June 30, 2009

Come let's mix where Rockefellers walk with sticks or um-ber-ellers in their mitts...

And I'm back! The show wrapped on Sunday, we struck the set immediately afterwards, and the head of the theatre group and the director said they got nothing but raves from the audience. My bruises are healing (it was a rather physical show for me, I was stuffed under couches and fell off balconies) and now, I'm ready to get back to the blog! I do feel, however, that it benefitted from not trying to get something posted every night (or at least that *I* benefitted from not having to get something posted every night) so I'm going to be trying the "posting several times a week" thing for a while longer. Don't worry, I haven't lost interest in this thing, I'm just trying to pace myself, like any good drunk.

I obtained, late last week, a copy of the new, Revised & Expanded Deluxe (Soopa-Genius!) Edition of Ted Haigh's invaluable Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails: From the Alamagoozlum to the Zombie and Beyond - 100 Rediscovered Recipes and the Stories Behind Them and I nearly wept unashamedly when I opened it and began to read. This book is pretty much my entire cocktail philosophy encapsulated between two covers: good spirits aren't cheap, but good drinks don't need a lot of them. The trend is towards goldfish-bowl sized vessels of cheap booze in garish colors, but classically, the drinks were small (usually no more than 4 oz) and well crafted. If you drink to savor rather than to get verschnickered, I truly believe you'll get a lot more out of your liquor-buying dollar.

And on the subject of dollars, that provides me with a nice segue to tonight's drink, the Park Avenue cocktail. The very name conjures up notions of gold-plated sidewalks, gem-encrusted parking meters, and small yappy-type dogs being walked by portly matrons. Happily, the ingredients for this cocktail are pretty easily come by.
Park Avenue Cocktail

2 oz gin
3/4 oz pineapple juice
3/4 oz sweet vermouth
2 teaspoons orange curaçao

Shake all with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
It's a strangely tropical drink, for being named after a NYC locale...Ted Haigh suggests it was switched at birth with the Palm Beach cocktail (gin, sweet vermouth and grapefruit juice, rather more bracing than balmy in character). That said, it's still a damn fine drink, and one that I'd like to see more of, rather than the "Blue BahamaMama MojitoTiniRita™", or whatever they're calling the latest liquor-laden travesty they're trying to foist upon an unsuspecting public.

Park Avenue Cocktail

June 24, 2009

Since I can't attend Tales of the Cocktail, I'll just have one of these.

In a few weeks, cocktail enthusiasts and historians will descend on New Orleans en masse to attend "Tales of the Cocktail," a five-day love letter to all things mixological. Being the poor boy I am, I will not be attending, though I'll be following the events that are summarized online with a great deal of interest and professional jealousy.

Meanwhile, I decided to mix up a drink of old New Orleans tonight, the Sazerac. It's gone through a few changes over the years...first made with cognac, but now more frequently with rye whiskey. Absinthe was used to coat the inside of the glass, though for a while, until it was legal again, a mixture of Green Chartreuse and Pernod were often used, or a New Orleans spirit called Herbsaint. And Peychaud's bitters were always a key ingredient.

Now, I don't have any absinthe yet, nor Herbsaint, nor Green Chartreuse, so what I've prepared tonight may charitably be termed a "poor man's Sazerac," but despite that, it's still possible to glimpse the combination of flavors that makes this libation so interesting.

1/4 oz absinthe or pastis, to rinse
1 bar spoon simple syrup
2 dashes Peychaud's bitters
2 oz rye whiskey

In a mixing glass, over ice, build the syrup, bitters and rye, stirring to combine. In an Old Fashioned glass, swirl the absinthe/pastis to coat the inside of the glass, discarding the excess (into your mouth is not a bad disposal method). Strain the syrup/bitters/rye mixture into the Old Fashioned glass, and garnish with a lemon twist.
The Pernod imparts a top note of licorice, but it's almost smelled rather than tasted in the drink. The sweetness of the bitters, the spiciness of the rye and the citrus zing of the lemon twist all vie for attention, but in the end, they all blend into an impossible to describe taste, but one that would be very easy to grow attached to. Three thumbs up for this drink, and, should I manage to procure Herbsaint or buck up and buy a bottle of absinthe, I will gladly revisit this to see how the ideal ingredients further enhance this drink.

