Watermelon Coolers

Mrs Flannestad’s sister is visiting and the two of them challenged me to make a before dinner cocktail. I’d been craving watermelon, so my first thought was watermelon, Tequila, and Mezcal. But I knew Mrs Flannestad wouldn’t be super happy with that. Next I thought Miller’s Gin, with its cucumber, would be an interesting combination with its relative watermelon. Warm day, so a long drink seemed appropriate, and a little spice never hurt anyone.

image

Watermelon Cooler

1/2 Cup Watermelon, Peeled and cubed
1/2 oz Rich Simple Syrup
Small Pinch Cayenne
Small Pinch Salt
1 1/2 oz Miller’s Gin
Juice 1/2 Lime
1/2 oz Seltzer Water
Watermelon spear, for garnish

METHOD: Place watermelon in shaker with Simple Syrup, Cayenne, and Salt. Muddle. Add lime juice and Gin. Shake with ice and fine strain over fresh ice and seltzer in a Collins Glass. Garnish with Watermelon spear and serve with a straw.

Meyer Lemon Rickey

A friend recently came back with some pictures from Pouring Ribbons in New York. Apparently, the talented bartenders there have been doing interesting things with ice.

In one case, they make puck shaped ice circles which nearly perfectly fit in an old fashioned type rocks glass. They build a portion of the drink, place the cube in the glass, then pour another portion of the drink on top of the cube. As the drink sits, the two parts slowly come together as the ice melts.

Dammit, Joaquin, you are making us look like we are not trying!

The idea of a drink that evolves as you consume it has always appealed to me, whether it was layers or flavors which come out as it warms, or through some other physical process.

At Alembic, where I sometimes work, they have been making ice made from water lightly flavored with cucumber for one of their drinks.

I like tea, so I was wondering about making ice from tea. Could you make a drink evolve by using ice made from strong tea?

I have a comical comment in my notebook, “Long Island Tea Ice,” which cracked me up when I first thought of it.

A few weeks ago, Erik Adkins had asked me about some posts I had written on eGullet in 2007 regarding the Rickey. I had to do some internet autopsy action to even remember what I had written.

The Rickey is a simple drink: Spirit, Lemon (or lime), and Soda. A very literal Highball with Lemon.

From Gary Regan’s writeup of the Rickey:

Whiskey Joe Rickey is Cool, Lemon or Lime

Joe Rickey disavowed the drink, though, saying in an interview published in an Ohio newspaper in 1900, “The ‘rickey’ originated in Washington, and I was in a sense responsible for it. You see, it was like this: I never drank whisky neat – it’s a mighty injurious system – but whisky diluted with a little water won’t hurt anybody. Of course, a carbonated water makes it brighter and more palatable, and for that reason I always took a long drink, usually whisky and water with a lump of ice.

“This is the highball of common commerce, and has been known to thirsty humanity for many generations. To this, however, I added the juice of a lemon in my desire to get a healthful drink, for the lemon acid is highly beneficial and tones up the stomach wonderfully.

“This combination became very popular at Shoomaker’s in Washington, where I did most of my drinking, and gradually the folks began asking for those drinks that Rickey drinks. About this time the use of limes became fairly common, and one afternoon an experimenter tried the effect of lime juice instead of lemon juice in the drink, and from that time on all ‘rickey’ were made from limes.

“I never drink the lime juice combination myself because I think the lemon acid is mellower and more beneficial.”

That may be, but the juice of a whole regular modern lemon makes for a pretty tart drink.

Thinking about that, myself, I thought of Meyer Lemons and their slightly lower acid content. Plus, I’ve always liked the gamey-thyme like flavor of their peel with Rye Whiskey.

Also, what if I upped the complexity of the drink a bit, by using the tea flavored ice?

If you’re using tea flavored ice, you might as well use a strong flavored tea…

Meyer Lemon Rickey

Rye Whiskey Rickey, with Meyer Lemon and Tea Ice

1 1/2 oz Rye Whiskey
Juice 1 Meyer Lemon
1 Lapsang Souchong Tea Ice Cube*
Soda Water

Pour the Rye Whiskey and Lemon over the ice cube in a highball glass (smallish is better, 8 oz is best). Stir briefly. Top with a little soda and stir once.

