MxMo XVIII: Swizzles!
One of the drink styles that I ran with a bit during my bar's Yacht Rock Sundays was the Swizzle, and I began to miss it as Labor Day signaled the end of this weekly event. So during the Fall, I thought that it would make a great idea for Mixology Monday and I waited until the hosting list ran dry. So for April, I will host my eighth event for MxMo 108.
So what is a Swizzle? And what is a swizzle stick? The literary references to Swizzles seem to begin around the mid-18th century with the written definition growing in the early parts of the 20th century. Swizzles began as a Caribbean style of mixing drinks perhaps stemming in Barbados -- mostly cold although there are certainly hot swizzles out there. Unlike say the Martini which is chilled in a mixing glass by gently stirring cubed ice with a spoon and straining into a cocktail glass, most cold Swizzles are built in the glass, topped with crushed ice, and agitated with a rapidly spinning natural swizzle stick (or facsimile) to mix and chill. The idea of a swizzle stick got corrupted through the decades to represent that ornamental stir stick that ranged from generic to branded bar keepsake. However, Charles H. Baker Jr. described it best in The Gentleman's Companion with, "There is a wide cloud of misinformation on [what is a swizzle stick]. The authentic swizzle sticks are the peeled stem of a plant owning, at base, a fan-like branching of roots--the latter cut some 3" long--and looking like small gnarled fingers. This branched end is sunk into the pitcher with ice and drink ingredients, the stem is held vertically between the palms, and rotated smartly by sliding the palms back and forth." Baker conceded in the 1930s that the natural ones were no better than the metal versions to do this job.
The Swizzle has had a resurgence starting around 2008 or 2009 as various cocktail supply stores have procured Caribbean sources for these Bois Lélé mixing instruments with most of them smaller tined than the pitcher-sized ones Baker described. I believe that the first instance that I wrote about on the blog was Marco Dionysos' Chartreuse Swizzle, a circa 2003 recipe that I was introduced to at Drink in early in 2009. And Tales of the Cocktail was littered with tiny ones later that year. Plenty of recipes for these drinks reside in mid-century Trader Vic books and other Tiki-leaning tomes; moreover, modern drinks books have begun to embrace the style as well including the Death & Co. Cocktail Book where their house Swizzle formula was exposed to me a few years before via the Company Swizzle.
For this theme, find a classic or modern Swizzle recipe, whether hot or cold. If the creative mood hits you, take the style in your own direction whether in a Tiki avenue, by reformulating a classic cocktail, or via something more Caribbean in feel. Don't have a traditional Swizzle stick? Do not fret -- I have found that a bar spoon works great in a pinch to do all of the mixing and chilling. Want to bring the Green Swizzle back to life or perhaps turn the Between the Sheets into a Barbados crushed ice delight? Awesome!
Here's how to play:
• Find or concoct a recipe that is prepared by swizzling.
• Make the drink and then post the recipe, a photo, and your thoughts about the libation on your blog, tumblr, or website or on the eGullet Spirits and Cocktails forum.
• Include in your post the MxMo logo (either classic or the special Swizzle edition one) and a link back to both the Mixology Monday and Cocktail Virgin sites. And once the round-up is posted, a link to that summary post would be appreciated.
• Provide a link to your submission in the comment section here, tweet at @cocktailvirgin, or send an email to yarm-at-verizon.net with the word "MxMo" somewhere in the subject line.
The due date is Monday night at midnight, April 18th which I will interpret as whatever gets posted before my next day off (and yes, I will tack on late entries since it is part of the act of cat herding).