Reverse Stagghattan

Towards the end of the night Monday, one of our regular guests came in.

I made him a few drinks from the list or related.

We were past close, he was the only person at the bar, but he wanted a finishing drink that was unique or interesting. I just wanted him to close out his tab, so I could count the drawer.

Being the perverse cuss that I am, I started from the Jerry Thomas Manhattan and extrapolated to the Brooklyn.

Reverse Brooklyn (or Reverse Stagghattan?)

1 oz 2013 George T. Stagg Barrel Proof
2 oz Cocchi Vermouth de Torino
2 Dash Luxardo Maraschino
1/4 oz Bigallet China China

Stir, strain. No garnish. It’s too late for that. All my tools are in the dish pit, I’ve already tossed all my peels, and moved the fruit back to storage.

I charged only $11, as he is a good customer. I am not sure what the price actually should be on this, $20? $30?

In any case, he thought it was maybe the best drink that he had had in any bar in a couple months.

Unlike the Staggerac, it WAS actually a good cocktail, and freaking delicious.

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.

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.

Southern Mint Julep

Southern Mint Julep
4 Sprigs Fresh Mint.
1/2 Tablespoonful Powdered Sugar.
1 Glass of Bourbon, Rye, or Canadian Club Whisky.

Use long tumbler and crush the Mint leaves and dissolved sugar lightly together, add Spirits and fill glass with cracked ice; stir gently until glass is frosted. Decorate on top with 3 Sprigs of Mint.

Everyone seems to have an opinion about the proper way to make a Mint Julep. From mint flavored simple syrup to mint infused Bourbon, there are 1001 ways to skin this cat.

Even among the more basic recipes, as with the Mojito, there is disagreement about how crushed, or muddled, the mint leaves should be. Some people muddle the mint up into a paste, others leave the leaves more intact.

Interestingly, Issue 3 of McSweeney’s Lucky Peach magazine has an article by food science guru Harold McGee called, “On Handling Herbs”, in which he talks about how to get the best flavor out of herbs when using them in cooking.

One of the first things he notes is, “Ripe fruits are delicious as is, because the parent plant has evolved to encourage animals to eat them and spread their seeds far and wide. Herbs and spices can make foods delicious, but they’re usually not delicious in themselves, because plants don’t want animals to chew up their leaves and seeds and roots…most herb and spice flavors are actually chemical weapons.”

He goes on to say, “How you handle herbs can also affect their flavor. The defensive chemicals responsible for plant flavors are usually concentrated in fine, hairlike glands on leaf surfaces (the mint family, including basil, oregano, sage, shiso, and thyme) or in special canals within the leaves (most other herbs). If you leave the herbs pretty much intact, what you get is mainly the characteristic flavor of that herb. But if you crush the herb, or cut it very finely, you damage a lot of cells and cause the release of the green, grassy, vegetal defensive chemicals.”

I’ve known this anecdotally, but never had it explained quite so clearly. If you muddle the mint in your Mojito or Julep, it tastes grassy and bitter. If you handle the mint gently, you get light, clear, mint flavor and scent.

To me, this argues against truly “crushing”, “pulverizing”, or “muddling” the mint (or other herbs) in any drink.

To make a mint Julep these are my usual instructions:

Mint Julep

4 fresh and lively sprigs mint (there is nothing sadder than a julep made with wilted mint)
1/4 oz Simple Syrup (generous 1/4 oz Small Hand Foods Gum Syrup)
2 oz Bourbon and a little extra for garnish (2+ oz Old Forester Birthday Bourbon, bottled 2003)
Fine Ice

METHOD: Strip the leaves from the lower stems of the mint and place in julep cup. Reserve upper sprigs for garnish. Pour in your simple syrup and use a spoon or muddler to gently rub the mint and syrup up and down the sides of the cup. Add Bourbon and ice to fill half way up the cup. Vigorously mix together mint leaves, syrup, bourbon, and ice. Top up with more fine ice and sprinkle a little extra bourbon over ice. Slap the reserved sprigs against your palm, form into a bunch, and insert into ice. Poke straws in ice near the mint sprigs, serve, and inhale.

Also, if you aren’t reading Lucky Peach, you really should be. For my money, it’s the best writing about food, cooking, and working in restaurants that you can currently find. If you have to, cancel your cable subscription to the Food Network, and subscribe to Lucky Peach instead.

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.

Suffering Mixologist

You know what, the Suffering Bastard just isn’t really a very good drink. Bourbon, Gin, Lime, Angostura, and Ginger Beer?

Sounds about as bad as the hangover it was supposed to be curing.

But, as mixologists, I think we can do something about this, but we’ll need to plan ahead a bit.

I think we’re looking at about a year process, from start to finish.

First begin by aging your own Whiskey. Purchase a case of unaged whisky (White Dog) and a charred barrel. Both of these items are now for sale, conveniently, at many of your better liquor stores.

About 6 months in to your whisky aging process, you’ll want to start your gin. You can either go the infusion route, like Jeffrey Morgenthaler, or you can purchase a still and distill it yourself. Instructions for distillation are beyond the scope of this article, but there are many online forums which should be of help. You’ll be able to find all sorts of interesting spices and herbs at witchery stores and upscale groceries.