*Lapsang Souchong Tea is a black tea dried by smoking over a fire. It displays strong campfire notes. Brew a double strong batch of tea (2 tsp per cup) and pour into ice cube molds. Freeze.

At first you don’t really notice the smoke notes of the ice, but by the end, you wonder, “Is this a Scotch Rickey”?

Stay tuned for Long Island Tea Ice…

Problems in Modern Mixology

The Martini poses a problem for the Modern Mixologist.

It is composed of a required three parts: Gin, Dry Vermouth, and Orange Bitters, with a lot variation on execution and garnish.

However, the main thing we struggle with, in these modern times, is how to get the Gin into the drink.

Everyone loves Dry Vermouth, so that’s not a problem, but not a lot of people love Gin.

In varying degrees, they think Gin will:

  • Cause them to behave erratically.
  • Be smelled on their breath by officers of the law.
  • Be perceived by their peers as a sign of aging.
  • Send them straight to hell.

Extreme Modern Mixologists propose that simply infusing your Dry Vermouth with Juniper is sufficient. Juniper plus Dry Vermouth equals a Martini.

Other Modern Mixologists theorize that simply placing the gin in a sunbeam, and having that sunbeam strike the mixing tin is sufficient.

I disagree, I think there must at least be some hint of Gin in the drink.

The Martini issue can be solved with the salaciously named ‘good old in-and-out’. That is, you pour the gin IN over your ice cubes, agitate briefly, pour the Gin OUT, then add the Dry Vermouth and bitters.

This is OK, but I often find the Gin accidentally, and embarrassingly, spilling into my mouth. Never Good, with the potential for unintended drunkenness.

I propose another solution:

Misto

Load your favorite Misting device with Gin, Navy Strength for extra credit, and in a semi-vintage bottle, for a gold star. As a bonus, this can be used as an aftershave applicator, attracting lonely, alcoholic, spinsters, or even, perhaps, widowers, depending on your predilections. Plus, Gin Scented Flame Thrower!

Martini, Extra-Wet

3 oz Dry Vermouth
2 Dash Orange Bitters
Gin Loaded Mister

METHOD: Add Dry Vermouth and Orange Bitters to a chilled mixing glass. Add ice and stir until chilled. Spray Cocktail Glass with Gin Mist. Strain drink into glass. Garnish as required.

For extra points, I thought I might tackle applying this technique to the much maligned Vesper Cocktail. Why, not even it’s creator, Ian Fleming, liked the drink. Perhaps with a bit of tweaking, we can fix its problems.

The traditional “Vesper” is typically quoted from “Casino Royale”, as follows, “Just a moment. Three measures of Gordon’s, one Vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon-peel. Got it?”

Let’s see if we can’t bring this black sheep of a drink back into the fold.

The main problems, are twofold. First, too much Gin. Second, no one can agree on what the recipe means by “Kina Lillet”.

As we have several contenders for the “Kina Lillet” throne, perhaps we can use all three, and their combined might will overcome what one alone cannot.

Reverse Vesper

Evening Prayer, a.k.a. Why Can’t We All Just Get Along

1 oz Cocchi Americano
1 oz Lillet Blanc
1 oz Kina l’Avion d’Or
1/2 oz Oude Genever*

Gin Loaded Mister (see above)
Orange Zest

METHOD: Combine Cocchi, Lillet, Kina l’Avion, and Genever in a chilled mixing glass. Add ice and stir until well chilled. Spray Cocktail Glass with Gin Mist. Strain cocktail into glass and zest orange over glass.

A little intense, but not bad. You’ve got the fruity, light flavor of the Lillet, the bitter intensity of the Kina l’Avion, and the Orange, Cinnamon Gentian of the Cocchi. Not bad, for a first try. I think this whole thing might work out, after all.

