Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A Few Random Old-Fashioneds

I find it hard to resist an old-fashioned. Here I'm talking about the simplest classic cocktail. Booze, syrup, bitters; full stop. For a "fancy" version, add a dash or two of something flavorful.

Simplicity is a virtue here. Made well, a classic bourbon- or rye-based old-fashioned is a perfect and uncluttered masterpiece. You've got a delicate sweetness, an accenting punch of spice, a rich mouthfeel, all taming the base spirit but never letting you forget it's there.

Flexibility is another core aspect of the old-fashioned. A traditional version is made with whiskey, but it doesn't have to be. Any spirit that you wouldn't mind drinking straight will do. Likewise syrup; there's no need to stick to plain old simple when you've got variously flavored varieties. And there are a million different craft bitters out there today. Grab some of each, and combine them over a large ice cube. Boom: old-fashioned.

Here are a couple good combinations I've stumbled into recently.

2 1/4 oz Nikka Taketsuru Pure Malt whiskey
1/4 oz lemon syrup
4 dashes Bitter Truth Jerry Thomas' Own Decanter bitters

2 1/4 oz Mezcal Sacrificio Reposado
1/4 oz honey-ginger syrup
2 dashes Bitter Truth Xocolatl Mole bitters
2 dashes Regan's No. 6 Orange bitters

2 1/4 oz Norseman Strawberry Rhubarb Gin
1/4 oz cinnamon spice syrup
2 dashes Bitter Truth Tonic bitters
2 dashes Angostura bitters

For all of the above, stir briefly and strain over a large ice cube. Don't even think about garnishing.

What? No mention of hiatus? Shhhh what hiatus, what silliness is this?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Wise Man

Hey look, another lapse! It's another season where I just haven't been mixing much original stuff - largely gin & tonics and daiquiris, for some reason. Just to keep the suspense from building too much, here's a backlog item for you.

I started screwing around with this concept a little while ago after purchasing a bottle of Bombay Sapphire East, which was an unusual purchase for me. I'm not a fan (at all) of standard Bombay Sapphire, but a bar-master friend had me try a competition drink of his once using this as the base, and I got hooked. This version adds lemongrass and black pepper to the normal Sapphire botanicals, which I think adds some depth and spice to what is otherwise a fairly bland gin. I got to thinking one morning (don't judge me) how the "eastern" concept might get along nicely with tea, so I assembled this the moment I got home from work. It's still a work in process (I don't think the balance is quite there) but let's record it anyway.

1 oz Bombay Sapphire East
1 oz cognac (any decent VS or better brandy ought to do)
1 oz Bonal (honestly, I might try straight-up sweet vermouth next time)
1 oz chilled oolong tea (can't remember exactly what kind)
1/4 oz Licor 43 (to balance the astringency of the tea)

Stir and strain into a chilled coupe glass. A lemon twist garnish is a good idea here, but don't tell anybody I said so.

The mix here was based on the Ampersand, which I think is something of an unfairly obscure lost cocktail. Again, I don't think this exact recipe quite nailed the balance, but I find the concept intriguing, and the drink's light body quite fit for summer. Some further renditions might pop up here soon.