Category Archives: Gin

Recipe Redux: Princeton

Today, I’d like to revisit a favorite cocktail, one I’ve blogged before, the Princeton cocktail. The Princeton is a lovely mix of gin and port, with a little orange bitters in the gin. The Princeton comes to us from George Kappeler’s 1895 book, Modern American Drinks. Here’s how Kappeler describes it:

A mixing-glass half-full fine ice, three dashes orange bitters, one an a half pony Tom gin. Mix, strain into cocktail-glass; add half a pony port wine carefully and let it settle in the bottom of the cocktail before serving.

Tom gin? This is a reference to Old Tom, a nearly vanished style of gin popular in the cocktail manuals of the late 19th century. It’s lightly sweetened and a little rounder in flavor than such London dry styles as Beefeater or Tanqueray.

When I’ve written about this cocktail before, I’ve used a version that I encountered in David Wondrich’s book Imbibe! Writing in the benighted year of 2007, Wondrich was unfortunately bereft of Old Tom gin, which had disappeared decades earlier from the U.S. market. Dr. Dave suggested a workaround, though–take Plymouth (a dry gin similar in its botanical base to Tom), and add a small amount of simple syrup for sweetness. In making this drink previously, I’ve used a rich simple syrup of either demerara or turbinado sugar, which produces a drink that looks like this:

Pretty, yes? My most recent version, though, looks like this:

Princeton

What gives? Well, as you know if you read my previous post, I’ve tracked down Old Tom gin, in the form of Hayman’s, a lightly sweet bottling out of the U.K. It makes a truly delicious version of the Princeton. Hayman’s has subtle citrus notes in its botanical blend, which pair well with both the orange bitters and the port. The clear top makes for a lovelier foil for the port below, and as you can see here, it even picks up light in a lovely way. My next step is to try it with Ransom Old Tom. That’s going to engender another batch of photos, however, because Ransom, as a barrel-aged gin, is brown like whiskey.

Princeton

  • 2 oz. Hayman’s Old Tom gin
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • 3/4 oz. port
  • lemon or orange twist, for garnish

Stir Hayman’s Old Tom gin and orange bitters over ice until well chilled. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Pour the port gently down the edge of the glass until it slides under the gin mixture. Twist the lemon or orange peel over the glass, but do not drop into glass. It will ruin the layering effect.

Photographs © Jennifer Hess. All rights reserved.

Hayviation

A simple variant on the classic Aviation, using Hayman’s Old Tom gin. I chose the Hayman’s because I have a problem with the Aviation; I think it’s just a touch out of balance on my palate, with the lemon juice so heavy and the sweetening agents so light. (However, I know that if you bump up the maraschino and violet liqueur, you’re going to get a drink that’s just nasty.) Hayman’s is only mildly sweet, as far as Old Toms go, apparently, so I thought I’d try it. I like it.

Hayviation

Hayviation

  • 2 ounces Hayman’s Old Tom gin
  • 3/4 ounce fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons maraschino liqueur
  • 1 teaspoon crème de violette

Shake over ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass; garnish with a lemon twist.

MxMo XLV Tea!

mxmologoXLV, XLV, hm. How does this work again? Subtract 32, divide by 9, multiply by … uh, wait, that’s not right. Oh, oh, I see. It’s 45. 45?! Geez, whodathunk. The theme this month, chosen by the boffins at Cocktail Virgin, is tea (tisanes included). Pip pip!

With a month or so to go before Cook & Brown opens, I’ve been thinking a lot about the cocktail menu. So when I’m mixing drinks at home, I often have an eye out for drinks that might play well on the menu, both immediately upon opening and also months down the road. To reiterate, the remit at Cook & Brown will be to source our ingredients locally when possible and to cook (and mix) with a seasonal focus. So if I’m going to play with tea, it should be local tea. That in mind, I returned to a farmers market vendor I’ve mentioned here before, Farmacy Herbs. A couple of their teas had promise, but for my purposes I chose the Unwind Your Mind blend, of chamomile, catnip, and lemon balm. One purpose of a good cocktail is to relieve stress and banish the worries of the day, and I thought a relaxing tea might help.