In either case, infusion or distillation, I suggest you discard the common knowledge about what a gin should be and feel free to improvise with whatever catches your fancy. Elderflower, go! Rangpur Lime, go! Lemon Verbena, why not?

Once your gin is ready, you’re going to want to pull your whiskey from the barrel, blend it with the gin, and return it to the barrel. The additional months, or years, you allow these spirits to marry will produce a truly superior end product.

About a month out from when you want to serve your cocktail, you’ll need to start the infusion for your bitters. Check any number of articles on doing this, from Jamie Boudreau to Robert Heugel. Once you’ve made your bitters, of course using a Buechner Funnel to vacuum filter them, you’ll want to again pull your gin and whisky from the barrel, add the bitters, and return the mixture to the barrel. I suggest erring on the side of generosity. Really, if it isn’t bitter, it isn’t a cocktail.

About this time, you’re going to want to start promoting your genius new version of the Suffering Bastard. I would suggest hiring a full time publicist and hitting the local bars. Maybe even take out a few ads in national papers or magazines. Of course you’ll want to attend the major trade shows, Tales of the Cocktail, Manhattan Cocktail Classic, etc. just to press the flesh and give that personal touch to your presence. You’re not just a brand, after all. Don’t forget to sponsor a few panels at these conferences. That kind of exposure, a bunch of drunk people in a hotel conference room, is worth its weight in gold.

After doing some publicity, you’ll probably have come onto the radar of the original creator of the drink, Trad’r Vick, and his organization. Be sure to ignore any and all communications from them. You are a drinks artist, not a business man, there’s no reason to talk to those suits.

Next you’ll need to make your Ginger Beer. After distilling your own gin, making ginger beer is a snap. Check this recipe from Good Eats: Making Ginger Beer 48 hours? Pah, most of that is just sitting around in your cabinet.

Why do Trad’r Vick and his lawyers keep calling you? Just ignore them.

You’ll want to start the last minute publicity for your drink unveiling. Be sure to rent a space of suitable gravitas and capacity for your needs. Invite everyone you know, sending simultaneous and identical tweets, facebook invitations, and email blasts.

Who is that knocking?

What? Trad’r Vick and a subpoena? Agh, they are trampling on your creativity! Saying they own the Tradermark to the Suffering Bastard! Not only that, but telling you your drink isn’t even a Suffering Bastard, the Suffering Bastard, they claim, properly contains: Trad’r Vick Mai Tai Mix, two kinds of Rum, and a cucumber peel garnish. Pah, don’t they know you are referencing the original Suffering Bastard, created by Joe Scialom during World War II at the Shepheard’s Hotel in Cairo, Egypt? Philistines!

Well, you’ll show them, change the name of your drink, it bears no resemblance to their crappy “original” Suffering Bastard anyway. In honor of your self, you call it the Poor Long Suffering Mixologist, or P.L.S.M., for short.

Aged Spirits ready, Ginger Beer on tap, you’re ready to go. The last thing you need to do is source the fresh ingredients.

Be sure and spare no expense finding the exact correct variety of mint for this. Thyme Mint, Bergamot Mint, whatever you think will work best.

Not to mention finding the most obscure variety of lime or citrus. I’d suggest thinking about Seville Oranges or perhaps Rangpur Limes.

Nearly ready, all your friends have replied and are showing up. The bar or concert hall is primed for your 100% hand made, self aged, craft cocktail PLSM!

Oh, but we’ve forgotten the ice! Only the best! Be sure and only use the purest virgin spring water, and freeze it in such a way it is perfectly clear! Then hand carve it to order!

Last minute details, last minute details!

Maybe you should try the drink?

Oh, bleah, this really isn’t a very good drink. You know, the Suffering Bastard wasn’t very good to start out with, and it tastes like you’ve actually made it worse. What were you thinking?

Notify your publicist, stop the presses, call off your event. Well, when life hands you lemons, it’s time to, to… Write about it. You’re going to write a book (or blog) about your cocktail adventure, instead of actually serving drinks. That’s where the REAL money is!

I think that qualifies as a post about Niche Spirits, don’t you?

Thanks to Adventures in Cocktails for hosting!

MxMo LVIII: Favorite Niche Spirit

Check out their site for more posts on similar themes.

Received Goods, Jan 26, 2011

As I wind down this Savoy Enterprise, I hope to find time on the blog to feature things created, or at least new to me, since 1930.

Sometimes companies promoting booze or related products send me free stuff.

For the most part, I have not really had the time on the blog to feature anything that didn’t fit in with the Savoy Project.

Moving forward, I hope to do a better job thanking my nameless overlords in the booze business.

For example, I recently received an email with several recipes for cocktails featuring a new product from the Maker’s Mark distillery.

I responded to the person promoting these cocktails, that I would love to try these new cocktails, but didn’t have the product.

