Mixology Monday: You Drank WHAT?

mxmologoGood evening all. The challenge this MxMo was to “broaden your horizons.” I really liked this challenge. (Obviously, it was my challenge, I better have liked it!) It gave me an excuse to do four things I really wanted to do. First, I sort of got to play with molecular mixology, you can be the judge on that one. Second, it gave me an excuse to go for a strongly bittered cocktail – a full half ounce. Third, it allowed me to use a new ingedient. Finally, I was able to return to what I really love to do in cooking, and wanted to do in cocktails.

I have a confession to make. I have drunk Balsamic vinegar – straight. I’m pretty sure that if Balsamic vinegar had alcohol in it, that would be enough to qualify me as an alcoholic, much as my friends who drank vanilla extract certainly do. For Khanukah (Chanuka, Hanuka, whatever), I was given The New Basics Cookbook, which, incidentally, despite being published in the Eighties sticks to classic cocktails, not overly sweet contraptions. Anyway, when discussing Balsamic vinegar, the authors note that what we think of as Balsamic vinegar is merely flavoured red wine vinegar, not the authentic stuff, which, in Modena, where the reall stuff comes from, they drink it straight as a digestivo. So I tried it, and you’ll get the results on Wednesday. In the meantime, here is my entry for Mixology Monday.

Almost looks like a glass of Guinness

Almost looks like a glass of Guinness

The Espresso Stout Cocktail

  • 1 oz. – Dark Rum (Cruzan Black Strap)
  • .5 oz. – Aromatic Bitters (Peychoud’s)
  • .5 oz. – Curacao or Triple Sec (Gran Gala)
  • .5 oz. – Balsamic Vinegar (I used a Condimento grade, a Tradizionale grade, or even a 25 year old or older would be even better.)
  • .25 oz. – Simple Syrup
  • To Top – Sweetened Egg White Foam

Stir together all ingredients but the egg whites. Pour into a medium height narrow glass (pouse cafe, beer tasting, vodka, etc.). Top with foam.

Adjust the simple syrup to taste. Balsamic vinegar is a tad on the tart side, so if you don’t like your cocktails bitter, up the sweetness factor. If you sip Angostura, then feel free to eliminate the syrup entirely.

In cooking, I really enjoy making things that appear to be something else: a ceviche that appears to be an oyster, sushi in the shape of a classic caviar presentation, and so on. What I was able to do here was make a cocktail that looked like a stout. When contemplating what spirit to pair with the vinegar, I realized that Balsamic vinegar is dark. I decided to go for it, and tossed in a dark rum to darken it up. By adding a foam on the top, I got what looked just like a stout. In seeking to ballance it, I deicded to go for the complexity of a heavily bittered drink, and figured that the Peychoud’s would pair nicely with the Balsamic. From there, the decision to use the Cruzan instead of either the Pusser’s or Gosling’s was pretty much made for me.

The final result is delicious. A little sweet, a little sour, a little rummy, a little molasses, and the egg white makes it all smooth as a baby’s bottom. The egg white foam wasn’t really setting up properly so I got  a bit of egg white on the bottom. I just tried to avoid drinking it and that was okay, but if you do it for yourself, and next time I do it, I’ll work harder to make sure that doesn’t happen. It might be even better with something like Benedictine instead of Gran Gala. Try one for yourself and you will see just how good it is.

In the interests of getting this up in a timely manner, I will upload a picture as soon as I find the cord for my camera.

Stay playful,
The Scribe

A New Year’s Toast

Hey all.

I would just like to wish everyone a joyous, profitable, and otherwise happy new year. I hope it is better than this and any other. To toast this sentiment, might I suggest a…

Seelbach Cocktail

  • .75 oz. – Bourbon Whiskey (Maker’s Mark)
  • .5 oz. – Curacao (Gran Gala)
  • 7-8 dashes – Aromatic Bitters (Angostura)
  • 7-8 dashes – Aromatic Bitters (Peychoud’s)
  • Top (4-5 oz.) – Sparkling Wine (Cava)

Stir whiskey, liqueur, and bitters with ice to cool, then top with chilled bubbly. I recomend Cava or Prosecco over the more traditional Champagne or California sparkling as the fruitier elements of Cava or Prosecco will tie it better to the orange cordial and Peychoud’s.

