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 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.

June 11, 2010

Not the "chirp, tweet" kind.

I managed to get to a great liquor store in my area, one that has the widest selection of amari (bitter liqueurs, traditionally Italian) that I've found anywhere nearby. And in lieu of getting a $29 bottle of Campari, even though I really wanted to get one, I opted instead for a little more than kin and at a price more kind...Luxardo makes a similar product called, simply, Bitter. Both Campari and Luxardo Bitter (and their lower-proof cousin, Aperol, which is also owned by the Campari group, now) are bitter apertif liqueurs, that have a lot of flavorings in them, lots of herbs, and a noticeable bitter and sweet orange note. The most famous drink that's made with Campari (or its substitutes) is a Negroni; equal measures of gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari. It's good, but I tend to find sweet vermouth to be a little cloying sometimes. And so I nosed around a little more and found this relative. Not quite 1:1:1 ratios of the three ingredients, it's named, I presume, for its color, and most likely for the clergy who wear it. Less likely is the notion that it's named for the bird. Though red, the avian Cardinal is not italian and likely does not drink. I add a dash of orange bitters just to bring out that note a little more in my Luxardo Bitter.
The Cardinal Cocktail

1 oz London dry gin
3/4 oz dry vermouth
3/4 oz Luxardo Bitter/Campari/Aperol
dash of orange bitters

stir all well with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
The Bitter is certainly bitter...there's a note in there that recalls Fernet Branca...but it's also sweet, and citrusy, and refreshing. It's a surprisingly subtle drink, and one that I think will fare very well over the summer, as temperatures rise and the sun beats down and turns my skin the color of Campari. Pass the lidocaine.

Cardinal Cocktail

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

April 30, 2010

"Sittin' here in Avalon, lookin' at the pouring rain..."

Look! I'm back! And I have a drink for you!

Yes, I know it's been an entire month since my last post, and it's horrible, and you've gone un-tippled for entirely too long. My apologies. As I said in my interstitial update a couple weeks back, I've been busy and broke. But I rummaged through my remaining booze inventory and the list of drinks I've wanted to post but haven't yet, and I came across a wonderful convergence of the two.

This is one of those drinks that's more than the sum of its look at the ingredient list and go "Oh, no. It'll be too sweet/too herbal/too sour/too weird." But no. It turns out to be some impossible balance of all of those. This is a true Prohibition-era cocktail, and it's called:
The Last Word

3/4 oz London dry gin
3/4 oz green Chartreuse
3/4 oz lime juice
3/4 oz Maraschino liqueur

Shake all with ice, strain into chilled cocktail glass
All of those unlikely ingredients work together in an most unlikely harmony, and it's really sort of magical. Typically, using that much Maraschino is a death sentence on a cocktail, making it syrupy sweet and repugnant, but here it counteracts the grassy herbal nature of the Chartreuse and the sourness of the lime juice. For a switch up, Paul Clarke over at "The Cocktail Chronicles" suggests swapping rye for the gin and lemon juice for the lime. That sounds like it'd bring it into swinging distance of The Scoff Law Cocktail, but still, different enough.

Give it a whirl. And no, despite the ominous drink name, I'm not going anywhere...I'm just working to get some more money so I can buy more ingredients.

Last Word Cocktail

April 19, 2010

a thousand apologies...

I'm knee-deep in a show, and I'm broke. What else can I say? I'm pretty much out of booze, but once I get a paycheck and take care of bills, I'll endeavor to get a new drink made up and posted. I'm not dead! My pocketbook is, however.

Pip pip cheerio and Barnard's your uncle...


March 29, 2010

Happy Anniversary to Me!

Tonight makes it the First Anniversary of this little ol' cocktail blog. And so far, I've not made any Cosmopolitans. And I've not used any wire hangers. And I aim to keep on with that.

But for tonight, I thought I'd go back to the early days of this endeavor and correct a horrible wrong I did to a poor, defenseless drink. The very first drink I posted, in fact. I mixed up, on the morning of March 30th, 2009, the day after I created the blog and posted the introductory entry, a makeshift version of a cocktail from David Wondrich's "Esquire Drinks" wherein I substituted bourbon for brandy, dropped the amount of dry vermouth in accordance with what I had on hand, and added lemon juice. Yeah. That turned out to be okay...but it was not the drink that it purported to be.

