Hercules No. 5

Making a batch of Hercules for tonight’s Savoy Night at Alembic.

Stop by for a warming beverage on this cold, dreary San Francisco Fall night.

Hercules #5

1 Stick Cassia Cinnamon, crushed
2 tsp. Coriander Seed, crushed
3 Cardamom Pods, crushed
8 Whole Cloves, crushed
1 tsp. Quinine Powder
1 tsp Gentian Root
1/4 Cup Yerba Mate
1 bag peppermint tea
Rind 2 Seville Oranges
Rind 1/2 Valencia Orange
1/2 cup Raw Sugar
750ml Quady Elektra Orange Muscat
1/4 cup Osocalis Brandy

METHOD: Combine spices, peel, yerba mate and wine. Heat to 160 degrees. Add mint and allow to steep for 15 minutes. Filter through chinois and add Brandy. Let stand for at least a day. Pour liquid off of sediment and through a coffee filter and bottle.

Rock and Rye Cocktail

Rock and Rye Cocktail.
1 Glass Rye Whisky or Canadian Club. Dissolve 1 Piece of Rock Candy in it. The Juice of 1 Lemon can be added if desired.

Here’s another one that has made no sense to me. How do you dissolve a piece of rock candy in room temperature whiskey?

I started doing a bit of research about this and found a bunch of different recipes, from those as simple as the above to those which included spices and honey infused into the whiskey.

Looking over the more complicated recipes and articles, the consensus seemed to be that Rock and Rye should be flavored with Horehound and citrus. In addition, it seemed like Rock and Rye was considered some sort of home remedy for chest ailments like coughs and sore throats.

I found a couple recipes for straight horehound candies and horehound cough syrup. At that point, it occurred to me that there was no reason I couldn’t adapt my usual punch method to this beverage, substituting the horehound syrup for the tea syrup.

750ml Wild Turkey Rye
Zest 1 Lemon
Zest 1 orange
1 Cup Water
1/4 Cup Horehound
1 TBSP fresh Lemon Balm (Melissa officianalis)
1 tsp. Fennel Seed, crushed
1 Pound Honey
Rock Candy

Infuse Peels in Rye Whiskey for 24-48 hours. Bring water to a simmer, add spices, and remove from heat. Steep 15 minutes. Strain out solids. Add Honey and cool. Strain Rye off of peels and combine with spiced syrup. Filter into a clean sealable bottle. Add rock candy to bottle until it does not dissolve.

Rock And Rye

OK, as many of the horehound syrup and horehound candy recipes predicted, this is pretty bitter. Not exactly in an unpleasant way. More in a green, sagey, menthol-ish, and fairly pleasant way. Kind of like dandelion greens. Some friends also commented it was pretty sweet. I don’t see a way around that. The whole point of the “rock” in the bottles of rock and rye, is that the solution is so saturated that further sugar crystals won’t dissolve.

After running the finished product past a few more friends, LeNell Smother’s name came up as someone who made Rock and Rye. As a Rock and Rye evangelist, even. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to drop her a note, so I sent her the following question, “Recently reached the letter ‘R’ in the Savoy Cocktail Book and am researching Rock and Rye. When talking to some friends about it, your name came up as someone who had made an interesting version. I sort of treated it like a punch. I infused rye whiskey with lemon and orange peels. Made a horehound, lemon balm, and fennel seed syrup sweetened with honey. Combined the two and added rock candy to the bottles. It turned out at least interesting, but I have no real idea if it is even close to what rock and rye is supposed to taste like. How do you make it?”

She responded:

No “supposed” to taste like, in my opinion, as this was something folks just made and had sitting on the back of the bar. Not rocket science distillation. And probably everybody made it a bit differently. Some folks just sweetened up the rye with maybe lemon and nothing else…I make my rock and rye slightly different every time. It’s like cooking for me. I have a basic “recipe” but fuck around depending on what’s on hand. Sometimes I put more pineapple, sometimes none at all. Dried apricot? Raisins? The horehound can get too bitter for some people but I like it to balance out the sweetness plus it goes along with the cough suppressant notion.

