Wednesday, December 31, 2008

henri v flip

Landy VSOP Cognac
Chambord
St. Elizabeth's Allspice Dram
Simple Syrup
Egg (whole)

Shake to mix the egg, add ice and shake again. Strain into a cocktail glass and dust the top with nutmeg.

Yes, this is Frederic here and not Andrea or Jess ordering and writing about a flip. For my last drink at No. 9 Park, the curiosity over the Henri V won over my usual fear of egg drinks. I figured if anyone had fresh, high quality eggs, it would be No. 9. When I mentioned this to Matt and commented about how they have their very own dairy cow, Hopi, he replied jokingly that their chicken, Raul, laid these eggs today for them. My guess was that the off smells that have scared me away from flips in the past were due to lesser or older ova and not due to raw egg themselves. It was not all flips that I have tasted but a few that deterred me. Well, it was worth a try.
And I was not disappointed. The Chambord played well with the nutmeg and Allspice Dram's spice and the brandy and egg's richness. In addition, it interacted with the brandy to produce an interesting native grapes flavor. Indeed, the egg did not have a significant smell or taste role but provided a luxurious thickness and mouthfeel to the drink. It also toned down the often dominating allspice flavor a notch. Perhaps if all bars got their eggs fresh from Raul the chicken, my fear of flips would never have been generated.

flor de mayahuel

Milagro Silver Tequila
St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
Lemon Juice
Cider (Mulled)

Shake with ice and strain into a highball glass filled with ice. Add a long lemon twist knotted as garnish.

Last night when Andrea was out, I made my way down to Park Street to check out Marliave, an intriguing old speakeasy locale. After an okay Manhattan there, I retraced my steps and walked up the hill a bit to No. 9 Park where Matt was tending the bar. After perusing their cocktail menu, for some reason the Flor de Mayahuel called out to me -- an oddity since I am not a big tequila drinker. When I mentioned it, Matt launched into an interesting history of Mayaheul, the Aztec fertility and tequila goddess and how she had multiple bosoms. My websearches later clarified that it was multiple nippled -- 400 to be exact -- which symbolized her nutritious power. She only produced agave whereas her husband, Petecatl, taught the people how to ferment the juice. And alas, I could not find a pictograph showing a 400-nippled goddess so the one above will have to do.

The drink itself was very tasty. The first smell of lemon oil transitioned rather well into the tequila. The St. Germain was not strong enough to be picked out by name if it were not listed but added some extra spice to the tequila flavors. The locally grown and pressed cider was also subtle; I am not sure what spices were mulled into it, but they functioned similarly to the St. Germain. And lastly, the citrus melded the flavors together and contributed to the refreshing end product.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

d.o.m. cocktail

2 oz Plymouth Gin
1/2 oz Benedictine
1/2 oz Fresh Orange Juice
1 dash Orange Bitters

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass garnished with an orange wedge.
For my second drink at Green Street, I asked Emily to draw a line through another drink I have never ordered, the D.O.M. Cocktail (standing for Deo Optimo Maximo which makes reference to the abbey where the monks used to make Benedictine). Historically, I was able to trace this drink recipe back to the 1930's at the Ritz Bar in Paris. Tastewise, the Benedictine formed a faint wisp of flavor complexity behind the orange juice and gin. Andrea commented that it was very ginny or junipery, although my gin taste buds were hit a lot harder botanical-wise in the previous London Cocktail's Bombay Gin than this one's Plymouth Gin.

london cocktail

2 oz Bombay Dry Gin
1/2 oz Fresh Orange Juice
1/2 oz Simple Syrup (1:1)

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass pre-rinsed with Ricard. Garnish with an orange wedge.

Last night, Andrea and I stopped in to Green Street Grill on the way home after having food at Grasshopper in Allston. Dylan made my first drink, the London, which is one of the drinks off of the big list I have never ordered. The anise seed-orange interplay made for an interesting drink. The drink itself had a rather good balance and was not overly sweet. While speaking to Dylan about recipes, he commented that many of his recipes come from the old Esquire and Trader Vic drink books (seen in photo for the D.O.M. cocktail above, which not surprisingly looks a lot like the London cocktail); however, I was not able to find the London in either of those two books. I did find a variation in CocktailDB:
London
• Dry Gin
• 2 dashes Orange Bitters
• 2 dashes Gomme Syrup
• 2 dashes Absinthe
Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Add an olive and squeeze lemon peel on top.
Clearly a related cocktail except this one is a lot more gin forward akin to a Jerry Thomas Fancy Gin Cocktail. The Green Street London seems a bit more modern of a recipe, and I am rather glad that there was no briny olive decorating my beverage.

genever gin horse's neck

2 oz Bols Genever
1 oz White Grapefruit Juice
1 oz St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur

Shake with ice and stain contents into a tall glass garnished with a long, broad grapefruit zest. Add crushed ice and straw.
For my third and last cocktail at Drink, we returned to gin as a base spirit. When John rattled off the ingredients to this cocktail and I was willing to give it a shot without missing a beat. While I am familiar with Anchor Steam's and Boomsma's genever gins (a maltier grain-forward instead of grain-neutral gin variety), this was the first time I was having Bols' version (albiet I did not have the opportunity to try it by itself). John was very specific that the drink needed white grapefruit juice since pink or ruby varietals lack the bite needed to balance certain drinks such as this one. I could see how a different juice would have let the considerable volume of St. Germain over-sweeten this drink for my tastes, but alas, the drink was perfectly balanced. From John's choice of vintage glassware to the way the grapefruit peel corralled the crushed ice just so, the presentation of this drink was also rather stunning.

krakatoa

1/4 oz Green Chartreuse
Orange Twist

2 oz Batavia Arrack
1/2 oz Fernet Branca
1/2 oz Demerara Simple Syrup

Flame the green Chartreuse in a straight sided wine glass, and twist the orange peel over the flame. Extinguish the flame after a minute or so. Stir the other ingredients with ice and strain on top of the extinguished Chartreuse. Drop in original orange twist.

To keep up with Andrea's tiki-themed adventure, John Gertsen at Drink made me a Krakatoa on Sunday night [1]. I cannot recall what conversation preceded him deciding to make me one or whether I just told him to make me what he was already appearing excited about creating for me. The common thread between this drink and my first one was the Fernet and the orange oil flavors. The Krakatoa uses a base spirit called Batavia Arrack, a spicy sugar cane and red rice rum distilled in Java, and the drink is symbolically named after the island near Java which suffered a tremendous volcanic erruption in 1883.

Tastewise, the flaming of the green Chartreuse gave it a more vegetal almost celery like flavor. The spiciness of the Batavia Arrack worked well with the Chartreuse and Fernet Branca flavors. Indeed, the cumulative taste met and actually exceeded the high level of showmanship in the creation of this drink.

[1] Sunday was also the 8th night of Hannukah, and Drink was celebrating this festival with flaming drinks such as this and the Blue Blazer, Scorpion Bowl, and others. If only cocktails and religion could be melded so beautifully...

Monday, December 29, 2008

don't give up the ship (variant)

Hayman's Old Tom Gin
Orange Curaçao (Curaçao of Curaçao)
Fernet-Branca
1 dash Bittermen's Xocolatl Mole Bitters

Stir with ice and serve in a punch cup. Garnish with an orange twist. See below for a possible proportions.

Last night, Andrea and I headed out to Drink in Fort Point. Ben and Sam were manning the very crowded center bar so we decided to go pay John Gertsen a visit at the 1800's bar he was stationed. John wanted to know what direction I was in the mode for and I replied gin with bitters. John had an idea and only asked "egg or no egg?". I declined since there is something in the smell (or taste?) of most flips and other egg drinks that does not sit well with me. A few exceptions that I have not minded are the Ramos Gin Fizz and the Pisco Sour, although they were drinks at events and not ones I ordered.

The cocktail John made me was a small amount of Fernet and orange Curaçao to flavor the Old Tom Gin. John served it to me in a small, handleless punch cup since he wanted this drink to warm up in my hands and change over time. I did not bother to ask the specific proportions on this cocktail, but when the bill came it read "Don't Give Up the Ship" which is a drink I remember reading about in the Bunny Hugs blog. John's drink was indeed a variant of this without the Dubonnet Rouge:
Don’t Give up the Ship
• 1 1/2 oz gin
• 1/2 oz Dubonnet rouge
• 1/4 oz Fernet Branca
• 1/4 oz orange curaçao
The Dubonnet would have been a nice addition for it melds well with orange flavors and places nicely with gin. However, the simplicity of John's drink where the orange, chocolate, and Fernet flavors swirled through my taste buds was not lacking in any way. Or perhaps, some might suggest it was lacking in the egg (white or whole?) realm from John's original concept. I'll leave that experiment up to our faithful readers to go and figure out.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

[bitter improv]

1 oz Rittenhouse Rye
1 oz Aperol
1/2 oz Cynar
1/2 oz Pimm's No. 1
1 dash Regan's Orange Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a coupe; garnish with an orange twist.

For my next drink at Craigie, I asked Michael to make me something off the menu. It did not matter if we stuck with gin or moved on to rye but to have some bitter liqueurs as the focus. As he was thinking, I told him that he could extemporize if he would like, and he answered the dare quite well.

The end product was sort of like a Prospect Park with a wonderful lingering bitterness to it from the Cynar. When I let Tommy taste it, he commented to Michael to decrease the Aperol and switch to the sturdier Angostura Orange next time. I thought that reducing the Aperol by half an ounce and either adding that volume to the Pimm's or the rye would be good next steps in the drink's evolution, but regardless it was a good cocktail to end the night.

joie vert

1 1/2 oz Bombay Gin
1 oz Juniper-Sage Syrup
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1 1/2 oz Golden Russet Apple Cider
1/4 Apple
1 pinch Sugar
1 dash Bittermens Pepper Cake Bitters

Muddle apple pieces and pinch of sugar. Add rest of ingredients, shake, and strain into a highball glass.

