August 30, 2009

"Drinks Named for Gemstones" for $200, Alex...

I picked up some fresh squeezed grapefruit juice today at the grocery store, and I was flicking through my drink guides to see what I could make with it that wasn't a Greyhound or a Salty Dog. I stumbled on this beauty by Dale DeGroff:
Garnet Cocktail

1 1/2 oz London dry gin (I used Boodles, Mr. DeGroff suggests Tanqueray No. 10)
3/4 oz Cointreau or other good triple-sec
1 oz pomegranate juice
1 oz fresh grapefruit juice
2 dashes Peychaud's bitters (my addition, to play with the fruit juices in the drink)

Shake all with ice and serve in a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish, if desired, with a flamed orange peel.
This may look like a Cosmopolitan, because it's pinkish, but it's definitely more interesting. The grapefruit juice gives it a gloriously tart character, but not overly so...there's still plenty of sweetness in it. It's really well balanced. Definitely worth adding to your repertoire.

Garnet Cocktail

August 27, 2009

In which I attempt to not get sued...

Tonight's drink is one where I get to use a name that I've been itching to use for quite some time...and one that I've been afraid of. You see, I'm naming it after a much beloved fictional character in a tremendously popular series of books. Now, the author and publishers have shown wonderful restraint in not going after, say, writers of fan-fiction who use their characters names, perhaps because there's no profit to be made there. I should point out that I really don't make any profit on this blog, either (current Google AdSense total for the first 5 months of operation: $1.35, plus one generous donation from a reader). So in that spirit, and recognizing that there's alcohol in the books as well, I hope that they'll be lenient about my introduction of a ginger-laced rum punch named after the most amusing ginger-headed clan I know of. I give you:
Weasley Rum Punch

3/4 oz berry shrub base
1 1/2 oz ginger liqueur (or ginger syrup if you want it to be a little less boozy)
3/4 oz black strap or other molasses-y rum
1 1/2 oz aged rum
2 oz seltzer
scant 1/8 oz homemade spice extract
2 dashes Bittermens Grapefruit bitters

Combine first three ingredients plus spice extract in a shaker full of ice, shaking well to combine. In an tall-ish glass, add two cubes of ice, dashing grapefruit bitters over the ice before pouring in rum mixture and topping with club soda.

It works as a Weasley because of both the "ginger" connotation and the's pretty much a fiery red. I really like this drink's flavor, as it's an unusual take on the classic Planters Punch formula of 1 of sour, 2 of sweet, 3 of strong and 4 of weak, plus spice. The vinegar base of the shrub really works in a very subtle way, and the heat of the ginger plays with everything as well, as shrubs were traditionally topped with ginger beer. I like how the spices play with the smoky molasses nature of the rum, and the brightness of the grapefruit bitters really makes it all sing.

Now, as long as I don't get sued out of existence, I'll be happy! Ms Rowling, if you read this, please enjoy the drink as much as I enjoyed your books. (And please don't sue me!)

Weasley Rum Punch

August 23, 2009

I'd mentioned this one before, but now there's a photo!

A few weeks back, I gave you all my recipe for what I consider to be the perfect Manhattan, a drink that I've termed the "Golden Manhattan" to distinguish it from the "Perfect Manhattan" (equal measures of whiskey, sweet vermouth and dry vermouth). I've named it that as it reflects the golden ratio, at least in one small step. I make it as follows:
Golden Manhattan

3 parts whiskey (rye or bourbon)
1 part dry vermouth
1/2 part sweet vermouth
2 dashes bitters

stir all with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass with a maraschino cherry in the bottom.
I call it "Golden" in light of the ratio used: a+b:a::a:b, that is, 2 parts whiskey to 1 part vermouth, and 2 parts dry vermouth to 1 part sweet. I like my Manhattans a bit on the drier side, and up until two days ago, I used a dash of Angostura and a dash of orange bitters. Now, however, since I got my Bittermens, I've been putting in two dashes of the Xocolatl Mole, as the cocoa and spice notes really add a nice warmth and depth to the drink. If you have them on hand, I can't sing their praises highly enough, and they're not even paying me. But if you don't have the Bittermens on hand, a dash each of Angostura and orange more than do the job. This is really my go-to drink, if I can't figure out what I feel like having. It's incredibly satisfying and nuanced. I highly recommend you sit down for a quiet evening and figure out how you like your's a fantastic drink.

Golden Manhattan

August 22, 2009

In which I play with one of my new toys...

