Friday, January 17, 2014

improved toxic moxie

The theme for this month's Mixology Monday (MxMo LXXXI) was picked by Joel of the Southern Ash blog. The theme he chose was "Highballs" which is perfect for when the winter doldrums get you down, and you have just enough energy for combining a spirit and a mixer. Joel elaborated on the concept by describing, "For this month's theme, I thought we could strip away the complexities of cocktails and relax with a nice highball… Most cocktails are at least three ingredients with the highball relegated to emergency or last resort status, but in those highballs we will seek refuge. The end of the day is sometimes better served by a simple liquor plus mixer combination than an artfully measured Corpse Reviver No. 2 This month, tell us what you'll do with a liquor and a mixer (with maybe a wee bit of garnish) to ease into the new year."

After bouncing around a couple of ideas, I decided to return to a combination that I tried back in 2009 as well as cover a local redux that I overlooked at an event I was at in 2009. That first drink was one I spotted on the Two At the Most blog -- the Fernet Branca and Moxie Original Elixir. While I probably do not need to explain what Fernet Branca is, Moxie is more of a regional treat. Or perhaps an acquired taste, not much unlike Fernet. Although Moxie is often tied to Maine where it became the state's official soft drink back in 2005, it was actually created in Massachusetts back in 1876. A Dr. Augustin Thompson filed a patent for "Moxie Nerve Food," a medicine using a South American plant allegedly discovered by his friend, Lt. Moxie, and this was later changed to a soda formulation similar to what is seen today. That South American plant was none other than gentian; while cocktailians frequently enjoy gentian root flavors such as in Bonal and Salers, much of the general public finds it a bit bizarre.
Fernet Branca and Moxie Original Elixir
• 1 1/2 oz Fernet Branca
• 3 - 6 oz Moxie Original Elixir
Fill a Collins glass with ice cubes. Add Fernet Branca and top with Moxie soda. Gently stir and garnish with an orange slice (I did an orange twist instead).
Once assembled, the orange twist filled the air with a bright aroma that belied the taste to follow. A dark, caramel sip led into a beautiful combination of gentian and menthol herbalness on the swallow. Indeed, the two components worked well to balance the other out.
In searching for this drink recipe, I also turned up a Boston recipe from a Fernet Branca event that I attended at the Franklin Southie in 2009. That night, I had Emma Hollander's Bonita Applebum and had already tried Misty Kalkofen's Villa de Verano earlier that year at Tales of the Cocktail. But it was Joy Richard's Improved Toxic Moxie (in addition to others) that I neglected and returned to for this post.
Improved Toxic Moxie
• 1 1/2 oz Rittenhouse 100 Rye
• 3/4 oz Fernet Branca
• 3 dash Fee's Whiskey Barrel Bitters
• ~4 oz Moxie Original Elixir
Fill a Collins glass with ice cubes. Add ingredients and top with Moxie soda. Gently stir and garnish with an orange twist.
While the recipe has too many ingredients to classify as a two part Highball as per the theme, I had already cracked open a liter bottle of Moxie and decided to go to town and make better use of it. The addition of the Fee's Whiskey Barrel Bitters in this second recipe contributed a cinnamon aroma to that of the citrus oils from the orange twist. Moreover, the rye added a malt component to caramel sip and a whiskey barrel component to the otherwise complex herbal swallow. In addition, the bitters returned by donating a cinnamon finish. Overall, the Improved Toxic Moxie came across as more balanced than Fernet and Moxie alone due to being less herbally driven.

So thank you to Joel of Southern Ash for picking the theme and running this month's show, and thanks to the rest of the Mixology Monday participants for keeping the spirit of the event alive!

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