Sunday, May 22, 2016

van wyck

The theme for this month's Mixology Monday (MxMo CIX) was picked by Nick of the Booze Baron blog. The theme he chose was "Dry Cocktails," and he elaborated on the choice with his description of, "...There's an entire section of the human sensory experience that enjoys things like dry wines, dry sherries, dry cider, crisp pilsners, dry lambics, gin with soda not tonic and neat spirits. Aperitifs are supposed to avoid sugar so as to not fatigue the taste buds but swanky restaurants seem to think an Old Fashioned or a Hurricane is good enough... maybe we as mixing maestros don't actually consider the whole palate in our industry. Try to name a famous dry cocktail other than the Martini... We don't make enough of them, nor write about them. With a world that's slowly waking up to the fact that excess sugar is probably one of the worst things we put in our diet it's something we all should probably take a look at. Your mission is to create an awesome dry cocktail that excites, entices, and above all refreshes." Nick went on to elaborate on his definition of dry as no more than 10% being sweetener or juice with an additional 10% allotment for sweet fortified wines and vermouths.
For inspiration, I turned to Pioneers of Mixing at Elite Bars: 1903-1933 two nights ago for many of their drinks have dashes of sweetener that can be interpreted by your palate. In fact, making drinks from that book is a great experiment in figuring how to achieve your preferred balance. With that, I could easily fit the dashes of sweeteners to 10% (or about 1/4 oz for every 2 1/2 oz). In perusing the whiskey section, I spotted the Van Wyck which appeared like a Dry Manhattan that was made more complex and sweeter by two elements: crème de vanilla and Amer Picon.
Van Wyck
• 3/4 Rye (2 oz Michter's Straight Rye)
• 1/4 French Vermouth (3/4 oz Noilly Prat Dry)
• 1/2 tsp Crème de Vanilla (1/8 oz Navan --> later 1/4 oz)
• 1 dash Picon or Angostura Bitters (1/8 oz Amer Picon --> later 1/4 oz)
Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
I opted for the Amer Picon instead of the much drier Angostura Bitters for the recipe reminded me of a Brooklyn with vanilla liqueur instead of Maraschino. For the vanilla, I opted for the Navan on my shelf which the Grand Marnier company decided to later discontinue; I have heard that Licor 43 will work in a pinch if there is no crème de vanilla proper available, and vanilla syrup would not be out of place either. Once prepared, the Van Wyck gave off a vanilla-accented rye aroma. Next, dry malt on the sip gave way to a whiskey swallow with a bitter orange-vanilla finish. I could not help but think that the drink could be improved by using an older whiskey where the barrel would impart a greater range of complementary vanilla notes; since most ryes are young, perhaps an older Bourbon would work. The second was that the modifiers needed to be boosted for flavor purposes, so I ended up adding another barspoon each of Navan and Amer Picon to approach my preferred Brooklyn structure. The result was much more distinctive although out of the boundaries for this event's rules. While I do enjoy dry gin, sherry, Madeira, and rum drinks, for some reason, it is not as enjoyable to drink dry whiskey drinks. Also, I could have utilized the Angostura Bitters and made the 10% of the drink the crème de vanilla, but I thought that the Amer Picon would give a bit more depth.

So thank you to Nick for hosting Mixology Monday for teaching us to cleanse our palates and (re)learn to appreciate the drier side of things. And thanks to the sugar-free/light participants this month who keep Mixology Monday stirring and shaking away every few weeks!

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