I would generalize that advice to all cocktails, as I find, unless you are simply mixing Champagne with crisp spirits, the fruitiness of some other European sparkling offerings works better.

Happy new year, and an easy morning after,
The Scribe

Mixology Monday: Hot and Heavy

mxmologo‘Tis that time of year again, and that time of month as well, the time when all of us cocktailians get together and have ourselves a grand old time writing about cocktails. This is an especially good time for me because my Real Life™ commitments finally allow me to write. I am also happy to announce the next Mixology Monday, below.

Anywho, it’s getting awfully cold. I’ve stopped wearing sandals regularly, which I only do if it’s below freezing out there. One thing that really wamrs me up after a cold day is a nice hot beverage. The first one I have created is inspired by Charlotte Voisey from Hendrick’s Gin. She talked about bringing teatime to cocktail hour, and that is exactly what I did with:

The Redcoat’s Aunt

  • 4 oz. – Vannila Roohibos Tea (From my local looseleaf tea shop, brewed strong)
  • 1 oz. – Rye Whiskey (Old Overholt)
  • .5 oz. – Curacao (Gran Gala)
  • .5 oz. – Aromatic Bitters (Peychoud’s)
  • 1 drop – Orange flower water

Stir together everything except the tea and flower water. Pour the tea hot over the top. Garnish with freshly grated nutmeg and an orange twist. Spritz orange flower water over top.

This is really quite nice. The warmth of the tea, both physical and the warmth of the vanilla flavour, really cuts through the bitterness of the Peychoud’s allowing the flavour of it to come through. The Peycoud’s ties quite nicely with the Gran Gala. The rye gives it just a litte backbone. All in all a very pleasant blend. I really like warm drinks and another one which is great in front of a fire after, for instance, a long day of hiking in a frigid downpour is:

Mulled Wine

  • Claret (Nothing too fancy)
  • Oranges
  • Cloves
  • Lemons
  • Simple syrup
  • Water

Slice up fruits (1 orange and half a lemon or so per bottle of wine) and add simple syrup (about 2-3 oz. per bottle of wine) and a handful of cloves to a pot. Add water to cover, but as little as you can. Bring to a boil and reduce. Then add wine. Keep heat as low as possible, stirring until wine is warmed through.

Mulled wine is one of those great soul healers. I enjoy it as often as I can.  There are few things better than sitting in front of a fire in a wilderness lodge after a good day of ice climbing, ski mountaineering, or the like, with a nice cup of mulled wine, good company, and lots of good grub.

Pictures to follow.

Stay warm on cold nights,
The Scribe

MxMo: You Scratch My Back…

mxmologoWell, it’s been a month since our last little gathering, and two since I participated, so, to make up for it I have two cocktails for you with a total of three ingredients from scratch. First off is a little something from way back in the day when they had no choice but to make it all from scratch:

The Chinese Cocktail (After Jerry Thomas)

  • 2 pt. – Jamaican Rum (Appleton V/X)
  • 1 pt. – Grenadine (Homemade)
  • 3 dashes – Curacao (Gran Gala)
  • 1 dash – Aromatic Bitters (Angostura)

Stir to combine and serve as you like.

Now this is obviously a riff on the “fancy cocktail” with grenadine replacing the syrup, and the orange cordial adding just a bit of complexity. I should not that in order to make my grenadine, I simply reduce pomegranate juice by a third without adding sugar, as I find most pomegranate juice quite sweet enough. But this is hardly original. Let’s try something with a bit more interest:

The Island Inferno

  • 2 pt. – Dark Rum (Cruzan Blackstrap)
  • 2 pt. – Medium Sherry (Taylor Golden)
  • 2 pt. – Orange Juice
  • 1 pt. – Falernum (Paul’s #8)
  • 5 dashes – Spicy Cocktail Bitters (Scrivenal Spiced Sherry Peppers #1)
  • 2 dashes – Aromatic Bitters (Angostura)

Shake it all up over ice, and serve straight up in a cinnamon rimmed glass.

