Monday, February 22, 2010

MxMo XLVI: Absinthe - Balancier Brouilleur and Elegance Cocktail

Mixology Monday time again,  and Sonja at Thinking of Drinking has chosen "All about Absinthe!" as the theme this month. The fist time I tried "la fée verte" was years ago in Prague, and somehow a bottle of the stuff followed me home, must have accidentally got stuck in my luggage at some point, since it was then unavailable here.  Unfortunately, that bottle of stuff from the Czech Republic was kinda vile, and it still gathering dust somewhere on the back of my bar, but it was a fun novelty to have around.  My favorite uses of absinthe are in cocktails where you just use a tiny amount, such as the rinse for a Sazerac, the ½ tsp in the Remember the Maine, or the drops or dashes in the Corpse Reviver #2.  Some Sazeracs on a trip to New Orleans years ago are in fact what first turned me on to real cocktails.  (Similarly, I never really appreciated wine until a trip to Bordeaux back in college.)  The touch of absinthe can really pull things together and adds a lot of complexity, a bit like the function of bitters I suppose.

Respecting what I said about using a measured amount of absinthe, if you really want to dance with the green fairy, an absinthe drip may be called for.  Absinthe, sugar, ice water, done.  Just to make it more fun I got a Balancier style Brouilleur from La Maison d'Absinthe for a fun party trick to amuse curious guests.  Here it is in action (despite the tiny thumbnail it will play full frame):

I think this gives a really fun louche effect. For the drip I used the excellent St. George Absinthe Verte.  Marteau is another of my favorites which I tend to use in my sazeracs.  This was about 1½ oz St. George to 5 oz water, but adjust to taste. And don't worry about the sugar, only part of it gets dissolved by the cold water lending just a bit of sweetness to balance the absinthe's heat; it's still a pretty dry drink.

I always like coming up with at least one new cocktail recipe for Mixology Monday, so here's one using just a touch of absinthe for similar reasons as discussed above.
  • 2 oz Bulldog London Dry Gin
  • 1 oz sake
  • ½ oz Cointreau
  • tsp absinthe
  • 1 dash Fee's cherry bitters
  • 1 dash Regan's orange bitters
stir and strain into iittala Aarne Cocktail Glass, orange twist garnish

UPDATE: Here is Sonja's roundup of all the entries (so many it took 2 posts), Part I and Part II.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Dogs trying to retrieve toy

Halley got her favorite toy stuck behind the sliding door:

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Lumber Jill

A recent Thursday Drink Night theme was TDN: BubblesChampagne, ginger beer, soda, tonic, cola, or anything else fizzy.  

I felt this an appropriate occasion to revisit a theme I fell in love with when I discovered the Lumber Jacques, figuring I could use bubbly ginger beer instead of fresh ginger.  I think the richness of the maple goes really well with the spice of the ginger and rye and the herbal notes from the Chartreuse, balanced by the two citrus juices.  Thinking of ginger beer reminded me of one of my wife's favorite drinks, the Jamaican Firefly, which she always orders whenever we hit Pegu Club (often directly before dinner at Lupa), so I decided to switch things up more and sub Rum for the Rye.  Which gave me a good excuse to bust out my newly acquired Smith&Cross Traditional Jamaican Rum, a very funky and strong rum.  I had heard good things, (check out this post at Oh Gosh! for a good review and description of this spirit) and turns out the things I heard were well founded.
Lumber Jill
  • 1½ oz Smith&Cross Traditional Jamaican Rum
  • ¾ oz Green Chartreuse
  • ¼ oz Grade B maple syrup
  • ¾ oz fresh lemon juice
  • ½ oz fresh orange juice
  • 2 dashes angostura
  • touch salt
  • ~3 oz ginger beer to top (Reed's Extra Ginger Brew)
shake and strain over fresh ice, top with ginger beer
The name is an obvious derivation of Lumber Jacques, but figured it was a bit less burly both with rum instead of rye and the fizzy ginger beer lightening it up a bit.  Not that a man should be ashamed to drink it, the drink proved reasonably popular at TDN and I very much enjoy and am proud to drink it.

One comment from TDN was the lack of garnish, someone suggested something green like perhaps a sprig of some food safe pine, and someone else countered with a sprig of rosemary shot through an orange wedge, which I think is a fine idea.  I might even toy with a sprig of cilantro.  But I've yet to experiment with such accouterments, so play around.

Oh, and I didn't take a pic and am too lazy to rectify that oversight, certainly in part because I never settled on a proper garnish.

