Friday, January 30, 2015

Last Rays

This is the drink that started our evening.  Yes, it's another riff on the Last Word, but I don't care. I was very pleased with how this turned out.

1 oz reposado tequila (Espolon, as seen)
3/4 oz Casoni 1814 (Aperol would do too)
1/2 oz Licor 43
3/4 oz lime juice

Shake and strain into a coupe. Garnish with a thin lime wheel if you must.

The name emerged from the colors of a sunset, because look how pretty. Pictures, man.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Mystery Cocktail

Christ - I was right.

This morning, I staggered into the kitchen, opened the fridge, and found a liter bottle of bottled cocktail that I have absolutely no recollection of making. I remember assembling a couple of sangrias, and straining off a homemade apricot liqueur (why I chose to do these things when I was already fairly drunk is a fair question) but this stuff basically just materialized. It must have been created around the same time as the others, when I had all of my tools out. Either that, or I mixed a drink in my sleep. What the fuck, man?

It goes without saying that I have no idea at all what went into this bottle. The end product is pretty tasty, but it's going to take much more than the normal reconstruction this time. I'm not one to waste perfectly good booze, so I've set myself the task of picking apart the constituent ingredients by drinking the entire thing. I think that there's gin, rum, and sherry involved. If I can figure it out, I'll append a further update here.

Many people are familiar (often from college days) of passing out, and finding in the morning that every last drop of booze in the house is gone. Around here, it looks like we have the opposite problem. We've hit a critical mass, people - the liquor is multiplying! SOON WE ALL DROWN IN WHISKEY. What have I unleashed?!?

Friday, January 23, 2015

Quiet Spot

Oh, shit - the bar's getting packed with bottles again. I have a feeling we might repeat our semi-regular Friday pattern.

The name of this one is kind of a horrible pun (although as I explained to the wife when I announced it, I think all modern cocktail names are basically puns, or song lyrics). It's a version of a Tipperary cocktail, the original being named after a beautifully green town and county in Ireland. Appropriately, I used the fantastic Green Spot whiskey to make it, and what with all the greenery I couldn't help think of an old concrete bench with inlaid tiles that used to reside on my grandparents' porch. It was a rough, heavy thing, but when they decided to move out of their split-level house to a more reasonable condo, my mother decided to take it in a fit of sentiment. We set it up in our backyard next to an old tire swing, among a line of wild-growing bushes next to her garden, a little patch that we call "Mom's quiet spot" to this day.

1 1/2 oz Green Spot Irish whiskey
1/2 oz sweet vermouth (Cocchi Torino)
1/6 oz Green Chartreuse (basically a barspoon's worth)
1/6 oz Amontillado sherry (ditto)
2 dashes Regan's No. 6 Orange Bitters

Stir and strain over a large ice cube in an old-fashioned glass; garnish with a large lemon coin expressed over the top of the drink. Sip and contemplate.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Beauregard Gin Fizz

The Ramos Gin Fizz is one of those well-regarded classic cocktails that you will never see on any cocktail menus (except maybe in its hometown of New Orleans). Reason being, it's a damn tasty drink but it is also a horrific pain in the ass. Egg is finicky enough to integrate that it takes its own technique to properly emulsify; add cream, and you've got a drink that takes at least a minute of sustained shaking to get right. That's troublesome even at home (after every round, I swear my arms are going to fall off) but I can't even imagine cranking out dozens each night.

Still, every now and again a floral, refreshing, richly textured cocktail is worth it.  Winter must be eroding my brain again.

2 oz gin (I'd have used Old Tom if I had any)
1 oz lemon juice
3/4 oz blueberry syrup
3/4 oz half-and-half
3 drops rose water
1 small egg white (or 1/2 a large egg white)

Dry shake (as in, combine everything and shake without ice) until you can't take it anymore, then add ice and shake some more. Keep shaking. Do your arms hurt yet? Keep shaking. You're not done. Keep shaking. Curse eggs and dairy, curse yourself for choosing such a beverage, curse your cruel and capricious God. Keep shaking.

After a subjective eternity, strain into a tall, footed fizz glass if you've got one (or your thinnest, tallest glass if you don't) and top off with 2-3 oz of chilled soda water. Stir gently, garnish with a little drizzle of extra blueberry syrup for super-fanciness. Such a difficult cocktail should not go undecorated.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

St. Andrew's Sour

Hey, a picture! I actually remembered to take one this time, before the entire thing disappeared.

This is a really straightforward sour, complicated only by a wee dash of bitters and my beloved blueberry syrup (I think I'm making more when this batch is through). There's a little bit of soda in here already, but the flavor's concentrated enough that you could pull this out into a highball if you increased the volumes.

2 oz scotch (blended Speyside)
3/4 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz blueberry syrup
1 dash Angostura bitters

Shake and strain over fresh ice in a rocks glass, top off with a brief splash of soda water (~1 oz). Garnish with a lemon wheel if you like (I juiced my last lemon instead).

Yeah, okay, this is just a cold version of another recent cocktail, but who cares? Versatile stuff, this blueberry syrup!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Down to Business

This is probably the most unabashedly, intensively, lovingly alcoholic cocktail that I have yet created. It also happens to contain most of my favorite booze items.

