Wednesday, April 29, 2009

margarita

1 oz. tequila (Partida's Blanco)
1 oz. cointreau
1 oz. fresh lime juice

Shake with plenty of cracked ice and strain into a good-sized cocktail glass. Fred disprefers the use of a salt-rimmed glass, but if you're into that kind of thing, coat the rim with lime and dip into a dish of kosher salt before decanting.

Fred and I have a dream bar set-up at home for a couple of amateurs (at least as far as bartending toys and booze selection go). For the past couple of years that we've been into craft cocktails, I've deferred to Fred's bartending skills, happy to have him choose and mix. Lately I've thought, "why should he have all the fun?" I love to get all technique-y, and back in my youth (before I was seduced away by software development) I was an analytical chemist. So I've been picking up the shaker myself, concentrating on learning to make some of the classics. Fred's already written about my first foray - a basic martini. After that, I really got cracking - literally. I'd been schooled months earlier in the importance of properly chilling and waterizing a cocktail. One of my toy purchases back a few months ago was a lovely vintage ice cracker. It's a stainless-steel ball connected to a bakelite handle by a stiff spring. Fred always looks so cool when he uses it. I also wanted to master the Boston shaker. So, having a wide streak of masochism in my nature, I decided that my next cocktail would be a Ramos Fizz. The Ramos Fizz requires lots of cracked ice, which provides a proper surface area and topology to help emusify the egg white. It also requires lots of shaking, 5 minutes at a minimum. These 5 minutes (to be fair, Fred shook for the middle minute thirty) gave me plenty of opportunity to experiment with different shaking techniques [1]. I found a variant of Tommy's technique (a two-handed, two-part shake whose rhythm reminds me of how someone would shake a tambourine) to be the most comfortable.

When I came home from work last Thursday with a bag full of limes, I decided to make one of my personal favorites, a margarita. In looking up recipes, I decided to try Ted Haigh's recipe from Vintage Spirits & Forgotten Cocktails. While the margarita hardly qualifies as a forgotten cocktail, the properly-made classic version has certainly been neglected. Haigh's version used equal parts instead of the more common sidecar ratio (3 parts spirit, 2 parts orange liqueur, 1 part citrus juice), and as a result was rather on the sour side. The Partida definitely held up in the flavor profile, its honeyed smokiness probably worked better in this ratio than a less mellow blanco would have. Substitution of Grand Marnier for the Cointreau would also work with this ratio to make it less sour. Fred remained unconvinced of the margarita's charms, but I found this recipe to be refreshingly tart.

[1] OK, someone should do a write-up of the various shaking techniques used by Boston's finest bartenders, complete with pictures, or possibly even video.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

hawaiian

1 1/2 oz Dark Rum (Goslings Black Seal)
1 1/2 oz Pineapple Juice, Unsweetened
1 Egg White (Farm egg from Southborough, MA)
1 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

Shake once without ice and once with. Strain into a cocktail glass.

While enjoying our Prickly Pear on the deck on Sunday night, I brought out a few cocktail books to flip through. One recipe that caught my eye was in Patrick Duffy's The Official Mixer's Manual. I was looking for something to use either the pineapple or grapefruit juice we had just purchased, and the Hawaiian seemed intriguing and refreshingly appropriate given the warm evening. The drink had a delicious frothy caramel-pineapple flavor and was surprisingly dry with a slight degree of sharpness. The dark rum gives the drink its character, and Andrea wondered how Old Monk would have worked instead of the Goslings especially with Old Monk's vanilla notes. I wondered though if the drink was missing something such as a liqueur like curacao or apricot. It would provide some sweetness and more depth.

I was not able to find this recipe online and was surprised that the Hawaiian Cocktail on CocktailDB was gin based (1 oz gin, 3/4 oz pineapple juice, 1/2 egg white, 1 d orange bitters)! And the Hawaiian listed there lacking the egg had a similar thought about the liqueur (1 1/2 oz gin, 1/2 oz pineapple juice, 1/2 oz orange curacao). It might be worth trying this drink again as 1 1/2 oz Old Monk Rum, 1 oz pineapple juice, 1/2 oz apricot liqueur or curacao, 1 egg white, and a dash orange bitters variant.

prickly pear

2 oz Reposado Tequila (Milagro)
1 oz Pear Liqueur (Rothman & Winter Orchard Pear)
1/2 oz Lime Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

On Sunday, we were in Jamaica Plain so we stopped into Blanchards and spotted the Rothman and Winter Orchard Pear liqueur. Andrea had been wanting a pear brandy or liqueur for a while so this seemed like the perfect opportunity. Once we got home, I had to figure out what to do with it. Having no good starting point, I went to the recipe page on the Haus Alpenz (the distributer) site and chose the Prickly Pear as a good deck drink given the unseasonably warm weather that day.
The pear liqueur gives a subtle sweetness and pear flavor to this Margarita variant. The tequila and lime juice seem to overwhelm the pear a bit so perhaps it was not the best showcase for the liqueur itself. However, it does make for an interesting combination that smells and tastes like cactus fruit, and the drink was rather refreshing and tasty overall.

One drink I found on the web intrigues me. It's the Statesman created at Bourbon and Branch. While they do not list the proportions, the ingredients are gin, R&W Orchard Pear, Green Chartreuse, and orange bitters. My go to starting ratio might be 4:1:1:1 dash, although the Eastern Standard standard of 2:1:1, or a more gentle 4:2:1 might work rather well too.

Postnote 11/9/11: The Statesman recipe can be found here.

Monday, April 27, 2009

leonardo

1 oz Brandy (Germain-Robin Shareholders' Reserve)
1/2 oz Benedictine
1 oz Sweet Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
On Thursday night, I was flipping through the 1937-era Cafe Royal Cocktail Book and spotted the Leonardo cocktail which stood out for its use of brandy and Benedictine. The only information I could find about the drink was that it was invented by Leonard Baigent; moreover, the book gave the recipe as a set of proportions which I scaled down to a 3 oz pre-melt drink. Upon tasting the drink, Andrea commented that it was "a pretty sublime drink". The Leonardo was very rich and surprisingly the brandy was not eclipsed by other the other flavors. The lemon and Benedictine liqueur were at battle in the swallow -- as the drink warmed, the citrus subsided and the herbalness of the liqueur began to take dominance.

