with a drink on a menu. Not really a Red Hook variant.

    If I had to pick one to have the name for Kindred Cocktails, it would be Jamie's.

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    1 Reply
    1. re: EvergreenDan

      While I think you are correct in that Jamie Boudreau's Whitehook is closer to Enzo Errico's Red Hook, Ryan Lotz's White Hook most probably was created first. I think that if gin had been subbed in, instead of genever, it wouldn't be that close of a variant, but Bols grainy character should work well. It's the Vya in Lotz's cocktail that is the real deviant away from the Punt e Mes in the Red Hook cocktail.

    2. From knowing the folks involved, both in spirits, and bartenders, and what the base ingredients are, I would say that the one Mr. Yarm writes about using the Bols Genever made it on the scene first. Probably by around three years. Bols was really big in cocktails when it came into the US in 2008. They have a great marketing budget and spokesperson (Tal Nadari) who made it in to the top cocktail bars across the nation immediately. Plus a very strong presence at Tales of the Cocktail 2008/2009.

      The majority of White Dog / unaged or "white" whiskies came along more recently. Woodinville distillery opened in 2010 if I remember correctly. Although they may have been open a bit earlier under another name? Without as large of a marketing budget as Bols they took quite a bit longer to make the scene, until just the past 2-3 years when white whiskey and craft spirits became really big. (Although they must have been well funded because Dave Pickerell was their distillery consultant.)

      5 Replies
      1. re: JMF

        Right. I don't think there is any doubt that Ryan came first by a few years. The interesting question is whether a widely-known well-respected bartender "gets" to unknowingly call a drink the same name as a little-known previous drink.

        Jamie Boudreau (world-class bartender) + professional video > Ryan Lotz (little-known local restaurant) + 3 year head start

        It's all opinion, of course. There's no reason someone couldn't say <.

        1. re: EvergreenDan

          Ryan Lotz created that drink at Lineage in Brookline, not Ten Tables in J.P. Since then has worked at "little-known" establishments like the Hawthorne (opening bartender under Jackson Cannon) and No. 9 Park (current position). That little known bartender has worked in James Beard award winning and Tales of the Cocktail nominated Best American Cocktail Bar establishments. He just doesn't have a fancy video crew.

          Also, Lotz's recipe not only appeared on the web first, it got published in a book first > fancy video.

          And in my opinion, of course, most white whiskey is only slightly more flavorful than vodka and is a silly spirits class other than to support a distillery as it ages its whiskey to maturity. Perhaps trying both recipes and figuring out which one using this less-than-creative name is the better one might be a more fair way than trying to diss a bartending professional due to not knowing their pedigree or undervaluing it. I often find the best recipes coming out of lesser known establishments from seemingly unknown (to the world) bartenders.

          As a side note, is a hack site that has stolen lots of my photos from the blog. And it looks like they stole the video from Small Screen Networks and rebranded it.

          1. re: yarm

            Good to know. Under these circumstances, I would allow both, each with the creator's name in parentheses.

            As I said, there's no right answer, I think.

            1. re: EvergreenDan

              Actually, I personally think the first one to use a name and has an established provenance, gets the golden ticket.

          2. re: EvergreenDan

            Glad to see that politics in cocktails is not dead.