Relax and float downstream

I figured I’d add a little local honey and because they’re available right now, Meyer lemons. I shook it and topped it off with a little Q Tonic to make a refreshing twist on the ol’ Gin and Tonic. Not seasonal to dead of winter, sure, but should be lovely in the hotter months. Gotta think ahead, y’know. For the actual C&B menu, I’ll probably use the tonic from a local soda brand, Yacht Club, instead of Q. And eventually, I’d like to play with a house-made tonic.

Blackstone G & T

  • 2 oz tea-infused gin
  • 3/4 oz. Meyer lemon juice (will probably use regular lemon in summer)
  • 3/4 oz. honey syrup (equal parts honey and water heated on the stove)

Shake over ice, strain into ice-filled chimney glass. Top with tonic water.

DISCLAIMER: I am no longer a part of Cook and Brown.

Do dooo de do do, do do de do, do dooo de do do, de do do…

Recently, I received samples for review of House Spirits Distillery‘s Aviation Gin and Krogstad Aquavit. I’ve bought several bottles of Aviation over the last couple of years. I like it, even though it’s considered a “New Western”-style gin–meaning it de-emphasizes juniper to focus on other botanicals. Now, I like a juniper-forward gin. I always have a 1.75L bottle of Beefeater to keep on hand and threaten the cats with, and to my mind there’s no better martini than one made 3 parts Beefeater to 1 part vermouth. But I also like tripping through other styles of gin, and Aviation’s no exception.

The Krogstad, though, is new to me, and to be honest, so is aquavit as a spirits category. I can’t really judge the Krogstad except on its own merits, since I’ve never sampled its competitors. I really like it, though. It carries notes of anise and caraway right at the front, and it’s very tasty. I’m looking forward to what some might consider an unconventional use for it. I have a recipe for home-cured salmon, and where this recipe calls for Pernod, I’m planning to use Krogstad in its place. Yummy, yeah?

Mah Nà Mah Nà

UPDATED with photo by Jennifer Hess

But I’m not here today to review the products or speak of charcuterie. I’m here for cocktails, and I have a doozy that I whipped up to showcase these spirits. I call this the Mah Nà Mah Nà. If you want to know why, you’ll have to buy me a drink and I’ll tell you. This quaff, though, is a botanical bomb, all the more reason to love it.

Mah Nà Mah Nà

  • 1 oz. Aviation gin
  • 3/4 oz. Krogstad aquavit
  • 1/2 oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. yellow Chartreuse
  • lemon twist, for garnish

Shake it over ice like Animal, strain it into Miss Piggy’s slipper, and enjoy.

http://www.youtube-nocookie.com/v/kfXKZYRf_NY&hl=en&fs=1&rel=0&border=1

Carla Bruni

carlabruniEvery Thursday night, the cats at the Mixoloseum host a chat-room event in which folks get together to share original drink recipes. Cunningly named Thursday Drink Night, this event draws a good crowd each week. This past week’s Thursday Drink Night was sponsored by Martin Miller’s Gin. Now, I’ve written about Miller’s before. It’s a delicate, pot-distilled gin with notes of citrus and cucumber. It’s a favorite at Chez Dietschyblossom, and I love mixing with it.

I don’t often participate in TDN. Usually, Jen and I are catching up on our day right when it tips off, but because of the Miller’s theme, I wanted to participate last week. We had bought some beautiful flowering thyme from the farmer’s market, and I chose to infuse some of it into a small bit of the Miller’s. If you don’t want to take the time for thyme, you can get a similar effect by either muddling a couple sprigs of thyme into the mixing glass, or rubbing it against the inside of a chilled cocktail glass, to release its oils, before pouring the drink into the glass.

I hate naming drinks; coming up with something original is usually difficult. However, I’ve mentioned before that I think naming drinks for famous people is a “great and longstanding tradition” and it’s one I chose to uphold. Who better than the singer, songwriter, former model, and current French first lady, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy? (By the way, if you’ve never heard her sing, and I’ll bet you the first round you haven’t, you should. She’s got a smoky, torch-singer voice.)

