Ben

Oct 062010
 

This come from Char No. 4 in Brooklyn. If you want to see an awkward video about it, you can go here or here.

If you just want the recipe, here:

1.5 oz Bourbon (something strong & smokey – like Buffalo Trace)
0.5 oz maple syrup (grade B, for fuller flavor)
0.5 oz fresh lime juice
a little ginger beer or ginger ale

Shake the first three ingredients with ice. Strain into rocks glass with fresh ice in it. Top with ginger beer.

I’ve been using a strong ginger beer – Fever Tree brand – which is quite ginger-y. So go easy on that, maybe 1/4 of an ounce or 1/2 at most.

It’s an interesting balance – the lime bitterness cuts through the maple syrup sweetness, and they neutralize each other’s main aspect, but the citrus and smokiness of the syrup are still there, and they go well with a bourbon that’s aggressive enough to make its presence known.

Surprisingly, the Trophy Wife kinda liked this one, even though she drinks very little of the browns (except for the occasional sidecar).

Ginger ale will make it more of a spritzer for a hot day, but the bourbon/lime/maple syrup flavors should hold up okay.

I’m really liking this for a Bay Area autumn day, when it’s kinda warm, but kinda chilly, and can’t make up its mind.

Cheers!

Sep 202010
 

A little bit OT for this blog, but Peak Organic Brewing Fall Summit Ale is freakin’ delicious.

Great mouthfeel. Full, balanced hop aroma and flavors. Get some.

That is all.

Cheers!

 Posted by at 10:32 am  Tagged with:
Sep 172010
 

This is tasty.

2 oz Bourbon (Bulleit)
1/2 oz Sweet Vermouth
1/2 oz Benedictine
2 dashes bitters
Lemon twist

Add all except the lemon twist to a pitcher or shaker with ice. Stir and strain into cocktail glass and add lemon twist. For a rocks version, just build in a rocks glass with ice and add garnish.

I found this at Cocktail Times – unfortunately the site does not seem to be fully maintained.

Manhattany at heart, but the botanicals from the Benedictine and the citrus from the twist make this quite crisp and refreshing. Just the right amount of complexity and heartiness.

Cheers!

Sep 172010
 

This is National Bourbon Heritage month – I think that’s the right title. So I’ve been working my way through some bourbon drinks.

I was thinking of doing a different cocktail for every night of the month, but that’s going to take a bit more planning. Next year.

But I have been running through some standards – Manhattans, Mint Juleps, Old Fashioneds. Here’s the first of a few about some bourbon-based drinks that were new to me.

Seelbach Cocktail

Named after the Seelbach Hotel in Louisville, KY, this has a story behind it of a bartender with an overflowing bottle of champagne that poured into a Manhattan, which was then modified. The actual recipe had been tightly controlled until recently when it was published in New Classic Cocktails by Gary and Mardee Haidin Regan. It has found its way onto a few other sites since then. So here’s what I got:

1 oz bourbon
1/2 oz cointreau
7 dashes Angostura bitters
7 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
5 ounces chilled champagne
orange twist for garnish

Build the drink in a champagne flute, stirring before adding the champagne.

It’s a bit intense. Too intense for me, and I loves me the bitter. The Regans specify a feisty, pre-prohibition style bourbon, like Old Forester. I had Bulleit on hand, which is a reasonable hearty whisky, so I don’t think I was too far off with it. But I didn’t taste the bourbon and the bitters were too much.

For the second batch, I doubled the bourbon to 2 oz, and cut the bitters way down to 3 dashes each. That was pretty tasty. A more reasonably balanced drink. Worth a try, if you’ve got some bubbly that needs drinking.

I haven’t had great luck with champagne cocktails in general, ‘cept Mimosas, of course, and the occasional Kir Royale. That might just be me. I’ll keep on trying though!

Cheers!

Aug 172010
 

I was visiting Vancouver, BC, and headed out to dinner with the Trophy Wife(tm). I’m not sure what got it in my head, but I was craving cherries, and I mentioned this to her.

When we got to our restaurant, Boneta, and saw their version of Blood and Sand on the menu, well, just had to try it. It had enough cherry in it for me. The staff was kind enough to let me take home the drink menu, as they had some interesting tweaks on some interesting drinks. I promptly lost that piece of paper, but I do remember at least one of the tweaks they made to the Blood and Sand cocktail.

The story is that it was created for, and named after, a Rudolf Valentino flick called, wait for it, Blood and Sand. It’s a simple recipe – the four main ingredients are mixed in straight proportions.

