Thursday, July 30, 2009

chrysanthemum cocktail

2 oz Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
1 oz Benedictine
3 dash Absinthe (1/2 barspoon Pastis d'Autrefois)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist.
On Sunday night, Andrea said that she wanted something vermouthy so I started flipping through our cocktail books. One that I spotted in the Food and Wine: Cocktails 2008 book was the Chrysanthemum Cocktail lifted from the 1930 edition of the Savoy Cocktail Book. Merging the histories from the two books, the drink was very popular on the S.S. "Europa" which was one of the great trans-Atlantic liners that carried cocktail-deprived Americans to Europe during Prohibition. The first notes in tasting this cocktail were the citrus flavors which work rather well with the vermouth. With the Benedictine liqueur's sugar content, the dry vermouth almost tasted like sweet vermouth and made Andrea think that the drink "tastes like candy". The drink's swallow was completed with the absinthe/pastis flavors pleasantly rolling in. The Chrysanthemum Cocktail was a delightful lower-in-alcohol drink which would serve as a good way to burn through your vermouth before it goes off with age.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

clover club

2 oz Plymouth Gin
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1 oz Raspberry Syrup (Housemade)
1 Egg White
1 dash Peychaud's Bitters

Shake all ingredients first without ice and then with. Strain into a wine glass.

For my second drink at Green Street last week, I asked Emily to make me the Clover Club off of their long cocktail list. Despite Andrea commenting that it was my second sweet pink drink of the week, bartender Andy McNees supported my choice and commented that it was his absolute favorite sweet egg drink. Moreover, Paul Clarke's article traces the history of the Clover Club back to a gentleman's drink. One reason I chose it was that Andrea abhors raspberry syrup so I knew that it was a drink better ordered out than prepared at home if I ever wanted to try one. The Clover Club recipe appears many places including Stanley Clisby Arthur's Famous New Orleans Drinks & How to Mix'em. Their version is lime juice and appreciates the extra added "ummph" that the dash of Peychaud bitters gives the drink and that Green Street chose to include in their recipe. Stanley also chastised the popular shortcut of using grenadine instead of raspberry syrup.

In this Clover Club, the raspberry flavor was strangely shaped by the egg white and lemon juice into something less berry flavored. The lemon and egg white hid the sugar content decently when the drink was cold but as the drink warmed up the sweetness became more apparent. Despite the drink's pink color, I could easily understand how the Clover Club was the signature drink of writers and lawyers at the Philadelphia club before Prohibition.

creole

1 1/2 oz Old Overholt Rye
1 1/2 oz Martini & Rossi Sweet Vermouth
1/4 oz Benedictine
1/4 oz Punt e Mes

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

Last Wednesday, Andrea and I went down to Green Street in Central Square, Cambridge. Even though we were given the long cocktail list, I ended up choosing the Creole off of their short cocktail list for my first drink. The drink that Emily made me was one of the many Creole cocktail recipes out there. This recipe, often referred to as Creole No. 2, was supposed to use Amer Picon but in its absence, Green Street substituted the part vermouth-part amari Punt e Mes. I enjoyed this drink for it was a rather vermouthy Manhattan with some complex notes from the Benedictine appearing at the end of the swallow. As the drink warmed up, the Punt e Mes' botanicals stood out more in the drink.

berry fizz

1 oz Plymouth Sloe Gin
1 oz Plymouth Gin
1 oz Strawberry-Infused Rosé Vermouth (Housemade)
3/4 oz Simple Syrup
1/4 oz Lemon Juice
1 Egg White

Shake with ice and strain into a water glass filled with ice. Top with soda, garnish with a lemon wedge, and add straw.

For my second drink at Eastern Standard, I asked Kit Paschal what he had been excited about making lately. Two of the drinks he mentioned used bartender Kevin Martin's strawberry-infused rosé vermouth which intrigued me greatly. I was reminded of the concept during Eric Seed's talk at the "Vermouth and Apertif Wine" seminar at Tales of the Cocktail this year. Eric mentioned an alpine strawberry-infused vermouth style that was rather popular in Europe but rarely makes its way over here. The Dolin company makes one called Chamberyzette so perhaps Eric's company Haus Alpenz will one day distribute it here stateside. I, therefore, chose to order one of these two drinks and to ignore Andrea's taunts that I was ordering a chick drink. Well I was, but it was in the name of academic research.

I got to sample the vermouth in a cordial glass and it was rather sweet and wormwoody. I had no clue how close it mimicked the French style or whether it even mattered much since the end result was tasty. The fizz itself was very sweet although the egg white did a good job of hiding a bit of the sugar in it. The sloe gin played well with the strawberry in the beginning of the sip followed by the gin and vermouth's botanicals at the end. Despite the taunts, the drink was rather good but the simple syrup could have been dropped entirely for my taste buds, especially since the rosé vermouth and sloe gin combination was already crafted for the sweet tooth in mind.

Monday, July 27, 2009

mount orohena

2 Lime Wedges
Mint
2 oz Rum Mix (* See text)
3/4 oz Spiced Simple Syrup (Cinnamon, Clove, Allspice)
6 drop Pernod
2 dash Angostura Bitters

Muddle lime and mint. Add rest of ingredients, add ice, and shake. Strain into a coupe glass filled with crushed ice and garnish with a mint sprig. Add straws.
Last Monday, Andrea and I decided to emerge from our home after a post-Tales of the Cocktail hiatus, and we went to Eastern Standard after a dinner at India Quality. For my first drink, I asked Kit Paschal for the Mount Orohena off of their Tikisms section of their menu. The other three cocktails in that section, the Mai Tai, Don's Zombie cerca 1934, and the Flying Dutchman, I have had before but the Mount Orohena either was new or it had evaded my attention until that point. The drink was created by Eastern Standard's bartender Bobby McCoy from what originally started as an Old Monk Rum, lime, and mint smash. From there, the rums were expanded from one to four: Appleton, Lemon Hart 80 Proof, Cruzan Blackstrap, and Bacardi Gold. The plain simple syrup was upped to a spiced one containing cinnamon, clove, and allspice which helped to transmogrify the drink. Although it was the last touch, the addition of some Pernod, which brought the drink's intrigue to a new level like it does in the 1934 Zombie recipe.

