Champange Julep

First, just a reminder that Sunday, February 26, 2011, is our monthly exercise in folly, Savoy Cocktail Book Night at Alembic Bar. If any of the cocktails, (they also have a great beer selection,) 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.

Champagne Julep
Use long tumbler.
1 Lump Sugar. (1/2 oz Small Hand Foods Gum Syrup)
2 Sprigs Mint.
Fill glass with Champagne (Delmas Blanquette de Limoux). Stir gently and decorate with slices of fruit in season.

I guess the odd thing about the Champagne Julep is that the recipe omits the inclusion of any ice in the glass. I’m chalking that up to carelessness, as it wouldn’t really seem like a julep to me without the fine ice.

Regarding various Sparkling Wines, in my opinion, most Champagne is a little low on the value per dollar scale. Others often recommend using Prosecco or Cava instead of Champagne. While there are good examples of these wines, a lot of the more common ones are only OK. Decent examples of American Sparkling Wines tend to be nearly as expensive as their French counterparts.

My favorite value per dollar Sparkling wines are French sparkling wines from other regions than Champagne. Just about every region of France makes a sparkling wine, but, as with American Sparkling Wine, they can’t call it Champagne. There the wines go by names like “Crémant d’Alsace”, “Crémant de Bourgogne”, “Crémant de Jura”, “Crémant de Luxembourg”, or “Blanquette de Limoux”.

As far as the Champagne Julep goes, well, it is refreshing, cold, and light.

Maybe the sort of drink for those times when an Old Cuban might be a little too much.

What? You don’t know what an Old Cuban is?

Well, let’s rectify that situation right now!

Old Cuban

3/4 oz lime juice
1 oz simple syrup
6 leaves mint
muddle and add ice
1 1/2 oz Cruzan Estate Dark Rum
2 dashes Angostura Aromatic Bitters

Shake with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass. Top with champagne.

Recipe cribbed (Old Cuban) from Robert Hess, over at The Cocktail Spirit.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the drinks in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, the, uh, Sauterne Cup.

Mint Julep


Mint Julep
The Julep is a delightful potion that originally came out of the Southern States of America, and many great men have sung its praises through the years. It was the famous Capt. Marryatt, skipper and novelist, who introduced the beverage into the British Isles and below we quote his recipe in his own words : — “ I must descant a little upon the mint julep, as it is, with the thermometer at 100 degrees, one of the most delightful and insinuating potations that ever was in- vented, and may be drunk- with equal satisfaction when the thermometer is as low as 70 degrees. There are many varieties such as those composed of Claret, Madeira. etc., but the ingredients of the real mint julep are as follows. I learned how to make them, and succeeded pretty well. Put into a tumbler almost a dozen sprigs of the tender shoots of mint. upon them put a spoonful of white sugar, and equal proportions of Peach and common Brandy so as to fill it up one-third, or perhaps a little less. Then take rasped or pounded ice, and fill up the tumbler.
“Epicures rub the lips of the tumbler with a piece of fresh pineapple, and the tumbler itself is very often encrusted outside with stalactites of ice. As the ice melts, you drink. I once overheard two ladies talking in the next loom to me, and one of them said, ‘Well, if I have a weakness for any one thing, it is for a mint julep!’ a very amiable weakness, and proving her good sense and good taste. They are, in fact, like the American ladies, irresistible.”

Most of the above comes, verbatim, from Jerry Thomas, however Mr. Thomas’ exact recipe for the Mint Julep is a bit more advanced:

88. Mint Julep

1 table-spoonful of white pulverized sugar.
2 1/2 table-spoonful of water, mix well with a spoon.

Take three or four sprigs of fresh mint, and press them well in the sugar and water, until the flavor of the mint is extracted; add one and a half wine=glass of Cognac brandy, and fill the glass with fine shaved ice, then draw out the sprigs of mint and insert them in the ice with the stems downward, so that the leaves will be above, in the shape of a bouquet; arrange berries, and small pieces of sliced orange on top in a tasty manner, dash with Jamaica rum, and sprinkle white sugar on top. Place a straw as represented in the cut, and you have a julep that is fit for an emperor.

Well, I’ll give it a shot, combining both.

