Saturday, June 11, 2011

forty virtues

The theme for this month's Mixology Monday (MxMo LVIII) was picked by Filip Jach of the Adventures in Cocktails blog. Filip chose the theme of "Niche Spirits" where the goal was to present "any cocktail where the base ingredient is not bourbon, gin, rum, rye, tequila, vodka etc. So whether you choose Mezcal or Armagnac get creative and showcase your favorite niche spirit."

For this theme, I was bandying around a bunch of different spirit options. Then on Monday, we were at Drink here in Boston and I spotted bartender California Gold. I wished her luck on her "No Boys Allowed" event on Wednesday and asked her what she was planning to do. The event was the kick off of a series celebrating and promoting female bartenders, and despite the name, male guests were definitely allowed. The problem with this one was that it was being held at Brooklyn's Dram which made it a bit difficult for me to attend on a school night. Cali and bartender Tonia Guffey each crafted a menu of original drinks for the event. When Cali showed me her menu (elegantly designed by Rain Robertson), my eyes zoomed in on the Forty Virtues which featured Armagnac. I asked Cali if I could acquire the recipe for this event and she gladly agreed.

The Forty Virtues was a drink Cali created for the French Spirits Soirée hosted by the Dizzy Fizz at the Astor Center in Manhattan. The recipe featured not one but four French spirits -- Armagnac, Dolin Blanc Vermouth, Bonal, and Green Chartreuse:
Forty Virtues
• 1 1/2 oz Armagnac (I used Larressingle Armagnac VSOP)
• 1/2 oz Dolin Blanc Vermouth
• 1/2 oz Green Chartreuse
• 1/2 oz Bonal
• 1 dash Orange Bitters (I used Regan's)
Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
The drink's name makes reference to a 14th century quote about Armagnac. Prior Vital Dufour wrote a medical treaty where he described the health benefits of the spirit. Dufour wrote, "This water, if taken medically and soberly is said to have 40 virtues... It enlivens the spirit, if taken in moderation, recalls the past to memory, renders men joyous, preserves youth and delays senility." The virtues also include curing hepatitis, gout, cankers, and fistula -- yes, fistula. Well, if it did not, one would at least die happily. So Andrea and I decided on Wednesday night, in solidarity with the girls at Dram, to raise a glass of the Forty Virtues to our collective healths.
The Forty Virtues cocktail proved to be the delightful bitter medley of gentian (from the Bonal) and Chartreuse notes coupled with the Armagnac's flavor and heat. The Bonal also came across as a grapey nose and a mildly grape sip, and the Dolin Blanc surely helped to soften the drink a touch. Overall, it was rather balanced as no one flavor was overpowering in the drink. When Andrea commented that it had "a very old fashioned feel to it," I replied that it was very much like an Armagnac Bijou with the sweet vermouth exchanged for the drier Bonal sweetened by the blanc vermouth.

So cheers to Filip for hosting this month's Mixology Monday and to Paul Clarke for keeping the torch burning on this fine event series!


Filip said...

Frederic, Thanks for the submission. Armagnac and two kinds of fortified wines? I'm sold! Can't wait to try this.

MT said...

Absolutely brilliant!