Overall, the drink had a pleasant mint nose that lead into a pretty complex drink. Of the rums, the Blackstrap lent a lot to the drink with its molasses notes. And in the syrup, the clove was most apparent to my taste buds. The Mount Orohena strongly captured the tiki feel and made for a rather refreshing summer beverage.

golden lillet martini

2 oz Aged Rhum Agricole (JM Rhum Gold)
1 1/2 oz Lillet Blanc
1/4 oz Limoncello

Moisten rim of cocktail glass with a lemon slice and lightly coat rim with brown sugar. Stir ingredients with ice and strain into said cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
The weekend before last, Andrea was flipping through the Food & Wine 2008 Cocktails book that we got for cheap at the Crate & Barrel outlet store in Maine. When she spotted this recipe, I was a little taken aback by the name (see my disclaimer below), but something in the simplicity of the recipe combined with my love of rhum agricoles and Lillet took over. The recipe stems from The Edison bar in Los Angeles where John Gertsen and Misty Kalkofen, both of Drink here in Boston, recently did a guest bartending stint. Indeed, this drink was aggressively rhum agricole flavored. The citrus appeared at the end of the swallow where it mingled with some of the rhum's rubber notes. The combination of Lillet, limoncello, and the twist offered citrus flavors but not the tartness often associated with it. While I am not usually a proponent of sugared rims, the brown sugar in this one worked well with the rhum agricole to temper the rhum's rubber notes. And strangely, as the cocktail warmed up, the rhum agricole became less aggressive and let some of the other flavors come forward to achieve a better balance.

Disclaimer: CocktailVirginSlut does not promote calling drinks like this a Martini which should be reserved for gin with vermouth (and preferably a healthy slug of fresh vermouth, and personally other aromatized wines are fair game) and perhaps some bitters. Vodka ones are vodka cocktails, whiskey ones are Manhattans, and rum ones are Pirate Cocktails (although for some hypocritical reason I let the term Rum Manhattan slide). I was recently bothered by an interview with a collector of vintage barware published in Boston's Stuff@Night magazine. When asked what sort of Martini the man preferred, he answered "I don't believe that anything served up in a Martini glass is a Martini. A Manhattan served in a Martini glass is a Manhattan. It's a cocktail and people like them, but calling it some kind of Martini doesn't make it a Martini." And when he describes his preferred Martini, he declared "I can't drink gin, so I'd say anything with vodka" before describing his preferred Gibson recipe. Hmm.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

marigny cocktail

1 oz Apple Brandy or Calvados (Laird's Bonded)
1 oz Gin (Northshore No. 6)
1 oz Bianco Vermouth (Dolin Blanc)
1 barspoon Benedictine
3 drop Orange Blossom Water
1 dash Peychaud's Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a long orange twist.
As a post-Tales of the Cocktail segue, the theme for Thursday Drink Night at the Mixoloseum chatroom on the 16th was New Orleans cocktails. For the drink I created, I started with the concept of a Vieux Carre and created something that was more fruit and botanical based. The name I gave for it, the Marigny Cocktail, was christened after one of our favorite neighborhoods in New Orleans to get vegetarian food. The Marigny district was right off of the French Quarter and was full of funky restaurants, hip music venues, quaint bed and breakfasts, and a variety of old fashioned Creole cottages. To match the neighborhood, the drink had a bit of spiciness balance by some sweetness from the bianco vermouth.

I also created another drink later in the night for TDN which was a New Orleans-inspired smash named after the antiques store where the blogger cocktail hour was held at Tales of the Cocktail, M.S. Rau Antiques:
M.S. Rau
• 1/2 Lemon (in ~4 pieces)
• 2 sprig Mint
• 2 Sugar Cubes
• 2 dash Peychaud's Bitters
Muddle and then add the following:
• 1 oz Cognac
• 1 oz Rye
• 1 barspoon Herbsaint, Pastis, or Absinthe
Shake with ice and strain into a rocks glass. Garnish with a mint sprig.

Friday, July 24, 2009

rosemary's baby

2 oz Applejack (Laird's Bonded)
3/4 oz Cynar
3/4 oz Grand Marnier
1 dash Orange Bitters (Regan's)
1 dash Grapefruit Bitters (Homemade)
Rosemary

Place a quarter-sized amount of rosemary leaves in a mixing glass. Add Grand Marnier and set on fire. Once the fire dies off, add the remaining ingredients and ice, stir, and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a rosemary sprig.

While at the Cure bar in New Orleans, I was looking through their Rogue Cocktails book that I had just bought and spotted the Rosemary's Baby cocktail. It seemed rather alluring with its use of Cynar and apple brandy; however, I turned the page and forgot about the recipe since our home bar lacked Grand Marnier. A few days later at the On the Fly competition sponsored by Grand Marnier and Navan, I had scored a few nips of Grand Marnier and stowed them away in my backpack without much thought. It was not until we were back in Boston that I flipped through the Rogue once again and made the connection between the recipe and my swag pile! So for our Bastille Day cocktail, I bought some fresh rosemary sprigs and set to work.
The fire was certainly spectacular during the making of this cocktail and it added a certain toastiness to the end result. The Grand Marnier was not all that orangy in the mix but complemented the apple taste and seemed to decrease the Cynar's magnitude. The rosemary worked well with the Cynar's botanicals and with the fruit flavors in the apple brandy. Overall, the cocktail was rather intense from the theatrics in the beginning to the bitter notes of artichoke liqueur at the end.

white lily

1 oz London Dry Gin
1 oz Cointreau
1 oz White Rum
1 dash Absinthe

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
The last cocktail I had at the Grande Soirée d'Absinthe was the White Lily, which is the last drink I will write about for Tales of the Cocktail 2009 (*). The recipe I provided was the one on the Wormwood Society's webpage which cites the Savoy Cocktail Book (1930) as the source. CocktailDB offers an alternative recipe of 3/4 oz for the first three ingredients with a more aggressive (and definitive measurement) 1/4 oz of absinthe. Given that the hosts of the event were from the Society, I went with the Savoy recipe for this entry. In the drink, the Cointreau's sweetness balanced the botanicals in the gin and absinthe rather well. Overall, the White Lily was rather pleasant and would make for a good introduction to absinthe cocktails.

(*) Not sure whether I am impressed that I made 24 posts about Tales or that I was able to trim my notes down to a mere 24 entries.

mephisto

2 1/2 oz London Dry Gin
1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth
1/2 oz Dry Vermouth
1/4 oz Absinthe (Marteau Absinthe de la Belle Époque)
1/4 oz Islay Single Malt Scotch
1/4 oz Simple Syrup
2 dashes Orange Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
On Sunday early evening, we went to our last event at Tales of the Cocktail, the Absinthe Soirée at Muriel's. Besides about a dozen different absinthes that could be sampled, they had a decent collection of absinthe cocktails on their menu. The first one I tried was the Mephisto which was created by Gwydion Stone from Gnostalgic Spirits. The Mephisto was a very elegant adaptation of a perfect Martini that featured Marteau absinthe. The absinthe added a cloudiness and herbal bouquet to the drink but did not overwhelm the flavor profile.

aviation

Sure, both Jessica and I have written about some of the Aviations we have had. And each was different in their proportions (and are only the tip of the iceberg in recipe variations). However, both of these used Creme de Violette, and the one I am writing about used Creme Yvette -- one of the early proprietary brands of violet liqueur for this cocktail!

