Sassafras

The most controversial aspect of brewing your own Root Beer is whether to use natural Sassafras Root Bark.

As I mentioned, some time in the 1960s or 1970s, it was determined that there is a link between a substance in Sassafras, Safrole, and Liver Cancer in rats.

Shortly thereafter, Sassafras was removed from the GRAS (Generally Regarded as Safe) list by the FDA and banned from use in food.

A lot of people play this down, Sassafras Root Bark tea is still pretty commonly drunk as an herbal beverage in the parts of the United States.

You’ll find quotes like this one from Wildman Steve Brill’s website:

“Note: You may have heard that sassafras has been banned by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) because it causes cancer. Huge quantities have given to rats over took periods of time give the rodents cancer because they change the molecule sassafrole into a cancer-causing one. Humans don’t do this, and no one has ever gotten sick from sassafras. Sassafras was banned because there are a lot of rats in the FDA!”

On one hand, to the best of anyone’s knowledge, there has been no strong correlation discovered between liver cancer in humans and the moderate consumption of Sassafras Tea or Root Beer.

On the other hand, you may feel it is better to be safe than sorry. You only have one liver, after all.

There are Sassafras Root extracts available, and Root Beer Flavorings, which use Safrole free Sassafras Extract.

Other Root Beers, presumably, forgo Sassafras altogether and just pump up the other ingredients, generally the Wintergreen.

Interestingly, Sassafras Oil and Safrole are used in the illicit manufacture of MDMA, making Safrole a list I chemical under federal law.

I’ve also seen recent studies which point out that excessive Sassafras use may cause sweating and/or hot flashes. Amusing, since one of the traditional common names is “ague tree”, and it was taken to cause those exact effects.

I’m not a scientist or your Doctor, so I can’t pretend to tell you what to do, but it’s good to be informed and make your own choice.

Sassafras entry from “A Modern Herbal”, M. Greive, circa 1900:

—Description—The name ‘Sassafras,’ applied by the Spanish botanist Monardes in the sixteenth century, is said to be a corruption of the Spanish word for saxifrage. The tree stands from 20 to 40 feet high, with many slender branches, and smooth, orangebrown bark. The leaves are broadly oval, alternate, and 3 to 7 inches long. The flowers are small, and of an inconspicuous, greenishyellow colour. The roots are large and woody, their bark being soft and spongy, rough, and reddish or greyish-brown in colour. The living bark is nearly white, but exposure causes its immediate discoloration. The roots are imported in large, branched pieces, which may or may not be covered with bark, and often have attached to them a portion of the lower part of the trunk. The central market for all parts is Baltimore. The entire root is official in the British Pharmacopoeia, but only the more active bark in the United States, where wood and bark form separate articles of commerce. The bark without its corky layer is brittle, and the presence of small crystals cause its inner surface to glisten. Both bark and wood have a fragrant odour, and an aromatic, somewhat astringent taste.

“The tree, which has berries like those of cinnamon, appears to have been cultivated in England some centuries ago, for in 1633 Johnston wrote: ‘I have given the figure of a branch taken from a little sassafras tree which grew in the garden of Mr. Wilmot at Bon.’ Probably it was discovered by the Spaniards in Florida, for seventy years earlier there is mention of the reputation of its roots in Spain as a cure for syphilis, rheumatism, etc., though its efficacy has since then been much disputed.

“The fragrant oil distilled from the rootbark is extensively used in the manufacture of the coarser kinds of perfume, and for scenting the cheapest grades of soap. The oil used in perfumes is also extracted from the fruits. The wood and bark of the tree furnish a yellow dye. In Louisiana, the leaves are used as a condiment in sauces, and also for thickening soups; while the young shoots are used in Virginia for making a kind of beer. Mixed with milk and sugar, Sassafras Tea, under the name of ‘Saloop,’ could, until a few years ago, be bought at London streetcorners in the early mornings.

“Oil of Sassafras is chiefly used for flavouring purposes, particularly to conceal the flavour of opium when given to children. In the United States of America it is employed for flavouring effervescing drinks.

—Medicinal Action and Uses—Aromatic, stimulant, diaphoretic, alterative. It is rarely given alone, but is often combined with guaiacum or sarsaparilla in chronic rheumatism, syphilis, and skin diseases.”

