Tradewinds Negroni

It's no secret that I'm a fan of bitters and bitter drinks. So when I saw this recipe in an article on Negroni variations, I just had to try it. Anything that calls for large quantities of bitters -- three-quarters of an ounce, in this case -- it OK in my book and must be tasted.

The Tradewinds Negroni does not disappoint. There's a good shot of orange from the Cointreau on the nose and the sip, and then that lovely, intense bitter clove and cinnamon from the Angostura kicks in. I had Punt e Mes open, so that's what I used (I just don't drink enough cocktails to justify having multiple bottles of sweet vermouth open, believe it or not) but I think I'd go with something a little less spicy and a tad more sweet next time, such as the Cocchi Vermouth di Torino the recipe called for. And mark my words, there will be a next time. But between this and the Magic Julep, I'm going to need to get another bottle or two of Angostura Bitters.

Recipe

The dash on the top of the bottle of Angostura bitters comes off fairly easily; it just takes a little work.

Ingredients

  • 3/4 oz Cointreaux
  • 1 oz Sweet Vermouth
  • 3/4 oz Angostura Bitters
  • Orange Twist

Directions

  1. Combine everything (except the orange peel, of course) into a mixing glass and add ice.
  2. Stir until chilled.
  3. Strain into a rocks glass with a big ice cube.
  4. Garnish with an orange twist
  5. Sip and be prepared to get kicked in the face by the lovely bitters taste...

Perfect for a warm day.

Gin & Tonic

Yesterday was International Gin & Tonic Day (one of two held every year, by the way. I don't know who designated these days, but God bless them, each and every one.) Since I was out at a concert, I had a whatever gin with whatever tonic to celebrate. It was fine; the G&T is my go-to drink when I don't know or trust the bar. Today's warm weather (I love late October in San Francisco; it's the best time to be here!) inspired me to have another.

This time I went to my bottle of Gin Mare, a lovely Spanish gin flavored with olives, rosemary, thyme, and basil. Spanish gins are getting big and Gin Mare has been getting rave reviews. So when my friend Adam was in Spain the other month, I asked him if he could bring me a bottle. He was kind enough to do so and shortly before he handed the bottle over to me, I happened to spot it on the shelves of my local wine shop. This is an excellent gin, perfect for sipping chilled, in a Martini, or in a gin and tonic, and I'm happy it will be available over here. 

This gin makes a great and refreshing gin and tonic. The flavors of the botanicals really come through. I get a lovely whiff of rosemary and lime from the garnish as I go in for a sip and then the rest of the flavors come bursting through. I went with Fever Tree's Indian Tonic because that's what I had chilled in the fridge, but I wonder how this would do with their Mediterranean Tonic. I'll have to try that next time -- and if this weather continues, there will be a next time!  

Recipe

Ah, I bet  you already know how to do this one.

Ingredients

  • 2 oz Gin (go for something botanical.)
  • ~4 oz Tonic Water (adjust to taste)

Directions

  1. Add ice cubes to a Collins glass, pour in the gin, add the tonic and gently stir to combine.
  2. Garnish with a lime wedge and a sprig of rosemary 
  3. Sit back, stare off into the distance and imagine you're on the coast of Spain...

Father's Advice

In honor of the bottle of Punt e Mes I opened to make a batch of Manhattans for barrel-aging (more about that at some later time), I decided to mix up a Father's Advice, a cocktail I'd seen on the Cocktail Virgin blog. I'm on a mission to make sure I properly dispose of the Punt e Mes before it expires in a couple of months and this drink was one that used it and that I hadn't tried before.

Really quite complex and lovely. The Punt e Mes and Cardamaro come through on the sip, with the rum and a hint of banana really shining on the swallow. The sweetness of the sherry helps ties the whole thing together. It's a nice, bitter and light cocktail that's perfect for this San Francisco summer weather we're having right now.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 oz Amber Rum (Bacardi Gold)
  • 1/2 oz Punt e Mes
  • 1/2 oz. Cardamaro
  • 1/2 oz. Amontillado Sherry (feel free to try other types of dry sherry if you don't have Amontillado on hand)
  • 1/4 oz. Gillard Banane du Brésil

Directions

  1. Combine everything in a mixing glass, add ice, and stir to chill.
  2. Strain into a cocktail coupe 
  3. Garnish with an orange twist and cherry on a toothpick 

Chocolate Manhattan

Tonight's cocktail was another swing at the Chocolate Manhattan recipe. I'm not sure why I'm a little obsessed with trying to make this one work, but I thought I'd give it one last try. When we last left Flash, the drink was getting there but needed something to cut through the chocolate -- it was still too sweet and I thought it needed a kick of spice and heat to balance it out.

