Thursday, November 28, 2013

edgar allen poe

1 1/2 oz Laird's Applejack
1/2 oz Alvear Amontillado Sherry
1/2 oz Frangelico
1/4 oz Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
3/4 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Float a dash of allspice dram and garnish with a fennel frond if available.

A few Mondays ago, we made our way over to Estragon in the South End for dinner. For a first drink, bartender Sahil Mehta suggested one of the recipes he created for Estragon's Dead Poet Halloween dinner party. The one that called out to me was the Edgar Allen Poe that was subtitled with verse on the menu as, "From a proud tower in the town, Death looks gigantically down." While that quote was from The City in the Sea, he did pay tribute to the more famous The Cask of Amontillado with the wine in the mix; that night he used Lustau's Amontillado instead of Alvear's. Moreover, since the libation was paired with a fennel-pork dish, Sahil garnished this one with a fennel frond.
The Edgar Allen Poe began with a nutty, apple, and lemon aroma that became more grape driven later on. The lemon and grape sip gave way to an apple swallow that led into nutty flavors and an allspice finish. Indeed, I was impressed at how well the Maraschino, Frangelico, and nutty oxidized sherry worked as a trio on the swallow with such complementary flavors.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

autumn sunset

1 1/2 oz Buffalo Trace Bourbon (Four Roses)
1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth (Cocchi)
1/2 oz Dry Vermouth (Dolin)
1/4 oz St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
1/4 oz Benedictine

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Flame an orange twist (skipped the flaming part) and discard.
After Steel & Rye, Andrea and I decided to have a nightcap. For a cocktail idea, I turned to Sanctuaria: The Dive Bar of Cocktail Bars book. There, I spotted the Autumn Sunset that appeared like a Perfect Manhattan with allspice dram and Benedictine added to the mix. Once prepared, the orange oils complemented the herbal aroma. Malt and grape on the sip led into a Bourbon swallow followed by herbal notes with a robust allspice finish. Overall, the drink looked and smelled like Autumn and was a great end to fall evening.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

rye rising

1 oz Old Overholt Rye
1 oz Galliano Ristretto Espresso Liqueur
1/2 oz Boston Bual Madeira
1/2 oz Demerara Syrup
1 dash Mole Bitters
1 Egg

Shake once without ice and once with. Strain into a rocks glass and garnish with grated coffee bean.

For a dessert cocktail at Steel & Rye, I asked bartender Ted Gallagher for the Rye Rising. When I inquired about the name, Ted mentioned that he was stuck thinking of something to call it since Coffee Cocktail had been taken a mere 150 years before. Luckily, Ted's wife came to the rescue at 1:30am the night before this brunch drink was due to be printed on the menu. With whiskey, Madeira, and egg, it did remind me a bit of a Boston Flip, although the coffee angle put it in the realm of his previous Bramble and Arabica, Ted Kilpatrick's Orinoco, and Sam Gabrielli's Don't Flip Out.
The grated coffee bean garnish contributed a fresh dark roast coffee aroma to the nose. The dark roast continued on into the sip where it joined the rich, caramel sip. The coffee theme carried on into the swallow along with the rye and hints of the Madeira at the end. I suggested dropping the espresso liqueur amount and raising the Madeira both to 3/4 oz to bring out the beauty of the Madeira a touch more in the drink.

Monday, November 25, 2013

lionheart

1 1/2 oz Domaine Dupont Calvados
1/2 oz Rittenhouse 100 Rye
1 barspoon Maple Syrup
1 dash St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass with a large ice cube. Twist a lemon peel over the top.

For a first drink at Steel & Rye, Andrea requested the Lionheart. Bartender Ted Gallagher explained that the Lionheart was not named after one of Jean-Claude Van Damme's films as one server at the restaurant thought, and I was misguided in thinking about the Lion's Tail due to the whiskey and allspice dram in the mix. For the recipe was named after the Duke of Normandy in tribute to the Calvados in the drink.
The Lionheart shared bright lemon oil notes over the apple aroma. The rye's maltiness mingled with a vague fruitiness on the sip, and the swallow showcased the apple, maple, and allspice flavors.

josephine's bath

1 1/4 oz Rhum JM Blanc
1 oz Dolin Dry Vermouth
3/4 oz Gran Classico

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass containing a large ice cube. Twist a grapefruit peel over the top.

A few Sundays ago, Andrea and I ventured down to Milton to dine at Steel & Rye where bartenders Ted Gallagher and Derric Crothers were manning the bar that night. For a first drink, I requested the Josephine's Bath which seemed like an interesting rhum agricole Negroni variation. Ted explained how he spent his honeymoon in Martinique, and there, he stood with his bride in a historic section of water off of the shore. The fame came from Napoléon Bonaparte's first wife, Joséphine de Beauharnais from Martinique, and she used to bathe in that sandbar off the island's coast.
The grapefruit oil greeted the nose and preceded a grassy wine sip. The swallow then offered the grassy and mineral flavors of the rhum followed by the herbal notes of the Gran Classico and vermouth. Overall, the Gran Classico worked rather well here with the rhum agricole, and the Josephine's Bath came across as more delicate than other rhum agricole Negroni variations including the Pirate Slave and the Defensio.

Friday, November 22, 2013

:: drink[craft]beer fall to winter fest ::

