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.

Cheers!

 Posted by at 7:46 pm
Jul 122011
 

This is a winner.

I’ve broken it out at a few events, and got instant responses – one person said “I’ve found my drink” after only a couple sips. If you are partial to browns and like your citrus, step on over to this. Even if you don’t, and one of my sisters-in-law does not like Bourbon at all, had one after tasting her husband’s.

Scofflaw Cocktail
1.5 oz Bourbon (Bulleit)
1 oz dry vermouth (Dolin)
.5 oz grenadine (homemade – that will be my next post)
.5 oz lemon juice
2 dashes orange bitters (Regan’s Orange Bitters No. 6)

Shake with ice, strain into chilled cocktail glass or rocks glass, garnish with lemon peel.

It’s got the core of a whiskey sour, but added herbal elements from the vermouth and more fruit sweetness from the grenadine.

This recipe is closest to Imbibe‘s, but I dropped down the grenadine and lemon juice and switched from rye to bourbon. Gary Regan published this calling for 2 oz of bourbon, but dropped the lemon juice to 1/2 oz and grenadine to 1/4 oz and has orange bitters, but I thought that was a tad too bitter and too boozy. Erik Ellestad followed Harry Craddock’s recipe strictly – that equalizes the whisky (not the lack of an ‘e’ – Canadian Whisky) and vermouth and keeps bitters in.

So I like it at this level, but if you want it a bit stronger, take the Bourbon up to 2 ounces and the lemon juice and grenadine up to 3/4 of an ounce for each.

The Trophy Wife likes to corrupt everything with a sweet Maraschino Cherry, so I’m going to have to order the Amarena Fabbri again, but I’m going to work on making our own cherries, more on the next post.

Cheers!

 

 

 Posted by at 12:19 am
Nov 172010
 

About time, dammit. Close to a year after the first Manhattan Project. This one was scheduled for National Martini Day 2010.

The last one was variations in bitters and vermouth. This one was some change up in the base liquor (a couple bourbons and a rye), aromatic bitters, and cherries.

The cast is was a little bigger this time – myself, Duke, Ben T. Smith, Adam Nelson, and Gabriel Kra. So each round saw five variations on the recipe. Stayed with 2 parts base liquor, 1 part vermouth, 2 dashes bitters, and a cherry.

First we tried an array of bourbons – Bulleit, Maker’s 46, Woodford Reserve, and Redemption Rye. Vermouths were either Martini & Rossi or Punt e Mes. Stayed with Angostura bitters and bing cherries that had been cured in sugar and brandy.

Only the fifth manhattan used Punt e Mes – I had suspected before that the vermouth would be to aggressive and flavorful and would overpower the liquor (as I mused previously). That was the consensus among the tasters – Punt e Mes is delicious, but not in this drink at this proportion. Maybe cut in half…

So among the first round drinks – I didn’t get Gabriel’s vote here, but three of us (myself, Ben S, and Adam) all preferred the Redemption Rye. Duke liked the Woodford Reserve, but Redemption was a close second for him.

That result skewed the second round a bit. Went with Maker’s 46 for two manhattans and Redemption Rye for 3, each with Martini & Rossi, but this time with some house made aromatic bitters (I’ll see if Adam will divulge the recipe) except for one that stayed with Angostura, and the cherries were either sugared and brandied, or brined and brandied.

The easiest to record is the cherry – everyone preferred the saltiness of the brined cherries. If I am recalling correctly, I added the whole fruits (pits and stem and all) into nearly boiling heavily salted water. After soaking them overnight, I removed them and cured them in a spiced brandy mix (cinnamon, allspice, citrus rind) for several months.

Duke and Gabriel both preferred the Maker’s 46 manhattan by a little bit, while Adam and team Ben all went for the Redemption manhattan. The choice was pretty clear between the Angostura bitters and Adam’s “60 First Street” bitters as well – Adam’s balanced things out the best.

Thanksgiving dinner will be preceded by Redemption manhattans with brined cherries and Adam’s bitters. Looking forward to that.

Cheers!

-Ben

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!
 
Cheers!