Friday, April 24, 2009

plastic passion

1 1/2 oz Rhum Agricole (Gold JM Rhum)
1 oz Lillet Blanc
1 oz Passion Fruit Juice
1 barspoon (1/2 tsp) Pastis
1 dash Orange Blossom Water
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Mix ingredients and pour into a stemmed water glass filled with crushed ice. Stir and garnish with a lemon twist.

Last night's theme on Thursday Drink Night on Mixoloseum, a weekly online cocktail recipe improvisation and chat, was swizzles. Swizzles are often rum (although not always) cocktails prepared over crushed ice and stirred with a multipronged swizzle stick (nothing like the kitchy things you see in bars now). My only exposure to a proper swizzle drink was the Chartreuse Swizzle that Misty made me at Drink (the link has a picture of one their authentic wood swizzle sticks).
For my drink submission, I had the concept of mixing rhum agricole with Lillet for a while and this was the perfect opportunity. Given the recent success we've had using passion fruit juice in cocktails, that was the next ingredient to go in. I figured that a small amount of pastis would give the drink the right amount of flair as it does in Don the Beachcomber's Zombie. I rounded out the drink with some orange flower water to pair up with the Lillet, some Angostura bitters to bring out some extra complexity, and a lemon twist to add a citrus oil nose and a bit of eye candy to the top of the drink. For a name, I considered the hogo or plastic smells in the rhum agricole and the passion fruit and instantly thought of The Cure song "Plastic Passion".

The citrus flavors crossed with the sharpness of the pastis and the Angostura coupled with the funkiness of the rum produced a rather dry and delightful cocktail. The pastis played a rather large role in the aroma of the drink and complemented the smell of the rhum. I do not think that any one at TDN had passion fruit juice on hand to try out the recipe and give any constructive criticism. Lastly, one recipe from last night that I tried out and rather enjoyed was from the RumDood:
Wives of Windsor Swizzle
2 oz London Dry Gin
1/2 oz Falernum
1 oz Grapefruit Juice
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
Swizzle in a double-old fashioned glass filled with crushed ice and garnish with mint.
Doing the best I could with the ingredients in my kitchen, I used lime juice and homemade grapefruit bitters and no garnish in place of the grapefruit juice and mint sprig. I imagine that the grapefruit version as intended could only be better.

incognito

1 oz Brandy (Courvoisier VSOP)
2 oz Lillet Blanc
1/3 oz Apricot Brandy (Rothman and Winter)
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

The other night while making dinner, I was flipping through Salvatore Calabrese's Complete Home Bartenders Book when the Incognito caught my eye. Salvatore described the cocktail as "a classic apertif with a nicely rounded flavor dominated by the softness of Lillet". In the drink itself, the apricot liqueur paired up rather nicely with the Lillet yielding a citrus-fruit result. Andrea liked the sharpness of the drink with the the Angostura bitters balancing some of the notes in the apricot. The brandy served to give the drink a little heft but, unlike many cocktails, was not the focus on the drink.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

golden fizz

1 1/2 oz Plymouth Gin
3/4 oz (*) Simple Syrup
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1 Egg Yolk
~4 oz Club Soda

Shake gin, simple, lemon, and egg once without ice and once with ice. Double strain into a highball glass. Top off with club soda, add straw and gently stir. (*) I would recommend using a lot less simple, such as 1/4 oz. CocktailDB's ratio is 1 oz lemon juice to 1 tsp sugar.

For my second beverage on Tuesday at Drink, I asked Josey Packard for a flip. One idea she came up with was a Golden Fizz which was a drink I had always read about but never had. Therefore, I gave her the thumbs up. In essence, it's a Tom Collins with an egg yolk (goldens are yolk, silvers are egg white, and royals are whole egg). As Josey was making the drink, she straw tasted it and felt that the sweetness needed to be upped from 1/2 to 3/4 oz simple syrup. She commented how the egg yolk hid the taste of sweet so she thought it needed some adjustment. Indeed, for the first few sips it was very citrussy. However, as my tastebuds acclimated, the sweetness took over in the drink. Probably for my palate, I would have preferred less (1/4 oz) instead of more simple syrup more akin to the classic recipe; however, for a younger sweet-toothed drinker, the higher ratio might be preferable. The egg yolk gave a delightfully rich mouthfeel which was different in sensation from an egg white's thicker and frothier one.

The people nearby me asked Josey what she had made me. I was hoping that it would catch on like I have seen other drinks do, such as the Moscow Mule or Mojito which can spread across the bar as a drink request. Unfortunately, the egg aspect might have deterred them from giving such a classic a try.

[rhubarb rye]

2 oz Old Overholt Rye
1/2 oz Averna
1/2 oz Aperol
1/2 dash No. 9 Orange Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Twist an orange peel over the top and discard the peel.

On Tuesday night after dinner, we stopped in at Drink. For my first cocktail, Aaron Butler made me something very similar to the Red Carpet that Kit made Jess at Eastern a while back. I asked Aaron for something with Aperol and rum, and he replied that he had an idea with Aperol and whiskey. The drink he made me was very much like a Black Manhattan softened by the Aperol. Orange oils hit the nose as the first sensation, and the sip gave into a bounty of richness followed by a bitter swallow. The flavor was reminiscent of a bittersweet chocolate taste.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

sardi's delight

1/2 jigger Gin (1 1/2 oz, used 209)
1 spoon Passionfruit Juice (1/4 oz Ceres brand)
2 dash Grenadine (1/4 oz, used homemade)
1 spoon Lemon Juice (1/4 oz)
2 dash Absinthe (1/4 oz, Henri Bardouin Pastis)
2 drop Bitters (1 dash Angostura)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

