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!

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.


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.


 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.


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!


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…


Aug 012010

Brad from St. George’s Spirits came around to Game Revolution for our podcast (#119) and the first installment of their cocktail of the month feature. He brought their Qi Black smoked tea liquor. That’s pronounced “chee” by the way, like you know, your aura or some crap.

His drink, the Dr Qi:

2oz Qi Black
4oz Dr Pepper

Combine on the rocks. Not bad, but we can do better, and I took home the extra bottle.

The stuff is delicious just straight, by the way. A bit smokey like scotch, but otherwise very different. My wife, Miranda, and I both detected hints of orange (bergamot?) so we started there and ended delicious.

2oz Qi Black
4oz Aranciata (natural orange soda from San Pellegrino)
Dash orange bitters (Regans’ No 6)

Combine on the rocks. Fantastic.

 Posted by at 6:18 pm
Jul 172010

California discount remainders store Marshalls had bottles of agave nectar today, so we bought some… as it is the new black in upscale cocktails. I made a drink created for the launch party for the movie The Departed, the Departini.

2 oz reposado tequila
1 oz cognac
1 oz cointreau (or any top shelf orange liquor)
Juice of one lime
1 tbsp (I used less as I am not a sweet person) agave nectar

Combine with ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake. Pour into a martini glass.

Delicious, and dangerously alcoholic. My wife, Miranda, described it as “a margarita martini”. However, I am starting to feel a bit guilty that I choose my cocktails so carefully. I need to start using a random recipe generator so I can drink something nasty and write a bad review.

 Posted by at 6:30 pm
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.