Creme Yvette was a proprietary version of Creme de Violette that was discontinued during the late 1960's. During a recent antique shopping trip at Todd Farm, we were able to pick up an empty bottle from the early 1900's; a full or partial bottle would have run several orders of magnitude more than the $5 we paid for the beautiful yet empty bottle. Creme Yvette was the original violet-flavored liqueur called for in an Aviation, and the less rounded flavor of Creme de Violette is often substituted and variants lacking it entirely exist (lacking a hint of the sky blue color that originally helped to garner the name). Word broke last year that Creme Yvette's recipe had resurfaced and some folk at Tales of the Cocktail last year got to try a sample. This year, the people who bring you St. Germain presented their newest (well soon to be released this fall) product with the official label and all!
Tasting Creme Yvette straight, it is more subtle and less sharp than the Rothman & Winter Creme de Violette currently on the market here in the U.S. today (one of about a half dozen or so in the world, although the others are not widely available in this country). Unlike the Rothman & Winter's product, Creme Yvette also has a fruity component to it that is reminiscent of cassis and other berry flavors. The Aviation with Creme Yvette seemed more rounded than I remember an Aviation with Creme de Violette tasting, but I wish I had the two versions side by side to compare properly.

As for a drink recipe, see the two links up above and substitute Creme Yvette for Creme de Violete. The recipe the bartender gave me was all jumbled up and seems rather wrong and nothing like what I tasted (he was trying to recollect what containers he used to measure and how many to make the batched cocktail the best he could). If you re-arrange the ingredients and measurements in my notes, it was probably somewhat close to the 1916 recipe I posted before. If you want a laugh, you can request that I post what I have in my notes...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

sazerac

2 oz Sazerac 6 yr Rye
1 oz Simple Syrup
4 dash Peychaud's Bitters
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass pre-rinsed with Herbsaint. Garnish with a lemon twist.

On Friday night, when we went back to our hotel, the Pere Marquette, we spotted that the hotel bar, the Uncommon, was still open. Andrea and I sat down at the end of the bar, and I decided to order a Sazerac. While we did have both rye- and brandy-based Sazeracs at the New Orleans Pharmacists talk the day before, I wanted to experience another variation of this drink. The Uncommon's version was a bit sweeter than I usually tend to like them, but the rye and bitters do tone down the slug of simple syrup enough even for my semi-dry palate. This ratio of rye to simple syrup is also the recipe that Eastern Standard here in Boston uses. The N.O. Pharmacists versions were a lot drier with a "splash" of simple syrup. For the seminar, the presenter demonstrated the fancy Herbsaint rinse -- he tossed the glass in the air with a spin so the excess Herbsaint spun out. And to protect his suit from the liqueur, he wore a snazzy Sazerac poncho! See Stevi Deter's poncho photo and write-up in the TalesBlog.

The Sazerac company provided postcards with their preferred Sazerac recipe with my additions noted:
• 1 cube Sugar
• 1 1/2 oz Sazerac Rye Whiskey
• 1/4 oz Herbsaint Liqueur D'Anis
• 3 dash Peychaud's Bitters
• Lemon Peel
Pack an old-fashioned glass with ice. In a second old-fashioned glass, place the sugar cube and add the bitters to it, then crush the sugar cube (ed: a splash of water will help dissolve the sugar). Add rye to the sugar-bitters glass (ed: add ice and stir). Empty the ice from the first glass and coat the glass with the Herbsaint, then discard the remaining Herbsaint. Empty the whiskey/bitters/sugar mixture (ed: strain) from the second glass into the first glass and garnish with lemon peel.
The Sazerac seems to be a drink, like the Mojito and Caipirinha, where the proper methodology is often heatedly argued. Such as whether Angostura belongs in the drink and if so how much and whether the lemon peel should be twisted and dropped into the drink or ceremoniously discarded. For a greater elaboration on this drama, see Chuck Taggart's article in the Gumbo Pages blog.

shamsi's refreshment

1 1/2 oz Cachaça (Fazenda Mae de Ouro)
2 1/2 oz Watermelon Juice
3/4 oz Izze's Blackberry Soda
Sour Cherry Syrup Ice Cubes

Build in a cocktail glass.
For our second cocktail at Green Goddess, we had a cachaça-based one called Shamsi's Refreshment. The drink was very watermelon and berry flavored with cachaça notes coming through. The sour cherry ice cubes actual sank and were meant to look like a blood red heart at the bottom as they melted (a lot of the symbolism of the dishes and drinks were related of the situation in Iran). The sour cherry once melted and mixed in the glass served to decrease the sweetness in the drink. This drink was paired with the third dish of koukouye (a Persian frittata), Havashu Naan, and pickled turnips and the fourth dish of Sufi stuffed vegetables.

The last cocktail was called Harem's Secret which was equal parts of Martin Miller's gin and a rose petal-pomegranate syrup with Fee Brother's Orange Bitters on top and an orange slice garnish. The Harem's Secret was paired with a golden beet ravioli dish and a Sultan's Nest, a tasty pistachio gelato dessert.

pimm's chalice

1 oz Simple Syrup infused with Lemon Balm and Pimm's #1
3/4 oz Lime Juice
1 oz Pimm's #1
1/2 oz Martin Miller's Gin

Shake and serve on the rocks in a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon wedge and cucumber slice.
On Friday night before the On the Fly competition at Tales, Andrea and I went to Green Goddess restaurant for their 6 course vegetarian tasting dinner. We opted for the paired cocktails which matched each successive two dishes with a new beverage. The first two dishes were served with Green Goddess' variation on a classic Pimm's Cup. The lemon balm infusion used herbs straight from the chef's garden and these herbal flavors really came through in the drink. In addition, the chef said that the Pimm's in the simple syrup was heated to open up some of the fruity notes in the Pimm's; Andrea thought she tasted some apricot notes which might have derived from this process. Lastly, the drink started sweet but finished dry perhaps due to the gin.

This drink was paired with our first dish of a cucumber and sumac soup with Lebanese yogurt and Pimm's. Moreover, it was also paired with the second dish of a niggate bruschetta -- an edamame, mint, and winter malted chili pepper from northern Japan "tapenade" served on fougasse bread. While not a true tapenade, the chili paste did have a very olive flavor to it.

In between our next set of courses, we were treated to a sample of another drink on their menu called the Green Fuse. This drink featured a Spanish absinthe, Obsello, along with sugar cane juice and lime. The sugar cane juice seemed to clean up the flavor a bit, and while the lime juice is not a part of the standard absinthe-sugar combination it seemed to work rather well. Also, the Obsello absinthe did not seem to overpower the drink whether by proportion or by its relatively more gentle, less anise composition.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

monkey gland

2 oz Orange Juice
1 oz Gin (Beefeater)
2 drops Grenadine
Absinthe rinse (Pernod)

Shake (all but the absinthe) with ice and strain into a cocktail glass pre-rinsed with absinthe. See the Frederic-approved recipe below.

