Wednesday, January 28, 2009

[whiskey maple]

2 oz Sazerac Rye
3/4 oz Macallan Amber Liqueur
2 oz Sidre Doux Sparkling Cider

Stir the rye and liqueur with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Top with cider and garnish with an orange twist. Measurements are approximate as the ingredients were free poured.
For my last drink at the Beehive, I asked for a recommendation from Nate for something with dark spirits and ended up off the menu for this drink that I believe the bar manager Chris created. Nate described the drink as a Manhattan variant which used Macallan Amber, a Scotch-based liqueur flavored with maple syrup and pecans, as a substitute for the richness and sweetness of Italian vermouth. The Amber provided a very tasty maple flavor but still kept the drink from being overly sweet, unlike maple syrup might have done. The cider choice did add some extra sweetness to the drink, but the interplay of the the apple flavors with the maple and nut was quite welcomed.

yellow jacket

1 oz Yellow Chartreuse
1 oz St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
1/3 oz Lemon Juice
Mumm Napa Champagne

Add ingredients to a champagne flute and top off with sparkling wine. Garnish with a lemon twist. The drink was free poured so measurements are approximate.

Last night, Andrea gave me a call after her hair appointment in the South End and we decided to meet up at the Beehive. After recently having a sparkling cider drink at Rendezvous and a beer-float drink at Eastern Standard, I kept in theme and chose a drink off of the Beehive's champagne cocktail list. Nate the bartender enthusiastically replied to my request by declaring that the Yellow Jacket was his favorite one off that part of the list. The nose of the drink was full of lemon oil goodness, while the cocktail itself was surprisingly crisp perhaps due to the wine choice or the lemon juice. Andrea even commented that it was drier than she expected it given the ingredients. The yellow Chartreuse and St. Germain gave the drink some complexity in addition to some bitter and floral notes. While champagne drinks are not very standard fair for me, this one did not disappoint and may encourage me to try some more in the future.

[myrtle point]

1 1/2 oz Old Weller 107 Proof Bourbon
3/4 oz Mirto
3/4 oz Yellow Chartreuse
2 dashes Bittermen's Grapefruit Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass. Twist orange peel over the top and drop in.

For my second drink at Eastern Standard on Monday, I asked Hugh what he had been tinkering with, and he replied that he knew what he was going to make me. Without a hint, he was off preparing my drink. As the base spirit, he went with a high proof Bourbon to cut through the sweetness of the two liqueurs. The end result was kind of like the Manhattan variant the Green Point. Instead of the richness and spiciness of Punt e Mes vermouth, the Mirto added a thick wave of flavor and bitterness. The drink was a great sipping drink and required a bit of time to savor the intriguing complexities and the heat.

[indian pale artichoke cocktail]

1 1/2 oz Cynar
3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth
1/2 oz Pimento (Allspice) Dram
2 dashes Fee's Orange Bitters
Pinch Salt
2 oz Harpoon IPA

Stir all ingredients on ice save for the beer. Strain into a coupe and float with the IPA.
After the vermouth class on Monday, I walked down to Eastern Standard to meet Andrea. I got there before her and found a pair of seats in front of Hugh Fiore. Hugh had remembered my challenge from two weeks prior for a beer-floated cocktail akin to a champagne cocktail, and this time he had prepared an answer. He took a cocktail that he had served Andrea in the past and found that the hoppiness of the IPA gave the drink some extra added notes. Indeed, the hops complemented the allspice dram and perhaps some notes of the Cynar rather well. The added carbonation brought many of the botanicals to the nose in addition to adding some added crispness to the cocktail. And while I am not a fan of salt-rimmed glasses, the pinch of salt gave the drink some extra character. Hugh's comment about this drink was that "It's kind of groovy." And veritably, it was.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

::vermouth tasting and making class::

Last night, I went to one of Tom Schlesinger-Guidelli classes at Craigie on Main. While I did not go to last week's class on "Stirred not Shaken: How James Bond Got it all Wrong," some of last night's attendees went and spoke very highly of it. The one I went to was "When Bar Meets Kitchen: Making Your Own Vermouth." During the introduction section, the 14 people seated around the bar gave their reasons for attending the session. Two were wine vendors, three worked at the restaurant, one was a bartender at Eastern Standard, and the rest were cocktail enthusiasts (many of the above also stated that "hanging out with Tommy" or "heckling Tommy" was another reason to attend). For me, it was a large part practical. About three months ago, I had made an attempt at making my own sweet vermouth and wanted to know more about the process and tricks of the trade. Right before class, I re-read the section on vermouth making in a book that Stephen Shellenberger from Dante recommended to me, M. A. Amerine's Technology of Wine Making. While I was the only person who mentioned an interest on the hands-on aspect, once that portion started, it was clear that I was not the only one.