Yes, funny! I was getting over some chest congestion just when making this recipe came up. Thus I can say with some authority that a rock and rye toddy is really good for chest congestion and a cough. Give it a try.

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.

Cold Tossed Sichuan Noodles

This is my much “loved” copy of “Classic Chinese Cuisine” by Nina Simonds.

Classic Chinese Cuisine

Hot as it was this week, I decided I would make “Cold Tossed Sichuan Noodles” from this book. No way I was creating any more heat than necessary in the house. Plus it is a quick and easy to make dish.

Cold Tossed Sichuan Noodles.

This is actually a great weeknight meal, if the weather is intolerably hot or not. If you have these ingredients in your pantry it takes minutes to throw together the sauce, chop a few veggies, and boil the noodles. You can also make it with any other nut butter, if you don’t like Peanut Butter. Almond, Cashew, whatever.

Cold Tossed Sichuan Noodles.

Quite possibly the trickiest thing in this recipe is poaching the chicken, without making it dry or tough. Even many restaurants *cough*Pomelo*cough* can’t seem to manage this. If you bring it to a boil too quickly it turns into chewing gum. Ideally, you’d seal it in a cryovac bag with rice wine, ginger, soy sauce, and garlic and sous vide it. Lacking sous vide equipment, place the bone on breast in a pan large enough it can be covered with cold water. Add a splash of soy sauce and rice wine. Crush a garlic clove and a couple ginger slices and drop them in the water. Using medium heat, bring the water up to not quite a simmer. Cover and reduce the heat as low as you can. Continue to cook until the breast reaches 145 at its thickest point and the broth is clear. The dish would also be tasty made with tofu instead of chicken.

Cold Tossed Sichuan Noodles.

“Classic Chinese Cuisine” is one of the first cookbooks that opened my eyes and tastes when I was in college and had my first food service jobs. One of the first time I realized that if I followed a recipe from a cookbook, I could make something much tastier than many of the restaurants I had been going to. Chinese cuisine was my first enthusiasm, thanks to this book. “Cold Tossed Sichuan Noodles” is one the first recipes I remember making from it. Just between you and me, I checked out “Classic Chinese Cuisine” from the public library. It was due for return on April 22, 1989. I’m sorry if you have been trying to check it out. The “Cold Tossed Sichuan Noodles” were just so good, I knew I needed to make far more things from the book. It’s not something I’m proud of.

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!

Milk Punch Questions

Got a question regarding the Rum Hibiscus Milk Punch.

Hey brother!

I’d like to ask you about Rum Hibiscus Milk Punch. I made it exactly according to the recipe, but it came out cloudy.

Has this ever happened to you?

Do you think the milk wasn’t curdled enough? I let it sit for 40 minutes. Does the fact that it was pasteurized make a difference?

Do you think it might have been the strainer I used? What type do you use? I used a fine mesh strainer, then even put cheescloth layers inside. Didn’t help. It’s as cloudy as a louched absinthe, but no visible sediment or clumps.

Do you think it’s still good to drink? Any other ideas to save it?

hmm….

The Milk step can be finicky.

The punch should be fine, though I would keep it in the fridge.

I put it first through a fine mesh strainer, then through cheese cloth. Then after it sits for a couple days when the remaining milk solids settle out, I rack it off.

I haven’t played around with commercial vs. less commercial milk. I always use the straus family creamery whole milk. My guess is the problem might be homogenization, not pasteurization. Straus Family don’t homogenize their milk.

When I make milk punches, the milk solids and fats always fall out of solution after a couple days, leaving it quite clear. This may not happen as readily with homogenized milk.

Bernal Heights Milk Punch, July 2009

Bernal Heights Milk Punch, July 2009
2 750ml bottles Osocalis Brandy.
1 liter Appleton V/X Rum.
1 liter Coruba Rum.
750ml Batavia Arrack von Osten.
Peel 12 organic lemons.
Juice 12 organic lemons, strained.
2 organic pineapple, chopped and crushed.
12 whole cloves, crushed.
2 cinnamon stick (cassia), crushed.
10 Green Cardamom Pods, Crushed.
12 teaspoons Chinese Green Tea (Peet’s Hubei Silvertip).
48 oz Water
1 # Demerara Sugar
1/2 # Florida Crystals Natural Sugar.
1/2 Gallon Straus Family Creamery Whole Milk.