Some more modern information regardingSassafras from the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

“Scientific Name: Sassafras albidum

“Common Name: Ague tree, saxifrax, cinnamonwood, saloop, smelling-stick

“Clinical Summary:
Derived primarily from the roots of the tree. There are no clinical data to support the use of sassafras, which contains safrole, a volatile oil that was shown to be carcinogenic in animal models. Diaphoresis, hot flashes, and sedation have been reported following administration of small doses.
Excessive doses can cause hallucinations, hypertension, and tachycardia.

“Food Sources:
Once used as flavoring agent in root beer and candies. Its use as food additive is now prohibited by the FDA due to its carcinogenic effect.”

Sassafras is Not Nearly as Dangerous as You Would Think, rriterson, 2010

“First, let me state that I believe i am qualified to offer an opinion because I am a practicing biochemist and can more easily find and perhaps understand the data out there. However, I am not an expert on safrole or safrole metabolism, so do not take my word as gospel. I encourage you to look at the data and decide for yourself.

“I think the safrole health hazards have been significantly overblown. Take a look at these two sources (one a secondary source, the other primary):

http://potency.berkeley.edu/chempages/SAFROLE.html

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6T6P-3X9415Y-3&_user=10&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&view =c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_user id=10&md5=8ec1ea8630ab130def74241535d2fc11#sec2.1

“Let’s not go too far and say that safrole doesn’t cause cancer. It does at the right dose But I think that dose is waaaay higher than you’re likely to get. Pollution in the air, chemicals in your kitchen cleaning products, etc, will probably give you cancer first.

“So, I am not at all afraid to use raw sassafras in my root beers, and I don’t think you should be either.

“What do I think the real reason for why the FDA was so quick to act against Safrole? It’s one easy chemical reaction away from MDMA, the banned drug most of us know as ecstasy. By eliminating the food needs for sassafras, the industrial production sources all disappeared, making it very hard for an illegal drug house to get enough sassafras to make MDMA.

“I’m interested to hear other opinions out there, and especially interested in reading any other sources people can find.”

Hell-fire Bitters

We’ve been getting requests for spicy drinks, so I am starting a new batch of Hellfire Bitters for South at SF Jazz.

I also realized I had only ever written about Hell-Fire Bitters on eGullet.org (in 2005!), never on the blog.

Posted 10 November 2005 – 10:38 AM
The most recent Sunday NY Times Style magazine featured an article on bitters talking with Joe Fee and about Regan’s Orange bitters.

Coincidentally, I’d been reading through Baker’s “Jigger, Beaker, and Glass” and decided I would give making his “Hellfire Bitters” a try.

This is my take on it. So far it smells quite nice. I’m not exactly sure what kind of peppers I used. Some sort of bird chile, I believe. The small, festively colored and very hot ones that are available here in late summer and fall still attached to their little bushes.

Hellfire Bitters a la Charles Baker Jr.

2 Cups Very Hot Chiles
2 Cups Vodka
2 TBSP Molasses
2 Limes (Quartered)
1/2 tsp. Cinchona (Quinine) Bark Powder
8 Allspice Berries, Crushed

It all goes in the blender and then into a sterilized jar to age for a couple weeks, shaking periodically. Squeeze through cheesecloth and bottle.

Anyone else experimented with making their own bitters?

-Erik

Ah, way back in 2005, when making your own bitters was something a little unusual! So young! So innocent!

Here’s the actual recipe from Charles Baker Jr’s Book, “The Gentleman’s Companion”.

“HELL-FIRE BITTERS or CAYENNE WINE, another Receipt from the Island of Trinidad, in the British West Indies, and Now and Again Used in Gin-and-Bitters, & Other Similar Sharp Drinks instead of routine Bitters by Stout Englishmen with Boiler Plate Gastric Linings

“This is an old, old receipt dating to 1817 in print right here before us–and likely long before that, because the British knew Port of Spain a century and a half before. In fact we have just been diving up coins, cannons, shot, crystal goblets and other miscellaneous relics from HMS WINCHESTER, 60 guns, 933 tons, commanded by one John Soule, and while bound from Jamaica to England, sank in a gale on a certain coral barrier reef, 24th September 1695–and have the loot to prove it–And photographs; and cinema film.

“This Hell-Fire Bitters is an excellent cooking and seasoning sauce for fish, salads, soups and meats, when mixed half and half with strained lime juice and stood for 2 wks in an uncovered bottle, before using–a fact which has been disclosed in Volume I.