Enter Dana Hanna, who suggested I try the Chesapeake Bay Bitters from the Bitter End. So when I was up at the Napa Valley Distillery's shop in the Oxbow Market yesterday, I took the opportunity to sample some. They were pretty much what I was looking for; the kick of the cayenne pepper pushes them over the top.

I also had another thought about cutting the bitterness and decided to swap Amaro Montenegro in for the sweet vermouth. This was bad experimentation on my part as I was playing with two variables at the same time, but I thought it was a pretty safe bet. I wanted to bring in some orange and orange peel into play and a bit more bitterness to counter the chocolate.

The result works pretty well. You get a nice taste of the rye on the sip, followed by some nice bitter and heat, and then a mouth full of chocolate to cool stuff off and leave you wanting another taste. I think I'm not 100% dialed in on this one yet; I might try cutting the Creme de Cacao back a bit. But for now, I'm just going to enjoy this drink.

Recipe

I'm calling this a Manhattan variation, because it starts with the basic 2-1-2 Manhattan formula. 2 parts whisky - 1 part vermouth - 2 dashes bitters. In this case, I swaped out the vermouth for the amaro and the creme de cacao. I tend to prefer a 2 oz - 0.75 oz ratio for my traditional Manhattans and I'd probably go with just 0.25 oz of the creme de cacao next time.

Ingredients

  • 2 oz Rye Whisky (I used Old Overhold, because it is cheap, delicious, and perfect for mixing.)
  • 1/2 oz Amaro Montenegro
  • 1/2 oz. Creme de Cacao (I used the Tempus Fugit stuff. Delicious!)
  • 2 dashes Bitter End Chesapeake Bay Bitters

Directions

  1. Combine everything in a mixing glass, add ice, and stir to chill.
  2. Strain into a cocktail coupe 
  3. Garnish with an orange twist 
  4. Enjoy!

By the way, if you're looking to build up your bitters collection, the Bitter End variety pack there has an interesting selection at a good price. Yes, it is an affiliate link. One day, I'll tempt one of you into buying something through those.

Man About Town

I love the way the logo comes out on the glass with this one.

It's September in San Francisco, which means we're finally moving into the "warm" summer weather around here. It must have hit a high of just over 80 degrees today so this called for a drink built around a large ice cube. Plus, I had a new ice sphere press to play with (more on that in some later post), so I wanted something I could serve over the rocks -- a big, round, clear rock. In this case, the loveliness that is the Man About Town.

Called the Rum Negroni by some, the Man is a great bitter-sweet drink featuring the sweetness of rum pitted against the bitterness of the Campari. In this contest, the winner is your tastebuds. Not a drink for those who aren't a fan of the bitter-bomb that is Campari, this one is well-balanced with the vermouth adding a more subtle note of sweetness to the mix. I normally drink my Negroni and Negroni variations up (and garnish them with a cherry) but when they're on the rocks, they work well with an orange twist.

All and all, a worthy cause for the last of my Campari. I shan't see its like again until I finish my bottle of Gran Classico Bitter. 

Recipe

Negroni variations are so easy to do. For this one, I pumped up the rum to 1.5 oz to feature it a bit more. There are a number of different variations on the Negroni called the Man About Town, but that's what I first hear this rum variation called, so I'm sticking with it.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 oz. Gold Rum (Your choice; the rum selection will, of course, influence the taste of the final cocktail)
  • 1 oz Campari
  • 1 oz. Sweet Vermouth

Directions

  1. Combine everything in a mixing glass, add ice, and stir to chill.
  2. Strain into a cocktail coupe or a rocks glass with ice (or one, clear ice sphere)
  3. Garnish with a cherry or an orange twist (or both, if you're feeling special.)

Fallback

The weather was absolutely gorgeous today; a classic San Francisco September day. This inspired my mind to wander down the path of a cocktail I'd seen on the Cocktail Virgin blog, the Fallback. This is a delightful mix of rye and apples, with some Amaro Montenegro and bitters thrown in -- a great-sounding combination that worked out well in practice.

