Not-Groni

Oh, right, it’s Negroni week. Awesome. Another FoodBev industry circle jerk, like this industry needs an excuse to overindulge.

Oh, right, a portion is donated to charity. It’s for the kids, we’re drinking for the children.

Anyway, a friend stopped by the bar Monday and after he had sampled our blended and barrel aged Negronis on offer for Negroni Week, he said he wanted to venture off menu and try a Negroni variation with No 3 London Dry Gin, Cynar, and Vermouth.

Gin, Cynar, and Vermouth, you say?

I can do that!

I felt a bit inspired by the Chrysanthemum Cocktail for it, and came up with this “Not-Groni”, “Reverse-Negroni,” or maybe “Mixed Up Negroni”. I believe my friend was calling it a “Gron-i-mum”.

1 1/2 oz Dolin Blanc Vermouth
1 oz Beefeater Gin
1/2 oz Cynar

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with Grapefruit twist.

Usually when people “lighten” Negronis, they increase the Gin and decrease the Campari and Italian Vermouth by equal parts. But, really, it is the sweetness of the Campari that is weighing down the drink. Swapping in a Blanc for the Red Vermouth and pumping it up turns a digestiv cocktail into and aperitif.

Oh, oops, I didn’t use the No 3 Gin, how on earth did that happen?

Watermelon Coolers

Mrs Flannestad’s sister is visiting and the two of them challenged me to make a before dinner cocktail. I’d been craving watermelon, so my first thought was watermelon, Tequila, and Mezcal. But I knew Mrs Flannestad wouldn’t be super happy with that. Next I thought Miller’s Gin, with its cucumber, would be an interesting combination with its relative watermelon. Warm day, so a long drink seemed appropriate, and a little spice never hurt anyone.

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Watermelon Cooler

1/2 Cup Watermelon, Peeled and cubed
1/2 oz Rich Simple Syrup
Small Pinch Cayenne
Small Pinch Salt
1 1/2 oz Miller’s Gin
Juice 1/2 Lime
1/2 oz Seltzer Water
Watermelon spear, for garnish

METHOD: Place watermelon in shaker with Simple Syrup, Cayenne, and Salt. Muddle. Add lime juice and Gin. Shake with ice and fine strain over fresh ice and seltzer in a Collins Glass. Garnish with Watermelon spear and serve with a straw.

Sunday, Savoy Sunday

Once again it is almost time for a Savoy Cocktail Book Night at Alembic Bar in San Francisco!

Sunday, May 26 myself and the wonderful staff at Alembic Bar will be making any and all cocktails from the Savoy Cocktail Book.

The special twist this month, is that North Shore Distilling is sponsoring the event.

Sonja Kassenbaum will be in the house as will both of their gins and their Absinthe.

We will have a list of cocktail specials featuring their gins and hopefully some time for Q&A.

Stop by after 6PM on Sunday for some Gin Soaked Savoy Fun!

Pere Cecchini’s Gin & Tonic

I’m currently reading, “Cosmopolitan: A Bartender’s Life,” by Toby Cecchini.

While a lot of the passages are entertaining and interesting, the following regarding his father’s gin & tonic ritual was one of the most vivid.

“One of my fondest running memories I have of growing up is arrival in his kitchen after the long, stuffy Greyhound bus ride from Madison and sitting to chat with him while he prepared drinks. He would take down a tall crystal pitcher and pour it almost a quarter full of gin. For years we had an ongoing polemic about which gin to use. He used to claim all gin was simply grain neutral spirits spiked with juniper and that it made no difference which one you used. One visit, then, I brought up a bottle of Tanqueray and won that argument handily. Taking fat limes at room temperature, he would need them in the ball of his hand against the cutting board, setting the intoxicating aroma tumbling through the room. This brings the citrus oil to the surface, he explained, and allows the gin to act as a solvent, removing and incorporating it into the drink. He He would cut them in half, juice them, and set the juice aside. He would slice the rinds into thin strips, which he then dumped into the gin and pummeled a bit with a pestle. The juice was added to cause further extraction. At this point he would invariably swirl the pitcher under my nose and declare solemnly, ‘You could wear this as cologne!’