3/4 oz Scotch (Boneta used cherry-infused Irish Whiskey)
3/4 oz sweet (Italian) vermouth
3/4 oz cherry brandy (I have kirsch, which makes it a bit less sweet)
3/4 oz orange juice
dash bitters (orange or Peychaud’s – Ben’s touch)

Shake over ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

I performed a very simple infusion – dropped a bunch of sweet cherries into a bottle of Tullamore Dew and let it sit for a few days. The balance is really nice, but I likes me the bitters, so I tried it with a few options. Angostura didn’t work so well for me here. Orange bitters were good, but you had enough orange in there from the juice. I thought that the Peychaud’s added the right complexity on top of the beverage.

So for the cherry brandy – I’m not an afficionado, I just happened to have Kirsch on hand. Wikipedia tells me that Kirsch (a.k.a. Kirschwasser) is made from the whole fermented cherry, including the pit. So it has a little bitterness to it, and a hint of almond. I’ll try this again sweeter, when I get some cherry brandy.

I’d also try this with a heartier Scotch whisky, to see what that does. I have some 10 year old Talisker that might do the trick…

Cheers!

Jul 132010
 

There’s a more, oh, kitschy version of this, with a graham cracker crumb crust, if that’s what you’re into. This one is a little less showy.

From the blog section of Hangar One:

2 oz Hangar One Kaffir Lime Vodka (pretty damn good chilled and neat…)
0.5 oz fresh lime juice
0.5 oz orgeat (we found the Torini to be serviceable, but would like to try Small Hands‘ version).
1 drop vanilla extract

Shake with ice, strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lime wheel or peel.

Nice balance of sweet and tangy, and the almonds from the orgeat and the vanilla added nice complicated notes to it. Shortest time ever recorded between first taste and declaration “This is my new favorite drink” from the Trophy Wife.

Good for a quick perking up of the mouth, but way too strong to slurp on a hot summer day. I’d be more likely to have this for dessert than a pre-prandial drink. Would go well with chocolate, or raspberries, or raspberry chocolate.

Cheers!

Jun 292010
 

Okay, I got intrigued about the Aviation Cocktail. And I like the thought of floral notes on top of the floral/herbal notes of gin, so I got me some crème de violette tried a few recipes out.

Aviation Cocktail, from the SF Chronicle (also in Chron.com from Houston):
1.5 oz gin (Gordon’s London Dry)
0.5 oz maraschino liqueur (Luxardo)
0.5 oz crème de violette (Rothman & Winter)
0.5 oz lemon juice (Meyer lemons)

Shake with ice (you’ve got 1/2 oz of juice in there!), and strain into chilled cocktail glass.

Not bad. Flowery, of course, but pretty well balanced. Very nice on a relaxed summer day – not something you want more than one of, but with a light cheese and cracker appetizer, or green grapes – quite refreshing. I’d even consider popping a green grape in the glass as a garnish.

Aviatrix Cocktail from Food52.com, by way of Cooking4theWeek (to which I intend to return again and again…):
2 oz gin
1 oz Lillet Blanc
1 teaspoon crème de violette
2 dashes citrus bitters (Regan’s orange)
lemon twist as garnish

Stir over ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Add the garnish.

This one just brought out too many floral notes, and tasted like perfume. Food52.com’s recipe called for lemon bitters, but I don’t think that would have saved the drink for me.

Next!

The Attention Cocktail from SpiritsAndCocktails:
2 oz gin
0.25 oz absinthe (Lucid)
0.25 oz dry vermouth (Noilly-Prat)
0.25 oz crème de violette
2 dashes Regan’s orange bitters

Not bad, not bad. The anise is prominent, of course, but there’s a lot going on in this drink, so it’s not totally dominating. But this is about crème de violette, not absinthe. A one-off drink (not one you’d have more than one of), but should be enjoyed only before a strong flavored meal – roast beef with horseradish or goose maybe.

Aside: I’m still looking for an absinthe cocktail I can really enjoy. I loves me a nice Sazerac, but that only rinses the glass in absinthe (or absinthe substitute). I tried Death in the Afternoon – a good shot of absinthe under a couple ounces of champagne, but that didn’t thrill me either. Papa Hemingway did stipulate drinking 3 to 5 of those, so maybe I just didn’t go far enough.

Okay, Mr. Regan – you got something for me?

The Moonlight Cocktail
1.5 oz gin (he says “Beefeater, Plymouth, or Tanqueray”, but I had Gordon’s. So there.)
0.5 oz cointreau
0.5 oz crème de violette
0.5 oz fresh lime juice

Shake over ice for 15 seconds, then into a chilled champagne flute. I used a martini cocktail glass. Seemed to work okay.

This has been my favorite so far. The double floral hit of gin and violets is balanced by the citrus in the lime juice and the cointreau. The tongue gets most of the citrus, but the upper palate feels the floral tones. I’ll be back again for this.

Yale Cocktail – back to Cooking4TheWeek
2oz gin
1/3 oz dry vermouth
1/3 oz crème de violette
dash bitters (aromatic – went with the local (as in made by a friend down the street) 60 First Street bitters)

Stir with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Puts you in the mind of a flowery martini. The recipe crafter (Haus Alpenz credited) balances the floral with the bitters. Not bad. I would try this one again.