Friday night after a wonderful dinner at Vee Vee, Andrea and I stopped in to the bar at Craigie on Main. One drink that neither one of us have had which caught my eye was the Joie Vert. Tommy was a bit surprised that I chose it since it seemed like a recipe I would not favor, but was pleased to hear that I was trying to explore his cocktail menu's range. I guess it is true that I do not usually favor tall drinks and muddled fruit but stepping outside of one's comfort zone can lead to some good surprises.

Michael stepped in to make this drink for me. The apple he muddled appeared to be a Macintosh varietal and he rendered it down to a fine pulp. The bitters were a special recipe the Glassers (the Bittermens folk) crafted for Craigie that focus on gingerbread sorts of flavors. The other herbal flavors, besides the gin, were the juniper-sage syrup (not sure if it was sugar based or not, with my guess not) which complemented the apples flavor very well along with the Pepper Cake bitter's spices. The end product was rather tart and refreshing. The fine bits of muddled apple did not detract from the drink nor clog the straw like a lot of muddled fruits can do; in fact, they added a fine texture across the tongue.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

[brown manhattan]

1 1/2 oz Sazerac Rye
1/2 oz Punt e Mes
1/2 oz Amaro Nonino
1 dash Bittermens' Xocolatl Mole Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

For my next and last drink at Eastern Standard last night, Hugh stuck with the Manhattan theme and improvised a rye version using a spicy vermouth, Punt e Mes, and a rich digestif, Amaro Nonino. Overall, the cocktail ended up somewhere between a Black Manhattan (2 parts rye to one part amaro, dash Angostura) and a regular one. The drink's full bodied flavor was rounded out with a dash of mole bitters which added a decadent note to this nightcap.

[christmasy rum manhattan]

1 1/2 oz Rhum Barbancourt 8 Year
1 oz Martini & Rossi Sweet Vermouth
1 1/2 barspoon Allspice Dram
1 1/2 barspoon Cynar

Stir with ice and strain into a rocks glass.

Last night, after Andrea and I got food at India Quality, we went up the street to spend Christmas Eve with the Eastern Standard crew. Apparently, much of Boston had the same idea as the place was rather packed. We luckily found a pair of empty seats at the far end of the bar in front of Hugh Fiore; Hugh spent much of the evening busy making drinks for the restaurant patrons' seemingly unquenchable thirst that night.

For one of my cocktails last night, I told Hugh that I was thinking about something with vermouth and we came to the concept of a spicy rum like Barbancourt as the base spirit. For the bitters, Hugh went with Allspice (Pimento) Dram and Cynar which added a good deal of complexity and a bit of Christmas spirit (one article on Allspice Dram called it "Christmas in a glass"). It is interesting how Cynar is making a rise in the Boston cocktail scene perhaps as Campari and other bitter liqueurs are becoming too mainstream. Cynar is rather intriguing to me as it tastes nasty straight (to my palate) but wonderful in cocktails. Overall, Hugh's cocktail was rather spot-on with the only possible change I can think of would be to add a lemon or orange twist for some extra aroma although that would take away from the Manhattanness of the drink. So perhaps his omission was wise indeed.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

tom & jerry

Ultimately, this space will be occupied by a summary of a couple versions of the Tom & Jerry that I've had this winter. But for now, consider this space a PSA:

Get one with Fernet. Really. Just do as I say.

Scott at Rendezvous made me one, and I think John at Drink would be game to make one this way, too.

cynar flip

2 1/2 oz. Cynar
1 egg

Add ice, shake the living daylights out of it. Pour into a cocktail glass.

I must say, and in fact I did say, that this was a pretty risky drink for M. Holliday to serve me. "I trust you, " he said, but I think it had more to do with trusting his memory about what I like to drink. It nonetheless paid off, and it was a drink I genuinely enjoyed. The bitterness of the Cynar is cut just enough by the egg without taking away any of the actual flavor, and I'd recommend it to anyone who was on the fence about liking Cynar (Jess?).

I had asked for a cocktail made with no more than 50% alcohol. Now, I know that a glass of 80 proof bourbon technically meets these requirements, but Scott chose to interpret this as "alcohol being one of two ingredients". This recipe was taught to Scott by Ben Sandrof, of Drink fame. I don't know of Ben thought it up, or if someone else passed it along to him during his travels. A quick google search brought up a reference to a related cocktail, the Guyana Flip, composed of rum, ruby port, Cynar, whole egg, and grated nutmeg. Come to think of it, that sounds pretty good, too.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

xalapa punch

When our friend Matt took us up on the offer to borrow one our punch bowls for his party, he asked if I wanted to pick a recipe. After looking online and in our book collection, the Xalapa Punch caught my eye. Unlike many of the punches with a rich history surrounding them, the Xalapa's was elusive and I could not even confirm that it was created in the city in Mexico. The oldest reference I could find was in The Blue Grass Cook Book from 1904 (available as a pdf download here): [1]
Matt wanted to do a trial run of the punch. I made a 4 cup version of a more modern recipe. Most of the newer recipes call for grated orange peels instead of lemon. Matt approved.

Shortly after that, I bought David Embury's The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks and decided to use his version of the recipe:
Xalapa Punch
• 2 1/2 quarts strong black tea
• 1 pint simple syrup
• grated peel of 2 lemons
• 1 bottle applejack
• 1 bottle rum
• 1 bottle dry red wine
• 1 lemon sliced thin
Pour the hot tea over the lemon peel and allow to stand 10 to 15 minutes. Add the sugar syrup and stir thoroughly. Cool, add the liquors and wine, and let stand an hour or more to ripen. Pour over ice in Punch bowl and add lemon slices just before serving.
A day before the party, I made the lemon-rind infused tea (Oolong) and simple syrup (1:1) and stored it in the refrigerator overnight. I left the liquor and wine choices up to Matt. He went with Laird's Applejack, Mount Gay Eclipse Rum, and Casillero del Diablo Merlot, and he had them stored in the freezer (liquors) and fridge (wine) as requested.
The end product was a delightful lemon-flavored tea and sangria hybrid which the guests seemed to enjoy a lot. The punch was not overly boozy-tasting but still packed some heat at around 13% alcohol. The lemon flavor was a lot more subtle than the orange in the trial batch which could either be due to the quantity of oils in the citrus I purchased, how the flavors work with the punch, or the wine choice. The Casillero del Diablo was a lot more robust than the small bottle of Sutter Home we used in the trial, so it played a more dominant role in the flavor profile. Perhaps a low end Calvados (like the $20 Morin) would have added more apple flavor than the applejack did especially against the wine.

[1] A little research after the fact points that there is a famous horse stable, Xalapa Farm, in Kentucky which would explain the Blue Grass Cookbook connection and favor it over a Mexican one.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

the dancing scotsman

1 oz Dewar's Scotch
1 oz Lemon Juice
1 oz Honey Syrup

Shake with ice and strain into a coupe. Fill with sparkling wine and garnish with a flamed lemon twist dropped in.

Last night after DJing, Andrea and I went up the street to Eastern Standard to have dinner and drinks. After dinner, I chose The Dancing Scotsman in a further effort to broaden my Scotch drinking experiences and to see how it would work in a champagne cocktail. It was also a longstanding drink on their cocktail menu I have always up until then overlooked.

By recipe, the drink has the appearance of a Scotch Sour with the added element of the sparkling wine. Similar cocktails exist in the whiskey family with the closest cocktails I could find being the French 95 and Imperial Fizz Variation (bourbon and rye sour champagne cocktails, respectively), but none with Scotch. In this cocktail, the interplay of the champagne's bite worked rather well with the sharp edge of the Scotch; an interaction that would have been lost using another form of whiskey. The honey syrup gave the drink the necessary touch of smoothness and sweetness to round off the cocktail. Overall, it was a fine "Dedicat[ion] to Tommy Dewar" indeed.

saloon man's sour

1 1/2 oz Sailor Jerry's Rum
1/2 oz Sloe Gin
1/2 oz Lime Juice
2 barspoons Maple Syrup
2 dash Peychaud's Bitters

Shaken with ice and strained into a rocks glass.

The other day, Andrea and I stopped into Craigie on Main on the later side of an evening and finally found seats at the bar after a few abortive attempts over the past few weeks. The Saloon Man's Sour caught my eye with the description of "New England Warmth, Tropical Aroma" and with the curiosity of how sloe gin would work in this cocktail. The drink itself was rather complex especially for the genre of sours. With the spiced rum and the bitters, it did remind me a bit of the Benedictine-containing Frisco. Moreover, the sloe gin along with the maple syrup did a good job of balancing the lime so that it did not overpower the taste profile.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

mexican hot chocolate

This month's Mixology Monday theme, "Spice" (MxMo XXXIV), was chosen by Craig from Tiki Drinks & Indigo Firmaments. Craig gave the description as, "Spice should give you plenty of room to play - from the winter warmers of egg nog, wassail and mulled products to the strange and interesting infusions of pepper, ceubub, grains of paradise, nutmeg — what have you! I would like to stretch the traditional meanings of spice (as the bark, seed, nut or flowering part of a plant used for seasoning) to basically anything used for flavoring that isn’t an herb. Salt? Go for it. Paprika? I’d love to see you try."
When Andrea and I went to the Taza Chocolate Factory open house a little over a week ago, my question of what to do for this Mixology Monday was answered when we saw packages of Chocolate Mexicano with Cinnamon for sale. Taza is a local (Somerville, MA) chocolate maker that uses only free-trade organic cocao beans that they buy directly from small farmer cooperatives. Taza uses a stone grinding process that leaves in a lot of the fruity and nutty flavors that are lost in the conching process utilized in making standard smooth chocolate (Taza is a bit gritty). The Chocolate Mexicano we bought contains only three ingredients: roasted cocoa beans, cane sugar, and cinnamon stick. They also make one with vanilla bean and one with almond.
Mexicano Hot Chocolate
• 1 cup soy milk
• 1/2 disk Taza Mexican chocolate (about 0.7 oz)
• 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
• 1 1/2 oz Partida Blanco Tequila
• 1 cinnamon stick
Heat soy milk, cayenne, and chocolate in a pot and stir until chocolate has fully melted. Pour into a mug with the tequila, and garnish with a cinnamon stick.
The end product was quite flavorful -- it was richly flavored without being all that sweet, and was very delightful as compared to regular store-bought powders. The tequila mixed well with the chocolate and the spice and was perfect in the recommended 1 part in 5 ratio that I found online. The cayenne could have been cut back a bit; while it was not too fiery for me, the flavors did mask the cinnamon a bit. Overall, a perfect drink to sip as the cold December winds whip across our windows.