2 1/2 oz barrel-proof bourbon (Wild Turkey Rare Breed)
1/2 oz sweet vermouth (Cocchi Torino)
1/4 oz Luxardo maraschino
1/4 oz Casoni 1814
3 dashes Bitter Truth Jerry Thomas' Old Decanter Bitters

Stir and strain over a large ice cube in an old-fashioned glass. Garnish with a large expressed coin of lemon peel and a brandied cherry.

I worked a solid 11 hours today. Don't judge me.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Dutch Cognac

This started off because I wanted a Dutch Quarter, but I had blueberry syrup instead of blackberry, and I recalled from my new Death & Co book that chocolate pairs surprisingly well with the malty notes of genever. It took a little tweaking to get there but I like the result.

2 oz Bols barrel-aged genever
1/4 oz blueberry syrup
1 dash Luxardo maraschino liqueur
2 dashes Regan's No. 6 Orange Bitters
3 dashes Bitter Truth Xocolatl Bitters

Build over a large ice cube in an old-fashioned glass; stir to combine and don't even think about garnishing.


And a second drink from last night (at least as best I can remember). This one filled the "use everything up" slot, including the Licor 43 we saw in the last recipe and my remaining Cocchi Americano. Can't go long without replacing that; Cocchi is one of my favorite apertif wines and has a permanent slot in my fridge.

Now, a slight problem with this one is that I can't quite remember the exact proportions; they got a little funky because I was at the end of some of these bottles, so I'm rounding off as best I can. If and when I make this next, I'll probably fuss about with some of the ratios.

3/4 oz Amontillado sherry
3/4 oz Pineau des Charentes
1/2 oz Cocchi Americano
1/2 oz Licor 43
2 dashes Bitter Truth Xocolatl Bitters
3 drops salt solution

Stir and strain over fresh ice in a small cocktail glass (a proper sherry glass would be nice, but I don't have any) and garnish with a large swath of lemon peel.

Reconstruction Era

My wife and I have developed a bit of a routine for the irregular nights when we get back reasonably early and sober from whatever event we were attending. (Events from which we don't come back early or sober are a different story.) It goes a little something like this:

  1. I want a drink, and so without prompting I make us a pair of cocktails. This is usually something stiff and low-fuss, like an old-fashioned; last night's was a rye old-fashioned with blueberry syrup, good but not worth recording in detail. These go down quickly while we figure out how to entertain ourselves for the rest of the evening.
  2. Something occurs to me: "We'll need more than that. What do I have to use up from the bar?" (Note that I'm using the imperative have to very loosely here.) I collect 2-4 bottles that are less than a quarter full and challenge myself to use them together.
  3. I cobble together a drink from the must-use list, usually with a bunch of tweaking and far more pomp than I used on drink #1. We taste the result together and find out that it's actually pretty goddamned good.
  4. Confidence boosted, I make a third drink, usually a classic or repeat that I can make with the must-use bottles. Cocchi Americano was on the chopping block last night, so I made a Vesper, and a pretty dang good one too.
  5. At this point, my wife says something like "I think I want another one..." She says this because her tolerance for alcohol is terrifying; this is a woman who (dead sober) used to greet me home from work at the restaurant with an empty wine bottle at her side. This is the point where, by now, I should have learned my lesson, but I haven't learned and probably never will, so I take our collection of empty glasses and stumble off to make another drink.
  6. I resolve to kill whatever's left in the must-use bottles and somehow wind up with a drink that absorbs them all. To my surprise, it winds up being good. I realize that dammit, I've now made two solid cocktails that deserve writing down, but my wife's also waiting, and I have neither the patience nor sobriety to start writing now. The recipes go unrecorded.
  7. Eventually I make yet another drink (because why not, at that point?) and later on we somehow make it to bed.
  8. I wake up with multiple regrets, among them a hangover and the realization that I never wrote anything down.
I'm not knocking it; the process is generally quite fun, except for that last step. But failing to record good cocktails grates on me, and so I'm trying to break the cycle by reconstructing a couple of those successful drinks from last night. I can't guarantee complete accuracy, here, but this is the best I can remember.

First, a fancified-old-fashioned style drink, featuring Licor 43, the main liqueur that wound up in the must-use collection last night.

2 oz rye whiskey (I used High West Rendezvous Rye, but anything nice and spicy will do, including Bulleit)
1/4 oz Licor 43
1/2 oz Pineau des Charentes (a very cool if tough-to-source apertif, created by blending grape must/juice back into cognac distilled from the same or similar grapes)
1 dash Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel-Aged Bitters
1 dash Fee Brothers Black Walnut Bitters

Build in an old-fashioned glass over a large ice cube. Don't garnish, or I'll find you.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Accretion Disc

Ah, now here we go. A proper wintery drink featuring my previously-featured blueberry syrup, and equipped with a fantastically nerdy name. I submit that there is none better, at least this time of year.

2 oz scotch (a Speyside blend)
3/4 oz blueberry syrup (up to 1 oz, to taste)
1/4 oz lemon juice

Add 6-7 oz boiling water to a heatproof mug; add the above and stir to combine. Garnish with some ground nutmeg.