Last Friday, I went to session 1 of Drink[Craft]Beer's Fall to Winter Fest. I returned to their event after enjoying their Summerfest for the moderately sized event felt rather intimate; not only was it easy to visit every booth and not just visit mostly the familiar, it was not overly crowded such that you could not spend time talking to brewers and the brewery staff as well as sample multiple tastings from the booths. Each brewery and cidery had to have at least one fall- or winter-themed offering; while some had seasonal offerings in already in their lineups, others seemed to have brewed beers and ciders for the event for I was unable to find any information online about the products. Moreover, I was quite surprised and pleased to see that apples were playing a bigger role in the event than pumpkins.
As for my favorite apple products and one pumpkin one:
Nightshift (MA) @NightShiftBeer - Fallen Apple. This golden ale brewed with fresh local cider was amazing especially tasty with the undertones from the rum and brandy barrels used for aging. The sour apple notes were complemented by the spice finish.
Bantam Cider (MA) @BantamCider - Persian Spice. While at Thirst Boston, I enjoyed their Le Grande aged in Bourbon barrels, this time my favorite new-to-me product was spiced with a bounty of Middle Eastern botanicals with cardamom and cinnamon being the most identifiable all with a floral finish. See the spices in the second picture.
Urban Farm Fermentory (ME) @Fermentory - Chai Sour Cidah. The Untappd beer app seemed to suggest that this was a new offering, and it was a hybrid of their kombucha and their cider. Indeed, the sour and tea tannin notes of the fermented tea worked well on the finish of the apple.
Downeast Cider House (ME) @DowneastCider - Barrel Project #2. I love their regular unfiltered cider that we sell at work, and the unfiltered nature here came across as very yeasty. The Bourbon barrel notes a definite richness to the apple.
Blacksmiths Winery (ME) - Fatty Bampkins. While a little on the sweet side, it had a great honest apple flavor.
Cape Ann Brewing (MA) @CapeAnnBrewing - Imperial Pumpkin Stout. I do not generally hunt out pumpkin beers, but I am not averse to trying them. When I saw that Cape Ann was offering an imperial pumpkin, it reminded me of Southern Tier's that we had on cask. Likewise, it was very pumpkin but with a decent dark caramel malt and no bothering with pumpkin pie spices.
For favorite dark beers:
RiverWalk Brewing Co. (MA) @RiverwalkBeer - Rye Stout. Another offering that was first entered into Untappd that night so I have to assume it was made for this event. While the coffee malt notes clouded a lot of the rye spice, the hops from the Kent Golding did shine through quite well.
Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project (MA) @PrettyBeer - Babayaga. Technically not new to me, but new to me utilizing the Untappd beer app, this rustic stout with great smoky notes from rosemary-smoked malts was all around delightful.
Nightshift (MA) @NightShiftBeer - Taza Stout. My tasting notes read, "Chocolate blending into coffee from chicory. Ginger builds over time."
High Horse Brewing (MA) @HighHorseBrew - The Business. High Horse Brew Pub was out of this offering when we visited them a few months ago in Amherst. Luckily, I had a chance to try this imperial stout that was black as night and full of coffee roast flavors.
Tap Brewing Company (MA) @TapBrewingCo - Joshua Norton Imperial Stout. Quite delightful with chocolate and caramel notes on the sip and a smoky coffee finish.
And my favorite non-fruit and non-dark brews:
Idle Hands (MA) @IdleHandsBeer - First Pitch. No wonder I could not find this Belgian rye pale ale on shelves for it is keg-only right now. My tasting notes read, "Caramel balanced by rye spice and Belgian notes. Tart apple." Also notable was Lucia's Bounty, their pale weizenbock, which showcased caramel notes and a rosemary-like bite.
Nightshift (MA) @NightShiftBeer - Chinooknation. A Belgian-style double brewed with a single type of hops that offered resiny, lemon, pine, clove, and cinnamon-like spice.
Smuttynose Brewing Company (NH) @SmuttynoseBeer - Winter Ale. Unlike many of the winter offerings, I obviously enjoyed this one's angle for I wrote, "Good to see a winter beer go Trappist style instead of spiced. Fig/date notes."
Notch Brewing (MA) @NotchBrewing - LP IPL. This was certainly not their fall or winter offering, but it was great to see others besides Jack's Abby doing India Pale Lagers. LP IPL had nice pineapple, pine, and citrus notes.
Wormtown Brewery (MA) @WormtownBrewery - Wintah Ale. Perhaps this should be in the dark beer section, but it was a touch lighter as a brown ale. Elegant nutty brown, chocolate, and earthy flavors.

broken crown

1 1/2 oz El Tesoro Tequila
1/2 oz Laird's Bonded Apple Brandy
1/2 oz Tempus Fugit Crème de Cacao
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1 barspoon Grenadine
1 dash Celery Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a coupe glass.

A few Wednesdays ago after one of my dinner shifts at Russell House Tavern, I headed over to Kirkland Tap & Trotter for a shift drink on the route home. Bar manager Tyler Wang spoke to me about the new libations on the cocktail menu before he had to leave for the night; he described the Broken Crown as a tequila 20th Century (otherwise known as the Jim Meehan's 21st Century) crossed with a Jack Rose. Out of the new drinks, the Broken Crown seemed like the winner, so I asked bartender Andrew Keefe to make me one.
The Broken Crown greeted the nose with a tequila aroma. A fruity sip from the lime, apple brandy, and pomegranate syrup was chased by a tequila swallow that shared muted chocolate notes on the finish.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

bargellino

1 1/2 oz Old Overholt Rye
3/4 oz Dry Vermouth
1/2 oz Amaro Montenegro
1/4 oz Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur

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

A few Tuesdays ago, I headed over to Silvertone to have dinner at the bar. For a cocktail, I asked bartender Josh Childs for the Bargellino that appeared on the OnTheBar app after I checked in for my visit. When I inquired about the name, Josh replied that it refers to a hotel in Italy; however, he explained that he found this recipe in his old notes and was not entirely sure if he was the one who created it. Regardless, the Bargellino reminded me of a Man About Town crossed with a Brooklyn and seemed like it would be an excellent tipple.
The twist's orange oils joined the aroma of the amaro's caramel and the whiskey's malt on the nose. The malt continued into the sip to mingle with the dry vermouth's wine flavors, and the swallow began with the rye and ended with an herbal finish that showcased the amaro's mandarine orange peel and the Maraschino's nutty cherry notes.

:: martini gran lusso tasting ::

Last night, I was invited to a vermouth tasting event at the Hawthorne hosted by Jackson Cannon and Colin Asare-Appiah, alumni of London's LAB bar and now with Bacardi. The night began with a discussion of the classical and modern roles of vermouth as a stand alone and as a cocktail ingredient and moved on to a tasting of 10 vermouths similar to the Demystifying Vermouth seminar at Portland Cocktail Week. The tasting ended with vermouth #10, Martini Gran Lusso, Martini & Rossi's 150th anniversary vermouth. Instead of using solely white Trebbiano wine as they do for all their other vermouths, they added in red Barbera wine to give rich flavors and a red instead of brown hue to the vermouth (the brown hue is often associated with caramel coloring). Part of the botanical mix comes from a blend developed in 1904 that undergoes a long rest in wood before an 8 year mellowing in glass demijohns. Gentian, African aloe, and dittany (related to oregano) were three of the botanicals that were revealed. Clearly, the process is time intensive and most likely not very sustainable, so this release is rather limited at 150,000 bottles. DrinkUpNY has the product priced around $30.