View the list of the other MxMo 34 Spice entries here!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

no. 42

2 1/2 oz Greylock Gin
1/4 oz Dry Vermouth
1/4 oz Honey Syrup
1 dash Bittermens Boston Bittahs

Stirred with ice and strained into a cocktail glass. Lemon rind twisted over glass and dropped in. Measurements were eye-spied.

For my second of two drinks at Hungry Mother last night, I asked Duane to make me a No. 42 since I wanted to try a drink made with the relatively new Berkshire Mountain Distillers' gin (I had only previously had an unmixed sample at Eastern Standard in the past). One of the things that Duane pointed out about this drink is that 3 of the four components are locally sourced: the gin from Western Mass, the honey from Reseka Apiaries in Central Mass, and the bitters from nearby Brookline! I found it very interesting how the cocktail menu focused a lot on a wide variety of sweetening agents and not just using simple syrup. Duane said that they use grenadine, sorghum, simple, maple, and honey syrups depending on the desired effect.

No. 42 was a bit more gin-heavy of a recipe than I was expecting, but the end result was not disappointing. The honey syrup gave a full mouth feel (and additional flavor) to a more modernly proportioned Martini. The Greylock Gin being a pot-stilled instead of a multi-column distilled liquor also added some fullness and intrigue to the mix. And finally, the lemon twist and Boston Bittahs added some delightful citrus notes to round off cocktail. Since the Boston Bittahs are a seasonal creation of the Bittermens, No. 42 might disappear soon with a promise to reappear once the Bittermens make another batch. When I suggested that the drink might work well with some grapefruit bitters in the meantime, Duane replied that No. 42 would wait. I guess it's not wise to mess with something so well balanced.

no. 43

2 oz Old Overholt Rye
1/2 oz Ferreira 10 Year Tawny Port
1/2 oz Maple Syrup (1:1)
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Swirl briefly with ice and strain into a rocks glass with a large ice cube. Twist orange rind over the top and drop in drink. Quantities were eye-spied and the maple syrup might be the common 1:1 dilution made with water for pourability.
The artsy chandelier over the bar at Hungry Mother

Last night I was in Kendall Square for a biotech networking night, so I decided to check out Hungry Mother around the corner afterwards. The whole place has had a face lift for the better since the Kendall Cafe days. Two things that stood out immediately about the bar are the fact that it is well stocked with everything from Vya Sweet Vermouth to Diplomatico Reserva Rum and that all of the cocktails are named as numbers.

I started with No. 43, which Duane told me was one of the more popular cocktails on their list. From the way the Angostura bitters played splendidly with the real maple syrup, I could see why. The first notes were the orange oils on the nose which were quite pleasing, and the tawny port complemented the rye and the other flavors rather well. Overall, the drink was a rather solid autumnal-ish cocktail although I could easily see it fitting all seasons.

Monday, December 8, 2008

farley mowat

2 oz Gin (Junipero)
3/4 oz Dry Vermouth (Boissiere)
1/4 oz Herbsaint
6 drops Celery Bitters (FY)

Stir on ice and strain into a rocks glass. Twist a lemon peel over the top and discard.

For my second cocktail at Drink, John Gertsen came out of his laboratory for a bit since he wanted to make me a drink he had come up with using the celery bitters I had given him last time. Apparently, he and Eli Feldman thought it would be great in an Alaska sort of cocktail and they named it the Farley Mowat either directly after the enviromentalist author of Never Cry Wolf himself or indirectly after the flagship of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, a renegade Green Peace-spin off that protects whales, seals, and the like. In the tinkering process, the drink morphed away from an Alaska and closer to an Obituary Cocktail.

The drink itself is very vegetal, and John said that the end product reminded him of arugula. The celery bitters played well with the Herbsaint and dry vermouth, and in ways that the Bitter Truth Celery Bitters could easily substitute. While the drink was no Yellow Chartreuse-filled Alaska, it still had a similar clean refreshing nature to it. And a perfect drink to round off a snowy evening in Fort Point, Boston.

[brooklyn brawler]

1 1/2 oz Old Overholt Rye
1/2 oz Averna
1/2 oz Punt e Mes
1 barspoon Luxardo Maraschino

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Twist an orange rind over the drink and discard.

Andrea and I went to Drink last night where Misty and Sam were tending the bar and John was in and out of his laboratory creating new libations and reagents. Sundays at Drink seem to be a great night to go since the customer gets more time with the bartenders unlike the necessitated rushed interactions on certain nights. As Misty was fixing Andrea a mug of Tom & Jerry, she asked what I was in the mood to drink. I asked for something with amaro and rye or perhaps dark rum, which was enough to start Misty improvising a drink for me.

She started with two parts rye and one part Averna, and then added on part Punt e Mes before straw tasting it. She declared it needed "a teaspoon of something bright" and went with a barspoon of Maraschino liqueur. A large orange rind twisted over the top rounded out the drink, and it gave the cocktail a rather pleasing citrusy aroma. The flavors reminded me of a rather aggressive Brooklyn with the citrus notes from the Averna coupled with the orange twist substituting for the Amer Picon. The drink was a little bit more syrupy than a Brooklyn with a nice bitter complexity to it.

Friday, December 5, 2008

:: eastern standard's prohibition repeal party ::

Last night, Eastern Standard threw a 1920's speakeasy gala to celebrate the eve of the 75th anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition (and a few hours into the day of) -- an event they had been planning since last fall. Andrea and I splurged on the cocktail-paired 6 course dinner with punch bowl reception before and drinks and breakfast {!} after.
CocktailVirgin's own, Andrea in her 1920's outfit.

After picking out the right smoking jacket, I made my way down to Kenmore Square to meet Andrea. The front of the building was decorated like a speakeasy including a wood structure over one of their entrances with the proper peephole. Apparently, they were mimicking the need for a pass-phrase earlier in the evening. I spotted Andrea pretty quickly and she suggested that I go try the Sloe Gin Fizz Punch:
Bartender Kevin Martin pours me a cup of sloey goodness.

At our dinner table, next to our place setting cards were flasks! We and our 3 tablemates of Eastern Standard regulars (Hector, Carlos, and Sarah) tried to sniff our way into figuring out the contents. Jackson Cannon later swung by and solved the quandary: Eagle Rare 10 Year Bourbon from Eastern Standard's own barrel! Our dinner-cockail menu was in front of said flasks and each course told a story of the times (with variations on which stories and dishes for us vegetarians). For example, the first course was either a citrus salad or oysters; both fruit salad and the distribution of oysters became popular in the 1920's. The chefs did a great job with both menus with the meat eaters envious of some of the vegetarian's courses (and vice versa if it were not for the meat). The full regular menu can be found on DrinkBoston.
Lauren Clark of DrinkBoston and Brother Cleve (before he started DJing that night).

The six cocktails during dinner were:
Ampersand: Old Tom Gin, M&R Sweet Vermouth, Cognac, House Orange Bitters.
The Astoria: Beefeater London Dry Gin, M&R Dry Vermouth, Fee Brothers Orange Bitters, Olive.
The Charles Limbergh: Plymouth Gin, Lillet Blanc, Apricot Liqueur, Bittermens Grapefruit Bitters.
The Scofflaw: Sazerac Rye, M&R Dry Vermouth, Sirop de Grenadine, Lemon Juice.
Blood & Sand: Dewar's White Label, Cherry Heering, M&R Sweet Vermouth, Orange Juice.
Pisco Sour: Macchu Pisco, Egg White, Sugar, Lemon Juice, Angostura Bitters.
Also served with dinner were a Belgian beer from a label-less bottle and a Malbec wine from a Mason jar. One of the highlights of my evening was the preparation of the Pisco Sour. For this, 7 or 8 bartenders climbed on top of the bar and double-gunned it with Boston shakers for a solid minute or two to make this cocktail. Applause worthy, indeed. (EDIT: See DrinkBoston for a photo for this. Lauren's photo shows 7 but claims there were 8 bartenders on the bar.)

Around 10 pm, the next wave of party guests showed including Tim and Jess (of CocktailVirgin). Everyone had drink tickets for the first two rounds which were good for a short list of cocktails. With mine, I chose a Hanky Panky and a Frisco. Around 1 am, breakfast was served which, despite all of the food at dinner, was very welcomed. We left shortly after that and sadly did not stay to close out the event. Bravo to Eastern Standard for pulling off this event and cheers to all who attended to help make the event what it was.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

[the highland manhattan]

2 1/2 oz Old Overholt Rye
1/2 oz Punt e Mes
1 dash Orange Bitters
Pernod rinse

Stir on ice and strain into a cocktail glass pre-rinsed with Pernod. Garnish with an orange twist.