*I just never have any Vodka in the house. I refuse spend money on flavorless spirits, and whenever I get some for free I end up using it in an infusion. Genever is tastier, anyway.

Pere Cecchini’s Gin & Tonic

I’m currently reading, “Cosmopolitan: A Bartender’s Life,” by Toby Cecchini.

While a lot of the passages are entertaining and interesting, the following regarding his father’s gin & tonic ritual was one of the most vivid.

“One of my fondest running memories I have of growing up is arrival in his kitchen after the long, stuffy Greyhound bus ride from Madison and sitting to chat with him while he prepared drinks. He would take down a tall crystal pitcher and pour it almost a quarter full of gin. For years we had an ongoing polemic about which gin to use. He used to claim all gin was simply grain neutral spirits spiked with juniper and that it made no difference which one you used. One visit, then, I brought up a bottle of Tanqueray and won that argument handily. Taking fat limes at room temperature, he would need them in the ball of his hand against the cutting board, setting the intoxicating aroma tumbling through the room. This brings the citrus oil to the surface, he explained, and allows the gin to act as a solvent, removing and incorporating it into the drink. He He would cut them in half, juice them, and set the juice aside. He would slice the rinds into thin strips, which he then dumped into the gin and pummeled a bit with a pestle. The juice was added to cause further extraction. At this point he would invariably swirl the pitcher under my nose and declare solemnly, ‘You could wear this as cologne!’

“While that marriage was left to macerate for a few minutes, he would then take large ice cubes and, palming them lightly, thwack them expertly with the back of a heavy spoon, just once, whereupon they would obediently crumble into perfect shards, which he would scatter into the pitcher until it was half full or so with aromatic lime granita. I always marveled at the elan with which he pulled off that simple action; my efforts at duplicating this maneuver always end with me bludgeoning the recalcitrant glacier mercilessly as chips fly helter skelter.

“He would remove the tonic from its chilling and pour it gingerly, on a slant, down the side of the pitcher, stirring it cursorily with a tall glass want, just so the gin, which rises to the top, gets distributed; you don’t want to jostle that life-giving fizz out of it. We would take glasses from the freezer, garnished with fresh lime rounds for aesthetics, and carry the whole works like an Easter processional on a try out to the front porch. In the late-norther twilight with my first drink as a young man, chatting with my dad, I could feel the tie to civilization, the history in this lovely laying down of one’s burdens at the day’s close.”

Who could read that and NOT desire a Gin & Tonic?

The Gin & Tonic is an interesting bird. You’ll never really find a recipe or method for making one in a cocktail book. Like the Pimm’s Cup, I guess it is just too simple to be included with more complicated cocktails.

On the other hand…

When we were in Spain a few years ago, we were trying to get in to the Dry Martini Bar. Unfortunately, they had a private event, so we went across the Street to Peter’s Tavern and ordered Gin & Tonics. The ritual with which the bartender prepared 4 Gin & Tonics rivaled the Sazerac in its complexity. I was totally blown away by the grace and elegance with which he prepared the seemingly ‘simple’ drink. First the frilled beverage napkins were placed upon the bar in front of us. Then the bartender pulled out chilled glasses and hand selected cubes with tongs to fill each glass. Placing the glasses in front of him, he first poured the gin. A lot of Gin. Then he gently poured the tonic (Schweppe’s Indian) down the side. He stirred each gently, then, using tongs added the straws and lemon garnish. Finally he placed each glass in front of us to enjoy.

So let’s try and translate Mr Cecchini, the younger’s, rather large block of text into a recipe.

First, there are four components in a Gin and Tonic.

Gin: Other types of Gin are interesting, but when making a Gin & Tonic, I’m afraid I have to insist on a stiff, Juniper forward, traditional London Dry Gin, made in England. In the US, your choices of traditional London Dry Gin made in England are basically Beefeater, Plymouth, and Tanqueray. As we can see above, Mr Cecchini, the younger, favors Tanqueray, and I do not disagree. (If you must use an American Gin, about the only two, (I’ve tried,) which hew fairly closely to the London Dry blueprint are Anchor’s Junipero and Death’s Door Gin.) Regarding the amount of Gin, you will often find people rather overpour the Gin & Tonic. I prefer to stick to 1 1/2 oz per person and a highball glass on the smaller size. Otherwise, the drink waters down before you finish.

