BOTW–Rodenbach Grand Cru

Before I was a cocktail geek, I was a beer geek.

When in College, far too long ago, my usual plan was purchase a 24 pack of Leinenkugel or Point long necks and see how long they would last. Don’t ask how long that usually was, as it was probably an embarrassingly short amount of time. But, ah, for those blissful days of $6.99 24 packs.

One day my room-mate brought home a bottle of Chimay Rouge. He said, “You gotta try this, it’s the shit.” Or words to that effect. In any case, being a long time flavor junkie, it blew me away. I’d been a Midwestern American Lager and Ale guy and had no idea that beer could even taste like the Chimay did. Almost more like wine than any beer that I had tasted up to that point. Set me off on a course to try as many esoteric beers as I possibly could.

Anyway, fast forward a few years, to 2000. Mrs. Flannestad and I are on our honeymoon in New Zealand. We’re in Christchurch, a beautiful English style city on the South Island. After a day at the market, involving delicious cinnamon babka and sheepskin gloves, (“all sheep died from natural causes,” the labels assured us,) we wandered by a bar whose name I cannot recall. We were a bit hungry and thirsty, so we went in, and were astounded by the number of beers they had, both in bottles and on tap.

One in particular stood out. It was called Rodenbach, and according to the description, it was aged in wooden casks. Some portion of the beer was aged, and some was new. When I asked the waiter about it he said we had to try it.

Wow! Another Belgian epiphany. While I’d tried a few Belgian beers up to that point, I’d never had any made in the sour style. This was rich and sour, almost more like a cross between a cider, a beer, and, well, a mild balsamic vinegar. Anyway, after trying it, I filed it away, and hoped, even though I’d never seen it in the United States to be able to try it again.

Unfortunately, when we got back to the States, we did not find it anywhere.

A few years later, we discovered that our good friends Kim and Matt were a bit obsessed with Rodenbach. And luckily, it was beginning to be available again in the US after a long absence. First in the Midwest, where we tried it at the fantastic beer bar Hop Leaf, and then at several holiday parties at Kim and Matt’s house.

Then, finally, about a year later, this February, when I went to pick up the month’s Beer of the Month club, I was pleased to discover a bottle of Rodenbach Grand Cru in the selection.

BOTW--Rodenbach Grand Cru

The beer pours a reddish brown amber, from the glass, with little or no head. Given there isn’t much head, there also isn’t much aroma. The first thing you get is a sour flavor not unlike slightly fermented cherry juice. It has middle flavors more like a rich sherry or light balsamic vinegar than a beer, and as it warms slightly is incredibly complex. It goes fantastically with food, cheese especially, not unlike sherry.

If you can find it, and are open to different flavor experiences in beer, I highly recommend trying Rodenbach. They make three beers. Rodenbach Original a blend of aged and new beers, Rodenbach Grand Cru which is just aged beers, and Redbach which is a blend of beer and cherry juice similar to lambic beers.

BOTW--Rodenbach Grand Cru

Daiquiri Cocktail

I’ve actually talked already about the Daiquiri in the post “Daiquiris, a Cautionary Tale,” but for that post, (back when I wasn’t too lazy to make movies,) I didn’t actually make a regular Daiquiri. So here we go!

Daiquiri

Daiquiri Cocktail

The Juice of 1/4 Lemon or 1/2 Lime. (1/2 Lime)
1 Teaspoonful Powdered Sugar. (1 teaspoon caster sugar)
1 Glass Bacardi Rum. (2 oz Flor de Cana Extra-Dry)

(Drop the lime shell into the cocktail shaker.) Shake well and (double) strain into cocktail glass.

“The Moment had arrived for a Daiquiri. It was a delicate compound ; it elevated my contentment to an even higher pitch. Unquestionably the cocktail on my table was a dangerous agent, for it held in its shallow glass bowl slightly encrusted with undissolved sugar the power of a contemptuous indifference to fate; it set the mind free of responsibility; obliterating both memory and to- morrow, it gave the heart an adventitious feeling of superiority and momentarily vanquished all the celebrated, the eternal fears. Yes, that was the danger of skilfully prepared intoxicating drinks . The word ‘Intoxicating’ adequately expressed their power. Their menace to orderly, monotonous resignation. A word, I thought further, debased by moralists from its primary ecstatic content…but then, with a fresh Daiquiri and a sprig of orange blossom in my button-hole, it meant less than nothing”

A short extract from Joseph Hergesheimer’s “San Cristobal de la Habana” which contains much wisdom concerning Drinks, Cigars and the Art of Fine Living.

This was always one of my favorite quotes from the Savoy. Fortunately, I was able to track down the Full Text of Hergesheimer’s “San Cristobal de la Habana” on the Internet archive. The Savoy editors chose to edit the passage in some pretty interesting, and fairly predictable, ways. I’ve added the deleted text back in, in bold.

“The moment, now, had arrived for a Daiquiri: seated near the cool drip of the fountain, where a slight stir of air seemed to ruffle the fringed mantone of a bronze dancing Andalusian girl, I lingered over the frigid mixture of Ron Bacardi, sugar, and a fresh vivid green lime.

“It was a delicate compound, not so good as I was to discover later at the Telegrafo, but still a revelation, and I was devoutly thankful to be sitting, at that hour in the Inglaterra, with such a drink. It elevated my contentment to an even higher pitch ; and, with a detached amusement, I recalled the fact that farther north prohibition was formally in effect. Unquestionably the cocktail on my table was a dangerous agent, for it held, in its shallow glass bowl slightly encrusted with undissolved sugar, the power of a contemptuous indifference to fate; it set the mind free of responsibility; obliterating both memory and tomorrow, it gave the heart an adventitious feeling of superiority and momentarily vanquished all the celebrated, the eternal, fears.

“Yes, that was the danger of skilfully prepared, intoxicating drinks. . . . The word intoxicating adequately expressed their power, their menace to orderly monotonous resignation. A word, I thought further, debased by moralists from its primary ecstatic content. Intoxication with Ron Bacardi, with May, with passion, was a state threatening to privilege, abhorrent to authority. And, since the dull were so fatally in the majority, they had succeeded in attaching a heavy penalty to whatever lay outside their lymphatic understanding. They had, as well, made the term gay an accusation before their Lord, confounding it with loose, so that now a gay girl certainly the only girl worth a ribbon or the last devotion was one bearing upon her graceful figure, for she was apt to be reprehensibly graceful, the censure of a society open to any charge other than that of gaiety in either of its meanings. A ridiculous, a tragic, conclusion, I told myself indifferently: but then, with a fresh Daiquiri and a sprig of orange blossoms in my buttonhole, it meant less than nothing.”

More interesting that, and an interesting book on the whole.

It’s kind of funny, I’ve made versions of the Hemingway Special, (with Maraschino and Grapefruit Juice,) a lot; but I don’t think I’ve ever sat down and made myself a regular Daiquiri. I guess it seemed too simple to be extraordinary.

The trick of dropping the the half lime shell into the shaker to get that extra bitter lime oomph, I learned from an instructive youtube video (Daiquiri) from Mr. Angus Winchester.

Like the Cuban Cocktail (No. 1), the relatively small amount of lime and sugar, leaves the Daiquiri a pretty dry and sophisticated cocktail. The flavor of the Rum and scent of the lime are front and center with just enough sweetness to take the edge off.

Simply delightful.

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.