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  1. Really, Mr. Boston? #1

    November 26, 2014 by Russ

    To celebrate the imminent arrival of our newest cocktail book, Death & Co. (from the NYC bar of the same name), your intrepid and occasionally lazy writers here at Root & Glass have chosen to start a new regular feature.  One that looks back at another book on our shelf and decides to mock it shamelessly.  You know… for the kids!

    But I want to make it clear now, we are not trying to disrespect this book.  It does serve as a reliable benchmark for some fairly arcane information.  In the opening chapters, one can easily find information about unit conversions, illustrated and named glassware, and equivalent measures for 19th-Century quantifications (I have this page bookmarked; how am I supposed to remember what a pony-glass is, or how many bottles of wine a Rehoboam is?).  The copy we have was a thoughtful gift from two dear friends, so no, we bear this book no ill will.  However, there are some *very* mockable parts to it.

    The guidelines for these posts are quite simple.  We will be temporarily ignoring all of the classics, forgotten gems, and newer curiosities that Mr. Boston faithfully chronicles in order to scrutinize a claim made right on the front cover:

    A lot better than the Mr. Akron book. That's just a collection of sad, black and white photos of dead shopping malls.

    Sounds like a lot, right?

    Wow, I mean, with 1,500 recipes that’s gotta have it all!  After all, these must be things that the ‘Master Mixologist” has to need!  Well, it sure does, and this series of posts will be highlighting some of the recipes that made me stop reading and exclaim, often audibly, “Really, Mr. Boston?  Is THAT how we’re filling this list of 1,500?”

    To kick it off, I bring you the ‘recipe’ that spawned the idea for this series.  Picture it in your mind: a fresh, new, first-day-on-the-job young bartender, standing tall at the local aspiring cocktail bar, suddenly facing the frightening wall of public demands.  All of that training and advance studying fly out of their brains at the first non-bottled request from the thirsty face of a shouting customer.  In a blind panic, they reach for the trusty old copy of Mr. Boston that is safely camped out under the bar and flip to refresh their memory without giving away the impression that they have no idea what words just entered their ears.  They turn the pages in a mounting frenzy until they reach their goal, and they read:

    "Oh, THREE ice cubes!  I always forget that part!"

    To be attempted by Master Mixologists only, please.

    Then they calmly close the book, place it back on the shelf, and raise their arm in a sudden, involuntary upward swipe that ends with the heel of their hand connecting to their forehead with a resounding SMACK.

    Really, Mr. Boston?  You counted this one?  You thought, perhaps, that your all-encompassing volume just wouldn’t be complete without this one?  That it needed to be preserved, in case the terms ‘on the rocks’ got a reader wondering if it supposed to be granite or marble?  UGH.

  2. Ferrari, continued

    November 17, 2014 by Russ

    This will just be a quick after-post (post-post?) on the delicious drink I wrote about last time.  I successfully killed off that bottle of Dolin dry vermouth by making yet another Ferrari, and side-by-siding it against the same drink make with the new Ransom dry vermouth.  OH MY YES.

    This Ransom vermouth is something else.  Making this drink with a fresh bottle of Ransom was night and day against that poor old Dolin.  Don’t get me wrong, Dolin makes a perfectly good vermouth, and I consider their dry to be well above average… but there is no comparison.  Ransom has just deepened the crush that I already have on all their products (thus far).

    Also, if I may toot my own horn, look how little pith is on the back of that twist! YEAH.

    To the left is our Neat Ice Kit, which is why the ice in the glass is oh-so-hard to see! Yes, being an Ice Nerd is a post for another day…

    Made with a standard dry vermouth, the Ferrari attempts to make peace, no, screw that, it DOES makes peace between the slight bitterness and light body of the vermouth and the cloying sweetness of  a really good amaretto, moderated by the always-wise and sublime lemon twist.  With this new hotness, however, these opposing elements no longer must do battle and strive for harmony.  The amaretto and the vermouth lock eyes, share a long smouldering look, and embrace each other with a relentless and heated makeout.  The botanicals jump right to the front for a drink with surprising depth and complexity.  The lemon peel, modestly working its magic in a separate show atop the drink, now blends in harmoniously with the profile of the vermouth, and change this drink from an unexpectedly pleasant drink to an outright surprise.

    Never, never, never underestimate the value of a direct, scientific experiment via the change in only one variable.  This recipe is a keeper.

  3. Vroom vroom!

    November 13, 2014 by Russ

    While a good friend was over, trying to save this heap of a computer from eating itself (I totally blame this jumble of wires and defective drives on the lack of posting, by the way), I was flipping through the ol’ Mr. Boston’s recipe book, looking for something new.  Since I’m telling you this story, you can probably already tell that I found it.

