Category Archives: Mixology Monday

Mixology Monday: A Simple Twist of Great

mxmologoOkay, kiddos, it’s that time of the month again! Mixology Monday! This month’s theme is a pip, Superior Twists. Our host this month is Tristan Stephenson of the Wild Drink Blog. The remit is simple:

This month’s Mixology Monday is all about twists on classic cocktails, that for one reason or another do an even better job than the drinks upon which they are based.

This could be as simple as a classic Margarita with a dash with a special touch that completes it, or maybe as complicated as a deconstructed Hemingway Daiquiri with a homemade rum foam/caviar/jus/trifle. It might be taking a classic like a Manhattan and using Tequila instead of Bourbon?

In that spirit (ho ho!), I’m offering up the Ruirita, a rhubarby twist on the Margarita. First, lemme give you fools the recipe, and then I’ll tell you how I came up with it and which unsuspecting dolts I thieved my ideas from. So!

Ruirita

  • 2 oz. tequila, blanco (make sure it’s 100% agave; I used Inocente–why? because I had a free sample and the bottle’s sexy, but also because it’s a good tequila)
  • ½ oz. Cynar
  • ½ oz. lime juice
  • ¼ oz. simple syrup
  • 3 dashes Fee’s Rhubarb bitters
  • 2 drops orange flower water, to rinse glass

Shake over ice. Rinse chilled glass with orange flower water. Pour the flower water into the sink, and fill glass with love.

Smile.

Now, I had been thinking about this drink over the weekend, trying to decide what I wanted to do. I remembered the rhubarb bitters Jen bought me a few months ago, and how I hadn’t really used them much. I then started thinking how I’d like to try them with tequila. Off to Google!

I didn’t find many rhubarb/tequila pairings, but the first thing I found was from Jacob Grier, who put up a drink with tequila, port, rhubarb bitters, and Benedictine. That sounded fabulous, JG, but wasn’t the way I was headed. (Jake revisited the tequila/rhubarb bitters idea in his post for this very MxMo, so be sure to check it out on Jacob’s site. Again, we’re headed in different directions, but he’s done a man’s job with his drink.)

However, Jacob did point me in another direction that I wanted to explore–Cynar artichoke bitter liqueur. Yes, artichoke and rhubarb. Jacob’s post mentions a drink that Robert Simonson discussed last year. Robert’s quaff inspired me to try Cynar and rhubarb, but it was my own warped psyche that led to the tequila, rhubarb, and artichoke delight. Jen and I love Cynar, and I don’t think I make enough opportunities to play with it.

The final element that I cribbed from another blogger was the orange flower water. A post on Kaiser Penguin has a drink with a glass rinse of the rhubarb bitters and the flower water. I wanted the orange to hint of the orange liqueur you normally find in a margarita, but orange flower water can quickly overpower a drink, so I chose the rinse. Rinses tend to engage the nose more so than the taste buds, so that seemed the way to go. However, I wanted the rhubarb bitters incorporated into the flavor of the drink, so I didn’t use them in the rinse.

So, I built the Ruirita in a mixing glass, stirring and tasting. I added the tequila, Cynar, lime, and bitters first, not wanting to deviate far from a traditional margarita. But Cynar’s more bitter than a Cointreau or another triple sec, so I needed a bit of sweetness. I didn’t want to add another liqueur–frankly, with tequila, Cynar, rhubarb, lime, and orange, there’s already enough going on with the drink’s flavor. So I added a touch of simple syrup, to provide neutral sweetening.

What resulted was a pretty damn good drink, I thought. Well balanced and complex, but not confused. The flavors melded very well. Jen was surprised, in fact, and wondered what demon had infested my soul to suggest this particular combo of ingredients. (That’s exactly the way she put it, by the way: “Man! What demon haunteth thou so that you blendeth these ingredients in yon tail of the cock! I shalt call upon the church for an exorci— Hey, this is pretty good. Wow.”)

So, try it please, and let me know what the hell you think.

(Photograph by Jennifer Hess.)

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.