The other drink we had at the Pernod tasting room on Friday at Tales of the Cocktail was an old favorite, the Monkey Gland. Just like their variation of the In Seine, the bartenders in this tasting room mixed up a very light version of this drink. Their version was nicely balanced but not over the top with either absinthe or grenadine by a long shot. The hint of absinthe did work to cut the orange a bit. My preferred recipe is as follows:
Monkey Gland
• 2 oz Dry Gin
• 1 oz Orange Juice
• 1 tsp Absinthe/Pastis
• 1 tsp Grenadine
Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
The drink gets closer to the surgical allusion with this recipe when the orange juice is pulpy and the grenadine tints the drink enough to look animal more than vegetal. The recipe that Ted Haigh provides in Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails is similar to my recipe but he has equal parts (1 1/2 oz) gin and orange juice. His book also provides a history of the drink which suggests the origin in American Prohibition era Paris. He also cites the song "Made a Monkey out of Me" as the reference for the phrase "monkey gland". The song captures the mid-1920's surgical fad of transplanting a monkey testicle into men as the Viagra of the day.

Monday, July 20, 2009

in seine

Recipe A:
1 1/2 oz Cognac (Martell)
3/4 oz St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
1/8 oz Absinthe (Pernod)
Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. This is the recipe I was given at the event.

Recipe B:
1 oz Cognac (Couvoisier)
1 oz Bourbon (Buffalo Trace)
1 oz St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
1/8 oz Absinthe (La Fée Parisienne)
1/2 Egg White
Shake with ice and fine strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a 3 grapes on a stick or a rubber ear. This is the recipe in the Tales of the Cocktail Recipe Book. I do not remember this as an egg drink, and the book states that it was the recipe for a different event.
On Friday afternoon at Tales of the Cocktail, we went to the Pernod tasting room which seemed rather focused on the re-release of their absinthe. One of the drinks I had, the In Seine, played on the past fears about absinthe coupled and its popularity in Paris (on the Seine River) with its name. The drink itself was very St. Germain tasting with just enough absinthe on the swallow to add a lot of complexity. Unlike some drinks, the absinthe flavors were not overwhelming. And after having the Monkey Gland in the same room, I believe that the bartenders in this tasting room might have been going a lot lighter on the absinthe to appeal to a broader audience.

The Tales Book (recipe B) was created by Simon Difford at the Cabinet Room in London, and the drink presented at the Pernod tasting room might be a variation on it. The Difford recipe was served at the "Hammer of the Gods" event. The book also states that "The name references the fact that St-Germain is a district of Paris on the left bank of the River Seine and absinthe was banned in Paris, partly because it was believe to induce insanity." My best guess is that the drink we had at the tasting room was closer to recipe A, but recipe B is most likely the original.

vacuum tube

2 oz Applejack or Apple Brandy (Laird's Bonded)
1 oz Bianco Vermouth (Martini & Rossi)
1 dash Orange Bitters (Angostura Orange)

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

At the Laird's tasting room at Tales, the bartender was willing to make Andrea whatever she wanted not on their menu if he had the ingredients. She requested one of her favorite apple brandy drinks, the Marconi Wireless; however, the bartender did not have sweet vermouth so they decided to sub in bianco, a sweet white vermouth, instead. This version proved to be lighter and more summery than a Marconi Wireless which generally seems to be more of a fall or winter drink. The citrus flavors in the vermouth worked with the bitters and twist to produce a very orange peel-like flavor in the beginning of the sip which was followed by the brandy-like flavors at the end. Even now after Tales is a week done, Andrea still declares this drink to be her favorite of the event.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

scobeyville

2 oz Laird's Applejack or Bonded Apple Brandy
3/4 oz Bianco Vermouth
1/4 oz Maraschino Liqueur
1/4 oz Campari

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

On Friday afternoon during Tales of the Cocktail, we went to the Laird's Tasting Room. Besides scoring some swag like a Jersey Lightning Strike Tour t-shirt and a drink book, we were treated to cocktails with their bonded apple brandy product. The one I chose was called the Scobeyville after the city in New Jersey where Laird's moved its distillery to in 1851 after a fire two years prior shut them down. The drink was complex but not overly bitter. The Maraschino liqueur and bianco vermouth served to soften the Campari significantly.

the asbury

2 oz Tequila (Jose Cuervo Tradicional)
1 oz Campari
1 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Domaine de Canton
1 dash Orange Bitters (Angostura Orange)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with nutmeg (optional, skipped here).
For our last table at the Presbytere cocktail reception at Tales on Thursday, we visited good old John Myers. He is pictured above with his sign stating that he is from The Grill Room in Portland, OR. This not only annoyed him since he is from another Portland, namely the one in Maine, but this also annoyed people from Oregon who recognized neither him nor his establishment's name. Myers' creation paired up tequila with Campari which have proven in the past to be rather complementary flavors. The lime juice and Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur rounded out the drink to make for something as delightful but more complex than a well mixed Margarita. In true Myers fashion, he colorfully described his drink as "a kid right in the womb... pink and delicious!"

dunniette

1 1/2 oz Gin (Tanqueray London Dry)
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Aperol
1/2 oz St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
On Thursday at Tales of the Cocktail at the cocktail reception held at the Presbytere, my third drink was an Allspice Sour made by John Lermayer; however, he did not have a recipe on hand to share. My next drink was an original by Paul Clarke of the Cocktail Chronicles called the Dunniette. This drink was very refreshing, not too sweet, pretty colored, and strangely tasted a lot like pink grapefruit. Indeed, the Aperol and St. Germain made for a very nice pairing of flavors which seemed to benefit from the crispness of the lemon juice. Paul commented that the Dunniette was the "son of the Jasmine", perhaps because Aperol is less bitter than Campari. Here the Jasmine's Cointreau is swapped for St. Germain which adds some more complexity back into the equation instead of orange-sweetness. This cocktail would not be the last time at Tales that Paul Clarke mixed head to head with professional bartenders, for he competed valiantly the next night at the On The Fly event. Bully for bloggers getting taken seriously!