The concept of vermouth as a cocktail modifier alone was questioned. When a customer asks for a Manhattan, instead of asking "rye or Bourbon?" and "Up, down, or on the rocks?", perhaps asking what vermouth they would like to have used. As was demonstrated from the tasting, vermouths of each type vary widely and the balance of the drink needs to be altered accordingly. For example, Carpano Antica is a beast of a vermouth and needs to be used more sparingly that Cinzano or Martini & Rossi, whereas the more delicate Dolin Rouge needs to be used in more abundance. Since vermouths need to be kept fresh, having too many open bottles of vermouth at a bar can be an issue. Placing open dates, not marrying bottles of different vintages, and tasting old bottles will keep the product within healthy guidelines. However, figuring out ways to increase vermouth use will help keep the rate of opening fresh bottles frequent. One way is to have plenty of drinks on the menu that utilize vermouths. Another is to drink it straight, and Jackson brought up the point that the barbacks at Eastern Standard were often required to drink the remainders of vermouth bottles as part of their shift drink. Personally, the art of the aperitif is my favorite way, and the Half Sinner-Half Saint favored by Rendezvous' Scott Holliday is my preferred go-to at home or for guests at the bar. Moreover, vermouths are not just for aperitifs. While the bitter notes from the botanicals are great for getting the gastric juices flowing to prepare the digestive track for food, many of them also help to settle the stomach.

Without further ado, here are my tasting notes:
1: Martini & Rossi Dry. Trebbiano wine, artemisia (wormwood), oregano thyme, dittany. Despite being called dry, it is not all that dry. Jackson referred to this one as a fully-balanced bottled cocktail.
2: Noilly Extra Dry. Straw color all from aging for over 1 year in barrels. Smell is floral with honeysuckle notes, apple, unripened strawberries, and carrot. Taste is very vegetal and reminiscent of oysters due to the salinity. The aging also donates some oxidative notes. Produced near the fishing port of Marseillan, this vermouth is often paired with oysters.
3: Dolin Dry. Based on an 1827 recipe. The clear-colored vermouth has granny smith apple, lemon, nut oils, and white peach aromas, while the taste has great acidity and low wormwood. It is evident that a lot of love went into the wine. Jackson pointed out that the aromatics here can be lost in cocktails and a 2:1 ratio might be necessary. It is a restrained style that was meant to be drunk alone and has less of history with cocktails.
4: Martini & Rossi Bianco. Developed in the early 1900s and created for women once they were allowed to drink in public. The smell is vanilla cream, cinnamon, angel food cake, oregano, thyme, and dittany. The style has a rather high sugar content.
5: Eastern Standard Rose. Made on a stove in a kitchen instead of more traditional ways. Ripe fruit forward due to the Spanish grenache wine base and the strawberry maceration. The vermouth contains wormwood in a very traditional style and the bitterness can really help to balance the rather fruit forwardness of the ingredients.
History of Eastern Standard's vermouth program: It began when Mayur Subbarao, now of Amor & Amargo, drove up to Boston and cooked up vermouths in an informal vermouth class held in an apartment's kitchen in Somerville, MA. He made and taught recipes for replicas of Carpano Antica and Noilly Prat Amber, two vermouths that were not available at the time in the United States. Some of these techniques were discussed at the Vermouth Tasting and Making Class held by Tom Schlessinger-Guidelli at Craigie on Main in early 2009. Jackson was interesting in duplicating Martini & Rossi's Rose which was also not imported at the time. With Mayur's help, they were able to replicate the product; while not an exact match, it is rather delightful on its own or in cocktails like the Frobisher.
6: Martini & Rossi Sweet. White wine is still the base here with caramel color added. The caramel is not added for sweetness; instead the sweetness comes from cane sugar. The tasting notes are reminiscent of pizza with oregano and thyme. Kola nut, unsweetened chocolate, cherry, bitter honey, and overly ripe plum were also mentioned.
7: Noilly Prat Rouge. Noilly's answer to Martini & Rossi's sweet vermouth; created in the early 1900s. Drier finish than the Martini & Rossi.
8: Dolin Rouge. Smell has sarsaparilla, root beer, thyme, fig, and wintergreen; similar to Martini & Rossi but more raw. The taste has grapefruit, orange, and apple notes with not a lot of bitter notes and a somewhat port-like feel.
9: Carpano Antica. Nose shares Coca Cola, vanilla, Necco wafer, Bubble Yum gum aromas. Taste has tea flavors such as rooibos and mint tea, orange, lemon peel, clove, cinnamon, gentian. Very bitter sweet.
10: Martini Gran Lusso. Color is ruby red from the Barbera grapes. The nose displays pineapple, rosemary, star anise, and menthol. The tasting notes were rosemary, thyme, juniper, woodsy pine, hibiscus, lavender, and grassy-wet leaf.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

[shepherd's secret]

1 1/2 oz Sheep Dip Blended Scotch
3/4 oz Luxardo Amaro Abano
3/4 oz Punt e Mes
1 barspoon Green Chartreuse

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

After going to Drink a few Mondays ago, I stayed in Fort Point and visited Blue Dragon a few blocks away. There, I was greeted by bar manager John Drew who offered up a small taste of a great apple-sweet potato milk punch that perfectly captured Autumn in a glass. For a drink, he suggested a Scotch cocktail he created that rather appealed to me for it contained Amaro Abano; indeed, the Scotch and Abano combination worked rather well in Les Kostinas' Blacksmith at Russell House Tavern.
The cocktail began with a bright orange oil aroma that balanced the darker notes from the Abano and Punt e Mes on the nose. A caramel and grape sip led into a Scotch swallow with a complex bitter herbal finish.

Monday, November 18, 2013

:: rethinking vermouth - the renaissance of fortified wine ::

Another talk I went to at Thirst Boston was entitled "Rethinking Vermouth: The Renaissance of Fortified Wine." For a good refresher, see the "Demystifying Vermouth" talk write-up from Portland Cocktail Week 2012. Overlapping in speakership in both talks was Imbue Vermouth's Neil Kopplin, and this talk also had Carl Sutton of Sutton Cellars and Adam Ford of Atsby Vermouth.

The basics of vermouth is that it is a wine aromatized (or flavored) with botanicals and fortified by a brandy; in fact, vermouth can be fortified by any fruit brandy but mostly it is a grape-based one. The concept of aromatized wine has been around for almost as long as people making wine. These flavorants were often added for medicinal purposes such as wormwood that first appeared in print in a 1500 BC Indian text on medicine. Eventually, people learned that the addition of a high proof spirit could not only stop fermentation but stabilize the product. While the Carpano family has been attributed to creating vermouth proper cerca 1786, lots of wine and spirits have had wormwood in it. For a great primer on the subject, the speakers recommended Uncorking the Past: The Quest for Wine, Beer, and Other Alcoholic Beverages by Patrick E. McGovern.

