That Clear Crystal Fountain

A while back, as I mentioned, Spirit Sippers sent me their full line of…well…Spirit Sippers. Here I review their rum glass:

So you've seen this already? It's still my best shot of the Flare.

So you've seen this already? Yes, and? It's still my best shot of the Flare.

Spirit Sippers Inc.: The Flare Rum Tasting Glass

Eye: The glass has a gorgeous hourglass shape. While I did not get much of a presentation, it was shipped with lots of padding wrapped in tissue paper and then two large pieces of bubble wrap.

Nose: I found this glass to be wonderful. I will slowly taste a variety of rums in it to see how rougher rums fare, but with the El Dorado 15, the nose was completely smooth in the Flare, but a London dock glass provided a noticeably rough nose. In the Pampero Aniversario was similarly smooth, and much fruitier than my notes indicated from a snifter.

Hand: This is my only complaint about this glass. I would have preferred a bit more of a stem. While the glass is elegant enough without the stem, I think a bit more stem would provide additional ability to control the temperature of the glass, as well as a more comfortable hold.

Numbers: The bowl holds about .75 oz, and if you put the glass on its side, it will hold about a third of an ounce. If you were to fill it to the brim, it would hold 5 oz.

Addendum: I have been using this glass for most of my neat rum drinking, and all of my rum reviewing, and it has been wonderful. I feel that any rum you want to sip will come through clearer with this than at least any basic tasting glass (a short tumbler, a London dock glass, or an European-style whisky glass). I feel that some rums would probably fair better in other styles of glass. For example, a smoky rum might do better in a chimney-style whisky glass than this. Given that rum is such a varied spirit in comparison to a most other commonly drunk distillates, I think that the Flare does well at capturing them and presenting their variation.

Conclusion: I like this glass. It has a gorgeous elegant shape. If only it had a slightly longer stem, it might well be the perfect glass

So hand me the punch ladle, and I’ll fill up my flare,
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

I Love Mail!

Like everyone else, I love getting packages, and today, I got two wonderful ones:

  • One package was from an outfit called Spirit Sippers out of Washington, D.C. They contacted a bunch of people who hang out at the Ministry of Rum to try out their new rum tasting glass, the Flair. I was lucky enough to be sent one to review. You can see the preliminary review here, but I will be posting an in depth review here some time next month. When I mentioned to them that I also drank a wide variety of whiskys and fortified wines, as well as the occasional brandy, they asked me to review the rest of their line up, and today it arrived. In addition to the Flair, I got the Glencairn for old world whiskys, the Wide Mouth (a larger snifter) for American whisky, and the Tulip for Tequila. I personally really like the Flare, but the Glencairn is the most elegant, and I’m super excited.
  • The Munat brothers, aka Mssrs. Mixeur, put together what they humbly called a packet, but is really more of a book called Left Coast Libations. Libations is a compilation, as the name suggests of mixed drinks from the Left Coast. It’s contributors list reads like a who’s who of the cocktail blogosphere: Robert Hess, Paul Clarke, Jamie Bourdreau, the Munat Brothers, I coud go on. 27 contributors, 68 recipes and dozens of ingredients, including Amer Budreau, Limoncello, bacon fat washed bourbon, syrups, infusions, gastriques, shrubs, sugars, the list goes on. They handed it out free at Tales, and they were generous enough to send a copy to me as well. It’s all in promotion of their new cocktail database, Imbiblia.com. It’s not up yet, but be sure to check it out once it is.

Keep on drinking,
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 jalapeƱos). 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

Infusing…This Time With Wine

Welcome back to day two of the Wine Blogging Wednesday Fourth Anniversary Spectacular. Today we are covering sherry peppers. This is really only the first post on the project, as it will take about a month to infuse. Thus, this is my first Dramproject. That’s right every month or so I will be undertaking a month long project, and posting on it regularly. This month, it’s sherry peppers, and while it will likely often be an infusion, it may be brewing my own beer, or simply finding the perfect version of a given cocktail. So, without further ado I give you:
Everything needed for step one laid out and ready to go.

Everything needed for step one laid out and ready to go.

August Dramproject: Sherry Peppers

For those of you who are familiar with Bermuda, you are also familiar with that most wonderful of Bermudian condiments: Sherry peppers. Since I have been cooking regularly, I have found that I am almost unable to cook without my secret ingredient, the aforementioned sherry peppers. They are quite hard to come by in the States, and I didn’t get to Bermuda this year.

What to do? Well, I could just get off my lazy butt and, you know, make them. In addition, Outerbridges, the only company which makes sherry peppers commercially (as well as rum and sherry-rum peppers) gets quite the pretty penny for them: $7 for a five ounce bottle or $23 for a

fifth. On the other hand, I can make a batch of about half a liter of peppers for under ten bucks, and about ten minutes of my time. Moreover, I can then customize the sauce to my liking.

Sherry Peppers (Basic Recipe)

  • 2 c. – Sherry (Amontillado, preferably, just stay away from cream sherry)
  • 3-6 – Hot Peppers, quartered (Bird peppers or Scotch Bonnets would be traditional, but go with what you like.)

Allow to steep for at least two weeks, and up to a month, then strain and bottle.