Friday, July 17, 2009

villa de verano

2 1/4 oz Don Julio Blanco Tequila
3/4 oz Jarabe de Cacao Ahumado Syrup (*)
1/4 oz Fernet-Branca

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Top with freshly grated coffee bean.
(*) Recipe for the Jarabe de Cacao Ahumado

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 cinnamon sticks
1/4 cup Tazo Cacao Nibs
1/4 tsp smoked salt

Bring water to simmer with cinnamon, cacao nibs, and salt. Add sugar to dissolve, but do not bring to a boil.
The second booth we went to at the Presbytere Museum cocktail party was hosted by Misty Kalkofen and Josey Packard, both of Drink in Boston. While Josey (pictured here) made me my drink, I believe that the recipe was Misty's and from past experience, I know her tequila-fu is strong! In the Villa de Verano, the coffee was noticeable on the first part of the sip and worked quite well with the tequila flavors. The Fernet-Branca was most evident on the swallow and matched the intensity of the tequila base spirit. Moreover, the salt cinched in and intensified the flavors without getting in the way of the drink. None of my notes mention the cacao which might have bridged the gap between Fernet-Branca and the coffee flavors quite well. But alas, the drink had enough going on that I missed jotting down some of the tasting notes.

tango #2 variation

1/2 oz Dry Vermouth
1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth
1/2 oz Rum
1/2 oz Cynar
1/2 oz Orange Juice
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. See below for the original recipe.

After the "New Orleans Pharmacists" talk at Tales of the Cocktail on Thursday evening, we headed over to the Presbytere Museum for a cocktail event. The event started while we were at the talk so we only got to try 5 or 6 of the 39 cocktails being made that night by some of the more famous bartenders, authors, and bloggers around. And after that last Brandy Sazerac at the Pharmacists seminar, we did not exactly need to hit that many of the stations... The first drink I had was a Tango No. 2 variant made by Wayne Curtis who wrote And A Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails. The original source of his recipe was the Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book which lists the recipe as equal parts dry vermouth, sweet vermouth, rum, Benedictine, and orange juice. Wayne's substitution was to swap the Benedictine for Cynar and Angostura bitters. This Tango #2 variant reminded us a lot of a Monkey Gland (we later had one of those too at the Pernod tasting room on Friday) with less anise notes but just as much complexity. I would assume that the original Tango No. 2 would be a lot more gentle with Benedictine than Cynar plus Angostura, but either will make for a delightful cocktail especially since Benedictine pairs rather well with orange juice such as in the D.O.M. Cocktail.

hogarth cocktail

1/2 oz Batavia Arrack
1/2 oz Rhum Negrita (*)
1/2 oz Rhum Agricole
2 scant tsp Honey Syrup (1:1 honey:water)
1 dash Angostura Bitters
1 dash Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel-aged Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. (*) A good substitution is equal parts 10 Cane Rum and Angostura 1919 rum.

Our last seminar of the day on Thursday was entitled "New Orleans Pharmacists" which tracked the emergence of various medicinal products that later helped to enrich the cocktail world. These were sold as or mixed into concoctions referred to as phlegm cutters, gall breakers, gum ticklers, and anti-fogmatics which were some early examples of cocktails. Besides a rye Sazerac and a brandy one (I will write up the Sazerac I had at the Uncommon Bar later), we were served a delightful beverage called the Hogarth Cocktail. The Hogarth had a rich rum taste blended with some spicy notes from the Batavia Arrack. The Rhum Negrita is a rhum agricole and molasses rum hybrid which is hard to get here in the United States so a 10 Cane Rum and Angostura 1919 mixture apparently served as a good substitute. Besides the rum flavors, the drink was rounded out by a honey sweetness and a bitters complexity.

coffee cocktail

1 oz Port
1 oz Cognac
1 tsp Sugar
1 Whole Egg (Small or Medium)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Grate nutmeg over the top.

After the raucous "Sugar Cane Spirits" seminar at Tales of the Cocktail on Thursday, we headed to the third one of the day entitled "Port: Not Your Grandpa's Drink Anymore" which was a bit more sedate. They did try to shake the stodginess of port and offered the alternative title for the seminar of "Taking the Bullshit out of Port." The two products that were discussed in terms of cocktails were Fonseca Bin 27 which donates a lot of fruit flavors to drinks and Croft Pink which is a pink port thanks to new technologies in port production. A lot of the seminar was on how to market port and port cocktails to your customers including how to move an opened bottle of vintage port before it passes its prime and how naming a drink can remove the word port from the title and hence the mind of the drinker. With the latter point, many people still think of port solely as an after dinner drink never to be mixed.

One classic drink that was served at the seminar was the Coffee Cocktail which first appeared in the 1887 Jerry Thomas Bartender's Guide and printed above with a slight modification (the presenters served this as an equal parts port to cognac ratio). Despite the name, the drink has neither coffee nor bitters in the ingredients, but when properly prepared, it does look a bit like coffee. However, it pleasantly tastes like a thick grapey nog. The presenters again suggest Fonseca Bin 27 port for this drink over some of the other less fruity and more expensive styles.

There were two Croft Pink cocktails made, the Bubbles & Pink by Gary Regan and the Smoking Gun by Neyah White. These two drinks highlighted the versatility of the new product in cocktails.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

reveillon cocktail

2 oz Laird's Bonded Apple Brandy (or Calvados)
1/2 oz Pear Eau de Vie
1/2 oz Allspice (Pimento) Dram
1/4 oz Dubonnet Rouge, Punt e Mes, or Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth
1 dash Fee Brothers Old Fashion Aromatic Bitters

Stir or shake with ice and strain. Garnish with a star anise pod or cinnamon stick (here, garnished with a strawberry slice).

One of the other cocktails made for the "Vermouth and Apertif Wine" session was the Réveillon cocktail created by Chuck Taggart of GumboPages. This beverage was Chuck's attempt to capture "winter in a glass" and with the allspice dram and other flavors, he did a good job. The recipe gives the option of shaking, despite the ingredients seeming to ask to be stirred, in order to put a snow-like froth on top of the cocktail. The drink started out dry at first and the sweetness sensation slowly built up over the first few sips. With a fruity base on the forefront, a wave of spice and vermouth flavors followed on the swallow. I cannot be more colorful than Ted Haigh who tasted this back in December of 2005 and exclaimed, "Oh, this is delightful!" and then added, "It's like sucking on Santa!" Oh my...

bamboo

1 1/2 oz Dry Vermouth
1 1/2 oz Fino Sherry
2 dash Angostura Bitters
2 dash Orange Bitters

Stir on ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Twist a lemon peel over the top, and optional to garnish with an olive.