So I thought tonight I'd rectify that, and post a properly made version of this drink tonight. So that you can see what it should be, rather than the strange, mutant bourbon sour it wound up being. And so, I give you the proper version of the Metropole Cocktail. Named after a "somewhat lively" hotel in New York that went bankrupt in 1912, a scant week after it saw one of its regulars murdered. Morbid as that is, it always makes me think of The Happiness Hotel from "The Great Muppet Caper." Only without Muppets getting killed (we'll leave that to "Meet the Feebles").
The Metropole Cocktail

1 1/2 oz brandy
1 1/2 oz dry vermouth
1 dash orange bitters
2 dashes Peychaud's bitters
cherry for garnish

Stir all save cherry with cracked ice and strain into chilled glass. garnish, if desired, with cherry.
I'll admit to not being much of a brandy uncle drinks it like it's going out of style, and my home state is one of the biggest consumers of brandy, per capita, in the US. We even make Old Fashioneds with brandy and mashed up fruit. But I digress. Despite the rosy hue, this is not a girly drink. Nor is it sweet. It winds up being quite a dry drink...very acerbic, not sweet at all, but very layered...there's the vermouth and the faint anise notes from the Peychauds, and a touch of sweetness from the brandy, a little citrus from the orange bitters, but nothing really dominates the drink. I think that makes it really interesting, frankly. It's complex and sort of mysterious. I like it!

Thanks for sticking with me for this first year of blogging, everyone, and I hope that I'll continue to hold your interest. If I don't, well, it's not like I'm puttin' a gun to your heads or anything. You'll just miss out on all sorts of new and interesting drinks.

Metropole Cocktail

March 22, 2010

MxMo XLVII: Punch

0EE1C1B7-51D9-464A-9FD4-3362608E69F5.jpgThe challenge posed by Hobson's Choice for this month's Mixology Monday is punch! Now, I used to consider myself quite the expert on punch, back when I was about 10, and my grandmother and I used to mix up non-alcoholic punches for New Year's Eve. I knew that it had to be sweet, but not overly so. Tangy, but not too sour. Fizzy was good. A sort of creamy mouth-feel was sought after, but not a prerequisite. I was, as it turns out, looking for all the criteria of a great punch with alcohol, as well, though I wouldn't know it for another decade-plus.

In trying to come up with an original punch (or, if not original, at least one I hadn't read about specifically), I went back to the well of all punch wisdom, and dredged up that hoary old formula; 1 part sour, 2 parts sweet, 3 parts strong and 4 parts weak (plus spice, as Alton Brown recently pointed out on "Good Eats"). Well, being the crazy tinkerer that I am, I decided to take a few liberties with the formulation. I was remarkably faithful, but in lieu of using grated nutmeg or cinnamon for the spice, as is tradition, I used a homemade tincture of mine.

Then, of course, I struggled with a name. My concoction draws from so many disparate influences, it's really hard to find an overarching theme. Finally I decided to name it after the tincture I used to add that final bit of flavor, and thus I give you, for March's Mixology Monday:
Donn's Gin Punch

1 part lime juice
scant 2 parts limoncello, plus a dash of Maraschino liqueur
3 parts London dry gin
4 parts ginger beer
2 dashes per cup Donn's Tinc
1 dash per cup Blood Orange syrup (optional, for color. I used Torani's version.)

Combine all save for Donn's Tinc with a large block of ice in a punchbowl. Dash in Donn's Tinc to each cup, then ladle in punch mixture. If using Blood Orange syrup, add dash after punch has been ladled into cup. For an individual serving, assume 1 part is 1/2 ounce.
I think this is a wonderfully balanced drink. Sweet, sour, spicy from the ginger, botanical from the gin, ever-so-slightly fizzy, and just a bit of funk from that wonderful Maraschino. I'm tremendously pleased with how this turned out, and I think it could make a nice change from the classic rum- or bourbon-based punch. Come summertime, it certainly would make for a refreshing take on this classic concoction.

Donn's Gin Punch

March 21, 2010

If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, what do pears do? Deflect chiropractors?