Now this is something worth drinking. Of the cocktails I have invented to date, this is by far the most successful. There is something wonderful going on here. It hits notes that you don’t often see cocktails hitting, and that was quite intentional. For just about any cocktail, you have some sweet, some sour, and from time to time, some bitter. There’s nothing wrong with this, but asside from a few savoury cocktails, it’s rather predictable. Here, I made a cocktail that burns the back of the throat as it slides down, and does all sorts of other nice things, without being a blood mary. It’s just a much more complex cocktail than most of what I am exposed to.

I highly recommend that you go for the Cruzan offering here. The Blackstrap is a much fruitier rum than, say, Gosling’s, which makes it work much better in this cocktail. It combines nicely with the orange juice, which transitions nicely into the sherry. The peppers pick up the sherry, while adding island spice and heat. The spices are reinforced by the falernum, which also moderates the spiciness. I am, justly, I think, quite proud of this concoction.

Pictures to follow as soon as my camera charges back up.

Keep on scratching,
The Scribe

Mixology Monday: And It’s All For Me Grog

Good day internet cocktailians the world over. Welcome to Rum Month at the Dram. The subject for this month’s Mixology Monday is “19th Century Cocktails.” While the drinks I present today aren’t necessarily cocktails per say, they are certainly mixed drinks that were popular at some level in the 19th Century and early 20th Century. Today I am playing with three or four ingredients: lime juice, sugar, rum, water, and the occaisional addition of lemon juice, mint, or triple sec.

The first drink up on our tour of rum sours is one of the most traditional, and, arguably, the origin of many modern sours, at least those on the English islands. The origin of this drink is the Royal Navy. Of course sailors could not be expected to sail their ships sober, so the Admiralty began issuing a pint of rum every day in two installments. To cut down the taste of strong navy rum, and also to prevent sailors from hoarding it, they added a lot of water. The story goes that Admiral Vernon added citrus juice to the stagnant, foul water that was common on naval ships of the era to try and make the combination of foul rum and foul water more palatable. Sailors would then add whatever they cold to sweeten the drink. Vernon was known as Old Grog variously because of his grogram coat or because he was “groggy” or crazy in the parlance of the time, and gave his name to this concoction:

Royal Navy Grog (Traditional)

  • 1 gill (4 oz.) – Rum
  • 1 quart (16 oz.) – Water
  • 1 oz. – Lime Juice
  • To taste – Whatever sweetener is on hand. (Honey, molasses, etc. but not refined sugar)

Mix together in whatever drinking vessel is available and serve at room temperature. The traditional method of drinking is to slam the whole concoction. You want a garnish? You’re on a ship of war. Don’t be rediculous.

It’s a bit unrefined, and, to my palate at least, the lime clashes a bit with the dark rum. So why not try a white rum, you ask. Ah, now we get into a bit of a debate: How do you juice the lime? What ratio of lime to sugar do you use? What sort of sugar do you use and in what form? What type of white rum do you use? The answers to these questions give you a wide variety of basic rum sours. Let’s start with the most classic, at least in America. We juice our limes careful to avoid pulp or oils, and use white granulated sugar in a syrup:

The Daiquiri (Classic)

  • 2 parts (2 oz.) – White Rum (Cruzan Estate Light is my preference, but a Cuban style would be more tradional)
  • 1 part (1 oz.) – Lime Juice
  • 1 part (1 oz.) – Simple or Invert Syrup

Shake with ice and serve either over crushed ice in a tall bar glass or straight up in a stemmed cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime wedge.