(drink photograph by Jennifer Hess)

Carla Bruni

2 oz. thyme-infused gin
¾ oz. Lillet
2 dashes maraschino
2-3 dashes absinthe (be very careful with this, lest you overwhelm the drink)
Thyme sprig, for garnish
Lemon peel, for twist

Stir over cracked ice, strain into chilled cocktail glass, twist lemon peel over surface of drink and discard, and garnish with a thyme sprig. Sip while enjoying this video of Carla Bruni singing her own song, “L’Amoureuse,” from her third album, Comme si de rien n’était.

A mellow Martini

Friday night Martini

photograph by Jennifer Hess

There is something about a Martini,
A tingle remarkable pleasant;
A yellow*, a mellow Martini;
I wish that I had one at present.
There is something about a Martini,
Ere the dining and dancing begin,
And to tell you the truth,
It is not the vermouth–
I think that perhaps it’s the gin.

–From “A Drink with Something in It,” by Ogden Nash

*Consider this: Take a chilled mixing glass. Add cracked ice, 4-1/2 ounces gin, 1-1/2 ounces dry vermouth, and 2-4 dashes orange bitters. Stir it, and stir it, and stir it. Strain it into two chilled cocktail glasses, and you have martinis for two. You also have, if you squint, a slight yellow tint from the orange bitters.

Adventures in Catsitting: The Aviatrix

As some of you know, I spent much of the last week traveling to Southern Indiana to visit my family. My mother was recently hospitalized with an illness, and after her release I made plans to see her. Jen was unable to get away from work, so she was home alone with the cats. Without me around to fix our daily quaffs, she was on her own. So one evening, she got creative. She started with the basic Wondrich formula that I’ve described here, of 2 oz. spirit, 1 oz. fortified wine, 1 tsp. liqueur, and 2 dashes of bitters.

In thinking this through, she decided to play with one of our favorite drinks, the Aviation. This pre-Prohibition classic calls for gin, lemon juice, maraschino liqueur, and crème de violette. Jen decided to keep the gin and crème de violette. She provided the lemon notes with Fee’s Lemon Bitters and skipped the maraschino. For the fortified wine, she chose Lillet Blanc, which always pairs up nicely with gin.

Her initial attempt was unsuccessful. Why? She misread the recipe and used a tablespoon of crème de violette. Hey, we’ve all done it. But she tried again and met with success. For her first iteration, she used Right Gin, a relatively new product from Sweden. Right is a little sweeter than a traditional London Dry variety and less juniper-forward, and it includes black pepper among its blend of botanicals. The pepper, though noticeable, is subtle, and the gin is smooth and citrusy. Although I never tried the Aviatrix iteration she made with Right, I’m sure it was a good choice.

Her next version, however, was better, she later told me. For in iteration 2, she used the gin-of-the-moment, Beefeater 24. (Admit it, you knew where this was going.) Right and B24 are similar in that they both downplay juniper in favor of other botanicals, but their flavor profiles are actually pretty far apart. Right is softer and highlights the citrus and pepper, with little else shining through, whereas B24 is more complex and brings its entire botanical range to the fore. Nothing really dominates the flavor of the B24; the flavors are very well balanced, making B24 a more versatile gin, in my opinion.

As for the cocktail… well, think about it. Gin, Lillet, a splash of crème de violette, and lemon bitters. If you’re saying to yourself, “Sounds delicate,” well, you’d be right. It’s a subtle drink, especially with a restrained gin such as the B24. I actually suspect it might be a little better with the original Beefeater, and that’s certainly worth trying. Regardless, if you mix it with a modern gin like B24, Right, or Aviation, you’ll find a nice, delicate drink in which the flavors complement each other.

Aviatrix

photo by Jennifer (Mrs. Bitters) Hess

The Aviatrix

  • 2 oz. gin
  • 1 oz. Lillet Blanc
  • 1 tsp. crème de violette
  • 2 dashes lemon bitters
  • Lemon twist, for garnish

Stir over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Add garnish.