“Pound up 2 cups of scarlet round bird peppers, or small chilis or cayenne peppers. Put in a saucepan with 1 cup of tart white wine; simmer up once and turn everything into a pint jar, add 1 cup of cognac brandy and seal jar tight. Let steep for 14 days, strain through several thicknesses of cloth and bottle for use. When used solely for seasoning food, put everything through a fine sieve. These peppers have a vast amount of flavor in their scarlet skin and flesh, entirely aside from the intense heat of their oils. Seeds fro their home growth in ordinary window boxes, flower pots, or rusty tin cans!, may be bought at any half-way seed store. If no fresh peppers are possible simply stir 1/4 oz of ground cayenne pepper into the wine-brandy mix. Claret and brandy, claret alone, sherry and brandy, sherry alone, and brandy alone, are also authentic steeping fluids. Actually it is not a “bitters” at all unless a little chinchona bark is added–and 1/2 drachm or so is plenty, strained out at the last along with the pepper pods.”

And here’s a similar recipe, based on my earlier one. I like to use overproof rum and some spices along with the chiles. It looks like Neyah White started adding coffee to his version of Hellfire Bitters when he was at Nopa, (Mexican Standoff and Hellfire Bitters). Since he borrowed from me, I’ll borrow back from him. I’m leaving out the limes, since citrus wasn’t really a part of the original recipe.

image

Hellfire Bitters, 2013

1/2 Cup Birdseye Chile (using dried here), stemmed.
4 Facing Heaven Szechuan Chile Peppers, split.
4 Allspice Berries, crushed
5 Whole Cloves
1 Tablespoon Whole Coffee Beans
1 pinch Chinchona Bark.
1 Pint of Wray & Nephew Rum (or other similar overproof rum)

METHOD: Combine ingredients in a jar and allow to sit until flavor is well infused. Strain out solids.

Curious to see how they will work in the Carter Beats the Devil Cocktail.

Apple Amaro

As you may recall, I was making a bit of an effort in January to drink as little as possible.

However, the Apple Ginger Tea Toddy was kind of awesome.

While I was drinking it the second, or third, time, I thought to myself, “Self, you know this isn’t too far from my Hercules recipe. What if I made a chilled bitter beverage with apple juice instead of wine?”

And why do people who don’t drink, often end up as an afterthought at bars, with kind of shit choices?

It’s like vegetarian’s in restaurants, there’s no reason vegetarian food can’t be as delicious, or even more delicious, than food with meat, if you put a little effort and thought into it. And salt, salt, for goodness sake, and seasoning herbs.

Why can’t people who don’t drink have interesting bitter aperitif or digestiv beverages?

Apple Amaro

Apple Amaro

500ml Apple Juice
250ml Gingerzizer Ginger Apple Beverage (or Apple Juice, a little honey, and some crushed ginger root)
Peel 1 Tangelo (hey, it’s what we have, pick any orange relative in your fridge.)
1 Cinnamon Stick
3 Green Cardamom Pods, Crushed
6 Cloves, Crushed
1 tsp Coriander Seed, Crushed
1 tsp Fennel Seed, Crushed
1 tsp Gentian Root
1 tsp Cinchona Bark
1 scant tsp Angelica Root
1 scant tsp Calamus Root
1/4 Cup Sugar
2 tsp Chinese Black Tea
?2 TBSP Cider or White Wine Vinegar

METHOD: Bring all ingredients other than tea and vinegar to a simmer. Turn off heat, add tea and steep for 15 mins. Taste and add vinegar to bring acidity up to the level of a young red wine. Chill.

I initially made it without the sugar or vinegar, but without the sugar, the bitterness was quite off putting. Without the vinegar, it lacked impact on the palate.

I had the Angelica & Calamus for another project, common ingredients in old vermouth recipes and sometimes Gin. I think the Angelica might have been a mistake, it has a floral, curry thing going on that is a little off putting in combination with the other spices. I’d probably leave both of them out next time.

On the whole, it is an interesting first effort. Ideally, I want to figure out a way to make a Sanbitter Syrup, as replacement for that discontinued product. It’s a start and the Apple Amaro is pretty darn tasty with a little Rye Whiskey. Don’t tell the vegetarians.

Mustachi-Ode West Coast Stylee

When Mrs. Flannestad and I were recently in NY, we stopped by momofuko ssäm bar for dinner.