For my last drink at Highland Kitchen yesterday, I asked Beau to stick with the rye. He proposed a few drinks and I went with this "astringent Manhattan variant" (more in his comparison of Punt e Mes to regular sweet vermouth). On the nose was a good bit of orange oils from the twist (and perhaps some flavor from the bitters) and the anise seed from the Pernod. The flavor was very reminiscent of 1880s cocktails where a dash of absinthe was often added to give some extra zest to the drink (see the Improved Gin Cocktail write-up I did) on top of a rye Manhattan. I estimated the recipe proportions due to the free pouring, but after reading Gary Regan's Sfgate article on the Manhattan cocktail last year, I am a bit less fussy with specific proportions on this cocktail.

high hat

2 oz Rye
1/2 oz Cherry Heering
1/2 oz Lemon Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a rocks glass. Garnish with a lemon twist. (Recipe from Adashofbitters blog, see notes below).

Last night, Andrea wanted to go to dinner after returning from her run, and we decided on Highland Kitchen, a gastropub only a 5 minute walk or so from our house. The drink I ordered off their daily specials list to go with my veggie burger was the High Hat, a cocktail I had made before (see my livejournal entry) at home. My entry says that I found the recipe at the A Dash of Bitters blog where it was described as a "Manhattan/Brooklyn adaptation"-like sour. With these proportions, the sour-cherry flavors came through a lot and balanced the spicier rye we used. The way Beau mixed it at Highland, it was much lighter on the Cherry Heering and lemon. I cannot give an exact recipe since it was free poured, but a dash (1/4 oz or less) of each appeared to be used, perhaps to counter for the less spicy Old Overholt Rye. The end result was fairly dry rye cocktail with a touch of fruitiness.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

:: cocktail bitters and tools ::

The Boston Shaker has apparently set up shop at Grand in Somerville, MA (374 Somerville Ave, Union Square). Adam is rather receptive to the needs of the cocktail community and is always asking me what I would like to see, so shoot him an email through his website with ideas...
I spy Marasca cherries, a lot of Fee's Bitters and other brands, ice crushers, and books in that photo. I heard that he has Angostura Orange but I do not see them above. Will have to check it out soon.

Monday, December 1, 2008

lamplighter

bourbon
fine sugar
celery juice
lemon juice

shake, decant, no garnish. Note: see below for a formal recipe (which might vary slightly from this).

Where: Chez Henri
When: 25 November, 2008
Who: Rob (as in Other Rob, B-Side alum)

Purpose: To make the 30 minute wait to get a seat at the bar more pleasant.

Ordinal: First of Three, no accompaniment
Nose: Celery!
Taste: Very balanced, where none of the flavors really dominates, though all are present.

Summary: This was my third attempt to get cocktails at Chez Henri - it was just far too crowded the first two times I tried. But this night, I was determined. I brought Murakami's engaging What I Talk About When I Talk About Running so I wouldn't look like a dork, alone, waiting for a seat. Rob was very busy, but managed to be attentive at the same time, due to his approachable manner. He had that kind of super-energetic/geeky vibe that told me he'd be OK with my teaching him how to make a Seelbach (which I did - and I knew it would be pretty good once I spotted the Segura Viudas, clearly the ideal sparkler for the Seelbach). My Seelbach was accompanied by one of the best ceviches I've ever had. I also ordered the homemade chorizo - and it was almost good enough to make me forget the homemade chouriço I had as a child. At the recommendation of the ladies to my right (who still mourned the passing of the B-Side), I also got a whiskey smash to go with my chocolate bread pudding - both equally tasty. I really should drag Fred here.

Postnote Aug 12, 2011:
I got the recipe from bar manager Rob Kraemer
Lamplighter
• 2 oz Bourbon
• 3/4 oz Celery Juice
• 1/4 Lemon Juice
• >1 oz Simple Syrup
Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

rhum cocktail marilene

2 oz Barbancourt 8 Year Rhum
1/2 Lime (4 pieces)
2 tsp Sugar
2 dashes Angostura Bitters

Muddle the lime pieces and sugar in a rocks glass, add rhum and ice, and shake. Add Angostura bitters on top and lightly stir in.

Yesterday after a day of shopping and a quick drink at Eastern Standard (where I got to arrange a vegetarian dinner for their Prohibition Repeal Day event on Thursday), Andrea and I went to Rendezvous for dinner. Before looking over their dinner menu, I ordered this Haitian rhum cocktail that was new on Scott's cocktail list.

Not sure if 2 tsp or 2 dashes of Angostura is accurate enough; however, the excess of each balanced the other out taste-wise. In fact, there was enough bitters in the drink to give it a nice vermillion hue. The rhum and lime rounded out the drink to make a very simple but satisfying tiki cocktail of sorts.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

polly's special

2 oz Famous Grouse Scotch
1/2 oz Marie Brizard Orange Curacao
1/2 oz Pink Grapefruit Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange wedge.

Last night after dinner, Andrea and I decided to get an after dinner drink at Green Street. As I perused their large cocktail menu for a drink that both called out to me and that I have not had before, I spotted the Polly's Special and asked Bice to make me one. Part of the allure is an attempt to teach myself to like Scotch. At a Scotch tasting several months ago, the only one that I remotely enjoyed enough to consider buying a bottle was a Dalwhinnie 15 Year. The Dalwhinnie was the least peaty and smoky of all the Scotches I have tasted and I am guessing that it is why I enjoyed it most. When I told a Scotch fanatic a few weeks later which Scotch I enjoyed, his response was "Ah Dalwhinnie -- a lady's Scotch". He then realized how what he said might have come across and apologized, to which I countered that I enjoyed drinking 145 proof Bourbon, Fernet-Branca, and other liquors so I was not offended by his comment. Since then, I have enjoyed Scotch in the Avery's Arrack-ari's the Talisker rinse and in the Chancellor Cocktail I made at home this weekend (1 3/4 oz Scotch, 1/2 oz dry vermouth, 1/2 oz port (I used ruby), 1 dash Peychaud's Bitters). And in the process of acclimating myself to Scotches, I went with Polly's Special.

Over all, the cocktail was a touch sweet with a good mix of tart and smoky. Andrea commented that "it's a nice cocktail... the flavors work well with the Scotch". A similar cocktail I have had at Green Street is The Blinker which is rye, grapefruit, and raspberry syrup. Interestingly, grapefruit juice works better for my tastes with Scotch than the Old Overholt did in the Blinker. Perhaps a sharper rye like Rittenhouse or Sazerac might give a more comparable end product or maybe it is something about Scotch itself.

Monday, November 24, 2008

lawhill cocktail

2 oz Old Overholt Rye
1/2 oz Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth
1/2 oz Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
2 barspoons St. George's Absinthe
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Twist a lemon over the top and discard.

For my second cocktail at Drink last night, Misty stayed with the rye and brought out her version of the Lawhill Cocktail, a drink that appears in the 1930's version of the Savoy. The Savoy's version is 2/3 Canadian Club Whiskey, 1/3 French vermouth, 1 dash each of absinthe, Maraschino, and Angostura bitters. Misty shifted the drink away from the Scotch-like flavors associated with Canadian whiskey by using the less aggressive Old Overholt Rye. Her other modifications included upping the Maraschino and absinthe, although dashes of liqueurs historically have been more vague a volume and more sizable than dashes of bitters (which still have a bit of variance depending on the size and fill-level of the bottle and heaviness of the hand, but not to the same degree as with liqueurs).

The St. George's Absinthe cut the sweetness of the Luxardo Maraschino quite well; often, Maraschino-laden cocktails can be too sweet for my palate which was not the case with the Lawhill. The absinthe might have also been assisted by the dry vermouth in this regard. Overall, the cocktail was nicely balanced. The St. George was not as dominant as the previous cocktail I had made with it perhaps due to sherry in that one not being as robust a component as Maraschino.

1919 cocktail

3/4 oz Rittenhouse Rye
3/4 oz Old Monk Rum
1 oz Punt e Mes
1/2 oz Benedictine
1 dash Bittermen's Xocolatl Mole Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Last night, Andrea and I came back from a day of shopping in Kittery, Maine, followed by the requisite stops in New Hampshire at the Portsmouth Brewery for dinner (their bar also look well stocked and there's a lounge downstairs, but alas, we have not sampled anything besides their beer and ciders) and the state-run liquor stores (we stuck to the two-hand rule and only bought 209 Gin and Booker's Bourbon, although Saturday's two-hand rule was ruby port and JM Rhum Blanc ($20/liter at Kappy's!)). Since shopping is hard, we decided to treat ourselves to cocktails at Drink.

We grabbed seats at Misty's bar who was tending at the ice station. This means the drinks she was making used ice from 1 foot cubes from a pond in Gloucester which she picked, chipped, and smashed into the proper sized pieces. To our left was The Boston Shaker himself, Adam, who runs a cocktail supply store of various bitters, syrups, and mixing hardware. When Misty asked what I was thinking about drink-wise, I said that I could go either way with rye or rum. Instead of choosing, she did both!

The drink she made me was the 1919, a drink that Ben Sandrof taught her named in reference to the start of Prohibition. The first note of the beverage was the chocolate scent. The Bittermen's Mole bitters worked better in this cocktail smell-wise than they have in others for me where they were stronger taste-wise. The Rittenhouse Rye gave the drink a very pleasing spiciness, and the vanilla from the rum and the botanicals from the Punt e Mes and Benedictine filled in the gaps. Overall, the 1919 was rather rich, flavorful, and pleasing to the nose and mouth similar to say a Vieux Carre cocktail.

Friday, November 21, 2008

the bentley

2 oz Dubonnet Rouge
2 oz Laird's Applejack
1 dash Fee's Orange Bitters

Shaken with ice and strained into a cocktail glass.