Oct 292010
 

This is a nice variation on the Manhattan from Dale DeGroff’s The Essential Cocktail: The Art of Mixing Perfect Drinks. Gary Regan had a background write up of this recipe as well.

It takes a couple special ingredients – ginger liqueur, the best marketed brand right now is Domaine de Canton, and dry sake. Duke has used some Domaine de Canton in a previous recipe, and it was his bar that was raided to for this purpose…

2.5 oz Bourbon
0.5 oz Domaine de Canton ginger liqueur
0.5 oz dry sake
2 dashes orange bitters (Regan’s Orange Bitters No. 6)
Flamed orange peel for garnish

Stir over ice 30 seconds or so, strain into chilled cocktail glass.

I’d recommend a smokier bourbon for this – Maker’s Mark or Knob Creek would make it too sweet. I’d go for Bulleit or Buffalo Trace. It’s a very complicated, balanced drink with the ginger and the orange and the sake. Both warm and crisp at the same time. Great for a late evening.

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 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!

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.

Dec 142009
 

Mmmm. Love the Manhattan Cocktail.

Chance came on Thanksgiving Day, 2009, to try a couple variations on the basic bourbon manhattan. I had two companions in the tasting – my brother in law Rob, and his friend Dean. Forgive me if I cannot recapture in words all the subtle nuances of all the flavors, but we did sample six different recipes.

The classic recipe:
2 oz bourbon or blended whiskey (that night, all Maker’s Mark)
1 oz sweet vermouth (Martini & Rossi)
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 maraschino cherry for garnish

Round 1

A set of simple variations:

  1. The classic manhattan
  2. The perfect manhattan (substitute 1/2 oz of the sweet vermouth with 1/2 oz dry vermouth (Noilly Prat here)
  3. The classic but with 1 dash Angostura bitter and 1 dash of Peychaud’s bitters

Between these three, it was a very close race. I had a slight preference for the classic  recipe’s balance with this bourbon, with the perfect manhattan coming a very close second. The Peychaud’s added a bit of an unfamiliar twist – one most welcome in a Sazerac, but not quite right with the manhattan.

We each tasted each of the three options, then each chose one to drink.

Round 2

Three slightly more creative recipes:

  1. The classic, but replace all the bitters with Blood Orange Bitters from Stirrings.
  2. A recipe described in Gary Regan’s The Joy of Mixology – “Kentucky’s Best”. See below.
  3. One that I dreamed up, splitting the vermouth to 1/2 oz sweet vermouth and 1/2 oz Campari

These three all drifted much farther afield from what my mouth was prepared for. Not quite bad drinks, but not “to style”.

The one that, to me, bordered on unpleasant, was the 3rd. 1/2 oz of Campari was too much in there. I loves me the Negroni (equal parts gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari – we’ll talk about this drink in another post), but it destroyed the balance here. I’ll try again using a dash or two of Campari to replace the bitters at some other date.

The second was also a little unusual. In fairness, I did use a “vintage” port instead of a ruby, and Maker’s Mark instead of Knob Creek. Both Maker’s and Knob are on the sweeter side for bourbons, so kinda comparable. There was just too much going on in this drink.

Finally, the orange bitters didn’t quite taste right in this. I’ll mix it up again some time, but Round 1 recipes all were preferable to the Round 2 drinks.

The variables that we left for future testings:

  • Bourbons – Knob Creek, Maker’s Mark, Heaven Hill, Woodford Reserve, Wild Turkey, and so many others…
  • Blended Whiskies/Whiskeys – Canadian or not, with varying amounts of rye
  • Sweet Vermouth balances – reducing by 1/4 or 1/2 an ounce when mixing with sweeter Bourbons or increasing

So, as you may have guessed by the “Part 1” in the header, this will be an recurring project, with time to “clear the palate” (i.e. recover from the hangover) in between.

Finally, that recipe for “Kentucky’s Best” Manhattan recipe – it’s available through Google books, but here it is directly:

2 ounces Knob Creek bourbon
1/4 oz maraschino cherry juice
3 dashes ruby port
3 dashes Martini & Rossi sweet vermouth
2 dashes creme de cassis
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 maraschino cherry, for garnish
Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Add the garnish.

Cheers!

-BenTheTipsyBear