Instead of using simple syrup, we could use boiled down cane juice, and replace a Cuban rum with a rhum agricole from the French islands and we would be left with:

‘Ti Punch

  • 1 bottle – White Rhum Agricole (A cachaca is better than plain white rum, but even white rum will work)
  • 1 bowl – Lime Wedges
  • 1 small pitcher – Cane Syrup (Simple, brown, or unprocessed sugar syrup will work as would some other subtly flavoured syrup like agave. This is not the time for maple syrup. If you are using brown sugar syrup, cut it 50/50 with simple.)
  • 1 bowl – Ice

Place small tumblers out with the above fixings, and let guests mix their own after the tradition chacun prépere se sprote mort (“each prepares his own death”). The traditional portions would be a dash of the syrup, a wedge of the lime an a generous pour of the booze. Ice is optional.

Of course, you could replace the white unaged rhum agricole with with an aged version to get a Punch Vieux. If you like it bitter, though, what better way then to get some of that good lime oil in with the drink. How do you do that, you may ask. Why not muddle some lime wedges? And while you’re at it, let’s use cachaca instead of something from the Caribbean. And, you know what? I’m not feeling the syrup. If we’re muddling the lime, I think we should be using some plain old syrup to get the abrasiveness, and it’s a bit more rustic. Guess what! We just made a…:

A Caipirinha

A Caipirinha

Caipirinha

  • 1.5-2 oz. – Cachaca (Not having any, I used Cruzan Estate Light)
  • 3-4 – Halved Lime Wedges (about half a lime)
  • 1 Tbsp – Granulated Sugar (a raw sugar is better, but white is fine)

Muddle the sugar with the lime wedges in a tumbler, and then add ice and the rum. Stir briefly to cool and garnish with a lime wedge.

What? You want to muddle some mint in with your caipirinha? And then you want to add some seltzer water? And use a Cuban rum? Well, you could do all that, and call it a Mojito. Oh, you meant aged Cuban rum. And you’re out of seltzer so you are going with Champagne? That’s silly. But if you insist, I guess we could toss in a dash of Angostura and call it an Old Cuban. What? You want a more Anglophonic rum sour? I thought the grog at the top would have been good enough, but no. There’s just no satisfying some people. I guess that means we should go with:

Rum Punch

  • 3 parts – Gold Rum (Mount Gay Eclipse)
  • 2 parts – Sugar
  • 2 parts – Water
  • 1 part – Lime Juice

Mix the sugar, water and lime juice into a cold syrup. Add in the rum and shake with ice. Serve over ice in a tumbler. Note that the shaking and the ice in the tumbler make up the remaining two parts ice to give you one part sour, two parts sweet, three parts strong, and four parts sweet. Use .5 oz. as one part for a decent cocktail. You may want to back off the sugar a bit though, as I find this a bit on the sweet side.

There. That’s a pretty thorough overview of the rum lime sour. I hope you’re happy. You’re not? There’s just no pleasing some people. How about something from the old school. Maybe something from the Professor? How about a:

Santa Cruz Sour

  • 2 oz. – Santa Cruz Rum (Appleton V/X)
  • 1 oz. – Water
  • 1 Tbsp – Sugar (white, granulated is fine)
  • .25 oz. – Lemon Juice
  • .25 oz. – Lime Juice
  • 1 dash – Triple Sec (Jaquin’s)

Mix the water, sugar, and juices into a syrup. Add the triple sec and rum and shake with ice to combine. Serve either in a cocktail glass or in a tumbler over ice. Garnish with either a lemon or lime wedge.

Is that good? Can I go home now? No? You want more? But you’re bored of the basic sour? Jeesh. What do you want? It’s not like I get anything out of writing this blog. I should just quit and go do work. Oh fine. I’ll give you one more:

The Bajan Legend

  • 2 oz. – Gold Rum (Mount Gay Eclipse)
  • 2 oz. – Falernum

Build in a tumbler with ice and garnish with a lime wedge.

Yup. That’s a sour. After all, what is falernum but a sour mix with more rum and some spices added? Ha! You still want more? But not from the 19th Century? You know the theme is 19th Century cocktails, right? Okay, I’ll give you one inspired by a daiquiri.

