Wednesday, April 29, 2015

zucca hour

1 1/2 oz Dewar's Scotch
3/4 oz Rabarbaro Zucca Amaro
3/4 oz Grapefruit Juice
1/4 oz Lime Syrup (*)
1/4 oz Branca Menta
3 drop Salt Water Tincture
1 Egg White

Shake once without ice and once with ice. Strain into a rocks glass and garnish with a mint leaf and a few drops of Peychaud's Bitters.
(*) A 1:1 lime juice:sugar syrup will work here. Or perhaps just pure lime juice.
Part way through drinking my Derby Scaffa at Backbar, the crowd at the bar began to thin and I was able to find a seat in front of guest bartender Will Isaza from Fairsted Kitchen. For a second libation, I asked Will for the Zucca Hour off of the Modern Section of Backbar's menu. The Zucca Hour began with mint, anise, and smoke aromas. On the palate, a creamy sip offered grapefruit and orange flavors and led into a Scotch and herbal-minty swallow.

:: anchor's educational drinking tour's advice for bartenders ::

Yesterday, Anchor Distilling held its Boston date for the Educational Drinking Tour, and the first half of the day was directed at providing bartenders with advice on life. This ranged on how to best present oneself to media to the value of cocktail competitions with the overall take home theme of professionalism. Bartending is no longer a job that one does as a temporary or purely monetary option, and it is quickly returning to the pre-Prohibition days when bartending was a well-respected profession.

How to Present Yourself to Media:
• Have a bio and a photo online if not on hand. (LB)
• Buying your name as an URL for your own website. (AK) Make sure your LinkedIn is updated. (LB)
• Consider paying a photographer for photos and give them time to do their craft. A high res headshot, pics of of the bar space, and photos of you in your bar space are all important. (AK)
• Be prompt with dealing with media requests such as in a few hours -- often their deadline is short and 24 hours later can completely miss the opportunity to use your quote or recipe. (LB/NL)
• Be as thorough as possible in communications. Do not assume that recipe directions are obvious without explanation. The writers and editors are not bartenders. (LB)
• The more professional you are and easier you are to work with, the more likely that you will be asked back. (LB)

General Advice to Bartenders:
• Patience. It takes time to get good at your craft. And it will take 6 months to a year to figure out if you will be good at the job and will enjoy it. Even the wrong job will open up opportunities and provide learning experiences. (KP)
• Work hard and say 'yes' especially if that pushes you into things outside your comfort zone. These moments may open up opportunities. Keeping your head down and working hard focused will not allow you to progress. (NL)
• Competitions are a fast track to the media but not the only way. (NL)
• Use social media to build your personal brand. Video or audio podcasts, magazine, website, or blog writing, and the like all help. (AK)
• Get to know your bar/restaurant's PR. Let them help you develop your bio, and get to know them for they are connected with the writers and their pitches. Consider taking them out to lunch. (NL/AK)

Also, go see AK's conversion of Abraham Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs from the 1943 classic to what pertains to bartenders today via my Twitter post's pic: https://twitter.com/cocktailvirgin/status/593083584220700672

Name Codes:
• AK: Alan Kropf -- Director of Education at Anchor Distilling
• LB: Liz Brusca -- Director of PR & Events at Anchor Distilling
• KP: Kate Palmer -- Sales Director of Origin Beverage (part of Horizon)
• NL: Naomi Levy -- Bar Manager of Eastern Standard

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

derby scaffa

1 1/2 oz Four Roses Bourbon
1/2 oz Amaro Montenegro
1/2 oz Punt e Mes
1/2 oz St. Germain
1/2 oz Water
2 drop Lavender Bitters

Build in a rocks glass, stir to mix without ice, and garnish with orange oil. Note: This is a room temperature cocktail.
Two Wednesdays ago, I stopped into Backbar for one of their guest bartender series for Will Isaza of Fairsted Kitchen was behind the stick. Earlier in the evening, the bar was full, so I stood against one of the counters; there, I placed an order for the Derby Scaffa off of the Tradesman section of the menu that bartender James Lamont made for me at the service bar. Like their Improper Scaffa, this room temperature cocktail veers away from pure Scaffa convention by adding a bit of water to soften the ingredients. Once prepared, the Derby Scaffa offered an orange and floral aroma overlaying the caramel notes, and the caramel continued on into the sip where it soothed the malty heat. Finally, the swallow presented whiskey, candied citrus peel, and herbal flavors that finished with the St. Germain coming across like grapefruit on the swallow. I was not sure if the St. Germain was more effected by the Amaro Montenegro or by the sharpness of the lavender bitters to produce that note.

