Wednesday, October 22, 2014

blood of my enemies

1 oz Plantation 5 Year Barbados Rum
1 oz Punt e Mes
1 oz Amaro Montenegro

Stir with ice and strain into a Double Old Fashioned glass with ice. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Two Saturdays ago, I decided to make a drink I spotted in the OnTheBar app's drink database. It had just been entered by Erick Castro who has recently helped to open Boilermaker in Manhattan besides running Polite Provisions in San Diego. Overall, the recipe was reminiscent of a rum Negroni of sorts, and the name caught my attention for it was the same as another rum recipe created by Tony Iamunno at Stoddard's.
Castro's Blood of My Enemies offered a bright lemon oil notes to counter that of the rum's rich caramel aroma. The caramel continued on into the sip where it mingled with grape flavors and hints of tangerine. Finally, the rest of the rum came through on the swallow along with Amaro Montenegro's citrus notes and Punt e Mes' bitter complexity. In the end, the amaro and Punt e Mes combine to provide a different by comparable bitter signature to a rum Negroni's Campari.

Monday, October 20, 2014

ardsley

2/3 jigger Sherry (1 1/2 oz Lustau Dry Oloroso)
1/3 Sweet Vermouth (1 oz Dolin)
1 dash Yellow Chartreuse (1/2 oz)
1 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
Two Tuesdays ago for the cocktail hour, I turned to Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933 and spotted the Ardsley in the wine section. At first the recipe reminded me of a sherrified Puritan Cocktail, but the sweet vermouth aspect then made me think of a Green Point more. The Manhattan variation idea is perhaps supported by Ardsley being a village just north of New York City. Once mixed, the Ardsley offered a nutty sherry aroma with minty-herbal notes. Next, honey and grape on the sip gave way to a nutty and herbal swallow.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

double daisy

The theme for this month's Mixology Monday (MxMo XC) was picked by Joel of the SouthernAsh blog. The theme he chose was "Perfect Symmetry," and he elaborated on the theme with his description of, "A 'perfect' drink splits the liquor or liqueur evenly between two related ingredients. The most common 'perfect' drink is a Perfect Manhattan where the vermouth is split between sweet and dry to create an altogether different experience. A perfect Old Fashioned splits the bourbon and rye are both used to create a singularly distinct experience. When done well, splitting the liquor lets each of the unique flavors and components of the shine through. Because they share a background, they don't war with each other but instead you get both the mellow sweetness of the bourbon with the spicy backbone of the rye in that Old Fashioned... Why make a choice when you can have it all?!"

For an idea, I started thinking about the classics. I did consider doing one of my favorite Sazerac variations, the split Cognac-rye one that celebrates both pre- and post-Phylloxera times with the body of the brandy balancing the spice of the whiskey; however, I was not sure if that covered enough new ground to warrant a post. Similarly, I considered riffing on Remember the Maine to divide the cough syrup-like Cherry Heering with Maraschino; with absinthe in the mix, it would become "improved" in addition to "perfect." Instead, I thought about the Sidecar and considered doing a post on Audrey Saunders' Tantris Sidecar that I made in 2007 before writing for the blog. When I reacquainted myself with the recipe, I realized that it was not a "perfect" split of the ingredients, but unequal modifications and expansions on flavor. Could I make a Sidecar "perfect"? As my mind turned over possibilities that included splitting the orange liqueur between Cointreau and Amer Picon, what I honed in on is the similarities between a Sidecar and a Margarita. Both have spirits, orange liqueur, citrus, and some sort of crystalline rim on the glass. What if I were to meld the two drinks into one?
Since the orange liqueur was the same in both cases, I decided to keep it as the only unsplit aspect. For the changes, I opted for equal parts brandy and tequila for spirits and for equal parts lemon and lime to match, respectively. Although the classic recipes for both drinks lack sugar or salt rim garnishes, I decided to include them since that is often what people expect when they order the drinks at a bar. Should I make a salty-sweet mixed rim? No, I instead listened to the wise words of Don Lee at my BarSmarts Advanced practical. One of my three drinks that afternoon was the Sidecar, and I fully sugared the rim as per the BarSmarts' recipe. Don's list of what I did wrong during the practical was not what I did wrong in terms of BarSmarts, but what I could improve on in terms of being a better bartender. In this case, he suggested partially sugaring the rim to give imbibers a choice. Therefore, I decided to have three sections of rim here: sugar, salt, and no garnish.
Double Daisy
• 3/4 oz Brandy (Foret)
• 3/4 oz Tequila (Espolon Blanco)
• 3/4 oz Triple Sec (Cointreau)
• 3/8 oz Lemon Juice
• 3/8 oz Lime Juice
Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass partially sugar rimmed, partially salt rimmed, and partially unrimmed.
Since both of these drinks are classic Daisies, I went with the term Double Daisy which made me think about flowers in our garden that have double the number of petals or those few that were Siamese in nature. Once mixed, the Double Daisy offered a tequila aroma. When sampled from the unrimmed portion, the sip was citrussy with the lime being the strongest; next, the swallow had a mix of brandy and tequila notes with an orange finish. On trying the libation with the sugared rim, the lemon and brandy flavors were more pronounced. Lastly, drinking from the salted region diminished the lime's bitter notes such that it came across more lemon-like; in addition, the mineral aspect accented the tequila in the Daisy. So instead of giving drinkers a simple binary option of how to enjoy the drink like Don Lee recommended, the trinary option gave a much broader and complex way to bring out different aspects and balances out of the drink.

