January 22, 2012

"May I have your Attention, please?" "No, get your own!"

Um…Hi. Remember me? Yeah, I know I haven't checked in with you guys in about five months, but I still love you. And now I'm back… This time I really mean it.

But yeah, it's high time I acknowledge my limitations and say that truthfully, this blog's heyday is over. I no longer have the time I had two years ago to lavish on this, posting drinks every night or…you know, once a month or something… but I'm not giving up on it, so don't worry about that. I'm just stating flat out that I just don't have the kind of time I used to that enabled me to go crazy with this thing. That being said, I still plan and hope to post new drinks periodically, and rest assured, I'm still reading a metric butt-load of material on cocktails and spirits and the like…I just don't get a chance to blog about it much. But I hope that doesn't mean we can't still be friends. And that you'll still stop by when I do have something new.

Like tonight!

I have something new! Several somethings, in fact. First off, I have new ingredients, secondly a new camera with which to photograph them! A camera that can do fancy things, like shoot in RAW format! Which means prettier pictures, and better control of them.

So. The new ingredient. It's finally available again in the US after having fallen into shadow disuse and neglect over the years. It is crème de violette, and it's made of the eponymous flower. It tastes, yes, like the eponymous flower. It's also very pretty. Haus Alpenz has brought it back for us, so let's thank them, shall we?

Which brings us to tonight's drink. It is a new one that I stumbled across on DrinkBoy's website. He modified it from 1917's "Recipes for Mixed Drinks" by Hugo R. Ensslin, but modified the proportions from equal measures of all the main spirits…that would've been pretty ghastly, I think. But it makes for quite the lovely drink as DrinkBoy, er…Robert has described (I've scaled it up slightly for a larger glass):
Attention Cocktail
2 ¼ oz gin (I used Beefeater 24)
1 ¼ oz dry vermouth
⅜ oz crème de violette
3 dashes absinthe
3 dashes orange bitters

Stir all with ice, strain into cocktail glass. If you wanna be really fancy, spritz the inside of the glass with lemon extract before you pour it in.
Yes, it's a modified martini, but it's nice and herbal and floral and such a beautiful amethyst color…and you really should go make one…

Attention cocktail

August 16, 2011

Happy National Rum Day, Rummies!

I couldn't let a momentous day like National Rum Day go past unremarked upon, could I? Additionally, it's special for me because a year ago today, I attended a hiring event for the awesome job I now hold. So, I figured, hey, let's kill two birds with one stone and celebrate both.

I'm going with a cocktail today that's a newer one, and the recipe comes from the creator of one of the ingredients. You may recall my adventures making falernum, that clove/lime/ginger/allspice cordial that plays such a significant role in Tiki drinks. Well, I exhausted my supply, and rather than spending a large amount of time making a new batch, I figured I might as well try someone else's. You may also remember Trader Tiki, now, thanks to some jerks who have a foot in the Tiki world and also call themselves "Trader," have forced him to rejigger his nomenclature. He is now operating under his own name, B. G. Reynolds, and his new site is Okole Maluna, selling almost all of the old goodies. He's ramping things back up to where they were, and I have no doubt all will soon be ship-shape and Bristol fashion. (I'll leave it to you to figure out who the villain is, though I have my own theories on who chose to Victimize our poor Mr. Reynolds)

Anyway, his falernum, while not soaked with overproof rum as mine was, is still damned tasty, and on the back of the label, he offers this recipe. I've modified it a bit, as I don't have any aged rum handy, but I don't think it suffers for my substitutions.
Mi Deh Yah Cocktail (modified)
1 ½ oz aged rum (I used Rum Matusalem Platino)
½ oz falernum (I upped it just a hair to ⅝ oz)
½ oz lemon juice (I used key lime juice, and scaled it back to ⅜ oz)
dash of aromatic bitters (Angostura for me)

Shake all with ice, strain into a small cocktail glass, and garnish with a whole allspice berry.
Quite the agreeable little tipple. If I were using my alcohol-based falernum, I'd likely scale it back a bit, but for this version, I quite like it! It's got just a hint of spice, tartness from the lime juice, and some great aromatics from that allspice berry floating on the surface. The perfect little drink for relaxing in a hammock on the beach somewhere.

