Amer Cyder

One of the classic combinations in certain regions of France is Picon Biere, that is a Pilsener or Wheat beer with a splash of Amer Picon poured in.

Unfortunately, we don’t get Amer Picon here in these United States.

However, even if Diageo refuses to send us Amer Picon, we do get a lot of other Amaros…

With this series of posts we shall explore the possibilities we do have available.

Cyder Amaro

Cyder Amaro

I’ve been trying to think of the best Amaro (or related substance) to go with Cider.

The other night I was working at Alembic and the other bartender said, “Well, it’s about that time.” A quizzical look from me, “?” Exasperated, “About that time for a little Becherovka!” Oh, right. I should have known…

METHOD: Pour Cyder into the mason jar or glass of your choosing. Pour in 3/4 ounce (or to taste) of Becherovka.

Becherovka’s heavy spice and light bitter component makes it perfect for Cider, the only problem is figuring the amount. For this half liter glass of Chris Murray’s Sonoma Cyder, I found anything less than an ounce didn’t have much impact. Your mileage may, of course, may vary.

Picon Biere #7

One of the classic combinations in certain regions of France is Picon Biere, that is a Pilsener or Wheat beer with a splash of Amer Picon poured in.

Unfortunately, we don’t get Amer Picon here in these United States.

However, even if Diageo refuses to send us Amer Picon, we do get a lot of other Amaros…

With this series of posts we shall explore the possibilities we do have available.

Well, sometimes you do have Amer Picon available.

So let’s say you’re scanning the shelves behind the bar for interesting things, as I often do.

Perhaps you see a bottle that looks a little like this:

Amer Picon

What do you do?

Amer Picon

Trumer Pilsener & Amer Picon

METHOD: Pour beer into the mason jar or glass of your choosing. Pour in 3/4 ounce (or to taste) of Amer Picon.

Well, the polite thing is to observe the bottle with some degree of apparent awe. Someone probably had to carry the damn thing back in their suitcase from Europe, for gosh sakes. Ask your bartender politely, if that might be a bottle of Amer Picon. If he acknowledges your query positively, ask if he wouldn’t mind making you a Picon Biere.

Now it is possible that your bartender type will take some offense at this notion, that you might waste his precious Amer Picon in Beer. In which case, perhaps, if it seems the situation is salvageable, ask for a Brooklyn or Creole Cocktail. Whew.

Picon Biere

However, if your bartender is as nice as Kevin Diedrich at Jasper’s Corner Tap, he might be impressed that you have ordered a Picon Biere and gladly make one for you. Though do note, the label says this is, “Kevin’s Bottle,” so don’t be offended if he doesn’t oblige.

Problems in Modern Mixology

The Martini poses a problem for the Modern Mixologist.

It is composed of a required three parts: Gin, Dry Vermouth, and Orange Bitters, with a lot variation on execution and garnish.

However, the main thing we struggle with, in these modern times, is how to get the Gin into the drink.

Everyone loves Dry Vermouth, so that’s not a problem, but not a lot of people love Gin.

In varying degrees, they think Gin will:

  • Cause them to behave erratically.
  • Be smelled on their breath by officers of the law.
  • Be perceived by their peers as a sign of aging.
  • Send them straight to hell.

Extreme Modern Mixologists propose that simply infusing your Dry Vermouth with Juniper is sufficient. Juniper plus Dry Vermouth equals a Martini.

Other Modern Mixologists theorize that simply placing the gin in a sunbeam, and having that sunbeam strike the mixing tin is sufficient.

I disagree, I think there must at least be some hint of Gin in the drink.

The Martini issue can be solved with the salaciously named ‘good old in-and-out’. That is, you pour the gin IN over your ice cubes, agitate briefly, pour the Gin OUT, then add the Dry Vermouth and bitters.

This is OK, but I often find the Gin accidentally, and embarrassingly, spilling into my mouth. Never Good, with the potential for unintended drunkenness.

I propose another solution:

Misto

Load your favorite Misting device with Gin, Navy Strength for extra credit, and in a semi-vintage bottle, for a gold star. As a bonus, this can be used as an aftershave applicator, attracting lonely, alcoholic, spinsters, or even, perhaps, widowers, depending on your predilections. Plus, Gin Scented Flame Thrower!

