Tuesday, September 29, 2009

alfonso

1 1/2 oz Dubonnet Rouge
1 lump Sugar (Demerara Cube)
2 dash Orange Bitters (Angostura Orange)
Champagne (Gruet Brut)

Dash bitters over sugar in small cocktail glass. Stir Dubonnet with ice and strain into glass. Add champagne to fill, stir gently, and twist lemon peel over the top. Serve with cut straws.
Last night I was looking for a light digestif cocktail in Boothby's 1934 edition of World Drinks and How to Mix Them and spotted the Alfonso. While I was partly drawn to the recipe as it would make good use of our recently opened bottle of sparkling wine (although with the cap seal, the bubbles last for more than a week or two), Andrea seemed rather excited by the Dubonnet component. The drink is a variation of the classic Champagne Cocktail with a bitters-soaked sugar cube at the bottom of the glass. The recipe in Boothby's utilizes orange bitters whereas other recipes specify Secrestat and other aromatic bitters instead.

The Alfonso had a pretty garnet color from the Dubonnet and a tingly lemon nose from the twist and champagne bubbles. The Dubonnet and orange bitters are a classic pairing seen in many older drinks such as the Zaza Cocktail and work well due to the synergy of orange peel flavors in each. Indeed, over time, as more of the sugar cube dissolved into the drink, it became increasingly curaçao-like in flavor. Andrea rather enjoyed the drink and wished that Seelbachs tasted like this. When pushed, she did declare that it was better than a Seelbach, but perhaps not better than the ones that bartender Andy McNees makes here in Boston.

commodore perry

1 oz Cognac (Courvoisier VO)
1/2 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Orgeat (Ferrara Orzata)
2 oz Champagne (Gruet Brut)

Shake all but champagne with ice and strain into coupe glass. Top with champagne.

On Sunday night, I wanted to make an after dinner drink and flipped through the Food and Wine: Cocktails 2008 book until I found the Commodore Perry. This recipe was created at Please Don't Tell (P.D.T.) in Manhattan and is their variation on or homage to the classic Japanese cocktail. The text describes, "This version of pioneering mixologist Jerry Thomas's classic Japanese Cocktail takes its name from Matthew C. Perry, an American naval officer whose Pacific voyages in the 1850s held secure U.S. trade relations with Japan."

This version was not as dry as the original Japanese with a half ounce of orgeat in the mix instead of two dashes. While the crispness of our brut champagne helped to dry out this drink, it was still on the sweet side. The P.D.T. recipe also adds the element of pineapple juice. While the pineapple blended in quite well with the rest of the ingredients, the almond and sparkling wine flavors seemed to dominate over the pineapple ones. Overall, the Commodore Perry served as a good dessert drink with plenty of sweet rich flavors complemented by the playfulness of the wine's bubbles.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

pineapple milk

This month's Mixology Monday theme, "Dizzy Dairy" (MxMo XLII), was chosen by Chris Amirault who runs the spirits and cocktail forum on eGullet. Chris gave the description as, "Any drink using a dairy product is fair game: milk, cream, eggs, butter, cheese, yogurt, curds, you name it. Given the importance of dairy products in drinks dating back centuries, there are lots of opportunities for digging through vintage receipts for a taste of the past, and as always innovation is highly encouraged."

When I heard the theme, I immediately thought of some milk and cream drinks that I had just read about in Charles H. Baker Jr.'s Jigger, Beaker, and Glass. When I opened the book up to the three Tiger's Milk variants, my eyes were immediately drawn to the other page to the Pineapple Milk a/k/a Leche Preparada Piña. Pineapple Milk was a drink Baker learned about in San Salvador as he was traveling down the Central American coastline. He described it as a "grand hot weather potation, and has been known to cause chronic invalids to take up their--and other--beds and walk." His recipe (with some of my wording) is as follows:
• 1 Pineapple
• 2 inch long piece of Vanilla Bean or 1 tsp Extract
• 1/2 cup or so of Brandy or White Bacardi
• 3 cup Milk
• Brown Sugar to taste (White is ok)

Remove top and bottom of pineapple. Pare off skin, cut into thick rings, and remove core. Blend everything together and let sit for 2 hours in the refrigerator. Garnish with orange and pineapple slices, sprigs of mint, or maraschino cherries. Makes 4 servings.
We made some adaptations to the recipe. For one, we assumed that pineapples of today, just like citrus fruits, are larger than they were in the early 1900s due to improved agricultural practices. Therefore, we used around two-thirds of a large pineapple to simulate what a 1930s pineapple might have been like. Secondly, since the drink appeared to make 4 servings (text gives no description itself of serving size, just a recipe), we upped the 1/2 cup (4 oz) of liquor to 1 cup (8 oz) to give the potion a little more kick. For spirit, we chose to go the rum route over brandy. While we could or should have used some Central American rum for authenticity's sake, our new bottle of Prichard's crystal rum called out to us so we obeyed its desire. For sweetening, we added 5 tablespoons (2 1/2 oz) of unpacked brown sugar before we reached the desired level of sweetness. Our total volume at the end was around 6 1/2 cups.

The end result was quite tasty. On the sip, the pineapple hit the tongue early with the vanilla notes in the middle, and the burn of the rum at the end of the swallow. The drink was not Piña Colada-y as first suspected. Unlike coconut which has a stronger flavor, the milk functioned to smooth over the flavors in the drink. The brown sugar also helped to neutralize some of the sharper flavors of the alcohol as well as give the drink a darker hue. After a few sips, the alcohol burn diminished greatly and we could instantly imagine drinking 5 or 6 of these on a hot day. As for liquor choice, perhaps a smoother alcohol such as a Cognac might be delightful. Other spirits that came to mind as working well with the mix were pisco and perhaps cachaça.

