Biter Cocktail

Biter Cocktail (6 People)

3 Glasses of Gin (3 oz Tanqueray Gin)
1 1/2 Glasses of Lemon Juice slightly sweetened (1 1/2 oz Lemon Juice)
1 1/2 Glasses of Green Chartreuse ( 1 1/2 oz Green Chartreuse)
Before shaking add a Dash of Absinthe (Verte de Fougerolles)

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

As usual with these 6 person cocktails, I’m using 2 oz per “Glass” and dividing it in half to make two drinks.

Might be my favorite Chartreuse cocktail so far. Perhaps related to the pleasant pale green color and dry, tart flavor. Quite herb-a-licious.

I didn’t really feel a need for extra sweetener, despite the fact that the recipe calls for it. As they say, your mileage may vary.

I do find this same cocktail is sometimes called the “Bitter Cocktail” in some sources. Might be another Savoy typo.

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.

Biltong Dry Cocktail

Biltong Dry Cocktail

1 Dash Orange Bitters.
1/4 Dubonnet. (1/2 oz Dubonnet Rouge)
1/4 Gin. (1/2 oz Tanqueray Gin)
1/2 Caperitif. (1 oz Lillet Dry)

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

Well, I can tell you that Biltong (wikipedia link) is a type of dried meat, (beef, game or ostrich,) originally made by Dutch “Pioneers” in South Africa.

Per cocktaildb, I’ve again substituted Lillet Blanc for the defunct South African aperitif wine, Caperitif.

The Biltong cocktail is alright. Pretty decent low alcohol before dinner drink, I should imagine. An olive would probably be a better garnish than the orange zest I used.

After drinking it, I kept thinking it would be better as a long drink over ice or with a splash of soda.

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–Serafijn Celtic Angel

Interestingly, according the the document which came with this beer club release, this beer was originally brewed under contract for “an Irish musical group.” Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to figure out which musical group.

It is brewed in Belgium by a tiny microbrewery called Achilles. The documents call it a Irish Red Ale fermented with Belgian yeast.

It doesn’t make sense to me to really call it an Irish Ale, as it doesn’t taste like any Irish beer I’ve tried.

It’s also not as rich or heavy as most Belgian Ales I’ve tried.

Fairly fizzy, it is a dry ale with a touch of hops. They say that there is a bit of candy sugar added when they bottle, for secondary fermentation, but it seems to be almost entirely digested, as the beer is almost austere in its dryness. Celtic Angel reminds me of a sort of bottle conditioned, unfiltered Pilsener more than anything else. It’s really quite enjoyably drinkable. I could imagine it as a session beer, or going well with a variety of foods.

It does open up a bit, as it warms, and give up a bit of that spicy flavor you associate with Belgian Farmhouse Ales. Still, all in all, that aspect of its character is quite subtle.

Uh, Wow!

Stomping Through the Savoy, Eric Felten, Wall Street Journal, April 5, 2008

Book-bloggers have taken up everything from sole to the soul. A couple of years ago, blogress Julie Powell famously cooked her way through the book that made Julia Child a star, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” Last year, Slate deputy editor David Plotz got to the end of 2 Chronicles, wrapping up his “Blogging the Bible” stroll through the Old Testament. And now one of the essential texts of the cocktail canon is in the middle of getting the same thoroughgoing treatment. Erik Ellestad, a host at the eGullet.org1 Web site, has been leading a bibulous crew of online collaborators since June 2006 on an Abbey to Zed trek through the 1930 “Savoy Cocktail Book.”

And for the record, I haven’t read “Julie and Julia”. My inspiration, rather, was friend Trott’s stroll through the Joy of Cooking.  Well, that and a simple desire to familiarize myself with the flavor palette of classic cocktails.