Martini, Extra-Wet

3 oz Dry Vermouth
2 Dash Orange Bitters
Gin Loaded Mister

METHOD: Add Dry Vermouth and Orange Bitters to a chilled mixing glass. Add ice and stir until chilled. Spray Cocktail Glass with Gin Mist. Strain drink into glass. Garnish as required.

For extra points, I thought I might tackle applying this technique to the much maligned Vesper Cocktail. Why, not even it’s creator, Ian Fleming, liked the drink. Perhaps with a bit of tweaking, we can fix its problems.

The traditional “Vesper” is typically quoted from “Casino Royale”, as follows, “Just a moment. Three measures of Gordon’s, one Vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon-peel. Got it?”

Let’s see if we can’t bring this black sheep of a drink back into the fold.

The main problems, are twofold. First, too much Gin. Second, no one can agree on what the recipe means by “Kina Lillet”.

As we have several contenders for the “Kina Lillet” throne, perhaps we can use all three, and their combined might will overcome what one alone cannot.

Reverse Vesper

Evening Prayer, a.k.a. Why Can’t We All Just Get Along

1 oz Cocchi Americano
1 oz Lillet Blanc
1 oz Kina l’Avion d’Or
1/2 oz Oude Genever*

Gin Loaded Mister (see above)
Orange Zest

METHOD: Combine Cocchi, Lillet, Kina l’Avion, and Genever in a chilled mixing glass. Add ice and stir until well chilled. Spray Cocktail Glass with Gin Mist. Strain cocktail into glass and zest orange over glass.

A little intense, but not bad. You’ve got the fruity, light flavor of the Lillet, the bitter intensity of the Kina l’Avion, and the Orange, Cinnamon Gentian of the Cocchi. Not bad, for a first try. I think this whole thing might work out, after all.

*I just never have any Vodka in the house. I refuse spend money on flavorless spirits, and whenever I get some for free I end up using it in an infusion. Genever is tastier, anyway.

Cobblers.

From the Savoy Cocktail Book:

Cobblers.

The cobbler is, like the Julep, a drink of American origin, although it is now an established favourite, particularly in warm climes. It is very easy to make, but it is usual to make it acceptable to the eye, as well as the palate, by decorating the glass after the ingredients are mixed. The usual recipe for preparing Cobblers is given below. To make a Whisky Cobbler substitute Whisky for Gin, For a Brandy Cobbler, substitute Brandy, and so on.

Cobbler
Fill glass half full with cracked ice.
Add 1 Teaspoonful of Powdered Sugar.
Add 1 Small Glass of Gin (or Whisky, or Brandy, as above).
Stir well, and decorate with slices of orange or pineapple.

The above comes mostly verbatim from Jerry Thomas’ “Bartender’s Guide”.

The Cobbler was probably an old fashioned drink by the time Jerry Thomas got around to writing about it in 1862. He includes 7 variations in his 1862 book, basically all identical: Sherry Cobbler, Champagne Cobbler, Catawba Cobbler, Hock Cobbler, Claret Cobbler, Sauterne Cobbler, and Whiskey Cobbler.

98. Sherry Cobbler

(Use large bar glass.)

2 wine-glasses of sherry.
1 table-spoonful of sugar.
2 or 3 slices of orange.
Fill a tumbler with shaved ice, shake well, and ornament with berries in season. Place a straw as represented in the wood-cut.

I wasn’t really feeling the Sherry Cobbler and am unclear about if I could even find Hock or Catawba. Champagne seemed a little hackneyed and the Whiskey Cobbler like Thomas was throwing a bone to modern taste by including a Cobbler based on spirits instead of wine.

I thought about a Port Cobbler, which sounded nice, but my favorite old fashioned wine is Madeira. So, over my lunch hour, I dropped by to pay the lovely women of Cask Store a visit and scored a new bottle of Madeira.

Madeira Cobbler.
4 oz Blandy’s 10 Year Malmsey Madeira
1/4 oz Rich Simple Syrup

Half fill a mixing glass with cracked ice. Add Madeira and simple Syrup. Pour back and forth between mixing glass and serving glass a couple times, finishing in serving glass. Ornament with slices of orange and berries, in season. Serve with a straw.