Probably close to a year and a half ago, I stumbled across Bittermens Bitters while perusing my cocktail blog circuit. I read about some of the flavors they had come up with, and I was enthralled. So I followed their site with great interest, and earlier this summer, they announced that they had entered into a partnership with another bitters maker, The Bitter Truth, based out of Germany, to manufacture and distribute two of their bitters...Grapefruit and Xocolatl Mole. Well, as soon as it was available for pre-order from The Boston Shaker, I bought one of each, and yesterday afternoon, oh glory and trumpets, Mr. Frodo!, the bitters arrived. And then I had to wait, for in some circles, drinking a cocktail at 3 in the afternoon is seen as slightly gauche, and while I'm happy to say I don't run in those circles, I still felt it was a little early. So around about 7pm, I started tinkering, and the first drink I made was one that was listed on the back of the bottle of Grapefruit bitters, and it was so excellent, I made another tonight and am posting it for your reading pleasure now.
Updated BVD Cocktail

1 1/2 oz gin
1 1/2 oz white rum
1 1/2 oz dry vermouth
two dashes Bittermens Grapefruit bitters

Stir all ingredients with ice until well chilled, and strain into coupe.
Now before you ask, I have no idea where the "BVD" moniker comes from. I've seen this made with a few different liquors, and while I suspect it may have started out as an acronym for one or more of the spirits, it doesn't really match up neatly with any of the recipes I've seen. So, passing over that, and with the assurance that it definitely does not taste like a pair of underwear, go make this drink. Well, you'll have to order the bitters first, so do that, and then go make this drink. The sweet acidity of the Grapefruit bitters really tie this together, smoothing over the rough corners you'd expect from equal measures of gin, rum and really works amazingly well together, and I think without those magical Bittermens bitters in there it wouldn't be half the drink it is.

Stay tuned in the near future for a drink made with the Xocolatl Mole bitters, although if you're impatient, go make a Manhattan with those in place of Angostura. You'll thank me.

Updated BVD Cocktail

August 19, 2009

Lebkuchen? Gesundheit!

I was casting my mind around to see what I could do with some of this ginger liqueur I made, and I though perhaps something with a lot of spice notes could be interesting. I remembered a great cookie my mother and I made years ago called "Lebkuchen," a traditional German cookie that's related to gingerbread. It seemed like we threw the whole spice rack in there, so I set out to invent the alcoholic equivalent of it, and came up with this:
Lebkuchen Cocktail

1 1/2 oz ginger liqueur
1 oz aged rum
1/2 oz bourbon
dash Angostura bitters
dash pimento dram
dash homemade spice extract

Build all over ice, stir to combine.
This is really kind of uncanny. It tastes almost exactly like a spice cookie...the allspice of the pimento dram, the myriad spices in my spice extract, the ginger, the silkiness of the rum, the sweet spiciness of the bourbon; they all combine into a drink that greatly resembles the cookie of my memory. It does not, however, pair as well with milk.

Lebkuchen Cocktail

August 16, 2009

In which I create a drink and name it for a celebrity.

So, on the heels of the "RumDood's Revenge" of the other night, I decided to create another cocktail, but name it after a real celebrity this time. (Sorry,'re only famous in our mixology circles.) And I figured, who better to name it after than a person who's interest in classic drinks is quite well known. We've already seen David Wondrich name a drink for a broadcaster famous for "truthiness," so let's name one after another newscaster. Ladles and Gentlemints, I give you...
The Maddow Sling

1 oz Plymouth Gin
1/2 oz ginger liqueur (mine's homemade, but Domaine de Canton will work, too)
1/2 oz double-strength Earl Grey Tea
1/4 oz Cherry Heering
1/4 oz 2:1 simple syrup
1/8 teaspoon Fernet Branca
dash orange bitters
2 oz seltzer, to top

Build all except soda over ice in an Old-Fashioned glass. Stir to combine, then top with seltzer.
It's really a nice, subtle drink. Not one-dimensional, lots of flavors in there, but all working together. Ginger naturally pairs with bergamot and tea quite well, so that's the Earl Grey right there, the Cherry Heering brightens the whole thing, and that tiny bit of Fernet Branca adds a little more complexity. I quite like it, and if she's reading this, I hope Rachel Maddow likes it, too.

Maddow Sling

August 15, 2009

It's not a drink, per se, but it's got booze in it!

I decided earlier this week to try to make my own ginger extract/liqueur. I haven't tried it yet, but I wanted to document it before I forgot. So here's what I did...

On Monday, I took pretty much the remainder of my bottle of J. Wray and Nephew White Overproof rum, about 300 ml or so, added 2 oz of shaved ginger (unpeeled) and let it sit, covered, but shaking it periodically, until Thursday night, when I added another ounce of crystallized (candied) ginger chunks. I let those sit in there until tonight (Saturday), when I strained it into a clean bottle, mixed up some simple syrup in a 3:4 water:sugar ratio, and poured that in, shaking to combine.

