May 30, 2010

I'm like a crackhead, but for ginger.

I made a trip to World Market today. And I bought a whole bunch of ginger stuff. Ginger candy, ginger cookies, sodas with ginger as an ingredient. Also the new cocktail glass featured tonight. And then I went to the grocery store on my way home to get lettuce for my pet rabbits, and lo and behold, there was a new ginger liqueur there, made by Stirrings. I can't find anything on their website about it, but they had some other liqueurs, as well; pomegranate, triple sec, peach, apple, and one other one that I can't recall at the moment. All proclaimed that they were natural, and all looked pretty good (although the apple liqueur was that alarming shade of green we've sadly come to expect from apple-flavored anything. Curse you, Jolly Ranchers!). So I picked that up and decided to experiment with it.

I can't find out what the base is, but I'm assuming it's neutral grain spirits, rather than the cognac that Domaine de Canton is made from. The nose, however, is a much sharper, stronger ginger than the Canton. It's got a little fire to it! I used a drink called the Chatham Cocktail as a starting point for this, but since I'm not using ginger-flavored brandy, I made this one mine. Named after an area that's now part of NYC's Chinatown, I'm calling it:
The Chatham Square Cocktail

2.5 oz Plymouth gin
.75 oz Stirrings Ginger Liqueur
.75 oz lemon juice
3 dashes Fee Brothers orange bitters (cheaper than Angostura's but not as good. They're what I've got on hand, though)
3 drops Peychaud's or Angostura bitters, for garnish

Shake all save for the Peychaud's/Angostura with ice, strain into a 7.5 oz cocktail glass, and gently float 3 drops of your choice of bitters on top.
The ginger is very very strong with this drink...kitty wants to play! I really like it, though, because it stands up well to both the Plymouth and the lemon juice. The orange bitters round out the citrus notes a bit, and depending if you go with the Angostura or the Peychaud's, you'll get a slight spice or anise nose from the drink as you bring it up for a sip. I quite like it!

Chatham Square Cocktail

May 25, 2010

Trying to sneak in under the wire...

0EE1C1B7-51D9-464A-9FD4-3362608E69F5.jpgAlthough by calling attention to the fact I'm trying to sneak in, I've just blown my cover. Ah, well...

I completely spaced, and lost track of time, and as a result, have technically missed May's Mixology Monday. The theme this month? Tom Waits.

I know, crazy, huh? But still, inextricably linked with liquor. Even after having laid off the sauce himself.

So I rummaged around in my memory banks, entertaining notions of creating a "Piano Has Been Drinking" cocktail, but no. Instead I went with another hoary old Waits tune (maybe not old, but definitely hoary) and have created:
Frank's Wild Years Cocktail

1 oz Rittenhouse 80° rye whiskey
1/4 oz Fernet Branca
1/4 oz orgeat syrup
1/4 oz sweet vermouth
1 dash Bittermens grapefruit bitters

Stir all well with ice, strain into scrupulously chilled shot glass
i started with that classic, the Franciuli Cocktail, and modified it a bit to make it suitable for Frank's Wild Years...the Fernet is scaled back a bit, and the sweetness quotient is upped a little, to better contrast with the bitter characters of the amaro that the Fernet brings to the party. The slight citrus tang of the grapefruit bitters counters the sweetness of the orgeat. All in all, a slightly off kilter flavor, with an aftertaste that somehow suggests the zen-likes notes of green tea, but one that's uniquely suited to pay tribute to Mr. Tom Waits.

Step into my office, baby...I'm big in Japan...

Frank's Wild Years Cocktail

May 19, 2010

Spring has sprung, the grass is riz...

...I wonder where dem boidies is?

Today was finally spring-like weather in my neck of the woods, topping 70°F, and generally being pleasant and agreeable outside. The trees and lawns have greened up nicely, and there's enough pollen in the air to put an allergic elephant down.

Therefore, in such a time as this it is most meet to trot out an appropriately themed libation. And I just so happened to pick up one of the ingredients today, as a reward to myself for donating blood and being such a swell guy (plus it was on sale!); Plymouth Gin.

Plymouth is a little different from a lot of other gins on the market today...I find it hard to quantify the differences, but Wikipedia notes that "[i]t has a distinctively different, slightly less-dry flavour than the much more commonly available London Dry Gin, as it contains a higher than usual proportion of root ingredients, which bring a more 'earthy' feel to the gin, as well as a smoother juniper hit." Plymouth themselves credit the flavor to a unique blend of juniper berries, lemon and orange peel, orris root (the root of an iris plant), angelica root, cardamom, and coriander. All are traditional gin ingredients, but they play up the earthiness and sweetness of the blend, and dial back the juniper a bit. Still, a most excellent drink, especially in a Gin Pahit (pink gin).

Anyway, on to tonight's drink:
Spring Feeling Cocktail

3/4 oz lemon juice
3/4 oz green Chartreuse
1 1/2 oz Plymouth gin
dash of Grapefruit Bitters

shake all well with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass.
Truly a green and spring-like drink. Herbaceous, tart, bracing. Yes, this will do quite nicely. Greetings, o springy cocktail! Would you like to ride with Batman? Yes, you'd like that, wouldn't you?