Mi Deh Yah Cocktail (modified)

August 4, 2011

Linkovich Chumovsky

I have no new drink for you tonight, but I do have a link. Over at Caskstrength, there's an ongoing series of posts, 10 Rules of Drinking Like a Man (or Woman, or Pro, one supposes). Go. Read. Be enlightened.

June 26, 2011

I give you Carte Blanche on this blog...

Yes, it's been ages. Shut up.

I'll have you know, in the pursuit of mixology, I've suffered a most grievous wound. Well, one requiring stitches anyway. There was an incident whilst slicing cucumber with a mandoline for a cucumber martini...I- I don't want to talk about it. It still hurts.

Tonight's drink is not quite so perilous, though it does require cucumber (slice carefully, everyone!). It is yet another modification...but it works! That's the beautiful thing about a blog, you don't have to suffer through my failures, just my successes.
The Carte Blanche (modified)

2 oz Hendrick's Gin
2/3 oz lime cordial (bonus points for homemade, but that's another show post)
3 slices cucumber, reserved
1/4 oz dry vermouth
2 dashes orange bitters
3/4 oz tonic water

Muddle all save for 1 slice of cucumber, gin, and tonic water. Add ice and gin, shake well to mix. Double strain into cocktail glass, add tonic water, garnish with remaining cucumber slice.
It's vegetal, it's refreshing, it's tart. It's fantastic. You could alternate these with Pimm's Cups and have a bloody wonderful day. And you should.

Carte Blanche (modified)

May 16, 2011

"Now, ere the sun advance his burning eye"

And after yet another lengthy delay, I'm back. Again. Really.

Stop laughing!

Seriously, what can I say, gang, besides "I'm sorry?" My work schedule is never really the same twice, so I'm constantly working early, or getting home late, or both on consecutive days, or vice versa. And so, while I do mix myself a nightcap more often than not, I really never can convince myself to photograph it or blog about it. I may tweet about it every now and then, but...

Anyway, on to the booze. Today I went to my local hooch parlor looking for a new whiskey that my friendly area distillery has released. Sadly, they didn't have it on the shelves yet, but I did find something else that had piqued my interest previously...

OK, you know and I know that I'm not a huge fan of vodka. I often think of it as training wheels for booze, as something that's just so bland. It's the Muzak of the liquor world, right? And FLAVORED vodka? Why not just dissolve a handful of Jolly Ranchers in a bottle of Popov and save yourself a bunch of dough, right?

Well, I will admit that I had been curious about a certain variety. Absolut occasionally mixes up some vodkas named after a region or another; New Orleans, Los Angeles, Boston, Brooklyn. And, as Camper English over at Alcademics.com has pointed out, those regional drinks often end up becoming a regular player; New Orleans became Absolut Mango, Los Angeles became Berry Acai, Brooklyn has transmuted into Orient Apple, and Boston is now Absolut Wild Tea. It was Wild Tea, with it's black tea and elderflower flavoring, that had attracted me.

Elderflower cordial, like St Germain, is tasty, but a bit too sweet sometimes, for my liking. Black tea is a flavor that you don't get too often with booze (sweet tea, on the other hand...) but put 'em together? Hello, Novelty! And so I picked up a bottle, and sipped a shot poured over ice. I'll be damned. Tasty. A little astringent, a little floral, not too sweet at all. And very smooth.

And VERY botanical. It got me thinking about other botanicals, and then I had the bright idea to try mixing it with green Chartreuse, chock full of botanicals. And then, because I'm a theatre geek, I named it after a character from Shakespeare that I once played, who was similarly obsessed with botany.
The Friar Lawrence Cocktail
2 oz Absolut Wild Tea vodka
1/4 oz green Chartreuse
2 dashes acid phosphate
10 drops Bittermens Boston Bittahs
2 drops absinthe

