Ante Cocktail

Ante Cocktail

1 Dash Angostura Bitters.
1/4 Hercules. (1/2 oz Spiced Dubonnet Rouge)
1/4 Cointreau. (1/2 oz Cointreau)
1/2 Calvados or Apple brandy. (1 oz Clear Creek Apple Brandy)

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

Building on the previous cocktail calling for “Hercules” I am again using the Spice infused Dubonnet Rouge for this one. I have to admit I like it rather more than the previous Angler Cocktail. The apple brandy, touch of extra sweetness and orange from the Cointreau in combination with the Absinthe style spices is really pretty nice. A fairly complex cocktail, for only containing 4 ingredients.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

Pot Roasted Packers

When we discovered that the Packers would be playing in the NFC championship, as good expatriate Wisconsinites, we, of course, had to stay home and watch.

Pot roast seemed like a fun idea. Football games take three or four hours to play themselves out, and so does a pot roast.

Pot roast reminds me of Sunday night dinners with my grandparents in Southwestern Wisconsin. It was one of those dishes you could count on. That and the boiled red potatoes.

Unfortunately, the Packers lost to the New York Giants.

The Pot roast, however, turned out pretty well.

Of course I doubt my grandmother would have used garlic or wine in hers and parsnips are probably a bit exotic, as vegetables go.

And there certainly wouldn’t have been a bottle of Greenwood Ridge Zinfandel to accompany the meal.

Fish Pie

Since we were off to some friends’ house for Cocktails & Canapes last evening, I made a pretty simple Saturday night dinner.

Salad with little tomatoes and a Sherry Vinegar Vinaigrette.

Fish Pie is one of those odd English comfort foods that really doesn’t sound all that appealing, but is in fact quite delicious. Make mashed potatoes. Boil two eggs. Poach some white fish in milk with a cut up onion, a bay leaf and a sprig of thyme. The trickiest thing here is controlling the heat on the fish poaching liquid, so you don’t over cook the fish or burn the milk. Pull the fish out of the liquid and strain it. Make a roux. Pour the warm milk into the roux, to make a bechamel and season with dry Colman’s mustard. Crumble the cooked fish into a baking pan including a little extra smoked salmon or haddock. Nestle the eggs in the fish. Pour the bechamel over the fish and eggs. Cover the whole thing with the cooked mashed potatoes. Then pop it into to the oven until the top is brown and it is warmed through.

It really is one of the whitest meals you can possibly have.

Serve with a nice white wine or hard apple cider.

I do not recommend following this dinner with copious amounts of delicious food and champagne cocktails. Especially not several Death in the Afternoon cocktails. Champagne spiked with Absinthe, not a great idea, if you want to remember the rest of your evening.

BOTW–Lumpy Gravy

A couple years ago the wacky folks at Lagunitas Brewing Company noticed that the 40th Anniversary of the release of the Mothers of Invention’s first record, “Freak Out!” was coming up. They contacted the Zappa family and asked for permission to release a beer in tribute of that record. What developed was a plan to release a tribute beer for each Zappa or Mothers record to coincide with the anniversary of their release, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting Prostate Cancer research.

The first beer, “Freak Out” debuted in 2006, the second beer, “Kill Ugly Radio,” (somehow the feds thought the label “Absolutely Free” would confuse consumers,) was released in 2007. “Lumpy Gravy,” the third, came out early this year.

It is a brown or red ale of some sort. Maybe an “Imperial Red Ale” if such a thing exists. It has a nice fruity character in the middle tastes and some mild hop bitterness in the finish. This lends some complexity and keeps you coming back to taste again. A very enjoyable and easy drinking beer.

The Mystery of Hercules

Angler Cocktail

2 Dashes Angostura Bitters.
2 Dashes Orange Bitters. (1 dash Regan’s Orange Bitters 1 Dash Fee’s Orange Bitters)
1/3 Hercules. (3/4 oz Spice infused Dubonnet Rouge)
2/3 Dry Gin. (1 1/2 oz Beefeater Dry Gin)

Shake (stir, please) well and strain into cocktail glass. (Garnish with a lemon twist.)

Embarrassing cocktail geekery: In his book, “Cocktails: How to make them” Robert Vermeire notes, “This cocktail is very popular in Bohemia and Czecho-Slovakia. It was introduced by V.P. Himmelreich.” Also, instead of Hercules, he calls for “Vantogrio”, which he describes as, “a local non-alcoholic Syrup.” No idea about the nature of “Vantogrio”. Vermeire suggests garnishing the cocktail with a lemon twist, which seems like a fine idea to me.

