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

A Wonderful Spicing

Well, the Dramproject is now complete. It is absolutely gorgeous. It is everything I wanted and more. The sherry is spicy and peppery and kicks like a mule. It worked great in the twilight squall cocktail, and, more importantly, it is going wonderfully in soups and as part of my steak marinade (3 oz. Worchestershire sauce, 3 oz. soy sauce, .5 oz. sherry peppers for each steak, marinade for .5-3 hours). Basically, it is everything I could ask for and more. Whip yourself up a batch today!

Pictures to follow.

Take care now,
The Scribe

Like Apples And Oranges

So, the problem with this comparison is that is like comparing apples and oranges. While both sherry and port are classed as fortified wines, along with madeira, marsala, and a half dozen other styles, they are very different types of wine, the same way that apples and oranges are both fruits, but taste quite different. Further, the sherry I tasted was a low end cooking sherry, while the port was a high end vintage port. While both were on the sweeter side for wine, the port was, as port often is, very sweet, almost to the point of being sickly. The sherry was a lot less sweet, but also a lot less complex. Which is better? Damn if I know. It’s all a question of what you are up for. A fine celebratory desert wine? Go with the Bogle port. A simple quotidian apertif? The Taylor sherry will fit the bill just fine. In addition, tonight I enjoyed Grahm’s Six Grape Ruby Port and the 1999 Reciotto della Valpolicella from M. Castelli. The port was reasonably ordinary with nice berry and subtle nutty notes. The Valpolicella was interesting. While my father remarked that he had never had Manischewitz served cold before, I found the wine surprising. While it was indeed quite sweet the wine had an unexpected roundness to it, but the shocker was the finish. The finish felt like eating a fresh raspberry. If I could only drink one wine for all time, I guess it would have to be the sherry or the Valpolicella, just because the ports were both too sweet, but, to be honest, I would really want to limit my enjoyment of any of the wines to a less common-place thing.

This probably hasn’t been the most useful comparison, but I will say that between the two, the Grahm’s port was just as good as the Bogle, and likely much cheaper, so I would go with that. I will compare the sherries as soon as I crack the Barbadillo.

Keep your spirits (and wines) strong,

The Scribe

If You Won’t Do Madeira, M’Dear

Perhaps sherry will lift your cheer? As you ought to know by now, I have been infusing with sherry, trying to make some complex sherry peppers as a sort of spicy cocktail bitter, as well as for cooking. Now, in such an application, starting with something interesting, like a fortified wine or an amber spirit, adds complexity to the finished product. On the other hand, since the end product is going to be basically a complex refined hot sauce (mmm…sherry pepper Buffalo wings…yum!) I wasn’t going to shell out for really good sherry here. I used fairly inexpensive cooking sherry. Of course, I still needed to see how it was, and I was quite surprised. Let’s take a look:

A Glass of Taylor Sherry

A Glass of Taylor Sherry

Taylor Wine Co.: Golden Sherry (New York, USA)

Tasting Conditions: I had this glass of sherry as an evening night cap after a reasonably easy day. While I poured the second to last drink from the bottle, I opened the bottle the same day this review was made for infusion purposes. I drank from a Ministry of Rum tasting glass of six ounces which should still work fine for sherry.

Eye: The wine is a redish amber honey color in the glass. A swirl generated thick, very slow forming legs. The bottle was reasonably attractive with a square-pentagonal label that was not unattractive, even if it was not very elegant. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the wine came with a cork, though it didn’t fit as well as I might have liked.

Nose: The nose was quite sweet with raison and vanilla aromas. It was not particularly complex, certainly not in comparison to some spirits, but I also found some oak in there after a little sniffing.

Mouth: This sherry was everything sherry is supposed to be. In fact, I was rather pleasantly surprised given that I am used to this being a cooking sherry. It is quite sweet, with good grape taste. There was also a hint of vanilla, and none of the oak I got from the nose. To my palate it was a bit watery however. In fact, compared even to some beers, it had a very watered down mouthfeel.