Bijou Cocktail

Bijou Cocktail

1/3 Plymouth Gin. (3/4 oz Plymouth Gin)
1 Dash Orange Bitters. (Dash Fee’s Orange Bitters, Dash Regan’s Orange Bitters)
1/3 Green Chartreuse. (3/4 oz Green Chartreuse)
1/3 Gancia Italian Vermouth. (3/4 oz Carpano Antica Vermouth)

Mix well with a spoon in a large bar glass; strain into a cocktail glass, add a cherry or an olive, squeeze a piece of lemon peel on top and serve.

The Bijou had been on my list of cocktails to try for a while. It’s always exciting to get to a Savoy cocktail I actually want to make!

Paul Clarke, who is a much more thorough researcher and far better writer than I, recently wrote a blog article about the Bijou:

The Emerald Bijou

So I won’t bore you by repeating his conclusions, just check out the article.

I do kind of go back and forth on the ratios for this cocktail. The equal parts version above is pretty sweet and rich. Sometimes I just don’t quite feel like that much Green Chartreuse and Sweet Vermouth, so I’ll up the gin a bit and dial those two back. Changing the recipe to something like an ounce and a half of gin and 1/2 ounce each of Sweet Vermouth and Green Chartreuse can transform this into more of an aperitif rather than digestiv cocktail.

Anyway, whichever way you slice it, the Bijou Cocktail is a true classic.

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.

Ar(r)a(c)k Disambiguation

Danger! Spirits Geekery Ahead!

There are at least three different spirits that share a similarly spelled name, Ar(r)a(c)k.

The reason for this is that the Arabic word for something that means, more or less, “booze,” sounds like Arak. Well, actually, according to Wikipedia, it means sweat or juice, and seems to refer to way the droplets of alcohol collect and drip from a still.

The first, and likely most common, of these you’ll run across is usually called Arak. It comes from Lebanon and is a distilled spirit flavored with Anise (a.k.a. Pimpinella anisum). It is a fine and historic liquor in the continuum of anise flavored Mediterranean liquors including, moving Westward, Greek Ouzo, Italian Sambuca, French Anisette, Absinthe, Spanish Anis, and Portuguese Anis Escharchado. Lebenese Arak is traditionally made on a wine base, so is a flavored brandy. Post distillation it is often aged for a period in clay jars, mellowing it a bit. Many Absinthe fanciers feel, in the absence of real Absinthe, because it is often only lightly sweetened, Lebanese Arak it is the best substitute. In Lebanon it usually drunk, diluted with 3 or 4 parts water, to accompany a celebration or party. Some good brands are Razzouk and Sannine.

The second type of Arrack, which you are actually quite unlikely to run across, is Sri Lankan Arrack. It is also sometimes called “Palm Brandy”. It is made by hacking off the blossom bud of a coconut palm tree, and then collecting the syrup which accumulates there. Interestingly, this substance spontaneously ferments extremely quickly, becoming palm wine. It can pretty much be distilled the moment after it is tapped to produce Arrack. As a note, in Sri Lanka the term “Arrack” doesn’t always refer to Coco Palm Arrack. It can be used to refer to pretty much any old home distilled moonshine-like substance. Darcy has some good tasting notes regarding the flavor of Sri Lankan Coco Palm Arrack in his article. It tastes a bit like a cross between rum and whiskey, with some other odd flavors hanging around.

The third type of Arrack is Batavia Arrack. This is made in Indonesia. The base is sugar cane, like rum, but the fermentation is jump started with the addition of fermented red rice. The importance of the fermented red rice in the flavor of the final product cannot be understated. It gives it an unusual taste that initially often puts people off. However, in small doses, it’s an amazing flavor enhancer and has a character that seems to directly appeal to some portion of the brain. In fact for the last 30-40 years Batavia Arrack’s primary use has been in the Chocolate Industry and Pastry Kitchens. Adding that little extra hook to an already addictive substances. But prior to that it was used in Punches and other complex alcoholic libations, including a lost cocktail ingredient called “Swedish Punsch.”