Peel lemons and add to Brandy. Juice 8 lemons and crush pineapple. Add to rums (including Arrack). Allow both to infuse for 48 hours.

California Milk Punch-1

Heat water and add spices and tea. After it has steeped for 10 minutes, strain. Add sugar, stir to combine, and cool.

Juice other four lemons and add to pineapple, lemon, and rum mixture. Heat milk to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Add to Rum, lemon, and pineapple mixture. Allow to stand for 30 minutes and filter through fine strainer.

California Milk Punch-4

Strain brandy mixture off peels. Combine Rum mixture, brandy mixture, and tea syrup. Cool, bottle in clean containers, and chill over night.

California Milk Punch-7

Filter again through coffee filters, leaving any sediment which has collected in the bottom of the containers behind. Bottle in clean sealable containers. Makes about 7 liters.

Evil plan moves ahead.

“But, Erik, why on earth would you bottle punch in used 2 liter soda bottles?”

I’ve wanted to carbonate some sort of booze since hearing that Eben Freeman was carbonating some of his drinks while at WD-50.

A few times, I’ve mentioned this idea to Daniel Hyatt while we were working together at Alembic, and we both thought it a cool idea.

In June we made punches for Savoy Night and it went over well.

Some time after the June Savoy night, I was talking to Jesse Friedman (of Beer and Nosh) and he said, “Hey, you should make a big batch of punch next time and I’ll carbonate it.  Just give it to me in 2 liter soda bottles and I’ll hook it up to my kegerator.”

For the rest of the story, check out Jesse’s blog post: Savoy Sunday

Next step in my evil plan: Punch on tap!

Shopping List

Shopping List for today

2 Bottles Osocalis Brandy.
1 Bottle Appleton V/X.
1 Bottle Coruba Rum.
1 Bottle Batavia Arrack von Osten.
12 Lemons.
2 pineapples.
Florida Crystals Sugar.
2 quart Straus Family Creamery Whole Milk.
Sealable non reactive glass jars big enough to hold more than 4 Liters.

Milk Punch No. 1

You may remember that a couple weeks ago I made a Hibiscus Milk Punch based on a recipe I read on another blog.

The whole thing was a bit of a leap of faith, given I’d never made anything similar or even tried it.

However, it turned out so well, I thought I should turn back the clock a bit further and investigate an older recipe for Milk Punch. So when Daniel Hyatt suggested we make some punches for one of our Savoy Cocktail Book night at Alembic, I thought I would make Savoy Milk Punch No. 1. Upon investigation, it turns out it is based on a recipe from the 1862 version of Jerry Thomas’ Bartenders Guide.

The recipe from Mr. Thomas is as follows.

California Milk Punch.
(For Bottling.)
Take the juice of four lemons.
The rind of two lemons.
½ pound of white sugar, dissolved in sufficient hot water.
1 pineapple, peeled, sliced and pounded.
6 cloves.
20 coriander seeds.
1 small stick of cinnamon.
1 pint of brandy.
1 pint of Jamaica rum.
1 gill of Batavia Arrack.
1 cup of strong green tea.
1 quart of boiling water.
1 quart of hot milk.

Put all the materials in a clean demijohn, the boiling water to be added last; cork this down to prevent evaporation, and allow the ingredients to steep for at least six hours; then add the hot milk and the juice of two more lemons; mix, and filter through a jelly-bag; and when the punch has passed bright, put it away in tight-corked bottles.

This punch is intended to be iced for drinking. If intended for present use filtering is not necessary.