(Special Note: in the photo below, you will see that there's a strip of lemon zest in the glass. For the love of all that is good and proper, don't drop it into your drink! Just squeeze it over the drink to express the oils and then toss the peel. Learn from my mistakes!)

June 22, 2009

What can I say, I felt like experimenting.

So. Short and sweet because I've got to return some videos got eleventy-billion library books to read before they're due, and I want to make some headway on my days off from the the show. I made up a drink tonight. It's quite tasty and subtle and I think you should try it. I have not named it. If you try it and like it and want to serve it to other people, you can say it's just something you threw together. I give you full permission to claim it as your own.
1 3/4 oz orange flavored vodka
3/4 oz London dry gin
1 1/2 oz pineapple juice
1 oz Tahitian limeade
dash of Peychaud's bitters

Build over ice in an Old Fashioned glass, stirring well to combine.
The citrus all plays very well together, the coconut water and the botanicals from the gin live together in perfect harmony (oh lord, why don't we?) and the Peychaud's extremely subtle notes waft through the whole thing, tying it all together. I like it. Hopefully you will do.

Now to read!
The Nameless One

June 21, 2009

I'm only doing this because I love you all...

I have to get up rather earlier than I like to awaken on weekends tomorrow, in part because we've got a matinee, but also because I'm endeavoring to mow the lawn, shower and shave to ensure proper application of stage makeup, and grab something to eat prior to my 12:15 PM call. Show goes up at 1:30. So think of it this way...in a little over 12 hours from now, I'll be trotting on stage to do my villain schtick. We had a great audience tonight, which may explain why I'm still pumped. So instead of drifting off to dreamland as I ought, I'm giving you a drink...my ever-so-slightly modified take on The La Floridita Daiquiri. My only modifications are to replace the "juice of 1/2 lime" with some of my leftover Tahitian Limeade and alter the "2 bar spoons of simple syrup" to a scant 1/4 oz. Other than that, 'tis the same!
The La Floridita Daiquiri

2 oz good quality rum like Havana Club or Bacardi Anejo (I used Bacardi 8)
3/4 oz Tahitian limeade
1/4 oz simple syrup
2 bar spoons Maraschino liqueur

Blend all with ice until smooth and thick. Serve in a champagne coupe.
It's really quite nice how the sweet spice of the rum and the classic "funk" of the Maraschino play together in this. The tahitian limeade adds just a dash of acidity, but also a great tropical note from the coconut water. If you can, I highly recommend crushing the ice before blending with the liquid ingredients...it really helps things to blend more evenly, and makes for a finer grain in the finished drink. This one's definitely a keeper, and it's a good showcase for a favorite rum, as the other ingredients work to augment, rather than overwhelm the spirit.
The La Floridita Daiquiri

June 20, 2009

apologies, all

Sorry for the dearth of posts in the last few days. We had our final dress rehearsals for the show and opened it tonight. I'll try to get a drink or two up over the weekend...

If you just can't wait, you can try my latest iteration of the classic Manhattan, one I'm calling the Golden Ratio Manhattan... it's a 2:1 ratio of whiskey (I've been using Canadian Club lately) to vermouth, and a 2:1 ratio of dry vermouth to sweet vermouth. So, if you wanted a nice big one, you could use 3 oz whiskey, 1 oz of dry vermouth and 1/2 oz of sweet vermouth. Add a dash each of Angostura and orange bitters, shake, and strain. There ya go.

June 16, 2009

How 'bout a nice Hawaiian punch?

I'd stumbled across this drink a while back, and was intrigued by the notion of "Tahitian limeade." It turns out that it's limeade made by substituting coconut water for the normal stuff. I didn't add any extra sweetener to it, as I figured it'd likely be sweet enough when mixed with all the other ingredients. I just used about three limes worth of juice to an 11.1 oz Tetrapack of coconut water, shook, and chilled, though the typical proportions are anywhere between 3 and 5 parts coconut water to 1 part lime juice. I assembled the rest as follows...
Kamehameha's Mighty Punch

2 oz pineapple juice
1/2 oz mango puree (I just made my own, simple enough. 1 mango gave me about 6-8 oz of puree)
1 oz tahitian limeade
1 1/2 oz amber rum (I used Bacardi 8)
powdered chipotle pepper