Stir all well with ice and pour over a single large ice cube.
Green. Vegetal. Slightly sweet, a hint of citrus, and herbs. Quite fitting for Friar Lawrence, the Franciscan in "Romeo and Juliet" who got zapped with a phaser set to "Sudden Interest in Botany." I still remember entirely too much of his monologue, given that I played him more than 10 years ago, but here's the relevant section relating to botanicals...(Act II Scene 3, for those of you reading along at home):
Now, ere the sun advance his burning eye,
The day to cheer and night's dank dew to dry,
I must up-fill this osier cage of ours
With baleful weeds and precious-juiced flowers.
The earth that's nature's mother is her tomb;
What is her burying grave that is her womb,
And from her womb children of divers kind
We sucking on her natural bosom find,
Many for many virtues excellent,
None but for some and yet all different.
O, mickle is the powerful grace that lies
In herbs, plants, stones, and their true qualities:
For nought so vile that on the earth doth live
But to the earth some special good doth give,
Nor aught so good but strain'd from that fair use
Revolts from true birth, stumbling on abuse:
Virtue itself turns vice, being misapplied;
And vice sometimes by action dignified.
Ah, memories! Yes, kids, the good Friar was picking herbs and flowers and quite possibly creating something akin to Chartreuse, or Benedictine, or Fernet Branca, or Strega...medicine in alcoholic form. Now I'm not claiming that the Friar Lawrence Cocktail will be any kind of curative agent, but as a libation? Pretty damn tasty.

Friar Lawrence Cocktail

March 31, 2011

And now for something completely different

So. This is a drink that I just threw together tonight. I snapped the photo with my iPhone. It's not as well prepped as the previous ones have been, but I wanted to try to get one up with less than a month elapsing since the previous one. Mission accomplished.

This drink is cut from the same cloth as the Hanky Panky Cocktail, but it's got enough changes in proportion that I feel justified in calling it an original. However, bearing in mind its provenance, in lieu of calling it a Hanky Panky, I am, instead, calling it:
The Cat's Pyjamas Cocktail
2 oz dry gin (I'm using Small's Gin tonight)
1/4 oz Fernet Branca
1/4 oz dry vermouth
13 drops Bittercube Bolivar bitters

Stir all with ice, strain into a coupe, garnish with an orange twist.
So yeah, we're swapping up the proportions a bit, using dry instead of sweet vermouth, and adding Bittercube's Bolivar bitters, redolent of dried fruit and chamomile. It's very subtle when held up against the Fernet, but it's there…

Anyway, I like this one. It's crisp, bracing, forthright, and yet still a bit nuanced. It's a nice spring thaw drink. Here's hoping that thaw comes soon…

Cat's Pyjamas Cocktail

March 8, 2011

"We're gonna make it the Las Vegas of Asia…"

I've been rewatching my DVDs of "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" lately, and grumbling about how all the brilliant shows get cancelled…"Firefly," "Studio 60," "Sports Night," while the long-in-the-tooth shows that are seldom (if ever) funny last for-frakking-ever. Anyway, I digress.

Ed Asner's character in "Studio 60," the Chairman of the fictional NBS network, plans to get in on a deal with a consortium of companies and turn Macao (or "Macau" if you prefer, as Wikipedia seems to) into a fantastical destination. Already noted for gambling and tourism, I guess they would've installed a Universal Studios park and a Hard Rock Café and declared victory or something, I dunno. But…it got me thinking…

I wondered what a Manhattan would be like with a slew of disparate influences on it. I mean, Macao was a Portuguese colony in Chinese territory, a port for any number of exotic cargos…what would that have done to, or how would that translate to, a whiskey and vermouth based drink? And so, after jotting down some notes, I came up with this:
Macao Cocktail

2 oz blended whiskey (I used Canadian Club)
3/8 oz dry vermouth
1/4 oz Trader Tiki's Orgeat Syrup
1/8 oz Trader Tiki's Don's Spices #2
1 barspoon ginger liqueur
2 dashes Acid Phosphate
Dash of Donn's Tinc
Dash of Angostura Bitters
Dash of Bittermens Burlesque Bitters