After drinking the Ramos Gin Fizz on Sunday night, I began flipping through our copy of the 1934 reprint of Boothby's World Drinks and How to Mix Them to find a recipe to use up the leftover freshly squeezed lemon juice. I spotted the Sardi's Delight; besides the curious name, the recipe's inclusion of passionfruit juice attracted me. I got up and checked out the history of this drink on the web and found a recipe for it on CocktailDB. In the above recipe, the Boothby's is on the left and the CocktailDB's along with the specific ingredients we used are in parentheses on the right. The drink was invented at Vincent Sardi's restaurant in New York City. This major Broadway actor's hang-out was founded in 1927 so the recipe must have been one of their early creations given that it was published in my edition of Boothby's only 7 years later.
One delightful thing about this recipe's balance is that, unlike say Firpo's Balloon, the anise seed flavor was not overwhelming and only gave it a hint of a "Good'n'Plenty" cocktail (Andrea's term for it). The other flavors worked rather well in the drink, with the lemon and Angostura bitters being very detectable over the gin and pastis. The grenadine and passionfruit worked with the lemon juice to round out the cocktail's fruit profile but were not as noticeable as distinct flavors.

(Monster in the photo created by Coffee-Drinker, and some of the Sardi's information was from this great Mae West blog).

ramos gin fizz

2 oz Old Tom Gin
1/2 Lemon (1 oz Lemon Juice)
1/2 Lime (1/2 oz Lime Juice)
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
2-3 dash Orange Flower Water
1 Egg White
1 1/2 oz Heavy Cream (Used Soy Milk)
1 tsp Superfine Sugar
2-4 oz Club Soda

Shake with ice for 5 minutes and strain into a highball glass. Top off with club soda and garnish with a lemon slice.

After getting back from my paintball tournament on Sunday and catching up on the interwebs, my ears perked up when I heard the sound of ice bouncing around a cocktail shaker three rooms away. The sound kept going longer than I expected a normal shake to go. And then it dawned on me -- Andrea was using the Hayman's Old Tom Gin we had bought the day before in a Ramos Gin Fizz. The Ramos is a drink that requires so much shaking that the Ramos' saloons hired shaker boys to take over this task from the bartenders for upwards of 15 minutes (according to legend and lore). After walking into the kitchen, just as in the later eras where bartenders would pass off the drink to the next bartender in succession to shake, I took my turn at the Boston shaker. I could easily see how the 5 minutes that we shook it for could seem like 15 especially if we were doing more than one of these.
The recipe Andrea was using came from Mittie Hellmich's book which is only slightly different from the ones in Famous New Orleans Drinks & How to Mix'em and Imbibe!. We had never made them at home before and only once had them out when Eric Seed was in town showcasing his new Old Tom Gin and other products and Max at Deep Ellum made a Ramos and a few other drinks.

The Ramos Gin Fizz had a great orange blossom and lemon juice aroma to it. The citrus combined with the sweet creamy gin flavors was an amazing experience to drink. Andrea thought that it was not as decadent as the one Max made us due to using soy milk (all we lactards usually have in the house) instead of using cream. Andrea has also been pondering how to make one of these for our vegan friends especially after some pretentious cocktail snobs told her it could not be done -- period. Given that we have made French 75's and other champagne cocktails with beer amongst other wacky experimentation in drink not to mention in food, we shrugged off their disparaging comments. Besides the soy milk for cream substitution, in place of the egg she thought some blenderized avocado might work or perhaps a vegan egg replacer like Ener-G. Well, it's a project for another day.

Monday, April 20, 2009

tasmanian twister

1 1/2 oz Gin (Beefeater)
1/2 oz Campari
1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
1 oz Pink Grapefruit Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist (used grapefruit twist instead).

On Friday night, Andrea returned home from work with a grapefruit one of her coworkers had given her from Florida. Figuring that I would have better luck looking in a newer cocktail book for a grapefruit juice recipe, I opened up Mittie Hellmich's Ultimate Bar Book and spotted one of her original recipes that looked enticing. Remembering how well Campari and grapefruit juice go together from the Shiver I had at Chez Henri, the Tasmanian Twister seemed like a good choice for a drink to christen the 2009 drinks-on-the-deck season (we have a 2nd floor deck overlooking a semi-major street which was one of the impetuses for starting to mix at home one summer).

Andrea's first comment was how beautiful the color of the drink was. The combination of the reddish colors from the sweet vermouth, Campari, and pink grapefruit juice was quite stunning. The grapefruit nose started the drink with the Campari's herbal notes following up on the sip. The Campari and grapefruit worked just as well here as it did in the Shiver with the Campari complementing the grapefruit's delightful tartness. By the end of the drink, I was still pondering Tasmanian Twisters' name but fully convinced by its recipe.

new york sour

2 oz Rye (Pikesville)
1/2 Lemon (~3/4 oz Juice)
1/2 oz Water
1 tsp Sugar (1 Demerara Sugar Cube)
1 dash Curacao (1/4 oz Curacao of Curacao)
1/2 oz oz Claret (Herding Cats Cab/Shiraz)

Muddle sugar in water. Add rye, lemon juice, curacao, and ice and shake. Strain into a cocktail or sour glass and float the wine on top.

On Thursday before cooking dinner, I cracked open David Wondrich's Imbibe! and found the recipe for the New York Sour which had been mentioned on Chow. I was attracted to the recipe for the concept of the red wine float. Wondrich cites a Chicago bartender who claimed that the float of red wine gives the drink "the claret 'snap'... [which] makes the drink look well and it gives it a better taste." To the recipe, I took Wondrich's recommendation to reduce the sugar from 1 tablespoon to 1 teaspoon and also "modernized" the recipe by using the 1880's-era addition of curacao.
To what would be an otherwise regular rye sour, the curacao rounded out the citrus flavors and added more depth. The wine float surprisingly lingered even the glass was emptied, albeit in diminished depth. Indeed, the wine did not just add a delightful appearance to the drink but the tannins served to dry out the drink slightly besides adding to the flavor. The extra attention to details in the recipe levitated this drink above a normal whiskey sour and made it quite a "pleasant-looking, red-headed drink" (Chicago Tribune, 1883).