First off, a couple points. First, as related by many authors including Mr. David Wondrich, the “Peach Brandy” in the Southern Mint Julep, is NOT a liqueur, it was an actual Brandy made from peaches and aged in wood. Unfortunately, this is a hard commodity to come by in the modern age, and when you do find it, often costly.

A while ago, a friend made up a batch of Pear Brandy and aged it in Oak, of which I purchased a small bottle. So I will use this instead.

Second, regarding Mr Thomas’ elaborate mint ritual, as I’m stripping leaves from the mint, I usually just use those pieces in the bottom of the julep cup, and leave them there.

Lastly, the julep should technically be made with “shaved” ice, which is hard to do at home, unless you have a ice shaving machine. I don’t, so I just beat the crap out of some ice cubes. It’s not quite shaved, but close enough.

Mint Julep

1 1/2 oz Artez Folle Blanche Armagnac
1 1/2 oz Aged Pear Brandy
generous 1/4 oz Small Hand Foods Gum Syrup

Strip the lower leaves from several sprigs of mint. Place the leaves the bottom of a julep cup and add the gum syrup. Press gently into the gum syrup to extract flavor. Add Brandies and fill with fine ice. Stir until the sides of the cup frost and garnish with fresh sprigs of mint and slices of orange.

So, the Julep is a funny drink. Often, people see the mint and think the Julep is similar to a Mojito. Then they’ll order one and discover it is a big, cold, glass of slightly sweetened and minty Brandy (or Whiskey). A great Julep is a fantastic drink, but without the citrus and soda, it can be a bit of a shock to the system of someone expecting a mild drink like the Mojito.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the drinks in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, the, uh, Sauterne Cup.

Pea Soup

This version of pea soup turned out quite well, so I am writing it down so I don’t forget.

Pea Soup

250g Dried Marrowfat Peas*

1 Piece Smoked Pork Hock
Bouquet Garni

1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 stick celery, chopped
Dried Tarragon
1 Teaspoon Paprika
pinch of Cayenne Pepper
Dry White Wine or Vermouth
Salt and Pepper

Sour Cream


Sift peas for possible debris and rinse. Soak dried peas overnight in twice the amount water as peas. Pour peas and water into a pan and add the pork hock and bouquet garni. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to simmer until tender, (probably about 3 hours, depending on the age of the peas,) adding liquid as necessary.

Heat another large pan and saute the vegetables and spices in butter. Deglaze pan with Wine or Vermouth and remove from heat.

When peas are tender, remove pork hock and bouquet garni. Puree peas in a blender or food processor. Add pureed peas to vegetables and stir to combine. Remove any meat from hock, chop and add to soup. Bring to a simmer, adding more liquid if necessary. Check seasonings and add Salt and Pepper to taste. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and serve with crusty bread.

Makes about 2 quarts.

*Available at specialty shops catering to expatriates from the UK. Split peas would be OK, too, but not as flavorful.

St Valentine’s Day 2012

I was lucky enough to not be working this St Valentine’s Day, so Mrs. Flannestad and I splurged at one of our favorite restaurants in San Francisco, Commonwealth.

dungeness crab and hibiscus amuse.

Nice chunk of dungeness crab with a hibiscus sorbet to get things going.

celery root puree amuse.

A coffee cup of celery root puree.

oysters poached in their shell, turnip, bacon, nettle veloute.

Oysters were very good, but I won this course with the:

caviar, textures of potato, soft scrambled egg, fine herb salad.

This was the first real highlight of the meal.

scallops, jerusalem artichoke, leeks, sea urchin sabayon.

A great preparation, scallops were perfect.

foie gras, brioche french toast, rhubarb, grains of paradise.

I will have foie gras on my french toast from here on out, thank you very much.

winter citrus, beets, idiazabal cheese, frisee, hazelnut.

This was a really good salad, with the cheese in a couple forms, one spherical. The amazing thing, though, was the crazy wine pairing which was a crazy muscat from terue in the willamette valley of oregon. We both tasted the wine before having the food and thought it was madness, floral and bizarre. But it worked perfectly with the salad.

duck breast, cauliflower, verjus, shaved root vegetable, vadouvan jus.

