Monday, August 18, 2014

Captain Gin & Cousin It

This really is a silly bartender's name for this drink, but I love it all the same.  Really, it's a simple take on the very old-school Gin & It, supposedly a predecessor to the Martini - and given the formula, just 2 parts gin to 1 part sweet vermouth, a pretty safe assumption.  Yet while trying to find a good reference recipe, I was surprised by the number that included a dash or two of bitters, and even more surprised by the number that recommended no ice at all.

I tried this stirred at first, but I have to say, this Scaffa-style approach is on to something.  Built without ice, this is a full-flavored drink, with alternating layers of sweetness, nuttiness, and herbs - kind of like neat Chartreuse, which I can't argue with at all.  With ice, it's stuck halfway between Negroni and Martinez territory.  Not a bad thing, but less is more in this case.

1 1/4 oz navy-strength gin (Hayman's for me)
3/4 oz Bonal (which I've become addicted to)
1 dash Jerry Thomas' Own Decanter bitters (I found a new source!)

Place a maraschino cherry in a chilled old-fashioned glass (unlike most of my garnishes, this one's actually required) then pour in the remaining ingredients (I kept the Bonal chilled) and stir to combine.

As an optional exercise, repeat the above, but stir the gin, Bonal, and bitters, then strain.  Sip and contemplate what a difference dilution makes.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Remington (and sundry derivatives)

I was quite surprised by this relatively simple combination, which seems like it ought to be a well-known classic.  Granted, in proportion and construction, it's basically a Collins, but with some signature ingredients.

2 oz white whiskey (I used the local MN13 - good stuff!)
1 oz peach-brown sugar syrup
3/4 oz lemon juice

Combine in a tall glass over large cubes, stir, top with about 2 oz soda water, and stir again.

This version, the Remington, is quite a good one.  However, the simplicity of this combination makes it easy to swap out the peach for other flavors.  To wit:

For a Derringer, use cinnamon-brown sugar syrup.

For a Palomino, use vanilla-brown sugar syrup.

For a Caballero, use ancho chile-brown sugar syrup (yum).

How that's for a post - not just one cocktail, but 4 in one go!  Don't be silly, it's not cheating at all.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Right Hook

Remember that Red Hook variation?  It turned out well...

2 oz rye whiskey
1/2 oz Bonal
1/4 oz maraschino liqueur (Luxardo)
1 dash Fee Brothers Jerry Thomas' Own Decanter Bitters

Stir over ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with a brandied cherry.

Yes!  Absolutely delicious.

Manhattan Boulevard

Have you tried this Bonal stuff?  I chanced upon a bottle down at our local wine shop a couple days ago, and as I'm liable to do I brought it home knowing almost nothing about it.  Turns out, it's right up my alley!  It's generally similar to other "Kinas" like Cocchi Americano, with a robust bittersweet flavor.  It's also infused with a bunch of mountain herbs, and as a result it's got a complex flavor similar to good vermouth.  The closest comparison I can make is to Punt e Mes, but I think it's a bit more subtle.

In any case, Bonal is damned tasty, and it seemed the most natural thing in the world to me to work it into a Manhattan variation.  This wound up being a superb idea - more punchy than a Manhattan, more subtle than a Boulevardier, this one nestles perfectly in-between.

1 oz bourbon (Booker's - I kept the amount low since this is fairly high-proof, you might want to bump it up if you're using something closer to 80-90 proof)
3/4 oz Bonal
3/4 oz sweet vermouth (Dolin)

Stir over ice and strain into a cocktail glass.  Garnish with a brandied cherry.

I think my next stop is going to be a Red Hook variation...

Monday, August 4, 2014


So, I just had one of my less-proud mixological moments.  After picking up what I thought was a lovely bunch of mint over the weekend, I pulled it out of the fridge today, and only after I started picking off leaves to make a pair of juleps did I realize that it wasn't mint at all.  Instead, I had a massive bunch of lemon balm.  The fact that it's also known sometimes as "lemon mint" wasn't much comfort.

What to do?  Well - in it fucking went anyway, with some course corrections.  It took a little tweaking to get just right, but I have to say, I'm pleasantly surprised by the results.

Keep in mind, this isn't really a julep at all, even though it looks like one.

2 oz gin (I used Letherbee because I like it, but you could use a London Dry)
1/2 oz Cocchi Americano
1/2 oz watermelon-strawberry syrup
3 dashes rhubarb bitters (homemade, batch #2!)

Muddle a large handful of lemon balm and the syrup in the bottom of a glass; add ice, gin, and Cocchi, then stir to combine.  Garnish with a few extra sprigs of lemon balm and a straw.

Maybe I will just have to try something similar with bourbon...