Walt Wagner's Remix Cocktail at Canlis: Best Shaken to Metallica's Seek & Destroy"/>
By now, everyone's probably heard of Walt Wagner--or at least heard him play. He's the longtime piano man at Canlis, where he's been wrangling the ivories for 16 years. It's a job he was offered just after the Canlis family decided to give their restaurant a big dose of contemporary, and after Wagner got fed up traveling all the time for work (read all about his adventures in part one of Grillaxin). The partnership turned out to be the perfect duet.
Photo courtesy of James MacWilliams
Today, we are letting Wagner kick his feet up with his namesake cocktail, crafted by the fabulously talented bartender James MacWilliams, himself no stranger to shaking things up in the Canlis lounge. Two years ago, MacWilliams created a cocktail in honor of Wagner: "It's the only drink I refuse to take off my menu, and a consistent favorite."
"I have wanted to make a drink in Walt Wagner's name since hearing him play," says MacWilliams. "I came across the Jazz cocktail in the Old Waldorf Astoria bar book full of pre-prohibition cocktails. The Jazz is a variation on the Bronx cocktail. Johnnie Solan is the inventor of the Bronx, which is made with gin, sweet and dry vermouth, and an orange peel. Around the 1920's, a little orange juice found its way in some variations at the bar and soon the Jazz was born, named to commemorate the new musical movement."
Shake it like a Walt shaker . . . after the jump!
Wagner's Remix Cocktail (a remake of the Jazz cocktail):
1oz Macallan 12yr.
.5oz Dolin Rouge Vermouth
.5oz Dolin Dry Vermouth
.75oz Orange juice
2 dash orange bitters
Add ingredients to mixing glass and fill with ice. "I like to shake for about 10 seconds to the beat of something a little heavy like 'Seek and Destroy' by Metallica, but most might prefer something a little easier in the direction of 'Clocks' by Coldplay," says MacWilliams, referring to the most popular current hit Wagner plays at Canlis. "Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with orange peel and get your remix on."
MacWilliams has changed the drink by substituting gin for Wagner's favorite scotch, Macallan: "If anyone asks, the 18-year is his favorite." MacWilliams still uses both sweet and dry vermouth and orange juice in the Remix, but adds Cointreau and cracked maple orange bitters. "Because Macallan has such pronounced sherry flavors, it integrated nicely into the cocktail. Spice comes from a healthy dose of the house-made bitters, but Fee's Orange bitters will work in a pinch at home."
"Mark [Canlis] recently put it to me this way: Walt is like a sports car. Here at Canlis, he only does about 50 miles per hour, but he still has two more gears."