Oh ye gods, it's been a long time since I posted. I suck, and that's sad. But I've also been broke, once again (stupid car insurance payments), and getting busy once more with rehearsals for my latest theatrical engagement, so posting time has been at a bit of a premium. Mea culpa, everyone.

It is, however, because of rehearsals that I came across this drink to begin with. I had managed to pick up a bottle of St Germain Elderflower liqueur for a song, and went about looking for something to make with it. And lo and behold, I found originally billed itself as a martini, but you know and I know that simply serving something up in a cocktail glass does not a martini make. It has no gin and no vermouth, and therefore I have demoted it to "cocktail" status. It also contains a flavored vodka, which you purists know I tend to cringe at. Surprisingly, however, this vodka wound up not being too synthetic-tasting (although I suspect an eau de vie of the fruit could have been even more interesting, albeit much more expensive). And furthermore, I had to tweak the proportions from the original, as it was WAY too sweet in its first incarnation. Plus, I added some bitters. You know me, I like to make modifications! So, I'd like to introduce you to:
The Pear Tree Cocktail

1 1/2 oz pear-flavored vodka (I used Smirnoff)
1 oz St Germain Elderflower liqueur
1/4 oz lime juice
1 dash Urban Moonshine Organic bitters

Stir all but bitters briskly with ice for a good minute, or until well mixed. Strain into a cocktail glass coated with a dash of Urban Moonshine bitters.
First off all, it's got a very true pear flavor. The St Germain actually augments this, and adds some sort of rounded, mellow tropical fruit notes. The lime juice prevents it from being sickly-sweet, and the Urban Moonshine bitters give it a nicely vegetal nose, adding to the fresh pear impression. It's still a rather sweet cocktail, and one that I wouldn't drink every day, but as a nice drink for someone who doesn't want a strongly alcohol-flavored libation, it's pretty damned good.

Pear Tree Cocktail

March 6, 2010

"Excuse me, I'm John Smith!" "John Smith 1882?" "My mistake."

It happens show up at the bar, and there's another girl there wearing the exact same outfit as you. Let's try that again. You show up at the bar, order a drink, and get something that's nothing at all like what you were expecting. Before you haul off and smack the bartender, consider this: there may be multiple drinks with that name that bear some passing similarity to each other, but are different enough that your bartender may have heard of one but not the other. I'm not just talking about different recipes (see part one of an ongoing series that hasn't gone on yet regarding variants on the Singapore Sling), but drinks with maybe an extra space, or a slightly different spelling, or even no difference at all that are nevertheless different.

Tonight I made a drink called the "Scoff Law Cocktail," which is not to be confused with the previously featured "Scofflaw Cocktail." Confused yet? No? Good, then I can introduce you to a new ingredient being used on here for the first time tonight; Chartreuse.

"Wait," I hear you say, "Isn't that a color?" Why, yes it is. It's a shade of a sort of yellow-green hue. However, Chartreuse-the-spirit comes in two colors. Green Chartreuse and Yellow Chartreuse. Kind of like how, in the southern US, you might get this little exchange in a diner or restaurant:
Customer: "And can I get a Coke?"
Server: "Sure, what kind ya want? We got Pepsi Coke, Sprite Coke, orange Coke..."
In this case, Chartreuse refers to the spirit, not the specific color. As a matter of fact, the color was named after the spirit, as it's been made since 1605 or so. Now are you confused? Good. You'll want a drink to settle your addle-pated mind. Make this one.
Scoff Law Cocktail

1 oz rye whiskey
1 oz dry vermouth
3/4 oz green Chartreuse
3/4 oz lemon juice
1-2 dashes orange bitters

Stir all with ice, strain into cocktail glass.
If you've never had Chartreuse, it's really nearly impossible to describe. There's 130 different plant flavors in there, and the few that can be agreed upon are anise and hyssop. It's very vegetal, but a little sweet. There's a little spice in there, to boot. A very complicated flavor. In our drink, it melds with the spice of the rye, the sour of the lemon, and the botanicals from the vermouth. It's really a hard flavor to pin down, but that complexity makes for a very interesting cocktail. If your local bar has a hidden stash of Chartreuse, see if they can make this particular version of the Scoff Law.

Scoff Law Cocktail

February 26, 2010

Podcast? That's not anything like "pod people," right?