This one starts out with a note of spice and orange (from the amaro and flamed orange peel garnish, no doubt) that segues into the rye, with the apple coming out in the finish. This one would be perfect for sitting on the porch and watching the leaves fall (or, in San Francisco, sitting and looking out the window as the wind blows stuff around and the tourists in their shorts scramble for cover, wondering how it suddenly got so chilly.)

Sea Ranchers beware! This one is very likely to appear on the menu next March; it'll go quite nicely with the weather and view.

Recipe

I played this one pretty straight to the posted recipe, only varying the brand of the sweet vermouth. It's nice, for once, to have most of the specified brands on hand (although I did have to run out to get an orange for the garnish. Tomorrow, I might have to make something that calls for orange juice...)

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Combine ingredients in a mxing glass, add ice, and stir to chill, about 15 - 2o seconds
  2. Strain into a Nick and Nora glass
  3. Garnish with an orange peel or, if you're daring, flame the orange peel oover the drink.
  4. Sip and reflect on your past summer.

By the way, if you're stocking your bar, consider the bitters pack on the right there -- it's pretty much the three basic bitters you need to start!

Exploring Manhattans

Tonight I had a hankering for a Manhattan, but wanted to play around with the classic 2-1-2 recipe for the drink. Spotting the bottle of the Amaro di Angostura on my shelf brought up memories of the Murray's Manhattan that Dana Hanna introduced me to a few years back. I decided to play around with that, to see what would happen.

The result is a nice, bitter-forward cocktail with the maple and vanilla notes of the bourbon being pretty much overwhelmed by the bitter, chocolate, and cinnamon of the amaro and bitters. The vermouth is there, mellowing the mix, but otherwise pretty much fading into the background.

When I repeat this one, I'll likely not add any additional bitters to the mix, as I think the Amaro di Angostura does an admirable job of filling that roll. Also, I'd use an orange twist (or flame an orange peel over it) as the garnish; it needs a note of citrus to brighten it up. This is a warm drink, one that would be perfect for a crisp fall evening (or a nice August evening in San Francisco.)

Recipe

I split the traditional amount of vermouth between the amaro and vermouth in this one, to stick with the classic recipe while giving it a twist.

Ingredients

  • 2 oz. Bourbon (I used Angel's Envy here.)
  • 1/2 oz Amaro di Angostura
  • 1/2 oz. Sweet Vermouth (Carpano Antica Formula)
  • 2 dashes Fee Brothers Old Fashioned Aromatic Bitters (I thought using Angostura bitters might be gilding the lily here)

Directions

  1. Combine ingredients in a mxing glass, add ice, and stir to chill, about 15 seconds
  2. Strain into a Nick and Nora glass
  3. If I were you, I'd flame an orange peel over this one for the garnish

Negroni

During our boardgame day, Jefferson commented that Campari was one of those things he wished he liked. When I asked him what it was about the Campari that didn't work for him, it turned out the was the anise flavor. However, Gran Classico Bitter doesn't carry those same notes and I was able to mix up a couple of Negronis for us, which was the perfect way to celebrate his victory in our game of New Bedford.

You don't get that lovely vivid red color with the Gran Classico Bitter, but you do get a lovely drink, a little more mellow than a Negroni made with Campari, but one with interesting smooth and bitter notes. More and more, I'm leaving the Campari on the shelf and just substituting the Gran Classico in my drinks.

Recipe

It's a Negroni, so you should really know this one. But just in case...

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Combine ingredients in a mixing glass, add some ice cubes and stir to chill and dillute a bit.
  2. Strain into a chilled cocktail coupe
  3. Garnish with a cherry or an orange twist (I went with the cherry option.)
  4. Break out your copy of The Negroni: Drinking to La Dolce Vita, with Recipes & Lore and read up on the history and lore of this fantastic drink.

1491

Freed from the shackles of researching Tiki drinks, I turned to the 1491, which came to me from the Cocktail Virgin blog. This looked like an interesting Pisco-sour variation, with Mezcal and Elderflower liqueur thrown into the mix. I was hoping from a welcome change from my relentless diet of rum drinks and this cocktail did not disappoint. It had the lush mouthfeel I've come to expect from a drink with egg whites and the combination of the Pisco and Mezcal was really interesting. It has that good smoky-salty  taste I've come to associate with Mezcal alongside some good floral notes from the St. Germain. Just the ticket to remind me of the wonders of Pisco.

