Let me start this post with a confession. I don’t drink Bloody Marys. You are probably thinking you shouldn’t take my advice on them right about now but hear me out. While I don’t drink Bloody Marys, I absolutely do drink Bloody Mary Mix. See, when I was a child, my mother’s favorite drink was the Bloody Mary and (it being the 80s) she loved ordering them in restaurants where they came garnished with a side salad. Celery, pickles, olives, steamed shrimp. If you could dream it, it came on top of those Bloody Marys. After I got old enough to really start hogging the garnishes, she began just ordering me my own (without the booze, naturally.)
Although the initial allure of the Bloody Mary was the cornucopia of savory delights perched atop it, I soon became quite enamored with the drink itself. Cold, thick, salty, and spicy. For a 5-year-old, I had a pretty adventurous palette and I came to really enjoy Bloody Mary Mix.
Believe it or not, I never tried one with booze until I was of legal age. I ordered one in an airport bar about a week after my 21st birthday and. . . Blech. My Bloody Mary was watered down with vodka! Gross. Since then, I’ve tried them a few more times with different spirits. The most acceptable was reposado tequila but I’d still rather have my Bloody Mary’s sans booze, thank you very much. This seems like an odd admission for a cocktail blogger to make but I wired up those taste buds long ago. Naturally, you can take this mix recipe and do whatever you would like with is. I’m sure it is tasty with your choice of spirit (if you’re into that sort of thing.)
This recipe is also missing a very common ingredient, Worcestershire sauce. Initially that came out of a frantic substitution when I realized I was out half way through making my mix (mise en place, people!) but I am beginning to think it was a happy accident. I subbed in soy sauce and balsamic vinegar to make up for it and after getting some Worcestershire and tasting them side-by-side, I think I prefer it this way. It has the added bonus of making this mix vegan (at least until you garnish it with blue-cheese stuffed olives.)
Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly. Adjust to taste but be aware that the horseradish develops over time. Best after at least 6 hours when the ingredients are thoroughly married and chilled.
Serve over ice and garnish with any manner of delicious salty things. If you're in the South, grab some dilly beans or pickled okra. If you're lucky enough to have dinner guests that bring you fancy olives, toss some of those in there.
Just another quick post about some good news: Our favorite local liquor store, Morganelli’s, now stocks Luxardo Maraschino cherries! If you’ve ever had a drink that called for a cocktail cherry, these are the cherries that are meant to be in it.
Instead of bright, fructose-laden red globes, these are dark, dark cherries stored in syrup (which is just as delicious as the cherries are). The texture on the inside is smooth and sweet, with a rich cherry flavor that remind me more of Heering cherry liquor (also dark red and syrupy) than kirschwasser (which my spell correct wants to tell me is Schwarzenegger).
So three cheers for Morganelli’s, who has the savvy and smarts to ask for suggestions on social media (like their Facebook! DO EET!!) and actually follow through with it. This is just another reason why they are our favorite… it’s just coincidence that they are geographically the closest to home.
For a recipe suggestion, I will once again go back the Corpse Reviver #2; Luxardo’s cherries are the sweet ending waiting at the bottom of the glass and a perfect finish to the drink. I think I’ll have one now! Post over!
Foillowing up on my previous post about punch, another success story has played out! A few dear friends of ours, out in Seattle, decided to throw a party and honored me by calling to ask for a punch recipe. You can imagine my elation! This is the close friend who I wrote about on my Corpse Reviver #2 post who had never drank at all, but allowed me to make his first cocktail.
I recommended the punch I made for last New Year’s Eve party and wrote up detailed instructions, liquor buying advice, and ongoing tech support. Despite their worries that a complicated and expensive punch might not be consumed, it was apparently gone halfway through the party and was a total hit.
My confidence with punch has grown yet again, and I cannot wait for my next excuse to make it again. Big thanks to those two adorable and engaged dearest friends of mine for the chance to share my passion, and flattering me again by trusting my boozy decisions.
