October 31, 2009

It's Halloween! This calls for a spooky-looking drink!

Ah yes, Halloween. A time when bartenders bust out their Bailey's, their corn syrup laden grenadine, and some sort of schnapps or another and make a shot that looks like brains. Lovely. Doesn't taste like anything you'd care to drink any other time, but it's got the panache you need for a good Halloween drink.

How about I give you something that looks appropriate and tastes good too? Here's an oldie-but-goodie from the 1930 Savoy Cocktail Book:
Albemarle Fizz

juice of 1/2 lemon (about 3/4 oz or so)
1/4 oz simple syrup
1 1/2 oz gin
2 bar spoons raspberry syrup

Shake lemon juice, syrup and gin with ice, strain into glass. Top with seltzer and add two bar spoons raspberry syrup.
There you go. It's a modified gin sour, but with the added benefit of a little fizz, and the lovely, somewhat bloody look of the more dense raspberry syrup settling in the bottom of the glass. Tip tip hurrah, boils and ghouls!

Albemarle Fizz

October 24, 2009

Mixology Monday XLIII: Vermouth

0EE1C1B7-51D9-464A-9FD4-3362608E69F5.jpgYes friends, it's already time for another MxMo, and October's theme is the fortified wine we know and love; vermouth, and is hosted by fellow lush Vidiot over at Cocktailians. Vidiot says:
Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to present a delectable vermouth cocktail for us all to drool over. Sweet/Italian or dry/French vermouth are fair game of course, as are quinquina, aperitif wines like Pineau des Charentes, or for that matter any fortified, aromatized wine such as Lillet (red or white), or Dubonnet (ditto.)
So, I figured one of my favorite drinks, with a little rejiggering, would fit that bill quite nicely.

First of all, I've been remiss, in my previous Mixology Monday posts, in thanking the booze bloggers that have hosted them previously, so let me correct that now: Vidiot, Chris, Amelia and RumDood, thanks for taking so much time to nudge and massage my half-drunken posts into a valid submission. You all have made me feel most welcome in the MxMo world. And now, on to the hooch.

You may remember my take on the Manhattan, the Golden Manhattan, which I named for it's reflecting the "Golden Ratio," a+b:a::a:b. That is, 2 parts whiskey to 1 part vermouth, and 2 parts dry vermouth to 1 part sweet. Normally, I like to make it with rye whiskey, but I stumbled across a new bourbon at the store today, and it was marked down by $9, so feeling frugal, I figured I'd grab a bottle and give it a whirl. And then, I also received some new bitters in the mail today, from Urban Moonshine and thought that they might a nice and novel addition to my drink as well; plus they came in nifty little sprayers, so that upped the coolness factor. Believing that the brands matter in this concoction, I'm going to name names (but not in a Elia Kazan sort of way), but feel free to jigger to your liking and taste if you want to. And so I present you with my contribution to Mixology Monday XLIII;
The Golden Manhattan (Redux)

3 parts Jefferson's Very Small Batch Kentucky Bourbon
1 part Noilly Prat dry vermouth
1/2 part Noilly Prat sweet vermouth
3 sprays (or dashes) Urban Moonshine Maple bitters (divided)
1 spray (or dash) Urban Moonshine Citrus bitters

Combine bourbon, vermouth, and two sprays/dashes of Maple bitters in mixing glass with ice, stirring well to combine. Strain into Double Old Fashioned glass, add one spray/dash each of Maple and Citrus bitters.
The distillers of Jefferson's bourbon say that it's got a nose of vanilla and peach, and a taste that's smooth and sweet, with hints of citrus, and that's not far off. It pairs incredibly well with the hint of maple from the bitters, and the always excellent vermouths from Noilly Prat really balance the drink, mellowing the often harsh burn from the bourbon. This is an awesome variation on my traditional way of making a Manhattan, a little sweeter and more nuanced than the rye-based version, and definitely one I'd like to return to.

Golden Manhattan (Redux)

It's worth noting, I feel, that I paid for all these name brand liquors out of pocket. Just in case anyone's worried about me getting kickbacks...I'm far too small a blog to be sent free product. In the off chance that it ever happens, I will indicate that the product was sent as for promotional consideration. I will, however, be honest in my reviewing of it...if it tastes like fetid dingo's kidneys, I will say as much.

October 22, 2009

Perfect for your speakeasy or other den of iniquity!

I have returned! I know, you all missed me terribly. All twelve of you. Hopefully you'll find my libation tonight tasty enough that you'll forgive me my absence.

Tonight's drink is similar to the Whiskey Sour and Ward Eight cocktails I've previously featured, but it has something in it that neither of them have: vermouth. It's like the Whiskey Sour and Manhattan made a beautiful, alcoholic baby together. Here's how to make one of your own:
Scofflaw Cocktail

2 oz rye whiskey
1 oz dry vermouth
1/2 oz lemon juice
1/4 oz grenadine
orange and/or grapefruit bitters, to taste

combine all in a mixing glass and shake well with ice. Strain into cocktail glass.
As I said, similar to that classic Whiskey Sour, but a little different. The vermouth adds a little more complexity, while it still walks that line between sweet and sour. Definitely a nice change of pace from martinis and Manhattans. Despite the name, though, don't go drinking from an open container while speeding past a cop on your way to that back-room poker game. It'll all end in tears.

Scofflaw Cocktail

October 20, 2009

Yes, I'm aware it's been well over a week since my last entry...

No, I am not dead.

I will endeavor to post again soon. Things have just been a little crazy, and money for cocktail ingredients a little short.

