General Harrison’s Egg Nogg

First, just a reminder that Sunday, May 22, 2011, is our monthly exercise in folly, Savoy Cocktail Book Night at Alembic Bar. If any of the cocktails, (they also have a great beer selection,) on this blog have captured your fancy, stop by after 6 and allow the skilled bartenders, (and me,) to make them for you. It is always a fun time.

General Harrison’s Egg Nogg
1 Egg. (1 Egg)
1 1/2 Teaspoonsful of Sugar. (1 1/2 Teaspoon Caster Sugar)
2 or 3 Small Lumps of Ice.
Fill the tumbler with Cider (4 oz Astarbe Natural Basque Cider), and shake well.

This is a splendid drink, and is very popular on the Mississippi river. It was the favourite beverage of William Henry Harrison, ninth President of the United States of America.

First off, and let’s get this out of the way, this isn’t Egg Nogg. As far as I am concerned, and no disrespect to the General, this a Cider Flip. Period.

Second, most modern American Hard Cider is awful. Most of them are sweet, vaguely alcoholic, highly carbonated, compounded beverages more closely resembling Zima or Wine Coolers than actual Cider.

William Henry Harrison lived from 1773 to 1841, he would not have recognized these beverages as Hard Cider, or even something fit for adult consumption.

When we talk about the nature of historical ingredients, we rarely talk about the obvious stuff.

The fact is, until relatively recently, fermentation was poorly understood. I mean, people understood the end result and they understood how to control the process, but they really did not understand that it was a specific organism that was consuming the sugars and producing the alcohol. Yeast was pretty much a mystery. This means most fermentation was done using things similar to sourdough starters. This also means most beer was probably sour and most wine far less predictably delightful. The industrialization of these industries just hadn’t happened in the 18th and 19th Centuries.

Likewise, Hard Cider was not inoculated with specific, delightful strains of yeast, it was just fermented with whatever wild yeasts and bacterias were in the air and on the fruit wherever it was being made. Hardly anybody does this anymore, because the results are not really predictable and the beverage you get on the other end may more closely resemble a tart Lambic Ale than an Apple Soda.

It is also worth noting, that opposed to the mild, juicy apples that are often now used to make Hard Cider and Apple Juice, the apples traditionally used to make cider were those you couldn’t eat out of hand. If you talk to someone who makes Calvados, another old, old tradition, they will tell you the only thing the many apple varieties used to make that beverage have in common are that they are small, ugly, and bitter.

So I was contemplating this, wondering if there was some cider I could find that would make sense to use in General Harrison’s Egg Nogg.

Over the past year or two, I’ve become a bit obsessed with naturally fermented beer and wine. I really like the unusual flavors you find in these beverages. I’d tried some more unusual beers and had some Natural wines which really made me perk up and take notice of things that stood outside of my frame of reference for fermented beverages.

One day, when I was visiting with Carl Sutton (of Sutton Cellars), he’d pulled out some Spanish Cider which blew me away. Not only did it have unusual flavors I didn’t associate with Cider, it also had a bracing acidity, that helped me to categorize many of the funky flavors I’d found in Calvados.

When we traveled to Spain last year, I made it my personal goal to try as many Natural Ciders as I could find while we traveled through the Basque and the Asturian regions of Spain. Well, after a couple bottles, none of my traveling companions really shared this enthusiasm. Tart, dry, funky and fairly alcoholic, they soon substituted Wine for the Cider I was drinking.

However, Spanish Cider makes complete sense as the type of Hard Cider someone would have been drinking in the late part of the 18th Century and early part of the 19th, and it makes total sense in the Harrison’s Egg Nogg. The acidity makes that amount of sugar sensible, the funkiness stands up against the egg, and the fact that it is barely carbonated makes it almost possible to shake the drinks without having it explode all over your kitchen or bar.

Forgot to turn on the music today before making the video. Note to self, feed the cats before making videos.

Safety Note: As with any recipe containing uncooked eggs, there is some small chance of salmonella. If that risk bothers you, use pasteurized eggs.

Finding Basque Cider: I got this Astarbe Cider at Healthy Spirits. When talking to them, they asked me to let them know what I thought. He’d gotten it a while ago, excited to find any Basque Cider available in the US. However, it really hadn’t sold very well. Personally, I had a hard time telling them that, yes, they should carry Basque Cider, when they have sold less than a case over what looks like about 5 years. If you disagree, let them know, as there’s only one bottle left. If that last bottle gets sold, and you still want to try Spanish Cider, K&L Wines does carry a Spanish and a Basque Cider.

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.