Domestically, America has a fantastic history with vermouth. Vermouth first hits our shores in the 1830s, but it is not until it makes its way to New York City in the 1860s that it truly embeds itself. What solidified its place was not in the old world aperitif but in the cocktail, and vermouth made the cocktail so much more than the basic spirits, bitters, sugar, and water. While the Europeans method of enjoying vermouth had a lot of tradition, the American way had a lot of creativity. Indeed, the Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book, for example, has over 174 vermouth recipes alone. And not all vermouth was coming from Europe, for in pre-Prohibition American, there were over 200 wineries making vermouth domestically.

Sutton Vermouth: Carl Sutton formed the company four years ago in November of 2009, and he sought to craft a vermouth that mixed well but was drinkable on its own. Carl later explained, "it has to taste good on its own... you cannot make a living a half ounce at a time." One of the company's earliest successes was to get on tap #10 at the Alembic in San Francisco, and he found it great that it was being served on tap like it often is in Barcelona. While most European vermouth is herbal and bitter, Sutton's Brown Label is fruit, floral, and herbal such as from the dried orange peel, rosemary, and chamomile in the mix.

Imbue Vermouth: Neil Kopplin spoke about the terroir being the key word to his vermouths. The Imbue Bittersweet, for example, is made from Oregon Pinot Gris wine made 60 miles away and Pinot Gris brandy distilled at nearby Clear Creek. The Bittersweet has around 50 grams sugar per liter added (in addition to natural grape sugars) putting it at the high end of dry vermouth but closer to bianco vermouth. Neil explained that no one knows what dry tastes like; people talk dry but drink sweet. Botanically speaking, the Bittersweet has orange peel, elderflower, chamomile, clove, and sage -- many of these ingredients were selected for their ability to complement the lemon and Granny Smith apple notes in the wine base. Overall, the product is rather Lillet-like in feel. The Imbue Petal & Thorn is Kopplin's other product with an aggressively sweet and bitter formulation. Gentian works well here but is quite different from traditional vermouth bittering agents. Eucalyptus, Egyptian chamomile, and cinnamon were some of the other botanicals mentioned that add a slightly feminine nature to this somewhat aggressive product.

Atsby Vermouth: Adam Ford wanted to make New York-style vermouth and named his company after a mid-19th century Manhattan center of entertainment, Assembly Theaters on Broadway. Atsby's Amber Thorn has a steel tank New York Chardonnay as a base and apple brandy as the fortifier. Nigella seed from Indian cooking and damiana from Mexican flavor this aromatized wine sweetened with raw summer honey. The 21 botanicals in the mix have a familiar flavor; Adam explained that many people declare, "it reminded me of something... positive, but I cannot identify it." To him, vermouth should stimulate the mind as well as the palate; it should trigger a memory. The other product Adam spoke about was Atsby's Armadillo Cake which has a completely different flavor profile. One of the curious botanicals is shiitake mushrooms for he grew up as a macrobiotic eating a lot of that mushroom with seaweed. Instead of honey, this vermouth is sweetened with dark Indian muscavado sugar caramel to add additional depth to the wine. As for a classification, it is neither a sweet nor a dry, so the vermouth really needs a new style name.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

private shandy

The theme for this month's Mixology Monday (MxMo LXXIX) was picked by Christa and Shaun of the BoozeNerds blog. The theme they chose was "Resin" which seems quite seasonally appropriate with Christmas trees being primed for decoration. The BoozeNerds elaborated on the concept by describing, "We thought hard about a theme that would work well for this time of year, and after contemplating the food, booze, and decor we like for the holidays, we settled on 'Resin.' From savory rosemary in a stuffing, to a delicious juniper-y gin in a martini, to a fragrant fir ornament or garnish, our friends the evergreens have a lot to offer... The challenge: come up with an ingenious creation using the resin-y ingredient of your choice. Zirbenz, retsina, hoppy IPA, pine-nut puree, even? Sure! Spirit, garnish, aroma, all are fair game. Whatever resin means to you, we want to hear it."

Given the excitement of the ThirstBoston events last weekend and my jam-packed work schedule before and after to make up for my time off, I did not have much time to search recipe books for the perfect resiny answer to this Mixology Monday riddle. However, I had been staring at the perfect recipe during these many shifts over the last two weeks, namely the Private Shandy created by Russell House Tavern's bar manager Sam Gabrielli here in Cambridge, MA. The Private Shandy pairs the elegant juniper note of Privateer Rum's gin with the resiny hoppiness of Blatant's IPA and perfectly fits the theme.
Private Shandy
• 1 1/2 oz Privateer Gin
• 3/4 oz Cinnamon Syrup
• 1/2 oz Housemade Pamplemousse Cordial (*)
• 1/2 oz Lemon Juice
Shake with ice and pour into a beer glass (~14 oz) containing 3 oz of Blatant (or other West Coast-style) IPA. Top with ice, garnish with a wide grapefruit swath, and add a straw.
(*) A commercial grapefruit liqueur like Combier would work well here as would making your own cordial using this recipe from Craigie on Main.
The wonder of the drink is how well the IPA beer's flavors match the other ingredients. The hops' pine and resin flavors complement the juniper and other botanicals in the gin, and the hops' citrus and grapefruit notes work elegantly with the grapefruit cordial and lemon juice. Finally, the cinnamon syrup ties together the drink with spice elements that go splendidly with the grapefruit, hops, and gin notes.
So thank you to Christa and Shaun of the BoozeNerds for picking the theme and running this month's show, and thanks to the rest of the Mixology Monday participants for keeping the spirit of the event alive!

flintlock

2 oz Lillet Blanc
1 oz Savory & James Amontillado Sherry
3/4 oz Montelobos Mezcal (*)
1 dash Angostura Orange Bitters
1 pinch Salt

Stir to dissolve salt. Add ice, stir, and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist.
(*) With a feistier mezcal like Vida, use 1/2 oz.