MxMo XXXVI Hits You Where It Hurts

Happy Mixology Monday, fellow tipplers! The theme this month is Hard Drinks for Hard Times, and the host is the hard man himself, Matthew Rowley. What Matt wants to know is, has the recession affected your drinking, and if so, how? Matt, himself, has already chimed in on this problem, with a story that begins with his own recent job loss.

I understand where he’s coming from.

Y’see, in the last few months, my own working life as a freelance copy editor has dried up to nothing. When Jen and I moved to Providence in April of last year, I was very busy. So busy, in fact, that I was turning projects away and supporting both of us, while Jen searched for work in her field. I was so busy, too, that I didn’t see any reason to seek out other work, or make contingency plans in case things fell apart.

Which, of course, is just what happened. Things fell apart, and at the moment, I’m not working at all.

Fortunately, Jen’s salary is enough to cover our living expenses, so that any money I might bring in goes toward savings, travel, spendier bottles of liquor and wine, and so on.

As my workload has dwindled, our drive to the bottom of the liquor industry’s pricing structure has quickened. We’ve been rocking the Evan Williams since before Dave Wondrich sung its praises in Esquire. (At about $22 for a 1.75-liter bottle, it’s almost stupid not to buy it.) I’m feeling especially lucky in that my personal favorite martini is based on Beefeater, which we can get in 1.75L form for about $30 around here.

We’ve even lately–it is like confessing a murder–brought in boxed wines for our everyday drinking, saving our bottled-wine budget for weekends and holidays.

But enough about this–two more comments, and I’ll move forward with a drink recipe.

What Does This Mean for A Dash of Bitters?

I’m happy to announce that this month marks the third anniversary of this blog, A Dash of Bitters. Despite our recent change of fortunes, I have every desire to push on to year four, and I have plans for the next year that will stun and amaze you! I’ll even ask you to help me out with ideas for my Big Project of 2009! More on that in a week or two.

Is Dietsch Going to Tales of the Cocktail?

Less happily, my current unemployment is forcing me to reconsider my commitment to attending�Tales of the Cocktail this year. This is not an easy decision, but unless my workload rises to at least part-time levels soon, there’s no way we can save the money in the short time between now and July. Further, Jen has a newborn niece and an 88-year-old grandmother; she’s never met her niece and hasn’t seen her grandmother in three years. I have a teenaged nephew I haven’t seen since he was a pre-teen nephew. Our travel priorities for 2009 are for family, I hope you’ll understand.

If things change, I’ll be happy to let everyone know that I or we will be in New Orleans this July, but at this moment, I can’t possibly see it happening.

Onward.

We’ve been living pretty high off the product samples lately, and they’ve really helped us eke our way through some otherwise-dry patches. I thought, for this MxMo, I’d put together a drink based almost entirely on product samples.

Main ingredient, Bulleit bourbon. I love this stuff. The mashbill is such that it apparently has the highest rye content of any bourbon on the market. I love rye, so perhaps that explains why I love Bulleit so much.

Next up, Cherry Heering, followed by B&B. A little Grand Marnier, some fruit juice, and a hit of bitters. Squirt on some charged water, and that’s your thing.

The bourbon, Cherry Heering, and B&B were all product samples. I had the Grand Marnier on hand, alongside bitters and citrus.

What we’ve got here is a Singapore Sling variant, of course. I call it the Recession Special Sling, after the hot dog specials at Gray’s Papaya in New York. We both loved it. Now, finally, the recipe:

Recession Special Sling, using whatever the fuck I had on hand already

2 oz. bourbon
1/2 oz. Cherry Heering
1/4 oz. B&B
1 oz. Grand Marnier
3 oz. lemon juice
1 oz. lime juice
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Shake, strain into a Collins glass, and top with club soda or charged water.�

DSC07791
photograph by Jennifer Hess.

MxMo: New Horizons

Onward, young rangers, to a new horizon! Let us strike out across this great land to explore strange new territories, seek out new life and new ci…

Uh. Oops. Heh.

The theme of the January MxMo is Change. How appropriate, right? New horizons, new ideas, change. Our challenge, from the anonymous Scribe of A Mixed Dram, is appropriate–to simply “Try something new!