In the last few months, a few new kinds of flavored whiskey have trickled down here to Columbia (AKA the bottom of the distribution chain). Adding flavors is, of course, nothing new; I’ll save my rant on all the kinds of Kool-Aid that have been poured into vodka for another day. As far as whiskey (or whisky, depending on… oh, don’t get me started), however, there have already been offerings from some major distillers with flavors like cherry, honey, and cinnamon. But this new flavor that has come to us is an interesting choice for sure.
I’m not sure if it’s a seasonal marketing push or if these will be sticking around for a while, but the maple flavors are here. I guess I should be thankful that there isn’t more pumpkin syrup being dumped into other spirits (I’m looking at you, Pinnacle). The combination of maple syrup and whiskey seems like a good one, right? The dark-sugar and caramel notes of maple syrup should make a great compliment alongside the smoky (smokey? Another ‘e’? Let’s not bother) wood and smoother caramel side of many a good whiskey.
For our consideration tonight, we’ve got three options: Crown Royal Maple (out of Canada), Cabin Fever (also from the Great White North), and Jim Beam Maple (from Kentucky). For contrast, I warmed up some Trader Joe’s Grade A Maple Syrup and combined it with a healthy dose of Larceny. This approach is only mirrored by two of these offerings, though; according to the information on the website, Crown Royal ages the spirit in “maple-toasted oak” instead of infusing the syrup right into the whiskey. Let’s see if it makes a difference, yes?
Of the four contenders here, the home version of syrup and bourbon is the darkest, but this might have more to do with my lack of measurement than the contents. I did, however, make sure to sip some maple syrup by itself first, just to put myself in the mood. The Crown Royal and the Cabin Fever were both the mid-amber color of a milder whiskey, about the shade of Barenjager but definitely not the deep, rich color of maple syrup. The Beam was lighter still, almost the color of an average single-malt. Finally, my home concoction, about three parts bourbon to one part syrup, was almost as dark as the maple syrup itself. This lead me to wonder how much aging or blending the whiskey had gone through on the first three to produce such a light hue, even after the addition of maple syrup!
My first deep sniff of the Crown Royal hit me right in the nostalgia region of my brain. Not for any consumption of booze or pancakes as a child, but it right away reminded me of the maple creme sticks (think of a skinny eclair, in Ohio we called them creme sticks) I would eat on Saturday mornings after youth bowling league. Sure, it was maple-ish, but not quite the full-on maple odor I was expecting. Not too much burn in the nostrils, due to there not being much whiskey to smell there.
The Cabin Fever was a similar smell, but a little more astringent and even less maple. That little bit of alcohol in my nose was offset by a lighter maple component, but not because of the sweetness. It seemed to be lighter without being sweeter. This one I had trouble placing until I got to tasting it.
The Jim Beam had a slightly more smoky smell and a better (read: lower) alcohol level in the smell. Still a little bit of maple to it, but still not much sign of whiskey. There was the usual signs of maple syrup in the sugar, caramel hints, and butter.
The TJ’s/Larceny maple I made smelled like bourbon all the way until the end of the inhale, when you could pick up a slight ping of that sweetness and deliciousness. There was far more of this than what I portioned out of the mini-bottles, so I knew there was more to be done with this one. Perhaps it needed more maple, but this might not be an experiment that I try again anytime soon.
Finally, the Flavor
The Crown Royal came through in the taste in much the same way as the nose. The taste is light and sugary, not with a brown sugar taste, but with a confectionery kind of sweetness that still reminds me of the Krispy Kreme donuts from childhood. It is tasty and light, but not in the way that maple syrup is. It’s probably a result of the way that the maple flavor was added, but it tasted more like an alcoholic maple candy than syrup.
The Cabin Fever was sweeter still, but had more of a buttery, brown-sugar kind of mojo happening. It comes across less like maple than the Crown, and more like a Werther’s Original. A lot like those butterscotch-ish candies, actually. Again, maybe it was the thin nature of the spirit, but this is more of a maple confection flavor than maple syrup.