After dinner, we traveled down the restaurant’s back corridor for a drink at their new bar space, Booker and Dax, known for its, “Cocktails you won’t make at home”.

From a New York Times Article, High-Tech Cocktail Lounge Is Opening at Momofuku Ssam Bar

Over the last few years, Mr. Arnold has won a reputation as the cocktail demimonde’s own Mr. Wizard, passing alcohol through a variety of elaborate gizmos and coming out with something purer, more potent, and arguably better on the other end. His experiments have influenced many modern bartenders, but Booker & Dax will be the first tavern where he’ll have direct control over the drinks program.

While I went with the safe choice of a bottled Manhattan, Mrs. Flannestad picked out the more adventurous Mustachi-Ode, described on the menu as follows.

“mustachi-ode – nardini amaro, becherovka, bourbon, egg-white, pistachio”

When she quite enjoyed the drink, I promised to do my best to make it at home.

Not knowing the proportions, I tweeted to the Booker and Dax account and, surprisingly, received a reply with a fairly exact recipe.

“1oz 101 bourbon .5 Becherovka .5 nardini .25 lemon 1 pistachio syrup (ours is centrifuged) ango decoration. Cheers!”

Becherovka is a Czech Herbal, well mostly spice, bitter:

Becherovka (formerly Karlsbader Becherbitter) is a herbal bitters that is produced in Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic, by the Jan Becher company. The brand is owned by Pernod Ricard.

Becherovka is flavored with anise seed, cinnamon, and approximately 32 other herbs. Its alcohol content is 38% ABV (76 proof). It is usually served cold and is often used as an aid to digestion. It may also be served with tonic water, making a drink that is known as a beton (BEcherovka+TONic) (Czech for “concrete”).

Amaro Nardini is an Italian Amaro made by the Nardini Company, which is known primarily for its Grappas:

DESCRIPTION Digestive after-dinner liqueur with a pleasant and distinctive liquorice finish. Can be served straight, chilled or with ice.
INGREDIENTS Grain alcohol, bitter orange aroma, peppermint and gentian.
APPEARANCE Intense color of dark chocolate.
NOSE Perfect balance of aromatic components, intense scent of liquorice and mint.
PALATE Bitter, with an excellent fruit and herbal balance. A fresh impact of mint, the gentian offers a pleasurable finish of liquorice.
SERVING SUGGESTION A pleasant after-dinner drink, can be served straight, chilled or with crushed ice and a slice of orange.

Since I already had both Becherovka and Amaro Nardini in the house, the only real challenge here is the Pistachio Syrup.

Having had success previously (Orgeat: Tales Version) making Orgeat based on Francis Xavier’s Almond Syrup recipe, I figured I would simply attempt to apply his FXCuisine Orgeat Recipe to Pistachios.

Pistachio Syrup

137g Pistachio
274g Washed Raw Sugar
(process a bit in blender)
2 cup water

Bring to a near simmer (at least 140 F), cool and steep overnight.

Strain out nuts with a cheesecloth.

Add equal amount of sugar for every 1gr of strained liquid. Put the pot on a low flame and stir to dissolve sugar. Bottle, cool, and refrigerate.

I guess I see why they Centrifuge this, given the kind of unappealing brown-green color.

The only real problem is I don’t know the sugar saturation level of Booker and Dax’s Pistachio Syrup. If that “1” in the recipe means 1 Ounce, I think they must be making more of a “Pistachio Milk” than a Pistachio Syrup.

However, the Orgeat Recipe from Francis Xavier at FXCuisine is crazy saturated, so there’s no way a whole ounce is going to work.

Pistachio Syrup in tow, I lugged my bottles of Pistachio Syrup, Amaro Nardini, and Becherovka in to work at Heaven’s Dog for some experimentation.

After a few variation on the Booker & Dax recipe, this worked pretty well and got good responses from customers and coworkers:

Mustachi-Ode, West Coast Stylee
1 oz Old Bardstown Estate Bourbon (101 Proof)
1/2 oz Amaro Nardini
1/2 oz Becherovka*
1/2 oz Homemade Pistachio Syrup
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Egg White

Dry Shake vigorously for a few seconds. Add ice and shake well. Strain into a cocktail glass and apply Mustache shaped Angostura Decoration.

I think the next step is the Mustachi-Ode Flip! Though, by that point, maybe it should be a Van Dyke!

