Bunny Hug Cocktail

Bunny Hug

1/3 Gin (Almost 3/4 oz Boodles Gin)
1/3 Whisky (Almost 3/4 oz Binny’s Single Barrel Buffalo Trace Bourbon)
1/3 Absinthe (Almost 3/4 oz Absinthe Verte de Fougerolles)

Shake (Stir? What does it matter? I lean towards shake for this MF.) well and strain into cocktail glass.

This cocktail should immediately be poured down the sink before it is too late.

This cocktail has always puzzled me.

First, the cute name made no sense, until someone pointed out that the “Bunny Hug” was some sort of raunchy dance invented at San Francisco’s Fairmont Hotel. Sort of the early 1900s equivalent of “Freak Dancing.” Also that “Hug” was not really quite as “cute” a term, as it might originally appear. Apparently, the name was supposed to evoke something more like, “doing it like rabbits”.

There’s also what may be an apocryphal story that a dancer named Vernor Castle adapted the Bunny Hug into the slower and more acceptably named Foxtrot.

Then there’s the menacing epigraph. Is it meant as a warning or encouragement?

I really had little hope for the cocktail. Given the lineage of the name, it seemed more likely that it was the turn of the century equivalent of a shooter. A short, high alcohol drink you slammed between dances.

That may be; but, it’s actually not that bad. Absinthe is dominant, of course; but, the gin kind of mediates, and the whiskey is there in the finish. I probably lucked out by picking a feisty whiskey, like the Buffalo Trace. Anything more polite would simply get blown away by the Absinthe.

Still, not something you’re really going to slowly savor in front of a warm fire. Make it small, make it cold, and get on with the dancing.

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.

Dozier Cooler

It’s been a while since I last tortured you with a culinarily inspired original cocktail with at least one difficult or nearly impossible to obtain ingredient.

Since this is a sort of “variation” on the Bull-Dog Cocktail, I thought I’d put it up.

I was paging through the February, 2008, Gourmet magazine. You know, looking for recipes that wouldn’t involve a million steps, a million dollars, or a trip to the gourmet grocery store. I ran across a dessert topping (or is it a floor wax?) which involved Clementines in a Spiced Ginger Syrup.

I had clementines and all the spices required.

But, then, I thought, hey! if that’s not a drink, I don’t know what is.

So in the original recipe we’ve got a syrup spiced with ginger, star anise, and cardamom. Sliced Clementines. And a pomegranate seed garnish.

How to parse that out and translate it into drink-i-ness.

The easiest way would be to simply make the syrup as the recipe calls for, pick a spirit, add clementine juice, and away you go.

Ha, we do not take the easy way! (Actually, we do take the easy way, as there is no pesky pantry work involved here.)

Dozier Cooler*

4 Cardamom Pods
2 oz Pisco (I used Alto del Carmen)
Grenadine, hopefully homemade
1 oz Clementine Juice (or Mandarin)
1/8 oz Clandestine La Bleu Absinthe** (or another not too wormwoody Blanche)
Bundaberg Ginger Beer (or other spicy ginger beer or ale)
Cardamom Leaf (Yeah, I know. I’m probably one of three people in North America with a Cardamom plant. You can order one of your own from: Mountain Valley Growers. Failing Cardamom, use Thai Basil. Failing Thai Basil, Mint.)

Crush 4 cardamom pods and combine with 2 oz Pisco in a mixing glass. (Ok, we’ve got our cardamom.) After at least an half an hour, or whenever you finish making dinner, cover the bottom of a collins glass with grenadine. (Ok, we’ve got our pomegranate.) In a mixing tin, combine the Pisco, Clementine Juice, (Uh, duh, clementines,) and the Absinthe (OK, we’ve got our Anise.) Ice and shake. Add ice cubes to the highball glass and strain the Pisco mixture in. Top up the glass with ginger ale. (Ta da! We’ve got ginger!) Spank a cardamom leaf and add it to the glass. Serve with a straw and/or swizzle.

I think it was pretty true to the original Gourmet recipe and Mrs. Underhill gave it the thumbs up.

*According to this website, the Clementine, “…was created at the beginning of the 20th Century in Algeria by a French missionary by the name of Clément Dozier, hence the name Clementine.” Hence the name Dozier Cooler.

**The original recipe is supposedly based on the spices used in Algerian sweets. If you really wanted to stick to North Africa/Middle East, you could use Lebanese Arak instead of Absinthe.

Bull-dog Cocktail

Bull-Dog Cocktail

Put 2 or 3 lumps of ice into a large tumbler, add the juice of 1 Orange, 1 glass (2oz Boodles) Gin. Fill Balance with Ginger Ale (Reed’s Ginger Brew).

Stir, and serve with a straw.

Rollin down the street, smokin indo, sippin on gin and juice,
Laid back, (with my mind on my money and my money on my mind),

The Bull-Dog is a perfectly tasty drink, great for the warm weather we’ve had in San Francisco lately*. Gin, fresh orange juice, and ginger ale. How could that be bad?