Huzzah!

My choice for this challenge features the bitter liqueur Ramazzotti, an Italian tonic that you can sip as an aperitif or a digestif, or even just mix into a cocktail. Now, I’ve had the Ramazzotti on hand for a long time. I bought it in Brooklyn, back before we moved to Rhode Island. My plan was to make a small batch of Jamie Boudreau’s Amer Picon replica. Well, I’ve had the bottle for nearly a year, haven’t made the Amer Picon, and have seen Ramazzotti in local liquor stores. So what’s the point of letting this bottle languish in a box for another year?

I grabbed a copy of Robert Hess’s new book, The Essential Bartenders Guide, at Borders last week. (This is a book that’s screaming, loudly, for an editor. A full review of the book is pending.) Among the recipes in Hess’s book is the Chaplin, a mix of bourbon, sherry, Ramazzotti, Cointreau, and orange bitters. That’s what I chose to mix up tonight. The Chaplin is a good drink, well balanced but on the tart side. It’s not bitter, by any means, but it’s nothing to serve to anyone with a sweet tooth. The nuttiness of the sherry really shines. (I’m starting to really love sherry in cocktails.)

Photograph by Jennifer Hess

Chaplin

  • 3/4 oz. bourbon whiskey
  • 3/4 oz. dry sherry
  • 3/4 oz. Ramazzotti
  • 1/8 oz. Cointreau
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • lemon twist, for garnish

Technique: Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Add garnish.

Ward, weren’t you a little hard on the Beaver last night?

MxMo logoIt’s time again for Mixology Monday. If you’re new to this, Mixology Monday is a thing we cocktail nerds do. Every month, a different blogger volunteers to host, picks a theme, and posts a round-up after everyone has weighed in. (My previous MxMo posts live here.)

Anyway, for installment 34, Craig, from Tiki Drinks & Indigo Firmaments has chosen the theme Spice. I’ll let Craig describe what he’s going for:

Spice should give you plenty of room to play – from the winter warmers of egg nog, wassail and mulled products to the strange and interesting infusions of pepper, ceubub, grains of paradise, nutmeg — what have you! I would like to stretch the traditional meanings of spice (as the bark, seed, nut or flowering part of a plant used for seasoning) to basically anything used for flavoring that isn’t an herb. Salt? Go for it. Paprika? I’d love to see you try. I hear that cardamom is hot right now.

So, there ya go.

I thought about this one a lot. Mrs. Bitters and I do a lot of home cooking–well, she does most of it, but I get a few things in from time to time. And we use a lot of spices in our cooking. Last night, we were talking about this challenge. Jen suggested that I should flip through some of her cookbooks to find spice combos that might work with booze. She also reminded me that we had a pomegranate in our fridge. This led us to one of her Middle Eastern books, since pom is a staple in some Middle Eastern cuisines.

I found a recipe for cooking duck with walnuts, pomegranate, cinnamon, and a few other spices. The recipe reminded me of a drink I had at Hearth, in New York’s East Village earlier this year. The drink was called the Jim Hogg, and it featured a pecan-infused rye. I’ve wanted to infuse nuts into whiskey since tasting that drink, and this recipe got my wheels turning.

I grabbed a bag of walnuts from the fridge, tossed a handful in a Mason jar, and threw in a couple of sticks of cinnamon. I added some whole rainbow and white peppercorns, not too many. Obviously, you need to finesse the pepper. I used whole corns; if you crush or grind them, you’ll have an entirely too peppery drink. Finally, I added a strip of lemon peel. Zest would have been better, but I was winging all of this. Call it the mania of inspiration.

I poured five ounces of Old Overholt rye whiskey over this mess, sealed the jar, and shook it well. I stored it in the coldest, darkest place in the apartment and agitated it several times over the course of the 24 hours.

After infusing this stuff for 24 hours (probably too little time), I strained it. I decided to mix it with grenadine and lemon juice, and then realized this was a Ward Eight variation. Why not just go with that? A lot of drinks are nothing more than subtle variations of other drinks.

