Amer Cyder

One of the classic combinations in certain regions of France is Picon Biere, that is a Pilsener or Wheat beer with a splash of Amer Picon poured in.

Unfortunately, we don’t get Amer Picon here in these United States.

However, even if Diageo refuses to send us Amer Picon, we do get a lot of other Amaros…

With this series of posts we shall explore the possibilities we do have available.

Cyder Amaro

Cyder Amaro

I’ve been trying to think of the best Amaro (or related substance) to go with Cider.

The other night I was working at Alembic and the other bartender said, “Well, it’s about that time.” A quizzical look from me, “?” Exasperated, “About that time for a little Becherovka!” Oh, right. I should have known…

METHOD: Pour Cyder into the mason jar or glass of your choosing. Pour in 3/4 ounce (or to taste) of Becherovka.

Becherovka’s heavy spice and light bitter component makes it perfect for Cider, the only problem is figuring the amount. For this half liter glass of Chris Murray’s Sonoma Cyder, I found anything less than an ounce didn’t have much impact. Your mileage may, of course, may vary.

Amaro Bomb #2

One of the classic combinations in certain regions of France is Picon Biere, that is a Pilsener or Wheat beer with a splash of Amer Picon poured in.

Unfortunately, we don’t get Amer Picon here in these United States.

However, even if Diageo refuses to send us Amer Picon, we do get a lot of other Amaros…

With this series of posts we shall explore the possibilities we do have available.

Amaro Beer 2

Amaro Ciociaro & Gordon Biersch Zwickel Bock

Gordon Biersch isn’t exactly a small craft brewer, more of a semi-large producer of beers. This beer has been staring at me from the shelf at Canyon Market for a while. With its attractive motto, “Never Trust a Skinny Brewer,” and resealable bottle. Who can resist an unfiltered lager?

This special unfiltered Hellerbock (Blonde Bock) was made by tapping directly into an aging tank of Blonde Bock via the Zwickel (German for “sample valve”). This unfiltered version is extraordinarily fresh and smooth creating a drinking experience previously only available at the brewery.

Regarding the whole “Amer Picon” controversy, a while ago, well regarded cocktail and spirits wordsmith David Wondrich tasted through his entire stock of Amaros, looking for the single Amaro which most closely resembled Amer Picon. At the time, he chose Amaro Ciociaro as closest, maybe being just a tad more herbal and needing a touch of extra bitter orange zest. His recommendation, Amaro Ciociaro with a dash of bitters.

METHOD: Pour a beer into the mason jar of your choosing. Pour in a half shot (2cl) of Amaro combined with a dash or two of Orange Bitters (I used Miracle Mile Orange Bitters).

I think I have gotten lucky again with this combination.

While the Zwickel Bock on its own might have been a tad sweet for my taste, the astringency of the Amaro and Orange Bitters cuts it a bit and lingers on in the aftertaste. Tasty.

Beer & Amaro #1

One of the classic combinations in certain regions of France is Picon Biere, that is a Pilsener or Wheat beer with a splash of Amer Picon poured in.

Unfortunately, we don’t get Amer Picon here in these United States.

However, we do get a lot of other Amaros…

With this series of posts we shall explore the possibilities we do have available.

Amaro Beer No 1

First up!

Amaro Nardini and Anchor California Lager

Amaro Nardini is a strongly flavored rich Amaro. Strong flavors of chocolate and a little menthol. Not super bitter, it is super delicious.

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.

Anchor California Lager is a relatively new beer for Anchor Brewing. Similar in character to their Liberty Ale, it is a little lighter than that beer with a slightly different hop character.

CURRENTLY AVAILABLE IN CALIFORNIA ONLY

Anchor Steam’s® roots go back to the Gold Rush, long before icehouses and modern refrigeration made traditional lagers a viable California option. In 1876, thanks to an ice pond in the mountains and a belief that anything is possible in the Golden State, a little brewery named Boca created California’s first genuine lager. Anchor California Lager® is our re-creation of this historic beer.

Made in San Francisco with two-row California barley, Cluster hops (the premier hop in 19th-century California), and our own lager yeast, this all-malt brew is kräusened and lagered in our cellars. Its golden color, distinctive aroma, creamy head, balanced depth of flavor, and smooth finish make Anchor California Lager® a delicious celebration of California’s unique brewing heritage.

Method: Pour a half a beer into the mason jar of your choosing. Pour in a half shot (2cl) of Amaro.

I was afraid the Amaro would be too strong for the beer, but this is actually quite a pleasant combination, with the sweetness of the Amaro complementing nicely the beer.

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.

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.