“While that marriage was left to macerate for a few minutes, he would then take large ice cubes and, palming them lightly, thwack them expertly with the back of a heavy spoon, just once, whereupon they would obediently crumble into perfect shards, which he would scatter into the pitcher until it was half full or so with aromatic lime granita. I always marveled at the elan with which he pulled off that simple action; my efforts at duplicating this maneuver always end with me bludgeoning the recalcitrant glacier mercilessly as chips fly helter skelter.

“He would remove the tonic from its chilling and pour it gingerly, on a slant, down the side of the pitcher, stirring it cursorily with a tall glass want, just so the gin, which rises to the top, gets distributed; you don’t want to jostle that life-giving fizz out of it. We would take glasses from the freezer, garnished with fresh lime rounds for aesthetics, and carry the whole works like an Easter processional on a try out to the front porch. In the late-norther twilight with my first drink as a young man, chatting with my dad, I could feel the tie to civilization, the history in this lovely laying down of one’s burdens at the day’s close.”

Who could read that and NOT desire a Gin & Tonic?

The Gin & Tonic is an interesting bird. You’ll never really find a recipe or method for making one in a cocktail book. Like the Pimm’s Cup, I guess it is just too simple to be included with more complicated cocktails.

On the other hand…

When we were in Spain a few years ago, we were trying to get in to the Dry Martini Bar. Unfortunately, they had a private event, so we went across the Street to Peter’s Tavern and ordered Gin & Tonics. The ritual with which the bartender prepared 4 Gin & Tonics rivaled the Sazerac in its complexity. I was totally blown away by the grace and elegance with which he prepared the seemingly ‘simple’ drink. First the frilled beverage napkins were placed upon the bar in front of us. Then the bartender pulled out chilled glasses and hand selected cubes with tongs to fill each glass. Placing the glasses in front of him, he first poured the gin. A lot of Gin. Then he gently poured the tonic (Schweppe’s Indian) down the side. He stirred each gently, then, using tongs added the straws and lemon garnish. Finally he placed each glass in front of us to enjoy.

So let’s try and translate Mr Cecchini, the younger’s, rather large block of text into a recipe.

First, there are four components in a Gin and Tonic.

Gin: Other types of Gin are interesting, but when making a Gin & Tonic, I’m afraid I have to insist on a stiff, Juniper forward, traditional London Dry Gin, made in England. In the US, your choices of traditional London Dry Gin made in England are basically Beefeater, Plymouth, and Tanqueray. As we can see above, Mr Cecchini, the younger, favors Tanqueray, and I do not disagree. (If you must use an American Gin, about the only two, (I’ve tried,) which hew fairly closely to the London Dry blueprint are Anchor’s Junipero and Death’s Door Gin.) Regarding the amount of Gin, you will often find people rather overpour the Gin & Tonic. I prefer to stick to 1 1/2 oz per person and a highball glass on the smaller size. Otherwise, the drink waters down before you finish.

Tonic: The classic Tonic is Schweppes Indian Tonic, but it is rather hard to come by in the US and also tends to be priced at a premium. As a rule, when possible, I avoid anything with High Fructose Corn Syrup or Agave Nectar, so this leaves me with Fever Tree or Stirrings, which are also not cheap. I personally prefer Fever Tree, but your mileage may vary.

Ice: As Mr Cecchini, senior, cracked his ice, so shall we. I make cubes in my Tovolo King Cube Ice trays and then crack them into shards and cubes with a lovely japanese ice pick, purchased from Cocktail Kingdom.

Citrus Garnish: In some parts of Europe, you are far more likely to find your Gin & Tonic garnished with lemon than the lime more common in America. I prefer lime, I guess because it is what I am used to, though lemon is ok in a pinch. Mr Cecchini, senior’s, recipe is the first I’ve seen where the juice is quite literally separated from the skins in the drink. Interesting, I’ll give it a try. Also, do note you will get more juice out of a lime if it is at room temperature.

Gin & Tonic for Two

Gin & Tonic for Two a la pere Cecchini

3 oz London Dry Gin
1 Lime
about 7 oz Tonic (or one 200ml bottle)
Ice
Lime Wheel for Garnish (optional)

METHOD: Peel limes longitudinally (from top to bottom). Squeeze peels into a mixing glass or pitcher and drop in. Add Gin to mixing glass. Juice lime and add to mixing glass, should be between 1/2 to 3/4 oz lime juice. If your limes are sad and dry, you may need more than 1. Crack ice and add to mixing glass. Ice two collins glasses, no more than 12 oz. Stir gin and lime juice briefly and strain into two glasses. Pour tonic down the side of the glasses to nearly fill and stir gently. Garnish with lime wheels and serve immediately.