Friday, April 17, 2009

dutch masters

2 1/4 oz Cognac
1 oz Cherry Heering
1/2 - 3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1 dash Smoking Ban Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

After departing Drink on Wednesday night, it was still somewhat early so I decided to stop off on the way home at Rendezvous to visit Scott Holliday. While looking over the cocktail menu, my eyes immediately spotted the Dutch Masters as the new drink on the menu. After just having something at Drink with my Abbott's bitters (I gave them a sample a few weeks back that was early in the oak aging process), I was amused that Scott was using my Smoking Ban Bitters on his menu. I assume that Scott named the cocktail to refer to the Dutch origin of the cherry liqueur in the recipe and perhaps to the well-known cigar brand (a nod to the bitters).

The Dutch Masters had a delightful sour cherry flavor similar to the rye-based High Hat. However, unlike the bitter-free High Hat, the Dutch Masters gained a spicy complexity from their inclusion. Besides the spiciness, these bitters also seemed to have a nice drying effect on the drink's balance.

four rum old fashioned

1/2 oz Batavia Arrack
1/2 oz Ron Pampero Anniversario
1/2 oz JM Rhum Blanc
1/2 oz Barbancourt 8 Year Rum
1/2 oz Cinnamon Syrup
2 dashes Abbott's Bitters
2 dashes Angostura Orange Bitters

Add to a rocks glass with large ice chunk. Stir in glass. Twist a lime and an orange peel over the top and rim edge. Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel or other aromatic bitters is a good alternative if no Abbott's is available.

For my last beverage at Drink on Wednesday, Ben Sandrof wanted to make me a four rum old fashioned. The rums he chose originated from 4 countries: Indonesia, Venezuela, Martinique, and Haiti, and the variety of flavors added a lot of character to this drink. The first sensation was a strong citrus nose from the orange and lime peel essential oils. Of the rums, the sharp notes of the Batavia Arrack stood out the most with the funkiness of the rhum agricole placing second. The Barbancourt and Pampero added to the richness but were less identifiable especially compared to the other two. The cinnamon from the syrup and spice flavor from the bitters especially the clove oil from the Abbott's added a pleasing level of complexity to round off the drink's profile.

And the vocabulary word of the night was hogo which is used to describe the strange twang smell in rums, especially pot stilled ones like rhum agricoles. It is frequently described as a plastic or latex smell. The smell originates from the fusel oils which are fermentation byproducts that can get carried over during distillation. A little of this oil adds a delightful character and a lot can induce bad hangovers.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

hibiscus white rum milk punch

Hibiscus Tea-Infused White Rum
Lime Zest
Lime Juice
Cinnamon
Clove
Sugar
Milk

Made in advance and bottled. Served chilled in a cocktail glass. See the recipe below for the California Milk Punch for an idea of how this recipe was prepared. (EDIT: see below for a recipe for this punch, perhaps not this batch, as published in Boston.com!)

Last night at Drink, I spoke with Ben Sandrof about his Jerry Thomas-style milk punches he has been making. Unlike some old fashioned milk punches which are booze, milk, sugar, and some grated nutmeg, his recipes are of the style where the milk is heated and mixed with lemon or lime juice to precipitate the curd. The curd is removed and what is left is an interesting mouthfeel of the whey. The effect is more subtle and slightly different than that of gum arabic or egg white. Also, the end result is clarified and not the least bit cloudy.

Ben gave me samples of three of the punches and I believe that he had a fourth one that he did not bring out. One was Jerry's California Milk Punch (see recipe below) which was very tasty but reminded me a lot of the Cold Ruby Punch I had made about two weeks prior due to the Batavia Arrack and muddled pineapple flavors. The second one was a Scotch-St. Germain milk punch which was rather flavorful but way too sweet for my palate. The last milk punch was a hibiscus-white rum recipe which I enjoyed enough that I chose it for a full-sized serving. The hibiscus flower came through both on the nose and in the taste, and the floral notes in the punch were slightly reminiscent of St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur. The clove was definitely detectable in the slightly bitter swallow. This is not to say that the punch was bitter over all -- far from it with the sugar tipping the recipe to a somewhat sweet balance. My guess is that the bitter notes came from the alcohol extraction of the tea itself. The punch had just enough complexity to make savoring it slowly worthwhile and had plenty of sweetness and richness from the sugar and whey to make it rather easy to drink.
California Milk Punch (For Bottling)
Take the juice of four lemons.
The rind of two lemons.
1/2 pound of white sugar, dissolved in sufficient hot water.
1 pineapple, peeled, sliced and pounded.
6 cloves.
20 coriander seeds.
1 small stick of cinnamon.
1 pint of brandy.
1 pint of Jamaica rum.
1 gill of Batavia Arrack.
1 cup of strong green tea.
1 quart of boiling water.
1 quart of hot milk.
Put all the materials in a clean demijohn, the boiling water to be added last; cork this down to prevent evaporation, and allow the ingredients to steep for at least six hours; then add the hot milk and the juice of two more lemons; mix, and filter through a jelly-bag; and when the punch has passed bright, put it away in tight-corked bottles. This punch is intended to be iced for drinking.

Recipe from Jerry Thomas' Bartender's Guide (1862).