As cups of warmed mulled wine were passed out, Tommy started with an overview of the history of what is vermouth and how mulled wine was a predecessor of current day vermouths. The discussion went into regions where vermouth is made and how the climate influenced the grape production and often how that sometimes necessitated the adulteration such as in warmer climates which produced thinner and less interesting wines. In addition, it was mentioned how cooler climates provide crisper, more acidic wines that tend to make for a different and perhaps higher quality vermouth. Grape choice and various methodologies were discussed, including an interesting regional analysis of the indigenous spices of each region. Before cocktails, vermouths were originally served to accompany food, and similar botanicals were used in the vermouth as were used to spice the meal.

The next phase of the class was part tasting and part talking about the different techniques and flavors using the examples as starting points for the discussion. We tasted 6 vermouths: Noilly Pratt Dry (the old not the new American version), Dolin Dry, Lillet Blanc, Martini & Rossi Sweet, Carpano Antica, and Barolo Chinato. One aspect of the tasting was the importance of fresh vermouth and how the aging process can affect not only what flavors are dominant and how the flavors change, but how the balance of bitters to sweetness could be greatly affected. For example, the 3 month old Carpano Antica was way too sweet for my palate and was not as delightful as the freshly opened bottle; both could work in a cocktail although there would be a difference. The change in the month old Noilly Pratt dry was mainly in flavor for me for there is so little sweetness in it that any balance change was marginal. With the tasting were a lot of wine terms and flavors thrown out by the crowd that I did not usually think about when analyzing botanical-infused liqueurs and wines. After a round or two, I even got into the act of contributing a couple of tasting notes.

Somewhere in Tommy's talk, he focused on the historical significance of vermouths in America during the 1860's and on. Vermouth was the new hot cocktail ingredient of the time akin to the rage over St. Germain these days. Perhaps it was a mark of status for the bars to have such wonderfully rare imported products to serve and perhaps it was a mark of status for the drinker as well to be able to afford such luxuries. For the bartender, sweet vermouth served as a new sweetening agent. It could substitute in for the sugar otherwise used in cocktails by utilizing the sweet vermouth's approximately 15% sugar base. He also discussed the history of its use in the Manhattan and the Martinez, and the later use of less sweet and more dry vermouth in the more modern day Martini. He attributed the switch to the drying of the American palate prior to Prohibition.

The hands on part of the show was a discussion of the boiling-a-third of the wine rapid method I used in my vermouth and the slow-cold method. While the house vermouths at Craigie are made with the latter method, he wanted to show us both as he and the Craigie staff made their ambre vermouth and Carpano Antica replica. I did get a good lesson on the proper ways of making caramel using the wet and dry methods, and pointers on other ingredients such as raisins and sherry to use in my own batches. Once the Carpano Antica replica was finished, Tom mixed up a batch of Martinez cocktails for us to taste.

In terms of a class, it was 2 hours well spent. For me, the most valuable parts were the unexpected like the historical significance of vermouths on the incipient cocktail scene in the United States as well as how to properly appreciate vermouths like you would a fine wine. It was a good supplement to the informal lecture Eric Seed gave us when he stopped in to Boston to introduce his Dolin vermouth line last September.

[van der gin]

Citadelle Reserve Gin
Housemade Van Der Orange Liqueur
Ricard

Stir gin and Van Der Orange with ice and strain into a cocktail glass pre-rinsed with Ricard.

For my second drink at Rendezvous, Scott wanted me to try his work in progress. His drink used "Van der Orange" which is his housemade orange liqueur perhaps named or modeled after the Van der Hum liqueur. The liqueur is blended from white wine, vodka, Sevilla oranges, cinammon, vanilla, and sugar; the oranges were not just the peels but the whole fruit put through a food processor. The gin he used was a barrel-aged version very similar in citrus and spice notes to the regular Citadelle gin but with a pale gold color and a softer and smoother taste as you would expect from oak aging. Scott was still playing with the ratios but used a near equal (4:3) for my drink.