There you go. Simple, easy, and while it takes a while, it barely takes any active time. However, I wanted to get a bit more flavour out of my sauce. If it was really that easy, the Outerbridges would be out of business. To get a bit more flavour out, I used a mix of peppers, and added a little more spice:

Scrivenal Spiced Sherry Peppers #1

  • 640 mL – Sherry (Taylor Gold)
  • 1 tsp – Ginger root, grated
  • 1 – Scotch bonnet pepper, quartered
  • 2 – Jalapeno peppers, quartered
  • 25 – Cloves, whole
  • 1 nut – Nutmeg, coarsely crushed
  • 1 stick – Cinnamon
  • 10 – Peppercorns, whole

Put ginger root, peppers, and sherry in airtight jar and allow to infuse for two weeks. Add cinnamon stick and peppercorns, and infuse for two more weeks. Add cloves and nutmeg and infuse for one to two days. Strain, season appropriately, and bottle.

All the ingredients in the jar and steeping.

All the ingredients in the jar and steeping.

That is the recipe I am following. Hopefully it will work out. I am hoping to get more complexity out of this batch, preferably something which I can also use as cocktail bitters.

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

This is the the first of several posts documenting my August Dramproject.

Well, that’s all I got. Enjoy,
The Scribe

MxMo: Cocktail Etoufee

Now without a doubt, this MxMo will break down into three distinct groups. The tikiphiles out there will whip up a bunch drinks from Don the Beachcomber, a New Orlinian. The classicists out there will be slinging milk punches, sazeracs, absinthes suisse, and vieux carres like they’re going out of fashion, not coming back in. Meanwhile the innovators will be modifying more modern New Orleans specialties like the obituary cocktail, the corpse reviver, and even the hurricane.
I hate going with trends, and I’m nowhere near good enough to make something that will stand out if I were to go with the trends, so that kind of leaves me stuck without too much to go on. I mean, the theme is New Orleans, and if I’m not going with a drink hailing from New Orleans, how am I to fill that challenge? As I was thinking this and despairing, an old joke came to my rescue:

“How does a creole chef change a light bulb?”
“Well, fus’, he make a roux…”

And how does a creole chef make a cocktail?
“Well, fus’, he make a roux…”

And with that I was off and running. After that, I got another bit of inspiration from one of my good friends from New Orleans, the guy who gave me my first mixed drink. The drink was known as a “Witch’s Brew” and I think has more to do with college than it does with New Orleans. First, you take an American pale lager, and to that you add a shot of whatever cheap spirits you have hanging around. Sounds yummy, dunnit? The last thing I needed came from a previous post on chocolate pairing, where I thought to use a solid, food ingredient, as a “virtual ingredient” in the cocktail.

With my three bits of inspiration together, I was ready to go. The first step, was a roux. A roux, for those of you who aren’t familiar, is mixture of roughly half fat and half flour that is cooked over medium heat. It is the mother the French “mother sauces” and thickens everything from gravy to gumbo…to cocktails. That was my hope was to get a nice thickening effect to get some extra mouth feel. Meanwhile, the proteins in the flour would act the same way egg or milk proteins do in egg and milk drinks. The longer you cook a roux, the more flavor you get out of it, but the less it can thicken whatever liquid you add it to. You start out with a white or blonde roux, and you progress in slowly darkening color until you get a “black roux,” which is when your roux burns and becomes useless. In Creole cuisine, the tradition is to use what is known as a brick roux which is where you cook your roux until it is brick red. Unfortunately, that’s about a shade shy of the black roux, and thus very easy to overcook. Instead, I went with a peanut butter roux, which was cooked until the color you can see at the right.

I had prepared a beer syrup in advance, using a cup of decarbonized beer, and a packed cup of brown sugar for reasons that will soon be apparent. I slowly added the cold syrup to the hot roux, stirring the entire time until it was all combined. The flour, in addition to everything else, also acted as an emulsifier. With a roux made up of a quarter cup butter, and a quarter cup flour, the whole mess came to a cup and a half of roux-thickened beer syrup.

I paired a chocolate chip shortbread with my cocktail. This used half of the roux-thickened beer syrup (3/4 c.), one and seven eighths of a cup of butter, two cups of brown sugar, which were mixed together, and then three cups of flour and a generous amount of chopped chocolate was added in. The mixture was poured into a sheet pan to bake for twenty minutes, then cut into finger-sized pieces.

All that was left was to assemble my cocktail:

The Witch’s Broux Cocktail

  • 3 pt. (2.25 oz.) – Rye Whiskey (Old Overholt)
  • 1 pt. (.75 oz.) – Roux Thickened Beer Syrup (see above)
  • 7-8 dashes – Aromatic Bitters (Peychoud’s)

Shake whiskey and syrup in a shaker and strain into an short tumbler full of ice. Spread thickened syrup over a piece of shortbread, and serve next to the cocktail. Garnish with a brandied cherry, and sprinkle bitters gently on top, instructing the drinker to give a stir before drinking.

While I did not have any cherries handy, the layering of the bitters on top gives the drink a pleasant appearance. In addition, by putting the bitters in at the end, the aroma of the bitters fills the glass, which is a pleasant bonus. I find that cherries tend to work as an excellent garnish for anything containing Peychoud’s bitters as it has some very pleasant cherry notes. It would be interesting to cut back a tad on the syrup, or at least its sweetness, and coat the glass in marascino to accent the cherry notes. Even without any actual cherries, this cocktail has a pleasant cherry taste, which plays quite nicely with the fruitiness of the summer ale I used for the syrup, and especially with the apple notes in the rye. My only other question for this cocktail was whether I should call it the “Witch’s Broux cocktail” after one of the key inspirations or whether I should call it the “Cocktail Etoufee” as etoufee is a roux with onions, pepper, and seafood cooked in it. My thought was to reserve the cocktail etoufee for more of a savory cocktail, but let me know what you think in the comments.

Be sure to check out the wrapup and also my previous entry, which I put up when I heard MxMo was delayed.

I bid you good drinking,
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