Sunday, December 21, 2014

Old Hat

Merry Christmas! We had a blast of a party this year, but one of my favorite bits was presenting this year's booze-themed gift, a fully-fledged cocktail in its own right. Eric & Sam's "Old Hat" Handmade Bottled Cocktail! Coming soon to a store near you!*

*never actually coming to any stores anywhere

I dig the concept of bottled cocktails. They don't tend to work well with citrus or egg, neither of which hold up to extended storage, but most spirit or liqueur-based drinks do quite well in the bottle. Batching in advance this way provides a couple useful features: bottled cocktails are consistent, easy to serve, and easy to transport. They're increasingly popping up even in good cocktail bars, primarily for those first two reasons, but the third makes them a quality party favor too.

At its core, this is a modified Vieux Carré, a cocktail that I've loved and riffed on for a while. In addition to rye, brandy, and sweet vermouth, the original features Bénédictine; this version swaps that out for Casoni 1814, which we discussed recently. Along with some hefty dashes of bitters for balance, and a little absinthe to add back the herbal component, this makes for a drink that manages to be both subtle and complex (though I'm starting to brag now). And now, the recipe, so that it can be recreated in perpetuity!

Here's the cast of characters, with one important exception. The thing about bottled cocktails is that unless you're going to serve them over ice, they don't get diluted in the same way that stirred or shaken drinks do, so you've got to add the water missing from the final product. Without it, the balance won't be right at all. (Update after extensive testing: I've found that I like my Old Hat best over a large ice cube with a lemon twist; I probably could have upped the water content a bit more for serving neat.)

So, to produce 1 liter of bottled cocktail, you'll need:

300 mL rye whiskey (I used the mild Old Overholt here, so I bumped up the proportion a little)
250 mL French brandy (I'm not going to insist on cognac, but it must be quality stuff, and French is a reliable indicator of smoothness)
250 mL sweet vermouth (that's Noilly Prat in the picture, but I actually used Cinzano in the finished product)
50 mL Casoni 1814
10 mL absinthe
10 mL thyme syrup (any syrup would be just fine, it's mostly for texture)
150 mL filtered water
10 dashes Peychaud's bitters
5 dashes holiday spice bitters
5 dashes Bitter Truth Jerry Thomas bitters (7-8 dashes of Angostura would be an acceptable substitute for these last two)

Stir all of the above and bottle (a funnel is helpful). It will taste differently when chilled, and you'll overdilute if you stir it with ice, so leave it be for now. Astute readers may have noticed that this yields slightly over 1 liter; that's because you should pour off a tasting portion once the bottle cools down. Strictly to check your work, you see.

Here's a nice bonus picture of the labels, which were painstakingly handwritten out by yours truly. Like garnish, I generally discount labeling, which just doesn't seem all that important - except when it is. Handing out unlabeled bottles of high-proof booze seems a little bit shady to me. And if you're gonna have labels, they might as well be classy, old-school styled, hand-lettered ones, right?

No comments:

Post a Comment