Andrea and I had different taste impressions of the cocktail. For her, the drink was very orange dominant from her first sip; she stated that it was "like a drop of orange oil". For me, the Ricard rinse pushed the drink to being anise-dominant. At least at first, for as my taste buds got acclimated to that flavor, the orange started to shine through for me; however, it took over half the drink for me to sense what Andrea did immediately. Scott seemed pleased when my post-drink comments included that it was kind of Pegu-like plus pastis [1].

[1] As a tangential note about the Pegu Club cocktail, I am in agreement with Doug from The Pegu Blog that the preferred recipe is 1 1/2 oz gin, 1/2 oz fresh lime juice, 1/2 oz Cointreau, and 2 dashes Angostura shaken until painfully cold (I tend to use Bombay gin). This recipe is often a little brash for people and most bars tend towards a sweeter drink for that reason. However, the ratio I prefer ends up tasting like gin and grapefruit juice with the latter being due to the interplay of the lime, orange liqueur, and bitters.

essence of winter sleep

1 oz Applejack
1/4 oz Benedictine
3-4 dashes Boker's Bitters
~3 oz Clos Normandy sparkling cider

Stir the Applejack, Benedictine, and bitters with ice and strain into a champagne flute rimmed with sugar. Top with the sparkling cider.

Sunday night, Andrea and I were feeling a bit cooped up so after I put the final ingredients into my batch of Abbott's bitters (which will be done in 4-6 months after a long oak aging step), we took off to Central Square to visit Scott Holliday at Rendezvous. Scott had told me a week ago that he was using my Boker's in a new cocktail on his menu. It came up when we were talking about botanicals and about how some of them are rather astringent such as the ones in Boker's. When I stated that Ben at Drink commented that my Boker's tend to dry out the drinks they are put into, Scott replied that was part of the reason he chose those over the other bitters in his collection. So once at Rendezvous, I was rather excited to try Scott's creation, the Essence of Winter Sleep, which is a reference to Robert Frost's poem "After Apple-Picking".

The drink was indeed rather dry, evocative of a coming winter. This effect stemmed from the use of sparkling cider from Normandy which is a rather dry style unlike the British and some of the more popular American versions which can often be cloyingly sweet. The sugar crystals, the only hint of sweetness in the drink, were adhering to the glass in Hoar Frost style and helped to solidify the seasonal change symbolism. The Benedictine liqueur and the bitters added some interesting notes to the crisp apple flavors, but did not overwhelm the appleness itself as say cinnamon often does in even the lightest of mulled ciders.

Friday, January 23, 2009

tom & jerry

Batter:
  • 12 eggs, separated
  • 1 lb. sugar
  • 2 oz. aged rum
  • 1/2 t. ground cloves
  • 1/2 t. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 t. ground allspice
Beat the egg yolks until thin, and gradually whisk in the sugar. Add the rum and spices. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff and fold into the yolk mixture until well mixed.

For each drink, put 2 oz. of the batter into a mug. Add 1 oz. each of brandy and aged rum and fill the mug with equal parts hot milk and boiling water. Top with grated nutmeg.

Recipe from cocktailchronicles.com.


Just the trick for beating the cold! The first time I sampled a Tom & Jerry was at Drink, way back in November (11/23 to be exact). Fred and I had spent the chilly, breezy day in Kittery shopping, and on the way home we decided we needed some liquid fortification. Misty Kalkofen was stationed at the ice bar, and she mentioned to me that John Gertsen had made his first batch of Tom & Jerry batter of the season. He had tried to hold out until the first snow, but he couldn't wait to serve them up in his collection of vintage Tom & Jerry sets he'd brought to Drink. It sounded like heaven, so I took her up on the offer. John said he hoped to keep T&J batter on hand all winter long, snow or not. So the next one I had was also at Drink, two weeks later on the day of the first official snowfall of the winter.

My third Tom & Jerry contained a nice little surprise - instead of the customary rum and brandy, it was made with Fernet Branca. Scott Holliday had slipped this onto the counter in front of me at Rendezvous just before Christmas. This one instantly became my favorite variation, so of course on my visit to Drink the following week, John decided that he couldn't be outdone. Though I'd spent that evening drinking cocktails evocative of sunny climes (posts forthcoming, never fear), John made me a tiny T&J in the cutest lil mug to finish my evening. I can't remember if that's the mug pictured above, or if it was from one of my earlier visits. Fred's notes said that the mini-T&J contained 1 tbsp. of the batter, 1 oz. of Fernet, and the balance hot milk.