On Monday at Thirst during the lunch break, I stopped into the Genesis Tasting Suite. There, M.S. Walker was hosting the American Boutique Spirits Bar where a pair of bartenders were taking turns mixing up drinks every hour. Had I realized the line up, I would have tried to run up there more often between the talks. Luckily, I did get to catch the excellent Sean Frederick in action, and I requested the Flintlock, a smoky aperitif he created and served here with Montelobos Mezcal. Sean mentioned that when he developed the drink with Del Maguey Mezcal Vida, he used a half ounce, but the softer style of Montelobos allowed for a slightly larger pour to get the same degree of smokiness.
The Flintlock proffered a smoke aroma that was brightened by the twist's orange oil. The sherry and Lillet combined on the sip to conjure a lemony grape note. Finally, the swallow showcased a raisiny mezcal flavor, and the salt helped to cleanly close off the finish.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

:: rum - the world's most versatile spirit ::

On Monday at Thirst Boston, my first talk was Rum: The World's Most Versatile Spirit hosted by Bacardi's Jacob Briars and Heath Davis and Drink-alum Will Thompson. The main concept of the talk was how no spirit has the same adaptability and range as rum. Given the great number of styles and price points, they sought to give some order to the chaos. Produced in over 50 countries, some of which have rather relaxed laws, rum is definitely not as structured as say tequila or Scotch. And part of the affordability of rum as compared to other spirits has to do with that chaos as well as some historical conceptions of what rum is.

As a commonality, rum comes from sugar cane which is one of the world's biggest crops by acreage. Originally, this grass grew in Papua New Guinea, and it was taken around the world rather quickly in order to satiate people's search for energy. Products from fermented sugar cane have an 8000 year history where little changed, but 400 years ago, things changed forever. One of the biggest changes occurred in the middle of the 16th century with the Reformation. Honey had been the main source of energy to keep up with the beeswax candles made at monasteries; however, the Reformation did away with that. Around that same time, the world got addicted to coffee and tea and it needed a new energy source. Previously, sugar came as loaf sugar and the grinding was rather inconvenient to free the sweetness from this resinous brick. Once technology advanced through boiling, rectifying, and crystalizing, pure sugar crystals that did not require any grinding step and the demand took off. What was left after the purification was molasses, the major waste product of the sugar cane industry. While the first sugar cane distillates were cachaças in the early 1600s in Brazil, 1648 was the first time rum was reported to have been made with molasses. To make sense of rum, the speakers divided it up into three different styles: the English, the French, and the Spanish (or modern) styles.
English: The history of the English style took off with Britain finding Barbados, an island that was off of the major chain of islands and therefore had not been discovered or claimed by France or Spain. On Barbados, the English invented factory or modern production styles. One truism to this style is that the distillation methodology is unimportant with stills ranging from wooded ones to very formal and recognizable ones. What is important is the dunder; the mash is left in the fermenter and more molasses is added in. This style produces a resinous, rich style full of esters that allows it age well, be transported, and left on docks for storage. In Jamaica, they often take this to an extreme where they keep fermenting until the molasses mash stops bubbling, take some of it off for distillation, replenish the volume, and sometimes they never clean out the fermentation tank. The age statement on English rums is the minimum age.

French: French people are French. Since France based its purified sugar economy on sugar beets, they disallowed the import of sugar cane. Therefore, the whole cane is juiced and fermented fresh. Moreover, this cane juice product is fermented like an eau de vie. While the ashy volcanic soil is often attributed to what makes rhum agricoles have a certain flavor, it was pointed out that St. George makes a similar rum in California on different soils. While an A.O.C. tightly regulates the style in Martinique, often they are producing the product on patchwork stills, Mad Max style.

Spanish: The history of Spanish rum can be traced back to Columbus bringing over sugar cane seeds over on his second voyage in 1493; while this batch of seeds did not succeed, 7 years later, sugar cane was growing in Hispaniola. The 1620s saw the first rum distilleries in Cuba as compared to the 1650s when rum production became an industry in Boston. The continuous still made for a cleaner rum style. Controlled fermentation, proprietary yeast, filtration, and purposeful aging and blending all aid in defining the style and regulating its purity today. Unlike the English style of age statements, the number is either the maximum age of the rum contained or solely having the style of that age. For example, Zacapa 23 Year is made mostly of 4-6 year rums but it tastes much older.

The breakfast of champions...
Of the three styles we tasted examples of, the Smith & Cross (English style) was most like rye whiskey, the rhum agricole (French style) like pisco, and the Bacardi (Spanish style) like gin with a crisp, light, and mixable feel. Overall, Cuban-style rum needs something to make it elevated for it is not a sipper; mixology is necessary to unpack its features. Jenning Cox helped this aspect by creating (or at least naming and being documented) the Daiquiri in the late 1800s. The next big advancement was the Tiki craze which was a perfect way to elevate rum; especially with the preconceptions after the 1930s when rum is what people drank if they had nothing else.

Finally, it was pointed out that most rum these days is made with molasses not produced on that island. Most of this molasses is imported from Venezuela and Brazil. What defines the island is the style of what they do with the molasses after they import it. Clearly, the exception is French-styled rums given the A.O.C. rules on Martinique.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

:: pirates, partisans, & grandmothers - the legacy and use of sherry ::

One of the other talks I went to at Thirst Boston on Sunday was Pirates, Partisans, & Grandmothers: The Legacy and Use of Sherry given by Jackson Cannon and Derek Brown. Jackson Cannon is well known here in Boston as the leader of the Kenmore bar trilogy -- Eastern Standard, Island Creek Oyster Bar, and Hawthorne -- as well as recently the second runner up in the 2012 Vinos de Jerez sherry cocktail competition. Washington D.C.'s Derek Brown opened up the Passenger and Columbia Room in 2009 and 6 months ago launched Mockingbird Hill that features 90 sherries. Derek explained that the focus for the talk was "How to unfuck sherry?", for many people believe that only old people drink sherry. He thought that it would be cool if they actually did, but it is not the case anymore. 

Sherry's history goes back to ancient times with 3000 years of history. The Phoenicians took vines throughout the ancient world, and the wines that came about were quite different but had some similarities especially with the modern sweeter styles of sherry. The Moors advanced sherry making by taking the new advancements of science, namely distillation, from North Africa into Spain. The fortification of wine proved to be advantageous especially during the Age of Exploration for regular wines would go bad on a ship's voyage while wines with additional proof would be stable for longer. Although Columbus took sherry on his voyages to the New World, it was Magellan who set the record by spending more money on sherry than on food and workers. Later, sherry solidified its place in Spanish viticulture by becoming the country's first Denominación de Origen.


Three main grape types predominate sherry production. The Palamino grape grows well on chalky soils similar to those found in Champagne and Cognac in France. The Palamino is technically three different and accounts for 97% of all plantings in Jerez. The other two are Pedro Ximénez and Muscadel which grow better on clay-based soils. PX is often raisinated, except for the dry sherry versions, from sun maturation before fermentation. Meanwhile, the Muscadel is not as sun-concentrated and displays earthy fruit notes; this grape produces wines closer to the ancient Phoenician style.