So thank you to Chris and the rest of the eGullet crew for hosting this Mixology Monday!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

mady

1 oz Gin (Beefeater)
1/2 oz Creme de Cacao
1/2 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Recipe given as proportions so feel free to scale up.

Last night, I selected the Mady cocktail out of the Cafe Royal Cocktail Book for the recipe's simplicity intrigued me. The only information provided was that it was invented by Charles J. Jaeger who contributed a few other recipes to this 1937 drink book. The Mady made Andrea think of a lemon Pegu Club. She explained that the lemon was not really sharp akin to the refreshing faux grapefruit flavor in the Pegu (from the Angostura bitters interacting with the Cointreau and lime juice). To me, it seemed more like a Lillet-free Twentieth Century. While the Mady lacks the softness, sweetness, and citrus complexity that Lillet Blanc donates to the Twentieth Century, it made up for it in modesty by being a delightful cacao-flavored gin sour.

lioness (of brittany)

1 1/4 oz Amber Rum (Pampero)
3/4 oz Grand Marnier
3/4 oz Darjeeling Tea (Cooled)
1/4 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass pre-rinsed with absinthe (or pastis). Garnish with a lemon twist.

After Jeff asked us to design a recipe for the Grand Marnier event, I started scheming with Andrea about what sort of drink we should create. My earliest recollection of a Grand Marnier fanatic was a Boston-area club promoter who dressed like a pirate. He carried a satchel containing Grand Marnier, which he drank out of a wine glass. Once we established a pirate theme, the drink worked itself out. Clearly, it had to be a rum-based cocktail. We designed the drink around Lemon Hart 80 demerara rum, but only specified an amber rum. We wanted Grand Marnier to be a major flavor component; however, we tried to balance the liqueur amount and other drier components to produce something not overly sweet. We originally tried a dry sherry but that did not seem to work as well as planned, so we opted for some tea for its flavor and dryness. The lemon was added to complement the Grand Marnier citrus notes and, in thinking of pirates, to prevent the onset of scurvy. To add a bit of complexity to the drink, we opted for an absinthe rinse which added an 1800s feel to the drink.
As for a name, we went earlier than 1800s -- a lot earlier. Knowing that it was in part a LUPEC event, we decided on naming it after a bad-assed female pirate with a good story. The Lioness of Brittany was born Jeanne-Louise de Belleville in 1300. She eventually married a nobleman after she was widowed and became known as Jeanne de Clisson. Her husband was viewed with suspicion by the French during the Breton War of Succession which drove him to help the British. This treasonous act led to his beheading; and his execution led to Jeanne becoming enraged at the death of her husband of 13 years and vengeful against the French King. Jeanne promptly sold off her land and purchased three ships, which she had painted all black with sails dyed red. With these ships, she became one of the more bloody pirates in history. Her standard protocol was to kill all but two or three of the French sailors who were kept alive to carry back the message that the Lioness had struck again. For 13 years she extracted revenge - for the full length of her marriage before the execution. After this period, she retired and re-married. (*)

The drink appeared to be a success on Monday. It was easy to spot from a distance how often a bartender was absinthe rinsing a glass. I think that Drink's choice of Pampero rum worked rather well in this drink, and the tea and absinthe notes were strong enough to play a supporting role in this drink as intended. Nicole from ES commented that the drink had a caramel and creamy aspect to it akin to a Cow Tales candy perhaps due to the combination of the rum and Grand Marnier.

(*) Source: http://wapedia.mobi/en/Jeanne_de_Belleville

Friday, September 25, 2009

alicante

1 1/2 oz. Grand Marnier
1 oz. Batavia Arrack
1 oz. Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
2 dashes Angostura Orange Bitters
2 dashes Xocolatl Mole bitters

Stir in a thick-bottomed double old-fashioned glass with a small iceberg. Express the oil from an orange twist over the drink (do not flame [1]), discard twist. Lightly salt the top of the ice cube and serve.

As Fred mentioned in the previous three entries, we were invited to a Grand Marnier appreciation party at Drink this past Monday evening. In point of fact, we were invited, along with several far more distinguished mixologists, to develop a cocktail featuring GrandMa for the event. By featuring, they meant more than just an accent, which we interpreted as a minimum of 3/4 oz. per 3 oz. pre-melt cocktail. Neither Fred nor I are fans of sweet cocktails, so we eagerly took this opportunity to challenge our mixology skills. More on this in a future post.

One mixologist who rose to the challenge was Scott Holliday from Rendezvous (though he probably sniffs contemptuously at the trendy "mixologist" label). The Alicante is his invention. When we received the other non-Drink mixologists' recipes a few days before the event, Scott's drink weighed in with the heaviest amount of Grand Marnier, at 1 1/2 oz. [3]. He has confessed in the past to having a bit of a sweet tooth, so I eyed his cocktail with no small amount of mistrust. Prejudiced I was, yes.

