Another month, another MxMo, so they say. And who are they? I cannot say. But for sure, this is a challenging MxMo idea, as hosted by The Scribe over at A Mixed Dram. So, broaden my horizons, eh? Well, the first thing that came to mind was, thankfully, the first thing in the description, Tequila!
As happens to so many of us, a bad incedent with Tequila at a tender age involving a few Margaritas in red solo cups, little people dressed as KISS, and a hot Los Angeles day did not bode well for my favor with the spirit. I’ve come to respect it, surely, through continued application of the good stuff (Del Maguey Mezcal, Cazadores Añejo), but can’t say I’ve had anything other than a straight shot in a good decade or so.
Well, the liquor fairy arrived at my doorstep a few weeks back with a delivery of what I’m hoping will pull me out of this particular mixological slump, in the form of Inocente Platinum Tequila. Inocente is a triple distilled tequila with an emphasis on removing the “nasty bits” that can easily lead to a hangover, and arrives in a nifty blue “twist” of a bottle that could make a nifty vase, or cheap christmas present. The nose is a sweet but clear tequila scent, with a bit of pear to it. The flavor is a bit relaxed, really only coming in a moment or two into the sip, but is an unmistakable smokey, fruity tequila, with almost no burn. This is definitely a great platinum to ease my way back into tequila mixology.
To mix it up, the emphasis on the smoke and fruit will be brought out by a very simple mix of orange oil, Grand Marnier, and Regan’s Orange bitters in a drink called the Cadillac Coupe. This one’s a bit of a tribute to a chef friend of mine, who, after work, enjoys nothing more than a bit of Platinum Tequila with just a splash of “Grandma” (Grand Marnier).
- 2 oz Platinum Tequila
- 1 oz Grand Marnier
- Regan’s Orange Bitters
- small square piece of orange peel
Rinse a chilled cocktail glass with a 3 dashes of orange bitters. Stir the spirits with ice until well chilled, and strain into the glass. Finish by flaming a bit of orange oil over the surface of the drink. This can be accomplished by slicing an inch by inch piece of peel from an orange, holding it over a flame over the drink, and giving a generous squeeze. This will release the oils, and create lovely aromatics, as well as a real crowd-pleasing burst of flame.
The drink is a kick, don’t get me wrong, but the smooth tequila and Grand Marnier mix incredibly well, just as they would in a Cadillac Margarita, of which this is a condensed version (none of that cheap garbage, just booze please!). The flavors are primarily smoke, and orange, with a nice silken mouthfeel from the stirring.
Got your own mixological challenge, a spirit not stumbled upon, or liqueur not liked? Trying mixing it up sometime, there’s nothing like a good challenge to stir your spirits!
The theme for this month’s Mixology Monday, hosted by my great friend (and nearby neighbor) Craig over at Tiki Drinks and Indigo Firmaments, is Spice! What a time for it too, with all the weather we’ve been having here in Sunny (snowy) Portland, there’s no better time for a bit of hot mulled something.
Though, if you’ve got a Tiki bar in the basement, and a decent furnace, then it’s a quick jot downstairs to create a tropical escape from the winter weather. Crank up the thermostat and close all the windows, next thing you know it’s time for a tall, cool, and spicy one.
Since this is such an all-encompassing MxMo topic, I thought I’d not focus on not just one or two spices, but Five Spice! Yes, the lack of pluralization is correct. I got turned on to Five Spice syrup thanks to Martin Cate, who uses it in the Forbidden Island specialty drink, the China Clipper. I twisted it a bit with a darker sugar. We all gotta make it our own, eh?
Five Spice powder, bought or freshly ground, is generally a mix of Cassia, Cloves, Szechuan Pepper, Ginger, and Anise. There appears to be a bit of here and there regionally, with the ingredients, omitting ginger, adding cumin, adding Cassia Buds, but the overall approach is a sort of all in one flavor profile. This spice hits all five points of flavor (omitting Umami), and is usually used for meats and stews in Chinese Cuisine.
These flavors are already used separately in drinks, and apply themselves quite well combined with a a nice blend of rich dark rums. I utilized these flavors for these extremely inspired drink that I can barely take credit for, which I like to call, FIN.
- 4 drops Falernum Bitters
- 4 drops Hebsaint
- 3/4 oz Pineapple Juice
- 1 1/2 oz Lime Juice
- 1 1/2 oz Rich Five Spice Syrup
- 3/4 oz Coruba
- 3/4 oz Lemon Hart 151
- 2 oz Soda Water
Place ingredients with 1 cup of cracked ince in tin shaker and mix with top down mixer for 3 seconds, or pulse blend for no more than 5 seconds. Serve in a tall tiki mug, with an orange spiral.
It’s hard to recognize the juices in this, as they almost reach an orange flavor, aided by the cassia in the five spice. There is no burn to the drink, but an overall smoothness that is almost unsettling. There is a note of the peppercorn in the end flavor, but not enough to recognize it if you didn’t know it was in there. It’s spicy and mellow, and I like this drink a helluva lot, you should too.
I suppose you want to know how to make Rich Five Spice Syrup, eh?
Rich Five Spice Syrup
- 1 TBSP Five Spice Powder
- 2 cups Natural Cane or Demerara Sugar
- 1 cup Water
Combine Dry Ingredients. Bring Water to a boil, add sugar and spice, and reduce heat. Stir until clear and take off of heat. Strain through a fine metal strainer to remove any of the larger bits of five spice powder, let cool, and refrigerate. Makes about 24 ounces, and can keep for a damn long time.