Monday, April 27, 2015

17th century

1 1/2 oz Mezcal (Montelobos)
3/4 oz Lillet Blanc (Cocchi Americano)
3/4 oz White Crème de Cacao (Marie Brizard)
3/4 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a coupe. I added a lemon twist.

After the 1930s era Hotel Madison Cocktail, I turned to Food & Wine: Cocktails 2011 for a more modern gem by Phil Ward that I do no believe made it into the Death & Co. Cocktail Book. Perhaps this absence was due to Phil being more involved with Mayahuel at the time. Phil describes this Twentieth Century riff as, "People have been consuming mezcal and chocolate together for hundreds of years—and for good reason. So it seemed like a no-brainer to combine them in a cocktail." Moreover, the named stemmed from mezcal having been produced in Oaxaca since the 17th century if not earlier (as well as there being 18th and 19th Century cocktail recipes already around.
The 17th Century started off with a lemon and smoky agave bouquet. Next, the sweet lemon sip had a decent mouthfeel, and the swallow gave forth mezcal and chocolate flavors with a citrus-tinged finish. Overall, this variation was more earthy and less herbal than I recall the original.

Friday, April 24, 2015

hotel madison cocktail

2/3 Swedish Punsch (1 1/2 oz Kronan)
1/3 Dry Vermouth (3/4 oz Noilly Prat)
Juice 1 Lime (1/2 oz)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
Two Tuesdays ago, I began the cocktail hour with a drink I spotted in Jayne's Bartender's Guide from 1934 that is being hosted on Mixellany's eLibrary, namely the Hotel Madison Cocktail. The book provided the intriguing subtitle of "'Darcy' (It's very good for you)," and overall the recipe reminded me of a stripped down Palliative Potion for Pomona. Once prepared, the Hotel Madison Cocktail offered funky caramel and rum notes. The caramel continued on into the sweet sip where it balanced the tart lime flavors. Finally, the swallow was a bit more crisp with Batavia Arrack, tea, and herbal notes with a lime finish.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

orange & essex

1 oz Brandy (Pedro Domecq Fundador Solera Reserva)
1 oz Dry Madeira either Verdelho or Sercial (Blandy's Verdelho 5 Year)
1/2 oz Campari
1/2 oz Maraschino Liqueur
2 dash Peychaud's Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist.
Note: for a drier drink, I have also switched the two volume pairs to 1 1/4 and 1/4.

Two Thursdays ago after work, I decided to try out a drink idea at home. Thinking about all of the Madeira that we use at Loyal Nine in Cambridge, I focused in on the Creole Contentment and how well this wine pairs with brandy and Maraschino liqueur. I also though about how well Madeira works with Campari in Matt Schrage's Red Duster Swizzle. The two concepts synergized when I recalled how well Campari and Maraschino come together to concoct softer Aperol-like notes such as in Eastern Standard's Carnivale (a/k/a the Pisco Disco). For a name, I focused on some of the history of the Loyal Nine group the restaurant is named after in the years before the Revolution. They often utilized the Liberty Tree to hang their effigies; this tree was in Hanover Square here in Boston on the corner of Orange and Essex Streets. The name "Orange & Essex" also reinforced the orange notes in the Campari.
The Orange & Essex began with an orange oil aroma. Grape with cherry notes filled the sip, and the swallow gave forth brandy and red apple flavors with a nutty bitterness on the end. Overall, the drink came across a lot like Eastern Standard's Prospect Park. If I had 4 oz to play with, the 1.5:1.5:0.5:0.5 structure would probably work better here as it did in the Prospect Park to dry out the balance; I did made a drier version of this at Loyal Nine as a 1.25:1.25:0.25:0.25 for a guest and it came across more like a Martinez in balance.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