    I was trying to use up our existing bottle of Dolin dry vermouth in order to give me an excuse to open the new dry vermouth by Ransom Spirits that we procured (thanks, Morganelli’s Party Store!) and am super-excited about.  We got to try a lil’ sample of it on our summer roadtrip, in Portland, where there is a store called Meadow that primarily sells chocolate, salt, and bitters.  I know, I know, it was amazing.  The best part?  They have samples available of most of their items!  So we fell in love with Ransom’s dry vermouth, came home and asked nicely, and Morganelli’s came through in a big way with the dry AND the sweet by Ransom!  If the sweet is anything like Whipper Snapper and their Old Tom gin, I have every confidence that it is also top-notch.

    So, in comes Mr. Boston and the something new.  I trip across a recipe that uses dry vermouth, is simple, new, and unexpected.  On paper, the Ferrari doesn’t come across as a particularly good drink.  I was especially skeptical, since I am not a fan of the bitter component of vermouth in general.  With the what-the-Hades attitude that usually precedes a revelation, I threw one together and was mildly stunned at the outcome.

    A surprisingly tasty, and simple, combination of sweet and bitter. DON'T skip the garnish!
    Recipe type: Cordials
    • 1 oz. Amaretto
    • 2 oz. Dry vermouth
    1. Mix over ice in an old-fashioned glass and stir. Squeeze a lemon twist over it, run the twist around the rim of the glass, and drop it in.

    I used Luxardo amaretto, because I am completely in love with it.  It ends up being a refreshing and sweet drink, with the best qualities of each ingredient complimenting the other.  The 1:2 ratio ends up a little sweeter than Elyn prefers, but my excellent tech-saavy buddy and I found it delicious.  Absolutely do not neglect that lemon twist; in fact, make it an extra-robust one.  Those lemon oils really bring it all together.

  4. Again? So soon?

    October 19, 2014 by Russ

    Just last weekend, I’d mixed up so- pardon me, compounded some punch for a few friends coming in from town.  They were wise enough to give me warning and express an interest in tasty drinks, so I compounded a batch of Billy Dawson’s punch.  It’s a delicious hot punch made with an oleo-saccharum of lemon peel and demarara sugar, lemon juice, rum, cognac, arrack, and a few ounces of porter (I used Samuel Smith’s Imperial Stout) over boiling water.  It’s a lovely thing, and our guests annihilated it in short order.

    Now, scarcely a week later, I get to make another punch!  Here in Columbia, we are lucky enough to in good company of other cities that host their own TEDx events.  The organizers of the event throw a few little shindigs for the selected speakers, and one of the first is the photo shoot party so that the publicity can begin.  We two here at Root and Glass are lucky enough to have been called on again to compound a punch for this party.

    Since I have been making punch for this long, and there will be a few repeat guests, I will be repeating the Regent’s Punch… to see if I’ve gotten any better at this, of course.  Not at all because I dearly love this recipe and couldn’t find a better one quick enough.  This involves more delicious rum, arrack, and cognac, but here there is pineapple syrup (steeping right now), green tea (cooling off and about to go in the fridge), champagne mixed in at the end, and this time the oelo-saccharum is made with orange and lemon peels.

    Regent's Punch
    A 200-plus-year old recipe, accredited to King George IV, when he was the crown Regent.
    Recipe type: Punch
    • Oleo-saccharum (4 oz. white sugar, peels of 2 lemons and 2 oranges)
    • 1 pint green tea
    • Juice of 2 lemons and 2 oranges
    • 8 oz. VSOP cognac
    • 2 oz. Jamaican rum
    • 2 oz. Batavia arrack
    • 2 oz. maraschino liqueur or pineapple syrup
    • 2 bottles of brut champagne
    1. Prepare the oleo-saccharum
    2. Steep the green tea (2 tea bags or 2 tsp of loose leaf) for 5 minutes and add, dissolving the sugar
    3. Juice the lemons and oranges into the bowl and stir
    4. Stir in the rest of the ingredients except the champagne
    5. Refrigerate for an hour or two
    6. When it's time to serve, pour it into the bowl and gently stir in the champagne
    7. Yields 10 cups

    Here’s to you, TEDx Columbia!  I sure hope you and your new 2015 speakers enjoy this punch.  It’s fit for royalty.

  5. The magic ingredient

    October 9, 2014 by Russ

    Tomorrow, some dear friends are rolling in from out of town, and I’ve been eager all week. The evening will not feature Elyn’s masterful kitchen skills, but when the inquiry was made into fine drinks, my reply was “OH HELLS YES.”

    When enough people give me sufficient cause and forewarning, my first thought is punch. Yes, making individual drinks of excellence is always a pleasure, but there is something to be said for the charms of the flowing bowl. By ‘something,’ I mean a significant, tangible something. If everyone can have the same drink, and it is objectively delicious, the shared-experience factor that we are already familiar with (in this age of over-sharing) becomes a thing to be treasured and, if I do my job correctly, marveled at.

    I truly love these people coming to visit tomorrow, and what better way to show that than with a labor of love in drinkable form? I just got done prepping the oleo-saccharum, and I’m always blown away by it. I don’t think I ever want to make a punch without it.


    Be jealous of these smells.

    Also, I finally got the WordPress app to let me in! Posting on the go! Hooray for accessibility!