This was my drink entry for the recent Drambuie Den contest here in Portland, where David Shenaut of Teardrop Lounge took home top place with his Desert Wanderer, a variation on the Bee’s Knees featuring Drambuie.
No awards were lauded for this little number, but it’s a tip of my hat to the drinks and liqueurs that stand the test of time. Simple, refreshing, and just a bit different. I blame the salt addition on Darcy’s Sensory Perception seminar at Tales. The salt cuts out a few unsavory bitter elements in the Grapefruit and Drambuie, and makes it extremely smooth and sippable. It’s a bit out of season for a tall sparkler, but I think there’ll be more than a few rounds of these made next time the sun starts up.
- 1 1/2 oz Fresh Grapefruit Juice
- 1 1/2 oz Drambuie
- 1 oz Simple Syrup
- 2 dash Angostura Bitters
- pinch Salt
Shake with Crushed Ice, pour into Chimney Glass, top with Soda, garnish with grapefruit peel.
Many thanks to this Mixology Monday’s hosts at Bibulo.us, sending us back in time (and into the library) for some 19th Century Cocktails!
As read in Imbibe! by David Wondrich, in 1860, diplomats from Japan made a few weeks stay in New York City. While there, they stayed at the Metropolitan hotel, about a block away from Jerry Thomas’ Palace bar. The likelihood of the legation stopping in was about 100%, given their penchant for cocktails, and The Professor’s renown.
Created to commemorate this occasion was the Japanese Cocktail. A tender and delicious little concoction of Orgeat, Brandy, and Bitters.
Somehow, years later in Harry Johnson’s Bartender’s Manual (1934 edition), the recipe changed dramatically. This version adds a good dallop of shaved ice and Maraschino Liqueur, and replaces the Brandy with Eau Celeste (Himmels Wasser), which in searches shows as a sort of plant fungicide.
Seeing as I don’t appear to have a ready supply of large quantities of Copper Sulfate, Ammonia, and whatever the heck Sal Soda is to make the eau celeste, I think we’re going to have to go with the original good Professor’s recipe, adapted by David Wondrich, with some further adaptation of technique.
- 1 Tbsp Orgeat
- 1/2 tsp Bogart’s Bitters (sub Fees or homemade Boker’s)
- 2 oz of Brandy
Stir with Ice, strain into champagne saucer. Garnish with 1 or 2 twists of Lemon Peel.
It’s a delightful and creamy little bite of a drink. The large amount of Bitters adds a lot of flavor, making a sort of mulled Brandy, while the Orgeat balances out the harsher notes in the bitters and any burn in the brandy. Daniel at Teardrop Lounge made a lovely variation with Filbert Orgeat and Barsol Pisco, garnished with shredded chocolate.
I can’t recommend this drink enough. It’s easy to concoct, and extremely pleasing to just about any palate. Drink and enjoy!
I’d had this idea in my head for awhile, to develop a bitters to bring out and strengthen Tiki flavors in drinks. Of course, lo and behold I find that BIttermens beat me to the punch with their Tiki Bitters.
A few months ago, I gave a bottle of Bridgetown Bitters to the OBG to include in a gift pack sent to Mr. David Wondrich when he was here for the OBG event, recounted here and here. The batch was, admittedly, but together in a hurry, and I don’t think was quite the product I was going for. I hope you (well, first off, got them) liked them, the formula has been MUCH improved. What I used here was my usual Falernum formula with a bit of Gentian, soaked in overproof white rum, and combined with Gentian-infused water to proof. I thought it was dandy, but knew it needed something more.
Batch two of Bridgetown bitters used the same Falernum spices and Gentian, but this time using an overproof Demerara rum and no proofing, make this a straight-infusion. These came out very good, but not quite there. A bit clovey (despite containing no cloves), which I think was due to the strong alcohol bringing out the sharper notes of the flavors.
Well, after an e-mail exchange with Avery of Bittermens, Jamie’s article, and of course, Daniel and David’s Bitters Class, I decided to take another stab at it. The result of this is my Bridgetown Bitters, now renamed as Falernum Bitters, which I will be handing out samples of at Tales of the Cocktail. The Falernum spices are still there in the same formula, but using a unique combination of spirits as both infusion and flavoring, as well as 3 different bittering agents. The difference from Batch 1 to Barch 3 is tremendous. The flavor of the Falernum spice and rum are screened behind a bit of sweet, so as to time-release their depth and complexity. The Bittering agents allow the flavor to carry for a LONG time, which was a definite goal in making these.
I’ll admit there are still a few attributes I’m looking for that are still lacking, and a batch 2 of Falernum bitters is destined for the future. As you may have read in an earlier post, I did throw these in a barrel for 1 month. Unfortunately, this was not enough time in the barrel to pick up the complexities I was looking for in a product I would label “aged”. The next attempt at an aged batch will be going into the barrel for a minimum of 6 months.
Meanwhile, if you’ve got a bottle of Bittermen’s Tiki Bitters, or want to make a home-batched attempt, go ahead and toss together this little number which I came up with to highlight the stuff. It’s a Rum version of Pink Gin, and I think makes a stiff but sippable number I really enjoy.
- 2 oz Flor de Caña 4 year Extra Dry (sub Cruzan Light)
- 3 dashes Falernum BItters
Rinse cocktail glass with Falernum Bitters. Shake Rum with ice and strain into cocktail glass. Zest lime over glass to release oil into drink.
Like I say, I’ll have samples to pass out at this year’s Tales of the Cocktail, but supplies are fairly limited, bug me early!