Shake all but the pepper with ice, double strain into a cocktail glass or coupe. Lightly dust with the chipotle.
The flavor, while fruity, is surprisingly delicate, which is really neat. The use of the powdered chipotle really works well, both visually and in terms of flavor; the red of the pepper complements the yellow/orange of the drink, and the heat pairs really well with the mango. It sort of tingles and warms as it goes down. It's unusual, but tasty. This is, however, another one of those drinks that I enjoyed, but not one that I'd drink all the time. Although that Tahitian limeade will undoubtedly see use in some other cocktails...I've got a couple more flavors of Dry Soda to play around with!
Kamehameha's Mighty Punch

June 13, 2009

With apologies to Schlotzky's Deli; Funny Name, serious drink.

One of my cocktail-making heroes, Paul Clarke over at "The Cocktail Chronicles," recently celebrated the anniversary of his blog by embarking on a quest to mix up 30 cocktails in 30 days (he succeeded, admirably). In his research, he came upon an old drink from New Orleans, named after the street upon which it was invented, at the Iron Horse Tavern in the 1850s or 1860s. It's called the Tchoupitoulas Street Guzzle, and in its original form, was a shot of Cuban rum with a split of ginger beer. Paul, upon tinkering with the drink, decided that it would be best to reintroduce this as a short, refreshing, quick drink, one to be guzzled and then moved on from, rather than savoring and sipping slowly. To that end, he concentrated the flavors so you get the full effect and sensation of it, but one that can still be downed in a hurry, the better to get back to work after your surreptitious tipple. Hey, things were very different in the 1860s...
Tchoupitoulas Street Guzzle

1 1/2 oz a good, strong, smooth, vanilla-y rum, say a Cruzan Single Barrel or a Bacardi 8 (I think a good mix is 1 oz of the Bacardi 8 and 1/2 oz of Coruba)
1 1/2 oz ginger beer base
1 oz seltzer
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Shake all but seltzer with ice, strain into a small chilled tumbler, add seltzer, stir briefly, and drink before it gets too warm.
The sharpness and heat of the ginger beer base is tempered slightly by the smoothness of the rum and the fizziness of the seltzer, but it's still a powerfully flavored drink...and for that reason it's wonderful. You get a fantastic blast of flavor, and then you can move on to whatever you need to do next. I'm a big fan of this cocktail, regardless of whether I can properly pronounce it or not.
Tchoupitoulas Street Guzzle

June 12, 2009

In which I learn that good bitter lemon soda is apparently hard to find.

I decided to try another one of the bitter lemon drinks that I'd found in my research, so I figured I'd better try to isolate that flowery flavor I experienced in the previous Bitter Lemon Cooler. Sure enough, it's the Stirring's bitter lemon; there's not much bitter about it at all, really. I think in the future, I'll just get some pure lemon extract, add a couple drops to a good tonic water, and use that...it'd be cheaper, any way.

That said, I altered the recipe here a bit to try to get it a little more lemony and a little less flowery. It was mostly successful, but I still think the better the tonic water/bitter lemon, the better. Maybe I'll even try making my own tonic water one of these days, if I can get a hold of some cinchona bark powder...

Anyway, on to the drink:
Lemon Rum Cooler

3/4 oz lemon juice
2 oz light rum
1/4 oz overproof rum (bump it up to 1/2 oz if you're daring!)
2 oz pineapple juice
1/4 oz falernum

Shake all ingredients with ice, strain into a tall glass, top up with bitter lemon soda.
This drink fares a bit better, as the flavors of the rum and falernum are quite a bit stronger than the gin and vermouth. The extra lemon juice here makes a bit of difference, as the original drink only called for 1/2 oz. It's definitely got the potential to be more refreshing than the Bitter Lemon Cooler, but still, it's not as crisp as I'd expect it to be. Maybe I've just got irrational expectations of the bitter lemon soda. I dunno...
Lemon Rum Cooler

June 9, 2009

Oh my god! Social interaction! This is something entirely new!