Breakfast Egg Nogg

Breakfast Egg Nogg
1 Fresh Egg.
1/4 Curacao. (1/2 oz Clement Creole Shrubb Liqueur)
3/4 Brandy. (1 1/2 oz Osocalis Fine Alambic Brandy)
1/4 Pint Fresh Milk. (4 oz Meyenberg Goat’s Milk)
Shake well and strain into long tumbler. Grate nutmeg on top.

Continuing with the out of season Noggs, we have another example, this one with a slightly unusual sweetener, Orange Curacao.

Though I am unclear about exactly why sweetening with Orange Liqueur instead of Sugar makes this appropriate for breakfast.

The implication of Vitamin C?

Nothing wrong with the Breakfast Nogg, but my favorite remains the Baltimore Egg Nogg.

Safety Note: As with any recipe containing uncooked eggs, there is some small chance of salmonella. If that risk bothers you, use pasteurized eggs.

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.

Baltimore Egg Nogg

Baltimore Egg Nogg
1 Fresh Egg.
1/2 Tablespoonful Sugar. (1/2 tablespoon Caster Sugar)
1/4 Glass Brandy. (1/2 oz Osocalis Fine Alambic Brandy)
1/4 Glass Jamaica Rum. (1/2 oz Smith & Cross Jamaican Rum)
1/2 Glass Madeira. (1 oz Cossart and Gordon 5 Year Bual Madeira)
1/2 Pint Fresh Milk. (4 oz (I am cheating) Goats Milk)
Shake well and strain into long tumbler. Grate nutmeg on top.

I like to pretend that I have some sort of insight into the Savoy Cocktail Book, but it is a big book. I had been ignoring most of the back of the book until relatively recently. Janiece Gonzalez found this recipe and started making the Baltimore Egg Nog for people about a year ago after a couple Savoy nights. It totally caught me by surprise. Maybe my favorite egg nogg ever and has been really popular with whomever we have made it for.

If there is any trick to it, it is to go with a Madeira with some character, not that bullshit “Rainwater” Madeira. Well, that and a flavorful and funky Jamaican Rum, like the Smith & Cross.

Yes, I once again display a brazen disregard for personal safety, by cracking ice with a chef’s knife. I do have an ice pick, but it scares me. I don’t really know how to use it and feel fairly certain that the first time I tried it, I would have it sticking in my palm. So I use the knife I am comfortable with to crack ice. Your Mileage May Vary. In deference to Frederic’s good point and Chris’ squeamishness, I promise not to show this technique in any future videos.

Regarding safety: Clearly, holding ice cubes in your hand and cracking them with a 6 inch chef’s knife isn’t really, uh, wise? Don’t do that. Or if you do, don’t say you saw me do it here. You can, however, blame Andrew Bohrer, who showed me this technique. Also, as with any recipe containing uncooked eggs, there is some small chance of salmonella. If that risk bothers you, use pasteurized eggs.

Music is from the Dodos new CD, “No Color”.

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.

Egg Nogg

Egg Noggs.

The Egg Nogg is essentially an American Beverage, although it has been appreciated throughout the world for many years. Its introduction throughout Christmas time in the Southern States of America is traditional. In Scotland it is known as “Auld Man’s Milk.”

Egg Nogg
1 Egg.
1 Tablespoonful Powdered Sugar. (Generous Teaspoon Caster Sugar)
1 Glass of any Spirit desired. (2 oz Banks 5 Island Rum)
Fill glass with Milk. (2 oz Meyerberg Goats’ Milk)
Shake well and strain into long tumbler. Grate a little nutmeg on top.

So, if a “Flip” is a Toddy (or Sling) plus an Egg, Egg Nogg is a Cold Toddy (or Sling) plus an egg and a good amount of Milk. Served Hot, Egg Nogg is a Tom and Jerry. Generally, you’ll see these with 1 to 2 (or more) times the Milk as the amount of spirits included. I try not to drink Cows Milk, so I am using equal parts Goats Milk to the Spirits.

Initially I was hoping to split the Spirits between the Banks 5 Island Rum and Barbancourt 5. Sadly, a miscalculation resulted in 2 oz of Banks 5 Island being poured into the mixing tin. Damn it! Well, I can’t say I was entirely pleased, as much as I like Banks 5 Island, I was really looking forward to a bit more of the aged rum taste.

To be honest, Barbancourt 5 Star is about my favorite rum for Egg Nogg, so I was pretty disappointed to have mis-measured the Banks 5 Island. I guess I could have made two Noggs.

Still, the Batavia Arrack in the Banks 5 Island gave this version of Egg Nogg a lot of character, for better or for worse.

Regarding safety: As with any recipe containing uncooked eggs, there is some small chance of salmonella. If that risk bothers you, use pasteurized eggs.

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.