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 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!

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!