For years, Batavia Arrack was only available as a mail order item from obscure German Language websites. However, recently a US Company based in Minnesota began importing obscure spirits and liqueurs. Instead of basing it’s business model on pushing what it thinks cocktail enthusiasts and Food and Beverage professionals want, Haus Alpenz has chosen the odd tact of asking us for our opinions and sometimes giving us what we want. Pimento Dram, Violet Liqueur, Apricot Liqueur, and Batavia Arrack were all more or less lost to the US market until the company Haus Alpenz realized they could base a business on selling these highly desired commodities to cocktail enthusiasts and bars attempting to find lost flavors and use them as a base for new creations.

Should you decide to chance a purchase of Batavia Arrack, be warned it usually clocks in over 100 Proof, making it a bit on the dangerous side for straight consumption. Instead give the Swedish Punch recipe below a try, and then whip yourself up a Biffy Cocktail.

Flannestad Swedish (wait, maybe this should be Norwegian!) Punch
(Adapted from Jerry Thomas)

1/2 Cup Batavia Arrack
1 Cup Amber Rum
2 Lemons, Sliced Thin

1 Cup black, or other, tea made by steeping 2 teaspoons of tea in 1 cup hot water
1 Cup Sugar (Raw or Demerara is nice)

Combine lemons, Rum, and Arrack. Steep covered for 12 hours. Add sugar to hot tea, cool to room temperature, and chill in the fridge. The next day, pour rum off of lemons, not crushing out lemon juice. Discard lemon slices, or squeeze out liquored juice for another use. Combine with Sweetened tea mixture, rest a day, strain through a coffee filter or layers of clean cheesecloth. Enjoy chilled or when Swedish punch is called for. Makes about 375 ml.


I was lucky to be invited to the opening party last night for San Francisco’s newest cocktail and food establishment, Beretta.

While I am still puzzling over the connection between Pizza and Cocktails, there is no questioning the mightiness of the cocktail list Thad Vogler has created or impressive array of staff he has assembled to make those cocktails.

Starting with Mr. Vogler, whose resume includes such stellar establishments as The Slanted Door, Presidio Social Club, and Jardiniere, the list of talent includes Todd Smith, (Bourbon and Branch,) Eric Johnson, (Bourbon and Branch, Eastside West,) and Ryan Fitgerald, (Tres Agaves).

The cocktails are based on a fun assortment of mostly New World spirits. Rum, Pisco, Tequila, and Rye Whiskey all make appearances. I was especially taken with the Dolores Park Swizzle, Agricole Mule, Airmail, and Agave Sour.

I’m not sure if the configuration of the restaurant they had for the party was the same as they will have for formal service, but it seems like about 2/3 of the space will be taken up by shared seating, a la NOPA, with only a few tables for proper seating in the back. Definitely a casual, cocktail friendly vibe.

As you may know, I live in Bernal Heights, which is mostly a desert as far as decent cocktails go. It is possible you may get lucky and have a half way decent cocktail at Wild Side West, Stray Bar, Knockout, or Argus, but really the closest place where you can be assured a truly great cocktail is range. It is quite exciting that Beretta is now here, a couple blocks closer than range. I can only hope that the Southwards Progress continues, and one day I will have a tasty cocktail in Bernal Heights that I, or one of my neighbor cocktail enthusiasts, didn’t make. Until then, I am looking forward to getting back to Beretta to try out that mysterious pizza and cocktail combo.

Big Boy Cocktail

Big Boy Cocktail

1/2 Brandy (1 1/2 oz Korbel VSOP)
1/4 Cointreau (3/4 oz Cointreau)
1/4 Sirop-de-Citron (3/4 oz Homemade Limoncello)
(dash lemon juice)

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

After finding a couple DIY recipes for “Sirop-de-Citron” I realized the procedure for making it is about the same as for limoncello, so, instead of buying a bottle of Monin Lemon Syrup, or making it myself, I subbed in limoncello.

I also couldn’t quite face drinking this without a dash of lemon juice. Still pretty sweet.

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.