California Milk Punch

Using Mr. Thomas recipe as a starting point:

Bernal Heights Milk Punch
1 qt Osocalis Brandy.
1 pt Appleton V/X.
1 pt Coruba.
1 pt Batavia Arrack von Osten.
Peel 4 lemons.
Juice 6 lemons, strained
1/2 pineapple, chopped and crushed.
6 cloves.
1 cinnamon stick (cassia).
5 Green Cardamom Pods, Crushed.
4 teaspoons Lung Ching Dragonwell Tea.
16 oz Water
1/2 # Florida Crystals.
1 quart Straus Family Creamery Whole Milk.

Peel lemons and add to Brandy.  Juice 4 lemons and crush pineapple.  Add to rums (including Arrack).  Allow both to infuse for 48 hours.

Heat water and add spices and tea. After it has steeped for 10 minutes, strain. Add sugar, stir to combine, and cool.

Juice other two lemons and add to pineapple, lemon, and rum mixture. Heat milk to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Add to Rum, lemon, and pineapple mixture. Allow to stand for 30 minutes and filter through cheesecloth. Strain brandy mixture off peels. Combine Rum mixture, brandy mixture, and syrup. Cool, bottle in clean containers, and chill over night. Filter again through coffee filters, leaving any sediment which has collected in the bottom of the containers behind.  Makes about 3 quarts.

Perhaps not so oddly, I misremembered the recipe and used Cardamom instead of Coriander. But I really like the clove/cardamom nexus, so not a bad thing.  I needed some pineapple and pineapple juice for another cocktail this week, so only used half for the punch.  More pineapple wouldn’t hurt.  The initial division of the infusions was just a result of the size of my containers, but actually seemed to help with getting a firmer curd from the milk solids.  If I had to do it again, I’d do it the same way.

The water amounts didn’t really make sense to me for starting with 80 proof booze. My guess is Thomas was working with cask strength liquors, to require that much dilution. So I adjusted a bit. Perhaps a bit too much, as according to Mrs. Flannestad, this ended up a bit strong and boozy.  Depending on your perspective, that may be bad or good.

Very good response to the punch at Alembic’s Savoy Cocktail Book night last Sunday, so if you’re feeling adventurous give it a try.  I don’t think you’ll regret it.  We just served it over ice with a splash of soda.  It would make a fantastic highball!

Even though I can now cross this off the list of Savoy punches I need to make, I have a feeling I’ll be making this Milk Punch again some time soon.

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.

Hercules Recipes

We last talked about Hercules while making the New Life Cocktail.  I’ve since made two iterations of the recipe.

Hercules #2

1 bottle Navarro Chardonnay
1/4 cup Yerba Mate
1/2 tsp oregano
2 tsp Gentian
2 tsp Cinchona Powder
1/2 tsp Wormwood flowers and leaves
4 whole cloves
Dried Peel from 1 Seville Orange
1 stick Ceylon Cinnamon
1/2 tsp whole coriander seed
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup Apple Brandy

Method: Combine all ingredients other than brandy, bring to 140 degrees for 10 minutes. Strain off solids, cool, and add Brandy. Refrigerate.

This version received many, uh, ambivalent responses.  “I’ve never tasted anything like this before.” “Boy is that bitter.”  “That flavor really sticks with you!”  More constructive criticism was that a stronger spice component would be more enjoyable.  I also thought it would benefit from a richer wine base.

Hercules #3

1 Stick Cassia Cinnamon, crushed
2 tsp. Coriander Seed, crushed
8 Whole Cloves, crushed
1 tsp. Quinine Powder
1 tsp Gentian Root
1/4 Cup Yerba Mate
1 bag peppermint tea
Rind 2 Seville Oranges
Rind 1/2 Valencia Orange
1/2 cup Raw Sugar
750ml Quady Elektra Orange Muscat
1/4 cup Osocalis Brandy

METHOD: Combine spices, peel, yerba mate and wine. Heat to 140 degrees. Add mint and allow to steep for 15 minutes. Filter through chinois and add Brandy. Let stand for at least a day. Pour liquid off of sediment and through a coffee filter and bottle.

While there is no way I can judge whether I am getting closer to what Hercules might have tasted like, this is actually a fairly enjoyable beverage.  I’ll have it along for tonight’s Savoy Cocktail Book Night at Alembic.  Stop by after 6 and ask for a taste.