atterbury

3/4 oz Bacardi (1 1/4 oz Caliche + 1/4 oz Wray & Nephew)
2 dash Benedictine (1/2 oz)
2 dash Dry Vermouth (3/4 oz Noilly Prat)
1 dash Picon (1/4 oz Torani Amer) (*)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
(*) Since Picon is often hard to source, sub Ramazzotti (or perhaps Averna) spiked with dashes of orange bitters (or perhaps dashes of Grand Marnier or similar).
Two Wednesday ago, I spotted an interesting straight spirits rum drink in Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933 called the Atterbury. With Benedictine and Picon in the mix, it reminded me of the rye-based Creole Cocktail on paper. Once off the page and in a glass, the Atterbury shared caramel orange aromas with hints of rum funk. The caramel and orange notes continued into the sip, and the swallow offered funky rum flavors as well as herbal elements including Benedictine's chocolatey mint ones. Overall, the Atterbury was what I wish an El Presidente tasted like.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

john wood

1/3 jigger Whisky (1 oz Buchanan's 12 Year Blended Scotch)
1/3 jigger Sweet Vermouth (1 oz Dolin)
1 spoon Lemon Juice (1/2 oz)
1 spoon Kümmel (1/4 oz Helbing)
2 drop Bitters (1 dash Angostura)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
Two Tuesdays ago, I reached for my 1934 reprint of Boothby's World Drinks and How to Mix Them. There, I spotted a Rob Roy variation that reminded me a lot of the hint of citrus and sweetener structure that appeared frequently in James Maloney 1900-vintage The Twentieth-Century Cocktail Guide for Mixing Fancy Drinks such as in the Manhattan Bell Ringer (his Manhattan sans apricot rinse "bell ringer" also has lemon and simple in it). Interestingly, this "whisky" drink that I interpreted as Scotch appeared in the Savoy Cocktail Book a few years prior as an Irish whiskey one. Given the commonness of the name John Wood, I was unable to even make an educated guess as to whom the drink was named after. Once mixed, it offered a smokey and grape aroma. A crisp lemon, malt, and grape sip gracefully transitioned to a Scotch swallow with a bit of savory spice on the finish.

Monday, April 20, 2015

r'cobbler

2 oz Reposado Tequila (Espolon)
1/2 oz Campari
1/2 oz Punt e Mes
1/2 oz Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth (Dolin)
1 dash Chocolate Bitters (Housemade)
1 Grapefruit Twist
1 Sugar Cube (Demerara)

Muddle the grapefruit twist with the sugar cube and Campari. Add rest of the ingredients and ice, shake, and strain into a double Old Fashioned glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with an orange twist.

Two Sundays ago, I turned to the Food & Wine: Cocktails section of my bookshelf and found an interesting and unmade recipe from the 2011 edition called the R'Cobbler. The drink was created by Phil Ward who described the idea as, "I am a Campari-holic and I also love grapefruit twists and mole bitters. This drink is my trifecta." Evidence suggests that this cocktail appeared on Mayahuel's menu as a blanco tequila drink around 2009. I was drawn to the recipe initially for it reminded me of a more bitter Rosita; perhaps, the "R" in R'Cobbler stands for Rosita after all. Now, I realize that it is probably an extension of Phil's Cornwall Negroni that he created at Gary Regan's Cocktails in the Country in 2005. While there has not been a Cocktails in the Country for a while, Gaz is bringing back the tradition this year and I have a spot reserved for the May 11-12th event (more info in the link)!
The R'Cobbler began with an orange aroma that led into a fruity sip with grape, orange, and other citrus notes. The swallow though began with tequila, earthy bitter, and chocolate flavors, and ended with spice from the bitters and lingering citrus notes from the muddled grapefruit twist on the finish.

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!

Friday, April 17, 2015

full windsor

1 oz Scotch (Buchanan's 12 Year Blended)
1 oz Applejack
3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth (Dolin)
1/4 oz Benedictine
2 dash Angostura Bitters
2 dash Peychaud's Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass with ice. Garnish with an orange twist.
Two Saturdays ago, Erick Castro posted a drink on Instagram called the Full Windsor that caught my eye. I never got around to making his drink when it was first published in the March 2014 Imbibe Magazine though. Since Scotch and apple brandy pair so well, I decided to give this recipe from Polite Provisions in San Diego a try and remedy this lapse. Once mixed, the Full Windsor's orange oil brightened the smoke with herbal notes aroma. Next, malt and grape in the sip led into a smoky whisky and apple swallow with an herbal and spice finish. Although the recipe reads like a Vieux Carré in structure, the flavors of the base spirits take the cocktail in a very different direction.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

law harbor

1 1/2 oz Privateer Amber Rum
3/4 oz Dolin Dry Vermouth
1/4 oz Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
1 dash Absinthe
1 dash Angostura Bitters