It's supposed to dip back down into the single digits here in Boston this weekend. I foresee at least one more Tom & Jerry in my immediate future...

red lion

1 1/2 oz. Plymouth gin
3/4 oz. Grand Marnier
1/2 oz. lemon juice
dash of house-made grenadine

Shake with ice, decant into a cocktail glass.

By my third drink at Rialto last night, I felt completely at home. Todd Maul was an excellent host. He graciously wrote down the recipes for me on a piece of paper since my iPhone was behaving strangely. He took out his own iPhone and showed us pictures of his lovely wife and utterly adorable 5 month-old son. And when it became apparent to him that Nicole and I were fellow cocktail geeks, he brought out his favorite vintage cocktail book: his 1951 edition of The Bartender's Book by Jack Townsend and Tom Moore McBride. He pointed out the Red Lion recipe in this book as a likely precursor to the ubiquitous (and corrupted) Cosmopolitan.

Though intrigued by it, Nicole wasn't sure having another cocktail would help her bicyle commute back to Belmont. So, I offered to split this cocktail with her. It was tinted a delicate peach-pink, but in all other respects it put the Cosmo to shame. It was nicely balanced with only a breath of sweetness - a perfect ending to the night.

One thing I'm happy to note. When we mentioned to Todd that we missed taking some of our now-non-drinking friends out to cocktail bars, he told us that in the next couple of weeks he'll be adding some non-alcoholic cocktails to Rialto's menu. This is great news for our friends who are abstaining from alcohol for religious, health, or baby-related reasons. We are great proponents of having fun, sophisticated beverages for everyone.

periodista

1 3/4 oz. Beija cachaça
1/4 oz. Rothman & Winter Orchard Apricot
1/4 oz. Cointreau
1/2 oz. lime juice

Shake with ice, decant into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

For my second cocktail at Rialto last night, I decided to get the Periodista: one of the cocktails that had caught Nicole's eye. She was a tiny bit nervous about the cachaça substitution for the usual rum, so she decided against ordering one; I happily gave her a taste of mine. When I tasted it, I was immediately reminded of Rhum J.M Agricole Blanc. Fred became a big fan of Rhum J.M after Scott Holliday at Rendezvous made him a le Président back in September of last year. Sadly, I've heard that Rhum J.M is getting very difficult to find in Massachusetts. Perhaps Beija would make an adequate substitution.

The Beija certainly gave this version of the Periodista a rich flavor that worked very well with the apricot liqueur. As we were commenting (good things) about the cocktail, Todd introduced us to a nice gentleman seated a few chairs down - Steve Diforio, the COO and co-founder of Beija. You can read the company's story on the website. Always good to support local businesses!

fancy apple

2 1/2 oz. Old Overholt
2 oz. apple cider reduction [1]
1/2 oz. Cherry Heering
dash Regan's orange bitters

Shake with ice and pour into a Collins glass filled with more ice.

[1] To make the apple cider reduction, boil until it's reduced to about 1/3 volume. Taste, and add a touch of fresh lemon juice if it's too sweet.

Last night my friend Nicole and I met up at Rialto in the Charles Hotel for cocktails. I'd heard a number of good things about Todd Maul's program somewhere on the intarwebz (can't remember where, though), so when I suggested this place to Nicole, she checked out the cocktail menu online and remarked that she had her eye on several of the cocktails on the list - a good sign! I loved the underlit marble bar - very pretty! As Nicole and I were talking, she remarked to me that the bartender was using the same little OXO measure that I had convinced her to get - another good sign.

The drink was somehow very warming to me, maybe because I associate apple cider with fall. The Cherry Heering gave it a candied flavor that I welcomed after the slippery walk from Central Square, where I had parked. Though this drink veered dangerously close to being too sweet for me, it went very well with the delicious duck sandwich I'd ordered; so win-win. After this first round of cocktails, Nicole and I concluded that we would certainly be back. But I'm getting ahead of myself, the night wasn't over after just this round.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

:: when you want a cocktail before dinner ::

One of the blogs I follow somewhat religiously is Between Meals by Michael Bauer, over at sfgate.com. He has a very interesting post today dealing with the topic of ordering cocktails before dining at a restaurant. In his (extensive) experience, he is frequently asked if he would like a cocktail as soon as he is greeted by his server, before he has a chance to peruse the cocktail list [1]. Further, when there are multiple people seated at the table, the server often puts down only one cocktail menu (and one wine menu). This holds up the process of choosing a cocktail even further, as everyone now has to pass around the single, precious cocktail menu. Commenters have given a number of suggestions on how to deal with this, such as listing cocktails and wines by the glass on the menu page preceding the appetizers.