So after discussing it with a few friends, I've decided to create a podcast for this blog, to be updated sporadically (read: "whenever the hell I feel like it and/or remember to"). You can find it here for now, and I'll update if and when iTunes approves it.

EDIT: iTunes has approved the podcast. You can now find it by searching iTunes for "Urbane, Not Cosmopolitan" or by clicking here.

Hope you enjoy it!

February 21, 2010

Mixology Monday XLVI: Absinthe

So, I missed a couple of Mixology Mondays, but I'm back in the game with this one! The focus this month was on crafting drinks with absinthe, as suggested by Sonja over at the "Thinking of Drinking" blog. I happen to have a locally distilled absinthe that I'm quite fond of, and I figured "Hey, let's use that!"

So I set about looking for a drink to feature this time. I initially planned on making one up, but my first attempt fell rather ignominiously flat (should have worked in theory, did not work in practice) and so I turned to reworking an already extant drink. There's a very simple tipple called the "Foggy Day" that uses just gin and absinthe, with a twist of lemon for garnish. I decided to tweak that a little bit, and make it my own. So I now give you:
The Foggy Day in Kingston Cocktail

1 1/2 oz Tanqueray No. Ten gin
1/4 oz Amerique 1912 Absinthe Verte
dash of limoncello
2 dashes Jamaican bitters

Shake all with ice, pour over ice in a small glass. Garnish with lemon twist.
The grapefruit and spice notes of my Jamaican bitters really meld with the anise notes of the absinthe, plus the citrus of the Tanqueray No. Ten and the limoncello (there's such a tiny amount that I wasn't about to call the limoncello brand) blend quite harmoniously, as well. I think it's quite a nice take on the classic Foggy Day, and a little more interesting than the original, to boot.

Foggy Day in Kingston Cocktail

Thanks again to Sonja for hosting this month's MxMo. She's one of the geniuses behind Chicago's North Shore Distillery, and they make some AWESOME stuff (no that's not a plug, just a declaration of love) so try it if you have access to it!

February 19, 2010

No, I didn't forget I had a blog...

It's just been a busy couple of weeks. So busy, in fact, that I've even forgotten to make ice! But my trays are full of water and in the freezer, and I'm aiming for a new drink tomorrow evening. Here's hoping!

February 6, 2010

"Torna a Surriento, famme campà!" (updated)

A friend of mine recently asked me if I create a drink for her; she said she was passionate about mojitos, but she wanted something that was a bit novel, a little less standard, a little more interesting. So I told her I'd do some digging around, and would come up with something for her. Gary Regan made a really interesting version of the Mojito swapping in limoncello for the's very very citrusy, but it also called for muddling four lemons (at least, so said the adapted version of his Massa Mojito from the Cocktails+ iPod Touch app I refer to sometimes. Mr Regan has very kindly reproduced the original recipe in the comments, which I have added to the end of this post). That seemed a bit excessive, even for me, so I did some tweaking to his drink, called the Massa Mojito, and I came up with this:
The Sorrento Mojito

1 lemon, cut into eighths
2 barspoons raw sugar
15-20 fresh mint leaves
2 oz lemon juice
2 1/2 oz limoncello

Muddle lemon, sugar and mint in a tall mixing glass. Add lemon juice, limoncello and ice and shake well. Strain into a tall glass, topping up with club soda, and garnish with spring of mint.
First of all, it's lemony. I mean, crazy woo-woo lemony. But it's got that deep green herbal mint flavor in there, too, though the mint really hits you as an aroma. It's fantastically refreshing, and I think if you're tired of the basic rum-mint-club soda Mojito, you may enjoy this one.

