Category Archives: Thursday Drink Night

Square One Botanical

Tonight at Thursday Drink Night, in the Mixo chat room, we’re hosting Allison Evanow, founder of Square One, and bartender H. Joseph Ehrmann, to discuss Botanical, the latest offering from Square One.

Back Again with Square One Botanical

Here’s a great recipe that uses this spirit.

Back Again

  • 3/4 oz. Square One Botanical
  • 3/4 oz. Cointreau
  • 3/4 oz. Lillet Blanc
  • 3/4 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 dashes absinthe or Herbsaint
  • stemless cherry, for garnish

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with cracked ice. Shake well and strain into a cocktail glass. Add garnish.

(Disclaimer: Square One sent me a sample bottle of Botanical.)

Thursday Drink Night Anniversary!

I don’t talk about this much, but I’m a member of the Cocktail and Spirits Online Writers Group, Guild, Gang, Gigolos, or… well, I forget, really. We’re a non-profit organization that offers educational and cocktail-appreciation events for the general public, via online publishing and live events. It’s through this writers’ gang that I’m going to New York in a couple of months to attend BarSmarts Live (I’ll have more to say about this soon), and it’s also through this group that I receive many of the product samples that I do, as brands attempt to reach out to the public through our group.

The Mixoloseum is our online presence. The Mixo front page currently includes a rudimentary cocktail database; you’re free to try it, but the web monkeys are still populating the database with drinks recipes and hammering out the programming of the search engine and the design of the page. The two main areas of the Mixo are the blog and the chat room, and it’s in this latter area where you’ll find us yammering at each other at pretty much any hour of the day or night.

One of these events that CSOWG hosts in the chat room is Thursday Drink Night, which happens one night a week at 7 p.m. Eastern time. The guild’s boffins choose a theme, and anyone who attends can create a new drink based on that theme, or can simply sit back and watch the hilarity. You can adapt a classic, or you can go all crazy and build something new. If you’re like me, folks will make your drink, make polite noises, toss it in the sink, and never speak of it again. If you’re actually talented, though, your drink goes up for a vote. If you’re voted Mixolomancer of the Week or whatever, you win a real prize!

Sometimes, TDN, as we affectionately call it as we cradle it in our arms and caress its chin, is sponsored by a liquor brand. Past sponsors have included Beefeater 24 gin, Fernet Branca herbal liqueur, Absinthe Mata Hari, and Oval vodka. And sometimes, TDN includes a live component, wherein a bunch of nerds invade a hosting bar, set up laptops in a corner, gank the bar’s wi-fi, and chat with the other geeks in the far-flung reaches of wherever. Back in April, I was in Brooklyn for the Beefeater 24 TDN.

Upcoming, we have, well… just stick around. We have some exciting sponsors coming up, including a few well-known brands.

This week is an unsponsored night; it’s the first anniversary of TDN and the theme is Tiki. Our extra-special guest star this Thursday will be Tiki author, sartorialist, and raconteur Jeff “Beachbum” Berry. This week’s prizes include a beautiful 50 cm gold Japanese bar spoon (that’s nearly 20 inches, folks, one of the longest spoons you’ll see), six of the newest books from Cocktail Kingdom, a signed bottle each of Obsello and Port of Barcelona gin, and a bottle of Old New Orleans Cajun spiced rum.

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.

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.