So thank you to Joel for picking the theme and running this month's show, and thanks to the rest of the Mixology Monday participants for keeping the shakers shaking and the spirit of the event alive!

Friday, October 17, 2014

jitterbug sour

2 oz Rye Whiskey (Old Overholt)
1/2 oz Benedictine
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Honey Syrup (1:1)
1 Egg White
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Shake once without ice and once with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon twist.
After the Kentucky Island, I turned to Mr. Boston Official Bartender's Guide 75th anniversary edition and spotted the Jitterbug Sour. One of the weaknesses of the book is that it has very limited attribution to recipes; the editors and their friends get namedropped but many gems neglected with anonymity. A websearch found a single article that places the drink at Sasha Petraske's Middle Branch in Manhattan. Then again, it could have been created at his other establishments or perhaps borrowed from elsewhere. Regardless, I was game to try this Whiskey Daisy. Once mixed, the Jitterbug Sour presented to the nose a lemon and herbal aroma. A creamy lemon and honey sip gave way to rye on the swallow with a mellow herbal and spice finish. Indeed, the honey and egg white worked rather well to smooth out this drink.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

kentucky island

1 1/2 oz Old Overholt Rye
1 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Orgeat (BG Reynolds)
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1 dash Fee's Peach Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail or snifter glass. Float a lime wheel spiked with a mint sprig as garnish (lemon peel with mint).

Two Fridays ago for the start of the cocktail hour, I turned to Sanctuaria, the Dive Bar of Cocktail Bars book and spotted the Kentucky Island. The idea of a whiskey Tiki drink reminded me of Marco Dionysos' Bluegrass Mai Tai and LUPEC-Boston's Ken-Tiki. The book described how the author created the Kentucky Island for Villa Farotto's 2009 summer cocktail menu; when the menu itself never appeared, he brought the drink back to the Sancturia bar.
The Kentucky Island began with a mint aroma with glimmers of pineapple and orgeat poking through on the nose. The sip was lemon and fruity with a thick mouthfeel from the pineapple juice and orgeat syrup. Finally, the swallow began with rye and nutty orgeat flavors and ended with a pineapple and hint of peach finish.

:: onthebar interview outtakes ::

Back over the summer, the OnTheBar blog interviewed a bunch of the "en fuego" bartenders and asked a series of questions. One of the answers, namely "Your Favorite Bartenders' Favorite Bartenders," appeared in a post, but the rest of the series dropped off. While sitting at Eastern Standard on Monday night while in front of Kevin Morrison, I remembered that the rest of my answers had lied fallow. Here are the outtakes (in addition to the one question/answer that they used) from back in June. Since sending in my reply, a few names have stepped off the Boston bar including Josh Childs and John Gertsen making this a bit of a time capsule.

Who is your go-to bartenders on your day off?
Sahil Mehta at Estragon for a Monday night of hospitality, tapas, and a gander at his drink notebook. Josh Childs and Zamira Hoyos at Silvertone on Tuesdays for Highlifes and veggie burgers. All the kids at Brick & Mortar for reasons my lawyers have asked me not to discuss.  And Tony Iamunno at Stoddard's (and the other places he works).