*The Becherovka used in this post was provided by an agency promoting the brand.

CUESA Shrub Class

A few days ago, I mentioned the CUESA Shrub Class that Aaron Gregory Smith and Jennifer Colliau are giving for CUESA.

The description site is now up and there’s a link to purchase tickets:

Berry Shrubs with Jennifer Colliau of Small Hand Foods & Aaron Gregory Smith of 15 Romolo

Don’t know what shrubs are yet? Visit the Ark, Oh Parched One… and read up about this almost lost (and recently revived) art. Then get ready to learn from bartenders extraordinaires, Jennifer Colliau of Small Hand Foods and Aaron Gregory Smith of 15 Romolo, they will share their recipes for vinegar-based shrubs using delicious seasonal berries during this hands-on class.

The class will learn all about shrubs, particularly pre-prohibition style traditional shrubs, taste already made shrubs, make 2 shrubs of their very own and learn about how to use them in cocktails. They’ll each take home 2 quart jars of their own shrub made with fresh seasonal fruit (apricots, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries) and herbs from the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. Also includes take-home booklet. (and yes, non-alcoholic options – and samples- of both will be available.)

Underhill Forbidden Fruit

Underhill Forbidden Fruit Liqueur

Peel from 1 Marsh Ruby Grapefruit
Peel from 1 Cocktail Grapefruit*
Peel from 4 small Blood Oranges (golf ball size)
1 Tablespoon Cardamom Pods, crushed
1 Tablespoon Coriander Seeds, crushed
3/4 bottle Vodka
1/2 bottle Brandy
1/2 pound Orange Flower Honey
1/2 teaspoon natural vanilla extract

Steep peels with spices in vodka and brandy for 2 weeks. Strain out solids and add 1/2 pound Orange Flower Honey and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. Shake to combine. Let stand another week and rack off clear liquid from settled solids. Makes about 750ml.

As the Pomelo and honey based Forbidden Fruit is a truly lost ingredient, I have no choice but to attempt to make it myself.  Fortunately, there’s only about 1 cocktail in the whole world which calls for it.  Unfortunately, that cocktail starts with “T”, so I needed to get busy and make some Forbidden Fruit analog tout de suite.

I missed Pomelo season by a week or two, so am using blood oranges and a couple kinds of Grapefruit. I forgot to buy a vanilla pod, so used natural vanilla extract instead.

As a first (second, actually) try this isn’t bad, the sweetness about on par with Cointreau. I think in the future, I would leave out the ginger. It was a last minute impulse add. Initially it was all heat, but as the heat fades, it evolves into a menthol/camphor flavor which I am currently considering a flaw. A tad bitter, I may have over steeped the peels, or gotten too much pith when I peeled. It will be interesting to see how it evolves, as most orange liqueurs are aged significantly before being bottled.

*”Cocktail Grapefruit are exceptionally sweet and juicy. They are not actually a true grapefruit, but a cross between a Frua Mandarin and a Pummelo. This variety has a similar flavor to a grapefruit but is sweeter and less acidic. Cocktail Grapefruits are grown in the Central Valley of California and they are hand picked for the best quality.”

Cocktail Kingdom Milk Punch

Cocktail Kingdom Milk Punch

1 liter Landy Cognac
1 liter Appleton V/X
375ml Batavia Arrack
Juice and Peel 5 Lemons, 1 Lime
1 Pineapple, chopped
1 1/2 cups water
3 teaspoons Darjeeling Tea
1 Tablespoon Coriander Seed
4 Cardamom Pods, crushed
1 stick Cassia Cinnamon
3 Cups Natural Sugar
1 Quart Straus Farms Whole Milk

Combine Rum, Brandy, Arrack, Chopped Pineapple, Juice and Peel of Lemons and Limes. Let stand to infuse for at least 2 days.

Heat water and steep tea and spices for the usual 6 minutes. Strain off solids. Add sugar and stir to dissolve. Cool spiced tea syrup.

Strain rum mixture. Juice boozy pineapple and add to rum mixture. Add Spiced tea syrup to rum mixture.

Heat Milk to 150 degrees F. If your hot plate blows the circuit breaker in the basement and you can’t find a pan, run next door to Starbucks and have them steam it for you. Add hot milk to sweetened rum mixture.

Let stand for 15 minutes.  Strain punch through cheesecloth and chill well before serving.

Makes about 3 liters.