Er, sorry. Got carried away there a bit.

Not much to say about such a simple drink, apart from "GO MAKE ONE!"

Spring Feeling Cocktail

May 11, 2010

...and cue Pee-Wee Herman in the platform shoes!

I picked up a new spirit last night. Well, not new, but one that I haven't touched since college, and swore, for the longest time, that I would never touch again.

You guessed it. Tequila.

I'd wager not a few of you, dear readers, have had a run in with some spirit or another that you consumed in, shall we say, "injudicious amounts" and that you vowed you would never drink again. For me, and for tequila, it wasn't so much that I drank too much of it, it was just between the rotgut that passes for tequila on many college campuses, and the ridiculous salt-lick-lime ritual, I did not see any redeeming qualities in the stuff.

But, as so frequently happens, I read more and more articles about it and wondered if perhaps I'd been too hasty in shutting it out. Reposado tequila, which has been "rested" in oak barrels, sounded intriguing, because who doesn't want a well-rested drink? Also nifty-sounding was añejo tequila, "aged" for between 1 year and a day shy of three years, also in oak. Then you start getting into über-premium tequilas, ones that I could never hope to afford, ones like extra-añejo, aged for more than three years. Considering that'd make it much older than this blog, it's quite understandably out of my range. But my friendly neighborhood Costco, believe it or not, had a store branded, 100% Agave, añejo tequila for a quite reasonable price, and I thought it might just be time to see if my dislike of the spirit wasn't maybe a bit irrational.

Well, the spirit by itself is really something. It's sort of like bourbon after being aged in those oak barrels, but a little sharper, a little black peppery, even. Tasty, and nothing like the colorless lighter fluid I sampled in college. Clearly my old grudge was founded on a simple misunderstanding. This was not some paint-thinner suited only for washing down cheap beer (I'm looking at you, Milwaukee's Best!) but something that was quite suitable for sipping on ice with nothing to sully it at all.

But you all know that I like mixing stuff! So I dug around for some drinks that used añejo tequila. And believe it or not, most people don't want to sully it by mixing it! But I found a few that used a minimum of ingredients, chosen to let the spirit shine through. And the one I'm sharing tonight is a variant on a great, much-beloved classic.
Añejo Tequila Old-Fashioned

3 oz añejo tequila
1 teaspoon agave nectar
4 dashes Peychaud's bitters
3 spritzes Urban Moonshine citrus bitters (or 2 dashes orange bitters)
2 dashes Jamaican bitters (or grapefruit bitters)

Stir all well with ice, strain into ice-filled double Old-Fashioned glass. Garnish, if desired, with a strip of grapefruit peel.

Damn, that's a smooth one. That peppery character pokes out, but it's tempered by the agave nectar (a natural fit in this drink) and the citrus and grapefruit really lift it up and give it a clean, fresh character. I'm utterly ashamed for having misjudged tequila for as long as I did, and I hope my Scrooge-on-Christmas-morning mindset may extend to other things.

But it probably won't. Bah humbug.

Añejo Tequila Old-Fashioned

May 8, 2010

Around the world in less than four fluid ounces

I managed to finally get my hands on a new bottle of Fernet Branca, much to my joy and relief. Believe it or not, the last time I made it to my local liquor store that carried it, they had sold out of six bottles, their entire stock, in just a few days. Which astonished me, as pretty much nobody likes the stuff, save for San Franciscans, Argentineans, and a few lunatics like me. Happily, when I returned a few days ago,they had plenty in stock, and for four bucks less than some other stores I'd visited. So I was a happy lush. I had the obligatory Hanky Panky with it, and was pondering what else I might use it for. Then I figured, "Hey, why not come up with an original cocktail?" And so I listened to myself, and did.

This is another one that seems odd until you try it, and then you find everything fits together quite well. Considering all the disparate cultural influences it has, I call it:
The Globetrotter Cocktail

2 1/2 oz rye whiskey
3/4 oz sweet vermouth
2 barspoons (about a scant 1/4 oz) Fernet Branca
3 dashes Donn's Tinc

Stir all well with ice, and strain into an ice-filled Double Old-Fashioned glass.
So let's see. We've got American rye whiskey, sweet vermouth (Italian or French, depending on who made it), a bitter Italian amaro in the Fernet Branca, and a sort of faux-Polynesia in the Donn's Tinc. Hardly a likely combination. But. But. The spice of the tincture melds with the vermouth and the Fernet and the rye. The citrus zing from the grapefruit in the Donn's Tinc sings out over the Fernet Branca at the same time. The sweetness of the vermouth rounds out the bitter character of the Fernet. I'll be the first to admit it's another drink that doesn't seem like it should work. But, quite fortunately for me, it does. Which is good, because I hate pouring rotten experiments down the drain.

Globetrotter Cocktail