I'm trying to think if I've encountered this issue here in the Boston area. I often eat at the bar in area restaurants, and the bartender knows to await my decision. However, I have noticed that at many places Fred and I get one cocktail menu for the two of us, whether we are sitting at the bar or not. This perplexes me, since I've observed that food menus change more often than cocktail menus - surely the cocktail menus aren't so precious that they can't print up enough for everyone. Perhaps, as Mr. Bauer has suggested, it is a relict of having a single (large) wine list where one or two bottles are chosen for the whole table by a single person. Whatever the reasoning behind it, the practice is certainly outdated given the surge in popularity of craft cocktails. In fact, I'd go a step further, and suggest that restaurants provide a separate cocktail list that contains cocktails, wines, and liqueurs suitable as apéritifs, much like the common practice of having a separate dessert menu with after-dinner drinks listed.

So, does anyone else have opinions about this?

[1] When I was in France on a business trip, this was often my experience as well. However, the custom of having an apéritif is so ingrained there that everyone pretty much knows what they want before even sitting down. I should also note that the notion of an apéritif *cocktail* is something that doesn't really have traction in France, at least not to my knowledge.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

rum old fashioned

a) Green Chartreuse
Ron Abuela Rum
Old Monk Rum
Swedish Punsch
b) 2 Sugar Cubes
Lemon Rind
Orange Rind
Modified Angostura Bitters
Mole Bitters
Fee's Whiskey Barrel Bitters
c) Becherovka

The sugar cubes and bitters in (b) were muddled in a rocks glass. The citrus peels were scraped against the remaining sugar crystals and left in the glass. The rums and liquours in (a) were stirred with ice and strained into the rocks glass. Becherovka in (c) was added to a snifter, lit with a lighter, and poured while flaming into the rocks glass. A large ice cube was added to the glass.
For my second cocktail, I asked Tommy for a drink made with Cognac or rum, and he chose the latter. It was spectacular to see how Tom took a simple base spirit and run with it to make a grand show. The people at the other end of the bar were rather intrigued especially once the fireshow started and wanted to know who has having the drink. I felt really sheepish and replied that I only asked for a rum drink and not this grandiose fete (not that I was complaining).

My notes state that the modified Angostura was adulterated with cardamom, cherry bark, and other botanicals, and that his Swedish Punsch (he did not call it that but citrus and cardamom flavors made it sound as such) was Batavia Arrack with grapefruit and orange peel, cardamom, and possible another spice or two that I missed. So with the Batavia Arrack, technically there were 3 rums in this old fashioned. Tastewise, it was very herbal and intense in the bitters signature. Clove was an evident flavor most likely stemming from the Becherovka, and the citrus oils from the peels were strong on the nose throughout the drink. The two dark rums donated a robust richness to carry the spice and bitters. Overall, it was a great drink both in show and in taste. Calling it an old fashioned does not do the drink justice. Perhaps an old fashioned on steroids snake oil might be more fitting!

As I was finishing this drink, Andrea showed up and ordered some dinner and wine. I was pretty cocktailed out by this point, so I finished the evening with a bottle of Orval, a complex Belgian beer that made for a fine transition. We did stop back in to Green Street's Inauguration Party and said hello to a few people before departing for home.

florentine flip

1 oz Amaro Nonino
3/4 oz Benedictine
1 oz Punt e Mes
1 dash Angostura Bitters
1 drop Orange Blossom Water
Full Egg
Mint Essence

Shake ingredients (save for the mint essence) in a shaker once without ice and once with. Strain out ice and pour through a tea strainer into a coupe. Flame mint essence over the top of the drink.