POSTNOTE: I found an article on Boston.com written by Lauren Clark of DrinkBoston wrote that gives one version of Drink's punch:
Rum-hibiscus milk punch
1 bottle (750 mL) white rum
Zest of 1 orange
Zest of 2 lemons
1 tbsp dried hibiscus leaves
2 cup simple syrup (1:1)
1 cup fresh lime juice
2 cup fresh whole milk (preferably unpasteurized)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves

1. Have on hand a 1-gallon container and 2 pitchers (1 should be glass).
2. In a large glass or ceramic bowl, combine the rum and orange and lemon rinds. Cover tightly and set aside to infuse for 48 hours. Add hibiscus and infuse for 2 hours more.
3. Strain the rum mixture through a fine-meshed sieve into a 1-gallon container. Add the simple syrup and stir well. Stir in the lime juice.
4. In a medium saucepan, heat the milk to 180 degrees. Pour the hot milk into the rum mixture. Add the cinnamon and clove. Stir and set aside for 30 minutes or until the mixture curdles.
5. Set a fine-meshed strainer over a pitcher (glass isn't necessary right now). Pour the milk mixture through the strainer. When the flow of liquid has slowed to a drip, place strainer into a glass pitcher and slowly pour contents of first pitcher into the strainer. (Do not remove curd after first straining; it forms a natural filter.) Rate of flow from strainer should be slow and steady, and resulting liquid should be clear.
6. Store punch in a corked bottle or covered container and refrigerate for up to 8 weeks. Serve cold in small, stemmed glasses, such as sherry glasses. Adapted from Drink.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

marchessa

1 oz Plymouth Gin
1 oz Amaro Nonino
1 oz Aperol

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

Last night after getting Indian food in Union Square, we went over to the Independent for a cocktail and dessert. Both Andrea and I spotted and tried the new drinks on the menu. She went with the Apple Jack Rabbit which was a Laird's Apple Jack sour sweetened with maple syrup. And I picked out the Marchessa which seemed like it should be the fourth part of the Flight of Heraldry. This series of drinks was created a few years ago at No. 9 Park by Ryan McGrale and John Gertsen and based on the Negroni. To follow the tale of Count Negroni, they created the Contessa for the count's wife and the Patrician for the count's imagined "bitter laborer".

Whether or not the Independent's creation is part of the tale of Count Negroni or not (or which Marchesa it refers to), the drink is equal parts, gin-based, and full of bitter liqueur flavors like the other three. And the one bartender Liam made me was quite tasty. The first sensation was the orange oils on the nose. Upon the sip, the Aperol's bitter orange-rhubarb flavors filled the mouth, and on the swallow, the Amaro Nonino's complex bitterness took over. The orange oil and the Aperol had a wonderful synergy as did the Aperol and the Amaro Nonino. The bite of the Amaro Nonino intriguingly transformed the Aperol such that the end result tasted something very similar to Campari.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

the peacock

2 dash (1 tsp) Amer Picon
1 dash (1/2 tsp) Absinthe (Versinthe La Blanche)
1 1/2 oz Brandy (Courvoisier VSOP)

Stir on ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Last night while my potatoes were boiling for a batch of homemade gnocchi, I began flipping through the Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book and I spotted what seemed like a good aperitif cocktail, the Peacock. Using some of Wondrich's conversions in Imbibe!, I interpreted each dash of liqueur as a half a teaspoon (although he shows some variation depending on the ingredient and the recipe). The cocktail did prove to be dry enough to be a good aperitif with the absinthe and Amer Picon giving the right level of complexity. While drinking the Peacock, the absinthe flavors hit you on the first part of the sip. This is followed by the Cognac's butteriness, and then, lastly on the swallow, the Amer Picon bitters shine through. The absinthe though not overwhelming relative to the Cognac did seem to dwarf the Amer Picon a bit.

While researching the cocktail this morning, I found a good article by Gary Regan. Apparently, the history of the name revolves around an alleyway between the old Waldorf and Astoria hotels where young socialites strolled back and forth to see and be seen. With all of the strutting and preening going on, the corridor was dubbed Peacock Alley, and the cocktail was named in homage to this social institution. According to the article (but not mentioned in the cocktail book), the drink was originally served over crushed ice. Moreover, the current day Waldorf-Astoria bar serves the Peacock as a vodka, Pama, and Patron Citronge concoction in part due to the difficulty procuring Amer Picon and in part due to modern popular taste sensibilities eschewing anise-flavored liqueurs (not to mention liquors other than vodka). I will provide the recipe I found for it but I will probably pass on this version:
The Peacock (2005 Version)
1 1/2 oz XO Vodka
1 1/2 oz Pama Liqueur
1 dash (1/4 oz) Patron Citronge
Shake with ice and strain into a champagne glass.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

sand and blood

This month's Mixology Monday theme, "Superior Twists" (MxMo XXXVIII), was chosen by Tristan Stephenson from The Wild Drink Blog. Tristan gave the description as, "This month's Mixology Monday is all about twists on classic cocktails, that for one reason or another do an even better job than the drinks upon which they are based. This could be as simple as a classic Margarita with a dash with a special touch that completes it, or maybe as complicated as a deconstructed Hemingway Daiquiri with a homemade rum foam/caviar/jus/trifle. It might be taking a classic like a Manhattan and using Tequila instead of Bourbon?"

When I gave this theme a little thought, some of the variations that popped into my head were from Max Toste of Deep Ellum (Allston, MA). None of them were extreme, but he definitely puts his own touches on classic recipes. One in particular was the Blood and Sand variation he did where he supplemented the Cherry Heering with a muddled Luxardo Marasca Cherry, replaced the orange juice with muddled orange slices and orange bitters, and adjusted the ratios to be more Scotch forward. For mine, I wondered if we messed with the juice versus liqueur identities by swapping the Cherry Heering liqueur and orange juice for cherry juice and Cointreau -- a drink I dubbed the Sand and Blood (*). Moreover, it would allow me to have one the old school equal parts way that my friend Dan insisted that I give a try to once; I did so for him and for comparison's sake as well.
Blood and Sand
3/4 oz Scotch (Famous Grouse)
3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
3/4 oz Cherry Brandy (Cherry Heering)
3/4 oz Orange Juice (Freshly Squeezed)

Sand and Blood
3/4 oz Scotch (Famous Grouse)
3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
3/4 oz Cherry Juice (Unsweetened)
3/4 oz Orange Liqueur (Cointreau)

Shake well with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange wedge.