Jim Beam’s offering managed to get a lot closer to what I *thought* I was in for. Jim was thicker in consistency and had a legitimate maple syrup note to it with less sugar. But being less sweet didn’t increase the burn; it actually went down rather smoothly. The taste rolls across the tongue with a tip-of sharpness that bring to mind the idea that a tree somewhere was very, very drunk. This was the most straightforward of the three.
My unmeasured homemade version was the only one with an actual whiskey flavor to it, much less a bourbon taste. It tasted like exactly what it was, but helped me nail down the missing whiskey flavor from the other three.
It’s not always a glamorous life, but that’s no reason to go editing realistic photos! This was literally my view through the whole tasting.
Which one of these to choose really depends what you are looking for. I tried mixing some of this into a whiskey-and-coke, but the maple was lost… as well as the whiskey. If anything, it just made the Coke even sweeter with little other contribution. I did not try to make a familiar whiskey cocktail with these out of a suspicion that I would over-sweeten the drink without picking up any maple. The solution might have been to over-pour the maple whiskey to get it to stand out… but I have a feeling these were not made for mixing. Feel free to experiment and let me know how it goes!
I may yet experiment more with the remainders of these mini-bottles, but not this day. I’ve got lots more to say about whiskey in general, and about The Great American Whiskey Fair! Next time…
I was recently given the awesome opportunity lately to help out a gathering of awesome people, more formerly known as the TEDx Columbia SC team and their speakers for this year’s event. I can’t tell you who was in attendance, since the announcement about who is speaking has not been announced, but I can tell you that I’m very excited for this year’s event.
Since I had previously mixed drinks for many of the team members for the event, I was asked to ‘tend bar'(I hesitate to say I was bartending, since it was just a table where the beer, wine, champagne, and water were hanging out). But that was something anyone could have done to help out. My contribution came in the form of punch.
But this was not to be the kind of punch that comes to many people’s minds, with bottles of booze, soda, and tooth-withering sucrose neon-colored ingredients. Oh no, not here. I drew my recipe forth from cocktail historian David Wondrich’s wonderful book, Punch. As with his earlier book, Imbibe, Wondrich tells the rich history of punch (which predates cocktails by centuries!) and provides recipes with context and modern-day options for how to make them. In the case of Punch, the correct verb is ‘compounding’ punch… and I discovered that I do enjoy compounding it.
I chose a recipe out of this awesome book called Regent’s Punch, and it is so named because the recipe is attributed to King George IV. Yeah, I went and made a 200+ year-old recipe for an unsuspecting group of Columbia’s movers and shakers. In the interest of full disclosure I did quickly print out a placard with the ingredients and a brief summary of the story, since I knew that sampling something unknown would be just cause for hesitation. Note: there are TONS of variation on this recipe (as is to be expected with something as popular and aged as this punch is), but that link just above is the same from Punch that I followed. The magic that makes this work (in my humble opinion) is the oleo-saccharum, which is a beautiful elixir made from the zests of citrus (the very outer peel with no pith) muddled in sugar and left to sit. The sugar and muddling releases the oils from the peels and becomes this bewitchingly oily, sugary miracle that is the heart and soul of many great punch recipes.
It came out a lovely golden color, and despite Elyn’s hesitations (and a few of my own), it was quickly devoured by the guests. I’d like to think it was the story and the intrigue that sold them on trying it, and not my insistence and classy hat. That punch was well worth the day-ahead of prep, and I am still thrilled that so many people gave it a chance and loved it.
It’s Mixology Monday time again, and the challenge this month is to be “Intercontinental.” The idea is to include ingredients from as many continents as possible, including tools, glassware, names, or back stories. We chose to stick to the mixing ingredients, in order to remain as legit as possible. I’ll leave the Gold Star work and Antarctica jokes to those more qualified than myself.