Last night, Andrea and I were in Union Square in Somerville to satisfy her hunger for Indian food. Afterwards, we went over to the Independent for an after dinner drink. New on the menu was the Bentley, a simple 50-50 Dubonnet-applejack cocktail. I was able to find the recipe in three 1930's cocktail books: Savoy, Boothby's, and Cafe Royal. Generally, the cocktail is shaken for some reason instead of stirred and no garnish is given; often, it is made with Calvados. More modern re-tellings of this cocktail include a lemon or orange twist or orange bitters such as was the case with the cocktail Liam made me. A column that Gary Regan wrote for SfGate hints that the drink came into existence shortly after a Bentley automobile won the Le Mans in 1927 and the first reference in print was the 1930 version of the Savoy. The end product was a more red winy and less sweet version of the Marconi Wireless, and more aperitif (with a boozy kick) than a cocktail proper.

corpse reviver #2

1 oz. Hendrick's gin
1 oz. Cointreau
1 oz. Lillet Blanc
3/4 oz. lemon juice
1 dash Pernod

Shake with ice. Service in a cocktail glass

Where: The Independent
When: 20 November, 2008
Who: Liam

Purpose: To give the Indo some love.

Ordinal: First of one
Nose: Nose still a little bit stuffed from eating Indian food. Aroma very subtle, mostly lemony. Only sensed the Pernod faintly at the end on the glass.
Taste: Fresh lemon with a floral aftertaste. Only tasted the Pernod faintly at the end.

Summary: Very refreshing and lemony. The Hendrick's is such a subtle gin that I hesitate to really call this a corpse reviver. Still, a very pleasant beverage that just about anyone (who likes lemon) would enjoy.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

the brother cadfael

Yea, at long last, the fourth voice of cocktailvirginslut issues forth.
(I am the one who rides the Pale Horse, and yadda yadda...)

     I was added to this illustrious page back in the printemps before I headed out on my epic drive from Boston to Santa Cruz, CA. Dubbed "The West Coast Correspondent," I might have perished in all the firing of wilds that has been going on in these parts for all you readers know...

Alas... I mean, "Hurrah!" such was not my fate, and today I finally add a wee bit of NorCal cocktailiana to this (were it papered and bound) tome.


     That all being said, I'm going to start my entries with a drink made for me on my brief trip to Boston one month back. 

You see, for all that San Francisco holds, what with their Rye's, and Alembic's, and Bourbon & Branch's, and Absinthe's... (I can, and will, go on), Santa Cruz has...
well, not much.

There are two places one could conceivably get a good cocktail, but in reality only one:
515 Kitchen and Cocktails has a decent selection of spirits behind the bar, and the bartendrixes have a pretty good idea of what to do with them. 
However, though they've been wonderfully lovely in putting up with my whims and requests (most know now to give me an Old Fashioned consisting of ice, simple, bitters, rye and none else) it's not quite up to the level of what we would consider "craft cocktails."

The second "conceivable" place is The Red. What I mean is that one could look at their stocked bar and conceive of the varied and wondrous libations to issue forth from such a supplied wall of shelves. Unfortunately, the staff has barely a clue in making drinks, let alone anything one might consider a "classic cocktail."

Oh, and then there's The Crepe Place, which I mention, not because they can shake a sour any better than the previous two, but, simply, because they have Michters 6.


      Drinking like this for almost six months, you can't even begin to imagine my glee when Tim, Jess and I piled into the Vdub to head on down to the Standard.
I had many lovely and lustrous libations, but I wanted to end the night in a special way.

Having just learned that ES was in possession of Frederic's bitters, I asked my favorite Kevin for "something with one of 'em in it." In fact, I may not have been as articulate as all that.

The result was pretty dam... darn nice, I must say light, semi-sweet (but not cloying!!) with an interesting amount of fruit.
I asked Kevin what this was.
He shrugged and said "you name it."

Well, gentle readers, this was truly a first for me. And, as is only right, I executed the great honor with great-er diligence. (As Jess and Tim can attest).

When I produced my chef d'oeuvre to Kevin, he shook his head, laughed, and proceed to write it down.

Thus, I give you:

The Brother Cadfael*

1.5 oz           Old Monk Rum
.75 oz           Stock Maraschino
.75 oz           Pimms
4-5 drops    Fred's grapefruits bitters

stir well over ice and serve straight up with a lemon twist.




*"Brother Cadfael" is the fictitious creation of Ellis Peters, played by Derek Jacobi on the PBS series "Mystery."

Cadfael is a mystery-solving monk during the reign of King Stephen in England (covering Old Monk Rum, and Pimms). Among several duties he is an herbalist and tends the orchards of the monastery (covers the bitters and the Maraschino... although that is a stretch, as I highly doubt a 12th cen. English monastery had a cherry orchard, or grapefruit... well sue me, I made it fit as best I could!!!)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

ampersand

1 part Old Tom gin
1 part cognac (Hine was used)
1 part sweet vermouth (Martini & Rossi was used)

Stir with ice and strain. Serve up in an old fashioned glass.

Where: Eastern Standard
When: 17 November, 2008
Who: Hugh Fiore

Purpose: To make me forget the snowy midwest, the bumpy flight from South Bend to Chicago, having to run to make my connection, and my lack of food for the past 10 hours.

Ordinal: First of three, accompanied by the charcuterie plate
Nose: Almost apple-scented, due to the cognac most likely
Taste: Rich flavor, to the extent that I almost thought the sweet vermouth to be homemade

Summary: The Old Tom really classes up the M&R vermouth. This went extremely well with the rabbit terrine and pâté. One sip, and the trials of the day melted away.

[christmas flip]

1 oz. brandy (I think Hine cognac was used)
1 oz. green chartreuse
1/2 oz. vanilla infused rock candy syrup
1/2 barspoon fernet branca
whole egg

Shake all ingredients first without ice to emulsify the egg, then add ice and shake again. Pour into a cocktail glass and garnish with a mint leaf.

Where: Eastern Standard
When: 17 November, 2008
Who: Hugh Fiore

Purpose: To make a flip based on a recipe from Gary Regan's recent sfgate.com column, using green chartreuse instead of yellow chartreuse.

Ordinal: Third drink of three, no accompaniment
Nose: No trace of egg smell, mint and vanilla aroma
Taste: Subtle taste of mint from the Fernet and green chartreuse, only a tiny trace of bitterness

Summary: This is a wonderful Christmas-y flip (Jess, Hugh said he wanted to make you one next time you see him). Hugh liked it enough to add it to his lil black book. Very clever, using that vanilla rock candy syrup - the original called only for simple.

[little celery]

1 1/2 oz Sazerac Rye
1/2 oz Luli Chinato
1/2 oz Cynar
1/2 oz Aperol
1 dash The Bitter Truth's Celery Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Or 3 cordial glasses.

Since Andrea had been at Eastern Standard for a while before I got there, it was time to go not too long after I got there. But still leaving enough time for Hugh to mix up a nightcap for us. He had been scanning the shelves for other things that would complement the Bitter Truth's Celery Bitters after making the rhum cocktail for me. He had spotted the Cynar and thought that the artichoke-herbal funkiness of it would work rather well with the celery bitters.

Hugh designed the cocktail similar to the Little Italy, with rye (this one was with the Jackson Cannon barrel that the distillery made up for Eastern Standard), Cynar, and a chinato instead of a sweet vermouth. And he also added in some Aperol and the bitters. Chinatos are vermouths that use quinine (China in Italian). Most chinatos use a lusty and full-bodied Barolo red wine as the base, but the Luli uses a white moscato as a base. One blog described it as, "less intense and a touch sweeter than more traditional Chinatos but still has incredible floral aromatics, lots of kaffir lime, peaches, kumquat, ginger, thyme flowers, basil, jasmine, and hibiscus flavors."

The end product was very vegetal and made for a good nightcap and digestif. Interesting how after not having had a Cynar cocktail in almost a year (I gave Mike at Highland Kitchen the recipe for a Little Italy since he did not know what to do with "that stuff") that I have had two Cynar cocktails chosen for me in consecutive nights. To me, that is a good omen!

[celery stalking hugh]

1 1/2 oz Clement Premiere Canne White Rhum Agricole
1/2 oz Bauchant Orange Liqueur
1/2 oz Martini & Rossi Bianco Vermouth
2 dashes The Bitter Truth's Celery Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. No garnish.

Last night while leaving my jiu jitsu class, I noticed that I had a phone message from Andrea. Her flight landed and she was at Eastern Standard and hoping that I would swing by after class to meet her there. And oh yeah, Hugh misses me.

Once I got to Eastern and ordered some food at the bar, I spied a bottle of the Bitter Truth's Celery Bitters! I had waited for so long to taste them that I had given up and designed my own in the way that I imagined that they should be (historically, not what I read about tBT's version). I based mine on a robust celery seed flavor which was supported by some funky greens and roots such as dandelion, burdock, barberry, and spearmint. When I smelled the Bitter Truth's version, it was very citrussy -- I could neither smell nor taste the celery itself. Andrea said that it smelled like lemon verbena, and Hugh commented that it was not as celery as mine as "yours are extreme celery!"

Still, I was intrigued and so was Hugh. We brain stormed and came up with this drink. The rhum agricole that Hugh chose was a very grassy white from Clement. I figured that a lighter liqueur like Bauchant orange liqueur would work well (Hugh was thinking apricot). And a bianco vermouth rounded out the lineup. The end result was a rather intriguing bitter and earthy concoction. Hugh was pleased enough with the taste that the receipe went into his black book of recipes.

Monday, November 17, 2008

[grandpa choker]

1 1/2 oz Ron Abuelo 7 Year Rum
1/2 oz Cynar
1/2 oz Aperol
3/4 oz Punt e Mes
1 dash Bittermens Xocolatl Mole Bitters

Stir on ice and strain into a rocks glass. Lemon twist dropped in.
For my last drink at Craigie on Main, I asked Tommy to go off menu and suggest something. After asking whether I wanted to stick more with the gin or the rye from my first two drinks, I replied that I had no preference what the base spirit was. He took my enthusiasm about his suggestion of rum and the concept of bitters as a green light and set off to create this nameless beverage (save for my black humored idea in the title above).