To serve combine 2 parts punch with 1 part soda.

Sirop-de-Citron

One ingredient I’ve kind of put off making is Sirop-de-Citron.

Not because it is particularly or challenging to manufacture, but mostly because I have a bottle of Monin Lemon Syrup I’ve barely put a dent in.

However, I’ve never really been thrilled with the drinks I’ve made with the Monin Syrup.

Clayton's Kola Tonic.

With the recent arrival of Clayton’s Kola Tonic, an ingredient commonly combined with Sirop-de-Citron, it seemed like a good opportunity to revisit. Plus, it’s Lemon season.

Source recipes:

La Cuisine de Jardin

Pause Cuisine

Sirop-de-Citron

Ingredients:

5 Lemons
1kg Natural Sugar
Water

Method: Slice lemons, (note deadly ceramic Mandolin in foreground and cut resistant glove in background,) toss with sugar and place in a clean container.

Let stand for 2-3 days.

Add mixture to a sauce pan and bring to a simmer.

Strain through cheesecloth.

If you desire, save now candied peel, dehydrate and store in a sealed container.

Strain into clean 750ml bottle, fill with water.  Refrigerate, (though with this much sugar to liquid, I really doubt much is going to happen here,) and serve with soda water or where Sirop-de-Citron is called for.

Comparing the Monin and home-made, it is really apparent the Monin syrup has been pumped up with Ascorbic Acid.  It is pretty extreme in it’s lemon flavor.  The home made is more natural tasting, though with a bit of a bitter after taste from the inclusion of the pith in maceration.  For those very picky about bitterness, I did find some fancy pants, pastry chef type recipes which zest the lemon peel, juice the lemons, and use this to create the syrup.  Personally, I don’t mind the bitter after taste, and hope it lends some zip to drinks like the Big Boy, Clayton’s, Filmograph, Marvel, Pink Baby, and Re-Vigorator.

BOTW–Modernist Punch

To continue with the punch, maybe I should compare the beer making and punch making processes, and see if I can find parallels.

My rough understanding of the beer making process:

1) Grains are malted, which means they are allowed to sprout and begin to transform complex carbohydrates into sugars for use by the growing plant.

2) Malted Grains are dried and milled.

3) Malted Grains are slowly cooked in water to form a sweet solution (aka Wort). 

4) Solids are removed from the solution, and the boil is continued. Hops, or other flavoring agents, may also be added to this solution at various points, for flavor and alleged preservative qualities.

4) Microorganisms (typically yeast) are introduced to the solution.

5) Microorganisms consume the sugars producing flavor, Carbon Dioxide, and, more importantly, alcohol.

6) The solution is racked off, maybe fined or filtered, and bottled in sealed containers, where it continues to ferment and produce alcohol, flavors and now most importantly, Carbon Dioxide.  The Carbon Dioxide, with nowhere else to go, pressurized the containers and dissolves in the beer producing carbonation.

Pop the top!  I’m thirsty!

Anyway, the whole Malting, Milling, and filtering off solids process is too much of a pain for most home brewers and many commercial brewers.  They instead buy “Malt Extract” or “Malt Syrup” and start at step 4.

Punch Making Process:

1) A sweet flavored solution, also known as sherbet, is created by macerating and steeping flavoring agents in sugar and hot water.

2) The sherbet is combined with booze and citrus and allowed to mingle for a period.

2a) If this is a Milk Punch, the combined booze, sherbet, and citrus mixture will be fined by adding warm milk to the solution.  The milk solidifies into curd, which is then removed, leaving the elements of the milk whey behind in the punch.

3) The punch solution is chilled.

4) The punch solution is diluted with water, soda, or champagne and served over ice.

As I mentioned, my e-quaintance Rob DeNunzio had previously experimented with making what he hoped would be a cocktail-like beer.

In addition, the theme of the upcoming dinner is “Italian Modernist” brewers.  Italian brewers who are re-inventing what might be considered beer by many folks.  Chestnut flavored beer, beers made with flowers and herbs, beers that nearly resemble negronis in their flavor profiles.

When Alex pestered me about making punch for the dinner, I think he just wanted some serious booze at a very beery party.

But when I started thinking about it, what could I do that would be in fitting with the theme?  Stretch the idea of punch?

The first thing that occurred to me was beers like Chouffe‘s N’Ice, practically a beer punch already, with its candy sugar, coriander, and curacao orange peels.

