Sep 142011
 

Once again my wife, Miranda, had the urge to spend $60 on booze to make one cocktail she had just read about… but life is to be enjoyed, right? My brother happened to stop by at just the right time (to borrow a pipe wrench) and ended up with a cocktail in the garden as well. Credit goes to Bon Appetit and creator Eyal Raziel.

Ingredients

5 tablespoons rye whiskey
3 tablespoons honey liqueur (such as Bärenjäger)
1/4 teaspoon orange bitters
Ginger ale
2 orange twists

Fill 2 Old Fashioned glasses with ice. Divide rye, honey liqueur, and bitters between glasses. Stir for 5 seconds. Top with a splash of ginger ale. Garnish with orange twists.

I used Redemtion Rye, Bärenjäger (which comes in a very silly bottle), Regans’ orange bitters, and Fentimans ginger beer.

Sweet without being overly cloying, tasty, and packs a punch.  I’d like to do it again with much less interesting Canada Dry ginger ale to allow more of the Rye and honey flavors through. The strong ginger of the Fentimans (while good) was too dominant in a recipe without the word ginger in the title.

 

 

 Posted by at 9:55 pm
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
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!

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.