When I walked into Drink on Monday, I was tickled by the Gay Paree theme that the LUPEC ladies had chosen for the event, which also served as a fundraiser for On The Rise. After sampling the Hugo Ball and the Sous Le Soleil, I wandered over to the ice bar. Though it was the site of a boisterous crowd earlier (it was situated close to the kissing booth), by midnight it provided a nice quiet little corner. I asked Sam which cocktails he was serving at his station (the Alicante, with its mini-iceberg carved right there, was one of them). I'd noticed several people walking around with elegant cut crystal double-old-fashion glasses, and they'd seemed quite happy (to wit, one LUPEC lady was already working on her second glass by the time I'd arrived an hour and a half earlier). When I expressed to Sam my hesitation to order the Alicante, he enthused that the Batavia Arrack and the dry vermouth served to dry out the drink substantially, lending a smoky orange flavor to the drink (sans flamme). I deferred to his excellent judgement, and indeed, one sip changed my mind completely.

Batavia Arrack Von Oosten, being a cane spirit much like rum, is itself on the sweeter side with a hefty does of funkiness. This funky flavor reminds me of a rhum agricole, trending on the umami side of the flavor spectrum. That same funkiness can sometimes hijack a cocktail, but in the Alicante, it lent a very pleasing complexity to the sweetnness factor. Scott's cocktail managed to hit almost all of the classic parts of the palate - sweet, bitter (from the bitter orange notes in the GrandMa), umami, and salt (for this last, I had to swirl the drink around quite a bit to get the sprinkled salt to dissolve in the drink, since the iceberg poked a good couple of cents above the liquid). It tasted almost like it was made with scotch - and in fact Fred and I had toyed with the idea of using scotch as a base spirit to mix with Grand marnier. I also picked up a bit of chocolate flavor from the bitters - Batavia Arrack is often used in confections and chocolate making to heighten cocoa and spice flavors (and clearly this was the effect Scott was striving for). I wonder if that aspect could have been even stronger in the individually-made (as opposed to batched) cocktail [4]. Bitters scaling for batched drinks can be finicky. Although the scaling formula calls for 70 dashes to 1 oz., I'd really rather see the dashes added to the individual serving and then given a quick stir whenever serving batched drinks calling for bitters. So if any of you readers decide to make this drink at home, you won't have this problem, and will get to experience the cocktail as I imagine Scott originally intended. And you, too, might find any sweet drink dogmatism pleasantly challenged.

[1] The hatred that burns in my heart for the flamed orange peel has dulled over time. This is mostly due to the fact that more bartenders have learned how to do it correctly, namely, by letting the acrid match fumes burn off for a moment or two so that the sulfur doesn't flavor the drink. In fact, at home Fred prefers to use a lighter instead of a match, in deference to my delicate senses. I still hate the smell of a freshly-struck match.

[2] I am eager to try the source cognacs used in the Rouge and Centennaire GrandMa formulations, since I'm not sure if the sweetness comes from the cognacs or from added sugar. When they passed out samples of the Centennaire formulation at the event, I found it deliciously complex with just a hint of sugar.

[3] John Gertsen, of course, refused to be out-done.

[4] At least, I *hope* this was the case. I've only tasted the Xocolatl Mole bitters in the earlier days, when the Glassers were giving out hand-made samples to area cocktail bars. They were sublime. The bitters are now being manufactured by The Bitter Truth, and I sincerely hope they have overcome the all-too-common difficulties encountered in industrial scale-up.

root of all evil

2 oz Eagle Rare Bourbon
3/4 oz Grand Marnier
1/2 oz Fernet Branca
1/2 oz Luxardo Maraschino
2 dash Regan's Orange Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

For my second cocktail at the Grand Marnier event at Drink, I asked Josey Packard to make me the Root of All Evil. This drink was created by Jeff Grdinich of the White Mountain Cider Company (Bartlett, NH) as his take on Chuck Taggart's Hoskins. Besides switching the base spirit from gin to bourbon, Jeff replaced the sweet orange and bitter orange flavors from Cointreau and Amer Picon, respectively, with Grand Marnier and Fernet Branca to simulate the flavors.

On the sip, my taste buds sensed a lot of orange and complex bitter and mentholly flavors on the sip fading into the Maraschino cherry notes on the swallow. The bourbon and perhaps the Grand Marnier gave the drink a bit more richness than I remember a Hoskins having. When Andrea tried my drink, she specifically commented on the mint and chocolate flavors most likely from the Fernet Branca. It was definitely interesting to see how Jeff uses Fernet Branca and Grand Marnier to approximate Amer Picon while Eastern Standard uses Luxardo Fernet, Cynar, and Clement Creole Shrubb to do the same.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

hugo ball

1 1/2 oz Beefeater Gin
3/4 oz Grand Marnier
3/4 oz Cynar

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

Andrea's first cocktail at the Grand Marnier event at Drink on Monday was a creation by Matthew Schrage of No. 9 Park. Matt named his drink after Hugo Ball, the author of the Dada Manifesto and a co-founder of the Cabaret Voltaire, and the meaning of his drink resided in its meaninglessness. Josie Packard took Andrea's order and set to work to craft this cocktail for her. When I had a taste, I noted how the sweet orange flavors in the Grand Marnier balanced the Cynar on the first part of the sip but still left a lot of its bitter bite on the swallow. To which Andrea replied that the Grand Marnier intensified some of the flavors in the Cynar but masked the artichoke notes.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

mission of burma

2 1/4 oz Grand Marnier
1/4 oz Junipero Gin
1/4 oz Lime Juice
1/4 oz Angostura Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Twist lime peel over the top and discard.