Last night, I went down to Green Street for their Inauguration Party co-hosted by DrinkBoston and the Beer Advocate. After tasting the Whiskey Punch that Lauren Clark (of Drink Boston) made to honor Andrew Jackson's 1829 inauguration party (not sure if it was the same recipe or in the spirit of that one) and Avery Brewing Company's Ale to the Chief, I decided that the crowdedness of the celebration was a bit overwhelming. I did regret not trying Ommegang Brewery's "Obamagang", but I moved my celebration over to Craigie on Main where a bar stool and Tommy both greeted me.
I decided on the Florentine Flip, a drink I had previously avoided on Craigie's cocktail menu due to my egg-phobia but now wanted to try since recently beating my fears. Tommy's creation was rather smooth with hints of herbalness and bitters. The flip had a pleasing richness and was well-balanced such that no flavor took dominance over the others. Interesting was the choice of no base spirit in favor of two liquours and a vermouth. Without the egg, that mixture might have been a bit too sweet for me, yet with it, it was dead on.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

hot buttered rum

1 1/2 oz Mount Gay Eclipse or Extra Old Rum
2 heaping tbsp Batter (see below)
Boiling Water

Add rum and batter to a coffee mug, fill with hot water, and stir.
Hot Buttered Rum Batter
1 pound light brown sugar
1/2 pound unsalted butter (softened)
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground allspice
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 oz rum
In a mixing bowl, beat the ingredients into a mixing bowl until well combined. Refrigerate (good for a month) or freeze (for longer).
Today, Andrea and I went to the Hot Buttered Rum day event at Grand (Somerville, MA) where the lovely ladies of LUPEC, such as Pink Lady pictured above, were serving up said beverage. I had mine with the regular Eclipse rum and got to taste Andrea's made with the Extra Old as well. The Eclipse rum made for a smoother drink, whereas the Extra Old brought out the spices in the batter a lot more and made for a richer drink over all.

Also on hand was Adam from The Boston Shaker who was showing off his new products to us and explaining various cocktail techniques and tools to the customers. You can read the previous post I made about his section at Grand here. Now what to do with this bottle of Angostura Orange...

knickebein

The theme for this month's Mixology Monday (MxMo XXXV) is "Broaden Your Horizons" as chosen by A Mixed Dram blog. The options were to either "Try a new base spirit. Never mixed with Tequila? Give it a try. If you’ve never made a beer cocktail or a wine cocktail, why not give it a shot? What about something really exotic?" or "Use a technique you’ve never used before. Ever been itching to give molecular mixology a shot? Now’s your chance. Ever been eager to infuse vodka or spice rum, or toss fruit and spices in something else? Here’s your excuse."

For this theme, I started thinking of things I either have not done yet or have shied away from. When I mentioned to Andrea that two concepts that I was thinking about were Pousse-cafes (layered cocktails, something I have never tried) and egg drinks (something that I am only recently learning to appreciate while out at bars), she got that look in her eye and dared me to do both. I instantly knew what she was talking about –- the Knickebein. We once saw it being made by John Gertsen at No. 9 Park for 3 guests sitting at the corner of the bar and one, of course, for himself.

The drink is attributed to Leo Engel in his 1878 book American and Other Drinks. His concoction was equal parts Curaçoa, Noyeau, and Maraschino (mixed) filling a port-wine glass two thirds of the way up. On top of that, he layered an unbroken egg yolk, and topped it with whipped egg whites sprinkled with drops of Angostura bitters. The one Gertsen made was similar –- he used only Maraschino on the bottom layer and I remembered that he had a layer of liquor between the meringue and the egg yolk. This extra layer is described in the recipe on the Bols website where they use Cognac or Kirsch.

The recipe I went with was a modified one from William Boothby's The World's Drinks and How To Mix Them. Boothby wrote about the Knickebein in the 1907 edition (the 1934 edition is much more abbreviated), "This famous Teutonic beverage is little known in America, and few bartenders have ever acquired the art of compounding one. It is an after-dinner drink, and in order to be fully appreciated, it must be partaken of according to the following directions, as four different sensations are experienced by the drinker. Therefore, the duty of the presiding mixologist is to thoroughly explain to the uninitiated the modus operandi, etc.:"