By my back of the envelope calculations, it should still be about 40% alcohol by volume, plenty strong to be shelf stable, There's about 16 or 17 ounces of liqueur in there, so I may try a rye and ginger tonight, and we'll see how it turns out. If it's good, there's be some posts in the future featuring it. If it sucks, well, at least you'll have had some entertainment making this for no good reason whatsoever. Maybe you could use it as a marinade, or something...

EDITED TO ADD: Oh, yeah, that's nice and spicy. That'll be a featured drink soon!

August 14, 2009

I have been informed that today is International Rum Day!

That means, of course, a rum cocktail. And I'm going to take a page out of Matt "RumDood" Robold's book and modify an existing drink. Earlier this year, he took an El Presidente and turned it into a Machado Cocktail. Well, I'm taking his Machado and turning it into what I'm going to call:
RumDood's Revenge

1 1/2 oz aged rum
1/2 oz dry vermouth
1/4 oz orange liqueur
1/8 oz pimento dram
2 dashes Angostura bitters
splash of grenadine

build over ice in a Double Old-Fashioned glass, stir, and garnish with lemon twist.
This drink turned out to be so ridiculously smooth it ought to be illegal. The aged rum is so incredibly mellow, the dry vermouth keeps it from veering too far to the sweet, the orange liqueur and lemon zest brighten it, and the bitters and pimento dram add a smoky, spicy complexity. Oh, Sweet Saint Seryn the Merciful*, this is a good drink.

RumDood's Revenge

*Saint Seryn the Merciful is patron saint of brewers, bakers and kind of people.

August 10, 2009

"Hey, that almost sounded dirty, fella!"

Tonight marks my 100th post, though not my 100th drink. So I'll do some counting a little later, and I'll make sure my 100th drink is something awesome. Or at least tasty.

Tonight's drink is another one I modified, because honestly, what good are classic cocktails if you can't take them apart and put different after-market components in them? It's based on a venerable old drink called the Whiskey Squirt (you there in Pennsylvania; stop snickering!)
Whiskey Squirt (modified)

1 1/2 oz rye whiskey or bourbon
1/2 oz pomegranate grenadine (the fresher, the better)
1 bar spoon 2:1 simple syrup
1/8 teaspoon lemon extract (I use Penzeys, because they're local and awesome)
seltzer to top

build all except seltzer over ice in a Double Old-Fashioned glass, stirring to combine. Top with seltzer, swizzling gently to mix.
The traditional version is made as a highball, in a tall glass, rather than the DOF, and doesn't have the lemon extract. It can be garnished with fruit, though, as desired. Me? I like things to be simple to assemble, and while there's definitely a place for garnish, sometimes I just can't be bothered. I like using the lemon extract because it's a very strong, clean taste, and it's already dissolved in alcohol, so I don't have to worry about it mixing poorly. It's just a nice, simple drink, and one that you can throw together in no time flat. Just stop giggling about the name, will you?

Whiskey Squirt (modified)

August 9, 2009

"And now the purple dusk of twilight time steals across the meadows of my heart..."

With that line, Hoagy Carmichael set the scene for his most memorable (and often undeservedly mocked) song, "Stardust." While the prose may seem a little purple by today's standards (pun intended), it's still a beautiful song, especially when it's performed by someone who can sell it. So, start this video playing and listen to the song as you read the rest of this entry about one of my new favorite cocktails.

I stumbled across this drink while reading one of the many mixology blogs I peruse. That blog got it, in turn, from Tales of the Cocktail's 2008 session, and it was the namesake drink of The Violet Hour, a cocktail lounge in Chicago that I really need to visit on my next trip down there. It's based on a Manhattan, but it makes a couple changeups that really take it to a new level.
The Violet Hour

2 oz bourbon (I used Bulleit and did not regret it)
3/4 oz sweet vermouth (Noilly Prat for me)
1/4 oz dry vermouth (Noilly Prat again, though I've heard Cinzano is good, as well)
1/8 oz (or more, to taste) Cruzan Black Strap rum
3 dashes bitters (Fee Brothers if you can get it, otherwise Angostura works)

Shake all with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass
It starts off like a Manhattan or a Brooklyn, the bourbon and vermouth really dominating, but then, as you swallow, there's the terrific molasses and spice notes from the rum, even though there's only a tiny bit in there. It really makes for a great drink, and would likely do even better come autumn or winter. In fact, when the weather starts to cool in October, I think I'll remake this, but in lieu of the bitters, I'll add just a scant 1/8 oz of maple syrup, while halving the sweet vermouth. That, I think, will make for a really interesting drink.

