BOTW–Stumptown Tart

A significant time period ago I read on some beer blog or another that a Portland brewery was experimenting with an oak aged Belgian-style fruit beer.  In a kind of cheeky move, they chose to call it “Stumptown Tart” and had a nice young woman pose for the label.  Local seasonal fruit, of course, also figured prominently.  We are talking about Portland, after all.

My first response to this sort of thing is to make an attempt to do a trade with a friend in the community in question.  Fortunately, on a recent trip to Portland, I’d had a chance to hang out with Lance Mayhew at the House Spirits Distillery.  Lance was a decent guy and into beer as well as spirits and cocktails.  He endeared himself to Mrs. Underhill and I that day by relating an unfortunate episode regarding an exploding bottle of ferment in the family refrigerator.

I dropped Lance a note and he promised to try to track down some of the Stumptown Tart.  Then I was in town again and Lance and I failed to hook up.  I did drop off some Russian River Brewing bottles for him at Teardrop Lounge.

Anyway, he was kind enough to ship the Stumptown Tart down to SF recently and Mrs. Underhill and I gave it a try.

My initial response is relief.  Stumptown Tart is a fairly dry fruit beer.  So many American fruit (or spice) beers put the fruit (or spice) in front of the beer that they taste more like fruit juice than beer.  To me Bridgeport did a nice job making a fruit flavored Beer beverage rather than Beer flavored fruit beverage.

Portland Beer writer Jeff Allworth was pretty negative in his review of Stumptown Tart.  I can’t say I feel quite as negative about the beer as Jeff did.  I did think that its scent and initial tastes promised more than the beer delivers in the end.  Something about it is just not quite balanced.  (Wait, which Stumptown Tart am I talking about again?)  Ahem.  Anyway, I’d give it a B for effort and a C for follow through.  But as a first try for this brewery in this style of beer, not bad.  Hopefully next year’s tart will be even more luscious.

Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!

I stopped by Alembic Bar yesterday and confirmed that they are indeed planning on re-launching their “Savoy Cocktail Book Night” the evening of Sunday, Dec 14th.

On Savoy nights, instead of having their regular menu, Alembic simply hands you a “Savoy Cocktail Book” and the bartender tells you to pick a cocktail, any cocktail.

Previously, I have described this enterprise as “masochism”, but others have called it “Hard Core” and “Really Cool”.

Lately, however, I’ve been thinking “Fool Hardy” might best describe the enterprise, as the rumor is they will be allowing a certain middle aged cocktail enthusiast try his hand at Savoy mixology.

Hope to see you there!

Also, for up to date news on what’s going down at Alembic, check out their recently launched blog: Alembic Bar

Fuyu Persimmons

Persimmon identification, part two for Tiare.

Fuyu Persimmon

The other sort of persimmon that it is possible you might run across is called a “Fuyu Persimmon”.  As you can see, it has a flatter shape than its cousin the Hachiya Persimmon.

Unlike Hachiya Persimmons, Fuyu Persimmons are edible when still crunchy and firm.  A lot of times you’ll see folks eating them out of hand like apples.  Being a weirdo, I like to peel both apples and persimmons before eating.

Fuyu Persimmon, Cut Up

I’m trying to think of what other food they are most similar to and coming up a bit empty.  Maybe a bit like a crunchy pear, but sweeter and without the acidity?

Few other fun Persimmon facts:

All the persimmons on a single tree ripen at the same time, making them a very seasonal fruit.  Here in the San Francisco area, they are available from early November through Mid-December.

You can let Fuyu persimmons “ripen” until they are pudding-like and soft.

Technically, you aren’t letting persimmons “ripen”.  They are ripe when they are crunchy.  The technical term is “bletting“.  But really, you’re mostly letting them rot a bit.  Other than Persimmons, Quince and Medlars are also at their best after, ahem, “bletting”.

If you don’t have time to allow Hachiya Persimmons time to “blet”, you can just freeze them.  When they thaw again, they will be soft and their astringent character will be gone.

Hawaiian Cocktail


Hawaiian Cocktail

4 Parts Gin. (1 1/2 oz Plymouth Gin)
2 Parts Orange Juice. (3/4 oz fresh Orange Juice)
1 Part Curacao (or any other of the Orange Liqueurs) (Barspoon Brizard Orange Curacao)

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

Went a bit light on the Curacao, for the recipe. The orange I was using was pretty sweet.

A pleasant, non-demanding cocktail.

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.

Havana Cocktail

Here’s a cocktail calling for “Apricot Brandy”.  Apricot Brandy is one of those elusive ingredients, where you never quite know if they are calling for an Apricot liqueur or an Apricot Eau-de-Vie.  To cover my bases, I made it both ways.

Havana Cocktail

1 Dash Lemon Juice.
1/4 Dry Gin. (1/2 oz Northshore Distillers #6)
1/4 Swedish Punch. (1/2 oz Swedish Punch, homemade)
1/2 Apricot Brandy. (1 oz R&W Orchard Apricot)

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

Not undrinkably sweet, but pretty darn close. And what are those Cubans doing with Gin, Swedish Punch, and Apricot Brandy?

