Chance of Showers

Ever since I’ve started making yeast carbonated Ginger Beers this summer, I’ve wanted to use them to make a drink with dark rum and lime.

Last week, an email arrived with the following subject: Ivy Room Cocktail Competition & Anniversary Party (12/09)

Sponsored by Ron Zacapa 23 Rum

Details:
Competition is open to any bartender currently working in the bar, restaurant or spirits industry
1st PLACE Prize = $500 gift card
2nd PLACE Prize = Bar Kit & Bottle of Ron Zacapa 23
3rd PLACE Prize = Bottle of Ron Zacapa 23
All cocktails shall utilize Ron Zacapa 23 as main ingredient and only spirit

Create four cocktails – recipes shall be original creations

We invite inventiveness and creativity, drinks should be delicious – try not to overthink it

Cocktails will be judged according to the following criteria, with a total of 100 points possible:
Use of Zacapa product: 25 points
Aroma: 15 points
Flavor: 15 points
Technique: 15 points
Presentation: 15 points
Creativity: 15 points

My first thought was to make the drink a bit of an “old-fashioned” and serve it stirred on a single large ice cube.

However, after workshopping that idea at a friend’s bar in my neighborhood (Hi John! Thanks for loaning me a well at Holy Water!), I discarded that idea and re-made the same drink on their lovely regular Hoshizaki cube ice.

When I got to a version where a coincidentally located booze salesman said, “I could drink A LOT of those!” I figured I was close.

Here’s what I ended up with:

Chance of Showers

1 dash Angostura Bitters
Juice 1/2 Lime (or 1/2 oz)
1/2 oz Rich Simple Syrup (or to taste)
Yeast Carbonated Ginger Beer*, chilled
2 oz Ron Zacapa 23
Lime Burst, with pickled ginger stuffed peppadew pepper

Fill an old-fashiohned glass with cracked ice. Add Bitters, Lime Juice, and rich simple syrup to glass and stir to combine. Pour in chilled ginger beer to nearly fill and stir again. Float on Ron Zacapa and garnish.

*Yeast Carbonated Ginger Beer

5 oz Ginger
4 Dried Thai Bird Chiles, or other small piquant pepper

32oz Water
3/4 Cup Washed Raw Sugar

1/2 tsp Yeast

METHOD: Bloom yeast in lukewarm water with 1 teaspoon sugar. Over low heat, dissolve sugar in 24oz water. Add ginger and chiles to blender bowl with 8oz water and puree. (Blender works well for me in these amounts, but if you have a juicer that can juice ginger root, go for it.) Pour through cheesecloth to filter. Press as much liquid out of ginger solids as possible, I use a sturdy potato ricer. Add ginger juice and water to hot sugar solution and cool to lukewarm. Add yeast and bottle in clean sanitized containers, leaving some headroom. Seal tightly and place in a warm dark place for 5-8 hours, depending on temperature and how feisty your yeast is. Move to refrigeration when the bottles are firm to the touch. Yeast (tan) and Ginger starch (white) will fall out of solution. When serving, open carefully over bowl to catch potential over-foam. Makes a Quart and a bit more.

If you know anything about cocktails, you’ll probably know that this drink is somewhat similar to a Caribbean Potation called the “Dark ‘n’ Stormy”, allegedly invented in Bermuda some time during prohibition.

However, the Gosling’s Rum corporation is quite insistent that if you put a drink called a Dark ‘n’ Stormy on a restaurant or bar menu, that you must make it with their Rum and their recipe or not at all.

The Right Stuff (by Law), Jonathan Miles, NY Times

“‘What’s in a name?’ Shakespeare famously asked. In the case of the Dark ‘n’ Stormy, a Bermudan cocktail that’s been making a quiet resurgence in New York City bars and restaurants in the last couple of years, it’s two ounces of Gosling’s Black Seal rum and a fizzy hit of ginger beer.

“And, by law, nothing but.

“That’s according to two trademark certificates on file with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, which — in an exceptionally rare instance in the cocktail world — dictate the precise ingredients and amounts required to call a Dark ‘n’ Stormy, well, a Dark ‘n’ Stormy.”

So, as much as I might like to call this drink a “Dark ‘n’ Stormy”, it cannot be! It has Ron Zacapa 23, for one, and, it has lime juice, not to mention homemade yeast carbonated ginger beer.