0EE1C1B7-51D9-464A-9FD4-3362608E69F5.jpgEvery month, a bunch of lushes cocktail aficionados band together and do a little something called "Mixology Monday," centering around a theme. This month's theme is "Ginger," and we know how much I love ginger. So I'm marking my participation in my first ever Mixology Monday with this drink that I just made up in my kitchen.
Koro Koola

1 1/4 oz homemade ginger beer base (I use Paul Clarke's recipe)
1/4 oz falernum
1/4 oz pimento dram
1/4 oz fresh key lime juice
1/4 oz Grand Marnier
1 oz Coruba Jamaican rum
2 dashes Angostura orange bitters
good quality ginger ale to top

shake all but the ginger ale with ice, strain into a good sized Old Fashioned glass, top up with an equal measure (about 3 1/4 oz) of ginger ale.
Koro was a tiki god who was sometimes referred to as the Midnight Dancer...sort of the party animal of the tiki gods, so he seemed a good fit for a drink that got my taste buds dancing the tango (ok, so it's not a Polynesian dance, so sue me). The nice thing about this is that the ginger, while definitely present, is happy to share the limelight with some of the other flavors, and the (relatively) low alcohol content (the pimento dram, falernum, Grand Marnier, and orange bitters are present in such small volumes that they're really pretty negligible, and there's only an ounce of straight spirit) means that you can knock back a few of these before you hit the dance floor and start to hula out of your pants (not advised in mixed company).
Koro Koola

June 7, 2009

A summer drink, even though it's barely 60ºF here.

With the perhaps delusional belief that summer will soon arrive here in the Midwest, despite all meteorological indications to the contrary, I'm starting to experiment with warm weather drinks. Today's is the first taste of a new one for me, the Bitter Lemon Cooler. Previously hamstrung in my attempts to even locate Bitter Lemon soda that wasn't laced with my arch-nemesis, High Fructose Corn Syrup, I finally succeeded yesterday in locating a four pack of the stuff made by Stirrings. Imagine my frustration when, after procuring my elusive ingredient, I learned that bitter lemon is nothing more that lemon juice and tonic water mixed. I'm sure there's a bit more to it than that, but that's the long and the short of it. Next time I'll just try that! But at any rate, I started browsing around for drinks that use the stuff, and here we go.
Bitter Lemon Cooler

1 1/2 oz dry vermouth
1 oz gin
1/4 oz grenadine
1/4 oz lemon juice

shake all with ice, strain into a tall, ice-filled glass, and top with bitter lemon soda, stirring gently to combine.
My first reaction when I tasted this was that it was surprisingly flowery. I'm assuming that came from the vermouth and the Bitter Lemon...but there's very little bitterness in this, nor sourness, which is surprising and a little dismaying, frankly. If I had it to do over again, I'd swap the gin to vermouth ratio, and add a little more lemon juice. This, as is, is just way too sweet to be an effective cooler on a hot day. That said, it's still drinkable, but it's more something I'd serve to a maiden aunt than drink myself.

Live and learn, I guess...
Bitter Lemon Cooler

June 6, 2009

No photo tonight, but I will give you a novelty drink!

I came up with this utterly ridiculous drink about 5 years ago, when I was still working at my old restaurant, and we were entertaining the notion of movie nights in the bar. We were thinking about running trilogies every week, and the Star Wars series came up, and we started brainstorming what sorts of drinks we could serve. I suggested one solely for the name, and then we had to figure out what it would consist of. I present to you, the Flaming Wookiee.
Flaming Wookiee
serves two
2 oz amaretto
1 oz orange juice
dash of Angostura bitters

Shake over ice to combine, strain into two shot glasses. Float a layer of overproof rum on top of each shot glass and light.
Encourage patrons to extinguish before drinking.
Sometimes you've just got to cut loose, make a goofy drink and make no apologies. What would've been really bad is if we devised a "Flaming Anakin."

EDIT! A dear friend, code name "Earl," has pointed out a perfect confluence of events surrounding this drink. Not only are Star Wars Weekends occurring presently at Disney's Hollywood Studios park in Orlando, but we're also coming up on Gay Days in the Florida parks. "Flaming Wookie" is the PERFECT drink for the festivities! Drink up, me hearties, yo ho!

June 5, 2009

This is not a drink for the timid.