This contribution is called The Magellan, and here’s the recipe:
Chill your coupe glass and combine the rum, Punsch, lime, juice, syrup, and egg white in a shaker with NO ice and shake like crazy.
Add ice and shake like crazier.
Strain into the chilled coupe
Gently sprinkle a pinch of Garam Masala seasoning on top of the foam and smile.
For the Garam Masala syrup recipe, we used ⅓ cup each jaggery and water and ½ tsp Garam Masala. Combine in a small saucepan and heat. Then allow to cool and strain through cheesecloth.
Sorry, photo-lovers, I already juiced the best looking lime for the drink!
If you’ve not tried it, this rum is worth hunting down. Banks 5 Island rum is named for its blend of rums from 5 different places: Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados, and one undisclosed location (but I trust them, even though Guyana isn’t an island). The nose gives you the funkiness of the Jamaican rums and, oddly, a hint of raisins. Not an unpleasant thing here or in many white, unaged whiskeys, take my word for it. The taste is smooth and distinctive with a decent burn, while retaining its sweetness. As far as MxMo, since Guyana is solidly in South America and the rest of the islands of the West Indies (a grossly inaccurate name) are considered part of North America, that’s two continents in one shot! Boom!
Next up is the Swedish Punsch, another delightful ingredient that we first read about in Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails. This is a rum-based liqueur, seasoned up with various delicious spices. Basically, Swedish Punsch is to rum as Drambuie is to scotch. We use Kronan here at home, available on DrinkUpNY. They include in their description that Kronan is made from sugarcane spirits from the East and West Indies, creating the first link back to the rum. Kronan Swedish Punsch is, as the name suggests, made in Sweden, so that makes Europe continent #3.
Finally the fun part: the Garam Masala syrup. Instead of regular sugar or, my preference, demerara sugar, I wanted a simple syrup that would connect with the complex Garam Masala seasoning. The best thing we could think of to match the spices of India was jaggery. It can be made from a lot of things, but this one is molasses-based and in a loaf form. We used a 1 to 1 ratio of water to jaggery and melted it down with 1/2 tsp. of Garam Masala, also from our local Indian market. This only yields a small amount of syrup, but it can be easily doubled up since many of the ingredients dissolve. Anything that doesn’t dissolve will have to strained out through a cheesecloth once the mixture cools. It’s a complex, dark, and smokey ingredient that works beautifully with the Swedish Punsch. This also brings full circle to the continental aspect of the cocktail by crossing the waters that Columbus couldn’t and making it all the way to India. Make Asia continent #4!
That pinch of Garam Masala on top of the foam guarantees a nice, spicy punch (Punsch?) on the nose.
The lime juice brings a light, tart note into the mix, and the egg white does its usual magic and makes the mouthfeel silky and smooth without affecting the taste. If anything, that egg white makes all of the molasses and spices seem almost chocolatey. To this day, I’ve not made or tried an egg cocktail that I didn’t love.
Now, the lime could be from anywhere, so there’s no additional land mass there. The egg could also be from anywhere… but is the same color white as the snow and ice of Antarctica! POW, that’s fi- nah, just kidding. Four is enough for me, and this drink is tasty enough for anyone. Big thanks to Stewart at Putney Farms blog for the inspiration!
We got a chance to check out the Harvest Week menu at Motor Supply Company last week. Every year, the folks at the restaurant invite in the farmers and other local producers that make their menu possible for a fun party followed by a week of farm-t0-table inspired menus. This year it wasn’t just the food menu that got the harvest makeover but the cocktail list as well.
When we arrived, the bar was packed so we got a table and ate some pretty tasty appetizers. We tried a beet salad, pork belly, and a steamed seafood appetizer. I’m still not sold on pork belly and unfortunately this preparation didn’t help, I guess I like mine more tender. But, the beet salad was to die for. We also got some soup and a cheese plate but we didn’t snap pictures of those.