Jen did submit this recipe into the Mixoloseum chat room on Thursday, during the Beefeater-sponsored Thursday Drink Night. It doesn’t appear to have made much of a splash, and I’m not sure why. I was, of course, live at TDN this time, at Quarter Bar in Brooklyn, but I was having trouble keeping a constant WiFi connection, so I missed much of the early part of the chat. I didn’t get to see much of the discussion of Jen’s drink, if there was any. Also, her drink never made its way to me that night for a taste. There was something that might have been her drink, but I couldn’t taste any violette in it, so I wasn’t sure. So I’m really not sure how anyone reacted to it. I, however, love it, so nyeah.

Beefeater 24: I’m going to need a hacksaw

lda-beefeater-24Beefeater has launched its new style of gin in the United States, Beefeater 24. A production of Beefeater’s master distiller, Desmond Payne, 24 takes its name from the amount of time Payne allows its botanical blend to steep, prior to distillation. B24 features the same blend of citrus peels, juniper, coriander, and other botanicals as its father, Beefeater, but in a different balance of flavor. B24′s not so heavy on juniper, for instance, as daddy is. With B24, though, Payne adds a subtle blend of teas to the mix.

I received not one, but two sample bottles this week, and I’ve been slowly putting the new product through its paces. Our favorite gin cocktail is a simple martini; we’ve reached a point where we sip one together every Monday, to take the edge off the start of the week, and also every Friday, to celebrate the coming of the weekend. After trying many variations on the gin:vermouth ratio, I’ve eventually settled on a 3:1 mix, sometimes adding a hit of orange or lemon bitters to liven things up.

So upon receiving my samples, I immediately hit the B24 site to see what cocktails it had to offer. The second drink listed was the 24 Martini, a blend of B24, Lillet Blanc, and, what-do-you-know?, orange bitters. And lo and behold, the recipe offers the golden ratio: 60ml Beefeater 24, 20ml Lillet Blanc, and 3 dashes orange bitters. (Don’t worry, you don’t need to measure in milliliters; I’ll have my proportions at the end of the post.)

Now, a note about this Lillet Blanc: it’s a French aperitif wine, made by blending a number of wines with citrus peels and citrus liqueurs and then aging it in oak. Tasty simply on its own, it also deliciously complements the Beefeater 24. I would love to try a martini made with Lillet next to one made with vermouth, but I’m already pretty certain that the Lillet is the best choice.

The other notable thing about B24 is the beautiful bottle. One thing you can see if you look closely at the photo is the way the glass in the bottle reflects and channels the red of the punt throughout the bottle. The punt is the only area of the glass that’s actually red; everything else is reflection, and it shifts as you move the bottle around in your hand. It’s a lovely effect.

Photograph by Jennifer Hess.

Now, since Beefeater 24 is in the midst of launching in the U.S., it doesn’t appear to be available for retail just yet. At least, I haven’t found it yet on the websites of online retailers such as BevMo or Astor Wines and Spirits. I have no firm word on how much it will cost when it’s available; however, a press release at Business Wire says, “The suggested retail price for Beefeater 24 is $28.99/750 milliliter bottle, and $32.99/one liter bottle.” That should put it in a pricing tier with Bombay Sapphire and Tanq Ten, which seems reasonable enough to me, given that it appears aimed at that market.

24 Martini (makes two cocktails)

  • 4-1/2 oz. Beefeater 24 gin
  • 1-1/2 oz. Lillet blanc
  • Six dashes Regan’s orange bitters
  • Lemon slices, for garnish

Stir over cracked ice and strain into an up glass. Add garnish.

For another take on the B24, head over to Jay Hepburn’s site. A Londoner, Jay reviewed the gin just after its UK launch last autumn and liked it as well. He has detailed tasting notes, which is an area of spirits writing that I’m still working on, as I develop my palate.

Note: It’s going to be a Beefeater 24 kind of week around here. Later this week, I’ll be in New York to participate live in something we call Thursday Drink Night (TDN). Every week, some reprobate picks a theme for TDN. A bunch of other reprobates gather in a chat room like the geeks we are to create and discuss original cocktails on that theme. For Thursday, April 30, the theme is Beefeater 24. I hope to review another B24 drink between now and Thursday, so just bear with me a few days if it doesn’t interest you.

