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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

White Negroni

White Negroni

Hello again! It's been a little while since I posted. The past couple of weeks have been quite busy. We had lots of family visit, and my sister and I went on a quick weekend trip to London! It's something we had been talking about doing for a while, and I'm so glad we finally did.

We had both been to the city before, so this time we didn't do any of the usual touristy stuff - no museums, no tours, not even a peek at Big Ben. Instead, we just walked around the city, did a little shopping, and went to lots of bars and restaurants. It was really perfect. I had a long list of cocktail bars I wanted to check out, and right at the top was Nightjar, a world-famous spot renowned for their elaborately presented drinks. It didn't disappoint - the cocktail menu was insane, and each drink was a veritable work of art. Other highlights were the American Bar at the Savoy hotel, where Harry Craddock invented such classics as the Corpse Reviver #2, and Dandelyan, which effortlessly spanned the gap between simple, well-made cocktails and really innovative ingredients and techniques. I could have spent much longer in the city, but as weekend trips go, it was pretty much perfect!

White Negroni

A couple of weeks ago, I introduced Suze, a new bottle in my bar. Ever since then, I've been itching to try a White Negroni, one of the more popular Suze cocktails. A Negroni, as you probably know, is made with equal parts gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth. The White Negroni swaps out the Campari for Suze and the sweet vermouth for Lillet Blanc. (You can also use Cocchi Americano, dry vermouth, or blanc vermouth if you don't have the Lillet.) While the drink lacks the Negroni's ruby red hue, its name is a bit misleading, as it is definitely not white - the Suze turns it a bright, sunny yellow.

The White Negroni may look like a pale imitation of its namesake, but it's anything but. It is a little less sweet than a Negroni, with a lighter flavor and mouthfeel, but with a bigger, more herbaceous finish. It preserves the spirit of the iconic cocktail, with sweet and bitter and strong flavors mixing perfectly together. The version I made comes from The PDT Cocktail Book, and doesn't use equal parts like a traditional Negroni - I prefer this, as I find the flavor of Suze pretty intense, and PDT's 3/4 oz seems perfect to me. But other books, such as A Proper Drink, do recommend 1 ounce of each ingredient. Try some different ratios and figure out what you like best!

White Negroni

History: The White Negroni was created by London bartender Wayne Collins in either 2001 or 2002 (I've seen both dates). He was in Bordeaux to participate in a cocktail contest hosted by Plymouth Gin. Nick Blacknell, a brand ambassador for the gin, asked Collins for a Negroni, but he didn't have any Campari. He reached for the Suze instead, and the locally-made Lillet instead of vermouth. Another Plymouth ambassador, Simon Ford, brought the recipe back to New York, where Audrey Sanders of Pegu Club helped make it famous.

White Negroni

2 oz. gin (Plymouth recommended)
1 oz. Lillet Blanc
3/4 oz. Suze

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir until chilled. Strain into a rocks glass with one large piece of ice, or into a coupe. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Recipe adapted from The PDT Cocktail Book.
History from A Proper Drink and Gin Foundry.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Bottle Swap: Suze

Apiary

Today is the second installment of my latest bottle swap with Adam of Mr. Muddle! A few weeks ago, we each made a cocktail with Banane du Bresil, which surprised me by being ridiculously tasty and extremely versatile. Today, the bottle we're working with is Suze - definitely more of an acquired taste than a crowd pleaser, but an ingredient I'm pretty excited to be adding to my bar.

Suze is a bitter French aperitif flavored with gentian root. It was first sold in 1889 by French distiller Fernand Moureaux. Some say he created the recipe with his partner, Henri Porte, and named it after his sister-in-law, Suzanne Jaspert. Other accounts allege that he purchased the formula in 1885 from a Swiss herbalist named Hans Kappeler, and that Kappeler inspired the name by saying that his aperitif would flow in France just like the river Suze. This turned out to be pretty accurate. Suze became incredibly popular in France, and was a fixture of cafe culture. Porte's design for the tall, distinctive bottle and its vivid yellow color made it instantly recognizable. It was even immortalized (albeit extremely abstractly) in Picasso's 1912 painting Verre et bouteille de Suze ("Glass and Bottle of Suze").

Though it has remained popular abroad, Suze was not even available in the United States until 2012, when Domaine Select began importing it. Since then, craft cocktail bars and home bartenders have been reintroduced to Suze, and are including it in all sorts of different recipes.