The results were fine, although probably underinfused. The drink carried hints of walnuts, cinnamon, and pepper, but only very vague hints. I think 48 – 72 hours of infusion would have been better.

Nevertheless, I present the Ward Cleaver, with the caveat that it needs tweaking. I’m working on a longer infusion with the same spices but in 101 proof Wild Turkey bourbon. The higher proof will draw out more of the flavor, and I’m going to let it go a little longer. Anyway, enough gab. Recipe follows.

Ward Cleaver

  • 2 oz. rye, infused with walnuts, cinnamon, peppercorns, and lemon zest.
  • 3/4 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. grenadine
  • Dash Fee Brother’s Barrel Aged Bitters

Shake ingredients over cracked ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish? You could go decorative with a cinnamon stick or a bit of walnut, or you could go for flavor by twisting on lemon peel. You could also get crazy! Pulverize a couple of walnuts, mix them with sugar, moisten the rim of your glass, and dip the rim in the walnut-sugar mixture. I would never do that, but maybe you’ll want to.

MxMo 32: Guilty Pleasures

MxMo logoMan, 32 already, huh. It seems just yesterday that MxMo was finally old enough to drink–soon, MxMo will be old enough to run for president of the U.S. Ain’t that crazy?

Now, the topic of this month’s installment is …

uh…

Oh, that’s right, guilty pleasures. Sorry if I zoned out on you there for a moment. I had to run to the kitchen to make sure my Jell-O didn’t burn. I’m prepping a test batch of a Halloween-themed, brain-shaped Melon Fusion Jell-O mold, spiked with Sour Apple Pucker and Absolut Sheboygan.

All right, everything’s gelling up just fine, so it’s time to talk dirrrrrrrrty pleasures.

Except. I don’t really have many anymore. Not to be snahby or anything, we just don’t drink that way for the most part these days. The only thing I feel guilty about is that when we have a second drink before dinner, it’s almost always an Old Fashioned. I get creative for round one and lazy for round two.

That’s not to say I don’t have a history of embarrassing drinks. The first drunk that I can recall was at my eldest cousin’s wedding, in Southern Illinois, in–oh– 1982 or so. I was 14 and obviously underage, but the bartender served me at the reception anyway. My first drunk, I shit you not, was on Tom Collinses. Now, I guess that’s not terribly embarrassing, but they weren’t really Collinses as much as they were gin and Sprite.

Actually, I think that’s exactly what they were: gin and Sprite. And at 14, I wasn’t much of a drinker, so three of those in about an hour kinda messed me up. I went back to the hotel room, read Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, laughed my ass off, and fell asleep, at which point a million-gallon vat of custard upended itself over me without warning.

I proved myself such a man that weekend that my grandparents started plying me with drinks when we’d go visit them. Ah yes, such a gentleman of leisure I was in my high-school days that I developed a taste for the Fuzzy Navel.

http://www.metacafe.com/fplayer/844481/fuzzy_navel_cocktail_drink_recipe.swf

I can’t believe this guy gets workAt least he didn’t pick his nose this time

But just because I’m no longer prone to quaffing gin and Sprite while chortling at Marvin’s antics, or sipping a Fuzzy Navel in front of the Rose Bowl parade, doesn’t mean I’m always high-brow when I’m out drinking. When Jen and I were in New York, we went out often with friends, and that normally meant a good dive bar or neighborhood pub. Unless we were in a specialty beer bar, such as D.B.A., I was always happy to go with a humble brew of regional renown.

Yes, East Coasters, behold my favorite party-time beer in New York:

Yuengling Lager

Thanks to Stevi for hosting, and for choosing such a fun topic.

MxMo: 19th Century Drinks, or, An Ode to Those Libations and Tipples that Once Graced America’s Finest Drinking Emporia

Greetings, friend. From the fresh wax on your mustache, I gather you’ve just left the barber’s. Well, have a seat and let The Only Dietsch mix you up a cup or two. I have a couple of sips you might like.

Now, I think you might have had this first one before. Yes, I think you just might. The bar was a bit busy that night, and so I’m not sure you got to watch the master in action. This is a drink, my friend, that calls for a touch of finesse. What? That’s an unkind thing to say, sir, mighty unkind. I don’t have to remind you where the door is, now, do I sir?