Conclusion: This sherry was surprisingly good, given both the price, and the intended usage. I got a sherry primarily for infusing into sherry peppers, but this sip suggests something that I might get again for an evening sip. It is not necessarily what I would serve to guests, but I suspect that it will work quite well both for myself and as a quoditian aperitif or digestif as well as in a cocktail.

Come back tomorrow for the wrap,
The Scribe

Not Just Any Port in a Storm

Thinking myself particularly refined, I decided to celebrate my 21st with port rather than Champagne. What can I say, humility was never my strong suit. In retrospect, I should have gone with the sparkling. However, I did enjoy my bottle of vintage port, even if I did regret it a little.

Regular readers of my blog (both of you) will note that I am posting a review on Monday, not Wednesday as is my custom. For these theme months, what I am trying to do is to run a line up of items within a similar grouping over the course of a week with a comparison on Wednesday. This week, I’m running fortified wines. I have a port tonight, and then sherry for tomorrow and Thursday.

Bogle Winery: 2000 Vintage Limited Release Port

Tasting Conditions: I enjoyed it fresh from the store. Traditional 8oz brandy snifter. I enjoyed it shortly after lunch on my twenty-first birthday.

Eye: I can’t say too much about this since I have drank port perhaps once before. The legs appear reasonably middling in thickness. The wine itself is a deep ruby red, almost the color of black currant. The bottle itself it quite nice. A traditional desert wine bottle. I will suggest that the plastic fake wax is a pain to get off and in my pulling it off may have damaged the cork.

Nose: The nose it a bit more potent than most of the wines I am used to, in keeping with the fact that it is fortified. One the other hand, it seems relatively grape-y without too much additional flavor.

Mouth: It’s quite sweet, again, in keeping with the fact that it is port, and incredibly smooth. Unlike most sweet wines I have enjoyed, the sweetness is not cloying, and, indeed, is rather pleasant. The end is nice, with a pleasant caramel flavor, while the front, as I mentioned is quite sweet as well, with an almost apricot tinge. In between there is the slightest bite of the alcohol, which tells you what you are drinking.

Conclusion: This is quite nice. I bought it as a treat for myself on my birthday, and, to be honest, it’s a bit outside the price range of what I would get under any other circumstances. However, it’s also extraordinarily good. I don’t have much experience at all with lesser ports, so I cannot make a very good comparison, but I think this bottle will go a bit quicker than it needs to.

Keep it sweet,
The Scribe

I’m A Bit Mixed Up

I thought it was about time to mix up some wine into a cocktail, well, another one. I looked around and found this recipe for a fino rickey: sherry, gin, squeeze of lime, and seltzer. I mixed it up, and it was lacking, but a double dash of orange bitters did the trick. It’s still not my ideal drink, but it’s not a bad summer cooler. Try it out:

Fino Rickey

  • .75 oz – Gin (Gordon’s)
  • .75 oz – Fino Sherry (Taylor’s Golden)
  • .2 oz – Lime Juice
  • Seltzer Water
  • 2 dashes – Orange Bitters (Regan’s #6)

Stir up everything except the seltzer with ice, then top up with seltzer.

You know, as I sip this drink there’s actually something about it. I can’t really put my finger on it, but there’s just something intriguing about it.

Pictures to follow.

Chichi!
The Scribe

Jumping the Gun

Add cinnamon stick for more spice.

Add cinnamon stick for more spice.

So it turns out I jumped the gun just a bit with my Wine Blogging Wednesday post. Turns out last week wasn’t Wine Blogging Wednesday, but today is. So it goes. I took the opportunity to check up on this month’s Dramproject, my Scrivenal Sherry Peppers (#1). I found that they were coming along a bit quicker than I had anticipated (probably because of the ginger, and also I think I am using serrano peppers not jalapeños). Anyway, I tossed in the cinnamon stick and have generally moved up my schedule for the sherry peppers by about a week. Also, check back in a few hours for a review of Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot Barleywine.

See you soon,
The Scribe