Suze

Suze's label refers to it as "Saveur d'autrefois," meaning "the flavor of yesteryear" or "the flavor of another time." This really sums up what I love about Suze, and about most other spirits and liqueurs that have been in production for a similarly long amount of time - when you drink it, you really are tasting the same thing that someone might have sipped in Paris in 1900, or that Picasso drank while he painted the bottle in 1912. It's a very romantic notion.

Suze is an excellent ingredient for adding to cocktails, but it can definitely be tricky to work with. Its flavor is bitter and vegetal, with hints of citrus. Its taste is as distinctive as its bright yellow color. The closest thing I can compare it to is Campari, though I would consider Suze more floral and earthy, and therefore more of an acquired taste. It adds some sweetness to your drink, but not without a big wallop of a bitter finish. As such, I tend to use it in fairly small amounts when I want it to play well with other ingredients. But it can also be enjoyed on its own on the rocks, or with soda or tonic.

Suze

Alcohol content: 20%
Price: $30
Popular Cocktails: White Negroni

Apiary

Suze plays particularly well with fizz, and it's been way too long since I made a sparkling cocktail, so I knew where I wanted to go with this one. Suze and champagne is just ridiculously elegant and oh-so-French. Gin blended well with Suze's herbal notes, and I decided to amplify the floral, sunny flavors with a honey chamomile syrup and a bit of lemon juice. This cocktail tastes like wandering through French fields surrounded by wildflowers and buzzing bees. It's herbaceous and bitter, bright and fizzy. La saveur d'autrefois.

Be sure to check out what Adam has done with his half of the bottle over at Mr. Muddle! It's an equal-parts cocktail with mezcal and creme de menthe called Power of the Glow.

Apiary

Apiary

1 1/2 oz. gin (GrandTen Wire Works)
1/2 oz. Suze
1/2 oz. lemon juice
1/2 oz. honey chamomile syrup*
3-4 oz. sparkling wine

Combine gin, Suze, lemon juice, and honey chamomile syrup in a shaker with ice and shake until chilled. Strain into a champagne flute and top with sparkling wine. Garnish with an edible flower.

*For honey chamomile syrup, heat 1/2 cup of brewed chamomile tea in a saucepan until it simmers. Add 1/2 cup honey and stir to dissolve. Remove from heat and let cool before using.

Suze history mostly from Frenchly.com.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Ramos Gin Fizz + 3 Years of Garnish!

Ramos Gin Fizz

I'm celebrating! Today Garnish is three years old. I started the blog back in 2015, while I was still in graduate school. My first post was on building a basic home bar. And honestly, it holds up pretty well, except for the inclusion of Punt e Mes as the recommended sweet vermouth. (I love Punt e Mes, but it's more bitter than most vermouths; I'd recommend Carpano Antica Formula or Cocchi Vermouth di Torino now.) Live and learn!

Since that first post, so much has happened that I never expected. For one thing, there are actually people like you out there reading this blog, which in itself is pretty crazy and amazing. My home bar has grown beyond the few bottles in that first post to a ridiculous, sprawling collection that recently spilled over into the neighboring bookcase. I've gotten the opportunity to attend industry events, work with brands, and connect with other cocktail lovers. The biggest surprise has been Instagram - just this month, I hit 10,000 followers, with is insane. It has easily been the best platform for connecting with other home bartenders, and if you're not on there, I highly recommend you check it out.

Ramos Gin Fizz

Like any good celebration, this one calls for a drink! I chose the Ramos Gin Fizz to celebrate this milestone because I always thought of it as the Mt. Everest of cocktails. I tried to make one early on in my home bartending days and failed utterly; my foam was pitifully nonexistent and the flavor was just off. After that I assumed it was a drink that was just beyond my skill level. But no longer! I made a Ramos Gin Fizz. And guess what? You can, too.

The only ingredient in a Ramos Gin Fizz that you might not have on hand is orange flower water. This is a clear liquid distilled from orange blossoms that has a flowery flavor and fragrance. You can find this at many liquor stores or buy it online. You can also skip it if you must. Your Fizz will be lacking that hint of floral flavor that makes it extra special, but it will still be quite tasty.

The other big challenge when making a Ramos Gin Fizz is getting that foam just right. There are a lot of tricks you can employ. A reverse dry shake with a blender ball (see my notes in this recipe) is the best way I've found to get that really nice foam.

Actually, that's a lie. I'll come clean - the best way to get this great foam, and the way that I got the foam in the picture, is with an electric mixer. I know, I know. That must technically be cheating or something. And it creates some bubbles that are a bit too large for most egg white cocktails. But for the Ramos Gin Fizz, which benefits from a big, stiff topping of foam, an electric mixer with a whisk attachment can save your arms some serious work and basically guarantee that you'll get that beautiful drink you're striving for. And if anyone has a problem with that, then tough.