Nicely, she agreed to send a sample, but also mentioned she was promoting another product, a new Pisco Mosto Verde. Score! I am currently very interested in Pisco, maybe even more interested than I am in a new Bourbon.

So here are the first two samples to arrive under the new regime, I hope to get a chance to feature detailed write ups in the near future.

As I mentioned, Maker’s 46 is the first new product from the Maker’s Mark distillery in a number of years. It is a Bourbon Whiskey finished with additional aging period in contact with “seared” Oak Staves.

Pisco Porton‘s Mosto Verde is a new product from a very old distillery. Distilled from grape must, or grape juice that hasn’t completely fermented, it is alleged that the product is more representative of the grapes it is distilled from.

I hope to put both these products through their paces and will endeavor to get the results up on the blog as soon as possible.

PS. I am shamelessly stealing the idea of “Received Goods” from author Warren Ellis (who does NOT play in the Dirty Three, The Bad Seeds, or Grinderman). Whenever people send him stuff, he puts a picture up and a post called “Received Goods”. So shall it be.

Staggerac (Hazmat 2006)

Sazerac Cocktail 11 out of 28.

I have challenged myself to post 28 Sazeracs in 28 days for the month of February.

I’ll try some different spirits, try some out at bars, and have some friends make them for me. Hopefully, if I can get my act together we’ll have some video.

016

Sazerac Cocktail.
1 Lump of Sugar. (Generous Bar Spoon Rich Simple Syrup)
1 Dash Angostura or Peychana Bitters. (a couple dashes Peychaud’s Bitters)
1 Glass Rye or Canadian Club Whisky. (2 oz Ransom George T. Stagg Bourbon, 2006 Antique Collection)

Stir well and strain into another glass that has been cooled and rinsed with Absinthe (Sirene Absinthe Verte) and squeeze lemon peel on top.

I don’t really mix with Bourbon often, as I find the lean-ness of rye more appealing in a cocktail, however one of cocktails made famous at the bar P.D.T. in New York city is their “Staggerac”.

It is a Sazerac made with the 140 proof George T. Stagg Bourbon, also known as “Hazmat”, as any liquor over 140 is technically a Hazardous Material and illegal to carry on planes, through tunnels, and subject to innumerable annoying Federal regulation.

Anyway, since I had a bottle of Stagg in the house, and I really have only used it to make Blue Blazers (Rocking, by the way!), I thought it would be fun to make myself a Staggerac.

Talk about getting your motor running! Cough. Yer gonna want to give this a nice long stir. Then maybe stir it some more. And don’t plan anything for the rest of your evening.

Is it any good?

Nearly the ultimate expression of the East Coat obsession with overproof brown spirits, to be honest, The Staggerac is an interesting, rather expensive, and extremely potent novelty.  Can I call it a modern day “Earthquake“?  If you’re going to go “pricey” stick with a Sazerac made with the Sazerac 18 Year Rye or the Tuthilltown Hudson Manhattan Rye. There’s just something about Bourbon that distracts from the essence of the Sazerac.

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.

Dixie Whisky Cocktail

Dixie Whisky Cocktail
(6 People)

To 2 lumps of sugar (Dash Depaz Cane Syrup) add a small teaspoon of Angostura Bitters (Nice Dash of Angostura), another of Lemon Juice (Dash Lemon Juice), 4 glasses of Whisky (2 1/4 oz Weller 12 Year old Bourbon), a small teaspoonful of Curacao (barely a dash of Dash Brizard Orange Curacao) and 2 teaspoonsful of Crème de Menthe (Dash Brizard Crème de Menthe). Add plenty of ice and shake carefully. Serve.

First interesting point of this cocktail is that the portions of the Dixie Whisky are a bit on the larger size. Usually, these 6 person cocktails are a little more than 12 oz of spirits and mixers. This one is over 16 oz.

Ultimately, it is a sort of Whisky Crusta without the sugar rims. Or a “Dinah Cocktail” for those without fresh mint.

Unfortunately, it’s not really very good. To me, the main problem with the Dixie Whisky is a clash between the Angostura and the Crème de Menthe. It would be a much tastier cocktail if you left either one of those out.

I also wonder about the Curacao. In such a small amount, it really doesn’t add much here, especially up against the intense flavors of the Whisky, Crème de Menthe, lemon, and bitters. Was the pre-prohibition Curacao much more intensely flavored?

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.

Dinah Cocktail

Dinah Cocktail

First put 2 or 3 sprigs of fresh mint (1 sprig) in the shaker and bruise them lightly against the sides of the shaker by stirring with a silver spoon. Pour into the shaker 3 glasses of Whisky (2 oz W.L. Weller 12 Year) and let it stand for some minutes. Add 3 glasses of sweetened Lemon Juice (Juice 1/2 Lemon, 1 teaspoon Caster Sugar) and some (cracked) ice. Shake very carefully and for longer than usual. Serve with a mint leaf standing in each glass.

Is “sweetened Lemon Juice” sour mix? Or lemonade?

I decided to make this basically as a whisk(e)y sour with mint.

Really, how can you go wrong?

Absolutely delicious!

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.