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.
Orgeat, fashionably French soda sweetener, or one of the best ingredients ever set behind the bar?
First, for a quick peek at how to properly pronounce the word, see this pic by Humuhumu from Martin’s recent presentation on the subject.
Here is a classic recipe from 1835. It’s quite a bit simplified, and I’ve got a bit more detailed modern method below it, with plenty of pictures.
Orgeat has been around since somewhere around the dawn of time. Originally a barley based syrup flavored with almonds, eventually the barley was ditched for the far more flavorful, but still oily and wonderful almonds. Most of the commercial product is made as almond flavored syrup, and can be purchased from Fees, Torani, and Monin. They all just have a bit of something missing though, and the effort to make real orgeat is well rewarded with some of the best flavors possible. Real Orgeat, as made below, is a thing of beauty. It is an aromatic enhancer with rose and orange flower water, and acts not to purely sweeten the drink, but really changes the profile to something entirely different, neutralizing a lot of the bitter and sour flavors. It’s what made the Mai Tai, so there’s gotta be something to it!
The origin of the below recipe comes from the fxcuisine recipe, such as Erik used, but I’ve done a few twists here and there for my own purposes, mostly in measuring by volume.
I’m not going to push too heavily that you should blanch and chop your own almonds, but it seems to give it just a little bit more flavor and texture. There’s something about that fresh oil just under the skin of the almond that works wonders.
The following recipe yields around 1/2 gallon
You will need:
- 1/2 lb. blanched whole almonds
- (approximately) 3 Quarts Sugar
- 1 Quarts Water
- Bitter Almond Extract
- Rose Water
- Orange Flower Water
|To blanch the almonds, set the almonds in a large bowl. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil, then cover the almonds with the boiling water. After 2 minutes, strain the almonds from the water, return the almonds to the bowl, then cover the almonds with cold water. The almonds should now slide easily from their skins.
||Roughly chop the whole almonds. A food processor at a low speed is highly recommended.
Add the roughly chopped almonds, and pour an equal amount of sugar to almonds (by volume) into a large pot.
|Add 1 quarts water to the pot and bring to a boil.
One it has hit boiling, take the pot off of heat, and leave to rest for 12 hours or overnight.
After 12 hours, strain the liquid through a cheesecloth. Repeat a few times if greater clarity is desired. Me, I strain it once as I like to preserve a bit of the almond powder for each bottle, but to each their own.
Measure the strained liquid by volume. Add sugar in a 3:2 ratio the strained liquid (for example, 16 oz of strained liquid would require 24 oz of sugar). Put the pot on a low heat to carefully dissolve the sugar.
|DO NOT let the mixture BOIL. You’ll ruin the batch and give yourself one helluva cleaning job for the pot. Like I recommend for any syrup, a combination of agitation, low heat, and an alert cook in the kitchen should do just fine.
Once the sugar is dissolved, and no more granules are present, remove the pot from heat.
Leave to cool before adding the extra flavorings. Just a few drops, 3-6 each, of bitter almond extract, rose water and orange water seem to add plenty of aromatics and flavor. If you add them while the syrup is hot, their flavor might evaporate.
This makes a big batch of Orgeat, somewhere around 1/2 gallon. Hit up your local brewing supply (mine is F. H. Steinbart) for a case of 375 mLs with twist on caps. A case of one dozen usually costs you just under a dollar per bottle, and it makes a great hand out once your friends are hooked on Mai Tais and Japanese made with the real deal.
Real orgeat syrup will split after a few days in a thick, solid white layer of almond powder on top and syrup below. This is normal and happens with real orgeat syrup, all you need is insert a skewer in the bottle to break the top layer a bit, close and shake.
If you’ve made the above recipe one too many times, you can try varying it here and there. For example, try using natural cane sugar, such as Zulka, for a bit of a richer flavor. Just be sure to give it a turn in the food processor so it dissolves easier. I recently took some Cane Sugar I had mixed some Vanilla Beans in and made a rich Vanilla Cane Orgeat, which is getting a good reputation as Liquid Heaven.
For you regular readers, or new readers, or anyone in general, this isn’t something very exciting, but I fixed the sidebar so it no longer drops down below the comments. Damn you min-width!
I’ve also updated the Drinks Section to make it more readable, changed up the fonts, the favicon… you get the gist. Let me know if you’ve got any feedback, I’d love to hear it.
In other news, I’ve finally put up my Concoctioneering section! There are only a few things on there now, as I’m still translating a few items from my little black book. Next due up, Falernum Bitters!
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!
Just a quick note, a new feature has been added to the Galley.
Leaping forward into the year 2008, I have installed a computer in the Galley!
What does this mean for the bartender and bartendees?
- Music Playlist Management without having to synch an iPod, thanks to iTunes sharing!
- TV/Movie nights, now without having to tire the bartender from going up and down stairs!
- A menu that people can actually read!
- CocktailDB at my sticky, booze-soaked fingertips!
- A soon-to-appear webcam (and possibly brief nudity)!
- Updating from the bar!
I think the most exciting thing about this is setting up a cocktail menu in PDF format for patrons to browse through. My current menu system is… well, dim, multi-colored lighting and an 11 point font just don’t mix.
Along with this, I’ve got a new section coming up for the site, Concoctioneering! Think of it as a one-stop shop for all your syrups and mixers. If you’ve got something you’ve got questions on, let me know and I’ll cover it. Just finished a few batches of fun stuff, some Blood Orangecello, Meyer Limoncello, Ginger and Rhubarb Syrups, and even packed about 2 liters of Falernum (spirit, no sugar) into a barrel for aging… expect some interesting notes on that one.
Time to go whip up some more Pa’avaetuli! Company is coming, and there is drinking to be done!