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

After Straight Law, I continued my Kenmore Square adventure up the street at Audubon Boston. Soon I found myself in front of bartender Taylor Knight and requested the Law Harbor. Taylor explained that the recipe was bar manager Tyler Wang's play on the whiskey Lawhill Cocktail, one of his favorite cocktails. Here, the drink used aged rum and veered from Tyler's Drink recipe roots by reducing the proportion of Maraschino relative to dry vermouth.
The Law Harbor began with orange oil notes that later faded to expose the Maraschino aroma. The sip was rather subtle with white wine flavors and a hint of cherry. Finally, the swallow offered aged rum transitioning well into the Maraschino liqueur nuttiness, and things ended with absinthe's anise and Angostura Bitters' clove on the finish.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

sad waltz of pietro crespi

1 1/4 oz Lustau Brandy
3/4 oz Rabarbaro Zucca Amaro
1/2 oz Punt e Mes
1/2 oz Pedro Ximenéz Sherry
5 drop Sherry Vinegar

Stir with ice and strain into a double old fashioned glass with a large ice cube. Garnish the ice cube with a pinch of salt.

Two Thursdays ago, I made use of my night off by traveling down to the Kenmore Square area. My first stop was Straight Law where bartender Julien Urraca was doing his weekly shift to break up his Brick & Mortar routine. For a cocktail, I requested the Sad Waltz of Pietro Crespi which Julien credited Sean Sullivan as the creator. I was drawn to the name because it reminded me of Misty Kalkofen's A Slow Dance with Pedro Infante. Had I read Gabriel García Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude, I would have been drawn to the name by connection to the tragic love triangle aspect.
The Sad Waltz of Pietro Crespi began with a raisiny grape aroma with herbal notes. The grape-laden sip possessed a rich mouthfeel, and the swallow progressed into raisin and herbal flavors ending in a dry and crisp note from the vinegar. As the salt integrated into the drink, the herbal elements on the swallow got progressively smoother.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

colleen bawn knickebein

A few weeks ago, Gary Regan posted on Facebook about a challenge to convert cocktails into Pousse-cafés. He wrote, "Dhevandrea Hikaru, a bartender in Indonesia, contacted me recently about Pousse-cafés, and we had a nice back and forth about what they were, how they're made, etc. She asked if PCs could be made from classic drink such as the Grasshopper or the White Russian, and that got me to thinking: 'What an absolutely brilliant idea!' Seems as though those drinks would be sort of easy to layer: heavy cream, Kahlua, vodka for the White Russian, and heavy cream, green mint, white cacao for the Grasshopper, right? I haven't experimented but I think that would probably be the correct order. So I'm issuing a challenge to bartenders out there: make a Pousse-café using a classic cocktail recipe. I'll put the best of the best into my next 101 Best New Cocktails book and app. Thanks for the idea, Dhevandrea! Perhaps you'd like to submit a recipe yourself?"
I originally thought about doing a Bijou because the gem imagery of gin, sweet vermouth, and Green Chartreuse as distinct layers representing the diamond, ruby and emerald would be more stunning than the ingredients all stirred together. Then, I got into a discussion with David Wondrich about Knickebeins -- layered drinks that contain unbroken egg yolk as well as egg white froth. I had previously converted a Negroni into a Knickebein in the Knickroni, but that was adding an egg to the regular ingredients. What if I were to do it to a Flip that already had a whole egg in it? I quickly honed in on the Colleen Bawn that Jessica had at No. 9 Park in the link and I was introduced around that same time by Misty Kalkofen at Green Street. That link also provides a bit of history of this gem found in Edward Spencer's The Flowing Bowl from 1903. With rye, Benedictine, and Yellow Chartreuse in the Flip, it can do no wrong. Until, perhaps it is separated molecularly as such:
Build in a 2 oz sherry glass from the bottom up. Carefully layer each component on top of the next:
• 1/2 oz Benedictine
• 1/2 oz Yellow Chartreuse
• 1 unbroken Egg Yolk
• 1/2 oz Rye Whiskey
• Beaten Egg White Meringue
• Freshly grated Nutmeg and Cinnamon as a garnish.
Note: Benedictine and Yellow Chartreuse have nearly the same densities, so layering the two might not be as crisp or as possible as other liqueurs and liquors pairings.
Of course, building this piece of art might seem complicated until you realize that the Knickebein envisioned by Leo Engel in 1878 by way of his American and Other Drinks book has a very regimented quaffing protocol:
1. Pass the glass under the Nostrils and Inhale the Flavour –- Pause.
2. Hold the glass perpendicularly, close under your mouth, open it wide, and suck the froth by drawing a Deep Breath. -- Pause again.
3. Point the lips and take one-third of the liquid contents remaining in the glass without touching the yolk. -- Pause once more.
4. Straighten the body, throw the head backward, swallow the contents remaining in the glass all at once, at the same time breaking the yolk in your mouth.
And what better time to do it than 3am after getting home after your shift around two weeks ago? Once prepared, the Colleen Bawn Knickebein presented a sweet cinnamon spice aroma over lower nutmeg notes on the nose. On the second stage, the heat of the rye was soothed by the egg white, and the later two stages presented an herbal bounty that was eased by the protein bomb from the yolk at the end. While Knickebeins are best done as a group bonding (a/k/a hazing) ceremony rather than a solo shift drink, the life of a writer sometimes takes over especially in terms of good judgment.