  6. No more screwin’ around

    October 7, 2014 by Russ

    Alright, time to get back to work. I worried for a long time about getting back to this, and if I could write content worth your time, dear reader. It took me this long to figure out that the worry was keeping me from writing AT ALL (I’m kinda dumb that way). So now, back to business.

    I will not be sacrificing quality for a mass of useless, ho-hum posts, and I will not write just for the sake of it. I refused to give up on this little write-n-drink project because, well, I’ve got a lot to say about fine drinking and about fine liquors. I’ve actually got a lot to say about crappy ones, too, for that matter. I will also not let the fear of inadequate photography slow me down. These images don’t have to look flawless; I’m not trying to pass myself off as a photographer, just a dude with a cellphone, a crazy home bar, and a lovely, talented, and supportive wife.

    It’s time to work. Of course, by work, I mean drink. Here’s to you.

  7. French Whiskey? Mais Oui! Review of Bastille 1789

    August 13, 2014 by Elyn

    In the mid-90s, Pace ran some pretty iconic television advertisements that featured cowboys around a campfire chatting about picante sauce. When the cowboys find out that the picante sauce they are being offered is made in NEW YORK CITY, they get pretty offended. While this salsa ad has little to do with the current concern with slow and local food, it immediately came to mind when I came across Bastille whiskey. Here in the South, we drink Bourbon and if we’re feeling fancy, I suppose Scotch. But whiskey from France? I hadn’t really considered it!

    However, when one of the gentlemen at Morganelli’s wholeheartedly recommended Bastille 1789, we decided to take a chance on it. I mean, the French are hardly inexperienced at making fine spirits even though they tend to work more with grapes than grains. The malted barley and wheat in Bastille are grown in Northeast France and it turns out that lots of Scotch producers source barley from that region anyway. So, why not keep the production in France? Indeed, there is a burgeoning whiskey industry in France as the French are huge consumers of important whiskey. Here in the US, we haven’t come across too many brands available to us locally but after trying Bastille, I’ll be watching out for others. Because this is a lovely whiskey.

    about_bottleBastille is a mild sipper with lovely fruity notes. I get berries, stone fruit, and peppery baking spices with an aroma of floral honey. It is sweet on the tongue with only the mildest heat and spice.  Usually, when I sip a whiskey, I’m doing it to assess what sort of cocktails it might be good in. And certainly, I think this would play nice with other spirits. But, it is subtle and complex enough to stand on its own. At around $30 a bottle, it is a great value and reminds us that very lovely things can be quite accessible. Vive la France!

  8. Let the Punch flow forth!

    May 19, 2014 by Russ

    Alright, time to get back on the stick and rant about one of life’s greatest accomplishments! Sorry for the delay, you few readers, you; I return now with some excellent news! I’ve been doing a few odd jobs on the side, and decided to turn some of this extra cash into another little luxury. I just placed my order for a new Ra Chand J210 citrus juicer, as recommended by David Wondrich in his lovely book, Punch. Getting to those sweet juices (well, really, sour juices) has become all the easier! Now the only thing stopping me from making ALL THE PUNCH are willing faces to pour it into…

  9. Things are a-brewing…

    January 14, 2014 by Russ

    After a plodding search for ingredients, we’ve got a batch of Meyer Lemon bitters (from Brad Parson’s book, Bitters) currently waiting out a 2-week stint in a Mason jar.  I am trying not to… but when I sneak a sniff, they already smell amazing.  I, for one, am extra-excited to try these out.

    We also had a very productive visit from our cocktail-loving friend with the great palate, Robert.  Not one, but TWO recipes came out of that visit… more about them soon.  Also, more about the Hudson Single Malt whiskey that I picked up; I am in love with it.

  10. Still drinking?

    December 6, 2013 by Russ

    It’s been a busy month of travel and adventure, but there are a few new things to report in this short post!

    First, we had a great trip to Washington D.C. over Thanksgiving to see some excellent friends.  While there, we picked up a few new things for our Cabinet:

    • Green Hat Gin, made right in D.C.  It’s a fine tasting gin with an excellent story to go with the name, as well as some very well-chosen botanicals.  I put it to work in a Barnum (Was Right) Cocktail, and the results were sublime.
    • Art in the Age Sage, a ‘garden gin’ based on a recipe formulated by Thomas Jefferson’s gardener and horticultural mentor.  This is another worthy and delicious addition to the Art in the Age line of liqueurs.
    • Hum, an unusual but stunning liqueur that contains ingredients like kaffir lime, cardamom, ginger, and hibiscus.  It’s an entrancing, deep red color, and every ingredient I just listed comes through in the taste.  There will some amazing things made with this stuff!

    We visited The Passenger while in the capitol, and became instant fans… and I don’t mean Twitter.  Well, not just Twitter.  They don’t have a standing menu, and instead, take requests and preferences from the customer and create each drink according to those tastes.  We were made some pretty impressive and inspired drinks, and will be writing more about that soon.  Stay tuned!