Hercules is the first completely puzzling ingredient we come across in the Savoy Cocktail Book.

To this day no one has turned up an unopened bottle and only a few details have been discovered regarding what sort of ingredient it might have been or what it might have tasted like.

Up until relatively recently many of the leading lights of the cocktail scene, based on some information in Stan Jones’ “Jones’ Complete Bar Guide,” had assumed that Hercules was an “Absinthe Substitute.”

While we don’t know whether that is the case, or to what extent it may be true, recently, over on the “Hercules, Absinthe Substitute? Red Wine Aperitif?” topic on eGullet.org advertisements and other information have been uncovered giving us a few additional pieces of the puzzle.

We have discovered conclusive evidence it was a fortified wine aperitif, spiced, and juiced up with Yerba Mate.

Unfortunately, we still have no idea what spices were used, beyond the Yerba-Mate.  So I decided to split the difference and make an aperitif wine fortified using Yerba-Mate infused vodka.  In addition to the Yerba-Mate, I included some of the same spices commonly used in Absinthe. To 1/2 cup of vodka I added: 1 heaping teaspoon Yerba-Mate, 1 teaspoon crushed Anise Seed, 1 teaspoon crushed fennel, 1 crushed star anise. I let this steep for a few hours, filtered it through cheesecloth, and added it to a bottle of Dubonnet Rouge I had in the fridge.  Then I left it to sit for a couple days for the flavors to marry. It’s actually not bad. Fairly Absinthe-like. Maybe a bit heavy on the fennel.

The cocktail itself ain’t bad. To me the Spiced Dubonnet is still a little flat. I’m tempted to add a touch of citrus zest or maybe fresh red wine to liven it up.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

BOTW–Le Bons Vœux

OK, last Holiday Beer, I promise!

I just have nice feelings about the beers of Brasserie Dupont. When we first moved to San Francisco, and the Slanted Door first opened on Valencia, we used to have a great time there. We would order ourselves a big bottle of Saison Dupont and pig out on California style Vietnamese food. Happy memories.

“Avec les bons Vœux de la brasserie Dupont” means, “With the best wishes of the brewery Dupont.” According to the website, it was brewed every year as a New Years present for their “best clients.” A pretty fun idea, and I’ve been wanting to try this beer for a while.

The Saison beer is often known for its complexity, often including fruity flavors not unlike German Wheat Beers. However, because of the types of yeast they use and the way they are brewed, they are often much dryer in character than German Wheat Beer.

Unlike many holiday or special occasion beers, this one is not that far from it’s parents. It seems a bit richer with perhaps a tad more character. From the label, it has higher alcohol, but with the smoothness of this beer, I would have a hard time detecting it. I think I would have to have Saison Dupont and this side by side, to be able to tell the difference. Nonetheless, another fantastic beer, and highly recommended, should you be lucky enough to chance upon it.

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Cherry Bomb

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Cherry Bomb

1/4 Cherry Brandy (Massenez Creme de Griotte)
1/4 Cointreau
1/2 Aged Rum (Rhum Barbancourt 5 star)

Use liqueur glass and pour carefully so that ingredients do not mix. Serve with 1/6 lime on top and squeeze into glass before imbibing.

When I was making all those Pousse-Cafe type “Angel” cocktails, I was trying to think of some version of a layered cocktail that I could hang with. Something that maybe had some bite to it. I thought of this cocktail first as a combination of ingredients, rum, cherry and lime being particularly good together. When I was trying to think of a name, some sort of 1970s era hot rod thing since it is a “shooter”, the Runaways song “Cherry Bomb” popped into my head.

Hello Daddy, hello Mom
I’m your ch ch ch ch ch cherry bomb
Hello world I’m your wild girl
I’m your ch ch ch ch ch cherry bomb

And I thought, “Cherry Bomb”, perfect! The cherry brandy is at the bottom, so this is exactly a cherry bomb. Unfortunately, there are about a million cocktails and shooters with the slightly salacious name, “Cherry Bomb”, so I took the repeated “ch” from the Runaways song and tacked it on.

Couple notes, getting the rum to float on top of the Cointreau can be a bit tricky. This rum, which fortunately I really enjoy, worked. Others didn’t. Also, I thought it was kind of cool how the lime juice, when you add it, settles to the bottom of the rum and hangs there, on top of the Cointreau.