Rats, Michele won this course with the duck.

black cod, brussel sprouts, black trumpets, pumpernickel emulsion.

My cod was cooked to perfection, but the “dirt”, while very tasty, was too crunchy. Reminded me of grape nuts.

Forgot to take a picture of the meyer lemon mousse, candied ginger crumble, frozen grapefruit!

s’mores, chocolate, cardamom marshmallow, burnt honey ice cream.

We’ve had this dessert before at Commonwealth, and we never tire of the burnt honey ice cream. It is deeelicious.

A great meal, fantastic staff, and a wonderful St Valentine’s Day. If you have the chance to dine there, and the above seem appealing, I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Whisky Fix

The Savoy recipe for the Whisky Fix is pretty basic.

Whisky Fix
1 Large Teaspoonful of Powdered White Sugar, dissolved in a little water.
The Juice of 1/2 Lemon.
1 Wineglass Bourbon or Rye Whisky.
Fill up the glass about 2/3 full of shaved ice, stir well, and ornament the top of the glass with fruit in season.

I felt a need to tart it up a little bit, always remembering the category dictum, “In making fixes be careful to put the lemon skin in the glass.” If you can “Improve” a Cocktail, why can’t you “Improve” a Whiskey Fix?

Improved Whiskey Fix

2 oz Evan Williams Single Barrel Bourbon
Generous Teaspoon Sugar
Peel 1/2 Small Orange

Splash Soda Water
Juice 1/2 Lemon
1/4 oz Yellow Chartreuse
Cocktail Cherry

Place the orange peel in the bottom of a heavy glass. Add a generous teaspoon of sugar. Muddle peel in sugar until it is fragrant. Add a splash of water and continue muddling until sugar is dissolved. Add the juice of 1/2 Lemon (about 3/4 oz) and the Whiskey. Add fine ice and swizzle until the glass is frosted. Float on Yellow Chartreuse. Garnish with a lemon slice and a cherry.

Harry Johnson liked to put Yellow Chartreuse in his Whiskey Daisy, so I figure it’s OK to use in a Fix. Or, as I like to say, everything is better with a little Chartreuse.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the drinks in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, the, uh, Sauterne Cup.

Life in the Service Industry

“What? You actually want to work more in bars!? I used to work in bars, and those were some strange years. You must work in a nice bar.”

You know, it’s funny, when I ran the idea of giving up tech for working in bars past various friends, it was the people who actually worked in bars who tended to be more circumspect.

The people who I work with in Tech were mostly all, “Dude! You could be bartending for a living!? And you’re not doing it!? Live the dream, bartenders are cool!”

Whereas, those who currently worked in bars, or had worked in them in the past, were more like, “Well, it would be great for the bartending community and our restaurant if you did work here, but think about how it will work out with your wife and your schedules.” Or, “I liked making cocktails, but by the end of the week, I just couldn’t deal with the customer service aspect of the job.” Or, “It’s one thing to work once in a while, like you’ve been doing, but entirely another to do it for a living. Not so glamorous mopping vomit, clearing clogged toilets, and scouring the graffiti off the mirrors.”

Santa Cruz Rum

Received a question from Rowen regarding Santa Cruz Rum Fix:

Yeah—what were they thinking there, exactly, with Santa Cruz rum? Personally, I go with whatever Cruzan I happen to have at the moment except Black Strap and hope for the best. (I figure since St Croix means the same thing, I can’t go too wrong.)

To which I replied:

erik.ellestad says:
February 6, 2012 at 11:41 pm (Edit)

Well, this recipe is verbatim from early editions of Jerry Thomas’ Bartender’s Guide. Whatever Jerry Thomas was calling for in the mid-1800s as “Santa Cruz Rum” probably wasn’t anything very close to the more or less dry Cuban style rums the Cruzan company currently flogs.

My guess would be an aged, cask strength, navy style rum. Thus, my use of Scarlet Ibis.

Whatever Rum you use, it needs to have some character, or it will be lost, being served on fine ice with lemon peel, juice, and sugar.

However, to justify my answer, I sent a note to David Wondrich, author of Imbibe!


Have you ever turned up anything regarding 19th Century references to
“Santa Cruz Rum” or what would be an appropriate modern substitute?