While Boothby gives similar directions as Engel, these are the exact ones from Leo including his italics for emphasis:
1. Pass the glass under the Nostrils and Inhale the Flavour –- Pause.
2. Hold the glass perpendicularly, close under your mouth, open it wide, and suck the froth by drawing a Deep Breath. -- Pause again.
3. Point the lips and take one-third of the liquid contents remaining in the glass without touching the yolk. -- Pause once more.
4. Straighten the body, throw the head backward, swallow the contents remaining in the glass all at once, at the same time breaking the yolk in your mouth.
The Engel recipe was too sweet sounding for me, so I modified the Boothby recipe slightly. I used a base layer of equal parts (1/2 oz) of Yellow Chartreuse, Kümmel (Helbing), and Benedictine, poured into a 4 oz Vodka glass. Next, an egg yolk was slid on top of that layer using a spoon. Floated on top using the back of the same spoon was 3/4 oz of Courvoisier VSOP Cognac (this step was my modification). And lastly, the whipped egg whites were added and flavored with a few drops of Angostura bitters.
One for me and one for Andrea. There should have been one more but our friend Michael (who is always up for these challenges and wrote, "That sounds so cool! It sounds like it would make me stronger!") had tickets to the Symphony that night.

Reflecting on the stages: (1) The smell was surprisingly fresh and spiced; not eggy in any way. (2) The meringue was clean tasting with the Angostura giving it an intriguing flavor. (3) The egg whites seemed to coat the mouth to reduce the burn of the Cognac. (4) Time for the show: the liqueurs were pleasant save for the Kümmel that added too strong of a sharp caraway or cumin taste and unbalanced the mixture (note: leave it out next time or sub in Maraschino, Cointreau, or perhaps Fernet-Branca for that third). As the egg yolk slid into my mouth, a wave of fear entered my body. The yolk easily burst on my tongue with a little pressure and the contents mixed with the last bits of the liqueur layer. At that point, my realization was that it was not all that gross; in fact, it had a richness that soothed the harsh taste of the Kümmel[1].

I would like to thank The Scribe from A Mixed Dram for pushing me to broaden my horizons and see that raw eggs are not that scary and layered drinks can be worth the extra effort! I may even be tempted to try the Knickebein again. Cheers!
Here I am with my body straightened and my head thrown backwards. I think this photo was taken just after the yolk hit my tongue (which was not at the end of the shot...)

[1] Kümmel can be rather delightful when used in well-balanced cocktails such as Weeper’s Joy from Imbibe!.
Weeper's Joy
• 1 oz Kümmel
• 1 oz Sweet Vermouth
• 1 oz Absinthe
• 2 dash Curacao
• 1/2 tsp Gomme Syrup
Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

[bourbon el presidente]

2 oz Four Roses Bourbon
1/2 oz Luli Chinato
1/2 oz Rhum Clément Creole Shrubb
1 barspoon Fernet Branca

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass.

For my next cocktail, I asked Hugh for a whiskey drink and he had an idea that stuck with the Creole Shrubb theme. The base spirit he went with was a new-to-Eastern Standard bourbon, Four Roses; while I did not taste it alone, reviews of it suggest that it has a pleasing floral or fruit nose to it. To the whiskey and orange liqueur, Hugh added in a bit of Luli, a white wine-based chinchona bark-infused vermouth. The Luli's floral notes mixed well with the Creole Shrubb and Four Roses, and the quinine and other botanical flavors in it helped to lead in to the bitters of the Fernet Branca. Over all, the cocktail was very much a Bourbon El Presidente with a notable bitters signature. Hugh appeared pleased when I commented that it seemed like a drink recipe that I would envision Chuck Taggart to be enjoying and writing about it in his blog.

[sardinian alaska]

Anchor Distilling's Genevieve
Apricot Liqueur
Rhum Clément Creole Shrubb
1 barspoon Mirto

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Twist lemon peel over drink and drop in.
Last night, I met Andrea at Eastern Standard where she had saved me a seat in front of Hugh Fiore. I asked Hugh if he had something he was working on, to which he replied that he had an idea and I trusted him enough to not ask a question until I got the drink. His initial concept for this cocktail was to give some love to Anchor's Genevieve which often gets ignored relative to their Junipero gin. While Hugh conveyed the ingredients on his latest creation, he stated that he was still working on it so I have no clue on the proportions. He did state that the myrtle berry and leaf liqueur initially started as a rinse but was upped to a barspoon. While the cocktail was a slight bit sweet for my tastes, the mirto's bitterness did a decent job at cutting into the sweetness of the apricot liqueur and orange peel-infused rhum liqueur. Overall, the drink had some similarities to an Alaska, albeit a more full flavored fruited and bitter one. With a little bit more tweaking, this drink could be a contender.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

vergano's bronx

Oro Blanco-infused Gin
Dolin Dry Vermouth
Nebbiolo Chinato
Orange Juice
1 dash Regan's Orange Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a rocks glass. Twist orange peel over top and drop in.