Blood & Sand (left) and Sand & Blood (right)

The twist was rather good! It was not as sweet as the original and had a slight bit more of a sharp edge to it. The Scotch was more pronounced in the variant, whereas the original was more fruit dominant. In addition, the respective liqueurs shone through with the twist's Cointreau standing out and the cherry flavors in the original hogging more of the limelight. Both Andrea and I preferred the variant to the original although she was more definite about it than I was (and she has had a few more Blood and Sands around town than I have). The original was smoother, sweeter, and easier to drink perhaps from the orange juice; however, it was less intriguing and lacked the complexity on the swallow that the variant had.

(*) Perhaps a better name would have been the Bloody Valentino, to pay homage to the actor Rudolph Valentino who starred in the 1922 movie Blood and Sand for which the drink is named after. Or My Bloody Valentino for you indie rock fans.

Postscript: Please read the round up of the other MxMo posts from this month's theme!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

kentucky monk

3 oz. bourbon (Buffalo Trace)
1 oz. benedictine
1/2 oz. cherry heering
1 dash angostura bitters

Stir with ice, strain into a cocktail glass.

This was my third drink at No. 9. For my second, I shared a half-portion of the Bold Proposition with Fred, and asked Matt for a good cocktail to bridge between it and the dessert-like Mémé. He thought the Benedictine would be fragrant enough to reset my nose after the scotch-forward BP, with the fruity sweetness of the cherry heering echoing the floral honey in my first cocktail. The hefty slug of bourbon definitely steered this into serious territory. The Benedictine was indeed a nice palate cleanser, and I was surprised that I couldn't taste any of the cherry, except to note that the sweetness took some of the burn off the bourbon.

mémé

2 oz. applejack (Laird's)
1/2 oz. cointreau
1/2 oz. lemon juice
1 1/2 oz. lavender honey syrup

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

To make the lavender honey simple syrup, simmer lavender buds until they reach a temperature of 140F, then add honey to taste.

This cocktail, my first of the evening at No. 9 Park, was just one of the ways we managed to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat this past Tuesday. It took me all of 30 seconds to decide on the Mémé. Matt told us that it was Rick's tribute to his French Canadian grandmother, who smelled like lavender. This drink used sidecar proportions with the crisp applejack subbing in for the usual grape-based brandy. On first sip, the cocktail did taste very old fashioned, with a familiar flavor I couldn't quite identify. Overall I was quite pleased, and noted to Matt that Rick seemed to really be coming along with his mixology. Matt gave him high marks indeed, and noted that Rick had created several of the newer cocktails on No. 9's menu. After noting the recipe, I concluded that the lavender-honey combination triggered a memory for me - of a lavender crème brûlée I once had in San Francisco. So Rick gets my praise for this as well.

[bitter symphony no. 9]

2 1/2 oz Anchor Genevieve Gin
1 oz Green Chartreuse
1/2 oz Amer Picon
1 dash Fee's Grapefruit Bitters

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

For my last drink at No. 9 Park, Matt decided to improvise on the spot. Similar to the Bold Proposition, this cocktail was rather dynamic as it changed over time. At the beginning of the drink at its coldest point, the green Chartreuse and Genever gin dominated. I was saddened that the Amer Picon was lost in the flavor profile save for perhaps some smoothness and sweetness. The Amer Picon did donate a great deal colorwise to the brownness of the drink. Intriguingly, as the drink warmed up, the orange of the Picon became more and more dominant with the Chartreuse diminishing a notch or two. This flip flop, whether due to temperature or my taste buds acclimating to the Chartreuse, was most notable.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

bold proposition

2 oz Hayman's Old Tom Gin
1 oz Zirbenz Stone Pine Liqueur
1 oz Punt e Mes
Laphroaig (Rinse)

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass pre-rinsed with Scotch.

While Andrea and I were enjoying our respective cocktails, the Mémé and Paper Mill, Andrea realized that both were created by Rick, so she asked Matt what cocktails on the menu were his. Besides the ones on the current menu, he mentioned that all 9 cocktails from the Restaurant Week menu were his (including the Armada) and he wanted to make us his favorite of the bunch, the Bold Proposition. Not only was the drink bold, it was complex and changed over time. The first sensation was the peaty-smoky smell from the Laphroaig rinse. Upon tasting it, the grape of the Punt e Mes stood out in the first part of the sip and this was followed by the pine and juniper of the Zirbenz and gin on the swallow. As the drink warmed up, the cocktail became more bitter with a greater smoky aftertaste. Moreover, it surprised us how the pine notes decayed or perhaps mutated as the drink came closer to room temperature. With the change in temperature, it had morphed into a different beast. The Bold Proposition certainly lived up to its name, indeed.

paper mill

3 oz Rittenhouse Rye
1 oz Cynar
2 dashes Fee Brothers Lemon Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Twist lemon peel over the top and discard.

Yesterday, Andrea was in Boston for a haircut appointment and I met up with her afterwards to get drinks at No. 9 Park. When I arrived, the bar was filled, so we decided to get food at Pho Pasteur in Chinatown in hopes that seats freed up. After a bellyful of noodles and lemongrass, we returned to find two glorious chairs on the short side of the bar.

For my first cocktail, I picked the Paper Mill which I do not remember seeing on the menu a few weeks ago. Matt said that Rick Messier, the other bartender at No. 9, created this one. The Paper Mill was rather similar to a Black Manhattan in that it is rye whiskey mixed with an amaro instead of vermouth. Tastewise, the lemon and Cynar really seemed to work well together in this cocktail, with their flavors mingling over a base of a spicy rye. The Fee's lemon bitters smelled very herbal with rosemary and marjoram notes coming through, and this might be part of why it worked with the Cynar. And thinking back to the Crown of Thorns, Cynar does go well with lemon juice, so lemon oil and lemon bitters could be acting in the same fashion.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

marlin

1 oz Clement Rhum Agricole
1 oz White Rum (Regal?)
1/2 oz Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
1/2 oz Orgeat
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Triple Sec

Shake with ice and strain into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with a cherry.