Ice Blue

Winter is normally a time for brown spirits, rich spices, and warm drinks. But sometimes I paradoxically find that I need a tall, cool, refreshing beverage right when it's coldest. It's like I have to fool my body into thinking that it's high summer based on my cocktail choice, nevermind the thick sweater and blankets everywhere.

Then again, maybe I'm weird (hah - maybe?!?) or perhaps I just wanted an excuse to test-drive this blueberry syrup. In any case, we'll revisit this one in six months or so.

1 1/2 oz gin (Tanqueray, naturally)
1/2 oz blueberry syrup*
1/2 oz cryo-cucumber juice
1/2 oz lime juice (lemon would easily do)

Combine over ice in a tall glass; top with 3-4 oz soda water to taste. Garnish with a couple of fresh blueberries, as though you can get fresh god-damned blueberries in the middle of fucking winter; maybe in a few months' time. Keep drinking until then.

* You could juice your own blueberries, although it'd be a mess; instead we found a pure blueberry juice (from concentrate, but at least it's all blueberry) on sale down at our local "hippie grocery place", as my sister dubbed it recently after a couple cocktails. I added 12 ounces of this stuff to a saucepan, added 8 ounces of natural sugar, brought the whole thing to a simmer, and reduced it back down to 12 ounces. I then added 1/2 teaspoon citric acid and about ten drops of rose water, just to get some of that perfume-y essence back. You can probably tell by the fact I'm recording it that the result was pretty fucking tasty. I expect to use it in more appropriate winter cocktails very soon.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Poison Apple

I think I'm about ready to go back to work. It's not like I have a problem with day drinking (as in, I don't completely frown on the practice) but I'm pretty sure that drinking scotch while the sun's up is some kind of warning sign.

2 oz scotch (a blended Speyside; Pig's Nose would do)
1/4 oz sweet vermouth
1/4 oz Cynar
1/4 oz pineapple syrup
2 dashes Bitter Truth Xocolatl Bitters

Stir over a large ice cube in an old-fashioned glass. If we were going all-out here, I'd say garnish with a dehydrated slice of cacao nib-crusted pineapple, but anything less would be foolish.

Don't worry about the name - I realize there's no actual apple in this. Like most of my cocktail names it's derived from a whole chain of barely-coherent puns that rattle around my skull whenever I think about such things.

Easy Cider Punch

This is a simple, low-proof punch that I put together for our Christmas party, and then assembled again at request for our good friends' New Years' party (making this Kader Punch #2, I suppose). Unlike a lot of my recent punches, it's alcoholic, but not overly so; somewhere around the 5% ABV you see in craft session beers.

In truth, it started out as an attempt to use up multiple gallons of cider we brewed this year, which were intended as our original party favor. Seeing as it was the first time we'd ever home-brewed... well, anything, that probably wasn't the best plan. The initial fermentation went fine, but the secondary fermentation (to dry out and carbonate the cider) didn't take properly, and we found ourselves with a couple dozen 22-oz bombers of fairly sweet, lightly alcoholic apple juice. What to do? Add some acid, add some bubbles, and serve in a punch bowl. Easy peasy.

We served ours alongside a couple bottles of spirit for enhancement (because it's a fucking party, after all) and I was amazed at how quickly it went. Quickly enough that once again, I didn't manage to get a picture. Between both parties, we're talking like 4 gallons here, more if you include the volume of ice, polished off to the last drop. Everybody found their favorite spirit combo, too. My sister swore by vodka, my personal favorite was scotch, but most people settled on gin. The only combination that didn't work was when I accidentally added horseradish-infused vodka to my glass of punch. Just... no. Learn from my horrible mistake. (I drank it, of course, to punish myself for such foolishness.)

Anyway, because this used home-brew cider, duplicating the recipe is a little bit problematic. Most ciders you find at your friendly neighborhood booze-mart will be carbonated, which is better for consumption on its own, but they'll get expensive in these quantities. There's not a lot of still cider out there, but Crispin does make a still, affordable boxed version which would do nicely. Failing that, you could brew your own, which is really pretty easy, or you could just pony up and buy a sufficient quantity of sparkling cider.

1 3-liter box (or 5 22-oz bomber bottles) apple cider
2 750 mL bottles brut rose cava (Cristalino is my highly affordable go-to) 
2 1-liter bottles soda water (or break out the siphon)
4 oz lemon oleo-saccharum
4 oz thyme syrup
4 oz cranberry juice (the actual real stuff, not cranberry cocktail)
10 dashes Peychaud's bitters
10 dashes Angostura bitters

Chill the cider, cava, and soda water. Add ice to a punch bowl, then add the syrups, cranberry juice, and bitters (you can pre-measure and combine these in a Mason jar for speedy service or transport). Add the cider and stir to combine. Carefully add the cava and soda water, then stir gently. Taste and adjust to your liking; if it's too sweet, try a little lemon juice and additional bitters, if too tart add some extra cider. 

Serve with a few spirits that you want to use up (along with measuring glasses so people don't accidentally over-serve) and get the next batch ready, because the first will be gone quickly.