No, no, I am merely jesting with you, sir, merely jesting. I would never turn away your custom, sir. Now, as I was saying. This drink requires a light touch to achieve the layering effect that marks this drink as one of refinement. No, no, I know what you’re thinking. This isn’t a sweet drink like a Pousse Cafe! Not at all. Leave those to that dilettante Ellestad! You’ll have none of those in my bar!

All right, all right. To the drink, then, to the drink.

Text not available

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

(Stepping out of character, I followed the instructions David Wondrich gives in the book Imbibe, and used 2 oz. Plymouth gin with a teaspoon of rich simple syrup–hence the darker coloring in the gin portion. The bitters are Bitter Truth orange, and I used 3/4 oz. port.)

Yes, sir, I agree that it’s a fine drink. When you sip it slowly, the port gently seeps up through the gin and gently enriches the genever. Why, sir, if this drink is not still served in the bars and taverns of the twenty-first century, I should be mightily sad.

But now, remember, young lad. When you’re adding the port, be careful. Take it slow. If you don’t, the port will co-mingle with the gin, and although the drink will still taste just fine, it will not be as elegant. We are gentlemen, sir, always remember. We do not simply guzzle the way the hoopleheads do.

If you’ve done it right, it should look just like this:

Now, as to the next, this upstart William Schmidt, I do swear he stole this drink from me. I was mixing this back when he was still tramping around Paducah, Kentucky, waiting to stow away on an Ohio River steamer to Memphis. The man is a scalawag, and not at all a gentleman like you and me, sir. But let us not consider his sort.

I believe you will like this one, sir. I think you will find that the sherry and vermouth balance quite toothsomely. The other ingredients round out the flavor without bringing themselves to the fore.

Text not available

The Flowing Bowl When and what to Drink : Full Instructions how to Prepare, Mix, and Serve Beverages By William Schmidt

Now, sir, would you kindly tel … <cough cough>

I’m throwing off this pretense entirely right now, so I can talk about this drink.

I used, for two drinks, a generous squirt of simple syrup for the gum. Yah, a squirt. Don’t tell me you always precisely measure your simple syrup, dangit.

Angostura might be the closest thing to a nineteenth-century bitters that I have, although I don’t know how to categorize Fee’s Old Fashioned or Bitter Truth’s Old Time Aromatic Bitters. Regardless, I used Angostura, about two to three dashes worth for two drinks.

Also, two or three dashes worth of Lucid absinthe. I’ve transferred my remaining Lucid to a old Fee’s bottle for dashing purposes.

For two drinks, I used 4 oz. Italian vermouth and 2 oz. oloroso sherry–to retain the 2:1 ratio. I don’t really know what vino vermouth is, but Paul Clarke suggests that it’s Italian vermouth, and that’s good enough for me. He uses Carpano Antica for this type of drink, but I’ve yet to find a source for that in Rhode Island. I’ll probably have to special-order it from our friends at Eno.

Finally, this is a damn good drink. Light in alcohol but rich in flavor. I think the Antica would bring a bit more complexity than the Cinzano I’m currently using, but even so, we loved the balance of flavors.

Oh, and back to the Princeton? I’d love to see that on a drinks menu somewhere. It’s a beautifully balanced drink, and it looks just lovely in the glass. Yeah, it takes a bit of work to get it just so, but no more than a properly prepared Sazerac or Pisco Sour.

Many thanks to Dinah for hosting.

Photography by Jennifer Hess; all rights reserved.

MxMo: Local Flavor

The challenge this month, thanks to Kevin at Save the Drinkers, is local challenge. Let’s see how Kevin defines that:

Option 1: Gather ingredients that are representative of the culture/geography/tackiness of your respective cities and make a drink with a truly place-based style. For example, huckleberries are native to the geographical area where I live, as are elderflowers, potatoes, and extremely conservative, closet-case politicians. (I’m just saying!)

Option 2: Dig up an old drink that came from your city and revive it! If you can find the original bar, that would be even more interesting.