*Of course the morning I post this, the fog and mist return, after a week or two of beautiful sunny, warm weather. Well, that’s summer in San Francisco for you. Still a good cocktail even in the fog.

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.

Buds Special Cocktail

Buds Special Cocktail

1 Dash Angostura Bitters
1/3 Sweet Cream (3/4 oz Whipping Cream)
2/3 Cointreau (1 1/2 oz Cointreau)

Stir (What? Shake!) well and strain into cocktail glass. (Orange Peel.)

I guess I had an idle hope that this would be something like a Creamsicle in drink form.

After tasting it, my response was, “Bleah! Bud, man, what were you thinking?”

I don’t normally have such a strong reaction to these cocktails, but, hopes dashed, down the sink after a couple sips.

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.

Brunelle Cocktail

Brunelle Cocktail

1/4 Absinthe (1/2 oz Verte de Fougerolles Absinthe)
1/2 Tablespoonful of Sugar (1 teaspoon caster sugar)
3/4 Lemon Juice (Juice 1/2 lemon)
(1 oz Boodles Gin)

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

I normally don’t try to revise Savoy Cocktails too significantly. But, cocktails made with just Absinthe haven’t done much for me. Too rich. When I was thinking about it at lunch, I thought I would dilute it with vodka. But, then, after waiting an half an hour for a N Judah train to even show up and take me home, a mild gin like Boodles seemed like a much better way to reward myself. After it took an hour and a half to get home, my thoughts were more like, “Screw vodka and screw MUNI I’m having GIN.”

First I was quite pleased with myself, thinking it an original idea. Then, it seemed a bit familiar. Couple sips later, I remembered Le Demon Verte from “The Art of the Bar”.

OK, Le Demon Verte uses lime juice as sour and falernum as sweetener. Still, I have unthinkingly come pretty close to taking the long way around to rediscovering its DNA.

Tasty, though. I do believe I’ll have another.

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.

Brooklyn Cocktail

Brooklyn Cocktail

1 Dash Amer Picon (1/2 barspoon Torani Amer)
1 Dash Maraschino (1/2 barspoon Luxardo Maraschino)
2/3 Canadian Club Whisky (1 1/2 oz 40 Creek Barrel Select)
1/3 French Vermouth (3/4 oz Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth)

Shake (stir, please) well and strain into cocktail glass.

This seemed a bit flat as written. I’ve read that Torani Amer is closer to Amer Picon with the addition of some Orange Bitters. A couple drops of Regan’s Orange Bitters did perk it up a bit. A squeeze of lemon peel and it really started to sing.

Ahem, of course it might be a bit tastier with, say, Sazerac Straight Rye Whiskey or Rittenhouse 100. But, out of deference to the Savoy, I stuck with Canadian.

By the way, tonight’s the night for Alembic Bar‘s monthly Savoy Cocktail Book night. Tonight the bartenders will forgo their usual menu and instead do their best to make any cocktail you desire from the Savoy Cocktail Book. The Brooklyn is a certainly a fine cocktail to ask for!

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.

Shiso Beautiful

Further investigation has more or less confirmed that the Herb used for the Herb Grilling, was indeed Shiso. In an article called, “An inviting herbal accent” the LA Times describes, “It’s a captivating herb that’s sort of cinnamon-y, sort of basil-ish, kind of anise-like. You might catch a note of cumin or curry leaf, along with a hint of citrus.”

Sounds about right.

The wikipedia article on Perilla, or Shiso, also notes that the varieties used in different countries have varying characteristics and potencies. I kind of suspect mine was more the type grown in Vietnam or Korea, as it seemed quite potent, and the leaf edges weren’t as frilly as those I remember seeing in Japanese groceries.

I haven’t seen Shiso used too much in drinks. I know Scott Beatty of Cyrus in Healdsburg uses it in his “Beau Regards” vodka drink and I think I remember seeing it in one or another cocktail in “Food & Wine Cocktails 2008″.

BOTW–Magnolia Gastropub & Brewery

The remodeling of the Magnolia Pub & Brewery into the Magnolia Gastropub & Brewery has not been without controversy.

Some feel the new look of the brew pub disconnects it from the funky Upper Haight neighborhood it is located in. They are disappointed that the murals featuring psychedelic landscapes and Jerry Garcia are gone.

To check out the damage and/or improvements, Mrs. Underhill and I stopped by for an early dinner yesterday evening.

The new look is cleaner and more bare bones. As owner David McLean points out on his blog, Haight & Masonic, “There are a lot of period details (tile floor, woodwork, exterior tile) from the 1920′s, when the space went from grocery store to pharmacy.” The space does feature these details much more effectively than the it previously had.

