Friday, May 27, 2011

Plum Jamming

A friend gave me a jar of her awesome plum jam—rich, dark, big flavor, a little spicy, not too sweet. I knew right away that I wanted to put it in a drink.

Plum Jamming
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

The plum jam is thick with lots of texture, so I poured the cocktail through a mesh strainer, pushing the last of it a little with a spoon. If you make this with commercial plum jam, you may have to adjust the balance.

Big thanks to J. for the very cool gift.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Mixilator Madness

Will androids one day rule the earth? Can a computer create a decent cocktail if you give it clear instructions and ask nicely?

Last night I settled down at the computer with a Tropical Itch and nothing much in mind except harmless diversion. I went to the CocktailDB and ran the Mixilator. To my surprise, it actually came up with a potable cocktail I had ingredients for, more or less.

Sobbed Downer Cocktail

Chill cocktail glass. Prepare as follows:

In pre-chilled cocktail shaker combine
  • 2 oz cocktail Sherry
  • 1 oz blended Scotch
  • ½ oz orange bitters
  • 2 drops peach bitters
Shake vigorously with fresh snow until thoroughly blended and creamy. Strain into chilled cocktail glass.

Obviously the name has to go. There are already sufficient downers without having to make one up. (Laugh and the whole world laughs with you. Sob and you’re gonna clear out the bar.) Instead, let‘s call it something classy: the Max Ernst Cocktail, for an artist who incorporated chance elements in his work.

As for the ingredients list, this has considerable promise. Sherry and scotch are generally tasty, but which sherry? Maybe a dry one? I have some amontillado. Great. I’m out of Johnnie Walker but got this nice Peat Monster for Christmas. Perfect. And scotch and orange have a natural affinity. Use up the end of the Fee’s plus some Regans’. (Two drops of peach bitters? You gotta have a gimmick.)

Fresh snow is certainly poetic, but shake a scotch cocktail? This random nonsense can only be taken so far. Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Dry, rich, woodsy—really pretty good for a drink by a machine.

This recipe was the first one that was generated and it sounded reasonable. Just to see, I ran the Mixilator nine more times, and they all seemed, well, random. And the good recipe I found still needed to come alive with some human decision making. I don’t really think this is a consistent answer to being stumped for a drink to make on a Tuesday evening, but there’s always the odd chance.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Aalborg Variations

It’s aquavit time again. Some months ago, I promised (threatened?) to post more experiments with aquavit in 19th-century cocktails, and today I have a Martinez. I’ll also show you a classic but more contemporary offering in the style of the Moscow Mule.

Danish Martinez
  • 1 1/2 oz aquavit (Aalborg)
  • 1 1/2 oz sweet vermouth (Dolin Rouge)
  • 2 tsp maraschino
  • 2 dashes Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel Aged Bitters
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. I used an orange twist here, getting a nice spray of the oil before dropping it in.

The ingredients are from Imbibe! with proportions au Boudreau. The orange twist is inspired by the orange bitters in the Boudreau version as well.

The rich sweetness of the 19th-century style tones down the caraway a lot. People who don’t like caraway might be able to handle this. For something a little more bracing, you could try the next one. The people who dislike caraway might find this next drink pretty mild too, so to up the ante, I introduced another ingredient people find obnoxious.

The Cilantro Moose
  • 3 oz aquavit (Aalborg)
  • juice of half a lime
  • 3 stems cilantro (set aside one for garnish)
  • ginger beer (Fever Tree)
Squeeze half a lime in the mixing glass and drop in 2 of the cilantro stems. Crush them flat with a muddler. Add aquavit and ice; stir. Strain into tall glasses. Add fresh ice and fill with ginger beer. Garnish with reserved stem of cilantro.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

MxMo LVII: Flores de Mayo

Many thanks to Dave of The Barman Cometh, fellow Bay Area cocktailian and the host of this month’s Mixology Monday, Flores de Mayo. Dave invites us “to feature a cocktail that highlights a floral flavor profile or includes a floral derived ingredient, whether home-made or off the shelf.” I was already at that moment similarly inspired, thinking of the elusive scent of violets, of tequila, and the haunting nature of memory. Flores de mayo, flores para los muertos, La persistencia de la memoria and the arrow of time. And people wonder why I started drinking cocktails.

