Conduit Street Punch

So I was looking at a couple of these bottles of “White Whiskey” in my cabinet and thinking to myself, “When on earth will I ever drink this?” Casting about for ways to spare my family the trouble of disposing it after my demise, I got to thinking about the origins of Gin on a base of pot still grain spirit. Then I was reminded that David Wondrich, in his awesome book, “Punch: The Delights and Dangers of the Flowing Bowl,” remarked that the John Collins was a type of punch.

In fact, Reza Esmaili (now of Long Bar & Bistro) once had a drink on the menu at the late lamented Conduit Restaurant called (I think) the Hanover Collins. It had Genevieve Gin, Lemon Juice, and sugar. When I asked about the name, he got enthusiastic and ran to get his notebook, so he could recite the following excerpt.

My name is John Collins,
head-waiter at Limmer’s,
The corner of Conduit Street,
Hanover Square;
My chief occupation is filling of brimmers,
To solace young gentlemen laden with care.

Supposedly, he informed me, the Collins was named after the head waiter at this particular establishment in honor of his wonderful Gin Punch.

Hm, if the Collins is a Punch, maybe I could use these unaged whiskies to replicate it. A sort of bottled Tom Collins Mix.

Well, why not?

Starting with the methods and proportions from my adaption of Jerry Thomas’ California Milk Punch, we’ll give it a try.

Conduit Street Punch

1 Bottle Tuthilltown Old Gristmill Unaged Corn Whiskey, 750ml
1 Bottle Tuthilltown Hudson Unaged Corn Whiskey, 375ml
1 Bottle Death’s Door White Whiskey, 750ml

.6 oz Juniper Berries, Crushed
1 TBSP Coriander, Crushed
1 tsp Celery Seed, Crushed
1 tsp Anise Seed, Crushed
1 Cassia Cinnamon Stick
6 Green Cardamom Pods, Crushed
1 Long Pepper Pod, Crushed

6 Seville Oranges
4 Lemons
2 Limes

16 oz Water
16 oz Sugar
4 tsp Hubei Silver Tips Tea

1 Quart Straus Farms Milk

Method:
Zest citrus and add zest to Whiskies. Juice Oranges, 2 Lemons, and 2 limes. Strain, and add to aforementioned liquid. Add Spices. Allow to infuse for 48 hours.

Heat water and add tea. Steep 6 minutes and stir in sugar. Strain tea leaves out of syrup and chill.

Strain Peels and Spices out of Liquid. Juice other two lemons and add to Flavored Booze Mixture. Heat milk to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Add to Flavored Booze Mixture. Allow to stand undisturbed for 30 minutes and filter through cheesecloth, removing milk solids. Add Tea Syrup to filtered booze mixture and pour into clean containers. Allow to stand for a couple days*. Rack clear liquid off of any accumulated sediment into clean bottles and store. Chill well before serving. Serve on ice and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg. Makes about 3 quarts.

*If you have space in your refrigerator, storing the punch chilled will greatly accelerate the separation of the remaining milk solids from the other liquids.

Well, hm. Tasting this room temperature, last night, after the Milk step, I was struck by two things. First, the Celery Seed was a mistake. It has an unpleasant earthy flavor which distracts from the higher flavors of anise and juniper. Second, this doesn’t taste like it has any booze in it at all.

When I serve my Milk Punches to people, they often remark that they could easily drink a pint glass of them, they are so smooth. I generally discourage that, as, smoothness and drinkability aside, I am pretty sure the alcohol content is up near 25%. And those were the Milk Punches made from rough spirits like Batavia Arrack and Jamaican Rum. This one, made from unaged pot still clear whiskey, is on an another level of smoothness altogether. Is this vaguely herby citrus water or punch?

I’m not convinced this particular Milk Punch is super awesome, I wish I had left out the Celery Seed. But I will bring it along tomorrow night, Feb 27, 2011, for Savoy Night at Alembic Bar. Stop by and ask for a taste, if you are curious. But I recommend caution.