The St. Germain Daiquiri by Charles Joy

  • 2 oz. – Bacardi 8
  • .5 oz. – Lime Juice
  • .5 oz. – Orange Juice
  • .5 oz. – Simple Syrup
  • .25 oz. – St. Germain
  • 2 drops – Orange flower water
  • 1 – Egg white

Shake everything but the flower water together without ice to combine. Add ice and shake it to wake it up. Serve in a cocktail glass, top with flower water and garnish with a candied flower.

These are the quantities as best I can guess from the seminar where it was presented. I hope you all are happy. I pulled together a round dozen rum sours, almost all of which date to the 19th Century.

Pictures will slowly migrate up as I finish making and getting pictures of the final few cocktails and get them off my camera.

And so, in the spirit Monday, I offer a toast to those at sea, who drink their grog,
The Scribe

Mixology Monday: Gimme Some Flavouh

Today is Mixology Monday, and this week we have a pretty difficult topic. Unfortunately, I had to do a wine cocktail, which made it even more difficult. If this were two hundred years ago, this would be easy peasy. Medford rum was the best in the world, and I live in the town next door. And, beyond rum, there was ahm, well, the water was almost decent, and they produced, well, they didn’t produce bitters.

Wait? What the hell? The whole point of cocktails, at least according to Dr. Wondrich, was to import the best ingredients in the world, from the most exotic places in the world. So, I refuse to do a single Boston cocktail…But in the spirit of cooperation, I will pull a local cocktail from my home town of Chicago in the New York Sour, and one in my home away from home, Bermuda, where I spent my childhood in both the rum swizzle and the twilight fog cocktail.

First up is my drink from the Second City: The New York sour. Wait…What? Chicago drink…New York sour? This does not follow, but according to Dave Wondrich, it became quite the sporting thing in the City of Big Shoulders to top up your rye sour with just a bit of claret.

A margarita glass allows the layering to shine.

A margarita glass allows the layering to shine.

New York Sour from Imbibe by David Wondrich

  • 1.5 oz – Rye Whiskey (Old Overholt)
  • .75 oz – Simple Syrup
  • .75 oz – Lemon Juice
  • .75 oz – Claret (Castillero del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon)

Shake whiskey, syrup, and juice together, and float claret on top. Serve in a cocktail glass. Garnish with a flag.

I would use just a tad less lemon juice, and I also topped it up with a dash each of Peychaud’s and Regan’s orange bitters. This would also make a pleasant punch if topped up with a few ounces of ginger ale or lemon-lime soda for every serving. And now onto my childhood in Bermuda.

The rum swizzle is a classic of the Swizzle Inn in Bermuda, and quite possibly my mother’s favorite drink.

Rum Swizzle by the Swizzle Inn

  • 1 oz – Dark Rum (Gosling’s Black Seal)
  • 1 oz – Gold Rum, preferably Bajan (Mount Gay Eclipse)
  • .5 oz – Orange Cordial (Jaquin’s Triple Sec)
  • .5 oz – Lemon Juice
  • 1.25 oz – Orange Juice
  • 1.25 oz – Pineapple Juice
  • .5 oz – Falernum (Paul Clarke’s #10)
  • 1 dash – Angostura Bitters

Shake all the ingredients together and serve over ice in a tall glass, or use twice the above recipe for every two guests and serve as puncheon. Garnish with a flag, straw, and swizzle stick.

But it wouldn’t be MxMo without a Scrivenal Original, and this is no exception. On the other hand, if I didn’t use ingredients local to somewhere it wouldn’t be “local flavour.” So, in that spirit, I update the good ol’ dark and stormy (which I covered last month, here), into a modern cocktail, adding this bittering ingredient:

Or, you know, if you don't have a cocktail glass, you can just make excuses.

Or, you know, if you don't have a cocktail glass, you can just make a lot of excuses...

The Twilight Squall Cocktail

  • 1.5 oz – Dark rum (Of course use Gosling’s Black Seal)
  • .5 oz – Falernum (Paul Clarke’s #10)
  • .5 oz – Ginger Syrup
  • .5 oz – Lime Juice
  • 1 dash – Aromatic Bitters (Angostura)
  • 2 dash – Pepper infused wine or spirits (Scrivenal Sherry Peppers #1)
  • 1-2 oz. – Bermuda Stone Ginger Beer (Barret’s or Regatta)

Shake all ingredients together, serve in a cocktail glass, top up with Barret’s and garnish with a lime wedge, a cherry, and/or a cube of candied ginger.