MxMo: Cocktail Virgin

Hey! The awesome ladies of LUPEC Boston are hosting this month’s edition of Mixology Monday, and it’s a subject that I feel kinda warm-and-fuzzy about. Pink Lady posts about a random encounter she had with a Christian-rock musician who had never had a cocktail but wanted to try one, and she wasn’t sure what to recommend. Funny. I used to be a born-again Christian. I don’t remember any of my Christian friends drinking anything stronger than beer or Communion wine. If today’s Christians are looser, I’m cool.

I remember the day I decided to start trying mixed drinks. It was my last day on the job at Pearson Education in Indianapolis, where I copy-edited computer books. I was leaving for Bloomington, 50 miles south, for a master’s program in library and information science. To celebrate my last day, I met up with a bunch of friends for dinner and lots of drinks.

Up to this point, I drank mostly beer and some bourbon, on the rocks or neat. In a weird little emo stage after “breaking up” with a girl I had hardly dated, I chose to drink as much vodka as I could before passing out. I think I had a third of a bottle. Ironically, I had, by this point, turned my back to a moonlighting stint at a liquor store and had never really tucked into the offerings on hand. I was intimidated by all the choices. The big plastic bottles scared me, but the other options frightened me even more. I didn’t know where to begin.

So, my final day of work arrived. I pulled into Buffalo Wild Wings (classy, that’s me) early and awaited my friends. I decided to get brave, to venture into a new frontier of drinking–the mixed drink. The <gasp> cocktail. I wracked my brain trying to decide what to order. Beer with the wings, of course, but what to start with? I’ll ease the suspense. My answer? Gin and tonic.

That, my friends, was my gateway drug into this delightful hobby. (How I got from gin and tonic to Tales of the Cocktail is another post.) That’s the mixed drink that popped my cocktail cherry. What popped yours? (Comment below. Don’t be ashamed.)

In that spirit, I wanted to propose a gin-based fizzy drink. You might recall, from such classic episodes as Guilty Pleasures, that my first drunk drink drunk was at a cousin’s wedding, when I was 14 and drinking a gin-and-Sprite Tom Collins. So I have no qualms about holding gin up as a cherry popper. If I can do it, anyone can.

Shut up and give us a drink, you holler? Okay, dammit. Serve this to your cocktail virgins.

Hail Mary Fizz

  • 2 oz. gin
  • 1 oz. Grand Marnier (Cointreau, triple sec, whatever)
  • 1/2 oz. Meyer lemon juice

Shake over ice. Strain into a highball glass. Top with fizzy water–tonic, soda, whatever. I sprayed in some soda from my phancy phountain. Garnish with your best wishes and love.

Happy New Year!

As promised/threatened, I made the Ford Cocktail that Ted “Dr. Cocktail” Haigh recommended on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday. Doc said to Liane Hansen that this is a drink he wants to revive in 2009 and rightfully so. It’s delicious. He describes it as lovely and beautifully balanced, and once again, the doctor’s prescription is right on the money. I’m happy to do my part.

Although the only source Haigh mentions is “an 1895 book,” I was able to uncover it with my fancy Google fu–George J. Kappeler’s Modern American Drinks.

Text not available

Modern American Drinks How to Mix and Serve All Kinds of Cups and Drinks By George J. Kappeler

Haigh modernized the measurements for Hansen as follows:

Ford Cocktail

  • 1 oz. gin
  • 1 oz. dry vermouth
  • 3 dashes Benedictine
  • 3 dashes orange bitters
  • Orange twist, for garnish

Technique: Stir over cracked ice in a mixing glass. Strain into chilled cocktail glass. Add garnish.

Notes: Doc didn’t actually mention the garnish to Hansen, but since it’s in Kappeler’s, I’ve added it. You can see from Jen’s photo that I used lemon. You might recall that Jen’s allergic to orange. Finally, to address the perennial question–how much is 3 dashes of Benedictine?–I dashed the orange bitters first into my measuring cup and noted the level. I then carefully measured a roughly equal amount of Benedictine.