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

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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

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

Molecular Mixology Woes and Cocktail Goodness

So, as promised, I did, indeed, attempt to create “caviar.” One was a pomegranate-soy caviar and the other a ginger infused pomegranate-lime syrup. The former was supposed to be the topping for a really cool sushi-inspired dish I was working on. It was supposed to be a play on a classic caviar presentation of sour cream on a bellini topped with traditional fish roe caviar. Instead I was planning on a nori and sushi rice bellini with a bit of torro, a squirt of wassabi creme fraishe and the pomegranate-soy caviar. The second was supposed to make a cocktail I was making to go with the dish much more complex. The cocktail was supposed to be Cava (a Spanish sparkling wine), Pama (a pomegranate liqueur), and the lime-ginger-pomegranate syrup caviar. In its way it would have been a play on a Cava sour, sort of. I was hoping for the effect Jamie Boudreau mentioned with his cocktail, the Leigh’s Lava Lamp with the bouncing of the caviar.

Unfortunately, I didn’t quite get the solidification of the caviar that I was hoping for. I may not have added enough gelatin to the mixture. I added about a packet of gelatin to a half cup of ingredients and while it seemed to bead up nicely while sinking through the oil, when I tried to strain it, the caviars went right through the strainer. This was a bit of a problem. I’m hoping to try it again. Unfortunately, it takes about an hour per shot, and I was in the process of getting ready to plate a ten dish, nine course tasting menu, and was running a bit short of time.

Otherwise, the meal went fairly well. To be fair, I did let the grill cool down a bit too much so the tuna, while done just about perfectly, didn’t get a good sear on the outside. I also forgot my camera until the last course. The sorbet that I was making ended up as a granita, and I forgot to put out water pitchers. We also didn’t end up with port or coffee to end the meal since we didn’t quite make our way through the three bottles of wine that went with the dinner.

Big ups go Tiarre and Forrest from the Ministry of Rum forums for their recipes for baked papaya and papaya sorbet, respectively, as well as both their and the other forumers’ help in putting together the cocktail. Surprisingly, what I ended up with was exactly what was on the menu I had created beforehand, including the freezing of the sorbet into a granitta, and the simpler Cava cocktail. I present you, however:

The Grenade Royale:

  • .5 oz. – Pama Pomegranate Liqueur
  • 4.5 oz. – Sparkling wine (a fruitier sparkling wine like Cava or Prosecco works better than Champaign)

Chill both bottles well. Then pour wine over the liqueur, and serve. Use a lemon twist or, better yet, pomegranate seeds for garnish.

Pictures of the baked papaya to follow.

Enjoy!
The Scribe