And with that, I leave you to sip this cocktail, steeped in the classic tradition, and listen to, as Hoagy said, "the music of the years gone by," even if it was never composed, and exists only in your memory.

The Violet Hour

August 6, 2009

Mixology Monday XLI: Vodka is Your Friend

0EE1C1B7-51D9-464A-9FD4-3362608E69F5.jpgAugust's Mixology Monday challenge is one that I had some trepidation I'm not much of a vodka fan...I think the asking price for what's essentially neutral grain or potato spirits on a lot of big name brands is ludicrous, and being relatively flavorless, vodka just never appealed to me. That being said, it is the first alcoholic beverage I ever had, so I suppose, deep down, there's a small part of me that still likes it (and hates it, for the same reason, presumably). But, as it turns out, there's a local distillery that produces a vodka that caught my attention despite all this, so I figured I'd see what I could make with it.

The distillery, as I've mentioned in my post on gin martinis, is Great Lakes Distillery, the founder and distiller is Guy Rehorst, and it's his name that's on the gin and vodkas. The vodka that caught my eye is Rehorst Premium Milwaukee Citrus and Honey Vodka. It's made with Wisconsin honey and real lemons, so my usual grumping about test tube flavors doesn't apply. And it's local, which is a big deal for me, because I like keeping as much of my money in the local economy as I can.

So, what did I make of it? Well, I came up with two drinks. One's pretty easy and straight forward, the other is a little more complicated, but has a lot more depth of flavor. We'll go with the simpler one first.
Milwaukee Lemonade

1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
1/4 oz simple syrup
2 1/2 oz Rehorst Citrus and Honey Vodka
seltzer to top
splash of pomegranate grenadine

shake all but seltzer and grenadine with ice, pour into ice filled DOF glass, top with seltzer, drizzle in grenadine.
This one really lets the vodka come to the forefront. It's a really great spirit in that, while it's got the fruit and honey in it, it's not overwhelmingly sweet. In fact, sipping the vodka straight, it's really smooth and mellow in the mouth, with no burn, and no cloying sweetness. I tasted the lemon first, and then the honey, faintly but there, in the back of my mouth. I really, really like this vodka. I mean really. Anyway, I mixed it with a little lemon juice and even less simple syrup, shook it up, added some seltzer for fizz, and drizzled in the pomegranate grenadine. It's pretty, and it's tasty, really letting the vodka shine.
Milwaukee Lemonade

The other drink I made is one that's got a lot of layers going on, but reflects my initial approach to mixing with this spirit; I was brainstorming what flavors complemented both lemon and honey and the first one I could think of was ginger. And so I ran with that.
Fiery Citrus Cocktail

a scant 1/2 oz thinly sliced ginger (unpeeled)
1 oz simple syrup
3/4 oz fresh lemon juice
1/4 oz limoncello
2 oz Rehorst Citrus and Honey Vodka
dash of orange bitters

Muddle the ginger with the simple syrup, then add remaining ingredients. Shake all with ice, and double strain into glass
This one really has the ginger sitting in the forefront, but once that blast of heat dies down, then the lemon and the sweetness from the simple syrup and the round mouth-feel of the honey pipe up. This would be a good cocktail for soothing your throat, too, come winter, although my old college voice and diction teacher would kill me for suggesting that alcohol can soothe the throat. However, after a couple of these, you likely won't care if you actually feel better as long as you're not feeling anything! I like how this one turned out, but I think that the Milwaukee Lemonade showcases the spirit better.
Fiery Citrus Cocktail

August 5, 2009

Admit it, after last night's "Colbert Report," you knew this was coming...

I saw it, it was made by one of my cocktail heroes, so I've gotta make it and try it out. I made one substitution out of necessity, but it's still awesome. I give you the drunk custom-made for Stephen Colbert...
The Colbert Bash

1 1/2 oz Plymouth gin
1 oz Cherry Heering
1/4 oz lemon juice (I used lime because I had it on hand, still works)
generous splash of soda water/seltzer

Build first three ingredients over ice in a tall glass, top with seltzer, and gently swizzle to combine.
David Wondrich made this up for Stephen last night on The Colbert Report and it's damned tasty. Here's the footage of Wondrich's appearance:
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Colbert Bump Cocktail - David Wondrich
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTasers

The drink is damned tasty...well balanced, tart but not overly so, light and slightly fizzy from the seltzer, and as red as the blood of the bears that Stephen Colbert has personally wrestled into submission and then skinned. If this catches on, and it should, I'll be a happy man.

The Colbert Bump