Last night, Andrea and I attended a Grand Marnier event held at Drink. We were greeted at the entrance by John Gertsen who was manning a punch bowl; the Grand Marnier punch John crafted used locally harvested Concord grapes and the punch had some superb fruit notes. Besides the punch, on the menu were 15 drinks made by bartenders across town and one drink recipe created by bloggers (namely, Andrea and me -- more on that drink later). John mentioned the drink he put on there, the Mission of Burma, which was a play on the Pegu Club as well as a tip of the hat to the infamous Boston rock band. After hearing how the drink toyed with the Pegu's proportions in ways that the Trinidad Sour did relative to a standard sour cocktail, I knew that this drink had to be my first of the night!

Hearing the measurements start with a jigger and a half of a rather sweet liqueur got me nervous, but the cocktail turned out to be a lot less sweet tasting than I first imagined as well as not the train wreck that I had first feared. Train wreck it was not, for the quarter ounce of bitters (*) along with the sourness of the lime and dryness of the gin helped to counter the Grand Marnier's sugar content. The lime oil from the twist provided a delightful citrus nose and reinforced the relatively diminished amount of lime juice in the drink. Despite my initial fears, Gertsen's inversion and perversion of the Pegu Club turned out to be surprisingly good.

(*) The standard conversion is apparently 70 dashes of bitters to the ounce, so this would weigh in at 17.5 dashes of Angostura bitters!

Monday, September 21, 2009

le grande flip

1 oz Applejack
1/2 oz Benedictine
1/2 oz Orange Juice
1/2 oz Diabolique (infused Bourbon)
1 Whole Egg
2 heaping barspoon Sugar

Shake once without ice and once with ice. Strain into a wine glass, and twist an orange peel over the top and drop in.

For my last drink at Eastern Standard, I went desserty and asked Kit Paschal to make me the Le Grande Flip after hearing a description of it. Kit described the drink as Jackson's version of an alcoholic Orange Julius. The flip used Diabolique, a locally made infusion that flavors Kentucky Bourbon with figs, cinnamon, and vanilla, along with an equal amount of Benedictine to transform the flip through some complex notes. Overall, the drink had a nice orange nose from the twist which led into a sweet orange taste with a small degree of spice. Perhaps one heaping barspoon too much sweetness for me, but it sure was a delight to drink otherwise.

el capitan

1 oz Machu Pisco
1 oz Carpano Antica Vermouth
1 oz Bitter Brew (see text, sub Amer Picon) (*)

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass. Twist an orange peel over the top, rim the edge of glass, and drop in.
Last night Andrea and I stopped in to Eastern Standard for some dinner and drinks. I spotted that there were three new drinks in the vermouth section of the cocktail menu and I picked the El Capitan after bartender Kit Paschal gave me some more details about the choices. El Capitan is bar manager Jackson Cannon's take on a pisco Manhattan, although I was more convinced that it was his take on a pisco Negroni due to the equal parts of a clear spirit, sweet vermouth, and a bitter liqueur. The Eastern Standard "Bitter Brew" is their Amer Picon substitute and they replicate the bitter orange flavor through a batched mixture of Luxardo Fernet, Cynar, and Clement Creole Shrubb. In El Capitan, the pisco donated more subtle notes to the drink including some smokey hints. Meanwhile, the liqueur mix and the Carpano Antica added a delightful bitter orange flavor with some menthol and artichoke notes playing lightly on the tongue. I quite enjoyed El Capitan and I wonder if the drink was named after the John Philip Sousa operetta set in Peru.

(*) Postnote 4/21/12:  Food & Wine: Cocktails 2011 lists the recipe as:
• 1 oz Pisco
• 1 oz Carpano Antica (or other sweet vermouth)
• 3/4 oz Cynar
• 1/4 oz Fernet Branca
• 1 scant tsp Creole Shrubb (or other orange liqueur)
• Orange Twist for garnish.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

soekarno

2 oz Old Monk Rum
1 oz Benedictine
1/2 oz Batavia Arrack
1 oz Lime Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

On Tuesday night after a biotech networking event in town, I crossed the Boston Commons to visit No. 9 Park. Rick Messier was tending bar and the drink I chose off their menu was the Soekarno, an original that I later learned was based off of an older cocktail. The drink was a rather caramel and complex Daiquiri with the richness of the Old Monk Rum and Benedictine appearing early in the sip and the lime and spicy Batavia Arrack flavors appearing at the end of the swallow. Matt Schrage was working the floor that night and stopping by to chat. He gave me the history of Soekarno who was the first president of Indonesia (where the Batavia Arrack is distilled) after the country gained independence from the Netherlands during World War II (Japan's invasion during the war and subsequent defeat assisted this power change). The bartenders at No. 9 Park based the Soekarno drink off of the Petion, named after the first leader of Haiti who like Soekarno had just one name. The Petion uses a Haitian minimally aged cane spirit called clarion (sometimes spelled clairin) which sometimes finds its way into this country. Clarion is apparently a rough and raw rum-like liquor with cachaça, aguardiente, and some strong white rums making good substitutes in its absence. The Petion's recipe is as follows:
Petion
• 3/4 oz Light Rum
• 3/4 oz Benedictine
• 3/4 oz Clarion
• 1/4 oz Lime Juice
• Sugar (to taste)
Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Recipe sourced from CocktailDB.
Cheers to having a bit of world history in one's cocktail!