I don’t know about you, but when I think “local flavor” and “New England,” the first thing I think of is seafood. The official vegetable of Rhode Island, after all, is the squid.*

But alas, there are few cocktail recipes that require seafood, unless you count the oyster shooter, which I don’t, frankly. And I haven’t settled in to Providence long enough just yet to know what’s representative of my city. Forbes tells me that Providence is fourth among the nation’s hardest drinking cities, but that doesn’t really tell me what Providence drinks. The 18th Amendment, which prohibited the sale, manufacture, and distribution of beverage alcohol, was ratified by all but two states–Rhode Island and Connecticut. But that still doesn’t tell me what Rhode Island drinks.

I don’t know what edible flora are native to Rhode Island. I don’t know what Roger Williams ate for dinner the day he founded Providence. So, aside from seafood, I don’t know much about the food culture of Rhode Island or Providence.

What I do know is what’s available to us from local farmers at the city’s farmers markets. I know what spirits are distilled in Rhode Island and its neighboring states. And I know how much Jen and I enjoy shopping our local farmers markets, especially in August, at the height of the season.

I’ve talked before about the benefits of making your own tomato juice for a Bloody Mary, but today, we’re going a little farther. Today, I can tell you that everything we could source locally, we sourced locally. Jen was tentatively calling our weekend’s concoction the Bloody Rhody, but that’s not quite accurate, as you’ll see. I’m dubbing it the Bloody Nor’easter.

For the Bloody Nor’easter, I started with local heirloom tomatoes, grown in RI and prepared as discussed in the previous link. I took two ounces of Triple Eight Vodka, distilled on Nantucket Island in Massachusetts, and muddled two small hot peppers and a small handful of basil (both from the farmers market) into the vodka. I strained the solids out and returned the vodka to the mixing glass.This worked well because I got the flavors of the peppers and basil in the vodka without the solids mucking up the works. I could have achieved the same effect by steeping the peppers and basil in the vodka for some time, but I didn’t plan ahead.

I added four ounces of tomato juice (for two drinks), lime juice (not local, since citrus doesn’t grow in the Northeastern United States), Worcestershire (also not local), salt (also not local), some local Rhode Island Red hot sauce, and a secret ingredient.

What? Okay, I’ll tell you the secret. Remember how I said that few cocktails require seafood? Well, as any reputable Canadian might tell you, a tomato-based drink does well with a bit of seafood. The night before I assembled the Bloody Nor’easter, Jen had simmered up some Rhody clams with a bit of Trinity IPA (from a Providence brewpub) and some shallot. She reserved a bit of the clam-beer liquid for me before doctoring it up with spices and butter for our dinner, so I added a bit of that to the mix.

We served ‘em up with a beer chaser. Jen chose the Trinity IPA from Providence, and because I don’t really dig on the IPA style, I selected the Hurricane Amber Ale from Coastal Extreme in Newport, RI.

I actually have another drink with local flavor, but I’m whizzing close enough to deadline and bedtime as it is. The second one will have to wait until later in the week.

*I kid, of course. I’m a squid kidder. RI has no state veg, and its state fruit is the Greening Apple, which won’t ripen for at least another month.

MxMo in the Crescent City

Mixology Monday logoFor this month’s Mixology Monday, which has a New Orleans theme, I’m going with a couple of drinks, both inspired by panels that I attended at Tales of the Cocktail.

The first drink is the Sloppy Joe’s Mojito, inspired obliquely by the To Have and Have Another panel, on the drinking life of Ernest Hemingway. Whether Hemingway actually drank Mojitos appears to be in some dispute. The eminent Eric Felten argues persuasively that he probably did not, but it is clear that old Papa frequented the Havana bar that originated this version of the classic rum drink. He even apparently persuaded the proprietor of a Key West saloon to rip off the Havana original’s name. So, who knows?

Charles Baker, writing in The Gentleman’s Companion, describes the drink thus:

Put several lumps of ice into a 16 oz collins glass, toss in 1 tsp sugar or gomme, insinuate a spiral green lime peel about the ice, turn in 1-1/2 jiggers of Bacardi; white, or Gold Seal, and the strained juice of 1 small green lime–not a lemon. Stir once, fill with really good club soda and garnish with a bunch of fresh mint.

