York Special Cocktail

First, just a reminder that today, Sunday, Feb 27, 2011, is our monthly exercise in folly, Savoy Cocktail Book Night at Alembic Bar. If any of the cocktails on this blog have captured your fancy, stop by after 6 and allow the skilled bartenders (and me) to make them for you. It is always a fun time.

The countdown to the last “Cocktail” continues.

Say it with me, “SIX!”

York Special Cocktail
4 Dashes Orange Bitters. (4 dashes Regan’s Orange Bitters)
1/4 Maraschino. (3/4 oz Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur)
3/4 French Vermouth. (2 1/4 oz Perucchi Blanc)
Shake (I stirred) well and strain into cocktail glass. (Squeeze Lemon Peel over glass and drop in.)

Well, it isn’t exactly a Chrysanthemum Cocktail, but it isn’t bad. It’s probably too sweet with the Perucchi Blanc Vermouth and that much Maraschino Liqueur.

A question I’ve had, that no one seems to be able to answer, is: When did “Extra Dry Vermouth” become the dominant style?

You’d think, if something is called “Extra Dry” it would be differentiating itself from something else. Say, plain old “Dry” Vermouth.

I often wonder if the Blanc/Bianco style might have been dominant for longer than we generally admit.

If so, the transition from Martinez to Martini would have been not such a big deal, mostly about changing the color of the drink.

Blanc/Bianco Vermouth does mix A LOT better with Genever than “Extra Dry” 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.

Conduit Street Punch

So I was looking at a couple of these bottles of “White Whiskey” in my cabinet and thinking to myself, “When on earth will I ever drink this?” Casting about for ways to spare my family the trouble of disposing it after my demise, I got to thinking about the origins of Gin on a base of pot still grain spirit. Then I was reminded that David Wondrich, in his awesome book, “Punch: The Delights and Dangers of the Flowing Bowl,” remarked that the John Collins was a type of punch.

In fact, Reza Esmaili (now of Long Bar & Bistro) once had a drink on the menu at the late lamented Conduit Restaurant called (I think) the Hanover Collins. It had Genevieve Gin, Lemon Juice, and sugar. When I asked about the name, he got enthusiastic and ran to get his notebook, so he could recite the following excerpt.

My name is John Collins,
head-waiter at Limmer’s,
The corner of Conduit Street,
Hanover Square;
My chief occupation is filling of brimmers,
To solace young gentlemen laden with care.

Supposedly, he informed me, the Collins was named after the head waiter at this particular establishment in honor of his wonderful Gin Punch.

Hm, if the Collins is a Punch, maybe I could use these unaged whiskies to replicate it. A sort of bottled Tom Collins Mix.

Well, why not?

Starting with the methods and proportions from my adaption of Jerry Thomas’ California Milk Punch, we’ll give it a try.

Conduit Street Punch

1 Bottle Tuthilltown Old Gristmill Unaged Corn Whiskey, 750ml
1 Bottle Tuthilltown Hudson Unaged Corn Whiskey, 375ml
1 Bottle Death’s Door White Whiskey, 750ml

.6 oz Juniper Berries, Crushed
1 TBSP Coriander, Crushed
1 tsp Celery Seed, Crushed
1 tsp Anise Seed, Crushed
1 Cassia Cinnamon Stick
6 Green Cardamom Pods, Crushed
1 Long Pepper Pod, Crushed

6 Seville Oranges
4 Lemons
2 Limes

16 oz Water
16 oz Sugar
4 tsp Hubei Silver Tips Tea

1 Quart Straus Farms Milk

Method:
Zest citrus and add zest to Whiskies. Juice Oranges, 2 Lemons, and 2 limes. Strain, and add to aforementioned liquid. Add Spices. Allow to infuse for 48 hours.

Heat water and add tea. Steep 6 minutes and stir in sugar. Strain tea leaves out of syrup and chill.

