Sunday, April 19, 2015

red death

The theme for this month's Mixology Monday (MxMo XCVI) was picked by Whitney of the TipicularFixins blog. The theme she chose was "Drink of Shame," and she elaborated on the theme with his description of, "So, you're a certified, mixologist, craft-tender, bar chef, or fine spirit enthusiast...now. But, there was a time when you only ordered Long Island Iced Tea. Or, maybe you always made the Jello shots for your frat? Perhaps you're the reason that your local had an Island Oasis machine for so long? Rye & Ginger? Vodka Seven? Someone was ordering these things. Your street cred would be ruined if you ordered or (gasp) served one now, but don't you miss it, just a little? Wouldn't you love to have one more Jolly Rancher? A chance to drink a Mudslide without shame? We all made questionable drink choices in our past, the popular drinks from 1970 to the year 2000 were a cheap, sugary mess. Now is the time to resurrect your favourite drink from the time before modern Mixology. Give a new life to the drink... maybe you need to use fresh ingredients, or you can try elevating the spirits. Make everything from scratch or remove an offending ingredient. Do whatever you can to bring back and legitimize a drink you used to love."

Back in the 1990s, I probably feel more shame admitting that I was a club kid than a poor-choice drinker. I used to spend a lot of time at goth and industrial dance clubs and punk, hardcore, indie, and experimental shows, with little going out merely for drinks other than getting beers with coworkers. While I cannot recall drinking much at music shows, dance nights were drink related with pre-gaming, during, and after-parties. Then again, I was a destitute grad student at the time, so I really did not drink at clubs all that much, but I had definitely tried my share of the house specialties like the Mind Eraser served in a pint glass with a few straws and downed on the count of 3. One night, I bumped into one of the sales reps who used to stop by my grad school lab every two months or so. At some point in the conversation, he asked if he could buy me a drink, and his tone suggested more a mixed drink than a beer. I panicked and declared, "a Red Death." He replied "A what?... I mean I'll get it for you, but I want to know what it is." "I don't know, it's red, it's strong, and everyone orders them from [bartender] Terri." At that moment, I felt shame. Red Deaths are merely boozy fruit punch that defy ingredient definition. The next day, I decided that I was going to learn how to drink a business appropriate drink and later began getting Manhattans elsewhere; while I could have gotten a Manhattan at the club, it would have felt weird drinking it out of a plastic cup filled with ice. While this is the first time I am coming clean here about this here, bartender and owner Josh Childs did trick me into talking about it in an interview he did with me about my Drink & Tell cocktail book.
I came close a decade or more later to finding out what was in Terri's Red Death from a photographer that worked at the club when he was at one of our home cocktail parties around 2007 or 2008. He knew Terri and all her secrets, but at the last minute balked especially since I did not care enough to push him. For this post, I figured that the Manray club's Red Death was not all that original (although her take on it might have been) and sought the help of Google to figure out a consensus recipe. Most had common parts, but it was not until I read one description that stated that the drink was "basically... a Kamikaze and an Alabama Slammer mixed together." With the Kamikaze being vodka, triple sec, and lime juice, and the Alabama Slammer being amaretto, Southern Comfort, sloe gin, and orange juice, I figured that I could swap things around to give it some dignity. While Amaretto Sours were my declared "Guilty Pleasures" back in MxMo XXXII, I figured that I could swap that for orgeat. With lime and triple sec in the mix, why not change the drink to a Tiki one with rum instead since those four ingredients were the essentials for a Mai Tai? I also swapped the Southern Comfort for more rum, and I utilized real sloe liqueur in place of the bottom shelf mess that most non-craft bars have.
Red Death (Redux)
• 1 1/2 oz Amber Rum (Appleton VX)
• 1/2 oz Triple Sec (Senior Curaçao)
• 1/2 oz Orgeat (BG Reynolds)
• 1 oz Lime Juice
• 1/2 oz Sloe Gin (Atxa Patxaran)
• 1 oz Orange Juice
Shake with ice and strain into a Tiki mug, Collins, or Double Old Fashioned glass filled with crushed ice and containing a spent lime shell half. Add a straw.
While the end result was not very red and more of an Orange Death due to the dearth of artificial colors in the mix, it was indeed more Tiki than Hawaiian Punch. The new Red Death began with caramel rum aromas. An orange, caramel, and lime sip gave way to more rum flavors, nutty orgeat, and bitter fruit notes from from the sloe liqueur on the swallow. Perhaps reducing the orange juice volume to minimize its flavor smoothing character could have helped bring out some more distinctive notes, but having a slightly more gentle disposition was truer to the original.

So thank you to Whitney for picking the theme running the show, and getting me to talk about embarrassing drink recipes and moments, and thanks to the rest of the Mixology Monday participants for stepping up and admitting their shame and keeping the spirit of the event alive!

1 comment:

Whitney Munro said...

Wow, that was full disclosure.Juicy secrets and Tiki, everything you could ask for...Thank you so much!