For my last drink at Eastern Standard, Hugh Fiore told me that he wanted to make me a Marlin, a drink that Ben Sandrof had recently taught him and others at the bar. I asked what the base spirit was, and when Hugh replied rhum agricole, I immediately gave the thumbs up without hearing any more. Later, I was able to track down some information about the Marlin. It was created by Clancy Carroll as attributed by Beachbum Berry in his book Intoxica! (which I do not own yet, but I own his Sippin' Safari). The drink (or variations of it) is often referred to as the 'Blue Marlin' and as you can imagine, it should contain blue curacao. Due to the bar lacking said liqueur or blue food coloring, Hugh used regular old clear triple sec and made me more of a 'Yellow Marlin'.

The drink itself was rather citrusy and sweet with a big cherry taste. I am not sure where the classic cherry taste came from because Maraschino alone is not a standard cherry flavor. As the drink warmed up, the orgeat and the hotness of the white rum became more apparent on the sip. With the citrus flavors and Maraschino, I felt it was a Chartreuse away from being a Tiki Last Word variant.

rabo-de-galo

2 oz Beija Cachaça
1 oz Punt e Mes
1 dash Housemade Orange Bitters
St. Elizabeth's Allspice Dram

Stir the cachaça, Punt e Mes, and bitters on ice. Strain into a cocktail glass pre-rinsed with Allspice Dram. Twist an orange peel over the top and discard the peel.

For my second drink at Eastern Standard last night, I asked Hugh Fiore to make me a drink with Punt e Mes in it and with an Allspice Dram rinse. The Maldenado's spiciness and tequila made me think of the Allspice Dram, and the bottle of Punt e Mes next to it on the shelf seemed like it would make a good pairing. I left the rest of the ingredients up to Hugh. Hugh's touches were the Beija Cachaça and orange bitters. The cachaça's unaged rum heat made for a good transition from the blanco tequila in the last drink. The Beija's taste and Punt e Mes' berry notes came out in the first part of the sip, and this was followed by the flavors in the Allspice Dram and by a wave of bitter notes from the Punt e Mes vermouth and the orange bitters in the swallow. The Allspice Dram and the roughness of the cachaça complemented each other rather nicely, and the end result reminded me of a raw Pirate's Cocktail. In searching for a name for this drink, I discovered that the Rabo-de-galo in Brazil is a similar 2:1 cachaça to sweet vermouth cocktail. Moreover, the sweet vermouth is sometimes substituted for Cynar in São Palo, a combination with which I am sure would Hugh would be game to experiment.

the maldenado

1 oz Milagro Blanco Tequila
1/2 oz Agave Nectar
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1 dash Tabasco Sauce
1 bottle of Negro Modelo Beer

Shake tequila, agave nectar, lime juice, and Tabasco with ice. Pour into a stemmed water glass and top off with 4-5 oz beer. Garnish with a lime wedge and serve with remaining beer in bottle.

Last night I had plans with Adam from The Boston Shaker to meet up at Eastern Standard. The plans were on until we realized that it was opening day at Fenway and thus Eastern Standard would be a mobhouse. We switched locales for the plans, until yesterday during the day when we realized the game was postponed due to rain.

I got to the bar first and secured seats in front of Hugh Fiore. Hugh immediately said that he had an idea and ran off to make me a drink. He returned and presented me with the Maldenado and proclaimed "Welcome to Summer!" which was amusingly ironic since it was 42°F and rainy out. However, the drink was part of the new-as-of-yesterday's menu for opening day at Fenway so in a way it is meant to be a harbinger of the warmer months. The Maldenado, named after one of Eastern Standard's bar backs, is part of the return of the beer-based cocktail section along with a Horseneck Shanty, Red Beer, Bitter & Brew, and the Eastern Standard Boiler Maker. Last year I partook of the Ameri-beer (Amer Picon + Czech Pilsner in a 1:4 ratio) which unfortunately expedited the drying up of their precious Amer Picon stash.
The citrus definitely stood out in the drink along with the heat from the Tabasco. The tequila seemed to serve two purposes: one was to intensify the hot pepper sauce flavors, and two was to work in conjunction with the beer's hops to add a distinctive sharp note to the drink. Even as the ice melted, the capsaicin level was still high enough to keep my attention and keep the drink interesting. The remaining beer at the end served as a good palate cleanser to prepare me for my next drink; otherwise, it would have been tough to figure out where to go from here.

Monday, April 6, 2009

barbara west

2 oz Dry Gin (Anchor Junipero)
1 oz Sherry (Lustau Don Nuño Dry Oloroso)
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1 small dash Angostura Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
For our last drink on Friday, I started flipping through the LUPEC Boston cocktail book for a use of the last of the freshly squeezed lemon juice I prepped for the Cold Ruby Punch. The Barbara West Cocktail stood out as one that we had never had and one that would also satisfy my hankering for a fortified wine cocktail. The recipe cited Ted Haigh's cocktail book as their source. Both books recommend an Amontillado sherry which we lack, so we opted for a dry Oloroso over the East India Solera sherry in our collection. While Ted recommends this drink as an apertif, we chose it to go with our dessert of Manouri cheese with local honey from a farm in Southborough, MA. The dryness of the sherry and of the recipe as a whole worked as a good cleanser for the sweetness of the dessert. It had a pleasing nuttiness from the sherry and a crispness from the gin's juniper and the lemon juice. The dry Oloroso sherry made for a Martini-like cocktail and seemed to be a good substitute for an Amontillado.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

cold ruby punch

1 oz Batavia Arrack
1 oz Port Wine (Ramos Pinto Ruby Port)
1 1/2 oz Green Tea
1/2 oz Sugar (by weight, ~1/2 oz by volume with Florida Crystals)
3/8 oz Lemon Juice
2 pieces Pineapple (frozen)

Dissolve sugar in tea after steeping and while still warm; cool tea syrup. Muddle pineapple. Add rest of ingredients and ice, shake, and strain into a punch cup.