To be honest, one of my favorite things about this recipe is that it is for two. Individual cocktails are cool, but making pitchers of cocktails is even better, especially for loved ones and friends. And this is quite delicious, almost more like a Gin Rickey with Tonic than what I usually associate with GNT. However, I’m not going to be a stickler when the results are this appealing.

Arborio with Winter Squash, Salad and Sausage

Especially when served as an aperitif before a classic Flannestad fall dinner for two like: Arborio Rice with Butternut Squash and Mushrooms. Grilled Sausages. Red Romaine salad with Fuyu Persimmon in a white wine, sage, and scallion dressing.

Bonus picture of Monty the Dog at Fort Funston! Ball!

Gin Fix

Gin Fix
Use small bar glass.
1 Tablespoonful Sugar.
1/4 Lemon.
1/2 Wineglass Water.
1 Wineglass Gin.
Fill 2/3 full of shaved ice. Stir with a spoon and ornament the top with fruits in season.

OK, so those instructions are kind of hopelessly munged. First, this is an old recipe, so we’re definitely using Genever, not Dry Gin. Second, remembering the caveat from the Brandy Fix, “In making fixes be careful to put the lemon skin in the glass,” but let’s punch-i-fy further (oleo sacharum baby!) and muddle the peel of the lemon in the sugar.

How about the following:

Genever Fix

1 Generous teaspoonful sugar.
Rind and juice of 1/2 lemon.
Water.
2 oz Bols Aged Genever.
Fruit, in season, to garnish.

In heavy double old fashioned glass (or similar), muddle lemon rind in sugar until fragrant. Add water, and muddle until sugar is dissolved. Pour in Genever and lemon juice. Stir to mix. Fill with fine ice and swizzle until well frosted. Garnish with fruits, in season.

Ah, yes, delicious! And Kiwis are in season here in California, so there!

Mr. Angus Winchester, man about town and global ambassador for Tanqueray Gin, was kind enough to come out to one of our recent Savoy Nights at Alembic Bar.

When I was chatting with him, I quizzed him about what he thought was notable about the category of drinks called “Fix”.

Interestingly, he said his theory was the name “Fix” referred to the fact that the drink was “Fixed in the glass”. And went on to say that he considered one of the more important Dick Bradsell drinks,the Bramble, an elaborate “Fix”.

Hrm, well, Mr. Bradsell doesn’t exactly see it that way, he considers it a Singapore Sling variation, nor does he mix his bramble in the glass, but in a way, it works. Let’s “Fix” a Bramble.

Fixed Bramble

Rind and Juice 1/2 Lemon.
1 generous teaspoon Sugar.
Water.
2 oz Dry Gin.
1/2 oz Blackberry Liqueur.
Blackberries or other seasonal fruit, for garnish.

In a heavy old fashioned glass muddle the peel of a lemon in sugar. Add water, and muddle to dissolve. Add Gin and Lemon juice. Mix to combine and add ice. Swizzle until glass well frosted. Drizzle on Blackberry liqueur and garnish with fresh fruit and lemon slice.

Swizzle Stick courtesy Samurai Bartender, Chris “Rookie” Stanley.

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.

Savoy Hotel Rickey

Savoy Hotel Rickey
Use medium size glass.
1 Lump of Ice.
The Juice of 1/2 Lime or 1/4 Lemon. (Juice 1/4 Lemon)
1 Glass Gin. (2 oz North Shore No 6)
4 Dashes Grenadine. (1 Teaspoon of Small hand Foods Grenadine)
Fill with Carbonated Water and leave Rind of Lime or Lemon in glass.

A Gin Rickey, slightly enpinkened, the Savoy Hotel Rickey isn’t anything particularly fancy.

On the other hand, it is really easy to make and quite refreshing.

A good drink for lazy summer afternoons, when actually shaking something is a little too much effort. Build it over the ice, give it a stir or two. Top up with soda and you’re done.

Hard to beat!

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.

Remsen Cooler

Remsen Cooler
l Glass Dry Gin.
1 Split of Soda.
Peel rind of lemon in spiral form, place in long tumbler with 1 lump of Ice, add Gin and fill with soda water.