The rum he chose was an aged one from Panama. My interests were piqued once I saw Tommy picking up the Cynar, a lesser used bitter liqueur made by the Campari group which features artichoke and a dozen other botanicals. The only other Cynar cocktail I have had out is the Little Italy (2 oz rye, 1/2 oz Cynar, 3/4 oz sweet vermouth) and I have made a few at home such as the Cin-Cyn (1 oz gin, 1 oz Cynar, 1 oz sweet vermouth, dash Angostura, orange twist). However, it is a liqueur that deserves greater attention. Finally, aperol, Punt e Mes vermouth, and Bittermen's Mole bitters rounded out the rest of the ingredients. The wave of lemon oil over the rocks glass was indeed a nice touch as a prelude to my first sip, and once tasted, I knew the cocktail would make for a good nightcap.

martinez cocktail

1 1/2 oz Hayman's Old Tom Gin
1 1/2 oz Craigie's Antica Vermouth Replica
1 barspoon Maraschino Liqueur
1 dash Angostura Bitters
1 dash Orange Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Twist orange peel over drink and drop in.

For my second drink at Craigie on Main, I took the recommendation I got on Facebook from Tina who had been there the night before, and went with the Martinez. I have written about a few of the Martinezes I have at home and around town, but I felt the need to write about this one as well. While I have had a Martinez made with the Old Tom Gin, a sweeter old school style of gin that was reintroduced to market, Tom's housemade vermouth cinched the experience. He did his own take on Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth. The cinnamon was most notable in the botanicals and Tom mentioned cherry bark as well; it was vermouth taken in a very opposite direction from his more subtle amber recipe (described in the Camino Cocktail entry). When I spoke to him about his take on the drink, Tom mentioned that the idea he had was more aperitif driven which is why he chose to cut down on the gin and Maraschino liqueur ratios relative to the vermouth.

camino cocktail

1 1/2 oz Rittenhouse Rye
1 oz Craigie's Amber Vermouth
1/2 oz Mirto
1 dash Regan's Orange Bitters
1 dash Angostura Bitters

Stir on ice and strain into a rocks glass. Flame orange peel over drink and drop in.

Last night, I made it out to Craigie on Main to check out the bar program Tom Schlesinger-Guidelli is heading up. Andrea was away this weekend and I needed to get out of the house, so checking the bar out on an off night became the plan. Others must have had the same idea since the restaurant and bar were pretty filled when I got there. Sitting at Tommy's 12 seat bar were 3 of the bartenders we have written about here on CocktailVirgin -- Bice from Green Street, Ben from Drink, and Evan from The Independent, and several of the others were assorted industry folk.

Having tasted the wonders of mirto, a somewhat bitter Sardinian liqueur made from myrtle berries and leaves, at Eastern Standard last month, I was very much game to try some more which lead me to choosing the Camino Cocktail. What really balanced this drink out was the housemade amber vermouth - a sweet but light creation. I tasted notes of vanilla in it and asked Tommy what else was in it. He confirmed the vanilla and mentioned bay leaf and chamomile. Later in the evening, Tommy offered me a small glass of the vermouth alone. To me it also had notes of cherry and seemed less aggressively herbal than a sweet vermouth (although this could be relative to how my tongue's baseline was reset by the mirto et al.). While another one of Tommy's vermouths has cherry bark in it, this one did not although he stated how he could see a cherry pit smell in it. Considering that Tom is a major fan of vermouths including drinking them straight up, I was not surprised at all by the efforts he put in to designing the at least 2 housemade vermouths on the menu.

Friday, November 14, 2008

phipp's fizz

2 oz Old Overholt Rye
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
1 dash Angostura Bitters
Shake with ice in an old fashioned glass. Top with 3-5 oz ginger beer and garnish with a lemon wedge.

For my second drink at Green Street, I was served by Bice, a Deep Ellum and B-Side alum but new-to-me at to Green Street. For some reason, the Phipp's Fizz called to me again. Perhaps the last drink was too sweet and I needed the sharp spicyness of Green Street's choice of ginger beer, Fall River's AJStephans, to cleanse my palate.

The Phipp's Fizz belongs to a classic group of highball drinks, including the Gin Buck, Moscow Mule, and Mamie Taylor, that has booze, citrus, and ginger beer as its cast of characters, all with similar proportions. I believe that Andrea will have something to say shortly about the Mamie Taylor, a drink she had recently at both Rendezvous and Drink (edit: simultaneously typing it in, see below). Otherwise, the Phipp's Fizz is a standard Rye and Ginger with the addition of a dash of Angostura; however, the century plus proven history of this simple combination remains.

mamie taylor

2 oz. blended scotch (Famous Grouse was used)
1/2 oz. lime juice

Stir in a collins glass with ice (4 KD cubes, if you have 'em). Top with ginger beer (about 3 oz.). If feeling artistic, garnish with a lime curlie-Q.

Last Saturday (11/8) evening, Fred and I went for dinner and drinks in Central Square Cambridge. We arrived at Rendezvous to find a sizable group of people packed into the lounge area. Miraculously, our two favorite seats at the bar opened up and we snatched them after ascertaining that the group preferred to stand and socialize. Since it was so incredibly crowded, I opted to order from the cocktail menu. My second drink was one I had read about in boston.com's Barcode column - the Mamie Taylor. I'm a latecomer to the whole scotch experience - blame my father, whose taste for cheap scotch really turned me off the spirit. My brother has better taste, and after giving me a sample of The Glenlivet 12-year a couple of winters ago, I decided that not all scotch tastes like diesel fuel. And this drink is both sweet, sour, and a touch smokey - not so much as to overwhelm. Scott stated that my drink choice was very healthy, and perhaps it was partially responsible for helping me ward off the cold that seems to have circulated among my friends. Santé, indeed.

A couple of nights later, Fred and I met up at Drink. John asked me what I was in the mood for, and I wanted something made with ginger beer. I sampled the drink - and said it was interesting, why, what is it. John's brow furrowed at that comment, and he said it was a Mamie Taylor. John makes his version with White Horse - a blended scotch dominated by Lagavulin. The peatiness of this Islay scotch rather overwhelmed the sweet/tart flavor of the ginger beer, and the result I liked a bit less than Scott's version. I wish I had asked for a small glass of John's ginger beer - a mixture of clove, ginger, allspice, and white pepper sweetened with demerara sugar. I have sampled Rendezvous' straight ginger beer, and it is magical, perfectly sweet and gingery. It's made in a "messy, multi-step, multi-day process" that truly must be a labor of love (or something).

mary pickford

2 oz. rum (Cruzan 2-year Estate Light Rum was used)
1 oz. pineapple juice
1/4 oz. grenadine (homemade)
1/4 oz. maraschino liqueur

"Shake wantonly with ample ice, strain into a cocktail glass." Mine was garnished with a cloven cherry.

This is Rendezvous' cocktail offering for LUPEC's This One's for the Ladies November fundraiser. It's a tasty concoction that's readily accessible to any palate, and I highly recommend stopping by to drink for the cause. Scott sent me the following description (provided to the Rendezvous staff) for the history of the Mary Pickford:
Named for the original "America's Sweetheart", the cocktail incarnation of Mary Pickford was created in the 1920's by a bartender at the Hotel Sevilla in Havana while Pickford was filming a movie there. The drink became so popular that Douglas Fairbanks (man's man and swashbuckling star of such films as The Black Pirate, The Mark of Zorro and Robin Hood as well as future husband of Ms. Pickford) asked a Cuban bartender to create a drink named for him. While there are at least two Fairbanks cocktails, they are largely forgotten. It seems that while men in tights might always get the girl, the true glory of cocktail immortality is reserved for those who tempt rather than taunt the bartender.
I don't think I need to add anything more to that.

deauville cocktail

3/4 oz Germain-Robin Brandy
3/4 oz Lecompte Calvados
3/4 oz Cointreau
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a long lemon twist. Recipe from Savoy/Trader Vics/Duffy.

Last night, Tim and Jess invited me out to go to the opening night of Craigie on Main to see what sort of bar Tommy had set up. Between the chaos of trying to coordinate Tim coming from commuter rail from the North Shore and Jess en route from Pittsburgh, I arrived first at Craigie to discover a note that they were indeed open but closed that night for a private party. Plans changed to one of the other 3 {!} fine cocktail establishments in Central Square, Green Street.

While looking over Green Street's food menu, the Deauville stood out again, a drink that is not on their short or long cocktail lists but resides right next to the desserts with three other cocktails. I asked Andy McNees to make it my first drink. I did not watch him make the first half of the drink so I nicked the recipe from a variety of cocktail books this morning. All had the same recipe save for Boothsby's The World's Drinks and How to Mix Them which had it as a Calvados, Chartreuse, raspberry syrup, and lemon juice cocktail. The best my research could do was to trace the drink's history back to the 1930's in New Orleans.

The Deauville was a tad sweet for my tastes as of late but it was well balanced with the sourness of the lemon juice. Overall, the drink was not too different from an old favorite of mine, the Hoop La (and the other cocktail names with the same recipe) which is the same equal parts recipe with Lillet Blanc subbing in for the Deauville's apple brandy.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

brandy rum sangaree

1 Sugar Cube
1/2 oz Water
2 oz Brandy (Pierre Ferrand Ambre Cognac)
1 oz Rum (Barbancourt 8 Year Rhum)
~1/4 oz Red Wine (OG Syrah)
Muddle sugar cube in water. Add ice, stir, and strain into a cocktail glass. Float wine on top.