While Andrea was cooking dinner on Friday night, I decided to make a punch that I spotted in Jerry Thomas' Bartender's Guide from 1862 (online here). The Cold Ruby Punch stood out because I was in the mood for a fortified wine like port or sherry and this one had that and Batavia Arrack! The original recipe I modified and scaled back to a two serving size (double the above recipe) is as follows:
Cold Ruby Punch.
Take 1 quart of Batavia Arrack.
1 quart of Port wine.
3 pints of green tea.
1 pound of loaf-sugar.
Juice of six lemons.
1/2 of a pineapple cut in small pieces.

Dissolve the sugar in the tea, add the other materials.
Serve iced.
The only ingredient note not listed above was that the green tea we used was from Japan where Andrea purchased it on a business trip a few years back. The pineapple and the sweetness were rather evident on the first part of the sip, the Arrack was very noticeable in the middle, and the green tea stood out on the swallow. The tea and the Arrack made for a great flavor combination, while the port served to take the edge off the Arrack. Andrea was rather pleased with the results and thought that it was one of her favorite punches ever. She agreed with my assessment that we could have backed off on the sugar but the sweetness level was not egregious. While the punch worked well on its own, it stood up to and complemented Andrea's tortellini and rich mushroom sauce.
Cheers from Fred & Andrea of CocktailVirgin!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

fifty-fifty dry martini

1 1/2 oz Jonge Genever Gin (Boomsma)
1 1/2 oz Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
1 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Shortly after Andrea got home on Friday, I walked into the kitchen to see her mixing up drinks. I was somewhat surprised to see that she was making up Martinis! Her choice was a fifty-fifty dry Martinis (CocktailDB's closest recipe to hers is the Dewey). While she did have Embury's book open for inspiration, the thought of a proper Martini might have been fresh in her head from a recent LUPEC column in the Weekly Dig. Or it might have been due to my recent comment that we had several Martini pitcher/stirrers that we never used, especially since the one she chose was the beauty she found in an antiques shop in Somerville, NJ, over Thanksgiving and had laid unchristened.
The cocktail itself was rather delightfully citrussy from the bitters, the lemon oil, and the new Noilly Prat formulation. The maltiness of the jonge Genever seemed to stand up rather well with the sharp note in the Noilly Prat. Also somewhat curious about the vermouth was how yellow it is -- the old formulation was light and champagny in color. With the Genever gin and the hearty portion of vermouth, this Martini stood out with distinction indeed.

the refuge

2 oz Lunazul Tequila
1/2 oz Aperol
1/4 oz Lime Juice
1/4 oz Pink Grapefruit Juice
1/4-1/2 oz Agave Nectar

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime wedge. Could not observe volume for the agave nectar but 1/2 oz or under (1/4 oz recommended).

For my second drink at Green Street, I picked the Refuge (El Refugio) off of the big cocktail menu for neither Andrea nor I had ever tried it. The drink was rather sweet and tequila-y, with the sweetness rather subduing any citrus bite. The Aperol added some complexity to the drink and complemented the tequila well. Overall rather pleasant although the agave nectar could have been skipped entirely which might bring the citrus notes forward. Most likely, there is probably enough sugar in the Aperol liqueur to balance the lime and grapefruit for my palate.

fine and dandy

2 oz Beefeater Gin
1/2 oz Cointreau
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a long lemon twist.

On Thursday, Andrea and I stopped in at Green Street where Bice and Emily were bartending. I picked the Fine & Dandy off of their small cocktail menu for my first drink. The one Emily made me had a good amount of lemon oil on the nose which led into a rather pleasant drink. The recipe that Green Street uses is more gin forward than the one that I made at home about two years ago. That one was 2:1:1 instead of Green Street's 4:1:1. My comments then were that the drink was like the White Lady except with bitters and like the lemon version of the Pegu Club (although without the lime, the drink is definitely less assertive).

Thursday, April 2, 2009

scofflaw

1/2 oz Rye or Bourbon (Eagle Rare Bourbon)
1/2 oz Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
1/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/4 oz Grenadine (Homemade)
1 dash Orange Bitters (Angostura Orange)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
After the Water Lily, I perused our 1948 edition of Trader Vic's Bartender Guide for a recipe to use up the rest of the freshly squeezed lemon juice. Flipping through the pages, I spotted the Scofflaw and realized that while I had drank both the Chartreuse and non-Chartreuse cocktails out, I had never made the non-Chartreuse version at home. Trader Vic provides two non-Chartreuse recipes with the one I did not pick being lighter on the lemon juice and grenadine (3/4 oz each for the Bourbon and dry vermouth, and 1/2 tsp each for the lemon juice and grenadine, 1 dash orange bitters). The Scofflaw gave me a good excuse to crack open the bottles of Eagle Rare Bourbon and the new formulation of Noilly Prat. Andrea's first reaction to the drink was, "Wow... a very Green Street cocktail!" perhaps due to the Bourbon (she enjoys bartender Andy McNees' love of mixing with it) and due to the recipe's balance. One thing that stood out for me was the orange notes in the drink; the orange peel in the dry vermouth, the orange bitters, and the orange blossom water in our grenadine gave the drink an almost floral orange quality (Sadie, the orange cat pictured above, not so much). With the greater proportion of lemon juice and grenadine, the drink was a little less whiskey-forward but still rather well balanced.

water lily

2 oz Dry Gin (209 Gin)
1/2 oz Crème de Violette
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Cointreau

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Last night after dinner, I made some cocktails for us in our kitchen. I spotted the recipe for the Water Lily on the Haus Alpenz website as a suggested cocktail for the Rothman & Winter Crème de Violette they distribute. The only information given is that the cocktail was created at the Little Branch bar in the West Village (NYC), and I chose it for the drink seemed like the perfect harbinger of spring. The Water Lily was flavorful -- it was a bit puckery from the lemon juice but had a very floral finish. The violet flower appeared in both the nose and in some sharp notes on the swallow. Over all, a rather tasty drink somewhat similar to some Aviation recipes but without the dominant flavors of the Maraschino liqueur.