Note: No. 9 Park's bar has both types of Amer Picon in stock so visit them for your Hoskins and other Amer desires.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

pink lady

1 1/2 oz Gin (Beefeater 24)
1/2 oz Applejack (Laird's Bonded)
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Grenadine (Homemade)
1 Egg White

Shake once without ice and once with ice; strain into a cocktail glass.

After the Goody-Goody, I decided to shorten my Anvil-to-do list by one via the Pink Lady. For a recipe source, I went with the Boston LUPEC's Little Black Book of Cocktails, and history seems to point to the drink being created and named after the 1911 musical comedy of the same name. While the drink bears some resemblance to the Clover Club, ours did not turn out as pink (or as sweet) as that concoction.
When we had the Pink Lady, the apple notes came first followed by the lemon-pomegranate flavors. Our use of Laird's Bonded Apple Brandy probably assisted in this since it is not diluted with grain neutral alcohol like Laird's Applejack is (which is only 35% apple product); in our opinion, it is worth the extra few dollars for the bonded (plus you get an extra 20 proof!) if you can find it or for a lower end Calvados (such as Morin Selection at around $22) especially since applejack is no longer as cheap as it was a year or two ago. The Pink Lady contained some gin notes at the end of the swallow and had the right amount of sweetness; the intensities of both of these flavors were smoothed over by the presence of the egg white. I think Andrea's description of "quite delightful!" after the first sip summed it up rather well.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

goody-goody

1 oz Gin (Berkshire Mountain Distiller's Ethereal)
1/2 oz Dubonnet Rouge
1/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/4 oz Yellow Chartreuse

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Recipe originally stated as proportions, here scaled to 2 oz pre-melt total volume.
Last night, Andrea wanted a somewhat older drink after the two newer ones we had the night before. I therefore took out the Café Royal Cocktail Book (1937) and suggested a few drinks. Andrea honed in on the Goody-Goody, a drink invented by C. Bongarzoni (who seems to be best known for creating this recipe). The recipe calls for Booth's gin which we lacked so we subbed in our bottle of Ethereal gin which we had not touched in a few weeks. The Goody-Goody was very gin forward with the tart lemon flavor being balanced by the sweetness of the yellow Chartreuse. The Dubonnet donated an attractive garnet color and added some extra smoothness to the drink.

Monday, September 14, 2009

gin gin mule

1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Simple Syrup
6 sprigs Mint
3/4 oz Ginger Beer (Reed's)
1 1/2 oz Gin (Beefeater)

Muddle the mint with lime juice and simple syrup. Add ice, gin, and ginger beer; shake and strain into a highball glass filled with fresh ice. Top with soda water and garnish with a lime wedge.

After the Scotch Cringe, I felt the need to have another highball to balance the oddity quotient of the evening. Looking on the Anvil's 100 drinks list, I chose the Gin Gin Mule as #78 to cross off. The Gin Gin Mule was created by Audrey Saunders from the Pegu Club in Manhattan as a mix between a Moscow Mule and a Gin-Gin cocktail. The recipe I used was from Dale DeGroff's The Craft of the Cocktail which we bought a few months ago at the Boston Shaker's store in Somerville. For some reason, I had it in my head that this drink was going to be incredibly gingery before I saw the recipe; however, the ginger flavors were more on the subtle rather than blaring side. Indeed, the ginger was in balance with the lime and the mint to make a rather refreshing drink. It was surprising how the gin was not very prominent in the profile even when using a robust gin like Beefeater. I think the easiest way to explain the Gin Gin Mule is a Mojito minus rum and plus gin and a little ginger beer.

the scotch cringe

2 oz Laphroaig 10 Year (Famous Grouse)
3/4 oz Lime Juice
3/4 oz Simple Syrup
1 Whole Egg
2 chunk Watermelon

Dry shake the egg with the lime juice. Add the remaining ingredients and briefly muddle the watermelon. Add ice, shake, and strain into a collins glass filled with fresh ice.

Last night, we made good use of the watermelon we had just bought to mix a drink from the Rogue Cocktails book called the Scotch Cringe (a/k/a the "Lavender Cadaver"). It might have been the nickname that grabbed me or perhaps the following description: "This drink was once described by a group of medical students as tasting like a morgue." Looking over the ingredients, it seemed like it could be delicious despite the gross construal so I decided to make a pair of them for um, scientific purposes.

"Mmm... tasty cadavers!" was Andrea's response. The Scotch Cringe was rich, thick, and smokey with a lot of watermelon flavor to it (almost a Jolly Rancher watermelon note). The drink was deceptively summery, and the egg and lime did a decent job to balance off the half jigger of simple syrup. Despite its sweetmeat hue and chunky pink bits floating about, the drink did not taste gross at all. Since our Scotch selection is severely lacking, we used a blended Scotch -- perhaps the intended Laphroaig would have added some extra morgue notes to the drink? Or perhaps the medical students had an off egg experience that night? Regardless, just given the name and appearance, the Scotch Cringe would make for a wonderful highball to toast the rapidly approaching Halloween season!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

carra-ryed away

1 1/2 oz Rye (Sazerac 6 Year)
1 oz Aquavit (Krogstad)
1/2 oz Grand Marnier
1 tsp Amaretto (Disaronno)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe glass.

