Sunday, November 16, 2014

vermouth cocktail

The theme for this month's Mixology Monday (MxMo XCI) was picked by Dinah of the blog. The theme she chose was "Shims" which seemed like a great topic as aperitif-style drinks are becoming hot both in bars and in literature such as her The Art of the Shim book that came out a few months ago. Dinah elaborated on the concept by describing, "This month's topic is near and dear to our hearts as it is our favorite type of lower-proof cocktails: shims! These drinks contain no more than half an ounce of strong spirits... Heavy-hitters are fun to drink, sure, but it's way too easy to over-consume and under-enjoy when you're playing hardball. Let's stretch out our evenings and get to sample a bigger variety by lowering the proof without lowering our standards. Shims don't require giving up on flavor, complexity, or--interestingly enough--even your favorite ingredients. Get a new understanding of your favorite high-proof spirit by using just a half or quarter ounce of it along with a milder leading player. Or take a low-proof character actor that usually supplements the main show and see if it can take the lead..."
For this theme, I began to recall all of the late 19th century recipes for cups, punches, and cocktails that featured fortified and aromatized wines as the main component. And then I recalled that the last time Dinah led Mixology Monday was back in September 2008 when hosted MxMo XXXI "19th Century Cocktails," so the idea had a great logical connection to the past, but blogging and spiritous, as well. One of the first books I grabbed was The Only William's The Flowing Bowl from 1891. There, I spotted the Vermouth Cocktail which appeared more like an Improved Vermouth Cocktail for it had absinthe and Maraschino in the mix. For MxMo "19th Century," I did another absinthe and Maraschino-enhanced libation -- the Improved Gin Cocktail. While I believe that Jerry Thomas was one of the first authors to publish a Vermouth Cocktail, it does not reside in my 1862 edition reprint and most likely appears in the 1876 second edition. I did spot it in O.H. Byron's The Modern Bartender's Guide from 1884 as the Vermouth Cocktail #2 with the addition of gum syrup but no absinthe. William Schmidt's Vermouth Cocktail was as follows:
Vermouth Cocktail
• 1 drink Vino Vermouth (2 1/2 oz Cocchi Sweet Vermouth)
• 2 dash Maraschino Liqueur (3/8 oz Luxardo)
• 1 dash Absinthe (1/8 oz Butterfly)
• 1 dash Bitters (Angostura)
Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
In the glass, the Vermouth Cocktail shared a grape and nutty cherry aroma with hints of herbal notes from the absinthe. The vermouth's grape dominated the sip, and these notes continued on into the swallow where they were complemented and accented by nutty Maraschino flavors. Finally, the swallow finished with absinthe's and the bitter's herbal spice. Overall, I commented that the combination came across a bit like a rich Madeira, while Andrea replied that it "tastes like a full-strength cocktail."

So thank you to Dinah for picking the theme to challenge us to find tons of flavor despite lower ABV's as well as for running the logistics of this month's show, and thanks to the rest of the Mixology Monday participants for keeping the barspoons stirring and the spirit of the event alive!

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