Havana Cocktail

1 Dash Lemon Juice.
1/4 Dry Gin. (1/2 oz Northshore Distillers #6)
1/4 Swedish Punch. (1/2 oz Swedish Punch, homemade)
1/2 Apricot Brandy. (1 oz Haus Alpenz Marillen Apricot Eau-de-Vie)

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

With a dash of bitters, this would be absolutely delicious.

The amazing thing is how the Swedish Punch dominates the first cocktail, and the second tastes of nothing but Apricot.

I think it is unlikely that Apricot Eau-de-Vie was intended here, especially since the upcoming Hesitation is a nearly identical recipe with 3/4 Swedish Punch instead of the Apricot and Swedish punch. However, making it with Eau-de-Vie is worth a shot, if you’ve got it in the house. Very tasty.

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.

Hasty Cocktail

Hasty Cocktail

1 Dash Absinthe. (1/3 tsp. Lucid)
4 Dashes Grenadine. (1 tsp. Fee’s American Beauty)
1/3 French Vermouth. (3/4 oz Dolin Dry Vermouth)
2/3 Nicholson’s Gin. (1 1/2 oz Junipero, dash Mesquite Gum Syrup)

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

As near as I can tell, Nicholson’s was an Old-Tom, so Junipero with a dash of Gum is standing in.

OK, the garnish was a dumb idea.

I was looking around the kitchen for my peeler or channel knife (Sigh. People who have never worked in a kitchen just don’t understand the importance of putting things away in the same place after washing.) and ran across the microplane. I thought to myself, “Hey, a delicate sprinkling of lemon peel snow. That will be cool.” Actually, it did taste kind of cool, just not the most appealing to choke down, what with the little hair-like lemon peel pieces and all.

Nice cocktail.

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.

Hachiya Persimmons

This is for Tiare who was asking me how to tell “ripe” Hachiya Persimmons…

Unripe Persimmon, yellowish and firm.

Unripe Persimmon

Leave them out on the counter until they turn deeper orange and are soft to the touch:

Ripe Persimmon

Mmmmm…

Spoonful of Persimmon

It’s like nature’s pudding. Soft and sweet.

And while I’m at it, I might as well pimp one of my original cocktails which feature them as an ingredient…

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.

*To make Persimmon Puree, simply use a very soft Hachiya 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.

Harvard Cocktail

Harvard Cocktail

2 Dashes Angostura Bitters.
1 Dash Syrup. (1/3 tsp Mesquite Gum Syrup)
1/2 Brandy. (1 1/2 oz Cerbois VSOP Armangac)
1/2 Italian Vermouth. (1 1/2 oz Vya Sweet Vermouth)

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass. (Rose Geranium Flowers.)

Sorry to go all “Farmers’ Market” and flowery on you. I’ve been experimenting with taking pictures outside and this picture just wasn’t working without anything else for garnish. The clusters of Geranium flowers caught my eye. They look cool, but don’t really smell or taste like anything.

It seems to me that the Brandy Manhattan has been covered at least a few times before in the Savoy Cocktail Book. I guess they are fond of them at Harvard. For what it is worth, I found the Vya Sweet Vermouth, Bitters, and Brandy in the Harvard a much better combination than the Vya, Absinthe, Mint, and Gin in the Harry’s Cocktail. It is quite an enjoyable cocktail.

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.

Harry’s Pick-Me-Up Cocktail

Harry’s Pick-Me-Up Cocktail

1 Teaspoonful Grenadine. (1 barspoon Fee’s American Beauty Grenadine)
1 Glass Brandy. (2 oz Cerbois VSOP Armangac)
The Juice of 1/2 Lemon. (About 3/4 oz Lemon Juice)

Shake well and strain into medium sized wine glass, and fill balance with Champagne (Louis Bouillot Cremant de Bourgogne Brut). (Lemon Peel.)

There are a few “Pick-Me-Up” cocktail in the Savoy Cocktail Book. Cecil, I.B.F., Nineteen-Twenty, and Roosevelt. I don’t really see much commonality, but I would guess they’re more or less synonymous with “Corpse Revivers”. Drinks to get your pounding head restarted the morning after…

Anyway, Harry’s Pick-Me-Up is a dry and enjoyable refresher which I imagine, without much tweaking, could have some legs in today’s world. You’d just have to convince folks, somehow, that they aren’t drinking a pink French 75.

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.

Harry’s Cocktail

Harry’s Cocktail

1/3 Gancia Italian Vermouth. (3/4 oz Vya Sweet Vermouth)
1 Dash Absinthe. (1/3 tsp. Lucid Absinthe)
2/3 Gin. (1 1/2 oz Beefeater’s Gin)
2 Sprigs of Fresh Mint.

Shake (stir, please) well and strain into cocktail glass. Serve with a stuffed olive.

Sorry, didn’t think to add the olive until after I took the picture.

For some reason, which doesn’t quite make sense to me, this didn’t do much for me. This completely puzzles me, as Sweet Vermouth, Absinthe, Gin, and Mint should pretty much be a gimme. I’m not sure if it is the Vya, the Lucid, the Beefeater’s, or a combination of the above that didn’t work.

I mean it certainly seemed to have enough potential.

I should probably just go back and re-make it with Tanqueray and Martini & Rossi Sweet Vermouth…

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.