But, we’re here to talk about the cocktails, right? We had a few with dinner – the “Jazz Go Down” and “The Fall Guy”. “Jazz Go Down” featured Zaya rum, pepper and bacon jam, creme de cacao, and apple cider. It sounded pretty awesome. Unfortunately, the creme de cacao took over and obliterated almost everything else. It was decidedly lacking a sour hit and even the rum got pretty lost in the chocolate flavor. Definitely a concept with some awesome potential, though. That garnish is pretty sassy, huh?
“The Fall Guy” was a definite hit. I’ve been finding myself pretty attracted to tequila drinks lately and snapping them up when they’re done creatively. This one called my name by matching Dobel Maestro tequila up with cinnamon basil, chipotle, honey, and ginger beer. It was spicy, refreshing, and really let the tequila sing. While the fall flavors were evident, the freshness from the basil made it a drink that I’d gladly sip all year.
After dinner, we slid over to the bar which had quieted down significantly. Good thing, because we wanted to bend the ear of the bartender. We lucked out and Josh Streetman, the head bartender that developed the harvest menu was there to help us out. Our next round of drinks was excellent. I’m a sucker for rye and witty names so the “Drunk @ Karaoke on Halloween” (Bulleit rye, Cocchi Americano, pumpkin puree, sorghum, carbonation) was a natural choice. Russ stepped out of his usual patterns and was so allured by the description of the “Six String Bass” that he picked a vodka drink! This one was Tito’s infused with smoked pears, calvados, amontillado sherry, lemon, and honey.
Josh is definitely doing some innovative things behind the bar at Motor Supply. He let us know that a brand new late fall cocktail menu would be unveiled this week so there will always be something new to check out.
I think it’s about time to showcase a drink that I truly love. This version first came to me from Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails, where the excellent Dr. Cocktail speaks to its origins. The good doctor tells a much better story than I do, so I won’t try to recap it for you; I will leave the history to the experts and tell you about this wondrous potation in the present… as I sip one with a smile on my face.
Shake and strain into a chilled glass, then drop in a stemless cherry to lurk in the bottom.
Pictured: the usual suspects. Delicious, delicious suspects.
I will leave the gin to you, gentle reader, to decide on. I’ve tried London Dry gins that did just as well as smaller batch fancy gins, and whichever gin strikes your fancy will come through quietly and whisper lovely things in this drink’s ear. I like Small’s gin in this for the smooth botanicals and the touch of citrus that plays well with the next three ingredients.
The Cointreau and Lillet are must-haves, both in general and in this drink, so take on substitutions at your own risk. The key to this cocktail is the delicate balance (AKA mystical chemistry) between all four main ingredients, and I haven’t found anything that can fill in for these two in this recipe. Triple sec is too sweet and orange curaçao is too straight-forward orange to let the Lillet really shine. Careful measurement and fresh lemons are absolutely mandatory, but I don’t need to tell you that…. do I?
As for those drops of absinthe, I recommend all three. If anise puts a bee in your bonnet, dial it back to only one drop, but don’t leave it out! It seems like a few drops of the green fairy wouldn’t have much to say against four ounces of goodness, but there are no strongly-flavored ingredients to compete with here. On the other hand, don’t feel like a strong absinthe will be too strong. I used four drops of a rouge absinthe we found at Merchant in Madison, WI, and it barely came through in the drink. Let the beast out… but only for a few drops.
Finally, that garnish. If you haven’t already experienced the joy and enlightenment of Luxardo Maraschino cherries, there is nothing I can say that will measure up. They are sheer perfection at the end of a good cocktail, and the Corpse Reviver #2 is no exception. Just make sure you save it for the very end; it’s absolute bliss.
This cocktail is so damn good it gives me goosebumps. A good friend of mine was until very recently a teetotaler, but has ended this persuasion because life has been treating him very well (which is the right reason to decide to imbibe, in my humble opinion). He came to me for his first drink after seeing me mix and gush with other good friends about the virtues and furors of liquor, and this was the one I chose to break him in with. He was not disappointed.