Strain Peels and Spices out of Liquid. Juice other two lemons and add to Flavored Booze Mixture. Heat milk to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Add to Flavored Booze Mixture. Allow to stand undisturbed for 30 minutes and filter through cheesecloth, removing milk solids. Add Tea Syrup to filtered booze mixture and pour into clean containers. Allow to stand for a couple days*. Rack clear liquid off of any accumulated sediment into clean bottles and store. Chill well before serving. Serve on ice and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg. Makes about 3 quarts.

*If you have space in your refrigerator, storing the punch chilled will greatly accelerate the separation of the remaining milk solids from the other liquids.

Well, hm. Tasting this room temperature, last night, after the Milk step, I was struck by two things. First, the Celery Seed was a mistake. It has an unpleasant earthy flavor which distracts from the higher flavors of anise and juniper. Second, this doesn’t taste like it has any booze in it at all.

When I serve my Milk Punches to people, they often remark that they could easily drink a pint glass of them, they are so smooth. I generally discourage that, as, smoothness and drinkability aside, I am pretty sure the alcohol content is up near 25%. And those were the Milk Punches made from rough spirits like Batavia Arrack and Jamaican Rum. This one, made from unaged pot still clear whiskey, is on an another level of smoothness altogether. Is this vaguely herby citrus water or punch?

I’m not convinced this particular Milk Punch is super awesome, I wish I had left out the Celery Seed. But I will bring it along tomorrow night, Feb 27, 2011, for Savoy Night at Alembic Bar. Stop by and ask for a taste, if you are curious. But I recommend caution.

EDIT

So, the celery seed element calmed down a lot after resting, and I have decided this is quite an enjoyable punch. The flavor is very light and somewhat reminiscent of Yellow Chartreuse. While fairly sweet, it has a somewhat dry presentation. It is really good, about 50-50 with chilled soda water, though still produces a pretty potent buzz.

Yolanda Cocktail

First, just a reminder that Sunday, Feb 27, 2011, is our monthly exercise in folly, Savoy Cocktail Book Night at Alembic Bar. If any of the cocktails on this blog have captured your fancy, stop by after 6 and allow the skilled bartenders (and me) to make them for you. It is always a fun time.

The countdown to the last “Cocktail” continues.

Say it with me, “SEVEN!”

Yolanda Cocktail
1 Dash Grenadine. (1 splash Small Hand Foods Grenadine)
1 Dash Absinthe (1 dash Duplais Verte Absinthe)
1/4 Dry Gin. (3/4 oz Martin Miller’s Gin)
1/2 Italian Vermouth. (1 1/2 oz Carpano Antica)
1/4 Brandy. (3/4 oz Osocalis Alambic Brandy)
Shake (I stirred) well and strain into cocktail glass. (Squeeze Lemon Peel over glass and drop in.)

Yolanda sez to the barkeep, “You know, this Victor Cocktail is good, but it would be better with Grenadine and Absinthe.” And you know what? She was right, it is better with a dash of Absinthe and Grenadine.

Something about the herbal character of the Absinthe and touch of sweetness and tanin from the Grenadine pulls this together in a way that the Victor doesn’t even approach.

Raise a glass to Yolanda, whomever she may have been!

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.

(RE?) Experience The Eighties

If you read Robert Simonson’s articles at his blog Off The Presses (make it simple but significant) you may have read his recent notice for a special cocktail night at temporary cocktail bar Fatty Johnson’s:

The Seventies Live Through Cocktails at Fatty Johnson’s

On Feb. 16, Brian Miller and Toby Cecchini, two of the more talented bartenders in New York, deigned to employ their nimble fingers in the creation of such cocktail world bête noires as the Alabama Slammer and Appletini, and other creations of the 1970s and 1980s—the era considered to be the nadir of cocktail culture of drinks historians. On Facebook, they christened this evening “The Night the Cocktail Died.” The menu at Fatty Johnson’s read “Goose and Maverick Present Lipstick on Pigs.” (“Top Gun” did not play on the bar’s television sets. Rather we were treated to a swath of Chevy Chase films.) Cecchini, whose early work at Odeon was partly responsible for the popularity of the Cosmopolitan, showed particular good humor by including that “Sex and the City” staple on the list.