On Thursday morning, we attended a seminar entitled "Vermouth and Apertif Wine" which was lead by Eric Seed of Haus Alpenz, Paul Clarke of Cocktail Chronicles, and Neyah White of Nopa in San Francisco. During the talk, they served up three cocktails to illustrate their points and to show the versatility of vermouths and apertif wines. The Bamboo was first published in the 1908 edition of Bill Boothby's World Drinks And How to Mix Them and the above recipe was adapted by Paul Clarke. The drink was created by Louis Eppinger of Yokohama, Japan, who learned to bartend in San Francisco in the late nineteeth century before moving off to Japan. His recipe was apparently 1 1/2 oz sherry to 1/2 oz dry vermouth with a dash of orange bitters instead of the equal parts recipe that Boothby recorded. The Bamboo had a rather full mouth feel but was rather dry. The nutty flavors of the sherry were complemented quite nicely by the botanical notes in the vermouth and in the bitters. A very simple recipe which would serve as a great pre-dinner drink. I would be more certain about the last assumption if it were not actually my post-breakfast cocktail, for the seminar was the first of the day at 10:30am.

friar pendrick's himms

1 oz Hendrick's Gin
3/4 oz Orange Juice
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/4 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
2 Strawberries (medium, hulled)
1 thumb Ginger
Cucumber Foam (*)
Mint Sprig

Muddle strawberries and ginger. Add rest save for cucumber foam and mint. Shake and strain into a rocks glass. Top with foam and garnish with a mint sprig. (*) Foam is made by juicing a cucumber and shaking; delivered to drink by spoon.

On Wednesday night at Tales of the Cocktail, we ended up at the Hendrick's Gin event. A few hours earlier, Andrea and I had eloped:
The serendipity of the Hendricks event is entertaining. When we were discussing possible wedding scenarios a while back, the two things that Andrea wanted were cocktails and burlesque dancers. And by god, Hendricks succeeded in achieving this goal, so cheers to them for making this happen!
One of the drinks I had that night, and later at the Hendricks tasting room (technically the liquors of Scotland tasting room), was the Friar Pendrick's Himms cup. Given its name, it does have some similarities to a Pimm's Cup but with Hendrick's unique and peculiar take on it. The cucumber foam on top of this drink provided a great flavor and aroma that hovered over the drink with each sip. It was also refreshingly light and not chock full of gelatin like other foams. The rest of the drink had some crisp citrus notes which were complemented by the muddled ginger. Overall, it was a delight to drink and a pleasant change from the ubiquitous Hendricks, Tonic, and Cucumber that I had been quaffing the rest of the night such as the ones served from the living cocktail table pictured below.
Again, thank you to Hendricks for making our post-wedding celebrations everything we ever hoped for. Cheers from CocktailVirgin!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

'ti punch

2 oz Rhum Agricole Blanc
1/2 oz Sugar Cane Syrup (Clement Sirop de Canne)
Large Lime Wedge (Ideally 50/50 ratio of pulp to zest)

In a rocks glass, squeeze lime slice and pour syrup over the lime. Add rum and use a wood swizzle (a Bois Lélé) or bar spoon to stir. Add 1 tbsp of ice, stir, and serve.

We had the 'Ti Punch twice -- once on Wednesday at the Rhum Agricole tasting room and once on Thursday at the Sugar Cane Spirits seminar. 'Ti Punch is the unofficial national cocktail of Martinique. While the word "'Ti" is an abbreviation of the Creole word for petite, the drink weighs in pretty heavy with a large swig of rhum that is only slightly diluted in the end product. It is one of the best showcases for the spirit since the lime and sugar do not detract from rhum agricole's vegetal and fruit aromas. The one I had on Wednesday was made with JM Rhum and I opted for no ice which made the bartender on the right quite pleased. A bit of hogo (sort of rubbery notes which I greatly enjoy when in moderation) from the rhum with a hint of lime and sweetness to balance the burn of the 100 proof spirit. The one I had at the seminar was made with Rhum Clement and it was more tasty than the first one. No clue whether it was the rhum or the fact that the small amount of ice made the drink more palatable. Since I love Rhum JM, I am guessing that it was the latter.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

art of choke

1 oz White Rum
1 oz Cynar
1/8 oz Lime Juice
1/8 oz Demerara Syrup (2:1)
1/4 oz+ Green Chartreuse (to taste)
Mint

Muddle a mint sprig with the other ingredients. Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with a fresh mint sprig.

After the Martin Miller cocktail reception for the bloggers on Tuesday night last week, Andrea and I decided to go out to Cure. We ignored the advice to take a taxi out there and decided to walk. Not sure how far down St. Charles before we should turn to get onto Freret Street, we turned early and enjoyed a nice walk... um, through what we later learned are the Magnolia Projects. I cannot tell if it was years of experience walking through bad parts of Boston and a summer walking through all of Manhattan or just plain luck, but we made it through unscathed save for a few comments hurled at us. One of the bartenders gave us not only major props for walking the 4 miles from the French Quarter to the bar but for seeing the sights. Honestly, we were more disturbed about the suicidal cockroaches that would dash under out footfalls on the sidewalk. Apparently, the Magnolia Projects are not what they used to be during the pre-Katrina days, but the Crips writing and other gang evidence was still evident.

So after an hour walk, it was definitely time for a drink! Cure had their normal menu plus a special smaller one just for Tales of the Cocktail. The latter one was taken directly from their Rogue Cocktails book which helped to promote its sale (part of the reason we bought it). Bartender Maksym Pazuniak made my first drink, the Art of Choke, from the shorter cocktail list. The rum and Cynar pairing seemed to bring out different aspects from the Cynar than we have tasted when paired with other spirits. The drink had a surprising amount of mint flavor and it worked rather well with the Chartreuse. Usually mint is more of a smell than a taste, but perhaps the pairing with Chartreuse and/or Cynar promoted some synergy on the taste buds. The Rogue book cites bartender Kyle Davidson as the source and describes the drink as follows, "Picture yourself in the limestone-walled courtyard of an Italian villa off the coast of the Riviera. You are surrounded by fragrant herbs and flowers, and the sea air is blowing gently. The sun is bright, but it's not hot, and you have nothing to do all day but relax and savor the sensations all around you. Drinking this cocktail is kind of like that if somebody suddenly punched you in the stomach just as you were beginning to doze off in the sun. In a good way." While the quantity of drinks in the book is not grand, the quality of the recipes is high and edgy and the text is replete with a similar sense of humor as the Art of Choke's entry.