I really like how my stencil worked on this one. I used a little spray bottle of Angostura to "paint" my logo on top of the drink. The volume in my glass was perfect and I got a nice crisp image from my otherwise not-so-crisp stencil. Very recognizable. 

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 oz. Pisco
  • 1/2 oz Mezcal
  • 1/2 oz. Dry Vermouth
  • 1/2 oz. St. Germain
  • 3/4 oz. Lemon Juice
  • 1 Egg White (I used about 2 oz. of pasterized egg whites, which work great.)
  • 5 drops of Angostura bitters

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients except for the bitters in a shaker and shake the crap out of it. Be careful, as the egg whites will expand and your shaker will want to come unseal. Or you can use a milk frother, drink mixer, or immersion blender to mix the drink for about 5 - 10 seconds.
  2. Add ice and shake again for about 15 seconds to chill
  3. Double-strain into a coupe or martini glass
  4. Decorate the top with 5 drops of your favorite aromatic bitters (or make and use a stencil, like I did.)
  5. Admire your work of art before taking a sip.

Jamaican Bobsled

I was still looking for one last cocktail for my Tiki Thursday menu when I cam across the Jamaican Bobsled on the excellent Cocktail Virgin Slut blog. This looked like the type of drink I was looking for to fill my last slot on the menu (actually, to take slot #1 on the thing); a rum drink with a spice or bitter note to move it away from the sweetness of the other choices. The only thing to do was to whip one up when I got home.

Even though I had an ice crisis on my hands when I got back to the flat (and boo to me for being lazy about refilling trays), I managed to put this together as specified, using a nice, clear cylinder of ice as the bases for my crushed ice. This one is really good, with pineapple and cinnamon notes, tempted by the funky Smith & Cross Navy strength rum and the Allspice dram. I went a little heavier than I probably should on the dram and I'm getting a real allspice kick on the finish. I didn't have any edible orchids on hand (and I need to find a source for those in San Francisco; if anyone has any leads on them, please let me a comment) so I did have some hibiscus flowers in rose syrup so I made a switch there. 

This one is interesting and complex enough to make it onto the menu and put an end to my research for this Thursday's event. I think I'm looking forward to a break from Tiki drinks and rum for a few days.

Recipe

Frederic Yarm, one of the authors of the Cocktail Virgin Slut blog, wrote Drink & Tell: A Boston Cocktail Book and if you've enjoy his blog (or the recipes from it I've posted), you should check it out.

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Combine ingredients in a shaker, add some ice, and shake for about 15 seconds
  2. Strain into a rocks glass
  3. Fill glass with crushed ice
  4. Garnish with an edible orchid (or, if you don't have any on hand, a hibiscus flower in syrup, like I did.)
  5. Throw in a paper umbrella and a couple of straw and you're ready to sip

 

Daisy de Santiago

Tonight I decided to give the Daisy de Santiago a spin, to see if it would do for my next Tiki Thursday, which is rapidly approaching. I was hoping that the Yellow Chartreuse would give this rum-based drink a nice herbaceous tang that would be a good contrast to the sweeter Twelve Mile Limit I'm planning on serving. Alas, that was not the case. This one really didn't do it to me; my first sip tasted a bit watery and flat and while it developed a bit more over the course of my drinking it, it never wowed me.

There might be a number of reasons for this; I poured in a bit too much rum (about 1/4 oz more than the recipe called for) but, if anything, that should have made this drink taste stronger. It could be that my SodaStream carbonated water is no substitute for a good store-bought seltzer. It could be that I had no mint for the garnish. It could be that I decided to be lazy and use cubed ice instead of crushed ice. (It could be that my palate was a little fatigued from this afternoon's Martini drinking.) I used the recipe from Smuggler's Cove: Exotic Cocktails, Rum, and the Cult of Tiki, which calls for the mixing of all of the ingredients together. Checking Baker's The Gentleman's Companion, I see that he called for the Yellow Chartreuse to be floated on the top of the drink; maybe I'll try that next time.