Unfortunately, many of us live on the West Coast, so stopping by a Brooklyn bar last week was probably out of the question. Well, unless you are a globe trotting cocktail consultant, bartender, journalist, or brand ambassador, but my envy causes me to digress.

Fortunately, the bartenders of Heaven’s Dog will be coming to the rescue.

If you have a craving for a (vegan!) pink daiquiri jello shot or a house made Alabama Slammer, this Saturday, Feb 26, 2011, is the night.

White Reeboks and pegged pants will be de rigueur and BMX bike, robot, or break dancing optional.

Personally, I am going to be wearing exactly what I did in the Eighties: Flannel Shirt, Jeans, and running shoes. Oh, wait…

Besides, I bet the drinks will be better at Heaven’s Dog than they were at “The Night the Cocktail Died”.

The menu:

COCKTAILS AND DREAMS

HEAVENS DOG SAULTES THE 80’S AND THE DRINKS YOU LOVE TO HATE

 

 

SLOW COMFORTABLE SCREW

House SoCo (Peach infused Old Bardstown Bourbon), Plymouth Sloe gin, Plymouth gin, organic orange juice

 

PINK DAQUIRI JELLO SHOTS

Dedicated to our favorite 80’s bartender Thad Vogler. Lime, El Dorado rum, Peychaud’s bitters

TEQUILA SUNRISE

There was a time when Kurt Russel and the Tequila Sunrise reigned supreme.

Herencia Tequila, organic orange juice, lime, cassis

 

BIRTHDAY CAKE SHOTS

Madagascar vanilla bean infused vodka, Frangelico, sugared lemon

 

LONG ISLAND ICE TEA

A four bottle free pour of all of the white spirits, lemon, sugar, cola

 

KAMAKAZI

Vodka, lime, Cointreau (sub gin and bitters on request)

 

PINK SQUIRREL

Jennifer’s pink crème de noyeau and crème de cacao shaken with cream

FROZEN STRAWBERRY MARGARITA

Now we finally have an answer to “what kind of margarita’s do you have” why organic strawberries with lime and Herencia blanco of course.

Yokohama Cocktail

First, just a reminder that Sunday, Feb 27, 2011, is our monthly exercise in folly, Savoy Cocktail Book Night at Alembic Bar. If any of the cocktails on this blog have captured your fancy, stop by after 6 and allow the skilled bartenders (and me) to make them for you. It is always a fun time.

The countdown to the last “Cocktail” continues.

Say it with me, “EIGHT!”

Yokohama Cocktail
1 Dash Absinthe. (1 dash Duplais Absinthe Verte)
1/6 Grenadine. (1/2 oz Grenadine)
1/6 Vodka. (1/2 oz Awamori)
1/3 Orange Juice. (1 oz Orange Juice)
1/3 Dry Gin. (1 oz Beefeater’s Gin)
Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

Well, it does have a Japanese name, so I figured I should mix this with Japanese “Vodka”.

The Japanese were another culture which, as far as anyone knows, did not discover distillation until it was introduced from abroad.

The Japanese, being a particularly closed society for much of its history, were pretty late to the game, with the earliest written records showing up some time in the mid-1500s.

Distillation was probably introduced via the slightly looser federation of Islands to the South of Japan. These Islands were often in flux between Indonesia and Japan, so developed a more independent spirit and had contact with the various traders plying those waters. Like the Scottish Highlands, each Island would often have a distillery and a specialization.

Among the oldest traditions of Distilled spirits in the Islands near Japan are those of the Islands around Okinawa. Usually made from Rice, the Okinawan Spirits, called Awamori, are often aged for lengthy periods in clay jars.

While mildly flavored, this is really, by no stretch of the imagination anything near a “vodka”. With a good amount of character and flavor, this actually contributes far more than just Ethanol to the drink.

A close relative of the Monkey Gland, also from Harry McElhone’s 1928 “ABC of Cocktails”, the Yokohama is not bad. There is some interesting thing going on between the Grenadine, Orange and Awamori. I can see why people often mix Shochu with fruit juice!

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.