Update: One done in the wild (a/k/a the Loyal Nine Bar) on 1/10/15:

Monday, April 13, 2015

:: notes on madeira ::

I just finished reading Alex Liddell's Madeira: The Mid-Atlantic Wine and wanted to make a list of the salient ideas in the book as a reference for myself and others. Besides having a love of madeira in cocktails, the restaurant I work in, Loyal Nine, has an interest in madeira due to the wine's Colonial history and thus we offer flights of the four noble varieties. While there are a lot of common table wines grown on the island, most of the interest is focused on the aged and fortified variety. At first, the wines produced a high enough acidity and alcohol content on their own to make it over on the hot, spoil-inducing voyage to the American colonies, but later fortification with distilled spirits became the norm starting around the 1750s. British restriction on the American colonies made madeira rather popular; the British banned all European products unless they were brought over on British ships leaving British ports. Madeira, however, despite being under Portuguese control, is an island closer to the shores of Africa than Europe and was exempt from these restrictions. More modern madeira production mimics the long, expensive process of being kept in hot ships' holds through heating the wine via a process called estufagem. Whether modern steam-jacketed heated tanks or more classical casks left in hot parts of buildings, this cooking process converts the wine into something almost unspoilable and capable of long aging. Like centuries long. In fact, the author includes his tasting notes on late 18th century madeiras that were often spectacular (although some had crashed over the years due to poor storage or other issues).

Notes on the four noble varieties of madeira from driest to sweetest:

Sercial
• Grape variety known on the Portuguese mainland as Esgano Cão or the "dog strangler" due to its "mouth-puckering, astringent acidity."
• Grows at high altitude, difficult to grow, only limited sites.
• Palest and driest of noble madeiras.
• Younger versions have orange and dried fruit notes. Nuttiness develops with maturity. With longer aging, flavors can fade but develop balsamic qualities.
• Great palate cleanser due to its high acidity.

Verdelho
• Different from Verdelho in Portugal but the same as the one from the Azores.
• Capable of growing in harsher environments and moderately high altitudes. Prefers to grow close to the sea.
• Slightly darker and sweeter than Sercial. Less brusque as well.
• Younger versions have honeyed, slightly chocolate, and candied citrus notes. Aging intensifies flavors.
• Great to be drank all through the day as acidity is balanced by a hint of sweetness. As an aperitif and with food as well.

Boal
• Grows at low altitudes on the south half of the island.
• Low yields but the grapes are compact bunches of small, sugar-laden grapes.
• Darkest grape of the four.
• Younger versions have a barley sugar aroma and caramel and dried fruit flavors such as apricot. With age, the wine seems less sweet.
• Mostly a dessert wine that works well with fruit and nuts or alone.

Malvasia a/k/a Malmsey
• Grape of Greek origin.
• Very sensitive to climate and only thrives at low altitudes in certain micro-climates that protect the vines from dampness and mildew.
• Grapes are often picked when the begin to shrivel which increases the sugar content.
• Lighter than Boal but of a similar dark tawny tone. Sweetest and richest variety of the bunch.
• Younger versions have a vanilla cream toffee aroma with a hint of meatiness along with caramel, marmalade, and barley sugar flavors. With age, the sweetness also becomes less apparent.
• A dessert wine best drank on its own (instead of paired with food).