Jupiter Cocktail from SFBartending.com (a different balance found at 1001Cocktails)
0.75 oz gin
0.5 oz dry vermouth
2 tsp crème de violette
2 tsp orange juice

Shake over ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass.

Not awful, but kind of a Martinez on its way to a Martini, but jumped in the parking lot by a screwdriver (and beaten badly). Juice was store bought, I admit, but this was not what I wanted. Not as bad as the Aviatrix, but taste was reminiscent of fancy soap.

Soooo, after all of these (and frequently more than one), I still have 7/8 of a bottle of Rothman & Winter staring at me.

Nothing really grabbed me here, but enough pleasant options that could be served as entertaining, if not novelty, drinks. And all except the Jupiter, which came out grey, were quite pretty purple/lavender hues. I’d be happy, and confident, serving up an Aviation or a Moonlight Cocktail to you, next time you’re over.

Cheers!

Jun 212010
 

Here’s an original from me.

We’re taking a vacation on the Russian River at Sanctuaire. Our friends Eric and Margie brought up a bottle of Fraser River Raspberry Vodka from Hangar One. I actually had the pleasure of watching the distillation process on a tour of the facilities a few months ago. Pictures of that in a bit.

So our ingredients were restricted to what we had on hand, but happened to have some good stuff.

Sanctuaire Summer:
1 oz Hangar One Fraser River Raspberry Flavored Vodka
2 oz orange juice
1 dash aromatic bitters (Angostura, or homemade “60 First Street” bitters, if you got ’em)
1 mint leaf

We just built them in wine glasses, but since there is juice, probably best to shake the liquid ingredients over ice, then strain into a wine glass. Gently crush the mint leaf and add.

Good on a sunny afternoon, or would be a great brunch accompaniment!

Cheers!

May 292010
 

This is a drink that we are ‘liberating’ from Somerset, one of our favorite local restaurants on College Avenue. We’ve been going there for the delicious food for a while, but in the last, oh, 18 months or so they seem to have put some more energy into their cocktail menu with excellent results.

They invented a drink there they call the ‘Mi Flor’. We’re going from the description on the menu and trying to reverse engineer the drink. We think we’re getting pretty close.

1.5 oz light rum (Somerset uses 3 kinds of rum, and we happened to have 3 on hand – Flor de Cana (from Nicaragua), Mount Gay (Barbados), and Rhum Barbancourt (Haiti). So 0.5 oz each)
0.5 oz ginger liqueur (we used our homemade, which is just ginger infused vodka. I add a 1/2 teaspoon of honey as most of the commercial liqueurs have some)
0.5 oz fresh lime juice
1 tsp. sugar
mint sprig (garnish)

Shake the liquids and the sugar with ice, then pour into a small snifter filled with crushed ice. Garnish with mint sprig.

Sip through a cocktail straw.

This is also an excellent afternoon refresher if you put it in a collins glass and add a couple ounces of club soda.

Salud!

 Posted by at 10:52 am  Tagged with:
May 242010
 

What? This thing is still on?

Sorry about the radio silence for a while. Rest assured, I have been drinking, just not logging all of it. Thanks for stepping up there, Duke.

I have a small backlog of drinks to enter over the next week, so warm up your livers.

First is a Kentucky Sidecar. The classic sidecar, a delicious drink on its own, is 1.5oz brandy, .75 oz lemon juice, and .75 oz triple sec/cointreau shaken over ice, then poured into a sugar rimmed martini glass. If you’re not familiar with it yet, make a batch to get a baseline before you have one of these.

There, ready now?

Kentucky Sidecar
1.5 oz Bourbon (Rye is nice too)
1 oz fresh Tangerine Juice
0.5 oz fresh Lemon Juice
0.75 oz Triple Sec/Cointreau
Tangerine twist

Moisten the rim of your chilled martini glass with tangerine juice, then dip in sugar.
Shake all the liquid ingredients over ice, then pour into prepared glass.
Garnish with twist of tangerine peel.

I found this at White On Rice Couple’s website – they do drinks, food, gardening, and photography:
http://www.whiteonricecouple.com/recipes/kentucky-sidecar/

Tangerines are a little out of season here (late spring in Oakland, CA), but still available as juice. I tried muddling the whole fruit, but that’s not so efficient (or easy to pour).

The last time I mixed a drink with tangerine juice, the original recipe was for orange juice (and dark rum and grenadine and something else I forget…), and I just subbed out the oj for tangerine juice. That didn’t quite work, and I silently vowed that the next cocktail I would pair it with gin – the sweetness of the tangerine juice mixed with the floral notes of juniper and herbs – and I’m still excited for that. But the balance of the lemon juice, tangerine juice, and triple sec is just right.