Every now and then I stumble across a cocktail that sounds so odd, I just have to try it. This is one of those cocktails. It looks innocuous, and the name sounds pleasant, but then you look at the ingredients list and go "Wait...is that right?!" See if you can spot the point at which I started to arch one eyebrow and go "whoa!"
West Indian Cocktail

3 barspoons 2:1 simple syrup (the original calls for 2 barspoons granulated sugar, I've just made it so it dissolves better)
2 barspoons lemon juice
2 barspoons Angostura bitters
1 1/2 oz London dry gin.

Pour all over cracked ice, stir to chill, serve.
That's right. Two barspoons of Angostura bitters. Since they're a product of Trinidad, in the West Indies, that certainly qualifies it as a West Indian cocktail, but holy smokes! Two barspoons?!

Oddly, though, while you'd think this would make smoke come out of your ears and trigger the gag reflex, it doesn't at all. It's smoky, spicy, but still sweet and sour from the sugar syrup and the lemon juice. I'd almost swap out one barspoon for lime juice, just to add a little more nuance, but it's still pretty darned good. See? it's sometimes worth it to try new things, even if they sound insane. Don't try to get me to attempt base jumping, though.
West Indian Cocktail

P.S. In case you're wondering, yes, there is an "East Indian Cocktail," but since I don't have any sherry at the moment, that'll have to wait.

June 4, 2009

As an introduction to home bartending, this can't be beat...

I most enthusiastically refer you to Bibulo.us, and their ongoing guide to the home bar.

Part I

Part II

June 3, 2009

Another experiment...don't ya love 'em?

In the spirit of last night's "drink all the rye whiskey because we need the empty bottle" entry, tonight we've got a "drink all of the mini bottle of Grand Marnier because we need that empty bottle too" entry.

It may seem exceedingly peculiar to flash back to childhood when thinking about alcoholic beverages (unless you're a former child star, in which case it's expected, really), but I was thinking about Kool-Aid. Purplesaurus Rex, to be precise. That was, if I recall correctly, artificial grape and artificial lemon flavors. I was thinking about similarly unlikely combinations, and settled upon this:
Blueberry Cordial
1 heaping tablespoonful frozen wild blueberries (my local Costco carries Wyman's brand, which are superb)
3/4 oz Grand Marnier
1 1/2 oz London dry gin
1 dash Peychaud's bitters

Shake all with ice, let stand 30-60 seconds, shake again. Double strain into a small cordial glass.
There's really nothing that can match the flavor of wild blueberries. It's almost a flavor avatar of summer...that sweet, tart, musky, and above all, blue flavor that coats your tongue is unmistakable, and impossible to replicate. I used the orange notes of the Grand Marnier to emphasize the tartness of the berries, the Peychaud's to compliment their fruitiness, and the gin's botanicals to augment the "wild" nature of the berries. I'm very happy to say that it's a success...you get an emphatically blueberry experience in this drink, but one with a bit of depth and subtlety to it. I'm very pleased with how this turned out. If you have access to wild blueberries, try this one out and see what you think.
Blueberry Cordial

June 2, 2009

We got to move these refrigerators, we got to move these color Tee-Vees!

I pledged that I'd bring in a couple empty bottles as props in the show I’m doing. The only problem is that at the moment, I have no empty bottles. Only one thing to do!

They need a whiskey bottle, and I can oblige that with an empty of rye whiskey. In order to have that ready to go, I'm going to make a simple drink, but a good one. It's called the Approve Cocktail, and it's very easy to make. Three ingredients, a shake, a strain and you've just used up 3 oz of rye. Here we go!
Approve Cocktail

3 oz rye whiskey (or Canadian Club, if you prefer)
2 dashes Angostura bitters
2 dashes curaçao (Cointreau could be used here)

Shake all with ice and strain into a wineglass (well-chilled, if possible).
Lest there be any doubt, this is very much a sipping drink! While you've added a few aromatic notes with the bitters and the curaçao, it's still pretty much ice cold whiskey. Which is wonderful, don't get me wrong! You get the added spice flavors from the bitters and a tiny bit of bitter orange from the Contreau, and it really serves the rye well. I'd almost think, if you've got orange bitters on hand, that swapping a dash of Angostura for a dash of orange would improve it further, bringing the orange flavor to the forefront a bit more. All in all, not a bad libation. There's certainly bound to be worse ways to dispose of rye whiskey. I endorse, recommend, advocate, and yes, approve of this cocktail.
Approve Cocktail