Derek broke down sherry into 3 'F' words. First, fortify. Sherry starts out as a still table wine that is fortified to around 15% ABV. Second, flor. The flor is a thick, white cap of yeast that protects the wine from being oxidized. Finally, fractionalized blending. Sherry often utilizes a solera system where a third of each barrel is taken away and replaced with newer wines. Statistically, some old sherry is still present in the solera.


There are four major styles of dry sherries. The Fino made from Palamino grapes maintains that protective layer of flor and keeps a non-oxidized flavor. The Manzanilla is more localized for it is a Fino produced in Sanlúcar. When the flor is not allowed to develop such as by killing it in the fortification step or by getting rid of it, it will oxidize and become an Oloroso. The Amontillado is another oxidized sherry that has the nose of an Oloroso and the finish of a Fino. A fifth dry sherry is the Palo Cortado that tastes like an Amontillado and an Oloroso, but it is a designation assigned by a committee as judged for the wine's flavor characteristics.


As for sweet sherries, the two major ones are Pedro Ximénez and Muscadel with both using sun-drenched raisinated processes and different fortification methods than the dry sherries. Cream is a mix of Oloroso and Pedro Ximénez sherries with Lustau's East India Solera being one of the more famous. Pale Cream, on the other hand, is grape syrup mixed with a Fino -- a style that erupted in the 1970s with Harveys Bristol Cream. A Medium designation was recently added, but Derek would love to see that one go away.


The popularity of sherry boomed with the Cobbler that was first mentioned by Washington Irving in 1809. While it is a simple drink, it requires crushed ice and its success rapidly followed Frederic Tudor's first ice shipments starting in 1806. Its success went hand-in-hand with the spread of ice appreciation in drinks. Back then, the Cobbler was mostly made with oxidized sherries that were slightly sweet. Derek mentioned that his favorite use of sherry was in the Adonis which is basically a Sherry Manhattan with sweet vermouth, orange and aromatic bitters.


Since sherry is exceedingly complex with over 300 volatile elements, it often pairs very well with food. Some classic combinations in Spain are Fino and ham, Manzanilla and oysters, and Amontillado and egg. Sherry has also recently worked well the bone and oyster luges phenomenon (pouring the wine over where the bone marrow or mollusk once was).


When asked if they could only have three bottles of sherry, Derek began by listing a Manzanilla from either La Gitana or La Cigarrera, an Amontillado such as Lustau's Los Arcos, and a Cream for sweetness such as Lustau East India Solera. Jackson commented that Lustau's E.I.S. has proven to be an indispensable cocktail ingredient and definitely agreed with Derek's list. He rounded out his list with an Oloroso such as from Alvear and a Palo Cortado such as Hidalgo's 30 Year Wellington.

:: beer back - beer's integration in cocktails ::

On Sunday, one of the talks I attended was Beer Back: Beer's Integration in Cocktails hosted by Kevin Mabry of J.M. Curley and Kevin Martin of Eastern Standard. They began by addressing why beer? Beer is a three dimensional product that is sellable on its own but it  can add so much to drinks; in a way, it is no different than sparkling wine but with a few additional features. These include:
• Effervescence/carbonation. This will help flavors and aromas to keep throughout the drink.
• Dryness or sweetness
• Bitter complexity from the hops
• Other flavor components like malt, roast, vanilla

Methodology was much focused on how to incorporate beer into cocktails. They recommended working backwards by picking a beer first and then adding the rest of the ingredients instead of using a beer float or other addition as a later thought. Develop the drink completely, and afterwards, try it with different beers to see if you can improve it. The beer should be colder than normally drinkable if possible to keep carbonation and to allow for drink layering. As for uses of beer in cocktails:
• Shaken with the drink. Utilize the dry shake akin to what is used with egg cocktails. While the proteins and other frothing agents in beer will likewise be emulsified, it is more important to degas the beer so the shaker does not pop open mid-shake.
• Rolling down a spoon. Pour the beer down a spoon (especially one with a twisted handle) while stirring to integrate.
• Topping drink. Likewise, adding to the glass first and straining over it.
• Beer syrups which last a lot longer than beer -- often up to 30 days. They can be used to create a frothy foam head and texture from the left over proteins in the beer and material in the hop extract. This emulsifier can be a lot cheaper than eggs and can be made vegan or less allergenic.
• Layering. Clearly, sorting out the density of the beer and the rest of the drink is important. Next, figure out what the end goal is and how the drinker should perceive the drink. Is the beer to be taken in first or last? Should the drinker sip from the top or drink via a straw from the bottom? The risk with the straw is that the person you serve it to will just stir it up. Is the beer the focus, the primer, or the cleanser? Think the neo-classic straw-driven Mind Eraser where the Kahlua on the bottom is taken first via straw and its sweetness then kills the heat of the middle vodka layer. Finally, the carbonated water at the top cleanses the palate.

Beer flavor wheels, such as this one, will help to get you thinking about how to pair beer with the other cocktail ingredients.

The talk was sponsored by Lambise, a pair of beers that were developed specifically for use in cocktails; both are combinations of Belgian and lambic beers and one of the two has a ginger component to it. Besides having good body and effervescence, the lambic's sourness and acidity might allow drinks to be citrus-free; while Mabry found that it was a good substitute, Martin often prefers to add citrus in to bolster the crispness of the drink.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

:: highlights of thirst boston 2013 ::