As mentioned, our home bar started off with some naive choices. As our explorations into mixology have matured, so have our selections at our local (and out of town) liquor stores. As the collection grew, it expanded past the boundaries of the furniture it was kept in. Eventually, we had to make some choices as to what was kept out and what went into hiding.
Before you call liquor snob on us (and fairly so), these decisions were not made solely on how cool or hip each spirit was. As our recipes and tastes progressed, we realized that some bottles were gathering more dust than others. Housekeeping practices aside, things that lost their prime real estate spot were simply not called on or used often enough.
Not much of a difficult decision on this one.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to discard the value and potential of these spirits. No doubt there are some tasty recipes out there for these lonely tipples, but we’ve had our eyes on other prizes. That said, Elyn and I are considering the idea of making these bottles a challenge; perhaps concocting some easy uses, cocktail and otherwise, to finish these off. Suggestions welcome below in the comments!
Full disclosure, esteemed reader, we have some very silly things hanging out in the laundry room. Some of those in the photo up top there are just the 1.75 L bottle that we refill the 750 mL on the bar with. I’ll list them in the Cabinet (take a look! Input welcome!) under the blush-faced title, the Bar of Eagerness. There’s black vodka, there’s Amarula, there’s a root beer liqueur…. but around the house, we just call it the laundry room.
For our second submission to Mixology Monday’s smoke theme, I chose to follow Elyn’s lead (as I, being no fool, so often do) with a Turkish hookah experience and decided to make apple brandy my base spirit. This drink was also created to pair nicely with a leisurely smoke of some apple shisha in a hookah, perhaps on a chilly night of the sort we are hoping to get more of here in SC.
I called upon some specific spirits for this recipe to make sure the result didn’t stray too far from the intent. With some lucky input from our close friend, Robert, I give you Newton’s Fog:
Combine the first four ingredients in an iced mixing glass and stir calmly. Pour into a rocks glass over a large ice cube and add the dashes of bitters and Laphroaig.
Measure carefully; this drink is a balancing act!
Of the Laird’s apple brandy options that we have here (which we’ll talk more about at a later date *wink!*), the Bottled in Bond is the most bold and full-flavored, yet lighter-bodied than bourbon. It is for that reason I used it here; we’ll need something solid to built this complex cocktail on. The Batavia Arrack brings in some needed spice and smokiness to help later with the bitters.
At after some early experiments, instead of amaretto, I had planned to use John D. Taylor’s Velvet falernum to tie up the last of the spice notes and bring the sweet counter to the lemon juice. It worked well and I was ready to roll with it, but on a lark our friend Robert made the exact same drink with the Luxardo Amaretto instead. To our surprise, it worked brilliantly. One sip of the amaretto by itself explained why; whereas most amarettos are just sweet and a little nutty, the Luxardo actually has a sharpness and spice to its profile that took this recipe right where I wanted to go.
As you may have noticed, the smokiest ingredient here is hardly used. If you’ve tried Laphroaig, you know that you don’t need much of it to turn any recipe into something akin to drinking a campfire. I love the stuff, and the cask strength is not fooling around. If you have Laphroaig 10 or 12 year, go ahead and be generous with that dash. With the cask strength, as I learned at The Gin Joint and their Penicillin cocktail, you don’t need much of it before it takes over completely. The Fee Bros. Whiskey Barrel-Aged bitters is another delicious and smoky addition.
This drink actually keeps developing as the ice melts; make sure it’s a big one!
Stirring this drink keeps it smooth and silky, while the apply brandy and Arrack keep it from getting syrupy. With that large ice chunk slowly opening up the flavors, this is a great one to sip and puff to while watching the cool nights roll in.
EDIT: Bust out that trusty channel knife and take a spiral of a sweet, cold apple and let that float on top of the drink as well. The juice really lightens up the finish, and makes a tasty snack at the end of the drink. Thanks for the reminder, Robert!