EDITED TO ADD: As I said above, Gary Regan actually stopped by and commented on my blog, setting me straight on the original recipe for the Massa Mojito, which I will concede is not only easier to make than the adapted version I saw, but likely a damn sight tastier than mine (I'll try it this evening and report back, but he's a professional, and I'm an enthusiast, so the odds are in his favor, I'd say). Here is his original guide for the drink:
Gary Regan's Massa Mojito

Adapted from Pizzicato Restaurant, Philadelphia

30 ml (1 oz) fresh lemon juice
20 ml (.75 oz) simple syrup
15 fresh mint leaves
60 ml (2 oz) Massa Limoncello
club soda
1 mint sprig, for garnish

Muddle the lemon juice, simple syrup, and mint in a mixing glass. Add ice, and the limoncello. Stir and strain into an ice-filled collins glass. Top with the soda. Add the garnish.
The Sorrento Mojito

February 4, 2010

"Ensign authorization code 9-5-wiktor-wiktor-2"

So, it should come as no surprise to regular readers that I'm doing yet another show. This time I'm working a little bit behind the scenes as a dialect coach, in addition to the on-stage role I've got. One of our actresses has to do a Russian/Ukrainian dialect (doesn't have to be perfect, just suggestive) and so I got to thinking about Russian drinks. I looked through my collection, and I found one that sounded intriguing (if slightly risqué), and I served it up at rehearsal tonight (relax, it was just a table reading...we weren't stumbling around on stage. We'll save that for performances!) I present it to you now.
The Vladivostok Virgin

1 1/2 oz London dry gin
1 1/2 oz vodka
1 oz grapefruit juice (canned is traditional)
dash of Angostura bitters (I threw a dash of my Jamaican bitters in, as well, just for kicks)

shake all well with ice. Garnish with a cucumber slice, or, failing that, a lime slice
Tart. And herbal. And vodka-y. You all know I'm not a huge fan of vodka...I sort of consider it the Muzak of the liquor world...there to fill space, but not really bringing anything to the drink. And here, it really serves to just dilute the botanical notes of the gin, sending it into the deep background. Still, though, the grapefruit juice does something kind of interesting, and makes an almost basil or tomato leaf flavor pop into the drink, and that's kind of cool, though I have no idea how it does that.

All in all, it's tasty. I'm not sure exactly what's virginal about it (maybe it looks like it's blushing?) but it's still a tipple worth sampling.

Vladivostok Virgin

January 31, 2010

Oh, I'm gonna get letters about this one...if only for the name...

It didn't occur to me until literally this minute, as I write this post, what the name of this drink could refer to. And now I'm almost scared to post it. So let me get this out of the way right now. The name of the drink is "Roman's Scandal" and at first, I was thinking "Oh, how cute, it's sort of titillating in an ancient history sort of way." But then I thought, "Uh oh. What if it's 'Roman' as a first name, say, of a film director who did a very bad thing a few decades ago." Suffice it to say, I'm going to assume that this drink doesn't have anything to do with that Roman, and proceed from that starting premise.

Remember the orange-flavored gin I mentioned back in the "Flying Dutchman Cocktail?" The stuff I said was too esoteric, too hard to find, and too expensive? I found it, cheaply, on a trip to a Woodman's Market near where I work, and snatched up a bottle at a very good price. (Did you know Seagram's also has an apple-flavored gin? I'm a little scared of that...). And so I set about looking for drinks that I can use my 1.75 liters of orange gin in, and I stumbled across this one.
Roman's Scandal

1 1/2 oz orange-flavored gin
1/2 oz sweet vermouth
3/4 oz dry vermouth
1/2 oz kirsch
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Stir all well with ice, strain into cocktail glass or serve on the rocks, as desired.
I think this bears a similarity to the Martinez, with kirsch instead of maraschino, but it does a little something else, too, which I like. The orange gin doesn't really blare its orangeness at you, but sort of hangs back. There's really a depth to this drink that you usually don't expect from gin's not as crisp as you'd expect, and has a surprising subtlety. I'm especially pleased with how the kirsch stays well away from the realm of the cloying, which it will zoom straight to, given half a chance. All in all, a most surprising drink, and one that I wouldn't hesitate to try again.

Roman's Scandal

January 20, 2010

Pearls before swine?

No, I'm not calling you all swine. Please, put the baseball bat down, Mrs. Higginbotham.

Thank you.

There are very few funny quotes about pearls. I don't know why. But I needed something relevant to the drink, so you get that one up there.