What's your favorite new spot in town?
Straight Law. Between Sean Sullivan's energy and enthusiasm, the not-in-Boston feel of the space, the drinks, and the food, it is an amazing escape destination.

Are there any new restaurants or bars opening soon that you’re looking forward to?
I have been out of the loop of imminent openings, but I cannot wait for Ran Duan of the Baldwin Room to open a space in Boston. The drive back from Woburn forces you to temper the night.

Who do you think is an up-and-coming bartender in the Boston area?
Kevin Morrison at Eastern Standard. Somewhere between being known as Kevin-not-Martin to me actually knowing his last name, I realized that he has quickly adapted to the high level of service that Eastern Standard is known for.

CNBC recently reported that gin is making a comeback because of a "craft distilling boom." What do you think the next "new" thing in the cocktail scene will be?
Craft domestic amaro. Between companies like the Bittermens and Leopold and bars like Alden & Harlow, American herbal liqueurs are on the rise. It is a natural extension of the nonpotable (dash-wise) bitters upsurge a few years ago.

Go-to drink on your day off (and who do you like to make it, if not at home)?
It is either a beer or a new cocktail recipe for the CocktailVirgin blog. As for the cocktails, I like as many enthusiastic and creative bartenders in Boston as possible to make it, teach me something new about cocktails, and give me something to write about.

What's your favorite old-school cocktail? Who makes the best one?
A Sazerac. John Gertsen for history's sake. While it has been rumored on the internets that he created it back in the 19th century, he was the one that taught me a love of this New Orleans treat back at No. 9 Park around 2007.

Monday, October 13, 2014

missing link

1 1/4 oz Laphroaig 10 Year Scotch
1/2 oz Punt e Mes
1/2 oz Dolin Dry Vermouth
1/2 oz Benedictine
1/4 oz Herbsaint
1/2 oz Water
1 dash Angostura Orange Bitters
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Build in rocks glass and stir to mix. Use no ice, this is a room temperature cocktail. Twist a lemon peel over the top.

Two Mondays ago, I was checking my social media and spotted that Backbar's drink of the day was a room temperature cocktail; I was intrigued by the concept and name "Missing Link" and headed over. There, I found a seat in front of bartender Greg Thornton who also happened to be the creator of the drink. He described the name as a tribute to the lost style of cocktails, the room temperature ones. When he first made this flavor combination using a standard stir with ice and strain technique, people thought it was better when it sat out for a bit and warmed up. Therefore, he kept a little of the symbolic ice melt through the addition of a half ounce of water in the room temperature version. While no longer a Scaffa at that point, it is a technique I have seen before in the Attitude Dancing, Miss Francine Kelly, and the Last Cold Night Before Spring.
The Missing Link began with a peaty smoke nose from the Scotch. A grape sip gave way to further smoke and whisky notes on the swallow with anise, chocolate, and spice on the finish.

Friday, October 10, 2014

wolfpack

1 oz Punt e Mes
3/4 oz Cardamaro
3/4 oz Averna
1/2 oz Nux Alpina Walnut Liqueur
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
For a cocktail at the Baldwin Room at the Sichuan Garden II, Andrea asked bartender Ran Duan for the Wolfpack. Once prepared, it offered a dark grape aroma, but over time, the nose included more walnut notes. Next, the sip began as a lighter grape flavor that shifted to more caramel as things warmed up. Finally, the swallow shared a complex bitter medley that transitioned well into the rich walnut finish.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

offshore account

1 oz Four Roses Bourbon
1/2 oz Gran Classico
1/2 oz Cherry Heering
1 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a Collins glass filled with ice. Garnish with 2-3 dashes Angostura Bitters, a mint sprig, and a cherry, and add a straw.
Two Sundays ago, Andrea and I ventured over to Woburn to pay a visit to the Baldwin Room at Sichuan Garden II. For a first drink, I asked bartender Ran Duan for the Offshore Account which seemed like an interesting Sling and the combination of these ingredients worked rather well in his Sling & Arrow that I had there two years ago. Once mixed, the Offshore Account's garnishes played a large role in the drink's aroma with the mint aspect predominating. A lemon and fruity sip gave way to Bourbon followed by cherry and bitter-herbal Gran Classico notes on the swallow. Finally, the swallow ended with a pineapple finish. Andrea commented that the pineapple functioned well here to pull all of these disparate ingredients together.