Sunday, January 20, 2013

the third man

This month's Mixology Monday theme, "Fortified Wines" (MxMo LXIX), was picked by Jordan Devereaux of the Chemistry of the Cocktail blog. Jordan's challenge was, "Fortified wines began, in large part, as a way to deal with the difficulties of shipping wine long distances in the holds of sailing ships. Without the rigorous sterilization that is possible today, wines would often spoil en route. However, increasing the alcohol concentration... was enough to keep them from going off... These wines held an important place in... punch and have continued on in cocktails proper. [These wines include] sherry, port, and, to a lesser extent, madeira and marsala, all find their way into various mixed drinks... They can play many different roles -- from taking the place of vermouths in classic drinks, to providing richness and sweetness in winter tipples, to serving as a base for lighter aperitifs. Whether forgotten classics or new creations, let's see what you can put together."

In thinking about this theme, I was curious about marsala wine since I have not seen it in that many recipes, but I was unable to find one tempting enough to go out and buy a bottle for this event. Instead, I thought about one of the lesser used fortified wines, Pineau des Charentes, which has appeared in some delicious recipes. Pineau des Charentes is a French fortified wine made by blending lightly fermented grape must with Cognac eau de vie, and this sweet spirit comes in both white and red/rosé varietals. The earliest Pineau des Charentes recipe I know about is Frank Meier's Pompadour from 1934 The Artistry Of Mixing Drinks. Moreover, I have enjoyed two out on the town here in Boston, namely Craigie on Main's Marksman and Bergamot's Oaxaca Moon.
dan greenbaum the beagle manhattan
While searching for a good article about Pineau des Charentes usage in cocktails to put on the Mixology Monday Twitter even before I had chosen a wine, I stumbled on this one from StarChefs. Attached to that article was a recipe for the Third Man by Dan Greenbaum of The Beagle in Manhattan. The recipe was alluring for it followed a familiar pattern of spirit, wine product, and small amount of gentian liqueur that I have been pleased with before in drinks such as the Harry Palmer.
The Third Man
2 oz Blue Gin (Barr Hill)
3/4 oz Pineau des Charentes (Chateau de Beaulon)
1/4 oz Suze Gentian Liqueur (Salers)
2 dash Peychaud's Bitters
Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass containing a large ice cube. Garnish with a lemon twist.
The Third Man began with a lemon oil and floral aroma with the latter perhaps stemming from the gin made from a honey distillate. On the sip, the Pineau des Charentes donated a mouthfeel and grape flavor, and the swallow then offered gin, gentian, and Peychaud's spice with lingering pine notes. It was definitely a gin-forward drink that would especially appeal to a classic Martini lover looking to branch out; perhaps some of this could stem from the flavorful gin that we had just opened for this drink.

Cheers to Jordan from Chemistry of the Cocktail for hosting this month and for picking such an excellent theme!

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