Sunday Night Dinner, Feb 20, 2011

The three day weekend pushed the weekly “fancy meal” to Sunday instead of Saturday.

This week’s dinner was a Beef Stew from Osteria Stellina in Point Reyes Station:

Osteria Stellina’s beef stew packs a warm punch, Michael Bauer

Mrs. Flannestad saved this article a couple weeks back and put it on her wish list for future meals. I do take requests.

Served it on Polenta with a 2006 Syrah from Navarro Vineyards. The warmth of the Cinnamon and spice make this a very tasty stew, indeed!

* 3 pounds boneless beef or veal shoulder, cut into 1- to 1 1/2-inch cubes
* — Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
* 3 tablespoons olive oil
* 4 to 6 cups low-sodium beef or veal stock or broth, or enough to almost cover the meat
* 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
* 1 small pinch red pepper flakes
* 2 whole cloves
* 1 cinnamon stick, about 2 inches long
* 2 carrots (about 9 ounces), chopped into 3/4-inch pieces
* 1 medium yellow onion, chopped into 3/4-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
* 4 celery stalks, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 cup)
* 2 tablespoons chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
* 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
* 1 tablespoon stemmed, coarsely chopped winter or summer savory (optional)
* 1 fresh bay leaf (or 2 dried bay leaves)
* 1 cup red wine (see Note)

Michael Bauer: “The cold wind and rain whipped down Highway 1 and swirled around the corner in front of Osteria Stellina in Point Reyes Station. Sequestered inside the restaurant, with a view of downtown through the storefront windows, we were fortunate to be spooning into beef stew.”

Michael Bauer: “Served over soft polenta, it was simply one of the best versions I’ve had. Because I was with another food person, we spent the entire meal debating what made it so good.”

I scaled the recipe down a bit, since there was only two of us. 2 Pounds of Red Dot Chuck Roast purchased at the always reliable Avedano’s.

All the chopping done, the stew in the oven, time for a beer! Racer 5 from Bear Republic in Sonoma is always a reliable choice, (unless you are a super taster).

Goat cheddar from Redwood Hill Farms as a snack while we’re waiting for the polenta and stew to cook. Keep an eye out for the smoked version of same, as it is even tastier.

Polenta is one of those slightly annoying cooked grain dishes. It takes a long time to cook at a very low heat. It will inevitably stick to the bottom of the pan and burn. No bueno.

However, if you have a rice maker with a porridge setting or slow cooker, you can easily make it in them.

On the other hand, if you don’t have a rice cooker or slow cooker, you can just bring it to a simmer then toss it in a low oven to cook, instead of on top of the stove. Saves you a lot of stirring.

1 Cup Polenta Meal
4 Cups Water (or stock)
Salt

Preheat oven to 300 F. Bring the well salted water almost to a simmer. While whisking, add the polenta meal to the water in a steady stream. When it comes to a simmer and starts to thicken, move it to the oven for an hour, checking occasionally for consistency. If it needs, add more water to loosen it up. When it is well cooked and has a shiny appearance, spoon onto a serving plate.

I guess the funniest part is that Chef Christian Caiazzo’s Mom is in my Mom’s circle of friends in Sun Lakes, AZ. I haven’t met him, yet, but I have made cocktails for his Mom.

Another Manhattan-ish Cocktail

I was thinking about what made the flavors of the Low Gap White Whiskey work so well with the flavors in that Manhattan-ish Cocktail, when I got to thinking about combining the floral hop flavors of the Charbay Doubled and Twisted with the floral-anise character of the Meletti Amaro.

1 oz Charbay Doubled and Twisted Unaged California Whiskey
2 oz Chilled Perucchi Red Vermouth
1/2 oz Meletti Amaro
Chilled Soda Water

Build in medium size glass, top with soda.

It’s not as totally awesome and enjoyable for me as the Low Gap and Carpano Antica “Manhattan” but something about the flavors strike me as more in tune with modern Cocktails. I’ll have to try giving it the stirred cocktail treatment one of these days.