Primarily, does this mean St Croix in the Caribbean or Santa Cruz
Island in the Galapagos.

Both have pre-industrial sugar cane production traditions, though it
seems St Croix is the one which moved more industrial with time.

In either case, my instinct is for a nice dark pirate rum, rather than
the dry nearly Cuban style the Cruzan distillery currently makes.

Even the Cruzan Single Barrel doesn’t really stand up in a 19th
Century style Fix or Daisy.

Just curious,

Erik E.

He replied:

This has always been a tough one. I’ve never found a straightforward, thorough period comparison between the two (I live in hope). FWIW, my impression is that Jamaica rum and Santa Cruz (from St Croix) were both considered high-quality rums, the jamaican perhaps a hair better, although there were those who disagreed. The Jamaican appears to have been more estery, the Santa Cruz perhaps a little cleaner–although by no means as clean as, say, a current Mount Gay or, of course, Cruzan. Both were well-aged, and often long-aged indeed. I’d use an old Appleton for it.

However, I remembered that early versions of Wm (Cocktail) Boothby’s “World Drinks and How to Mix Them” included recipes for synthesizing both Jamaica and Santa Cruz Rum.

I present them to you:

486 Santa Cruz or Saint Croix Rum.

Add five gallons of Santa Cruz Rum, five pounds of crushed sugar
dissolved in four quarts of water, three ounces of butyric acid, and
two ounces of acetic ether to fifty gallons of pure proof spirit.
Color if necessary with a little burnt sugar.

476 Jamaica Rum.

To forty-five gallons of New England Rum add five gallons of Jamaica
Rum, two ounces of butyric ether, half an ounce of oil of carway cut
with alcohol (ninety-five per cent) and color with sugar coloring.

Another good recipe: To thirty-six gallons of pure spirits add one
gallon of Jamaica rum, three ounces of butyric ether, three ounces of
acetic ether, and half a gallon of sugar syrup. Mix the ethers and
acid with the Jamaica rum and stir it well with the spirit. Color with
burnt sugar.

Interesting, in that Butyric Acid and Butyric Ether are very, very different.

From the wikipedia:

“Ethyl butyrate, also known as ethyl butanoate, or butyric ether, is
an ester with the chemical formula CH3CH2CH2COOCH2CH3. It is soluble
in propylene glycol, paraffin oil, and kerosene. It has a fruity odor,
similar to pineapple….It is commonly used as artificial flavoring
such as pineapple flavoring in alcoholic beverages (e.g. martinis,
daiquiris etc), as a solvent in perfumery products, and as a
plasticizer for cellulose. In addition, ethyl butyrate is often also
added to orange juice, as most associate its odor with that of fresh
orange juice.

“Ethyl butyrate is one of the most common chemicals used in flavors
and fragrances. It can be used in a variety of flavors: orange (most
common), cherry, pineapple, mango, guava, bubblegum, peach, apricot,
fig, and plum. In industrial use, it is also one of the cheapest
chemicals, which only adds to its popularity.”

“Butyric acid (from Greek, meaning “butter”), also known under
the systematic name butanoic acid, is a carboxylic acid with the
structural formula CH3CH2CH2-COOH. Salts and esters of butyric acid
are known as butyrates or butanoates. Butyric acid is found in butter,
Parmesan cheese, and vomit, and as a product of anaerobic fermentation
(including in the colon and as body odor). It has an unpleasant smell
and acrid taste, with a sweetish aftertaste (similar to ether). It can
be detected by mammals with good scent detection abilities (such as
dogs) at 10 ppb, whereas humans can detect it in concentrations above
10 ppm.”

Mmmmm, vomit!

Life in the Service Industry

A representative from a large liquor company was in to our fine establishment the other night.

Among the products he was presenting to us was Pink Pigeon Rum.

One of my coworkers was playing with the odd pink rubber ring around the neck of the bottle.

“So what is this rubber ring on the Pink Pigeon bottle? A Live Strong Bracelet?”

“No, it’s a cock ring.”


“Do you want to hear the story?”

Well, what bartender can resist a good story?

The story of Pink Pigeon Rum, as relayed to us by the company representative:

Berry Brothers and Rudd were negotiating for a lot of well aged rum from a small island in the South Pacific. However, when they arrived on the Island, they discovered the stocks of the aged rum were lower than expected, not enough to bring a product to market.