Arrow of Time
  • 1 1/2 oz blanco tequila (Tenampa Azul)
  • 1 oz Punt e Mes
  • 1/4 oz crème de violette
  • 1 dash Regans’ Orange Bitters
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Lemon twist.

The violet should be kept subtle. You’re gonna be haunted by the persistence of memory one way or another so you might as well do it right.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Pub Crawling: Shady Lady Saloon

On a recent evening with a friend in Sacramento, we had a few rounds at a fine downtown cocktailian establishment called the Shady Lady. With the estimable Anna behind the stick, we were in good hands and passed a very pleasant time. The list read like an encyclopedia of the best classic cocktails, with a great selection of featured items in the front. Particularly memorable was the Laphroaig Project by Owen Westman of Bourbon and Branch, made with Laphroaig, both Chartreuses, lemon, maraschino and peach bitters. Also fine were the White Linen and the Last Word. I remember that the White Linen had cucumber in it, and also that the place had a kitchen, but at some point my tasting notes got strangely blurred. No clue how it happened. Maybe it was something I drank.

Many thanks to the friendly staff at Shady Lady Saloon who made us feel welcome. We had fun.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Handsome Mug

This week at the Lounge, a carefully wrapped package arrived from Tiki Farm containing a pair of Mana Mana mugs by the great Atomic Tony. Each mug is supposed to be different due to the variegated blue stone glaze, though my two seem matched. They’re amazing works of decorative art. Of course I had to make something to celebrate.

Lost Continent
  • 2 oz gold Barbados rum
  • 1/2 oz green Chartreuse
  • 1/2 oz dark crème de cacao
  • 1 oz pineapple juice
  • 3/4 oz lime juice
Shake with crushed ice and pour into ceramic mug. Add crushed ice to fill. Pineapple chunk, brandied cherry.

One of my darker ones, inspired by the huge personality of the mug, and on the drier side of Tiki. The different elements are distinct but nothing’s dominant. There’s a slightly savory note in the middle—possibly from my dry-ish Joseph Cartron cacao, a great ingredient. Middle-earth greens from the Chartreuse. Slight pineapple candy on the swallow, salt caramel on the end.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Hapi Papi

OK—last year I covered St Patrick’s Day. This year it’s Cinco de Mayo. (I honor all peoples every day with a fine drinking holiday, really.) Today’s offering is a riff on one I spotted in Beachbum Berry’s Intoxica! called Happy Buddha, and transformed without much ado into a guava Margarita. (Cross out rum....)

Hapi Papi
  • 4 oz guava nectar (Ceres)
  • 1 1/2 oz resposado tequila (Hornitos)
  • 1/2 oz lime juice
  • 1/4 oz Cointreau
Shake with crushed ice and pour into suitably happy container. Lime garnish, straw.

The original version calls for Rose’s Lime Cordial but is plenty sweet with fresh lime. It also calls for the old school Hawaiian-style rum (Okolehao) but responds really well to the tequila treament. I can still taste an almost rose petal wine note that would compliment the original rum or a rhum agricole.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Monte Carlo

When I was first getting interested in mixed drinks, I made this for a good-sized cocktail party, cranking it out in batches. Flinty-dry white Bordeaux was also on offer. I don’t remember how I did it that time (especially with a blitz of canapés too), but surely would’ve used Angostura Bitters. Jeff Hollinger and Rob Schwartz suggest Peychaud’s, which seems like a nice touch with the rye. For the proportions, I went with the Robert Hess version this time.

Monte Carlo Cocktail
  • 2 oz rye
  • 1/2 oz Bénédictine
  • 2 dashes Angostura or Peychaud’s Bitters
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Lemon twist.

For the rye, I went with Rittenhouse 100, which did a nice job of drying down the Bénédictine. Some versions mention the lemon twist, others don’t. I like it, particularly with Peychaud’s.
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