Tonic: The classic Tonic is Schweppes Indian Tonic, but it is rather hard to come by in the US and also tends to be priced at a premium. As a rule, when possible, I avoid anything with High Fructose Corn Syrup or Agave Nectar, so this leaves me with Fever Tree or Stirrings, which are also not cheap. I personally prefer Fever Tree, but your mileage may vary.

Ice: As Mr Cecchini, senior, cracked his ice, so shall we. I make cubes in my Tovolo King Cube Ice trays and then crack them into shards and cubes with a lovely japanese ice pick, purchased from Cocktail Kingdom.

Citrus Garnish: In some parts of Europe, you are far more likely to find your Gin & Tonic garnished with lemon than the lime more common in America. I prefer lime, I guess because it is what I am used to, though lemon is ok in a pinch. Mr Cecchini, senior’s, recipe is the first I’ve seen where the juice is quite literally separated from the skins in the drink. Interesting, I’ll give it a try. Also, do note you will get more juice out of a lime if it is at room temperature.

Gin & Tonic for Two

Gin & Tonic for Two a la pere Cecchini

3 oz London Dry Gin
1 Lime
about 7 oz Tonic (or one 200ml bottle)
Ice
Lime Wheel for Garnish (optional)

METHOD: Peel limes longitudinally (from top to bottom). Squeeze peels into a mixing glass or pitcher and drop in. Add Gin to mixing glass. Juice lime and add to mixing glass, should be between 1/2 to 3/4 oz lime juice. If your limes are sad and dry, you may need more than 1. Crack ice and add to mixing glass. Ice two collins glasses, no more than 12 oz. Stir gin and lime juice briefly and strain into two glasses. Pour tonic down the side of the glasses to nearly fill and stir gently. Garnish with lime wheels and serve immediately.

To be honest, one of my favorite things about this recipe is that it is for two. Individual cocktails are cool, but making pitchers of cocktails is even better, especially for loved ones and friends. And this is quite delicious, almost more like a Gin Rickey with Tonic than what I usually associate with GNT. However, I’m not going to be a stickler when the results are this appealing.

Arborio with Winter Squash, Salad and Sausage

Especially when served as an aperitif before a classic Flannestad fall dinner for two like: Arborio Rice with Butternut Squash and Mushrooms. Grilled Sausages. Red Romaine salad with Fuyu Persimmon in a white wine, sage, and scallion dressing.

Bonus picture of Monty the Dog at Fort Funston! Ball!

Cocktail Experiments, September 28, 2012

Some successful experiments from this Week at Heaven’s Dog.

For the first one, I was thinking of the Delicious Sour, circa late 1800s by William Schmidt, via the excellent Cocktails in Cardiff.

The Delicious Sour

A goblet with the juice of one lime,
a squirt of seltzer,
a spoonful of sugar,
1/2 of apple-jack,
1/2 of peach brandy,
the white of one egg.

Fill your glass with ice, shake well, strain, and serve.

However, for some reason I misremembered and substituted Beefeater Gin for the Apple Brandy Schmidt calls for. Well, it is a very “Savoy Cocktail Book” thing to do, combine Brandy and Gin.

Delicious Sour, London Style

1 oz London Dry Gin
1 oz Kuchan Indian Blood Peach Eau-de-Vie
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Simple
1/2 oz Egg White

Dry Shake, Shake with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass, twist lemon peel over and discard.

Turns out it is still delicious, though I think it might be even better with Genever than with Dry Gin.

A customer asked for an after dinner cocktail and I thought of the Fox River from the Savoy Cocktail Book.

Fox River Cocktail, Adapted from Savoy Cocktail Book

1 1/2 oz Bonded Rye
scant 1/4 oz Tempus Fugit Creme de Cacao
1/4 oz Punt e Mes
2 dash Miracle Mile Peach Bitters #3

Stir briefly and strain over a big rock. Grate over fresh nutmeg.