Yesterday marked the conclusion of Thirst Boston, the successor to the Boston Cocktail Summit. While most of the events happened on Sunday and Monday, there was The Thing gala on Saturday night that I attended and a St. Germain detox event today that I sadly missed since I had a work shift. The scope of the event was not just cocktails and spirits, for beer, cider, and coffee were included in the mix. Unlike other cocktail events, I did not have cocktail fatigue at any point since there were so many options throughout the day via tasting booths and seminars. Without further ado, here are some of the random highlights of the weekend:
Best room opening: The D.T.O. room at The Thing. The Thing took place at the Harvard Club with the first bit held in a lobby looking area with a few drink stations including an amazing Bulleit Old Fashioned bar. Later, the doors entered to the voluminous main hall where music blared, drinks of all sorts were being mixed with props to the Remy Martin Cognac Sazerac. Finally, a third room was opened, the D.T.O. room. The Daiquiri Time Out is a phenomenon started in Boston by Andrew Deitz that pays tribute to political intrigue on Chappaquiddick and a host of Boston celebrities were belting out these rummy libations.
Great way to start the morning: Irish Coffee. My first was served to me on Sunday by Jackson Cannon at the Boston Cocktails: Past, Present, and Future talk and the next was by Tony Iamunno on Monday at the Kilbeggan booth. When I woke up this morning, I was saddened that there wasn't one on the docket for the day.
Laybacks? Yeah, that just happened: When I wanted to find out where one of the talks' rooms was, I was coerced to do a Galliano layback first by Stephanie Melchert, the local Lucas Bols brand rep. A second one was at the Blender Bender where I risked brain freeze at the hands of contestant Sam Gabrielli. And the third was the most humorous with the surprisingly delicious Bols Yoghurt Liqueur except the pourer was a little uncoordinated and the end result was a bit like a bukkake scene.
Swagfest galore. I think the final count was 7 shirts, 3 hats, a pair of Glencairn whisky glasses, and a random assortment of keychains, stickers, pins, pens, bottle openers, and other fine stuff. Best shirts nods go to Amaro Sibilla (thanks Aphonik!), Newburyport Beer, and Appleton Estate Bartender's Brunch. Best hats go to the Kilbeggan Irish cap and the Drambuie Fedora.
One of the most touching moments: When I was waiting in the media line to get into the sold-out sherry talk, speaker Derek Brown came out and insisted that I be let in. And I am glad that I got to hear him and Jackson Cannon speak about this amazing wine.
Best costume: Charlotte Voisey as a robot. Not even sure what talk or event she was doing it for, but she was walking around for a while like that. I even saw photos of her jamming with the Appleton event's reggae band dressed like that... Runner up was John D. Gertsen, time traveler, dressed up like a colonial fop serving punch. The times that I have asked him if there isn't a costume he wouldn't wear, the answer is always no. The first time I spoke to John was back in 2007 or so at LUPEC Chartreuse event at Green Street and John broke the Silent Order rules for he was dressed as a Carthusian Monk that night.
Best D.T.O.: Will Thompson pounding it from a pitcher at the Rum: The World's Most Versatile Spirit talk. Also the award for the most aggressive tasting that began with a hefty pours of Smith & Cross, Bacardi, and rhum agricole and continued on with cocktails made with each of those spirits. The breakfast of champions drink was the El Dorado 12 Year and Smith & Cross two rum Old Fashioned.
Best product name: Atsby's Armadillo Cake. No, not a flavored vodka but an intriguing vermouth we tasted at the Rethinking Vermouth: The Renaissance of Fortified Wine talk.
Worst drink of Thirst Boston: Sean Frederick's bathtub gin mixed with orange juice at the How Prohibition Changed Spirits & Mixology Around the World. Phil Duff followed it up with the quote, "Can anyone remember the first time you had an Orange Blossom (the drink in question albeit usually with better gin)? It's a disappointing drink, and I've been married twice." The other Prohibition-themed quote was from Imbue's Neil Kopplin at the vermouth talk; he declared, "Prohibition did more damage to drinking in America than Phylloxera."
Random thing I wrote on Twitter stemming from a conversation about what people order in the bars we each work at, "Vodka (on the rocks or with club soda) is a vehicle for sad men and angry women." Not sure how it came about in terms of the talks or if it is what eventually led to Maureen Hautaniemi coming over to shush us. Oops, sorry about that Maureen (and the others at the talk)! See the rum talk description above for an explanation...
Blogger stigmatization: Jacob Briars asked the audience if there were any writers in the house. When I raised my hand, Maggie of Privateer Rum yelled out that I was an author. Jacob commented, "Oh, a published author... at least you're not a blogger."
Nothing says excess like a Fernet Branca afterparty following a day of drinking and the blender event.
Great Gertsenian truism: "If you know where everything lives and know how to smile, you'll be a great bartender."
Worst realization: While getting dressed for the Thing, I discovered how difficult it is to tie a bowtie. I have years to go before I achieve anything resembling the level of that rapscallion, Tyler Wang. I ended up punting and going with a regular necktie.

Friday, November 8, 2013

[royal cadiz yacht club]

1 3/4 oz Lustau Palo Cortado Sherry
3/4 oz Lime Juice
1/4 oz Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao
1/4 oz Falernum

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

For my next beverage at Drink, I asked bartender Palmer Matthews if he could sherry-fy something akin to the Sherry Mai Tai that I created or the Sherry Jungle Bird that I guided Will Thompson to make for me. For a classic to riff on, Palmer picked the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club and he swapped the Barbados rum for Palo Cortado sherry. Palmer picked Palo Cortado for he rather enjoys the shrub-like qualities of oxidative sherries.
The libation offered up a grape aroma with a bright note from the citrus. The crisp lime sip gave way to a sherry swallow that finished with orange peel and clove notes.

[kid mccoy]

1 3/4 oz Rittenhouse 100 Rye
1 oz Cocchi Americano Rosa
1/4 oz Bigallet Viriana China China
1 dash Peychaud's Bitters

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

Two Mondays ago, I ventured over to Drink where I found a seat at bartender Palmer Matthews' section. When I inquired as to what he was excited about these days, Palmer commented that he has been enjoying Cocchi Americano's rosé aperitif wine (Lillet also put out a similar product that seems comparable) as well as Bigallet's China China, a quinine-laden dark orange peel liqueur that is a proofier Amer Picon of sorts. He continued on to explained that he had been tinkering with the Deshler that first appears in Hugo Ensslin's Recipes for Mixed Drinks:
Deshler
• 1/2 jigger Rye Whiskey
• 1/2 jigger Dubonnet
2 dash Cointreau Triple Sec
2 dash Peychaud's Bitters
Shake with ice with 2 pieces orange peel and 1 piece lemon peel. Strain into a glass and garnish with an orange twist.
Since the Deshler was named after a famous boxer from the 1910s when Ensslin published his book, I dubbed this one after another turn of the century boxer, Kid McCoy, who christened boxing in the 20th century with his KO victory on New Years Day, 1900. Once mixed, the orange oils brightened the otherwise dark nose. A caramel and malt sip led into a rye swallow with a dark orange peel and spice swallow. Overall, the drink reminded me of the classic whiskey and Amer Picon-containing Liberal cocktail.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

plaza vieja

1 oz Pierre Ferrand 1840 Cognac
1 oz El Buho Mezcal
1 oz Amaro Braulio
1 barspoon Benedictine
1 dash Angostura Bitters
1 dash Salt Tincture (*)

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass. Twist an orange peel over the top.
(*) The final 3 ingredients were served in a 1/4 oz mixture that also contained a barspoon of Cognac and a dash of cigar tincture.