“Dark ‘n’ Stormy” or not, this is a delicious drink, even if you must make it with Gosling’s Rum, not something I’d really recommend if you have another delicious rum like Zacapa 23 in the house…

Prepared with a NOT “Dark ‘n’ Stormy”, I wrote up the following to say to present my drink:

“Hi, I’m Erik Ellestad and I work for the Slanted Door Group of restaurants.

“My Ron Zacapa drink for this competition is called ‘Chance of Showers’.

“I have been a big fan of Ron Zacapa 23 for some time. A friend gave me a taste of it before I was really that into Cocktails and spirits and it blew me away. Mount Gay Eclipse had been about as far as I had journeyed up to that point vaguely in the direction of premium rums, and it basically convinced me that there was even such a thing as a sipping Rum. I frequently enjoy it as an after dinner digestiv, but my favorite story related to this fine Rum is in regards its other properties as a “mixer”.

“A while ago a good friend (Hi Rich!) of mine started dating a woman (Hi Humuhumu!) who was really, and I mean seriously, into Tiki Bars, Tiki drinks, Tiki culture, and related paraphernalia. One day he took me aside to ask for my advice. He wanted to buy his new girlfriend a bottle of Rum, but didn’t know much about Rums. My initial reaction was, don’t buy a Rum for someone who is that into Rum. What could you buy her that she hadn’t already tried or had in the house? He insisted, and I thought about it some more. Some aged Rhum Agricole came to mind at first, a little obscure, he’d get points for difficulty. But then I thought of Ron Zacapa 23. As I had liked it so much, maybe it could be a gateway Rum for him, as well as a fine gift for his new girlfriend. I mean, really, who can argue with Ron Zacapa 23, even if you already have a bottle?

“I guess it worked, as when they got married, instead of drinking wine to celebrate their new union, they drank Ron Zacapa 23!

“My drink is Angostura Bitters, Fresh Lime Juice, Homemade Yeast Carbonated Ginger Beer, and Ron Zacapa, garnished with a lime and a ginger stuffed pickled pepper.

“Please enjoy Chance of Showers. Or, now that I think about it, with young Wanda Trott in mind, maybe I should call it, ‘Chance of Baby Showers’!”

Meyer Lemon Rickey

A friend recently came back with some pictures from Pouring Ribbons in New York. Apparently, the talented bartenders there have been doing interesting things with ice.

In one case, they make puck shaped ice circles which nearly perfectly fit in an old fashioned type rocks glass. They build a portion of the drink, place the cube in the glass, then pour another portion of the drink on top of the cube. As the drink sits, the two parts slowly come together as the ice melts.

Dammit, Joaquin, you are making us look like we are not trying!

The idea of a drink that evolves as you consume it has always appealed to me, whether it was layers or flavors which come out as it warms, or through some other physical process.

At Alembic, where I sometimes work, they have been making ice made from water lightly flavored with cucumber for one of their drinks.

I like tea, so I was wondering about making ice from tea. Could you make a drink evolve by using ice made from strong tea?

I have a comical comment in my notebook, “Long Island Tea Ice,” which cracked me up when I first thought of it.

A few weeks ago, Erik Adkins had asked me about some posts I had written on eGullet in 2007 regarding the Rickey. I had to do some internet autopsy action to even remember what I had written.

The Rickey is a simple drink: Spirit, Lemon (or lime), and Soda. A very literal Highball with Lemon.

From Gary Regan’s writeup of the Rickey:

Whiskey Joe Rickey is Cool, Lemon or Lime

Joe Rickey disavowed the drink, though, saying in an interview published in an Ohio newspaper in 1900, “The ‘rickey’ originated in Washington, and I was in a sense responsible for it. You see, it was like this: I never drank whisky neat – it’s a mighty injurious system – but whisky diluted with a little water won’t hurt anybody. Of course, a carbonated water makes it brighter and more palatable, and for that reason I always took a long drink, usually whisky and water with a lump of ice.

“This is the highball of common commerce, and has been known to thirsty humanity for many generations. To this, however, I added the juice of a lemon in my desire to get a healthful drink, for the lemon acid is highly beneficial and tones up the stomach wonderfully.

“This combination became very popular at Shoomaker’s in Washington, where I did most of my drinking, and gradually the folks began asking for those drinks that Rickey drinks. About this time the use of limes became fairly common, and one afternoon an experimenter tried the effect of lime juice instead of lemon juice in the drink, and from that time on all ‘rickey’ were made from limes.