He enjoyed enough to ask for another.

My friend Louis Anderman makes Miracle Mile Bitters in Los Angeles. He recently completed some barrel aged Forbidden Bitters as a side project from bottled cocktails which he is briefly aging in barrels which have been seasoned with his bitters.

They are forbidden because they include tonka bean which is not considered GRAS by the FDA. Tonka bean has the substance Coumarin, a blood thinner.

They are an old fashioned Boker’s or Abbot’s Clone, great in Old Fashioneds or Improved Holland Gin Cocktails. Also, f-ing awesome in the new car, I believe this may be the platonic ideal for this cocktail:

New Car

1 oz Oro Torontel Pisco
1 oz Ransom Whippersnapper Whiskey
1 oz Dolin Blanc
Barspoon Benedictine
2 dash Miracle Mile Barrel Aged Forbidden Bitters (Or regular MM Forbidden Bitters. If not forbidden, something like the Bitter Truth Jerry Thomas Bitters.)

Stir briefly and strain over a big rock. Squeeze lemon peel over and discard.

White Negroni

From Suze

Tried three white negroni variations last night using the ratios from the PDT Cocktail Book ratio as a starting point.

2 oz Plymouth Gin
3/4 oz Lillet Blanc
1/2 oz Suze

2 oz Plymouth Gin
3/4 oz Dolin Blanc
1/2 oz Salers

2 oz Plymouth Gin
3/4 oz Tempus Fugit Kina l’Avion d’Or
1/2 oz Tempus Fugit Grand Classico Bitter

The first is the original White Negroni created by Wayne Collins when a friend gave him some Suze to play with. I am gradually coming to the conclusion that either my Suze is tired, or I just don’t like it. The original was my least favorite of the bunch. I kind of kept thinking, it would have been a perfectly fine cocktail, if it didn’t have the Suze in it.

According to some friends, a recipe for a ‘white negroni’ is being made at Dutch Kills in New York using Dolin Blanc instead of Lillet Blanc. This was a nice feature for the Saler’s, and a tasty cocktail, though it really didn’t evoke the aesthetic of a Negroni.

The third was the most ‘negroni’ of the three, adding the herbal accents of the Gran Classico. Guests were split about 50-50 between it and a classic negroni.

Little Los Angeles Fizz

One of our regular guests dropped in and asked for something “Whiskey, bitter, and sour.” She reminded me, I had last made her the often unjustly ignored Los Angeles Cocktail.

Thinking of something along those lines, I improvised the following, an unholy, and unlikely, ménage à trois between a Cynar Fizz, The Little Italy, and the Los Angeles Cocktail.

Little Los Angeles Fizz

3/4 oz Cynar
3/4 oz Punt e Mes
3/4 oz Bonded Bourbon
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Simple Syrup (or to taste)
3/4 oz Egg White
Soda Water

Briefly shake vigorously without ice. Add ice and shake until well chilled. Strain half mixed drink into fizz glass. Add splash soda to remaining unstrained mixture and strain on top of drink. Squeeze lemon peel over drink and discard.

I delivered the cocktail with a comment that is was, “A Los Angeles Cocktail turned up to 11.”

…Where Angels Fear to Tread.

Angostura Fizz

In his book, “The Gentleman’s Companion,” Charles Baker includes a drink called an Angostura Fizz.

THE ANGOSTURA FIZZ, sometimes Called the Trinidad Fizz, Being a Receipt Gleaned from One of Our Friends Piloting the Big Brazilian Clipper from Here to Trinidad & Rio & on South to “B.A.”

This mild fizz is again like the initial olive sampling; either it suits or it doesn’t, and subsequent trials often show sudden shift to appreciation. It is a well-known stomachic along the humid shores of Trinidad, in British Guiana; wherever the climate is hot and the humidity high, and stomachs stage sit-down strikes and view all thought of food–present or future–with entire lack of enthusiasm. Further than this, the cinchona bark elixir in the Angostura, the other herbs and valuable simples, are a definite first line defense against malaria and other amoebic fevers–especially in warding off their after effect in later months when all actual peril is past.