For my second drink, I asked Rhiannon Enlil to make their Black and Blue Grass off of their regular menu. Sazerac Rye, Averna, Aperol, Peychaud's and Angostura Bitters with a grapefruit twist. This Black Manhattan-like drink was pre-batched so I did not get a recipe and it was served on the rocks. After that drink, we decided to walk home through the safer Garden District -- great scenery, but rather uneventful save for a kitty who wanted to follow us home.

mosel cocktail

1 1/2 oz Martin Miller Gin
1 1/2 oz Mosel Spatlese Riesling
2 dash Cherry Bitters
2 dash Peach Bitters

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

After dinner at Bennachins, Andrea and I went to the blogger meet-up cocktail hour sponsored by Martin Miller at the rather posh M.S. Rau Antiques. One of the drinks was a wine-based one created by Thad Volger called the Mosel Cocktail. The photo shows Martin Miller's brand ambassador Jon Santer mixing up this drink for me inside a beautiful antique wood bar. I did not try the punch in the left of the image which was served from a $20,000 punch bowl (it was for sale along with other cocktail oddities such as the 1920's German Art Deco sterling silver airplane which disassembled into a multi-piece bar set). The Mosel Cocktail tasted like a blanco-vermouth Martini through the two housemade bitters and perhaps some of the botanicals in the gin transforming the wine into something very vermouth-like in flavor. Both the lemon oil from the twist and the gentle peach aroma from the bitters paired nicely with the wine.

monteleone cocktail

2 oz Rye Whiskey
1 1/2 oz St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
1/2 oz Domaine De Canton Ginger Liqueur
2 dash Fee Brothers Orange Bitters
Splash Ginger Ale

Shake ingredients and strain into a julep cup or cocktail glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with orange slice.

Shortly after landing on Tuesday, we headed out to the Monteleone Hotel and stopped into the Carousel Bar where we spotted our friend Jonathan Forester. When bartender Marvin Allen took my drink order, I originally asked for a Vieux Carre which had been invented at the Hotel Monteleone's bar back in 1938. Jonathan reminded me that the bar also had the Monteleone Cocktail which won their recent contest for the bar's signature cocktail. Wanting to try something new, I caught Marvin before he had started on my drink and changed my request (luckily, the Ramos Gin Fizzes Andrea and Jonathan ordered provided me this opportunity).


The drink was rather St. Germain tasting on the forefront and a relatively more subtle ginger on the swallow. My enjoyment of this cocktail increased once the ice melted and the sugar content was diluted. I then was glad that the drink was served on the rocks instead of up. Andrea thought that this recipe would have rather widespread appeal due to its sweetness and could introduce and excite people to both St. Germain and Domaine de Canton. I enjoyed the drink as we slowly rotated around the Carousel Bar; however, after a few rotations, I was more tempted to get off my amusement park ride than have another drink. Alas, we bid our adieus to Jonathan, although only for a few hours, and headed off to Bennachins down Royal street for some tasty West African food. At some point, I hopefully will write up Bennachins and the other veggie/vegan-friendly restaurants we ate at during the week.

Monday, July 13, 2009

new products - tales of the cocktail 2009

Andrea and I just got back today from Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans where we have been since Tuesday. Expect a whole lot of recipes from drinks we had there in bars, restaurants, tasting rooms, seminars, cocktail hours, and parties over the next few weeks. I havve narrowed them down a bit but it will still be a large undertaking. As a teaser, I will present my favorite new products. True, there were lots of new absinthes, rums, unaged whiskeys, and the like; however, I am focusing here on products that stood out for one reason or another as unique (besides tasting rather good).

Starting first are a few products from Eric Seed of Haus Alpenz. Aperitivo Cocchi Americano is a product already available in Europe but will soon be here in the U.S. It is possibly the closest thing to Kina Lillet -- the quinine-laden and sharper form of Lillet Blanc that got discontinued. With this product, people will get to see that James Bond meant a bit more business with the Vesper Martini and will be able to approximate older recipes truer to form. Bonal Gentiane Quina is another European product that will be introduced to the American market. Perhaps not a product for everyone's taste buds, but imagine Moxie mixed with a quinquina sweet vermouth. I thought it was delicious and imagined it immediately mixed with gin or rye along with a dash of Fernet Branca. Two more products of Haus Alpenz that stood out were R&W Orchard Cherry and Linnea Swedish Punsch, but I did not have a chance to taste these delights due to time constraints. While I believe that the Orchard Cherry is a new product, the Swedish Punsch will re-introduce a once available spirit to the American market (in the past by a variety of producers).

St. Germain formally presented Creme Yvette this year after presenting a prototype last year at Tales. Creme Yvette was a defunct violet liqueur that was resurrected from the recipe crypts. Unlike the more single note and slightly sharp Creme de Violette, Creme Yvette is more subtle and more fruity with hints of cassis. I felt lucky to have the opportunity to taste it straight and in a cocktail (a more full report later).

From the makers of Cherry Heering is Heering Coffee Liqueur. While I do not frequently use coffee flavors in my cocktails, this product is pretty close to what I would want it to taste like if I were to design a coffee liqueur myself. Rich, toasted espresso flavors as opposed to a syrupy, almost faux coffee taste I have experienced elsewhere. Again, this is another product available in Europe that will soon be made available here in the United States.

There were two grain-based spirits that stood out as unique. Wasmund's Single Malt Whisky from Virginia utilizes cherry and apple wood to smoke the barley instead of peat, so for lovers of smoke flavor but not necessarily peat, this product is rather good. And with a liquor score of 93, others apparently feel the same. From Piedmont Distillers is a flavored (legal) moonshine product called Catdaddy. Catdaddy uses their all-corn Midnight Moon as a base with a secret botanical mix to give it a custard, eggnog, clove, and cinnamon sort of taste. We also had the Catdaddy in an Carolina-inspired Aviation variant, the Kitty Hawk cocktail.

A quick mention is needed for Herbsaint re-introducing their Legendre absinthe since wormwood liquors are now legal again. Also, they were celebrating the 75th anniversary of Herbsaint itself, and the Herbsaint-flavored chocolate truffles that they handed out to celebrate this were the tasty!

Alas, sleep beckons. It has been a long, wonderful, but tiring week... and thanks to all the folk I met along the way who helped to make this a great experience. Cheers!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

gin daisy

1 1/2 oz Gin (Berkshire Mountain Distillers Ethereal Gin)
1/2 Lemon (~3/4 oz Juice)
1 tsp Grenadine
1 dash Pastis (optional)

Shake with ice and strain into a highball glass filled with ice cubes. Top with soda water, garnish with a lemon twist, and add straw. Using an egg white is another option for this drink.

On Friday night, I needed to find a cocktail that used lemon juice to utilize our channel-knifed up lemon left over from making the Trident. In addition, we were excited to try out our purchase of the new Berkshire Mountain Distillers gin, Ethereal. The distillery has a standard gin, Greylock, and recently bolstered their repertoire with this more unique style. The concept for the Ethereal is to be "brimming with botanicals" and to switch up the herbal line-up with each batch (signified by a different label color). Upon tasting the gin on its own, it is much lower on the juniper berry piny notes than most gins out there so Ethereal might make for a good "give gin another chance" gin. There was a decent mouthful of citrus peel flavors and something rather violet flower-like which might be orris root. I wish the distillery would list either the botanicals or tasting notes for each batch to make the gin less mysterious to the cautious buyer and more tempting to the gin lover who seeks out certain botanicals over others (*). Then again, the intrigue did lure me into trying it out.