If you’re familiar with Magnolia’s sister pub up Alembic, up the street, the new look really won’t be much of a surprise. Dark wood, tile, bare light bulbs and vintage fixtures. It’s of a piece. The booths have finally been upholstered, which, in my opinion, is a huge improvement over the previous uncomfortable bare wood.

The organization of the space has not been changed much. The bar, booths, and tables are still in the same place, albeit now stained instead of painted. The only big change was the addition of a big shared table for communal eating and drinking in the bar area. I guess this is now de rigueur for modern restaurants.

To me, the new menu has sort of split the difference between the old magnolia and the, “comically small and comically expensive,” (as one friend described it,) dishes at Alembic. We had a very nice salad of arugula and sliced radishes served with toast spread with herbed goat cheese. The calamari was a bit less successful. I’m not sure whose idea coloring the aoli with squid ink was, but trendy as the idea might be, blue-black aoli is just not appealing. Maybe at Halloween. For mains, we tried a pork sausage with two sides and the pork ribs. The sausage was delicious as were the greens and roasted beets which accompanied it. The pork ribs were good, but not quite to the fork tender delicious stage they should have been at, nor was the sauce which covered them particularly notable. Single notedly sweet. The rancho gordo white beans which accompanied them, were also a little on the underdone side. Tasty, though. We did not, however, find portion sizes anywhere near, “comically small.” If anything, the pork rib portion wass comically large. The several rib pieces were so large, there was no way I was going to be able to finish them. Anyway, as Magnolia is only on their third day open with this new menu, I’m sure these glitches will be corrected as they continue to “truck” on.

Prices aren’t ridiculous. I think, at $18, the pork dish is one of the more expensive on the menu. Most entrees fall in the $10-15 range. Not cheap, but not as expensive as many places seem to be these days.

The beer is the same wonderful beer Magnolia has ever had. When folks ask me about Magnolia Beer, I always describe it as, “really good home brew.” We sampled the New Speedway Bitter on cask and Blue Bell Bitter along with the Saison. Both the Blue Bell and New Speedway were quite delicious. The spice was a bit heavy in the Saison, at least to our tastes.

If you’re in the Upper Haight, and enjoy beer, I certainly recommend stopping by and making up your own mind about Magnolia Gastropub & Brewery’s new look and menu.

Herb Grilling

One of the nice things about growing your own herbs is that many of them are enthusiastic growers and you will often have more than you can possibly use.

This leads you to do things that you normally wouldn’t do, if you were buying your herb portions in $4 plastic packages at the supermarket.

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) is one of those enthusiastic growers.

A cool thing I like to do is build an indirect heat pile in the grill, hack down a bunch of lemon balm stems, rinse them in water, and then put the herb on the grill as an aromatic base. Salmon is particularly tasty this way.

Unfortunately, mother nature has other plans for salmon this year and the lemon balm isn’t quite big enough to hack down.

Another enjoyable pass time of mine is to go to the Alemany Farmers’ Market a bit late. While you sometimes miss high demand items and even whole vendors, you do get the benefit of late market discounts. Folks who’d rather sell their goods than pack it back up.

Last week when I was going past one of the Asian herb growers they were down to only mint and what I thought was shiso, so were selling them 2 bunches for a dollar. And they were big bunches. So I got a bunch of mint and a bunch of the other stuff.

One thing that always amazes me about Farmers’ Market produce is how much longer it usually lasts. If I buy one of those plastic packages of herbs, it seems like the mint doesn’t last much longer than the next day. In this case, I left the mint and other in the fridge for a week without water, and it was still perfect fine.

Anyway, so I had a big bunch of this herb that I got for 50 cents. We picked up a beautiful arctic char fillet, and I thought I would grill it on a bed of it.

Pulled the “shiso” out of the fridge and washed the leaves. Some were as big as my hand and they had a very strong scent. Kind of reminiscent of cumin seed. Flavor was similar with notes of cinnamon and spice. A bit weird, but what else am I going to do with it?

Built my indirect coals, covered the other half of the grill with the herb, and put the fillet on.

Amusingly, as the herb starts to smolder, it smells amazingly like another “herb”. And a pretty good quality of that herb, indeed. Jokes about “weed smoked” char proliferate. There is giggling.

Fortunately, the “weed smoked” Arctic Char turned out to be delicious. Served it with a fennel, orange, and mint “salsa”, Quinoa Pilaf, and Tree Oyster and feta stuffed summer squash. No unusually altered perception was noticed.

Photos courtesy of the lovely Mrs. Underhill.

Bronx Terrace Cocktail

Bronx Terrace Cocktail

2/3 Gin. (1 1/2 oz Plymouth Gin)
1/3 French Vermouth. (3/4 oz Noilly Prat Vermouth)
The Juice of 1/2 Lime.

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

Not a cocktail for everyone, or every moment, however the Bronx Terrace has its time and place.

When you’re feeling a bit ragged and your palate needs to be woken up, this can be just the thing.

It is, however, very dry and very tart.

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.