EDIT

So, the celery seed element calmed down a lot after resting, and I have decided this is quite an enjoyable punch. The flavor is very light and somewhat reminiscent of Yellow Chartreuse. While fairly sweet, it has a somewhat dry presentation. It is really good, about 50-50 with chilled soda water, though still produces a pretty potent buzz.

Another Manhattan-ish Cocktail

I was thinking about what made the flavors of the Low Gap White Whiskey work so well with the flavors in that Manhattan-ish Cocktail, when I got to thinking about combining the floral hop flavors of the Charbay Doubled and Twisted with the floral-anise character of the Meletti Amaro.

1 oz Charbay Doubled and Twisted Unaged California Whiskey
2 oz Chilled Perucchi Red Vermouth
1/2 oz Meletti Amaro
Chilled Soda Water

Build in medium size glass, top with soda.

It’s not as totally awesome and enjoyable for me as the Low Gap and Carpano Antica “Manhattan” but something about the flavors strike me as more in tune with modern Cocktails. I’ll have to try giving it the stirred cocktail treatment one of these days.

Sazerac Cocktail (Death’s Door White Whiskey)

Sazerac Cocktail 12 out of 28.

I have challenged myself to post 28 Sazeracs in 28 days for the month of February.

I’ll try some different spirits, try some out at bars, and have some friends make them for me. Hopefully, if I can get my act together we’ll have some video.

025

Sazerac Cocktail.
1 Lump of Sugar. (10ml* Rich Simple Syrup**)
1 Dash Angostura or Peychana Bitters. (a couple dashes Peychaud’s Bitters)
1 Glass Rye or Canadian Club Whisky. (2 oz Death’s Door White Whiskey)

Stir well and strain into another glass that has been cooled and rinsed with Absinthe (Sirene Absinthe Verte) and squeeze lemon peel on top.

*Woops, briefly degenerated into using the “barspoon” measure. Sorry about that.

**Double Whoops. I make “Rich Simple Syrup” by adding 2 parts sugar, (usually Florida Crystals Natural Cane Sugar,) by volume to 1 part of water. Heat it over a very low flame, not boiling or even simmering, stirring until the sugar dissolves. You can actually dissolve it without heat, but it takes more patience than I have.

So what is a Sazerac?

I’m gonna say that the method is more determinative of the drink than that actual ingredients.

Over the years, starting from Chuck Taggart’s writeup on his Gumbopages website, I have a “simple” six step process for every Sazerac I make.

1) Chill the serving glass with crushed ice and water.  Learned this trick from Jackie Patterson, crushed ice chills the glass much more effectively than cubes.
2) Add the Whiskey, Peychaud’s Bitters, and syrup to the mixing glass.
3) Add ice to the mixing glass and stir for, uh, as long as it takes. Minimum of 30 seconds with big, dry ice. Less with small, wet ice.
4) Dump the crushed ice and water out of the serving glass and add a few dashes of absinthe. Swirl to coat the glass and dump out excess.  Some people like to toss the glass up in the air and shout, “Sazerac!” at this point.
5) Strain the chilled booze into the serving glass.
6) With a vegetable peeler, cut a fresh swath of lemon peel, twist it over the glass, rub it along the edge, and drop it in.  Some frown on dropping the peel into the Sazerac, but when I don’t customers often ask where the lemon peel is. Apparently, they like to see it floating in the drink. It does give more lemon impact to the flavor of the drink itself.

With all the press and excitement around unaged Whiskies these days, couldn’t skip mixing a Sazerac with one!

So how about dat dere Death’s Door White Whiskey in a Sazerac, ya hey?

Not bad at all.  And funny, the Sazerac it has the most in common with is the Bols Genever Sazerac. There’s a nice malty character to both spirits, and the Bols Genever is so subtly spiced that you might have a hard time with a Blind tasting with it and the Death’s Door Whiskey.  At least in a Sazerac.  The Whiskey does have a little more heat on it than the Genever.  Still, a fine and enjoyable beverage.

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.