For a drink, we opted for making a Gin Daisy from our Patrick Gavin Duffy 1975 edition of The Official Mixer's Manual. The recipe there gives the options of including a dash of Pernod and an egg white, and we opted for the former to give the drink a little more complexity. Duffy's Daisy recipe is also loose on the amount of alcohol (1 1/2 to 3 oz) and suggests applejack, brandy, gin, rum, or whiskey as base spirit choices. Overall, our Gin Daisy was very tart and refreshing. The scant amount of grenadine provided a pleasing pink hue but did not provide that much sweetness to balance the lemon juice like the quarter or half ounce of simple syrup does in a Collins. The pastis did serve to add a little extra character and worked well with the gin's botanicals. Moreover, I somewhat regret not doing the egg white option although it would have masked some of the gin taste we were trying to fully appreciate this time around.

(*) Postnote 2/9/10: The newest batch of Ethereal Gin is out with a pink label. It is stronger in the rose elements and less "medicinal" as the rep described it. Perhaps the newer batch is going after the Hendrick's market? Regardless, the new sales rep gave me the okay to list the botanicals (7 in Greylock and 14 in Ethereal):
Ethereal and Greylock: juniper berry, orange peel, orris root, cardamom, cinnamon bark, angelica root, licorice.
Ethereal only: lemon peel, black pepper, cubeb berry, rose hips, elderberry, nutmeg, spearmint.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

trident

1 oz Dry Sherry (Lustau's Don Nuño Dry Oloroso)
1 oz Cynar
1 oz Aquavit (Aalborg)
2 dash Peach Bitters (Fee Brothers)

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

Last week, I finally bought a bottle of aquavit after frequently eying it when I went liquor shopping. Aquavit is a caraway flavored liquor in the same way that gin is a juniper flavored one. Apparently, there is as much variation in aquavits as there is in gins. The Aalborg Aquavit alone tasted of caraway but the flavor was tempered by the mix of other botanicals; in addition, it was not as harsh and intense tasting as the other caraway-flavored liquor we own, namely kümmel. On Friday night, when I asked Andrea what we should make with it, she already had the Trident in mind. The drink had mocked her ever since she saw it in Robert Hess' The Essential Bartender's Guide. She is a big fan of sherry cocktails and of the bitter artichoke-containing liqueur Cynar, so it was not a big surprise that she zoomed in on this recipe. The book describes how the drink was created by Hess in 2002 for the Zig Zag Cafe in Seattle, and looking at the recipe, it is indeed very similar to a Negroni with more common cocktail ingredients swapped out for more obscure ones.

Over all, the Trident did not disappoint. The sherry and lemon nose worked rather well together as a prelude to the first sip. The aquavit and Cynar combination was stunning and it was hard to tell where one began and the other ended. The drink was much sweeter than expected given the generally dry ingredients. This could be due to Cynar's cynarin content. Cynarin is a polyphenolic compound found in artichokes which does not taste sweet itself but makes everything afterwards taste a little sweeter. The Trident was definitely worth the price of the bottle of aquavit, and hopefully I will get to try a few other brands including Chicago's North Shore Distillery's version in the near future.

Friday, July 3, 2009

cesar moro

1 1/2 oz Pisco
1/2 oz Cointreau
1/2 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Dry Vermouth
1 dash Fee's Whiskey Barrel (or other Aromatic) Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Float 2 drops of orange blossom water (orange twist would make for a fine substitution).

The theme for last night's Mixoloseum Thursday Drink Night was the orange liqueur Cointreau. Since Kaiser Penguin had already gotten me excited about this one between his email reminder for the event and his asking my opinion on his drink, the Royal Fool, I decided to scheme up a recipe to offer up to the chat room. When I spotted the pisco on my shelf, a recipe began to form that was a part Pisco Punch and a part Algonquin or perhaps the recently mixed Floor Polish Cocktail. Given the South American origin of the base spirit, the cocktail was dubbed the César Moro after the Peruvian surrealist and poet who collaborated with Andre Breton during the 1920's and 30's. In this drink, the orange blossom water on the nose prepared the taste buds for the wave of Cointreau to follow. The sweetness from the Cointreau and pineapple juice were matched by the spiciness from the pisco, vermouth, and bitters. My one regret is that my bitters shelf lacks Amargo Chuncho Bitters which would have added the perfect accent to this drink.

means of preservation

2 oz Beefeater Gin
1/2 oz St. Germain Liqueur
1/2 oz Dolin Dry Vermouth (I used Noilly Prat)
2 dash Celery Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a grapefruit twist.

While talking to John Gertsen at Drink on Sunday night about my celery bitters, he mentioned an Ephemeral variant that he had crafted. The Ephemeral is drink Paul Clarke wrote about in his 30 drinks in 30 days quest on The Cocktails Chronicles blog, and his entry describes how David Shenaut from the Teardrop Lounge in Portland, Oregon, came up with the drink. While Paul gives credit to Chuck Taggart for posting about it first, I give Paul credit for influencing Gertsen to try the recipe and fiddle with it. The original recipe is as follows:
Ephemeral
1 1/2 oz Old Tom Gin
1 oz Dolin Blanc Vermouth
2 barspoon St. Germain Liqueur
3 dash Celery Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a grapefruit twist.
Gertsen's variation, the Means of Preservation, switched the gin to a less sweet and more junipery one of Beefeater. While he did up the liqueur proportion, he decreased the amount and sweetness of the vermouth to generate what on paper seems a bit drier of a drink. He found the grapefruit peel essential to both recipes, for he noted that that it worked rather well with the celery bitters to bring out a great earthy flavor in each drink. To get a full appreciation of the change, I made both:
The Ephemeral is at the right in the straight stemmed glass and the Means of Preservation is at the left in the balled stemmed glass; the increase in St. Germain as well as my change to the more straw-colored Noilly Prat dry (I currently only have 2 of the 3 Dolins at home) gave the Means of Preservation the darker hue. The Ephemeral was indeed a tasty drink. With a lot of grapefruit on the nose, the first sip gave a very smooth and sweet impression. Of note was how well the celery played with the St. Germain elderflower liqueur. The Means of Preservation was very similar, but sharper and drier. The nose was not just the grapefruit but included some additional aromatics from the Noilly Prat and perhaps the Beefeater gin. The celery flavors from the bitters stood out more in this drink, while the St. Germain, despite being greater in proportion, surprisingly stood out less. In the Ephemeral, there was some sort of synergy that amplified the St. Germain which did not occur in the variant. Andrea's comment was that the Means to Preservation might be a good change for a dry Martini lover while the Ephemeral, which was a tad too sweet for her, was "more like a lady's Martini" in comparison. Then again, both of our palates seem to be a lot drier than most.