Aug 082011

The Sazerac is a classic New Orleans drink. There are a number of stories about its creation and the history of the name. I’m not going to recount them here.

This is a drink best served neat, in a chilled rocks or similar small glass. I prefer glasses that have curved sides. Just a personal aesthetic thing.

Here’s the ingredients the way I like them:

  • 2 oz Rye Whiskey (Redemption, Templeton, Michters, and Rittenhouse all please me, but I haven’t tasted everything on the market, yet. I will say that I find Jim Beam’s (ri)1 a little overrated, and am saddened not to like Bulleit’s Rye more).
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup
  • 3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • Absinthe or Absinthe substitute (Herbsaint, Absente, Pernod, Ricard)

Start by chilling your glass. If you haven’t been keeping the glass in the freezer, fill with crushed ice and a little water and set aside. Mix Rye, syrup, and bitters with ice in a mixing glass for about a minute. Nice and cold. Dump the ice from your chilled glass (if you used it) and put a couple drops of Absinthe in and swirl the glass until it is coated. Dump the excess. (I’ve recommissioned an empty bitters shaker to hold Absinthe, just for this purpose…) Strain your mixed ingredients into the glass and add a strip of lemon peel.

The herbal balance of this is delicious. I’ve tried leaving out the Angostura and changing the amount of Peychaud’s, but 3 and 2 is what makes my mouth the happiest.

This is, if you didn’t notice, a spirit driven drink, so pace yourself with this. I tend to enjoy this unaccompanied by food – either sipping it while I prepare a meal (driving the grill on the deck) or while the dinner settles in my stomach. Give it a try.


 Posted by at 7:46 pm
Nov 102010

Breaking from Bourbon to try a little Rye.

Went out to dinner with my brother at Pizzaiolo here in Oakland for his birthday. Hadn’t visited that place for a while – first time was soon after it was opened and it was crazy crowded and I was overwhelmed by the humanity and didn’t get to appreciate the food or drink. Reviews from friends and newspapers suggested/demanded that I should return, so return I did.

I had been bumping into the recipe for Vieux Carré a few times recently and had been eager to try it, but was waiting for my bourbon stock to drop down a little bit before I bought some rye.

The recipe that I do use is somewhere in between that provided by Gumbo Pages, Spirited Cocktails, Fine Cooking, and the Intoxicologist (unfortunately, her archives are down as of this writing). Erik Ellestad had a little fun with it at the Underhill-Lounge. I stayed with the basics.

1 oz Rye (Redemption Rye)
1 oz Cognac or Brandy (Raynal VSOP)
1 oz Sweet/Italian Vermouth (Martini & Rossi)
1/4 oz Benedictine
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
2 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
Lemon peel garnish

Stir all the ingredients except the lemon peel in an ice-filled glass. Strain into a cocktail glass or rocks glass. Squeeze lemon peel over glass to release oils, and rub the rim before dropping it in.

Pizzaiolo used Redemption Rye for this, and boy do I like that whiskey! I had made this before with Bulleit Bourbon, which is still a solid option for most drinks, and even neat or on the rockts, but I’m keeping Redemption on hand from now on! It starts with 95% rye mash and is bottled at 92 proof and is delicious.

Some recipes call for a more flavorful vermouth – Punt E Mes or Carpano Antica Formula, but I would rather stay with the tamer Martini & Rossi to keep the complexities of the Redemption from being overwhelmed with floral and spice notes. There’s the Benedictine in there as well for that.

The Trophy Wife even enjoyed a sip of this, and she’s not so big on the browns or the spirit driving cocktails!

Mar 282010

Small tastings and tweakings this time because this is a seriously strong drink. Pretty tasty though. The recipe from our book was a bit sweet and boring, so we tweaked it with more lemon and used spiced rum for more character. Viola!

Lemon wedge
Superfine sugar
3/4 oz Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum
3/4 oz Cognac
3/4 oz Grand Marnier
1 oz lemon juice

Rub the rim of a cocktail glass with the lemon and rim with sugar. Shake ingredients with ice, strain into glass. Garnish with lemon.

 Posted by at 5:54 pm
Jan 312010

A couple of the classics from the category “Duos and Trios” as described by Gary Regan.

Star, my trophy wife, hates the name of this drink, and it does look like Pepto Bismol, but the Pink Squirrel is tasty, dead easy to make, and rather low in alcohol, so a nice night cap. It is Star’s latest favorite drink.

It is quite pink, from the Crème de Noyaux (or, as DeKuyper now calls it, Creme de Almond), and the “squirrel” is because the other liquor, Crème de Cacao (aka Crème de Cocoa – at least they kept the accent), is also nutty. And squirrels like nuts. Get it? Yeah, cutesy, but get over that and give it a try.

Pink Squirrel:
1 oz Crème de Noyaux – light
1 oz Crème de Cacao
1 oz cream (or at least 1/2 & 1/2)

Shake well in a cocktail shaker with ice.

Strain into chilled cocktail glass.

One variation that tones down the pink a little bit is to use 1/2 oz light Crème de Noyaux and 1/2 oz of the dark version. There’s not a lot of difference in the taste of the two – I thought I tasted a little more warmth in the dark, but that may have been my imagination.

Personally, I like a little more voom in my drinks, so after I maker Star’s drink, I’ve been mixing up a Brandy Alexander for myself. Also dead simple to make.

Brandy Alexander:

2 oz Brandy
1 oz Crème de Noyaux – Dark

1 oz Cream (or 1/2 & 1/2)

dash ground nutmeg for garnish

Shake liquid ingredients well in a cocktail shaker with ice.

Strain into chilled cocktail glass.

Top with nutmeg.

I place the nutmeg in the center of the glass, and sip around it, enjoying the aroma without the crunch. If this is a little too strong, cut the brandy by up to 1/2.