The Remsen Cooler is about the only of these Coolers to have survived over the years, but there is still some confusion. The drink came to be made frequently with Gin, but some maintain it is properly made with Scotch.

Cocktail Bill Boothby relates the following in his 1906 version of his bar book. It is a nice story. Note, Old Tom Cordial Gin was a type of sweetened Old Tom Gin which apparently was available for a brief few years around 1900.

“Some years ago, the late William Remsen, a retired naval officer and a popular member of the Union Club, N.Y., introduced a beverage to the members of that swell organization which has since taken his name and is now known to all clubmen by the appellation of Remsen cooler.”

“Pare a lemon (a lime will not answer the purpose) as you would an apple, so that the peel will resemble a corkscrew, place the rind in a long thin glass and pour over it a jigger of Old Tom cordial gin; with a bar-spoon now press the peel and stir it thoroughly, so the liquor will be well flavoured with the essence of the skin and fill the glass with plain soda off the ice. English club soda is highly recommended for this drink. Be sure the soda is cold.”

Hugo Ensslin, in his 1916 “Recipes for Mixed Drinks” takes a middle path, by allowing either Gin or Scotch:

Remsen Cooler
1 drink Dry Gin or Scotch Whiskey;
1 Lemon;
1 bottle Club Soda.

Peel off rind of lemon in spiral form, place in Collins glass with cube of ice, add Gin or Scotch and fill up with Club Soda.

Well, if you can use Gin OR Whisky in a drink recipe, why not use something in between? Say Dutch Genever?

Remsen Cooler
2 oz Bols Aged Genever*.
1 Split of Soda.
Peel rind of lemon in spiral form, place in long tumbler with 1 lump of Ice, add Genever and fill with soda water.

A couple years ago, Bols brought a 19th Century style Genever to America. Based on a recipe from 1820 it soon became the darling of many bartenders. However, they weren’t quite sure what would happen with it in cocktails. There are not a ton of cocktail recipes for Genever. Would people try to mix it like Dry Gin?

What they found, especially with a lot of stumping from cocktail and punch classicists like David Wondrich, was that people were mixing with it like it was Whiskey. Making Improved Holland Gin Cocktails, Sazeracs, Holland Sours, and the odd Holland House Cocktail.

So if people were mixing with it like it was a Whiskey, what if Bols introduced the category of Genever which was even more like Whiskey, Aged Genever?

From Instant Upload

I was lucky enough to attend an event where they launched the new product in San Francisco and introduced it to us in a couple drinks.

Aged a minimum of 18 months in used and new Cognac casks, Bols Barrel Aged Genever is in interesting contrast to the original Bols 1820 recipe. While it doesn’t seem to take anything away from the 1820, the aging and slightly different production process seems to heighten the spicy characteristics of the Genever. To me, the Juniper is even clearer in the Barrel Aged Genever than it is in the rather mildly flavored unaged 1820 Genever.

They had us try it in several drinks including a Collins and a Manhattan, but to me the real winner was the Barrel Aged Genever in a julep. I’ve made and enjoyed Genever Juleps before, but the spice and intensity of the Barrel Aged Genever made it stand out in the drink and really complement the flavor of the mint.

For what it’s worth, it’s not bad in an even simpler drink, The Remsen Cooler. On the ice or off the ice, little simple syrup wouldn’t hurt this drink, but note that none of the recipes include any juice at all, only lemon peel.

*The Bols Aged Genever used in this post was provided to me by a firm promoting the brand.

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.

South Side Fizz

First, just a reminder that Sunday, August 28, 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.

South Side Fizz
The Juice of 1/2 Lemon. (Juice 1/2 Lemon, Juice 1/2 Lime)
1/2 Tablespoonful Powdered Sugar. (1-ish Tablespoon Rich Simple Syrup, or to taste)
1 Glass Gin. (2 oz Anchor Junipero Gin)

Shake well strain into medium size glass and fill with syphon soda water.  Add fresh mint leaves.

As I noted a couple years ago, The South Side, even though it is often now served without soda, has its roots in a Fizz. That is, a Gin Fizz with mint and sprigs of mint for garnish.

The recipe for the South Side Fizz is a little oblique as far as instructions go.

My advice as far as METHOD goes:

Combine Gin, Citrus, Syrup, and a few Mint Leaves in a shaker tin. Shake well and fine strain into an 8 oz Juice or Fizz Glass. Top with Soda Water and garnish with fresh sprigs of mint.