Yodel Cocktail

First, just a reminder that Sunday, Feb 27, 2011, is our monthly exercise in folly, Savoy Cocktail Book Night at Alembic Bar. If any of the cocktails on this blog have captured your fancy, stop by after 6 and allow the skilled bartenders (and me) to make them for you. It is always a fun time.

The countdown to the last “Cocktail” continues.

Say it with me, “NINE!”

Yodel Cocktail
1/2 Orange Juice. (Juice 1/2 orange.)
1/2 Fernet Branca. (Same amount of Fernet Branca.)
Use medium size glass, and fill with soda water.

I like Fernet so I had some idle hope that this would be appealing.

It is not.

As my friend Blair remarked, “kind of like drinking orange juice after brushing your teeth.”

Yeah, that’s about right. Yodel all you want, but I just say, “Ugh.”

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.

Yellow Rattler Cocktail

First, just a reminder that Sunday, Feb 27, 2011, is our monthly exercise in folly, Savoy Cocktail Book Night at Alembic Bar. If any of the cocktails on this blog have captured your fancy, stop by after 6 and allow the skilled bartenders (and me) to make them for you. It is always a fun time.

Thus begins the countdown to the last “Cocktail”.

Say it with me, “TEN!”

Yellow Rattler Cocktail
1/4 Orange Juice. (3/4 oz Fresh Orange Juice)
1/4 French Vermouth. (3/4 oz Perucchi White Vermouth)
1/4 Italian Vermouth. (3/4 oz Carpano Antica)
1/4 Dry Gin. (3/4 oz Anchor Genevieve Gin)
Shake well and strain into cocktail glass, with small crushed pickled onion.

In his 1922 book, “Cocktails: How to Mix Them,” Robert Vermeire notes, “This Cowboy’s cocktail is similar to the Cooperstown Cocktail, but, a small bruised white onion is used instead of the bruised fresh mint sprigs.”

I guess your average Cowboy Bar didn’t have, say, Mint around, so instead, they’d substitute a pickled onion. Makes TOTAL sense to me.

*cough*

Uh, anyway, this is pretty much a Bronx cocktail with a pickled onion as a garnish.

As such, not entirely awful, and to be honest, the Anchor Genevieve, hey, Cowboy Gin if there ever was one, goes a long way towards salvaging this cocktail.

Still, unless you REALLY like pickled onions, its not one of those things that you’re probably going to be making any time soon.

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.

Low Gap American Craft Whiskey

I don’t know if you have any friends in bands.

Some times, even though they are perfectly great people who you like to hang out with, their idea of music just may not jive with yours.

You go to see them the first few times they play, determine your perspective on their art, and in the future make vague excuses regarding family obligations and other important tasks.

You might still buy their records, but, really? Klezmer crossed with Al Di Meola Style Jazz Fusion? Who wants to sit through that more than a couple times?

We’re still good friends, but some times there are things friends don’t talk about.

Anyway, when Crispin Cain told me he was going to make and market an unaged Whiskey, I was a little worried. I really like his Absinthe and his Rose Liqueur.

But jumping into the unaged Whiskey business?

To be honest, a lot of the people I talk to are pretty unenthused about unaged whiskey.

Ok, it’s kind of a funny idea. Maybe a novelty, at best, and a way to get some sort of product to market during the lean years while you age your proper whiskey. A lot of companies will do something similar, marketing another unaged product like Vodka or Gin. However, at worst, where some companies are neither aging nor distilling their own products, it seems like a bit of a scam to charge more than $30 for something that is not really all that different from Industrial Ethanol.

To paraphrase another friend, there’s kind of a reason barrel aging has developed as the most common way to use grain distillate… Oh wait, the number one spirit in the world is an unaged grain distillate: Vodka

Well, let’s face it, in a lot of cases, that’s what these unaged whiskey producers are selling: Dirty Vodka.

I think back to Alton Brown’s Good Eats episode about Bourbon. After hearing the Maker’s Mark Master Distiller describe the process he exclaimed, “So, really, what you are making is a solvent to extract flavor from wood.” The Master Distiller went on to say he preferred to think of the process more akin to alchemy, extracting Gold from Lead, but he had to admit, from a technical point of view, Alton was right.