In any case, I'm not going to serve this one at August's Tiki Thursday and the search for that elusive third drink continues. I'll continue my search (or maybe just default to the Jungle Bird if I don't find anything by the end of Sunday.)

Recipe

As mentioned, this one comes from Martin Cate's excellent Smuggler's Cove: Exotic Cocktails, Rum, and the Cult of Tiki. If you don't have a copy of this book, you should get one. And if I haven't mentioned it, my product links are Amazon Affiliate links so if you click through here and buy the book (or anything) from Amazon, it will help me out. On the the recipe!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 oz. rum (Appleton Estate Signature Blend)
  • 1/2 oz Yellow Chartreuse 
  • 1 oz. soda water
  • 1 oz fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp. Demerara Syrup

Directions

 

  1. Combine ingredients in a shaker, add some ice, and shake for about 15 seconds
  2. Strain into a rocks glass filled with crushed ice
  3. Garnish with a sprig of mint

As mentioned above, you might try floating the Chartreuse on the top and see if that floats your boat. Enjoy!

 

Twelve Mile Limit

I started a little early today, with the thought I might have more than one cocktail as I drink my way through some potential tiki drinks for my upcoming Tiki Thursday. I'm finding it amusing that I haven't yet selected a cocktail that would be served in a Tiki mug, but I've been avoiding having to use crushed ice and that's likely a big reason everything so far has been strained into a coupe.

I went again to Smuggler's Cove: Exotic Cocktails, Rum, and the Cult of Tiki for the recipe for tonight's Twelve Mile Limit. This delicious mixture of rum, rye, brandy, grenadine, and lemon juice lets a bit of that rum flavor through while augmenting the sweetness with the grenadine and leveling it out a bit with the lemon juice. The rye and brandy are definitely playing supporting roles in this one. Technically, this is a Prohibition-era drink and not a Tiki drink but it's got rum in it, so who cares? This one will likely be the "sweet" rum drink on the menu; now I have to find something that tends towards the bitter end to balance it out. More research!

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 oz. rum (something lightly aged, like the Appleton Estate Signature Blend is perfect here)
  • 1/2 oz Rye (I used my standby, Old Overhold)
  • 1/2 oz. Brandy
  • 1/2 oz Grenadine (Small Hand Foods grenadine is both excellent and local (if you're in the Bay Area)
  • 1/2 oz Fresh Lemon Juice

Directions

  1. Combine ingredients in a shaker, add some ice, and shake for about 15 seconds
  2. Double-Strain into a chilled cocktail coupe.
  3. Express the oils from a lemon peel over the drink and then use the peel as a garnish.
  4. Enjoy! This one gets better as it warms up a bit.

Saturn

My garnish ring is more of a half circle.

I spent some time this week with Smuggler's Cove; Exotic Cocktails, Rum, and the Cult of Tiki and Trader Vic's Book of Food and Drink (1946) identifying some possible drinks to put on the menu for this month's Tiki Thursday. One interesting non-rum cocktail was the Saturn, so I thought I'd give it a try this afternoon.

Man, this one is dangerous! Passion fruit on the sip, with the falernum and orgeat coming out a bit after that and lemon with more passion fruit on the finish. I'm not tasting the gin at all in here (and I'm using a pretty powerful gin, with Martin Miller's Westbourne Strength); these things would sneak up on you and club you over the head if you weren't careful! I might screw around a bit by cutting back the passion fruit syrup a bit and upping the velvet falernum to see what that does (who am I to meddle with the Master's recipe though?) but I like it the way it is, a fruit-forward cocktail.

This drink tells me that I really gotta up my garnish game though. My "long" lemon peel spiral is pretty short, making for some sub-standard rings around Saturn, to be sure. Still, it's better than some of the long, narrow peels I've tried in the past. It's time to scour the YouTube to find some good videos on the subject, I guess.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 oz. London Dry Gin
  • 1/4 oz Velvet Falernum
  • 3/4 oz. Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 oz Passion Fruit Syrup
  • 1/4 oz Orgeat

Directions

  1. Combine ingredients in a shaker, add some ice, and shake for about 15 seconds
  2. Double-Strain into a chilled cocktail coupe.
  3. Garnish with a long, thin lemon peel, wrapped into rings and laid on the top of the drink.
  4. Wonder if Saturn would taste this good.