“I never drink the lime juice combination myself because I think the lemon acid is mellower and more beneficial.”

That may be, but the juice of a whole regular modern lemon makes for a pretty tart drink.

Thinking about that, myself, I thought of Meyer Lemons and their slightly lower acid content. Plus, I’ve always liked the gamey-thyme like flavor of their peel with Rye Whiskey.

Also, what if I upped the complexity of the drink a bit, by using the tea flavored ice?

If you’re using tea flavored ice, you might as well use a strong flavored tea…

Meyer Lemon Rickey

Rye Whiskey Rickey, with Meyer Lemon and Tea Ice

1 1/2 oz Rye Whiskey
Juice 1 Meyer Lemon
1 Lapsang Souchong Tea Ice Cube*
Soda Water

Pour the Rye Whiskey and Lemon over the ice cube in a highball glass (smallish is better, 8 oz is best). Stir briefly. Top with a little soda and stir once.

*Lapsang Souchong Tea is a black tea dried by smoking over a fire. It displays strong campfire notes. Brew a double strong batch of tea (2 tsp per cup) and pour into ice cube molds. Freeze.

At first you don’t really notice the smoke notes of the ice, but by the end, you wonder, “Is this a Scotch Rickey”?

Stay tuned for Long Island Tea Ice…

A Hendrick’s Cocktail

A guy was in the other night and wanted a “spirituous” cocktail featuring Hendricks.

I decided to do a variation on a tequila drink I’d worked up previously, to relatively positive response.

2 oz Hendrick’s Gin
3/4 oz Dolin Blanc (or other Bianco) Vermouth
2 dashes Grapefruit Bitters

Stir, strain, grapefruit peel garnish.

I really liked the way the rose of the Hendricks and grapefruit from the bitters worked together with the herbal flavors of the Dolin Blanc.

The customer’s response was, “that’s kind of subtle”. Hm, well, “subtle” is not bad, and, actually, exactly the sort of thing I aspire to in a spirituous cocktail. Present the spirit first and foremost, with some subtle accents.

A few days later, my boss came in to pick up some ice and paused for a couple drinks. He asked that I make him a gin cocktail, either a Savoy Cocktail or one of my own. Nothing like a little pressure.

Mulled a couple things, and decided to run this past him, but with Miller’s Westbourne instead of Hendricks. I thought I liked it better with the Miller’s than the Hendrick’s. Though it did need a bit longer stir to tame the heat of the Westbourne strength gin.

His comment was something like, “Well, it is kind of cheating, as pretty much 2 oz of anything with dolin blanc is going to taste great. But I like the way the grapefruit works in this. I could drink a lot of these.”

Triomphe Cocktail

Triomphe Cocktail

1 1/2 oz Vodka
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
1/2 oz Yellow Chartreuse
1/2 oz 1-1 Simple Syrup

Shake well with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon peel.

At work, we often get asked for vodka cocktails. We have a few in the bar book, and quite a few of the gin cocktails can be made to work well enough with vodka.  But I still try to struggle to think up new and interesting vodka cocktails that customers enjoy.  I’ve gotten good response to this one.

The Triomphe is a variation on the Savoy Cocktail, Champs Elysees, made with vodka instead of Brandy.  And to be honest, I kind of prefer it to the original Brandy version.  It turns out less busy, and is a better feature for the Yellow Chartreuse.  Not entirely happy with the name, but the Arc de Triomphe is on the Champs Elysees in Paris, so that’s why I gave it that name.  It’s also something of a personal “Triumph” for me, whenever I think of a vodka cocktail I actually like.

Of course, smart aleck servers like to point out that another way of looking at the “Triomphe” is as a slightly herbal Lemon Drop.

MxMo XXIX–Vieux Carré Cocktail

MxMo

One of my favorite New Orleans cocktails, after the Sazerac, is the Vieux Carré Cocktail.

According to Stanley Clisby Arthur in his book, “Famous New Orleans Drinks and How to Mix ‘Em,” the cocktail was invented by, “Walter Bergeron, head bartender of the Hotel Monteleone cocktail lounge,” and especially to honor the Vieux Carré, or old square, section of the city of New Orleans.

