Saturday, May 17, 2014

Different Drum Drinks

A good friend brought over a bottle of Different Drum, which he'd somehow snapped up in a truly insane rush to order the first 1,500 bottles.  After a first tasting, he decided that he wanted to try it in a cocktail.  I was happy to oblige!

This is funky stuff - rich, smooth, slightly sweet, redolent of roasted coffee.  A lot like a quality coffee liqueur but without that cloying sugar component.  I dig it, although I think it really shines when paired with another base.  Like so:

Fine Grind:

1 1/4 oz Different Drum rum
1 oz armagnac brandy (I used Tariquet VS Bas-Armagnac; a mild bourbon would work too)
1/2 oz red vermouth (Primitivo Quiles again)
1/4 oz Licor 43 (you could scale this back or omit entirely depending on your taste)
1 dash Fee Brothers Black Walnut bitters
1 dash orange bitters (Regan's No. 6)

Stir and strain into a cocktail glass; garnish with a strip of orange peel.

This wound up being the winner in our small tasting group; it's a Manhattan-esque sipper (or more properly a Saratoga Cocktail) that highlights the flavor of the Drum without letting it dominate everything else.  But I also wanted to try something less spirit-forward, resulting in this take on a Dark & Stormy:

Drumming in the Dark:

2 oz Different Drum rum
1/2 oz Mathilde Poire liqueur
1/2 lime juice
2-3 oz ginger beer (Reed's Extra Ginger is my favorite)

Shake the first three ingredients and strain over fresh ice; top with the ginger beer, stir, and garnish with a lime wheel.

Overall, I'm sold.  Different Drum seems like a solid and interesting way to bring coffee flavor into cocktails without the added sweetness of coffee liqueurs.  I'm not sure about the tagline ("A rum for the bourbon drinker") as it seems more like a rum for the espresso aficionado, but I like both those things so it works out.

Be warned, this clearly isn't a simple substitution for other rums, whiskeys, or what-have-you.  This occupies a place in my mind next to quality spiced rums (Sailor Jerry's all the way) and overproof dark rums (like Lemon Hart 151): too potent to use as a base in a simple cocktail, but bringing very unique flavors for which it's tough to substitute.  Also, Different Drum only seems to be available direct from the La Colombe distillery, so don't go seeking it out at your local liquor store.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Death in the Alps

On my recent amaro adventure, I also grabbed a bottle of Genepy des Alpes liqueur, thinking it belonged in the category.  In my defense, I'd never tried it before, but it most certainly is not.  I believe I was thinking of Aveze, which I've tried only on one drunken evening at the lovely Pouring Ribbons and can't find locally.

It's not bad, mind you - kind of a milder cousin to my beloved Chartreuse, but its only advantage is price point.  Still, can't let it go to waste.  I thought its sweetness would align nicely with bubbly, and the use of wormwood reminds me of absinthe, so I plugged it into a Death in the Afternoon, a drink which I shudder to recall.  Let's just admit already that Hemingway was an excellent writer and superb drunkard, but a middling mixologist at best.

1 1/2 oz Dolin Genepy des Alpes
3 dashes Bitter Truth Celery Bitters
5 oz sparkling wine (Cava for me, which I always choose for mixing over champagne)

Pour the liqueur and bitters into a champagne flute and top with the bubbly.  Per the original directions: "drink three to five of these slowly".  Wake up the next morning with regrets.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Pitch Black

I've been keen to try other scotch-based renditions of the Negroni/Boulevardier since the wonderful success of the Real McCoy.  Since I had a newly-purchased bottle of Averna at hand, this seemed like a natural substitution for Campari.

1 1/2 oz Cutty Sark Prohibition Edition
1 oz Averna
1 oz sweet vermouth (Primitivo Quiles this time)
1 dash orange bitters (Regan's No. 6)
1 dash Bitter Truth Jerry Thomas' Own Decanter (from my rapidly-dwindling supply)

Stir and strain over a large cube into an old-fashioned glass; add a pinch of salt on top of the cube and gently stir again.