In “Imbibe!: From Absinthe Cocktail to Whiskey Smash…” David Wondrich makes a couple notes regarding Cobblers in Imbibe, and I’ve been re-reading another couple things online. First off, it was one of the couple first American drinks to really make an impact on European and especially English drinkers. There are several references to Cobbler drinking in the works of authors as notable as Charles Dickens. Second, it was THE drink that introduced the straw to the world.

If there is a mistake that modern mixers make with the cobbler, it is that they make it too strong, either by using spirits in the drink, or by making it too concentrated with additional citrus juice or liqueurs and syrups. The Cobbler, like punch, is a sort of “session drink”. The Cobbler, especially, should be a light, refreshing, cold drink that you can enjoy at lunch on a hot day and still go about your business for the rest of the afternoon.

Americans, with our obsession with intense, strong flavors, often have a hard time wrapping our minds around the aesthetics of subtlety or mild flavors in drinks and food. One of the hardest lessons for us to learn is when to stop adding ingredients, flavors, and additional complexity to our beverages or dishes. We tend to say, “If it’s good, it’s better with bacon. If it’s better with bacon, it’s would be really awesome with cheese. If it’s good with bacon and cheese, it really could use some avocado to make it pop… Oh hell, just put some Foie Gras on it.”

If you are a bartender, or a drink mixer, the Cobbler is a pretty good place to start to teach yourself to appreciate austerity and simplicity, as long as you resist the temptation to add any additional ingredients. Save your creativity for the garnish.

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.

Zanzibar Cocktail

The countdown to the last “Cocktail” continues.

Say it with me, “FOUR!”

Zanzibar Cocktail
(6 People)
The Juice of 1 1/2 Lemons. (1/2 oz Lemon Juice)
1 Glass Gin. (1/2 oz Anchor Junipero Gin)
3 Glasses French Vermouth. (1 1/2 oz Perucchi Vermouth Blanco)
1 or 2 Dessertspoonsful Sugar Syrup. (Pinch Caster Sugar)
If desired, 1 Spoonful Orange Bitters. (3 dash orange bitters)
Shake well and serve with a piece of lemon rind.

With the sweetness of the Perucchi Vermouth Blanco, I went light on the sweetener in the Zanzibar.

This is an interesting cocktail, essentially a Vermouth Sour with a touch of gin, it’s really quite enjoyable. Light and refreshing, it is nearly the polar opposite of the short sharp shock of a traditional Gin Sour. A great aperitif Cocktail, and another to add to the list of enjoyable Savoy Low Alcohol Beverages.

Since we were going light on the amount of Gin in this cocktail, I also didn’t feel shy about using something as strong and juniper heavy as the Anchor Junipero.

Recommended.

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.

York Special Cocktail

First, just a reminder that today, Sunday, Feb 27, 2011, is our monthly exercise in folly, Savoy Cocktail Book Night at Alembic Bar. If any of the cocktails 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.

The countdown to the last “Cocktail” continues.

Say it with me, “SIX!”

York Special Cocktail
4 Dashes Orange Bitters. (4 dashes Regan’s Orange Bitters)
1/4 Maraschino. (3/4 oz Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur)
3/4 French Vermouth. (2 1/4 oz Perucchi Blanc)
Shake (I stirred) well and strain into cocktail glass. (Squeeze Lemon Peel over glass and drop in.)

Well, it isn’t exactly a Chrysanthemum Cocktail, but it isn’t bad. It’s probably too sweet with the Perucchi Blanc Vermouth and that much Maraschino Liqueur.

A question I’ve had, that no one seems to be able to answer, is: When did “Extra Dry Vermouth” become the dominant style?

You’d think, if something is called “Extra Dry” it would be differentiating itself from something else. Say, plain old “Dry” Vermouth.

I often wonder if the Blanc/Bianco style might have been dominant for longer than we generally admit.

If so, the transition from Martinez to Martini would have been not such a big deal, mostly about changing the color of the drink.