For my second beverage at Drink, John Gertsen stuck with the brandy theme and kept it even more old school by suggesting a sangaree, a drink that pre-dates the cocktail. Sangarees are something I have read about in many cocktail books in the section after the cocktail, highball, and punch chapters and right before the index, but are a class of drink I have neither made nor had. Some of the older styles of sangarees use port or sherry and add sugar, ice, and a sprinkling of ground nutmeg but later varieties branched out to ale, gin, and brandy. Jerry Thomas' recipe for the brandy sangaree is as follows:
Brandy Sangaree
(Use medium bar-glass.)
Take 1/2 teaspoonful of fine white sugar dissolved in
a little water.
1 wine-glass of brandy.
Fill the glass one-third full of shaved ice, shake up well, strain into a small glass and dash a little Port wine on top. Serve with a little grated nutmeg.
John adapted the recipe by swapping out some of the brandy for rum, using wine instead of port as a float, and omitting the nutmeg entirely. The wine John used was one from the Languedoc region and his float had issues. Regardless of his float technique using the back of a barspoon and a gentle hand pouring a small mixing cup of wine, a good percentage of the wine sank. Not sure what aspect of the densities was off in the drink, but the issue seemed to bother John more than it did me. The brandy rum sangaree tasted very much like a strong punch. Very simple and to the point, the drink was well balanced and did not need to venture into the realm of bitters which would distract from the drinker from its innate beauty.

montana

2 oz Cognac (Pierre Ferrand's Ambre)
1 oz Dry Vermouth (Boissiere)
1 oz Ruby Port (Noval)

Stirred with ice and strained into a cocktail glass. A knotted lemon rind used as garnish a la devil horns.

Last night, I was in Boston for a biotech networking night and I coordinated to meet up with Andrea at Drink. We both got there around the same time (she was driving and I was walking from the South End) and luckily found seats at John Gertsen's bar after a kind gentleman agreed to shift down a seat. Andrea announced that I had a head start which I denied since the bar the networking night was held at was pretty crowded and the drinks on their cocktail list were a bit uninspiring. John knew the place and jokingly asked if I had the frozen drinks there (dispensed from a slushy machine) and then asked if I wanted him to make me one old school style by shaving ice off of one of Drink's big blocks of ice. While I did not take him up on it, the old school style theme was adopted for my two cocktails.

Since I had made gin cocktails at home the night before while making gnocchi, I asked John for something other than gin. We agreed on brandy as a good starting point, and John mentioned the Montana which is a drink I was familiar with. In fact, I had made one at home a little over a year ago (my LiveJournal has a brief entry about it). I had made mine with Sandeman Founder's Reserve Port since I did not have any ruby ports at home and had noted that the drink reminded me of a spiced wine due to the vermouth mixing with the port. John's Noval Ruby Port gave the drink a different flavor entirely; ruby ports are younger and fruitier than many other port varietals. In fact, Andrea thought the cocktail tasted vaguely like cherries.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

blonde on blonde

3/4 oz Yellow Chartreuse
3/4 oz Pisco
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 oz White Port
Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.

Andrea and I went to Rendezvous Saturday night after getting Tibetan food in Central Square. Scott Holliday was at the bar and busier than we have ever seen him. We usually go in during the week or late on the weekend, but this was during the restaurant's peak. I asked if he had been working on anything new, and he seemed a bit overwhelmed by the work flow at that moment and could not think of anything, so I went with a Half Sinner Half Saint. After I finished that drink, this stunning number appeared in front of me with an apology that things were too frantic for him to think of his latest experiments.

The drink, which I am guessing that he named after a Bob Dylan song, highlights the white to yellow end of the spectrum of bar reagents. The Chartreuse provided a pleasing level of complexity in addition to some necessary sweetness to balance the lemon juice. The port added some body and the pisco some punch to the drink. Hopefully this cocktail makes it on to the menu like the Nehru did. The Nehru was a drink he let us taste as he was working out the recipe, and last night indicated how much of a hit it has become as he made more than a dozen of them last night while we were there.

[rye something-or-other]

Michter's Rye
Aperol
Applejack
Angostura bitters
Orange garnish

An un-rye-like rye drink -- just what I didn't know I needed to finish me off. Hugh put this together on the spot, and it was rather interesting indeed: light and airy in the same vein as my previous drinks. As this was scrawled on my nearly-illegible napkin, I have no other information aside from my now-vague memory. :)

harvest

sherry Gustav
Benedictine
house-infused pumpkin/fall spice vodka
rock candy syrup
egg white

Check it out, I had a drink containing vodka -- how unlike me! But I now rarely question anything Hugh puts in front of me, and am even more rarely disappointed. I'm not usually a pumpkin girl, but the spices and Benedictine really took center stage in this drink. Nice and warm and confection-like, without being too damn sweet.

By this point I was taking even-less-complete notes on a napkin! You see how hard I work for you?

heather in queue

1 1/2oz Plymouth gin
3/4 oz Martini&Rossi Bianco vermouth
1/2 oz Bauchant orange liqueur
1/4 oz Fernet-Branca

Stir thoroughly, garnish with a flamed lemon peel.

Apparently named for a ES regular (who ends up waiting in line often?) this was a lovely, light, and wintery-chill sort of flavor to start off my evening with. My note-taking was worse than usual, this drink being scrawled on a small piece of paper from the receipt printer behind the bar.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

sweet vermouth

The theme for this month's Mixology Monday (MxMo XXXIII) is "Made from Scratch" as chosen by Doug Winship of the Pegu Club blog (read the wrap up with the other MxMo entries here). Doug writes, "Please mix up a drink which is produced with one or more ingredients that you make yourself, be it bitters, infused liquors, liqueurs, syrups, or even the garnish! Heck, you can go all Hawkeye and Trapper and distill your own Gin if you like. Extra points are awarded for scratch ingredients that replace a specific commercial product. The point is to show how (or if) all that extra work improves your cocktail." This MxMo challenge inspired me to finally getting around to making my own vermouth. It was an idea that I have had for a while which has intensified with my growing botanical collection from my bitters projects.

As a starting point, I had conversations with a few Boston bartenders, including Ben of Drink and Tom of Craigie on Main (formerly of Eastern Standard) and with Eric Seed of Haus Alpenz about Dolan Vermouths (see notes here), in addition to a few online sources (see the bibliography below).

There seems to be about 4 ways to make vermouth which vary in temperature, time, and method for extracting the herbal components and oxidizing the wine. The first is to briefly boil all the wine with the botanicals. The second is to take about a quarter of the volume and simmer it with the herbs for a short time. The third is a longer, unheated extraction. And the fourth is to extract the botanicals separately in high proof alcohol and add them drop-wise to the wine to reach the desired effect; this fourth way is apparently how many of the larger commercial houses make it these days. The only common botanical in recipes is wormwood which is how the beverage was named after the German word for it, Wermut(h). Some recipes have only a few while others have twenty-something ingredients.

Most vermouths are made from white wine -- even the sweet vermouths, save for Punt e Mes, Carpano Antica, Barolo Chinatos, and a few others. The dark color in most sweet vermouths is not imparted from the grape skins but from caramelized sugar and the botanicals. A common wine to start from is Trebbiano.

Two last components to discuss before I launch into how I did my batch are brandy and sugar. Vermouths are fortified wines so a high proof alcohol such as brandy (although I have seen recipes that use vodka) is used to bring the alcohol content up to 15-18%. The higher alcohol content helps to stabilize the contents better over time. Vermouths are also sweetened. Dry vermouths often have under 7% residual sugar left and sweet vermouths are up to 15%. For other information about vermouth, including their history and other alternative recipes, please consult the links below.
I placed the following herbs into a pot:

• 1 tsp of each: wormwood
• 1/2 tsp of each: gentian, elder flower, chamomile, anise seed, tansy, dried orange peel
• 2 pinch of each: angelica root, fennel seed, peach leaf
• 1 pinch of each: lavender flower, betel nut, dandalion leaf, sassafras root bark, burdock root, thyme, oregano, basil, centaury
• 1/2 pinch of each: licorice root
• 1 whole clove, 1/2 small cinnamon stick

Added 200 mL of wine to the pot. The wine I used was a 750mL bottle of 2007 Cavit Pinot Grigio since I did not see any Trebbiano wines where I was shopping that day.

I brought the wine-botanical mix up to a boil and simmered it covered for 10 minutes.

I let it cool for 75 minutes, and filtered through a strainer over a coffee filter.

For the caramelized sugar, I heated up 2 oz sugar (by volume) until medium-dark brown. I added 2 oz of boiling water to the molten sugar to make a caramelized simple syrup.

To the wine bottle, I poured out some into a glass (besides the 200 mL from before) to be added later. I added 4 oz of 80° brandy (to bring the alcohol up to approximately 16%), the caramelized simple syrup, and the filtered aromatized wine concentrate. I topped off the bottle with the wine I poured off.

Lastly, I added sugar to taste: 1/2 oz by volume seemed sufficient.
Upon tasting the vermouth straight, Andrea and I found it extremely drinkable. Andrea liked the "more-than-cinnamon" taste, whereas the botanical that stood out for me was the lavender flower. Nothing seemed out of balance and overpowering. I found myself drinking it unmixed in ways that I never find myself doing with store bought brands. Appearance-wise, I was a little disappointed with the color; I should have either caramelized the sugar longer to a darker color or added more to the mix. The end result was not as dark as a sweet vermouth but not as light as a bianco (a sweet white vermouth). And finally, instead of an hour of post-simmer extraction (many recipes do not even include that much of a cooling period), I might consider letting it go over night to bring out more flavor. However, while mine was no Vya, it did turn out comparable to Noilly Prat in intensity.

With the vermouth, we made 3 cocktails:
Fourth Degree (from the Old Waldorf Bar Days book as well as Imbibe!)
• 1 oz Sweet Vermouth
• 2 oz Plymouth Gin
• 1 dash Absinthe (Le Pastis d'Autrefois)
Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Twist a lemon peel over the top and discard.
This cocktail while delightful was not the best way to appreciate the vermouth since my dash of pastis was a bit too heavy handed and its flavors masked that of the vermouth's. So a few nights later we made another:

Marconi Wireless
• 2 oz Calvados or Applejack
• 1 oz Sweet Vermouth
• 1 dash Orange Bitters
Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
We made it once with Calvados and once with applejack. While it was pleasing using either base spirit, the winner was the third recipe we made yet another night:
San Martin (from the Boothby's World Drinks and How to Mix Them book)
• 1/2 oz Gin (Jonge Genever)
• 1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth
• 1 barspoon Yellow Chartreuse
Stir with ice and strain into a small cocktail glass. Twist a lemon peel over the top and discard.
The combination of the malty genever gin and the sweet herbalness of the yellow Chartreuse complemented my vermouth in ways that brought out different botanicals well. The San Martin and drinking the vermouth alone on ice made this MxMo project all worthwhile for me. The idea of making a 2:1 rye Manhattan with a Luxardo maraschino cherry was one of my original ideas to show case this vermouth before I got distracted by gins. Fear-you-not, it is on my agenda.