Feel free to substitute Scrivenal Sherry Peppers #1 with Outerbridges sherry peppers or rum peppers, or of course, your own family’s traditional recipe. However, my peppers are spiced with other spices so sub the falernum and ginger syrup with a third ounce each pimento (“allspice”) dram, ginger syrup, and falernum to get the spice notes. You could also replace the ginger syrup with Canton or Giffard’s ginger cordial.

This cocktail tastes quite similar to the dark and stormy which spawned it, and this is with fair intention. However, the falernum, bitters, and spiced sherry all combine to take this from a simple refreshing highball to a complex, gingery, rummy cocktail. While the dark and stormy is a great drink for the plantation porch or the sailboat cockpit, the twilight squall is cocktail for the dinner club in town or the yacht club bar.

Stay local,

The Scribe

My Bowl Floweth Over

Last night we celebrated my housemate’s 21st birthday in the appropriate style with lots of carrying on and suchlike. While we offered a full, if low end, bar to our guests, the focus was on a rum and sparkling wine punch.

Pomegranate Birthday Puncheon

  • 3 L – Sparkling Wine (We used J. Roget which is “methode moderne” or gas injected. Please use better wine.)
  • 1 L – Rum (Bacardi works, but something like 10 Cane or a good gold would work better.)
  • 1 L – Pomegranate Juice (Bottled is, of course fine, but fresh is always better.)
  • 1/3 L (1.5 c.) – Simple or invert syrup
  • 1/4 L (1 c.) – Fresh lime juice
  • 1/8 L (1/2 c.) – Fresh orange juice
  • 25 dashes – Peychoud’s bitters

Mix together in a large punch bowl. Chill with very large ice cubes (freeze water in a bowl) and garnish with cut up fruit from the juice, and pomegranate seeds if available.

While this punch was entirely drinkable, and masks a pretty massive kick behind a somewhat sweet fruit taste, it wasn’t wonderful. For a start, the sparkling wine being cheap American stuff (even worse than Andre), not only failed to add to the taste but, indeed, subtracted from it. In addition, since sparkling wine that gets its bubbles from gas injection holds its bubbles much worse than either the methode tradicionale or the metodo Italiano, the hoped for bubbly effect was not present. My reworking of the recipe was:

Scrivenal Sparkling Pomegranate Puncheon

  • 8 pt (1.5 L) – Sparkling Wine (Cava or prosecco would probably be better than Champagne.)
  • 4 pt (750 mL) – Gold Rum (Mount Gay works well.)
  • 2 pt. (1.5 c.) – Lime juice
  • 1 pt. (3/4 c.)- Grenadine (Use the real stuff from pomegranate juice. If you find this a bit sweet, cut the grenadine with pomegranate juice reduced by half.)
  • 1 pt. (3/4 c.)- Pomegranate liqueur (Pama works, but so would DeKuyper.)
  • 1 dash/oz. rum (25 dashes) – Peychoud’s bitters

Stir together with a generous pinch each of cinnamon, allspice, and salt in a punch bowl. Garnish with lime wedges, spent fruit shells, pomegranate seeds if available, and fruits of the season.

This, to my mind, is a much better punch, and at 27% alcohol packs an even stronger punch, while still tasting even better. In addition, by using the grenadine, or reduced juice, the taste of the juice comes through much stronger. The sweetness can be easily adjusted by mixing all of the ingredients together except the grenadine, then add the grenadine slowly, tasting as you go. Once you reach the ideal sweetness, make up the difference with pomegranate juice reduced by half. I find pomegranate juice only a bit on the sweet side, so it gives flavour without affecting the balance of the drink quite as much as grenadine does.

May good drinks and merriness follow you all the days of your life,
The Scribe