After the Tea Punch at Backbar, I asked bartender Sam Treadway for the Plaza Vieja from the Modern Inspirations section of the menu. When I inquired as to whom developed this Vieux Carré riff, he replied that both he and fellow Backbar bartender Joe Cammarata both came up with similar recipes without talking to each other.
Once mixed, the Plaza Vieja offered an orange and smoke aroma with a darker note from the amaro. The amaro continued on into the sip as a caramel flavor that accompanied a sweet mouthfeel. Finally, the Cognac began the swallow that ended with smoke and strong herbal and menthol notes that lingered. While the swallow had a great deal of bitter complexity, the salt tincture rather tamed the Braulio here.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

tea punch

1/2 oz Clement Rhum Agricole VSOP
1/2 oz Plantation 5 Year Barbados Rum
1 oz Amontillado Sherry
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Black Tea Syrup (*)

Stir with ice and strain into a punch cup containing an ice cube. Garnish with a lemon wheel and dash Angostura Bitters on top of it.
(*) Prepared with lemon and orange zest in the oleo saccharum.

Two Sundays ago, I wandered over to Backbar and found a seat in front of bartender Sam Treadway. For a starter, I looked to the Tradesman section of the menu and spotted the Tea Punch. With rhum agricole in the mix, I asked Sam if the name was a play on 'Ti Punch. Sam replied that the name was literal with tea in the mix and a play on 'Ti Punch except that they changed almost everything else about it; so perhaps that was a polite way of saying no or perhaps it shows that riffs can be taken quite far. Sam went on to explain that he preferred the soft richness of the drink when it was stirred so they opted not to shake this citrus-laden libation.
The lemon wheel garnish donated a bright aroma over that of the rum's caramel and the sherry's nutty grape. The lemon and grape elements continued on into the sip, and these were followed by the grassiness of the rhum agricole and the richness of the Plantation Rum. Finally, the punch finished with tea, nuttiness, and citrus notes.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

old man winter

1 oz Old Fitzgerald Bourbon
1 oz Old Monk Rum
1/2 oz Pedro Ximénez Sherry
1/2 oz S. Maria al Monte Amaro (*)
1 dash Mole Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass.
(*) Originally was Averna which they no longer carry.

For a final drink at Belly Wine Bar, bartender Ryan Connelly offered up a drink he created last year called the Old Man Winter. In contrast to the two lighter styled drinks, this was a change up that would make for a great nightcap. With whiskey, Old Monk Rum, wine, herbal liqueur, and bitters, the Old Man Winter reminded me a little of Drink's 1919 Cocktail so I was quite excited to try it.
The Old Man Winter gave forth a dark caramel and grape aroma. The caramel notes from the amaro and aged rum continued on into the sip where it mingled with the Bourbon's malt. The sherry mostly appeared on the swallow as a raisiny flavor that paired well with the whiskey and rum, and the Old Man Winter finished with a fresh menthol-herbal finish.

Monday, November 4, 2013

upturn flip

1 1/2 oz Punt e Mes
3/4 oz Benedictine
1/2 oz Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao
1/4 oz Smith & Cross Rum
1 Whole Egg

Shake once without ice and once with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with freshly grated orange zest.
For Andrea's first drink at Belly Wine Bar, she asked bartender Ryan Connelly for the Upturn Flip. The recipe was Ryan's creation and the name reflects the inverse proportions to this aromatized wine-driven libation. Once mixed, the microplaned orange zest donated a bright citrus aroma over the rum notes; even at a quarter of an ounce, Smith & Cross is still a beast. The caramel and grape creaminess of the sip transitioned to rum funk that blended into orange and herbal notes on the swallow. Finally, I would like to thank Andrea for her patience as I continually returned to her drink "to take better notes." Yes, it was that good.

the messenger

1 1/2 oz Bonal Gentiane-Quina
1/2 oz Cocchi Sweet Vermouth
1/2 oz Calvados
1/2 oz Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao
1 dash Bittermens Mole Bitters
1 dash Angostura Orange Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass. Garnish with an orange twist.
Two Thursdays ago, Andrea and I had dinner and beer at Cambridge Brewing Company in Kendall Square. Afterwards, we rounded the corner and paid a visit to bartender Ryan Connelly at Belly Wine Bar. For a first drink, I selected Ryan's The Messenger off of the "Let's Get Fortified: A Study in Vermouth-based Concoctions" section of the cocktail menu. Once mixed, the Messenger offered an orange peel aroma over a grape sip that shared a vague fruitiness perhaps from the apple brandy and orange liqueur. The apple and orange peel notes shined through on the swallow though, and the swallow gained more bitter gentian complexity over time as the drink warmed up.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

two caravels

1 oz Plantation Special Dark Rum
1 oz Lustau Amontillado Sherry
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Cane Syrup (*)
2 dash Peychaud's Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a coupe glass.
(*) Unless this was diluted, subbing 2:1 simple syrup will work in a pinch.

Two Tuesdays ago, I ventured over to Brick & Mortar after work. For a first drink, I asked bartender Lea Madda for the Two Caravels that bar manager Matt Schrage had created. A caravel is a small, maneuverable sailing ship that was quite popular during the Age of Exploration. Perhaps the two caravels in question were Christopher Columbus' the Niña and the Pinta that he used for his trans-Atlantic voyage; the third ship, the Santa Maria, was a carrack though and not a caravel.
The Two Caravels proffered a dark caramel aroma from the aged Plantation rum. The sip shared lemon and grape flavors and was followed by a robust rum swallow. The swallow continued with a nutty sherry finish accented with tart lemon notes.

Friday, November 1, 2013

[everell's nightwatch]

3/4 oz Old Overholt Rye
3/4 oz Hispaniola Mamajuana Spiced Rum
3/4 oz Nocino Walnut Liqueur
3/4 oz Pineau des Charentes

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass.
Two Mondays ago, we ventured over to Brookline Village to eat at Pomodoro. For one of our cocktails, bartender Stephen Shellenberger made us a straight spirits drink using a Dominican spiced rum, Hispaniola Mamajuana, that he was excited about not only for the great price point but for its great flavor profile. He mixed it in an autumnal way with walnut liqueur and rye, and he capped off the four equal parts drink with one of his other favorites, Pineau des Charentes. For a name, I paid tribute to Pomodoro's neighborhood; the James Everell in question is the first person who reported an UFO in what later became Brookline. His sighting recorded by Governor John Winthrop was backed up by other people's reports, and Winthrop vouched for his character as a "sober, discreet man." Once mixed, the drink offered up a walnut and whiskey aroma. A dark malty and grape sip gave way to a nutty whiskey swallow with a spiced finish.