What if I went about it from the other direction?

Starting from my Bernal Heights Milk Punch I made some beer-like substitutions.

First I’m going to infuse (dry hop) the booze with hops. I’m also going to replace the tea in the sweetening syrup with hops. I’ll replace a portion of the sweetener with Barley Malt. Last, I’ll skew the flavoring spices towards those often used in some Belgian beers.

Cali-Belgique Pisco Punch. (with apologies to Stone Brewing)

750ml Marion Farms Biodynamic Pisco Style Brandy.
750ml Barbancourt White Rhum.
375ml Batavia Arrack.
1 Pineapple, chopped
6 lemons, peeled and juiced.
1 Quart Straus Family Creamery Whole Milk.
1 Pint Water.
8 teaspoons Cascade Hops.
4 pieces dried Clemetine Peel.
20 Whole Coriander Seeds, crushed.
8 Whole Cloves, crushed.
1/2 stick Cassia Cinnamon, crushed.
1/2 Pound Sugar.
1/4 Pound Malted Barley Syrup.

Place lemon peels in sealed container with rum and batavia arrack. Infuse for 48 hours.

Place pineapple in sealed container with Pisco and juice 4 lemons. Infuse for 24 hours.

For Alex.

Add 4 teaspoon hops to pineapple mixture and shake. Infuse for another 24 hours.

Hops?

Boil water to a simmer and pour over 4 teaspoons hops, dried clementine peels, cloves, and cinnamon. Dissolve sugar and barley syrup in spiced solution. Cool and allow to stand for 24 hours.

Hop and Barley Malt Syrup.

Bring milk to 140-150 degrees F. Pour Pisco off of pineapple, attempting to squeeze as much juice/booze out of the fruit as possible. Pour warm milk into flavored Pisco, cover, and allow to stand for a half an hour or so.

Floating Curds.

Disturbing curd as little as possible, pour milk and pisco through a fine sieve.

Curd Closeup.

At this point it will look kind of like “louched” absinthe. Filter again through a double layer of cheesecloth.

Filtered.

Remove peels from rum mixture and pour into pisco. Pour flavored syrup through fine sieve into mixture.

Filtered.

Pour all off into clean sealable containers and allow to stand at least 24 hours.

Milk Solids.

Rack punch off of any settled milk solids and filter through coffee filter or similar.

Bottle in clean sealable containers and chill.

Filtered and Bottled.

Serve over ice or with a splash of soda.

In a Glass.

About half way through this process, it occurred to me that I was making a compounded, flavored malt and alcohol beverage.  Oh wait, isn’t that what Zima was?

I mentioned this to Rob and his reply was, “And just think? If it does turn out like Zima, you’ll be filling the sad vacuum it left behind.”

Well, it doesn’t taste like Zima, that’s for sure.

The longer steep time for the spices put those out front. A slight underestimation of the sweetening power of Malted Barley tips this punch towards the sweet side. The use of lighter alcohol makes this seem like, “wait, does it actually have any alcohol?” I could have sworn I put some in…

Oh right, the legendary dangerously drinkable Pisco Punch. See you next week.

Modernist Punch One

When I last saw Alex he bugged me about making punch for an upcoming beer and food dinner we are both attending.

My initial intention was simply to make a batch of the Bernal Heights Milk Punch I’ve been making, but with Pisco instead of Brandy.

However, when I was thinking about the theme of the dinner, I remembered that the host had previously experimented with creating a beer that shared some characteristics with cocktails.

Old-fashioned Home Brewing

Gold Fashioned

Which got me thinking, isn’t turn about fair play?  What if I made a punch that shared some of the characteristics of beer and brought it to the dinner?

I have hops purchased with the intention of creating a hop bitters.

I have barley malt due to my obsession with obscure and unusual sweeteners.

Aren’t there some beers that share the characteristics of Punch?

Punch allegedly is a similar word to the Hindu word for “5” or “hand”.  Supposedly “five” or “hand” signifies the 5 elements of punch:

  1. Strong (booze!)
  2. Sweet (sugar)
  3. Sour (citrus)
  4. Weak (tea, water, wine, and/or ice)
  5. Spice (usually coriander, clove, cinnamon, or cardamom)

Wait a sec? I could almost be describing a Belgian Beer!  Well, OK, a belgian beer and a shot.  But still.

There might be something there!