Stir all ingredients smartly with ice, strain into cocktail glass, and garnish with a brandied cherry and a flamed orange zest.
So first thing to note is that this is going to start off sweet. The syrups and the ginger liqueur will guarantee that. Which is why I brought some things in to counter that: the acid phosphate for one. Made and sold by Darcy O'Neil from The Art of Drink, this brings sourness without any citrus juice. (I was going for a non-cloudy drink here.) Secondly, Bittermens new Burlesque bitters is a blend of açai berry (sweet), hibiscus (tart), and long pepper (long. I mean, 'hot') which further complicates things. Plus you've got the other bitters, the vanilla and allspice notes from Don's Spices #2, the almond of the orgeat, the grapefruit and cinnamon from Donn's Tinc, and the little bit of heat from the ginger liqueur.

It's a complicated drink. It's polyglot. It's multicultural. But it's sophisticated. And nuanced. And I think it's a fairly good invention.

Macao Cocktail

December 31, 2010

Should my old blog not be forgot…

Yes, friends, I'm squeaking in under the wire, after an absence of four months and one day, to get a year end drink posted for you all. I love you, I miss you, and I have been entirely too lax in posting here. What can I say? I frequently work late hours and sometimes it's either too difficult or I'm just to lazy to put up a new drink. Can you find it in your hearts to forgive me? Auld acquaintance and all that?

So, it's New Year's Eve. Tomorrow is 1/1/11. And it's nearly 50°F and foggy here. This is unseasonably warm for Wisconsin at the tail end of the year. And so I figured I could give you guys a drink tonight that's equally unseasonable.

This is usually a summer drink, but it's made with sparkling wine, which is rather apropos for tonight. However, usually it's not champagne but prosecco that goes into this one…

1 oz Campari (I used some of my Luxardo Bitter instead)
1 oz sweet vermouth (Noilly Prat is my go-to)
4 oz prosecco (you'll want something light and fairly dry)

Stir the Campari/Bitter and sweet vermouth with a large block of ice, and gently top with the prosecco.
"Sbagliato" is an Italian word meaning "wrong" or "mistaken." In this case, it refers to the wrongness of this drink…it's a Negroni made with prosecco instead of gin. However, there's nothing mistaken about how good the drink is…the sweetly dry nature of the prosecco tempers the bitterness of the Campari and lets the botanical notes come out a little more. It's still not a sweet drink, as, say, a Bellini or Mimosa or Bucks Fizz would be, but it's refreshing in a bracing sort of way, like a tart lemonade would be. Rather at odds with what most Midwesterners like me expect the end of the year to be, but festively-colored enough to fit right in.

Happy New Year to you, my wonderful readers (well, except you. No, not you, that other one. You know who you are). I hope to get things back on track a bit more in 2011.

Negroni Sbagliato

October 3, 2010

I'm a horrible, horrible person, and I deserve a good flogging.

The floggings will continue until morale improves.

I'm not dead, I just have been a bit busy setting into a BRAND SPANKING NEW JOB, BABY! WOO! WHEN ARE WE GONNA GET ROWDY?!

Sorry. Got a little carried away there. Postings will continue soon when I've got some new booze and some more free time. Soon, I promise. Soon, I won't shy away…

(Fifty points for Gryffindor if you can name what those last two sentences reference, by the way.)

In the meanwhile, here's a picture of a giant orange fiberglass moose butt. Moose Ass!

August 30, 2010

oot-Fray oops-Lay

I picked up some cachaça the other day, although it's not calling itself cachaça. It's calling itself "Rum Toucano," but as it's not a rhum Agricole, and it's made from sugarcane instead of molasses, I'm calling it a cachaça. And so I decided to try it in a rather experimental way.