This prompted the representative from Berry Brothers & Rudd to have one of the sorts of sociopathic hissy fits which our society allows in entitled executives, but discourages in the underprivileged.

“*(#()@P!!! What else do you have on this Godforsaken rock that would make my trip worthwhile? The only other thing I know of from this island is the $*#(@&! Dodo and it’s &$#*@&! extinct!!”

The representative from the island, mistaking the executive’s venom for an interest in local fauna replied, “No sir, not just Dodo, we also have the Pink Pigeon, which is only nearly extinct. It is pink, like flamingos, from eating shrimp. But it is nearly extinct because the boy pigeons don’t like to mate with the girl pigeons. Girl pigeons are hens, what is your word for boy pigeon?”

“We call them cocks.”

“Ah, yes, so every time we find a cock which does like the hens, we put a ring on it. A cock ring.”

So, apparently, this exchange not only entertained the executive enough to create a vanilla flavored, spiced rum named “Pink Pigeon”, but he also decided it would be extremely amusing to put a Cock Ring on the neck of every bottle of the Rum.

I will leave it to you to decide as to whether they should also have included a packet of condoms with every bottle.

It was the best of times…

With apologies to Charles Dickens.

It was the best of times…

Technology jobs booming like no other industry, Heather Perlberg, Bloomberg News

“Among U.S. technology companies with a market value of more than $100 million, almost 50 increased employment by more than half in the most recently reported two-year period, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Some small and midsize businesses boosted payrolls by almost fivefold, underscoring the resilient demand for Internet services, software and electronics.”

…It was the worst of times…

Old Techies Never Die; They Just Can’t Get Hired as an Industry Moves On, By AARON GLANTZ

“While Web-based companies like Facebook and Google are scouring the world for new talent to hire, older technology workers often find that their skills are no longer valued…Kris Stadelman, director of NOVA, the local work force investment board, which released a survey of human resource directors at 251 Bay Area technology companies last July, said that in her experience, candidates began to be screened out once they reached 40.”

Santa Cruz Rum Fix

Santa Cruz Fix
The Santa Cruz fix is made by substituting Santa Cruz Rum for Brandy in the Brandy Fix.

As I still have no real idea what is meant by “Santa Cruz Rum”, I’m going to use a strong, full flavored rum in this cocktail. I’m also going to add a little bit of Allspice Dram, just for variety.

Scarlet Ibis Fix

Peel of 1 Lemon
Generous Teaspoon Sugar
Splash of Water
Juice 1/2 Lemon

1 1/2 oz Scarlet Ibis Rum
1/4 oz St Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram
Fine Crushed Ice

Place the lemon peel in the bottom of a heavy glass. Add a generous teaspoon of sugar. Muddle peel in sugar until it is fragrant. Add a splash of water and continue muddling until sugar is dissolved. Add the juice of 1/2 Lemon (about 3/4 oz), the Rum, and the Allspice dram. Add fine ice and swizzle until the glass is frosted. Garnish with a lemon slice.

My, that is quite a tasty mini-punch. A little bit of elbow grease is required, but definitely worth it!

Interestingly, I ran across a story called “The Scarlet Ibis” when I was looking for the rum one day. It is by James Hurst and was originally published in The Atlantic Monthly in 1960.

From the wikpedia article about the Scarlet Ibis:

James Hurst was born January 1, 1922, near Jacksonville, North Carolina. He attended Booker T. Washington High School in Atlanta, Georgia and studied chemical engineering at North Carolina State College. However, following military service in World War II, he decided to be an opera singer and studied at the Juilliard School of Music in New York and in Italy. In 1951, Hurst abandoned his musical career and became a banker in New York for the next thirty-four years. He wrote plays and short stories in his spare time. “The Scarlet Ibis” was his only piece that gained widespread recognition.

Now that is interesting, as a certain Mr. Eric Seed abandoned his banking career for a career in the spirits industry.

This post is one in a series documenting my ongoing effort to make all of the drinks in the Savoy Cocktail Book, starting at the first, Abbey, and ending at the last, the, uh, Sauterne Cup.