OK, it’s not a Pousse-Cafe, it’s a shooter. It is, however, darn tasty!

Angel’s Wings Cocktail

Angel’s Wings Cocktail

1/3 A Raspberry syrup. (Monin)
1/3 Maraschino. (Luxardo)
1/3 Crème de Violette. (Benoit-Serres Liqueur de Violette)

Use liqueur glass and poor ingredients carefully so that they do not mix.

If the girl does not like it, do not drink it, but pour it quickly into the nearest flower vase.

Strangely, this was my favorite of the layered “Angel” Coctkails. I bet it would be even better with home made Raspberry Syrup!

For posterity, I should say something about the nearly extinct European tradition of Pousse-café.

Over the holidays the in-laws got out the slide projector. I know, I know. Perhaps you too are of the age where you still shudder at the mere mention of slides. Never ending trip pictures accompanied by dry narrative and the like.

These slides were quite interesting, as they were pictures from dinner parties in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. Amazing to see the elaborate table settings. Everyone seemed to have a drink soldered into their right hand from the beginning of the evening until the end. When they got to the after dinner coffee, it was fascinating to see, on the table along with a bowl of cigarettes, that they also got out the liqueur. There was a bottle of Grand Marnier, something that was potentially identified as Creme de Menthe, and others.

According to some authorities, more generally, Pousse-café, doesn’t necessarily refer to layered drinks, instead simply referring to liqueur drunk after coffee. To quote eGullet.org’s MaxH, “It’s standard informal French for a liqueur served after coffee (like something that pushes the coffee down). I’ve seen Europeans surprised to hear that US bartenders understand the word in the special sense of a layered cocktail.”

So, if you’re feeling particularly retro and decadent at your next dinner party, and no one is driving, why not get the liqueur bottles out to accompany the coffee?

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

Angel’s Wing Cocktail

Angel’s Wing Cocktail

1/2 Crème de Cacao. (Bols)
1/2 Prunelle Brandy. (Home made Sugar Plum Liqueur)

Use liqueur glass and pour ingredients carefully so that they do not mix. Pour a little sweet, cream on top.

Even this one wasn’t so bad, really. I think it was just shoe horning that violette in with the darker flavors of plum and chocolate in the Angel’s Kiss that got me.

I mean, obviously, this drink is very sweet and meant as an after dinner thing, to be drunk with coffee.

I ran across an interesting passage in the 1948 edition of “Bartender’s Guide by Trader Vic.”

Another ass who makes bartenders blow their corks is the show-off who orders fancy drinks–usually when the bar is crowded and the rush is on–just to impress his companions. I almost lost one of my best men one night; it took three guys to hold him when one such nit-wit ordered an eight-color Pousse-Cafe. The bartender sweat bullets getting the damn thing cooked up; spoiled the first two because he couldn’t remember which liqueurs were the heaviest (you get an order for one of the fool things about once every five years), but he finally sent it to the table with pride. It was beautiful, glowing with color. And what did the guy do but display it to his friends and then down it with one gulp like a straight shot! In case there’s anyone who doesn’t know how to drink a Pousse-Cafe, it should be sipped, one color at a time.

So whatever you do, don’t order one of these layered shots when a bar is busy!

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the cocktails in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, Zed.

Winter in California

Winter In California

2 oz Germain-Robin Fine Alambic Brandy
3/4 oz Hachiya Persimmon Puree*
Juice 1 Satsuma Mandarin
1/2 oz Orgeat
1/4 oz Pimento Dram

Shake in an iced cocktail shaker to chill. Strain into cocktail glass.

I was looking through the search terms folks were using and happened to notice that among the more predictable terms, (“Absinthe!” Surprise, surprise!) that a couple days ago someone was searching for “Persimmon Puree Gin.” Well, that’s a bit obscure! Reminded me of an original cocktail I made last winter using Persimmon Puree.

Sorry to disappoint that it doesn’t have any Gin! However, a fine cocktail that I had nearly forgotten. The size could use a bit of tweaking, as it seems like that is about enough for two drinks! Still worth messing around with, if you’ve got the ingredients.

The persimmon puree gives it almost as much body as adding an egg and the spice of the pimento dram complements everything nicely.

*To make Persimmon Puree, simply use a very soft persimmon, wash, take the leaves off of the bottom, cut in quarters, (check for seeds and remove if you find them,) drop in a blender, and buzz until pureed. If you let Fuyu persimmons hang around until they are soft they can also be used.