While perusing the recipes page for Bittermens bitters, after getting their Boston Bittahs and 'Elemakule Tiki bitters, I found a drink made by Ago Perrone, from Montgomery Place, called "Dolce and Cabana" as it was made with Cabana cachaça. Well, I had my Rum Toucano, and I didn't have any Lillet Rouge, but I did have some Dubonnet Rouge, another quinquana. And I had some bitters that Mr Perrone didn't when he invented the drink. So I did a few little swaps, and came up with this one. I call it "The Loopy Toucan," or, assuming I haven't mangled my Portuguese too badly...
O Tucano Louco

1.5 oz Rum Toucano (or other cachaça)
2/3 oz Dubonnet Rouge
2 dashes Bittermens Grapefruit bitters
2 dashes Bittermens Xocolatl Mole bitters
1 dash Bittermens Boston Bittahs
1 dash simple syrup (preferably made with demerara or unbleached sugar)

Stir all with ice and strain into coupe. Garnish with a lemon twist (expressed over the drink first, please) and a cherry or two.
There are a lot of flavors and noses in this cachaça vying for attention, lots of citrus, lots of spice. And by using so many bitters, and by using the sweet but complex notes from the Dubonnet, you really cater to all of them. It's a very complicated drink, with fruit and lemon and black pepper notes. It's almost like a nice añejo tequila with some sips, but quite different with others. I really kind of like this one. Not bad for just futzing around with swapping in what I had on hand. Perhaps on my next go-round, I'll replace the Xocolatl Mole bitters with the 'Elemakule bitters and see what the spices bring to the party...

O Toucano Luoco

August 21, 2010

Mixology Monday August: Brown, Bitter and Stirred

0EE1C1B7-51D9-464A-9FD4-3362608E69F5.jpgSo I've been gone from this blog almost a month, but that's nothing compared to MxMo...they've been in absentia since MAY! Though, in their defense, there was Tales of the Cocktail and the summer heat in there...they probably were busy and/or drunk. But I repeat myself. Anyway, there's a new MxMo challenge out there, hosted by Lindsey Johnson of Lush Life Productions at her blog, Brown, Bitter and Stirred. And thus she has chosen an eponymous challenge. To make a drink that's brown, bitter and (preferably) stirred.

So I've decided to offer up a drink I've been kicking around (appropriately) since May, and decided that it's good enough to share. It's a variant on a drink called "La Mañana Después" that's served at The Gibson in Washington D.C., which is itself a variation on the Savoy's Fernet Cocktail. The Fernet is made with gin, but The Gibson makes it with blanco tequila. I made it with añejo tequila. While "La Mañana Después" is supposed to be a drink for the morning after, suffering from a hangover, I've used añejo tequila, which is aged anywhere from a year and a day to a day short of three years. Since I got it sometime after it stopped aging, instead of "La Mañana Después," "The Day After" I've called it "Tres Años Después" or "Three Years Later."
Tres Años Después

2 oz añejo tequila
1/2 oz Fernet Branca
2/3 oz sweet vermouth
2/3 oz dry vermouth
1 dash Fee Brothers orange bitters
1 dash Bittermens Grapefruit bitters
1 dash Bittermens Boston Bittahs

Stir all well with ice, strain into an Old Fashioned glass containing a single ice cube.
It's smoky, it's citrusy, it's bitter, it's wonderful. The Bittermens Boston Bittahs, which are a new ingredient for this blog, are citrus, more citrus, and a little extra citrus for good measure, with a backbone of chamomile. They're really wonderful, and worth every penny it takes to get them (and it really doesn't take all that many).Tres Años Después

July 24, 2010

The only rule is you have to listen to Arthur Lyman while you make this

Aloha, you boozehounds, you. Apologies for the delay in posting again...I just can't keep up with the pace I established last year.

Anyway, today I've got an excellent drink for you, and one that I can finally make properly thanks to a little bit of luck. A while back, I entered a giveaway that Blair "Trader Tiki" Reynolds was running on Facebook...one lucky winner would get a care package with all of his currently available syrups. Lady Luck was on my side, as I'd picked up her bar tab the night before (man, that girl can drink!) and I soon had seven bottles winging their way to me; Don's Spices #2, Don's Mix, Vanilla Syrup, Cinnamon Syrup, Orgeat Syrup, Passion Fruit Syrup, and Hibiscus Grenadine. So yes, for those keeping track at home, these were a freebie, but not because I'm awesome, or because the Trader was trying to butter me up, but simply because I'm lucky. Trust me, I'm nowhere near a big enough fish in the booze-blogging pond to merit freebies from anyone. All that being said, let's get on to the drink, shall we?

