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


Quit Your Wining

Downtown Wine & Spirits, my choice for premium beer and high end everything had their annual wine tasting and sale yesterday, so, of course, I meandered on down. They were pouring quite generously enough, and I sampled the full line from Moët & Chandon and Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin, as well as a variety of other sparkling wines from all over the world. I hit the highlights of France, America, Italy, Spain, Chile, Argentina, Australia, and pretty much anywhere else they have figured out how to grow grapes. They were pouring wines that sold for $5 per bottle, and wines that sold for $100 per bottle. All in all a great showing.

The standout for me was a bottle called Le Cyclot or something along those lines. It was an unfiltered and unfined wine made from biodynamically grown grapes, and then of course, aged in oak. It might well be the single nicest wine I have ever tasted. It was smooth as a baby’s bottom and full of all sorts of yumminesses. Unfortunately, my wine budget doesn’t go to such premium sips, or I would have put away a case of this vintage.

Now the tasting was combined with a 20% off sale. Let me just say that the combination of lots of free wines and a fifth off the asking price is a disasterous combination for the Scribe’s wallet. In addition to a Crémant d’Alcace, I picked up a couple bottles of a nice Italian red, a  bottle of Gran Gala and a bottle of rye.

Keep up the good drinking,
The Scribe

Together, At Last

Well guys, it’s been a long journey, but we’re here. This marks the last post of Wine Month August. I’ll be finishing up the August Dramproject tonight, and posting an update. While it’s a few days overdue, I’m posting here a comparison of the Undurraga cab sauv and the McWilliams sirrah. I think this works out to a question of pairing. As for me, I generally don’t drink wine on its own. I tend to drink beer, amber spirits, or cocktails when I am drinking without food, and, with the exception of sacramentally, I tend to drink wine only with food.

So, that begs the question, which is better with what? I think the shiraz stood up to the beef we ate it with, but I feel that the cabernet would have been a better pairing. On the other hand, I think that the Australian wine would have been better with lighter foods than the Chilean, and that the reverse would also have been the true. So, there you have it. Both were quite good quotidian wines. Neither was spectacular, but I enjoyed them both.

I’ve enjoyed drinking wine with you this month,

The Scribe

An Ocean Between Us

As I compare southern hemisphere reds these two days, I needed, of course, to hit Chile. Chile has been a staple for those of us who enjoy fine wine on a limited budget. Today I bring you a cabernet sauvignon from the Malbec Valley. Let’s take a look:

A Glass of Undurraga

A Glass of Undurraga

Undurraga Wineries: Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 (Chile)

Tasting Conditions: I enjoyed this glass of wine with dinner one night to kick off the week. I had it in a red wine glass of approximately ten ounces volume, though, obviously, I only filled it to the bulge. The wine had been opened a day or two previously and recorked, so a little oxidation had occurred.

Eye: The wine was a dark royal purple in the glass with very slender legs. The bottle was a classic wine bottle, and the label was very square. The label was quite neutral being neither particularly elegant or artistic, nor suggestive of an inferior bottling.

Nose: The nose was surprisingly rough for wine, especially as oxidation usually smoothes out the wine a bit. However, I did get berries, and a bit of apple in the nose, in addition to the usual musty grape.

Mouth: While Cab Sauvs tend to be sweet, this one was especially surprising to me. It was quite sweet, though not to the point of being unpleasant. Otherwise, I got berries, citrus, and wineyness in the first sip and as I was finishing the glass after the meal, I also got mint and spice elements suggestive of oak.

Conclusion: This was certainly an acceptable wine. I have no idea how it priced out, but if it was around my usual wine budget, I would be more than happy to pick up a bottle.

I’m Bound For South Australia

Way back at the beginning of the summer, we had our first nice meal as a house to say goodbye to one of our housemates who was heading home for the summer. It is ironic that I post this review tonight on the eve of her return, but I saved it for a wine month, which was a concept that I was coming to even then. Anyway, this week, we are doing red wines from the southern hemisphere: an Aussie shiraz and a cabernet sauvignon from Chile. Tonight is the shiraz:

McWilliams Wines: 2005 Shiraz (New South Wales, Australia)

McWilliams 2005 Shiraz

McWilliams 2005 Shiraz

Tasting Conditions: We enjoyed this shiraz with a farewell dinner for one of my housemates. It was accompanied by pasta, brisket, and broccoli. I enjoyed it in a standard six ounce wine glass.