After Eastern Standard, Andrea and I walked from Kenmore Square over the bridge to Central to pay Tommy a visit at Craigie on Main for dessert. Tom had a few new drinks on the menu including this one. While a standard Bronx is half gin with the other half being equal parts orange juice, sweet vermouth, and dry vermouth, the Vergano's Bronx is similar to a variation, the Bronx Cocktail Dry (lacks the sweet vermouth). The gin infusion that Tom created for this drink truly brought the cocktail to a higher level. He infused the peel of oro blancos, a grapefuit-pummelo cross, and not just the zest. The end result was a cocktail with bitter undertones of the orange bitters and the flavors of white grapefruit-like pith. Overall, a very refreshing but complex cocktail that was delightful to drink (well, before and after but not with my sweet dessert).

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

old cuban

1/2 (?) oz Lime Juice
1 oz Simple Syrup
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Mint Leaves
1 1/2 oz Barbancourt 8 15 Year Rum
2 oz Cristalino Sparkling Wine

Muddle mint leaves with simple syrup, bitters, and lime juice. Add rum and shake on ice. Double strain through a regular and a tea strainer into a coupe. Top with champagne and garnish with a spanked mint leaf. Note: this is what I observed; most recipes list it as 3/4 oz lime juice which it could have been, and I completely missed the addition of the bitters but I included them in the recipe.

After Drink, we took Sam's suggestion to eat down the road at Sel de la Terre especially after I had read that they had offered a vegetarian prix fix menu on New Year's Eve here. After dinner, we hopped on the subway to continue our night at Eastern Standard in quest of their cheese plate. We found a pair of seats in front of Kit Paschal's station. While Kit was tending to Andrea's order of "something with pastis" whereby Kit decided he wanted to make the original, rather complicated Zombie recipe [1], I looked over the menu for a drink I have not tried yet. I went with the Old Cuban.
The Old Cuban was rather pleasant -- a mojito given some extra sophistication with the bubbly. After this round of drinks and cheese, we were about to be off to the next destination when Kit presented a round of pousse-cafés with the check [2]. The Old Cuban's mint theme carried over with a layer of Fernet-Branca on top of crème de menthe with crushed ice and garnished with a mint leaf.

[1] Kit's excitement was on par with John Gertsen's level when he was making a round of a rather complicated pousse-cafés for my neighbors at No. 9's bar; the pousse-café contained maraschino liqueur, an unbroken egg yolk, [another booze layer], freshly whipped meringue, and cocoa powder. I probably missed a bitters and/or other layer. EDIT: it's called the Knickebein.
[2] I later learned the name of the drink as the Miracle Frappe from this chart.

[whiskey vesper]

1 1/2 oz Junipero Gin
1 oz Old Fitzgerald Bonded Whiskey
1/2 oz Lillet Blanc

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

On Sunday, Andrea and I went to the ICA museum to catch the Tara Donovan exhibit. Afterwards, it was too early for dinner but Drink down the street from the ICA had just opened for the evening. While I have closed many a bar in my time, I have never opened a place before. We sat down at the main bar where Sam Treadway was prepping for the night.

For one of the drinks, I requested a gin and dark spirits-based cocktail. The concept was in my head from the delicious Automobile Cocktail (Scotch & gin) I made at home the night before (see recipe below). I have had similar drinks at home mixing gin with rum, Cognac, Calvados, or whiskey, and out such as a rum drink Scott made me at Rendezvous. There is something about adding the juniper berry and other botanical flavors to another base spirit that is quite intriguing to me.
Automobile
• 1/3 Scotch Whisky
• 1/3 Dry Gin
• 1/3 Sweet Vermouth
• 1 dash Orange Bitters
Stir well with ice and strain into glass.
(from Patrick Duffy's The Official Mixer's Manual)
Sam looked at me like I had thrown him a devious curve ball, but he took a moment to think and then looked rather inspired. The drink that he made me was based on the Vesper Martini with the vodka swapped out in favor of Old Fitz whiskey. The whiskey added a good deal of malt and other flavors that took the gin in a different direction than standard malty gins such as Oude Genevers go. While Andrea thought the Lillet had a definite signature, I would have liked it more pronounced perhaps in an equal parts recipe of the three components. Or perhaps an orange twist or orange bitters to coax out and magnify the citrus flavors in the Lillet. Still not a bad first pass at this cocktail.