I went with one that would let me use a couple of the Trader's syrups, the Passion Fruit and the Hibiscus Grenadine. This is a cocktail that dates from about 1961 or so, at the Kahiki in Columbus, OH, and it's a blender drink (gasp!) called:
The Port Light

1 oz fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz passion fruit syrup
1/4 oz grenadine
1 1/2 oz bourbon (I actually used rye, but who's counting?)
8 oz (1 cup) crushed ice

Put all ingredients in a blender and process on high for 5 seconds. Pour it, without straining, into a tall glass, adding more crushed ice if necessary to fill.

(recipe adapted from Jeff Berry and Annene Kaye, Beachbum Berry's Grog Log, p.66)
Oh man, this is a beautiful drink. Tart, sweet, ice cold, what more could you ask for? The passion fruit syrup just punches you in the nose with a ripe fruit flavor when you open the bottle, and the grenadine is sweet and bright, with an additional floral tartness from the hibiscus. I used rye in this drink, because it's what I had on hand, but even so, the syrups and lemon juice more than hold their own against it. It's kind of a Polynesian Ward Eight, and sipping one of these on a summer night with fireflies twinkling and Martin Denny or Arthur Lyman on the HiFi is going to be a little slice of heaven by way of some exotic port of call.

I'm very much looking forward to trying the other Trader Tiki syrups when I can get enough varieties of rum to do them justice in all sorts of Tiki drinks!

Port Light
(FCC disclaimer: the branded products named in this post were received at no cost to me, not for review or promotional consideration purposes, but as a prize in a random giveaway.)

July 4, 2010

"Well, help yourself...because of the debt of honor to General Lafayette!"

"You know your own history, right?

You don't know who he is, do you?! What was it? The Spanish-American War? The French Banana War? What? The Revolutionary War! Hung out with Washington. Lafayette. Street named after him in New York. Forget it!"

Yes, only a warped mind would think "Oh, America's Independence Day! Let's reference a British transvestite comedian! It'll be brilliant!" Lucky for you, dear readers, you're dealing with a mind that is precisely that warped.

I've missed you! Have you missed me? No? Oh well. I've also missed being able to taste and being able to go ten minutes without coughing, sneezing or generally wanting to vacuum out various body cavities with a straw duct-taped to a shop-vac. Stupid sinuses. Stupid lungs.

Anyway, I'm rambling. Sorry. That quote above from Eddie Izzard really is germane to the post tonight though. Because I enjoy being contrary, and thought I'd post a drink named after General Lafayette. My understanding of this drink is that it's intended to be a blending of US culture and French culture (with a little West Indies thrown in for good measure) and so it seems fitting. On the 234th anniversary of the final approval of the text of America's Declaration of Independence (the signing didn't actually happen until August 2nd), I give you:
The Lafayette Cocktail

1 1/2 oz rye whiskey
1/2 oz dry vermouth
1/2 oz Dubonnet (rouge)
1 dash Angostura bitters (I added a dash of Bittercube's Jamaican Bitters #2, as well)

Stir all well with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
The rye is very much an American spirit, and the Dubonnet and dry vermouth, of course, are French. The bitters, well, they're of Caribbean origin, but we'll let that slide...some Colonial Americans were, too, after all.

Taste-wise, it's pretty much a dry Manhattan, but the quinquina nature of the Dubonnet makes it a little bit different. Still, there are definitely worse ways to toast the nascent events that started my country on the often rocky road to independence. Happy Independence Day, to my American readers, and I hope my foreign readers will raise their glasses, too...America may not be perfect, but lord knows we've tried, and that's gotta count for something.

The Lafayette Cocktail

June 25, 2010

just so you know...

I have not been silent because I hate you all, or because The Man came down on my or anything like that. I've been silent because I've been super-busy with work and because I've had a head and chest cold that rendered me pretty much incapable of tasting anything less nuanced than, say, a very garlicky marinara sauce. Once my nose declogs and my lungs empty themselves, I shall resume.

Thanks, as always, for you patience, gang.