Last night we were looking for a good digestif so we flipped through the after-dinner drinks section of Food & Wine: Cocktails '09 that Jeff Grdinich curated. Jeff bartends at the White Mountain Cider Co. in New Hampshire and can often be spotted at various cocktail events in Boston. The Carra-ryed Away stood out and provided a good cocktail to use our newest aquavit, Krogstad (we are now up to 3!). While the book does not attribute credit to the Carra-ryed Away, we assume it is Grdinich's creation.
The richness and spiciness of the rye paired well with the caraway seed notes in the aquavit. The sip contained a hint of orange and sweetness from the liqueurs. Interestingly, the amaretto came out more in the nose than in the taste. The Krogstad had an absinthe sort of note to it that was most likely from the star anise in its botanical mix; therefore, perhaps a floated star anise would have made a great garnish for this drink. Between the whiskey's grain and the aquavit's caraway, it was like imbibing liquid rye bread.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

darb cocktail

3/4 oz Dry Vermouth (Dolin)
3/4 oz Dry Gin (Aviation)
3/4 oz Apricot Brandy (Rothman & Winter)
4 dash Lemon Juice (1/4 oz)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
Last night as I was preparing potato gnocchi, Andrea was in the mood for an aperitif, so she picked the Darb Cocktail off of the Anvil's list. Another good reason for choosing the Darb Cocktail was that the recipe gave us a great excuse to try our new bottle of Aviation gin. We found the recipe in the Savoy Cocktail Book (1930) and were impressed that the drink has held its ground over the years to made it into the Food & Wine: Cocktails '09 book. Overall, the Darb Cocktail was rather delightful in its dry apricot flavor -- not only dry in sweetness but dry as in desiccated fruit flavor. In addition, the gin and vermouth provided a pleasing herbal complexity behind the fruit notes. Most notably, the Aviation gin donated sarsaparilla accents on the forefront and anise on the swallow of this cocktail. The gin also had juniper, coriander, lavender, and cardamom that were identifiable when tasted alone.

Friday, September 11, 2009

stamos gin fizz

1 1/2 oz Gin
1 1/2 oz Kahlua Coffee Cream (*)
1 tsp Cinnamon Simple Syrup (**)
1 Egg White

Dry shake ingredients for 20 seconds. Add ice and shake hard for 3 minutes. Strain into a highball glass and top with soda water. Add a 1/2 oz soda water to shaker, swirl, and gently pour on top. Dust top of foam with a muddle coffee bean and garnish with a Stamos stirrer (***). Add drinking straw.

Yesterday's Thursday Drink Night at the Mixoloseum chatroom was sponsored by Kahlua to promote their new Coffee Cream liqueur. For a submission idea, I decided that I wanted to do a Ramos Gin Fizz-style drink. The coffee in the liqueur made me think of breakfast, and similarly, the Ramos is a common breakfast cocktail in New Orleans akin to a Bloody Mary or Mimosa in other parts of the country. However, the presence of the curdle-able cream liqueur prevented the use of citrus products present in the Ramos, so we added some extra flavors with a cinnamon simple syrup. Cinnamon is often used to spice coffee in Mexico which thematically worked well with this liqueur which sources its coffee beans from there. The end product had a great coffee nose from the freshly muddled dark roast coffee bean powder, and the drink tasted like a coffee ice cream soda. KaiserPenguin's comment was that the Stamos was nice and light, perhaps due to how none of the ingredients were overbearing in the mix.

(*) Kahlua Coffee Cream is not out yet and will only be available for a short time (I believe it will be a Christmastime product). We estimate that a 2-3 part Kahlua to 1 part cream ratio would approximate (or here, 1 oz Kahlua and 1/2 oz cream) if this product is not yet or no longer available.
(**) Beachbum Berry's recipe in Sipping Safari is 1 stick of cinnamon broken up per 1/3 cup water and 1/3 cup sugar. Bring to a boil while stirring, and simmer for 2 minutes. Let cool for 2 hours. Strain out cinnamon bark, and store in the refrigerator for up to a month. A rush option of a 10 minute simmer (and no long no-heat steeping) would work too.
(***) Print out your own Stamos here. Pick the size depending on your mood, or make all 4 for the Full House feel.

corn'n'oil

2 oz Blackstrap Rum (Cruzan)
1/4 oz Falernum (Velvet)
Juice of 1/4 Lime (~1/4 oz)
2-3 dash Angostura Bitters

Build over ice in an old fashioned glass.
The Corn'n'Oil is a drink that Brother Cleve recommended to us last year but we never got around to making one. Since the drink appears on the Anvil's 100 drinks that everyone should try at least once list, it was time to tackle this one. The drink started out with a great clove and cinnamon nose from the falernum and Angostura bitters, respectively. The Corn'n'Oil had a great blackstrap molasses taste at first, but the molasses notes began to fade with successive sips while the lime juice became more noticeable. Overall, the drink functioned like a spiced rum sour with Embury proportions on the alcohol-to-other ratio. With the Corn'n'Oil crossed off the list, 24 remain (I also had a Hemingway Daiquiri and a Pink Gin but decided to just enjoy them without blog entries).

Thursday, September 10, 2009

24 martini

2 1/4 oz Beefeater 24 Gin
3/4 oz Lillet Blanc
1 dash Bitter Truth's Beefeater 24 Bitters (sub Regan's Orange)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Twist a lemon peel over the top and rim the glass.
My second drink at the Beefeater 24 release event at Drink was one of the drinks created by Beefeater to showcase their gin's botanicals. The drink contained Lillet and lemon oil from the twist which synergized with the gin's citrus notes. Moreover, the cocktail's bitters were created by the Bitter Truth to emphasize some of the gin's botanicals. Tasting the bitters straight, they smelled rather citrussy and tasted like bitter citrus peel pith with perhaps some tea in the mix. Overall, the 24 Martini was pretty dry and was more grapefruit flavored than orange which was surprising since Lillet is an aromatized wine tasting more of orange peels than its other fruit components. Since the Beefeater 24 bitters are not currently for sale, Regan's orange bitters were recommended as a substitute.

bee sting

2 oz Beefeater 24 Gin
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Honey Syrup (1:1 with water)
~12 Peppercorns

Muddle peppercorns in shaker. Add rest of ingredients and ice, shake, and strain into a cocktail glass.