Experiment: Cucumber Martini

It's the gin that gives it that dark color

I had some left over cucumber juice from my Professoressa Montenegro the other night and I want to find something that used it before it went bad. I didn't have any other recipes on tap that called for the juice, so it was time to try to cobble something together. Gin and cucumber always seem to go pretty well together, so I thought I might go with something that combined those two. It was pretty easy to keep it simple and go with some type of martini variation.

Initially, I tried just going with gin and about a half ounce of cucumber juice. The gin, especially this St. George Reposado Dry Rye Gin (lovely stuff, by the way), simply overwhelmed the juice. So I doubled up on it and got closer, but it was too cucumbery and a bit too bitter. To bring it back more towards the martini, I mixed in a half ounce of Dolin Dry Vermouth and that was much more pleasing. I threw in a dash of my Cilantro-Lime bitters to give it a bit more characters, stirred it with some ice and strained it into a cocktail coupe.

The result is something with the gin upfront and a definite cucumber feel on the back. The vermouth mellows it out a bit and I'm not sure I'm really getting the bitters at all. Next time, I'll probably try a more herbal (but robust) gin, cut the juice back to 3/4 oz and throw in another dash or two of the bitters. Still, I'm calling this one a qualified success.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 oz. botanical-forward Gin
  • 1 oz fresh Cucumber Juice
  • 1/2 oz Dry Vermouth
  • 1 dash Cilantro-Lime Bitters (homemade)

Directions

  1. Combine ingredients in a mixing glass, add some ice, and stir for about 15 seconds
  2. Strain into a chilled cocktail coupe.
  3. Garnish with a slice of cucumber (I was too lazy to do this tonight) and maybe a little fresh cilantro.

As previously described, to make fresh cucumber juice, peel a cucumber, slice off and discard the ends, cut it into pieces and puree it in a food processor or blender. Strain it through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl, using a spatula to press on the pulp to extract all of the juice. 1 cucumber makes a few ounce of juice, which will last a week in the fridge.

Professoressa Montenegro

It's all garnished and everything!

It's all garnished and everything!

I was listening to the Bartender Journey podcast the other day and Brian had an excellent interview with Sother Teague of Amor y Amargo, a fascinating-sounding bar in New York that I really must visit. So when I saw that one of the cocktails features on the Amaro Montenegro page was created by Max Green of that bar, I just had to give the Professoressa Montenegro a try. This was good as I had a lemon i'd been using for garnish that I wanted to use before it went bad and it seemed like a great use for the Cinnamon Syrup I'd made in large quantity a while ago. 

This is  really a lovely, well-balanced cocktail. The strawberry comes through on the sip and the fresh cucumber juice is nicely astringent after that. It really makes the Amaro Montenegro shine, which was the whole purpose of the cocktail. 

I tried to replicate this one as best I could, but I don't have access to the fancy ice machine that Max does in Amor y Amargo (and no, I'm not planning on putting one into the apartment.) I made some compromises with the ice; I used crushed ice (I hammered a clear ice cylinder I'd made for an ice sphere) in place of the pebble ice. Using the (mostly) clear crushed ice worked well; I didn't experience a lot of dilution as I sipping on this one. All in all, it was a fair amount of work for an afternoon's cocktail, but worth it.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 oz. Amaro Montenegro
  • 1 oz fresh Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 oz fresh Cucumber Juice
  • 1/4 oz Cinnamon Syrup
  • 2 medium Strawberries

Directions

  1. Cut the strawberries in half and muddle them in a shaker
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients, throw in a couple of ice cubes and shake to chill.
  3. Double-strain into a large wine glass and top with crushed ice
  4. Garnish with a slice of cucumber and a burnt cinnamon stick, throw in a couple of straws, and enjoy sipping this one!

Making the cucumber juice is easy. Peel a cucumber, slice off and discard the ends, cut it into pieces and puree it in a food processor or blender. Strain it through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl, using a spatula to press on the pulp to extract all of the juice. 1 cucumber makes a few ounce of juice, which will last a week in the fridge.