Some notes on madeira were taken from this Denver Post article in addition to Liddell's book.

Friday, April 10, 2015

triple crown

1 1/2 oz Glasgow Scotch
1 oz Cocchi Sweet Vermouth
1/2 oz Brovo Amaro #14
2 dash Housemade Coffee Bitters

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

For Andrea's first drink at the Baldwin Bar at Sichuan Garden II, she asked bartender Joel Atlas for the Triple Crown which turned out to be another of Ran Duan's creations. The amaro in this Bobby Burns variation was created along with the Brovo Distillery by bartender Mike Ryan who works at Sable in Chicago. The Brovo site describes #14 as, "Mike's amaro starts with Guatemalan chocolate married to thyme for a savory flavor. It moves through cinnamon, sarsaparilla, angelica, and vanilla. It finishes with a strong Gentian finish and is sweetened with agave nectar. It is a sophisticated chocolate flavor."
The Triple Crown offered lemon oil aroma that brightened the slight smoke notes emanating from the Scotch element in the drink. The Scotch continued on into the sip as a malt note that classically paired with the vermouth's grape. Finally, the swallow brought out the rest of the Scotch flavors that transitioned elegantly into a dark, bitter sweet finish.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

father's advice

1 1/2 oz Bacardi Gold Rum
1/2 oz Cardamaro
1/2 oz Punt e Mes
1/2 oz Amontillado Sherry
1/4 oz Giffard Banane du Brésil

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

Two Tuesdays ago, Andrea and I made use of my night off to visit the Baldwin Bar at Sichuan Garden II in Woburn. There, we were greeted by bartenders Joel Atlas and Charles Coykendall. For a first drink, I asked Joel for "Ran's Banana" which he understood as the cocktail that won the Baldwin Bar's manager Ran Duan the Bacardi Legacy this year! With rum, a pair of bitter-herbal aromatized wines, and fruit notes from sherry and a touch of banana liqueur, I was definitely intrigued. The Father's Advice is not a cheeky banana-laden drink by any means despite my irreverent drink call. The name makes reference to how Ran recently became a father, and his father in turn bestowed upon him the wisdom that the goal of fatherhood is unconditional love and support in order to strengthen the concept of family. In the competition, Ran tied this concept to the Bacardi clan and their familial bonds, and that along with the stunning drink brought home the victory to (Greater) Boston.
In a glass, the Father's Advice began with an orange and cherry aroma that brightened darker herbal notes from some combination of Cardamaro, Punt e Mes, and sherry. The grape elements were rather strong in the sip where merely a hint of banana came through. Finally, the swallow showcased the rum along with the sherry's nutty, the Punt e Mes' complex bitter, and the amaro's herbal flavors.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

headlong hall

1/2 part Dry Gin (1 1/4 oz Beefeater)
1/2 part Dry Vermouth (1 1/4 oz Noilly Prat)
2 dash Benedictine (1/2 oz)
2 dash Absinthe (1 barspoon Butterfly)

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

After the You Is or You Ain't, I was still in the mood to continue the Martini variation theme. Luckily, I found my answer for a next drink, and it was in Crosby Gage's Cocktail Guide & Ladies' Companion from 1941 called the Headlong Hall. The name is a reference, I assume, to the first novel by Thomas Love Peacock written in 1815 about a group of eccentrics. Recipe-wise, the drink reminded me of something between a Caprice or Poet's Dream and a Joan Blondell.
Once mixed, the Headlong Hall shared a lemon oil aroma with hints of the absinthe's anise and the Benedictine's herbal elements. Next, the French vermouth filled the sip with a crisp dry wine flavor, and the swallow presented gin, minty herbal, and anise notes with a chocolate-like finish.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

you is or you ain't

1 1/2 oz Langley's No. 8 Gin (GrandTen's Wireworks)
1/2 oz Suze Gentiane Liqueur (Salers)
1/2 oz Dolin Dry Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
1/4 oz Yellow Chartreuse

Build in a rocks glass, add ice, and stir. Garnish with a grapefruit twist.