Last night, Andrea and I attended the Boston launch party for Beefeater's new gin, Beefeater 24, held at Drink. Beefeater 24 is more citrussy than normal Beefeater with peels from Spanish grapefruit, lemon, and Seville orange in the botanical mix. Also noteworthy in the 12 botanicals are two teas -- Japanese Sencha and Chinese green tea. Desmond Payne, Beefeater's master distiller, added the tea in homage to James Burroughs' (who founded Beefeater in the 1800s) father who was a tea merchant. Tasting the gin straight, the citrus notes stood out the most with the tea being a little more subtle. In addition, the juniper was a lot more subdued than in the regular Beefeater.

The first drink I sampled from the menu was one developed by the bartenders at Drink and made for me by Misty Kalkofen. The Bee Sting is a take on the classic Bees Knees with the added ingredient of muddle peppercorns to provide a bit of extra spice to the drink. The grapefruit accents in the gin really showed through in this drink with the green tea notes coming out in the aftertaste. The black pepper was a good addition for it worked well with some of the other botanicals in this particular gin. Indeed, Andrea's comment was that "the sum is greater than the parts given the ingredients" in this cocktail.

Misty making a Beefeater 24 Old Fashioned with bergamot bitters.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

fig leaf cocktail

1 1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth (Dolin)
1 oz Light Rum (El Dorado 12 Year)
Juice of 1/2 Lime (~1/2 oz)
1 dash Angostura

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
A few days ago, we were flipping through Patrick Duffy's The Official Mixer's Manual (1975 edition) in search of an aperitif wine-based drink and found the Fig Leaf Cocktail. In essence, the drink turned out to be a rather winey Daiquiri where the sweet vermouth substitutes for the simple syrup. Unlike a high octane drink like a Daiquiri, the Fig Leaf Cocktail was a lot lower in alcohol; in fact, the CocktailDB recipe is even more so as it lists the rum as a 3/4 of an ounce instead of a full one. Flavorwise, the Fig Leaf Cocktail had a great lime nose and an attractive color from the vermouth mixing with the rum and lime juice. We took the liberty of using an aged El Dorado which is a little darker than a light rum but added a lot of great demerara rum notes to the drink.

Friday, September 4, 2009

yardarm

2 oz Gin
3/4 oz Passion Fruit Juice
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Honey Syrup (1:1 Honey:Water)
2 dash Angostura Bitters
1/4 oz Absinthe (or Pastis)

Shake all but absinthe with ice and strain into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice. Float absinthe and garnish with a lime wheel.
Last night was Mixoloseum's Thursday Drink Night (TDN) was its first anniversary event where the theme was Tiki drinks. I culled a few aspects from Tiki-like drinks I have had in the past such as the absinthe float from the Sea Captain's Special to make the Yardarm. The beginning of the this drink was dominated by the anise seed notes from the absinthe, and after a few sips, the passion fruit flavors started appearing. As the cloudy layer on top diminished, the lime became more apparent. The honey syrup provided not only the right amount of sweetness to the drink but also a certain richness that sugar alone does not. The response from the TDN chatroom seemed pretty positive about the Yardarm, including Jeff Beachbum Berry who gave his thumbs up to my creation!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

suffering bastard

1 oz Bourbon (Buffalo Trace)
1 oz Gin (Beefeater)
1 oz Lime Juice
1 dash Angostura Bitters
4 oz Ginger Ale (Polar)

Pour everything into a double old-fashioned glass filled with ice cubes. Garnish with a mint sprig and orange wheel speared with a cherry.
After dinner, I scanned the Anvil list for a drink to make and picked the Suffering Bastard. The Anvil's listing has it as a lemon juice drink, and all of the ones I could find were lime. After bailing on the lemon juice recipe search, I figured that the recipe in Beachbum Berry's Grog Log would be one of the better ones to choose. Berry lists the origin of this drink around 1950 at the Shepheard's Hotel in Cairo, Egypt, where the drink was originally made with brandy and ginger beer instead of bourbon and ginger ale. Overall, the Suffering Bastard was pretty refreshing. The lime really stood out on the foretaste and the ginger on the swallow. It was rather hard to tell that there was bourbon or gin in the drink due to the lime, ginger ale, and bitters dominating the flavor profile. With the Suffering Bastard crossed off the list, 27 more drinks remain.

