Friday, November 29, 2013

When Black Friday Comes

If you’re reading this in the United States, you probably know it’s a big shopping day here. Whether you like that sort of thing or don’t, a tropical drink might help.

tropical drink

When Black Friday Comes
  • 2 oz amber Martinique rum (Saint James)
  • 2 tsp allspice dram
  • 1/4 oz absinthe
  • 2 oz lime juice
  • 2 oz ginger beer
Shake all except ginger beer with ice and strain into a 10-ounce glass. Top with ginger beer and fresh ice. Mint sprig.

For the rum, I went with Saint James Royal Ambre. It’s mellower than some other Martinique rums but the funk is definitely there, and it plays subtly with the absinthe and allspice. This drink should be good with Caribbean or Chinese food.

I use a lot of Fever Tree Ginger Beer—my favorite. It has the light body and clean flavor I prefer. The little market where I do most of my daily shopping stocks Bruce Cost’s Ginger Ale, tasty if a bit rich for highballs. It’ll work in the above recipe.

Maybe someday I’ll get it together enough to make Erik’s luscious-looking fermented ginger beer.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Let’s Eat Home

There’s something soothing about the tastes and aromas of fall and winter. I’m really getting into cooking with potatoes and roots, mushrooms, shallots and cipollini, apples, rosemary—often just cutting it all up to sauté or simmer a while, then throwing a little baked fish or smoked tofu on top. I want a cocktail that’s going to wake up my palate and harmonize with all the umami goodness in the pan. Dry sherry does this very well, as does calvados, the traditional apple brandy of Normandy. They’ve both been favorite subjects with me lately so it was only a matter of time before they got together in a cocktail.


Let’s Eat Home
  • 2 oz amontillado
  • 3/4 oz calvados
  • 1 dash Bitter Cube Jamaican Bitters #2
Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

A classic three-part structure but “inverted” in that the base is wine and the accent is spirit. Nice and light, good for before a meal of related flavors. The apple brandy is a natural compliment to the nutty acetaldehyde of the sherry. Hints of ginger, allspice and black pepper from the bitters round out the cider-like profile of this dry aperitif cocktail.

Monday, November 18, 2013

MxMo LXXIX: Resin—Mister Moose

Hey folks. It’s time for another magical Mixology Monday. I’d like to thank our hosts Christa and Shaun of BoozeNerds for their inspiring and intensely aromatic theme, Resin. They write:
We thought hard about a theme that would work well for this time of year, and after contemplating the food, booze, and decor we like for the holidays, we settled on “Resin.” From savory rosemary in a stuffing, to a delicious juniper-y gin in a martini, to a fragrant fir ornament or garnish, our friends the evergreens have a lot to offer. The challenge: come up with an ingenious creation using the resin-y ingredient of your choice. Zirbenz, retsina, hoppy IPA, pine-nut puree, even? Sure! Spirit, garnish, aroma, all are fair game. Whatever resin means to you, we want to hear it.
It’s definitely late autumn in San Francisco. It doesn’t freeze here, but the days are noticeably shorter and there’s a scent of of wood smoke in the chilly evenings. What better way to prepare for the coming Thanksgiving holiday than an evergreen-scented drink?


Mister Moose
  • 2 oz gin
  • 1 oz Zirbenz Stone Pine Liqueur
  • 1 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • 1 oz ginger beer
  • 1 generous dash Bar Keep Baked Apple Bitters
Lightly shake all except ginger beer with ice. (Don’t over-dilute.) Strain into a double old fashioned. Top with ginger beer and add fresh ice. Rosemary sprig garnish.

The Zirbenz is a surprisingly easy, versatile ingredient, adding a unique balsam spice. Here it’s accentuated by the ginger, bitters, and the earthier herbs in the vermouth. The gin works as a background taste to lengthen the evergreen notes and dry the whole thing down.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Second Honeymoon

There’s a classic cocktail called the Honeymoon Cocktail, a calvados-based number with Bénédictine and Cointreau, sort of like a Sidecar. The recipe below ain’t that one. No, folks—no honeymoon here.

Let’s celebrate with a bottle of bubbly!

Seriously, though, the basic ingredients for the Honeymoon make a dandy royale with the addition of brut sparkling wine. I left out the Cointreau.


Second Honeymoon
  • 1 1/2 oz calvados
  • 1/2 oz Bénédictine
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice
  • sparkling wine to fill (about 4 oz)
Shake all except wine with ice and strain into a wine glass. Add sparkling wine, lemon twist.

Lately I’ve been on the lookout for cocktails that can pair with food, and wanted a balance of sweet, tart and savory elements without being excessively strong. For the wine, I used L’Hereu by Raventós i Blanc from Spain, a great compliment to salty foods and crisp apples. Not surprisingly, it marries very well (heh—see what I did there?) with the fruit and herbs in the spirits. And if you don’t quite finish the wine when making the cocktails, it’ll be great with cheese at the end of dinner.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


A friend came in for a nightcap after a day of eating and drinking around town. The drink I came up with has the end-of-meal elements without getting too heavy or sticky. It works on a smaller scale too. The ones we drank were half the recipe.


  • 2 oz brandy
  • 1 oz port
  • 3/4 oz nocino
  • 1 tsp Laphroaig (approximately)
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice (or less)
  • scant pinch fine sea salt
Shake with ice cubes and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

The port is a natural compliment to the walnut of the nocino, as is the salt. I like to stir my salt in before the ice to make sure it dissolves. The port gives this some acidity to help balance the sugar, so if you try this, you may want to under-pour the lemon a little.
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