Eye: A fairly dark crimson wine in a rather attractive package, though standard. One minor note, I was a bit hard pressed to find the proof of the wine.

Nose: A sweet, grape nose was evident with some berry (raspberry?) as just the slightest hint of citrus.

Mouth: This was especially smooth with barely a hint of bite. It did not come on particularly strong. The berries continued into the mouth though the citrus notes were not evident. It was also perhaps a bit nutty. I would also say this wine was almost chewy in texture. While it was nicely balanced, I would also suggest that it was, perhaps a bit sweet.

Conclusion: This is quite a pleasant vintage. When we got it, it was on special for less than $8. At that price, I would buy many bottles of this wine. It would perhaps be more fitting as a wine with red pasta than a strongly flavoured meat. This would be a great wine for white wine lover to introduce them to the red stuff, which, in fact, was also part of why we got it.

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

I Was A Somollier Once, And Young…

When I was a wee little lad, of thirteen young years, I was called upon to choose my first wine. I was on vacation in Ecuador, and the restaurant that we went to had a wonderful wine list. They had inexpensive wines, and they had very, very nice wines. They had Chilean wines, Argintinian wines, Brazilian wines, Peruvian wines, even Ecuadorian wines. What about European wines? Vinos Norteamericanos? Ahm…No such luck, and my luck was that my aunt and uncle had no idea about South American wines. So, after deciding a grape, as the only Spanish speaker, it fell to me to choose the wine. Then something caught my eye: diablo. The Devil. How could I resist?

“Castillero del Diablo,” I said, in my best Sevillian accent. “El cab-ar-net so-vig-nan.”

Wow, what an order. Anyway, I decided to revisit the choice. I have had this wine in the interim, so when I went to the package store to pick up a bottle, I got some pretty major sticker shock. I remember the wine being about $6 per bottle. I found it to be double. Now liquor tax is much higher in Boston than Chicago, and I’m sure we always got it on sale, but anyway, I tasted this again with dinner tonight, and, again, I was quite pleased. My first choice was a good one. Hopefully the first of many.

A glass of good wine.

A glass of good wine.

Concha y Toro Winery: Castillero del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 (Chile)

Tasting Conditions: I drank this vintage after a lazy day watching the games of the 29th Olympiad just before dinner. I used a six ounce red wine glass for the tasting. After opening the bottle, I allowed the wine ten minutes in the glass to breath.

Eye: This wine is almost black in the glass with just a hint of dark ruby. It truly gives additional meaning to the term “wine dark sea.” A swirl revealed the wine’s very stubby legs. The bottle is quite elegant as befits the reserve du chateau with the “Castillero del Diablo” logo of a stylized devil quite prominent, being on the seal, the label, and even embossed on the bottle.

Nose: While grape was dominant in the aroma, oak was also quite prominent. Behind that, there was a hint of orange zest and just a touch of must which promises a wine on the sweeter side.

Mouth: This was a wonderful tasting wine. The taste started out with just a hint of lemon juice, though not quite so sour. The flavour blossomed into a medium bodied grape with a fairly medium body. The finish revealed the somewhat clichéd bell pepper notes. It was much less astringent than I expected, or perhaps feared. Continued sipping suggested some notes of spice, specifically clove and cinnamon.

Conclusion: I am not sure I would buy this bottle again, but only because I tend to stick under the $10 mark, admittedly a tough challenge in Boston. However, with that said, were I spending what they ask, I might well take in a bottle of the Diablo. If this wine was half as good when I first chose it in Ecuador almost a decade ago, I made a good choice.

This is the last of four posts I am presenting for the fourth anniversary of Wine Blogging Wednesday. You can read the others from the original post, which you can find here.

I hope you have enjoyed this little spectacular,

The Scribe