Bibliography:
http://marksexauer.wordpress.com/2008/10/07/making-dry-vermouth/
http://lastcrumb.com/2007/09/06/homemade-vermouth/
http://www.artofdrink.com/2007/03/how-to-make-vermouth.php
http://www.louchedlounge.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=4906
http://winemaking.jackkeller.net/request185.asp
http://makewine.com/winemaking/methods/vermouth/

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

[new orleans style rye-madeira cocktail]

2 1/4 oz Rittenhouse Rye
3/4 oz Madeira (Blandy's 5 year)
2 dashes Bittermen's No. 9 Orange Bitters
Stirred with ice and strained into a rocks glass pre-rinsed with St. George's Absinthe. Orange peel twisted over the top of drink and then discarded.

For my last cocktail at Drink, I asked John what he could do with sherry, and he replied by asking what I thought of a Madeira and whiskey drink. I told him to go ahead without telling me any more. The drink he made me was tasty, but a little different from what I was expecting given the original two ingredients. The extra aspect was the St. George's absinthe, a new brandy-based absinthe weighing in at 60% alcohol. New turns out to mean "To be released December 21st"... and it will be the first domestic absinthe produced in almost a century. The packaging said to me "your drink needs more cowbell!" St. George is rather herbal and spicy without being killer on the anise flavor. The absinthe did dominate the flavor of this particular drink although not in a bad way. It took it from my primordial preconception to a rather New Orleans-style cocktail. Andrea thought that a Scotch rinse might have taken it more in the former direction bringing more emphasis to the base spirits but she too was happy with the drink as it was.

[rhum agricot]

1 1/2 oz J.M. Rhum Blanc
3/4 oz Boissiere Dry Vermouth
3/4 oz Rothman & Winter Orchard Apricot Liqueur
Stirred with ice and strained into a cocktail glass. Garnished with a mint leaf.

For my second beverage at Drink, John Gertsen suggested keeping with the lighter colored spirits but switching to a white rhum agricole which was something I wanted to try. He suggested a lime, sugar, and ice direction which did not excite me as much. I countered with the idea of rhum, dry vermouth, and a liqueur of his choosing (as well as proportions of his choosing) direction. Dry vermouth with sweeter alcohols seems to strike a balance that makes my palate happy.

The cocktail John came back with was delightful. While apricot liqueur is often overbearing in many drinks (even in small proportions), this one was well balanced. The J.M. blanc had an earthiness to it that connected it well with the choice of Boissiere vermouth. Andrea thought my drink had a mango taste to it which might be attributed to the rhum playing with the apricot liqueur.

Monday, November 3, 2008

[autumnal junipero cocktail]

2 oz Junipero Gin
3/4 oz Carpano Antica
1/4 oz Nux Alpina Walnut Liqueur
Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Twist lemon peel over drink and discard.

Last night, Andrea and I went to Drink since they were finally open on Sunday nights. Going on an off night really works well with Drink's menuless format as it lets the bartenders take the time to discuss the drink direction before mixing and the opinions after tasting. When John asked what I wanted to start with, I said that I had been drinking lots of darker spirits lately, like whiskeys and dark rums, and that I wanted to return to the world of gins again. He said that he had been playing around with a gin beverage with Carpano Antica sweet vermouth and walnut liqueur using Beefeater gin, and he thought it would work rather well Anchor Steam's Junipero gin. I was game after having his delightful walnut cocktail of last fall, Foglia Noce, at No. 9 Park.

My first sip pleased me as the lemon oil wave subsided and immediately I was hit by the walnut flavor as a I swallowed. Further into the drink, the lemon oils on the surface were mainly gone and my palate was getting immune to the walnut taste such that the cocktail morphed more into a late 1800's style martini. It was almost like scoring two drinks in one.

[nusshaus]

2 oz. dark rum (Myer's was used)
1/4 oz. almond syrup
3/4 oz. lime juice

I could swear he also put a few drops of orange blossom water in there.

This was my second drink of the evening at Drink. The subtitle of the drink could be "and now for something completely different" because that is what I requested from John. "Astringent?" he asked. Yes - lime! "Bourbon?" No... I furrowed my brow. He: "Rum!" "Dark," I nodded. Then we started talking about a cocktail that Fred made the other night from Chuck Taggart's Gumbo Pages. It was made with Falernum, which they do not have at Drink. But this got John to thinking about a sort-of deconstructed tiki-style drink, with almond syrup representing the falernum. They make their own almond syrup by combining slivered almonds and sugar with water and letting it sit. They add crushed almonds after the infusing is done, and during the filtration step they dump in a bunch of brandy to rinse down the infusion vessel. The resulting syrup has a lot of nut fats suspended, giving it a cloudy appearance. Cocktails utilizing it need to be shaken vigorously, since the almond oil is only grudgingly soluble in alcohol.

The cocktail he made was a brownish-greenish opaque color that might have put off a less dedicated tippler than I. It was pleasingly lime-scented. The almond flavor comes in after the lime in the first sip, and then it dominated. The rum offers a nice, solid backbone. I made the curious observation that I often confuse the flavors of cherry and almond liqueurs, and concluded that these flavors must reside very close together in my brain.

[chaud lapin]

2 oz. bourbon (Old Fitzgerald was used)
1/2 oz. gomme syrup
1/4 oz. pimento dram

Stir with a mixture of cracked and whole ice in a mixing glass, and decant into a cocktail glass. Squeeze a generous amount of lemon peel over the top and discard.

Last night (11/2) marked the first time that Drink was open on a Sunday. Fred and I hopped on the Red Line last night after dinner in Davis Square and we arrived there to find the same cast of bartending characters as last time - Sam, John, and Ben. There were maybe a dozen patrons all clustered at the central bar. We chose the right-hand edge, and John asked us what we were in the mood to drink. I was leaning towards bourbon, and then I spotted the dram on the counter. John said he would make me a simple drink utilizing both, and I clapped in anticipation.

I don't know if there is any cinnamon in the pimento dram, but that's certainly what I tasted. The heat of the Old Fitz was dulled only slightly by the gomme, and the result was like an old fashioned candy with just enough bite. In the scale of trick or treat, this was certainly a treat.

Neither John nor Sam enjoy naming drinks. And since many of the cocktails at Drink are made up on the fly, I suppose naming each and every one would be quite an undertaking, and ultimately unhelpful. That's all well and good, but it leaves me in a bit of quandary as a blogger, since I'd like the titles of the posts to immediately evoke in my memory what the drink was like. So, I'm adopting the following convention: if a drink is unnamed, I'm simply going to make a name up and enclose it in brackets. Hopefully the name will evoke something, and provide a degree of entertainment value.

And if there isn't already a cocktail that's actually named "chaud lapin", well, there should be.

Friday, October 31, 2008

frisco flip

2 parts Rittenhouse Rye
1 part Benedictine
1 egg
2 dashes Boker's Bitters

Shake vigorously with cracked ice until the egg is emulsified and pour into a cocktail glass. Then add the Boker's to the foamy goodness.

Fred was feeling under the weather last evening, so on my way home from dinner with my co-workers [1], I made a solo trip to Rendezvous for walnut cake and a drink. While I don't have any problems with eating dinner alone at a restaurant, I don't feel entirely comfortable sitting at a bar alone because of my overwhelming shyness. Drinking cocktails just seems like a fundamentally social activity, and I usually rely on super-social Fred to strike up a conversation with a stranger when the bartender is otherwise occupied. Fortunately, Scott is great at facilitating introductions, and he introduced me to two other people at the bar who happened to be friends of his visiting from out of town. In almost no time, I found myself having a wholly engaging conversation with them and time flew (a bit too much, Fred was fast asleep by the time I got home).

I knew that I only wanted a single cocktail, and Jess has been making me jealous with all of these flips she's been writing about. It's rare that I order any flips, since Fred isn't a fan of egg-based cocktails, and my general rule is to get a cocktail that he can happily sample as well. I thought some kind of flip would go well with the walnut cake, so I asked Scott if he felt like making one. He came up with this variation of a Frisco, in honor of the fact that one of my conversation partners currently lives there (as did I, once upon a time) [2]. He lacked any nutmeg to grate over the top, but the added Boker's shifted the scent of the cocktail in the correct flippy direction. It was rich enough without any simple syrup and complemented the quince compote and crème fraîche perfectly.

I finished the evening with a discussion of touchscreen tactile feedback and a pony of green Chartreuse, then said my goodbyes and headed home [3].

[1] Authentic German food and *75* beers on draft!! The Horseshoe Pub in Hudson is an annual field trip for us during the month of October, when they have a special German food menu. I finally got to taste Berkshire Brewing's Coffeehouse Porter (on nitro). And eat more wiener schnitzel. And see tons of kids in Halloween costumes pass out on the chairs after their sugar high - Hudson had their Main Street Trick or Treat event last night.

[2] She told me that Absinthe is *the* place to get a classic cocktail in SF. Very fondly do I remember a few of the meals I had there when I lived just up the hill. The lavender crème brûlée I had there in '99 was possibly the best dessert I've ever had in my life.

[3] You'd think that all the heavy german food + beer + cocktail + dessert would be the perfect recipe for a good night's sleep, but instead I was awake until 5:30AM. What else was in that flip (or cake)? I felt like pure vibrational energy.