Blanc/Bianco Vermouth does mix A LOT better with Genever than “Extra Dry” Vermouth.

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.

Moonlight Cocktail

Moonlight Cocktail

Moonlight Cocktail
(6 People)

1 1/2 Glasses Grape-fruit Juice. (3/4 oz fresh Grapefruit Juice)
2 Glasses Gin. (1 oz Broker’s Gin)
1/2 Glass Kirsch. (1/4 oz Clear Creek Kirsch)
2 Glasses White Wine. (1 oz Les Domains Tatins, 2007, Quincy/Domaine du Tremblay)

Add ice and shake thoroughly. Serve by placing in each glass a thin shaving of lemon peel.

A very dry cocktail.

I mentioned the ingredients to this cocktail to some drinky friends and they said, “That’s a Boudreauing Wine-tini!” Ahem. Well, as we all know by now, there truly is very little new under the sun, whether it is the use of fresh herbs and spices in cocktails or wine.

It is actually a pleasant cocktail, more along the lines of a punch, almost, than what I usually think of as the typical cocktail flavor palette. And, yes, it is a very dry cocktail!

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.

Mint Cocktail

Mint Cocktail

Mint Cocktail
(6 People)
Soak a few sprigs of fresh mint for two hours in a glass and a half of White Wine (3/4 oz Les Domains Tatins, 2007, Quincy/Domaine du Tremblay). Add half a glass of Crème de Menthe (1/4 oz Brizard Creme de Menthe), 2 Glasses of Gin (1 oz Broker’s Gin) and 1 1/2 glasses of White Wine (3/4 oz Les Domains Tatins, 2007, Quincy/Domaine du Tremblay). Ice and shake (or stir if you prefer) thoroughly. Serve with a sprig of mint tastefully arranged in each glass.

Not sure how tastefully arranged that mint sprig is, but what can you do?

We skipped this one at NOPA, as we hadn’t planned ahead with the mint soaking.

Not exactly sure why I picked this wine, but it does really work in this cocktail. And plus, afterwards, you’re left with most of a delicious (and reasonable) bottle of Loire white. I don’t know about you, but I certainly won’t complain about that.

Initially my tastes sort of rebelled at this cocktail. Tastes like wine… Something…Not…Right… But after a while I settled in to the light minty taste. After I finished the cocktail, I poured some plain wine in my glass, figuring it would be more enjoyable. Nice, sure. And if I had a dozen oysters around, maybe sublime. But I missed the flavor of the cocktail.

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.

Cupid Cocktail

Cupid Cocktail

Cupid Cocktail

1 Glass Sherry. (2 oz Lustau Don Nuno Dry Oloroso)
1 Fresh Egg.
Teaspoonful Powdered Sugar. (1 tsp. caster sugar)
A little Cayenne Pepper.

Shake well and strain into medium size glass.

Sherry Flip, essentially. The cayenne pepper give it an interesting little kick.

Not overly complex or anything; but enjoyable all the same.

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.

Chrysanthemum Cocktail

Chrysanthemum Cocktail

Chrysanthemum Cocktail

3 Dashes Absinthe (1 tsp. Lucid Absinthe)
1/3 Benedictine (1 oz Benedictine)
2/3 French Vermouth (2 oz Noilly Prat Dry)

Shake (stir, please) well and strain into cocktail glass. Squeeze orange peel on top.

Well-known and very popular in the American Bar of the S.S. “Europa.”

The Chrysanthemum cocktail really surprised me. I expected it to be far too sweet and/or vermouth-ey.

It really isn’t.

The sweetness is about on level with that of a not too sweet gewurtztraminer or glass of apple juice.

Deliciously complex, yet every ingredient is there to be savored.

It’s true I am a sucker for pretty much any cocktail with Bendictine; but this is one of my new favorites. Definitely something I will make again.

By, the way, the S.S. Europa had its own interesting history:

S.S. Europa

Launched on March 19, 1930, she served peace time passengers for Germany, participated in war time activities for the Third Reich, was confiscated by the US in 1945, took part in troop movement for the US soldiers, then back to passengers for France after WWII as the S.S. Liberté. Finally the scrap yards of Italy in 1962.

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.