And a lot of what is being sold as Unaged Whiskey or, shudder, “Moonshine” just isn’t that nice.

So I was a little worried when Crispin told me he was going to sell his American Craft Whiskey as a clear spirit. Would we have uncomfortable silences in our next interaction?

However, when I saw the Low Gap Clear American Craft Whiskey on the shelf at the San Francisco Wine Trading Company a couple months ago, I knew I had to at least give it the old college try.

So, what’s the low down with this product?

Crispin, (and it is just him, his wife and one of his sons making all of their products,) buys malted Bavarian Wheat. Brews an unhopped beer from the wheat, spiking it with a yeast normally used for Wine or Brandy production. When the proper alcohol (around 8.8 ABV) and degree of acidity is reached, he distills it twice on Germain-Robin’s antique Cognac still (pictured on their website). First to get it to 23-30% ABV (brouillis is the French term) and again to take it to 65-80% ABV (or an Eau-de-Vie).

While this sort of production is normal for Cognac or Brandy, it is more than a bit unusual for Whiskey. Even among the so-called “Micro-Distillers”, very few are fermenting their own wash and almost no one is distilling literal “small batch” Whiskey in a true Cognac-Style still. I mean, it is a 16 hectolitre still, if that isn’t “small batch”, nothing is.

What you get is something amazingly aromatic, yet at the same time incredibly clean. There are great aromas, one friend described it as sticking your head in a flour bag or breaking open a loaf a bread, but the spirit is so well distilled that it makes you forget that it is completely unaged.

Crispin is aging this wheat spirit in a number of interesting ways, but what about this new product, the “Clear” version of Low Gap American Craft Whiskey?

Well, thinking about it, while barrel aging is awesome, it is a relatively recent phenomenon. The idea of a 10 year old whiskey would have been crazy talk to someone like Jerry Thomas. In the 19th Century, and before, almost all spirits were bottled new make and then shipped to bars in barrels. If a bar wanted to buy and age a barrel of spirits, that was their prerogative, but most whiskey was served much younger than ever would be contemplated today.

So maybe I should make a 19th Century style cocktail with a 19th Century style unaged Whiskey? How about Jerry Thomas’ 1887 recipe for the Manhattan Cocktail?

Manhattan Cocktail.
(Use small bar-glass.)
Take 2 dashes of Curacoa or Maraschino.
1 pony of rye whiskey.
1 wine-glass of vermouth.
3 dashes of Boker’s bitters.
2 small lumps of ice.

Shake up well, and strain into a claret glass. Put a quarter of a slice of lemon in the glass and serve. If the customer prefers it very sweet use also two dashes of gum syrup.

Right, well, I’m going to simplify this slightly, because The Underhill Lounge is a classy joint, (note the awesome glassware!)

Old School Manhattan

Long Pour Chilled Red Vermouth
Short Pour Low Gap American Craft Whiskey
Short Pour Amaro Ciociaro
Chilled Soda Water

Combine Vermouth, Whiskey, and Amaro in a glass. Stir to combine. Top up with soda.

Ahem, oops, this is about all I’ve been drinking in February, (when I don’t leave the booze out altogether,) I like it so much.

I did try this with the Perucchi Red Vermouth, which was OK. However, it is tons, and I mean TONS, better with Carpano Antica Italian Vermouth. There is just a very nice synergy between the malted flavors of the Low Gap Clear Whiskey and the sweet vanilla notes of the Carpano Antica. The amazing thing for me is how clearly the flavor and scent of the Whiskey comes through in this, even though in volume terms it is a bit player in the cocktail. The Whiskey also seems to act as a sort of amplifier, raising the character of the other elements.

Not bad, Crispin, not bad at all.

So sometimes, it turns out your friends bands are surprisingly good, or even excellent. Like my friend who is maybe the best Theremin player I have ever seen (Project Pimento), or another who transforms the tropes of 1960s chamber rock into cool modern music (Scrabbel), Crispin has pulled this one out.

I can’t wait to see how this whiskey turns out with some age on it.