Two Mondays ago, I was scanning the ShakeStir recipe database and spotted what was described as a White Negroni crossed with a Gin Manhattan. The drink was the You Is or You Ain't by Daniel Rutkowski of Middle Branch in Manhattan that he created for the site's basketball Final Four-themed contest, and I was drawn to it for it reminded me of an earthier Puritan Cocktail.
The You Is or You Ain't greeted the senses with a grapefruit aroma with hints of herbal notes. A light honey and wine sip gave way to gin, earthy, herbal, and floral flavors on the swallow. Indeed, I would definitely watch more basketball if this libation was being served.

Monday, April 6, 2015

to become small again

2 oz Kronan Swedish Punsch
1/2 oz Lillet Blanc
1/2 oz Suze Gentiane Liqueur
2 dash Lemon Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

A few Sundays ago, I ventured my way down to Stoddard's for drinks. For a starter, I asked bartender Tony Iamunno for the To Become Small Again. I had previously spotted it on the menu and was intrigued by the ingredient combination, but I wanted the creator of said libation to make it for me. As for the name, Tony did not recall what the inspiration was other than something that he read, heard, or thought about around the time of the recipe's creation.
The To Become Small Again began with an earthy, herbal, floral, and pine aroma. Next, the sip was slightly caramel and tea-like in flavor. Finally, the swallow was earthy and herbal with lemon, methol, and pine notes and with a light tea tannin finish. Looking back in my notes, the combination of Swedish punsch and gentian liqueur was something novel to me that I hope gets continued in future recipes.

Friday, April 3, 2015

square root

3/4 oz Gin (Beefeater)
3/4 oz Aperol
3/4 oz Avèze Gentiane Liqueur (Salers)
3/4 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry (subbed a lemon twist).
After the Strange Brew, I turned to a recipe that I had spotted on ShakeStir that reminded me of Sam Ross' Paper Plane but with a more botanical and earthy drive to it. That drink was the Square Root crafted by Jesse Vida of Manhattan's Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog as well as Dutch Kills. Once mixed, the Square Root offered a lemon aroma with fruity accents from the Aperol. The fruitiness continued into the sip with lemon, orange, and rhubarb flavors, while the swallow went a bit more earthy with gin and gentian notes with a tart rhubarb swallow. Moreover, the combination of gentian liqueur and Aperol reminded me of Colin Shearn's Paper Trail.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

strange brew

2 oz Tanqueray 10 Gin (regular Tanqueray)
3/4 oz Velvet Falernum
1 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a pilsner glass (Highball) filled with crushed ice. Top with Green Flash's West Coast IPA (2 1/2 oz Founder's All Day IPA), garnish with mint (lemon twist instead), and add a straw.

Two Saturdays ago, I was working my way through reading the Death & Co. Cocktail Book when I spotted the Strange Brew, a curious Tiki-beer cocktail, for the second time in the text. The recipe was attributed to Thomas Waugh back in 2008, and the concept stemmed from the idea of mixing beer with fresh fruit like the Germans do with their radlers. Thomas' favorite combination was pineapple and IPA which inspired this drink. For a name, he dubbed it Strange Brew after the B-side of EMF's "Unbelievable" single (instead of the original version performed by Cream).
After a bit of shaking, straining, and prep work, it was time to taste. The Strange Brew offered a lemon oil nose instead of the mint one via the prescribed garnish; this aroma actually worked rather well with the sip which was fruity with a touch of malt. The swallow was rather complex with pineapple, juniper, grapefruit, lime, and clove notes; indeed, I was impressed at the bounty of citrus flavors here from the beer's hops, the falernum's lime, the gin's botanicals, and of course the two juices.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

the upset

1 1/2 oz Pisco
1/2 oz Oloroso Sherry (Lustau)
1/2 oz Honey Syrup (1:1) (*)
1/2 oz Lemon Juice (*)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg (I subbed a lemon twist) (*).
(*) Adapted from the original which was 3/4 oz lemon juice, 1/2 oz 2:1 honey syrup. Also, it called for a nutmeg garnish that I did not spot when assembling the drink. Very similar to his Prospector at Kask.
After the Youngs, I wanted to use the remainder of the freshly squeezed lemon juice, so I turned to a recipe that I had spotted on the ShakeStir site called the Upset. The Upset was crafted by Tommy Klus whom I last met at Kask in Portland, OR, and this was his submission to the website's Final Four basketball-themed drink competition. Once shaken and strained, the Upset shocked the nose with lemon, floral, and nutty aromas. Next, the sip shared honey and lemon flavors with hints of grape, and the swallow ended things off with earthy floral notes on the buzzer beater.