What I love about this variant is that a) it’s not too sweet, and b) it’s not too minty. I don’t feel like I’m chewing rum-spiked Doublemint gum.

The second drink comes straight from the Beefeater reception at Palace Cafe and also the Juniperlooza session. I had heard of this drink prior to Tales, but I had never tried it. It’s the Jasmine cocktail, devised by architect and booze writer Paul Harrington. It tastes remarkably like grapefruit juice even though it contains no grapefruit whatsoever. Honestly, this is one of those drinks that I often post where I’m sure the majority of my single-digit readership is thinking, “What! New to the Jasmine? He needs to crawl out from under Plymouth Rock or wherever the hell he lives and actually drink from time to time!”

No argument here, Skippy. I will say this, though. I’ve mixed a lot of cocktails at home, and I’ve had many others out. It’s a rare treat when something passes my lips and earns a spot in my regular drinks rotation. The Jasmine is right there. Jen and I both adore it. It tastes like an old-school cocktail, even though it’s not old enough to drive, let alone drink, and the ingredients are perfectly balanced. A new favorite.

Jasmine

  • 1-1/2 oz gin
  • 3/4 oz lemon juice
  • 1/4 oz Cointreau
  • 1/4 oz Campari
  • lemon twist for garnish

Technique: Shake, strain, add garnish, sip, and smile.

Many thanks to Paulernum Clarke for hosting.

Photos by Jennifer Hess.

MxMo: Bourbon

Mixology Monday logoMany thanks to the guys at Scofflaw’s Den for hosting this month. This was a challenging MxMo. Aside from making Old Fashioneds, I don’t mix with bourbon much anymore; I just prefer the spicier qualities of rye.

But aside from blogging an Old Fashioned, I didn’t feel really inspired. Perhaps this is my own limited imagination speaking, but it’s hard for me to think of a bourbon cocktail that wouldn’t be better as a rye cocktail. Even my Old Fashioneds, these days, are sometimes rye, when I want that spicier backbone.

All of my pre-Prohibition cocktail books called for rye as the main ingredient in whiskey cocktails, which makes me wonder what pre-Prohibition mixologists thought of bourbon. A skim through Charles Baker, too, shows few whiskey cocktails, and what he does offer is mostly in the Julep family.

At this point, I started wondering what an anthropologist might make of all of this, but I had to stop caring because Mrs. Bitters was riding the 5:40 outta Boston, and I was running out of time to find a drink for cocktail hour.

I decided to go modern, so I grabbed Art of the Bar. Hollinger and Schwartz had a drink called The Battle of New Orleans, which they attributed to Crosby Gaige’s Cocktail Guide and Ladies’ Companion. Perfect! I thought. Tales is coming up, so I can talk about that. I can talk about New Orleans. I can reference the song of the same name, and since I have both Hollinger/Schwartz and Gaige, I can talk about both recipes.

But then I remembered that Paul Freakin’ Clarke had made this… exact… bloody… post 11 months ago. (Hey, at least I linked to YouTube. I don’t know whether Paul’s even heard of YouTube.)

Baaaack to Square One (not the vodka), and back to the first cocktail book I bought, Gary Regan’s The Joy of Mixology. When you see the name of the drink I chose, you’ll know that my timing was off, but I owed it to Mrs. B. to have something handy soon. I gave her the Preakness Cocktail, about a month late (sorry, Big Brown):

Preakness Cocktail

  • 2 oz. bourbon
  • 1 oz. sweet vermouth
  • Benedictine to taste
  • Angostura bitters to taste
  • 1 lemon twist, for garnish

Technique: Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Add the garnish.

Whiskey, vermouth, and bitters. Hmm. Sounds like a Manhattan to me. The Benedictine is a nice extra touch. I used Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon and Carpano Antica for the chief ingredients, and about 1/4 ounce Benedictine per drink. Delicious. From the moment I touched Benedictine to whiskey, I knew I loved the combo. I always enjoy a chance to work with it.