Tonight's drink is one that I found on one of the many cocktail blogs I featured it the other day, and pointed out it was one made by the inimitable David Wondrich, one of my all time cocktail heroes. I did, however, tinker with it, because that's what I do. The original used vodka, I swapped in gin for a little more complexity. The original used a strip of lemon peel, but I dashed in some of my Jamaican bitters. I like to think mine holds a candle to the original, but you be the judge.
The Pearlescent Cocktail

2 1/2 oz gin (originally vodka)
2 teaspoons orgeat syrup
1 teaspoon Maraschino liqueur
2 dashes Jamaican bitters (originally a strip of lemon peel)

Combine all with ice and shake viciously. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
It's sweet, but not cloying. It's vaguely vegetal, faintly citrusy, and it has a little bit of funk from the Maraschino. I like it! Plus it's this really cool color, the eponymous Pearlescent sheen. Tasty.

Pearlescent Cocktail

January 17, 2010

"If I...were king...of the foreeeeeeeeest!"

Yes friends, I'm actually posting within a few days of the last one. I feel bad about leaving you in the lurch for so long, and I picked up a couple nice deals at the liquor store today, so I'm mixing up a new one for all of you.

Tonight's drink is one that features a spirit I haven't used in far too long; rum. Rum was one of the first liquors I actually picked out as being something I liked. Before I really started to branch out into the world of spirits, rum was my old standby. I think it was, in no small part, an extension of my interest in Tiki drinks that made me gravitate towards rum, but I can now tell you, that rum is by no means the exclusive spirit of faux Polynesia.

That being said, rum's really an interesting spirit, one that's far too often taken for granted. Tonight, though, I've got a great showpiece for it.
The White Lion Cocktail

1 1/2 oz white/silver rum (I used Mount Gay Eclipse Silver)
1 oz lemon juice
1 tsp sugar (I used raw sugar, but that's just me. Bar sugar would dissolve a lot more readily)
1/4 oz grenadine or falernum (I had falernum in the fridge, so I used that)
2 dashes bitters

Shake all with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Spicy, sweet, fruity, sour...this drink really hits all the notes you want a drink to hit. There's the acidity of the lemon, and the spice and lime notes of the falernum, the subtle tropical fruit notes from the rum (banana seems to be a popular note detected in the Mount Gay Eclipse Silver), all of these combine to make for a really interesting drink. I have no idea of the provenance of this drink, especially since one old drink book, 1888's "New & Improved Illustrated Bartender's Manual" by Harry Johnson (no laughing, please), has the White Lion as four ounces of rum mixed with raspberry syrup, curaçao, lime juice and seltzer, and served in a pint glass...quite a different beast altogether. All that being said, this would be a different drink entirely just by swapping the falernum with grenadine. Not a bad one, but very very different. If you feel up to making some falernum (and I highly recommend you do), try using it in this drink. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

The White Lion Cocktail

January 15, 2010

Y'arrr, it be a ghost ship!

Battling my way through some sort of head cold, I bring you a new drink! Yay!

Tonight's drink is named after the ghost ship of legend, the Flying Dutchman. The good news, as Ted Haigh puts it in "Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails," is that this is a most interesting variation on what's normally a bland drink. The bad news is that you'll have to buy a new ingredient; orange gin. Haigh found Seagram's Orange Twisted Gin, which he says has an unfortunate name, but otherwise tastes pretty good. I've only been able to find that in 1.75 liter bottles, and I didn't really want to rush in to get one only to discover no uses for it. But I did find something at my liquor store (and on sale!) that I think will make an adequate substitute; Stellar Citrus Crush Gin. Apparently it has 6 different citrus fruit flavors in it, so I figured it'd do a comparable job.

Here's how to make it:
The Flying Dutchman Cocktail

2 oz orange gin (or the Stellar Citrus crush stuff)
juice of 1/4 orange
juice of 1/4 lemon
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Shake all with ice, and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish, if desired, with an orange twist.
Yes, it's a glorified gin 'n' juice. No, it doesn't taste like crap. It's supercharged with citrus, to be sure, but it's really quite tasty and nuanced. The bitters do a lot on that front, I'm sure. If you know of a place to get orange gin, grab a bottle and give this a taste. It's certainly easy enough to make, and innocuous enough that most anyone will like it.

Flying Dutchman Cocktail

January 14, 2010

Sorry for the lack of drinks these last two weeks

I've been broke-ass broke, and haven't been able to procure any new libations. I've got enough to make a new one, and I'll try to have it posted here for you all either tonight or tomorrow...

Thanks for your patience, everyone!