norwegian wood

1 oz Aquavit (North Shore Distillers)
1 oz Applejack (Laird's Bonded Apple Brandy)
3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth (Dolin)
1/4 oz Yellow Chartreuse
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail coupe. Garnish with a lemon twist.
Last night as Andrea was finishing up her Thai chickpea dish, I flipped through Imbibe magazine and found the perfect aperitif, the Norwegian Wood. The drink was created by blogger/bartender Jeffrey Morgenthaler of Clyde Common in Portland, OR, featuring a local-to-him aquavit Krogstad. Since I lacked that particular one, it gave me a great excuse to use the North Shore Distillers' one. The Norwegian Wood started off with a great lemon nose and this was followed by a variety of complementary flavors. Two of the most notable were how the aquavit and the Chartreuse played together and how the sweet vermouth and apple brandy interacted. In addition, the aquavit I used was very citrussy and it worked well with the lemon oil from the garnish and the orange peel notes in the vermouth. Andrea liked the hot sharpness in the middle of the sip, and these notes jived with the spicy Thai food once dinner was served. Moreover, she enjoyed the lingering apple flavors from the brandy.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

champerelle

One of the more intriguing bar gadgets that I recently bought was the British-style Bonzer barspoon (available at the Boston Shaker store in Somerville, MA, and online at Cocktail Kingdom). At first glance, it looks like a standard barspoon great for mixing drinks and measuring half teaspoon amounts with the added aesthetic merits and textural sensations of the twisty stem.
But what's that on the right you ask? I have heard vehement arguments over what that flattened end is used for in the field (and specifically in the UK). One camp declares that it is used as a bar muddler and the other argues that it is a drink layering device. Therefore, I decided to test the merits of each claim in my own kitchen.

The first aspect I set out to test was the muddler. For muddling something soft like mint in simple syrup (pictured to the left), the tool worked rather effectively. The only difference between it and my gold standard wooden muddler is the smaller surface area on the spoon's tail end. At the bottom of the mixing glass, this difference just meant a few extra strokes. Moving on to the other end of the spectrum -- the sugar cube -- the spoon's muddler seemed to falter (note: I did not even attempt to crush ice cubes). To derive the force necessary to smash the cube into powder, the spoon felt awkward to hold on to due to its narrow diameter, especially compared to the wooden muddler which fits nicely in the hand. My fingers kept sliding down the shaft, but with enough attempts, the sugar cube eventually gave way. In between these two extremes, I figure that the muddler end would be sufficient for softer items like berries and herbs; however, it would have issues in muddling citrus with the rind like in a Caipirinha or smash. Added force applied on the spoon end should be avoided since the weld holding the spoon bowl to the shaft apparently will give way. So as a muddler, it is adequate for some ingredients and it is certainly handy to have a single tool to do both, although I still prefer my sturdy wooden muddler as my go-to tool (and Dr. Freud would certainly be proud).

The second aspect I tested out was the drink layering. For standard floats, gently pouring on the back side of any barspoon or teaspoon with its edge touching the glass works so the flat end seems excessive for this purpose. However, for making a pousse-café, a multiply layered drink, in a narrow glass, the convex part of the spoon trick is not sufficient. For a recipe to test this functionality out, I opened my copy of Boothby's World Drinks and How to Mix Them and picked the Champerelle.
Champerelle
(1) 1/4 jigger Curaçao
(2) 1/4 jigger Anisette (Pernod)
(3) 1/4 jigger Chartreuse (Green)
(4) 1/4 jigger Cognac (Courvoisier VS)
(5) few drops Bitters (Fee's Whiskey Barrel)
Pour carefully, as numbered, into chilled pousse-café glass, so that ingredients will not mix, and serve with cut straws and ice water chaser.
I must admit that pouring the layers with the Bonzer's flat end was a little tedious but not that difficult to achieve perfection on the first try (my middle transition would look better if my old bottle of Pernod had not yellowed to look similar in color to my Chartreuse). The lower I got the OXO mixing cup, the gentler the pour. Beforehand, I did experiment with starting at the top of the spiraled shaft with some water but this caused drops to fly off before landing at the flattened base. At a height of a few inches, the stream adhered beautifully to the shaft quite well. Keeping the OXO mixing cup touching the shaft and the edge of the flattened base touching the side and slightly above the surface was not that difficult to achieve even with several slow pours.

Overall, I rather like my Bonzer barspoon. It has a great feel in the hand as opposed to a straight, untextured shaft. The muddler is handy in a pinch although it will not be my tool of choice; however, the layerer is quite superior to anything I own especially for depth and precision work. At $13-14, the Bonzer barspoon is more pricey than say my $3 eBay one, but it is a lot more stylish and handy for certain advanced techniques. And oh yeah, it stirs drinks too!

(cross-posted to the Mixoloseum blog)

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

japanese

1 1/2 oz Brandy (Courvoisier VS)
2 dash Orgeat Syrup (1 barspoon Ferrara Orzata)
1 dash Boker's Bitters (Homemade (*))

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glas. Garnish with a lemon peel.
(*) Substitute Angostura or Fee's Whiskey Barrel Bitters otherwise

The above recipe for the Japanese came from The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book but the rationale for seeking it out was two fold. One was that we had just bought a decent bottle of orgeat from the local Italian specialty store (Capone Foods in Union Square, Somerville). The other was a list that Chuck Taggart of GumboPages posted on Facebook; it was of 100 cocktails that Bobby Heugel of Anvil in Houston thinks everyone should try at least once. Picking from the 29 remaining, the Japanese became the first targeted strike on the list. It was a drink I had always thought of making but usually skipped in preference of something more flashy.
The Japanese was full of spicy almond richness in a Brandy Old Fashioned sort of format. The drink proved to be a good display of the new orgeat due to the simplicity of the recipe which was basically a slightly sweetened and bittered jigger of brandy. I am glad that the Anvil's list finally pushed me to try this classic cocktail, and perhaps I will be able to reach my goal of completing the list by the end of 2009.