Neighborhood Geology

Ridiculously expensive drinks, barrel aged cocktails, cocktail tasting menus, and ‘molecular mixology’ are all well and good, but to me the most exciting recent development in American cocktail culture is the neighborhood bar with decent, and usually relatively reasonably priced, cocktails.

Rock Bar Sign

We are lucky to have at least two such establishments within slightly aerobic, (our neighborhood is called Bernal HEIGHTS,) walking distance of our house. The first to open was Royal Cuckoo near Mission and Valencia. A fun establishment, they have many of the trendy accoutrements of craft cocktail bars: Curated LP selection, taxidermy, and an organ built into the bar.

The Donkey

The second to open in our neighborhood opened a little less than a year ago across the street from the established Southern American Comfort Food restaurant, Front Porch at 29th Street & Tiffany. Opened by the same partners that opened Front Porch, Rock Bar moved into the space that housed the dubious International Club and is rather interestingly Geologically, Minerally, and Mining themed.

Silent Movie Night

They also have a jukebox curated by the nearby Aquarius Records staff, a pool table, and several exciting theme nights including Football on Sunday, Ping Pong on Monday, Teacher Tuesday, and Films Played Silently on Wednesday. The night I stopped by they were playing Buster Keaton shorts.

Rock Salt

I did mention it was Minerally themed?

Mixed Fry

Anyway, two of the best things about Rock Bar, are first, that you can put your name in at Front Porch, and then retire to Rock Bar, while you wait for your table. Front Porch, being a small and rather popular restaurant, is often busy, so a place to retire and chat is always nice. However, secondly, waiting an extended period with only drinks and no nutrients can be dangerous, so you are allowed to call over to Front Porch for take out, and they will deliver it to Rock Bar, such as this Big Bucket of Mixed Fry Up, including Chicken Wings, Okra, Pickles, and Potatoes.

Gold Street Cocktail

I recently stopped in to try some of their new fall cocktails and chat with the staff. Bar manager Brion Rosch started me off with a story.

“When I opened the bar, I told our co-owner Kevin Cline that I wanted to have Cocchi Americano. He kind of freaked out. He had previously worked at Bix, where someone had briefly had an infatuation with Cocchi Americano. Every month Kevin had to do an inventory and count the many bottles of Cocchi Americano, some still old enough to have tax stamps, and could never figure out a way to sell it. So I’m going to start you out with a drink a created as a tribute to Kevin and his time at Bix, on Gold Street, in San Francisco. It’s called the Gold Street Cocktail and is Plymouth Gin, Cocchi Americano, and Angostura Bitters.”

Dry and delicious, this is a Martini on steroids.

Fall Pisco Punch

The second drink we tried was his Fall Pisco Punch. The traditional Pisco Punch’s most basic elements are Pisco, Citrus, and Pineapple. He’s keeping the Pisco and Lime, but has made a sort of custom sweetener by combining Small Hand Foods Pineapple Gum, Allspice Dram, and other secret ingredients. Definitely has that fall, Christmas spice feel.

“Kevin was giving me a hard time about how many fall drinks we’re using Allspice Dram in.”

I told Brion, I actually think it is a requirement for all fall drinks.

Old Sage Cocktail

Lastly, we tried Brion’s most recent concoction, The Old Sage. This drink started as a variation on an Old Fashioned, using St George Spirits Dry Rye Gin as a base. A couple iterations later, and somehow egg white ended up in the drink. That day, they had gotten in some awesome new organic Sage over at Front Porch. When co-owner Josey White tried the drink, she suggested Brion include some sage with the Dry Rye in the drink. I was pretty impressed by how well the flavor of pungent sage combined with the St George Dry Rye. Sweet and savory at the same time, this would be a fun after dinner drink.

If you find yourself in the outer Mission/Bernal Heights area, do stop by Rock Bar. Good drinks, good beer, friendly folks, and more Minerals & Crystals than you are likely to find in any other bar in the world.

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.

3 Dots and a Dash

I’ve always liked the Rum drink called “3 Dots and a Dash” but never learned to make it.

A friend of mine, who also has a cocktail blog, wrote it up last week (Matt Robold over at Rumdood.com: 3 Dots and a Dash), so I figured it was about time I learned to make the damn thing.

A sort of Rum Punch, it is a delicious mix of potent rum flavors and drinkability.

3 Dots and a Dash

1 1/2 oz Neissen Ambre Rhum
1/2 oz El Dorado 5 Year Demerara Rum
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Orange Juice
scant 1/2 oz Honey Mix*
1/4 oz John Taylor Falernum
1/4 oz St Elizabeth’s Allspice Dram
1 scoop crushed ice (about 6 oz)

Blend or shake very well, until the outside of the mixing tin or glass frosts. Pour into a collins glass and garnish with a pineapple spear and 3 cherries.

*Honey Mix: Combine Honey 1-1 with warm water and shake to combine.

Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of 3 Dots and a Dash, so this Tabouleh will have to suffice:

I was looking through the fridge the other day and noticed I had a rather large, and totally forgotten, bag of uncooked bulgur wheat towards the back. Realized I hadn’t made Tabouleh in quite a while, so I figured now that tomatoes are starting to come into season, it would make a fine side salad for a roasted chicken.

Tabouleh is an interesting salad to play with, I’ve had them made all over the map. From basically all Parsley to almost entirely Bulgur. It’s sort of left to your interpretation. The mandatory elements, to me anyway, are: Cooked Bulgur Wheat, Parsley, Tomatoes, and olive oil. After that, the sky’s the limit.

Tabouleh

Cook bulgur wheat according to the directions on the package it came in. Cool Bulgur, draining if necessary. Get out a large bowl. Finely mince a clove or two of garlic, pour in a couple tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice. Add a similar amount of olive oil. Chop your herbage and add it, being quite generous. Sometimes this dish is more an herb condiment than a salad. Chop a ripe and tasty tomato and throw it in with the herbs and garlic. Slice a green onion or two and add. Salt generously and toss to mix. Peel and chop a cucumber, (or other crispy vegetable,) and add. Toss again and check seasoning. Add bulgur wheat, maybe some crumbled feta cheese, and freshly ground pepper. Toss, allow to stand at room temperature for flavors to marry.

It is really easy to scale this up and down, it makes a totally classic hippie dish for a potluck. In fact, I believe, in certain cities, like Madison, WI and Berkeley, CA, if, through a bizarre set of coincidences, someone fails to bring Tabouleh as a “Dish to Pass”, all you have to do is close your eyes and say, “Tabouleh,” and it will appear on the table.

Eeyore’s Requiem

When we visited The Violet Hour a couple years ago, one of the favorite drinks we tried there was called “Eeyore’s Requiem”.

It’s a little bit of an odd drink, most drinks are made with the bulk of their ingredients being Spirits.

With Eeyore’s Requiem, it is kind of the reverse. Most of the drink is various bitter Italian liqueurs, or Amaros, and vermouth with the minor part of the drink being Gin.

I later learned that the cocktail was created by Toby Maloney, aka Alchemist on eGullet.org, for The Violet Hour. The recipe was published in a few places, including Serious Eats and eGullet.org.

Eeyore's Requiem

Eeyore’s Requiem

Eeyore’s Requiem

1 1/2 oz Campari
1 oz Dolin Blanc Vermouth
1/2 oz Dry Gin
1/4 oz Cynar
1/4 oz Fernet Branca
15 drops Miracle Mile Orange Bitters

Stir on ice until well chilled and strain into a cocktail glass. Express a peel of an orange over the glass, and garnish with a ‘pig tail’ orange peel.

To make the ‘pig tail’ orange garnish, start with a whole orange. Using a channel knife cut, make continuous spiral cut of peel, as you can see in the picture above.

For all the rough and tumble of the bitter ingredients of this drink, it is surprisingly smooth.

For what is is worth, it’s a bit rich, maybe a better after dinner, than before, dinner drink.

Or if you’re serving it before, lighten it with a bit of sparkling water or wine.

In either case, it is delicious!

Other Uses for Pistachio Syrup

You might recall, I made a Pistachio Syrup to recreate the Mustachi-ode from Booker & Dax.

While the Mustachi-ode is a fantastic drink, I’ve been experimenting with other uses for the syrup.

The first easiest targets are mostly simple substitutions for Orgeat.

Here are a couple interesting, and so far unnamed, things to try with Pistachio Syrup:

2 oz Tequila Ocho Blanc
Heavy Barspoon Pistachio Syrup
2 dash Miracle Mile Chocolate Chile Bitters

Stir and strain into a small cocktail glass. Grate fresh Cinnamon on top.

Obvious riff on the Japanese Cocktail, really like how this highlights the interesting vegetal characteristics of the Ocho.

1 1/2 oz Barbancourt 8 Rum
1/2 oz Neissen Blanc Rhum Agricole
1 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Pistachio Syrup
1/2 oz Orange Curacao

Shake and strain over cracked ice in a 10 oz glass. Garnish with Mint Sprig and Lime Wheel Cherry Boat.

Fairly literal Mai Tai variation, for me the nut character of the Pistachio syrup really pops in this.

Of course, if you don’t feel like making Pistachio Syrup yourself, you can always stop by Heaven’s Dog!

“Hawaiian Punch”

“Could you make me something tall, refreshing and non-boozy?”

“No problem…”

Minutes later, “Ha, I think I have inadvertently discovered the secret formula for ‘Hawaiian Punch’!”

“Hawaiian Punch”

2 oz Orange Juice
1 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/2 oz Grenadine

Shake and strain over ice cubes in a 14-16 oz glass. Top with chilled soda water.

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.