Old-Timers Night: An Old-Fashioned Experience at PDT

Eben Freeman rolled back into town for a few events with his Cocktail All-Stars last week, and after reading about them here I was able to snag a spot at the third event last Wednesday, described thusly:
Wednesday, February 10th carries on with old-school sipping and stirring with Old-Timers Night: An Old-Fashioned Experience at PDT, voted World's Best Cocktail Bar 2010. The event features only bartenders over 40 and some stringent rules to ease the pain on the more ‘experienced’ gents holding the bar spoons last night: no drink is allowed to have anything more than a sweetener, a base spirit, and one flavoring agent. The spotlight will be on brown, aged, high-end booze – expect lots of stirring, sipping, and stories. All-Stars include: author Gary Regan, Eben Freeman, writer and scholar Dave Wondrich, ‘King Cocktail’ Dale DeGroff, James Menite of Porterhouse, author/barman Toby Cecchini, and more to come.....
I also tried to get into Monday's event at The Monday Room, but acted not quickly enough, but you can read about it here.  That blog also has a write up of Tuesday's event, but I have not seen a recap of the one we went to, so I'm stepping up to the plate.

The event was on the night of a blizzard, and I was worried it would be cancelled, but I received notice that is was on, with only a slight change in the lineup for those that couldn't make it:
All-stars Gary Regan and Dale DeGroff aren't able to join, unfortunately, as they currently don't reside in the city and can't get out of their driveways. We do however, have legendary Mr. Hidetsugu Ueno who has flown in from Tokyo's Bar High Five on deck this eve in their place!
We were treated to a neat ice carving demo by Mr. Hidetsugu Ueno as well, there is a better description and way better pics than I'd produce in the post about the event of the previous night, if you are curious.

The event was from 6-10, and every 20 min a new barkeep jumped behind the stick to make the next drink for the 30 odd attendants.  Luckily dogs and tots were available to keep us going.  Here, in order, are my woefully incomplete notes on the drinks I tapped into my iPhone while tippling.  I think I got most of the drinks right, but did a particularity awful job about noting the creator for most of the drinks, my apologies.
  • Applejack, cane syrup, abbots bitters, twist
  • Ron Zacapa Solera 23 Rum, Ginger fig simple syrup, Whisky Barrel Aged bitters, cherry garnish
  • Hudson Baby Bourbon, brown sugar syrup, absinthe bitters, lemon twist
(the Hudson distillery owner was present and we chatted with him for a while)
  • Somba mezcal, Don Julio reposado tequila, brown sugar syrup, truffle oil, flamed orange twist
  • Carpano Antica, bullit bourbon, muddled citrus peels, cherry garnish
Mr. Hidetsugu Ueno:
  • Green tea syrup, single malt sccotch, honey
(Japanese Garden Cocktail, apparently made also from Monday)

Eben Freeman:
  • Aged Cachaça, baked apple bitters, demerra sugar cube, splash club soda to dissolve
Dave Wondrich:
  • Bols genever, gum arabic, Aromatic bitters, Lemon peel (shaken)
Toby Cecchini, "I made the drink I'd hate for someone to give me":
  • Buffalo Trace White Dog Mash # 1, Death's Door White Whisky, Underberg,  spiced simple syrup, orange and lemon slice (rolled to mix)
  • Black tea infused 15 yr rum, molasses, Christmas bitters, orange twist
  • Rye, cognac, calvados, Cointreau, bitters, twis
  • Don Julio anejo tequila, ango orange bitters, sherry, orange zest
As you can guess, quite a fun night.  There was not a loser in the bunch, and although I somewhat preferred some to others, I couldn't call a winner.  Perhaps the most interesting ones to me were Toby's, Eben's, and the one with Christmas bitters, because they all used ingredients that were new to me.  The Baked Apple Bitters were quite apparent and nicely identifiable.  The Christmas Bitters were just plain fun.  And the two moonshines in Toby's drink were both new to me, in fact I had never before tried any unaged Whisky.  The White Dog in particular smelled very strongly of fresh sweet corn which surprised me when I took a whiff from a spent bottle.  It was no fun to wake up at 5 am to catch our flight out to the Yucatán, however.

UPDATE: Sonya put up a post with some pics from the night and a bit more detail on some of the bartenders pouring drinks.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tesla says come out and play in the snow

"Come out and play!"
And Halley obliges:

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Ants on a Log

I mentioned I had uses in mind for the Fresh Celery Syrup I made recently, and this is the one at the top of my list of ideas.  Luckily, it worked well for last week's TDN: Nuts, as well, so I threw it out for them.  I decided to have some fun with the idea of a cocktail playing off the old childhood staple of peanut butter and raisins on a celery stick, and here's what I ended up with.
Ants on a Log
  • 1 oz peanut-infused bourbon
  • 1 oz currant-infused bourbon
  • scant ½ oz fresh celery syrup
  • 2 dashes celery bitters
stir and strain into DOF glass, garnish with celery stick with bourboned currants from the infusion
I really like how the peanut infusion turned out, and I think this is a nice showcase for it.  To make it I just took some unsalted and roasted peanuts and soaked them in Bourbon for a couple days and then strained it through a coffee filter.  (Actually overnight on the counter and then in the fridge for like 5 days because I went out of town, but it seemed to be pretty forgiving.)  Likewise for the currants, although I didn't strain that one and just left 'em in to soak.