Soon, Precious. Soon.

October 10, 2009

With a fanfare of trumpets, I proudly present drink #100

Wow. 100 cocktails posted. It took just over 6 months to get here...I'm not sure if that's too slow or too quick.

I promised you a special ingredient for drink number one-hundred, and I shall deliver. I've been itching for months, nay, years, to sample this one, and at every turn, I found it too expensive, too hard to procure, too poorly reviewed a brand to sample it. But then, glory and trumpets, Mr. Frodo, my favorite local distiller, Great Lakes Distillery, obtained FDA and ATF approval, and now I have it. What is it, you may ask?


Yes, I have tamed the Green Fairy. Well, not really. Turns out multitudes of nations have had what I like to call "cranio-rectal insertion disorder*" when it came to Absinthe for nearly a hundred years. You see, they seemed to think that absinthe made you crazy, because of an ingredient that was contained therein. Grande wormwood, a bittering and flavoring agent in absinthe, was widely regarded as a psychoactive substance. It made good men mad and mad men worse. It contained thujone, which the devil used to slick his beard. As it turns out, while thujone isn't exactly sunshine and daisies if consumed straight, absinthe contains thujone in such small amounts as to be damn near non-existent. Yes, the US government, and governments around the world, decided to stamp out a non-existent problem by making the whole thing illegal, with little to no fact checking. Gee, that's never happened before. *cough-Prohibition* *cough-cough-hemp-cough*

Excuse me. Something in my throat. So sorry.

Anyway, my local distillery has made absinthe, and as soon as I learned it was available, I asked my awesome local grocery if they could procure some for me. They did, and I now have two 375ml bottles of Amerique 1912 Absinthe Verte. GLD also makes an Absinthe Rouge, flavored with hibiscus, among other botanical, but I haven't found those nearby yet. Perhaps when I finally tour the distillery I can procure a bottle.

There are dozens of classic drink recipes that call for absinthe. Many of them acknowledge that a decent pastis can substitute, with somewhat inferior results. However, I decided to go with a drink that has only three ingredients to introduce this spirit, so that the flavors can be easily discerned. It really helps to make this with ingredients that are familiar to you, so that you can pick out just how much flavor absinthe brings to the party, even in small amounts. So here is our 100th drink:
The Absinthe Martini

2 oz good quality gin (I used Rehorst, from Great Lakes Distillery, natch**)
1/2 oz dry vermouth (I used my workhorse, Noilly Prat)
1/2 tsp absinthe

Build over ice in mixing glass, stirring well to combine. Strain into chilled cocktail glass.
I figured I couldn't go wrong pairing two spirits from the same distillery, and I was definitely right. The sharp and sweet flavor from the ginseng and sweet basil in the Rehorst gin pairs so nicely with the anise notes of their Amerique 1912 that you just wanna lay down and cry. The botanicals of all three ingredients mesh in a wonderful way, making the whole drink sing with a slightly acerbic character that I just love.

While the Amerique 1912 doesn't louche (cloud up) as much as many other types of pastis do, flavorwise it's such a wonderfully balanced spirit that it's general transparency is easily overlooked. I can't wait to feature absinthe in more drinks along the way. (I can tell you that using it as a rinse in a classic Sazerac is a thing of beauty.)

So with this exotic ingredient under our belt, it is my hope that you've enjoyed reading and experimenting with me, and that you'll stick with me as I ease on down the road. Here's to another 100 drinks, however long it takes to get there...the company's the great thing on a trip like this, and I'm glad you all have come along.

Absinthe Martini

* - that is to say, they had their collective heads up their collective asses.

** - Definitely not a commercial...that was a declaration of love.

October 4, 2009

Yes, I know, it's been a week. I am ashamed.

Sorry, everyone...this past week has just been not at all conducive to photographing and waxing rhapsodic about drinks...I had my first real challenge of the new job come up (I didn't suck at it, so that's encouraging!) and rehearsals for my current show have gotten a little more frequent, since we're opening in two weeks.

That said, I made it inside the "one week" threshold I set a couple weeks back...that's gotta count for something, right?

Tonight's libation is another one with a silly name...however, it's venerable, dating back at least to the 1930 publication of the Savoy Cocktail Book. While it sounds like something a little old lady would sip in a swanky hotel lobby, unless granny's packing a couple pounds of pig iron in her purse, it's definitely not. In fact, it's far better than the name promises.
Mah-Jongg Cocktail

2 oz London dry gin
1/2 oz Cointreau or triple sec or white curaçao
1/2 oz rum (classically, it uses Bacardi, but I like a nice amber Bermuda rum in it for a hint of color)
dash of Bittermens Grapefruit bitters

combine all over ice and stir until well-mixed. Strain into cocktail glass.
In some ways, with the three very different liquors mixed, this could be viewed as a progenitor to the Long Island Iced Tea...however, this is a hell of a lot better than that hoary old chestnut. The citrus and the gin blend just as well as citrus and rum do...making the combination of the three an unusual but complimentary thing. I like throwing a little grapefruit bitters in there just to pull the sweetness back a little bit, but that's just my take. It's quite a nice drink, and one that I plan to have again sometime soon.

Mah-Jongg Cocktail

As an aside, this is drink number 99 to appear on my blog. I had been hoping and seeking out a very special ingredient for drink number 100, and by gum, I've succeeded. So next time, on a Very Special™ "Urbane, Not Cosmopolitan," you'll see a fun new ingredient that I've never featured before! Woo hoo! Exciting stuff!