As mentioned in my last post, I found this one on the Shakestir website. If you want to follow Max Green, his Instragram handle is @maxwellsgreenhammer

Montenegro After Dark

It's fun to play with Amari

While I was surfing around the web, I came across this competition-winning recipe on the Shakestir website. This competition was sponsored by the folks who make Amaro Montenegro, one of my favorite Amari, and looked too good not to try. Fortunately I had all of the ingredients on hand, so I whipped up a small batch of demerara syrup, mislabeled the container, and went to work making my evening cocktail. This is a lovely mixture of bitter and sweet, with a nice smokey depth provided by the mezcal. It's well-balanced and goes down pretty smoothly. It should be a lower ABV cocktail, as the main ingredient, the Amaro Montenegro, is only 46 proof.  However, I think the mezcal and bourbon go a long way to providing more a spirit kick. As I sip on this one while I write this blog, I think it would benefit from a large ice cube or ice globe rather than the 3 cubes the recipe calls for; it would benefit from a slower dilution. I'm going to think of Nero Wolfe while I drink this one and maybe reread The Black Mountain this evening. L'chaim!

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 oz. Amaro Montenegro
  • 1/2 oz Bourbon
  • 1/2 oz Mezcal
  • 1 barspoon Demerara syrup
  • 2 dashes Regans' Orange Bitters No. 6
  • 1 dash Angostura Aromatic Bitters

Directions

  1. Combine ingredients in a mixing glass.
  2. Add ice and stir to chill
  3. Strain into a rocks glass over 3 ice cubes (or an ice sphere)
  4. Express an orange peel over it and use the peel as a garnish.
  5. Break out your Rex Stout novel and dispatch your minion to go do some legwork for you.

As I mentioned, I found this one on the Shakestir website. As soon as I get some cucumber juice, I'm going to try the other winner on that page.

Banana Boulevardier

It'd been a while since I had made something without citrus in it, so I turned to my bar book to find something interesting that didn't use any citrus (or other fruit.) I settled on the Banana Boulevardier, because it looked like a lovely variation on the Boulevardier and it gave me an excuse to crack open the bottle of Banane de Brèsil I picked up yesterday when Brad and I went to Cask

I put my own twist on it by swapping the Campari for Gran Classico Bitter and the result was a nice success. Good bitter taste on the sip, followed by the bourbon, with a real nice banana finish. Very nice balance and I'll be revisiting this one soon. It reminds me of my Tiki Thursday party without being an actual Tiki drink. It's a nice change of pace; I've been on a real Tiki tear recently.

I think using the Gran Classico Bitter in place of Campari is generally a good move. While it doesn't bring that same vivid red color, it also doesn't bring any red food coloring with it. And the flavor is more complex than the Campari while being as nicely bitter.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 oz. Bourbon
  • 1 oz Sweet Vermouth
  • 1/2 oz Gran Classico Bitter (or Campari)
  • 1/2 oz Giffard Banane de Brèsil

Directions

  1. Combine ingredients in a mixing glass.
  2. Add ice and stir to chill
  3. Strain into a cocktail coupe
  4. Express an orange peel over it and use the peel as a garnish.
  5. Enjoy!

My source for this one (as for many of my drinks) is the excellent Cocktail Virgin blog.

Pooh Bah

...or the mystery of the missing Cognac. Tonight's cocktail was going to be a Shylock, a tasty-looking combination of brandy, vermouth, Crème de Caco, Torani Amer, and Swedish Punsch. I was especially looking forward to messing about the the Swedish Punsch in a cocktail. However, as I assembled the bottles for the cocktail, I could not find my bottle of Cognac! I remember buying it but could not find it. Strange.

So tonight's drink became the Pooh Bah. This one still used the Swedish Punsch I wanted to play with, but change out the brandy for gin and rum. Always a great combo! Rich and a little orange on the taste, you get a hit of the rum and gin as it develop in your mouth. NIce, but maybe it could use a splash of orange juice to bring out a bit more citrus.

Pretty nice for a cocktail call-up.

Pretty nice for a cocktail call-up.

It's definitely an tasty drink and one that's a bit on the sweet side (but not overwhelmingly so.)  This one is worth revisiting at some point. However, so many recipes and so little time... we'll see when I get back to it.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 oz. Jamaican Rum
  • 1 oz Dry London Gin
  • 3/4 oz Swedish Punsch
  • 1/4 oz Apricot Brandy

Directions

  1. Combine ingredients in a mixing glass.
  2. Add ice and stir to chill
  3. Strain into a cocktail coupe
  4. Express an orange peel over it. Use it as a garnish if you'd like.
  5. Sip while researching the history of Swedish Punsch -- it's fun stuff! 