Take 1 pony of Angostura Bitters, add 1 tsp of sugar or grenadine, the juice of 1/2 lemon or 1 lime, the white of 1 egg, and 1 tbsp of thick cream–or slightly less. Shake with cracked ice like a cocktail, turn into a goblet and fill to suit individual taste with club soda, seltzer, vichy, or whatever lures the mind. Vary the sweet also, to suit taste. It is a very original, cooling drink as well as a valuable tonic to those dwelling in hot countries. Garnish with sticks of ripe fresh pineapple, always.

Uh, right, Baker at his verbose best, how about this for some less romantic simplification:

Angostura Fizz

1 pony Angostura Bitters (Baker’s “Pony” is an ounce)
1 tsp sugar or Grenadine (to taste)
Juice of 1/2 Lemon or 1 Lime
1 Egg White
1 tbsp thick Cream

Shake with cracked ice and pour into a goblet. Fill with club soda, seltzer, or vichy (to taste). Garnish with a pieces of pineapple.

A few years ago, an Italian Bartender named Valentino Bolognese won some cocktail competitions with an Angostura heavy Pisco Sour sweetened with Orgeat.

Trinidad Especial
1 oz Angostura Aromatic bitters
1 oz orgeat syrup
2/3 oz lime juice
1/3 oz Pisco Mistral
Shake well with ice and fine strain in to a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime zest twist.

Even more recently, Guiseppe Gonzalez came up with a variation on the Trinidad Especial for the New York Bar The Clover Club with, what else, Rye Whiskey instead of Pisco:

Trinidad Sour
1 oz Angostura Aromatic bitters
1 oz orgeat syrup
¾ oz lemon juice
½ oz rye
Shake well with ice and fine strain in to a cocktail glass.

Last night one of our regular guests came in, wanting something to drink but feeling like his previous drinks, and dinner, hadn’t agreed with him. He wanted “Something Fizzy”.

With all those drinks mashed together in my head, I figured I could make him an Angostura Fizz. And indeed, it seemed to fix him right up!

Angostura Fizz
1/2 oz Angostura Bitters
1 oz White Demerara Rum
3/4 oz Lime Juice
3/4 oz Simple Syrup (or to taste)
1/2 oz Egg White
Soda Water

Shake Bitters, Rum, Lime, Simple Syrup, and Egg White together vigorously without ice. Add ice and shake until well chilled. Strain into a Fizz Glass and top with chilled soda water.

The Defend Arrack

Homework

Before heading to work the other day, I was reading through Rogue and Beta Cocktails, looking for some improvements to my “Whiskey, Spirituous” game, and glanced at The Defend Arrack by Maksym Pazuniak. Looked cool, but whenever am I going to get a chance to make a, “Batavia Arrack, Bartender’s Choice”?

But then a bartender type came in Monday night, relatively new to the game, and asked if he could try Batavia Arrack, “…and maybe could I make him a cocktail?”

What sort of bizarre coincidence is this?

Well, then!

The Defend Arrack

1 1/2 oz Batavia Arrack
3/4 oz Marie Brizard Apry
3/4 oz lime Juice
1/8 oz St. Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram
Orange twist (garnish)

Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Express the oil from one orange twist onto the surface of the drink and discard.

“Batavia Arrack is a challenging spirit. Funky and pungent, this doesn’t mix easily. When encountering an animal like this, I like to turn to Apry, a magic liqueur that has an uncanny ability to reign in and blend disparate flavors. /Maks”

Note, Apry has been a bit thin on the ground in California recently, so I used the Rothman & Winter Apricot Liqueur. I found I needed to up the amount slightly, as it is not quite as assertive as the Apry is. Nothing near an ounce, but a generous 3/4 oz. Your Mileage May Vary.

Do give that a nice vigorous shake, as well.

I believe you will be surprised how, as the nouveau bartender put it, “more-ish” this seemingly unlikely combination proves to be.