Clisby Arthur gives the recipe as follows:

1/2 teaspoon Benedictine
1 dash Peychaud bitters
1 dash Angostura bitters
1/3 jigger Rye whiskey
1/3 jigger Cognac Brandy
1/3 jigger Italian Vermouth

The Benedictine is used as a base and also for sweetening the cocktail. Dash on the bitters, then add the rye, brandy, and vermouth. Put several lumps of ice in the barglass. Stir. Twist a slice of lemon peel over the mixture. Drop in a slice of pineapple and a cherry if you wish and serve in mixing glass.

Personally, I tend to like the cocktail “up” instead of over ice, but follow his instructions as closely or as loosely as you prefer.

Now the fun thing about this cocktail is it is an example where two spirits work together beautifully.

It can be fun to experiment with your own variations, the only real rules being to include benedictine, bitters, and equal parts of two spirits and vermouth.

Here are a couple I’ve been pleased with:

Vieux Carré Variation 1

1 oz St. James Ambre Martinique Rhum
1 oz Laird’s Bonded Apple Brandy
1 oz Punt e Mes
Dash Benedictine
Dash Peychaud’s

Stir, Strain into cocktail glass.

The scent of the apple brandy and earthiness of the rhum agricole are quite interesting. Very complex libation. I’m omitting the Angostura, as I’m using the more bitter Punt e Mes vermouth.

Vieux Carré Variation 2

1 oz Highland Park 12 Single Malt Scotch Whisky
1 oz Calvados Roger Groult, Réserve 3 years old
1 oz M&R Bianco Vermouth
Dash Benedictine
Dash Angostura
Dash Peychaud’s

Stir, strain, grapefruit peel twist.

And here’s a double taboo for you. Not only does this cocktail contain two spirits, one of them is a Single Malt Scotch Whisky! Horrors!

Vieux Carré Variation 3 was something of a disaster. Gin and Wheat Whiskey. I still swear it is salvageable, maybe with Oude Genever. One of these days I’ll get back to it.

Vieux Carré Variation 4, I present for your amusement.

Vieux Carré Variation 4

1 tsp Benedictine
1 dash Peychaud’s Bitters
3/4 oz Batavia Arrack von Osten
3/4 oz Tequila Corralejo Reposado
3/4 oz Cocchi Aperitivo Americano

Stir, strain, dust with freshly grated nutmeg.

I’ve been thinking about some way to combine Tequila and Batavia Arrack for a while now without much success. This cocktail is the closest I’ve come to a success so far. Maybe a bit single noted. Definitely a work in progress, but I find the interaction between the spice, tequila, and arrack promising.

Cachaca Armazem Viera

Armazem Viera Esmeralda

Since trying Armazem Viera‘s Esmeralda Cachaca, I’ve gotten a little obsessed with making a cocktail with it. I really enjoy the flavor of the spirit.

The other week I think I wasted probably a good 8 ounces of it trying to make my favorite kinds of drinks. That is, those involving vermouth and bitters.

The thing, though, is that the Armazem Viera Esmeralda has an interesting smoky and slightly bitter character.

When mixed with bitters and vermouth, sweet or dry, it just seemed to highlight unfortunate characters of either the vermouth, the bitters, or the cachaca.

When I asked some folks about it, they didn’t have many suggestions. The only real answer I got, aside from complicated drinks with more than one spirit, was, “how about a julep?”

Well, alright, how about a julep?

But, being the sort of person who can’t leave well enough alone and damn those peaches sitting on the kitchen counter smell good…

Peach Cachaca Thing

Peach Cobbler
(No, really, it is pretty much a kind of drink called a “cobbler“!)

1/2 oz Rich Simple Syrup (2-1 Simple Syrup made with Demarara Sugar)
3 oz Cachaca Armazem Viera Esmeralda
Zest of 1/2 lemon, peeled as an apple
1/4 ripe peach, sliced
Float Dark Rum (I used Inner Circle Green)
Sprigs Mint

In a stainless mixing tin combine Syrup, Cachaca, Lemon Peel, and Peach. If you’ve got some time, let it sit for a while and allow the flavors to infuse. Add crushed ice to fill about half way up the tin. Pour the ice and spirit mixture back and forth between the serving glass and the mixing glass a few times to chill, ending in the serving glass. Float on your dark rum. Spank a couple sprigs of mint above glass, and insert. Serve with a straw and/or swizzle stick.

By the bye, if you’ve got ripe peaches around you might want to also try local bartender Neyah White’s Grilled Peach Old-Fashioned. Either stop by NOPA, or check out the recipe in this great recent article by Gary Regan: The Cocktail Divide.