Pisco Sour

In preparation for Tiki Thursday, I have a new bottle of Pisco in the Lair (Pisco Punch is one of the cocktails I'll be serving.) Since I needed to test the bottle to make sure it was good, I decided to whip up a Pisco Sour this evening.

Pisco is a bit less salty than the Singani I'd been using as my substitute and it's nice to revisit the classic recipe. Still smooth, still a nice citrus sour from the lime juice, still pretty damned wonderful. I think I got a excellent consistency on the egg white on this one, not too foamy, just about the right size, and an excellent mouthfeel, I used a milk frother on this one and it worked well. Just enough power to whip up the white without over-emulsifying it.

I also broke out the bitters stencil to see how it would do with a a dark bitters. I think it came out pretty well, given the limitations of the stencil. I think I might need to see if my friend Bryce can laser-cut me a stencil with crisper edges to see how that does. 

Not bad for a hack job on the bitters stencil...

Tomorrow I'm going move towards preparing for the upcoming Tiki Thursday get-together. I think I've decided on the menu; a Hulu Skirt for a nice rum cocktail with a bit of a bitter kick, a Lava Flow for a sweet, classic touristy rum drink (I'm curious if mine will be as pretty as the ones I've seen in Hawaii), and a Pisco Punch for the non-rum drinkers. I picked the last one due to its San Francisco connections; it dates back to 1853 and the Bank Exchange Saloon. I'm sure I'll natter on more about those three cocktails as the July Tiki Thursday approaches.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3 oz Pisco
  • 1 oz Fresh Lime Juice
  • 3/4 oz Simple Syrup
  • 1 Egg White
  • Dash of Angostura bitters (Angostura instead of the classic Amargo bitters because that's what I had in my mister.)

Directions

  1. Combine everything in a shaker.
  2. Vigorously dry shake (without ice) for 30 - 60 seconds to emulsify the egg white. Or, use a milk frother or other immersion blender to whip the drink for 10 - 20 seconds.
  3. Add ice and shake for 20 - 30 seconds to chill.
  4. Double strain into a cocktail glass or coupe.
  5. Relax and start planning your next vacation to Peru where you can drink Pisco Sours in their native setting.

Petruchio Cocktail

...or more fun with egg whites!

Hot on the heels of my failed experiment, I went back to the egg white recipes because I wanted to give it another try. Plus I wanted to try a stencil for bitters on a cocktail and you really need a good egg white topper for that. I supposed you could do it with a cream float as well, but I don't have any heavy cream, so egg whites it was.

This one was a success. The egg whites are light, fluffy, and had a nice float on top of the drink. My secret? I pulled out the immersion blender and used that in place of the dry shake. It did the job in a few seconds, with no mess and much less wear-and-tear on my arms. It felt a little industrial-strength for the job, though. Next time, I'll try a milk frother to see if I get the same kind of results with less wattage.

I like the way this one looks.

While the idea of making a pretty picture in bitters seems like a good one, it didn't work out in practice. The Regans' Orange Bitters No. 6 aren't really dark enough to show up against the Aperol-colored egg white. This probably led me to over-bittering the drink, but that works for me!

This one is smooth and orangey and a bit sweet, with a nice touch of bitterness to it. I'd be interested in swapping the Aperol out for Campari or Gran Classico to see what it does to the flavor. I might also try a contrasting bitters next time; something more aromatic would bring some interesting notes.

Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 oz. Gin
  • 1 oz. Aperol
  • 1/2 oz. Lemon Juice
  • 1/4 oz. Simple Syrup
  • 2 dash Orange Bitters
  • 1 Egg White

Directions

  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a shaker tin. Shake the crap out of it for 1 minute or two, keeping in mind that the volume will expand, which can force the shaker apart. Or succumb to the lure of technology and use a stick blender on it for a few seconds.
  2. Add ice and shake again to chill, 20 - 30 seconds.
  3. Double strain into a cocktail glass
  4. Consider making pretty pictures on the top with bitters and then change your mind.
  5. Toast the wonders of science.

Source

I got this one from the always excellent Cocktail Virgin blog. Check it out!