Any drink with leaves of fresh herbs in the shaker tin should always be fine strained. Little green specks of mint look no good in anyone’s teeth, especially when they’re trying to impress their date.

The South Side is another classic cocktail, which really only became possible to make properly with the advent of the modern bar and the return of fresh mint and citrus to the bar set up. It is truly one of the GREAT drinks and a crowd pleaser, tunable for almost any guest, even those that think they don’t like Gin. Also one of my wife’s favorites, give it a try on yours.

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.

Holland Fizz

Holland Fizz
The Juice 1/2 Lemon. (Juice of 1/2 Lemon, Juice of 1/2 Lime)
1/2 Tablespoonful Powdered Sugar. (Generous Teaspoon Rich Simple Syrup)
1 Glass Gin. (2 oz Bols Genever)
(Dash Miracle Mile Forbidden Bitters)
The White of 1 Egg. (Uh, oops!)
Shake well strain into medium size glass and fill with sypon soda water. Add 3 sprigs of fresh Mint.

Wait, what? Egg White! Dammit, I forgot the Egg White!

Well, you will perhaps be thrilled to know that I did make this drink for a guest at Heaven’s Dog a couple weeks ago AND succeeded in including the Egg White. I hope they appreciated the effort that went into their, “Freedom From Choice: Gin, Citrus”. I will also be very happy to make it for you properly, should you happen to stop by Heaven’s Dog Saturday, July 23rd.

Even though I forgot the Egg White, I did decide to include some of the Miracle Mile Forbidden Bitters, which went surprisingly well with the Bols Genever. Note to self, Genever Old-Fashioned in my very near future with Miracle Mile Forbidden Bitters.

Oh yeah, why Genever, instead of any old Dry Gin?

Well, it is called a “Holland Fizz”, what are you going to make the Holland Fizz with OTHER than Genever?

Anyway, with or without Egg White, this is a nice drink and a pleasant change from the “Plain Gin Fizz”. Give it a try some time!

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.

Golden Fizz

Golden Fizz
The Juice of 1/2 Lemon. (Juice 1/2 Lemon, Juice 1/2 Lime)
1/2 Tablespoonful Powdered Sugar. (2 tsp Caster Sugar)
1 Glass Gin. (2 oz Ransom Old Tom Gin)
The Yolk of 1 Egg. (1 Farm Fresh Egg Yolk)
Shake well, strain into medium size glass and fill with syphon soda water.

As with most of the Fizzes, the Savoy Cocktail Book editors probably got the recipe for the Golden Fizz from Hugo Ensslin’s 1916 “Recipes for Mixed Drinks”. In his book, Ensslin gives the recipe as, “Made same as plain Gin Fizz, adding the yolk of an egg.”

Here’s Ensslin’s recipe for the Gin Fizz from the Cocktail Kingdom reprint:

Gin Fizz
Juice of ½ Lime;
Juice ½ Lemon;
1 tablespoon of Powdered Sugar;
1 drink Dry Gin.

Shake well in a mixing glass with cracked ice, strain into fizz glass, fill up with carbonated or any sparkling water desired.

The interesting thing about Ensslin’s recipe for the “Plain Gin Fizz” is that he uses both Lemon and Lime in the drink! Well, interesting is, I suppose, relative, but the additional tart citrus does make the sugar amounts and dilution in the Fizz recipes a bit more sensible.

Anyway, I’ve been ignoring the lemon-lime combo information up until now, (I was out of limes,) but I thought it was finally time to put it into play with the Golden Fizz.

When I mentioned this to someone they said, “Are you kidding, that’s Sour Mix!” Well, it’s not really, it’s just that Lemons and Limes bring different things to the party. Lemons are more sour, limes are more bitter and aromatic. Put them together, especially with Gin, and you get a sum greater than the parts!

You give it a try some time with a Sour or Fizz and let me know if you don’t think it elevates a somewhat plain drink.

As we discussed in the Gin Fizz post, when you add Egg White to a Fizz, you get a Silver Fizz. When you add Egg Yolk you, naturally, get a Golden Fizz. Richer, fuller, more unctuous. Not an every day refreshing fizz, to be sure, but a satisfying beverage of a different sort.

Music in the video is from the Lean Left Album, “The Ex Guitars meet Nilssen-Love/Vandermark Duo, Vol. 2″.

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.