All that mixing and shaking will be worth it, I promise. The Ramos Gin Fizz is a heavenly drink. I've often seen it compared to a Piña Colada, which is sort of bizarre since they don't share a single ingredient in common. I think it's because they both have that perfect combination of creamy, sweet, and sour. The Ramos Gin Fizz just looks and tastes so special, from the magical cap of foam to the hint of orange flower water. It's a cocktail that shouldn't be missed.

Ramos Gin Fizz

History: The Ramos Gin Fizz is a New Orleans classic, so of course it was born there. It was invented by Henry C. Ramos in 1888 at the Imperial Cabinet saloon at the corner of Gravier and Carondelet. He called it a New Orleans Fizz. When he sold his bar and opened a new one right down the street called The Stag in 1907, he took the iconic recipe with him there. It was wildly popular. This was actually something of a problem, because Ramos' recipe required a staggering 12 minutes of shaking. To keep up with demand, he employed an assembly line of "shaker boys" who would each shake the drink for a minute or two so that they didn't become exhausted.

Ramos was actually a supporter of the temperance movement, quite surprising for someone who made a living slinging drinks. He discouraged any kind of drunkenness or misbehavior at his bar, and closed at the respectable hour of eight o'clock. When Prohibition began in 1919, he was quick to shutter The Stag and switch to mixing paint instead of cocktails. He died in 1928.

When Prohibition was lifted, Ramos' son sold the rights to the New Orleans Fizz to the Roosevelt Hotel, which trademarked the new name "Ramos Gin Fizz" in 1935. Their Sazerac Bar remains the most famous place to order one today. It was famously the favorite cocktail of Huey P. Long, who went so far as to fly one of the Roosevelt's bartenders to New York to teach the folks at the New Yorker Hotel how to make the drink properly for him when he was visiting. If you think that sounds a bit silly, you've never seen the bartenders at the Roosevelt make a Ramos Gin Fizz. It's a theatrical production, with white-suited bartenders energetically shaking the drink, performing an impressively high pour, and then doing that final top-up with club soda that causes the foam to almost miraculously rise above the rim of the glass. Ordering one there is a must if you visit New Orleans.

Thank you all so much for reading - here's to another three years! Cheers!

Ramos Gin Fizz

Ramos Gin Fizz

1 1/2 oz. gin (preferably Old Tom)
1 oz simple syrup
1 oz. heavy cream
1 oz. egg white
1/2 oz. lemon juice
1/2 oz. lime juice
3-4 drops orange flower water
2 drops vanilla extract (optional*)
Club soda

Combine all ingredients except club soda in a shaker with ice and shake well to combine. Strain out the ice and return to the shaker, adding a blender ball or spring. Shake very well to froth up the egg whites, 30-60 seconds. Alternatively, transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and blend with an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment for 30 seconds.

Add a dash of club soda to the bottom of a tall Collins glass. Pour in the cocktail, raising the bowl or shaker as you pour to increase the distance between it and the glass - this helps the foam form. Top up the drink with club soda so that the foam rises above the rim of the glass.

*According to Stanley Clisby Arthur in his 1937 book Famous New Orleans Drinks and How To Mix 'Em, "Veteran barkeepers differ violently - practically come to blows - over the inclusion of the two innocent drops of extract of vanilla. Old-timers who worked for Henry Ramos in the past declare the original Ramos included no vanilla in its make-up. Others hold that the twin drops of extract wrung from the heart of the vanilla bean either make or break a real gin fizz - make it taste like heaven or the reverse." I will leave it up to you to decide where you stand on this divisive issue. Since I was having my fizz with a vanilla cupcake, I thought the two drops sounded like a lovely idea.

Recipe adapted from this video and from Famous New Orleans Drinks and How To Mix 'Em. (Note that the stated ounce and a half of orange flower water in the video is clearly a mistake!)

Historical information mostly came from Thrillist, Gin FoundryGambino's Bakery, and Famous New Orleans Drinks and How To Mix 'Em.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Condado

Condado

I'm so excited today to share a cocktail made in partnership with Bacardi to celebrate the launch of their brand-new Bacardi Añejo Cuatro! This premium blended rum is aged in American Oak for at least four years. Slightly fruity with flavors of vanilla, honey, and toasted oak, it's an amazing rum for cocktails.

Bacardi Anejo Cuatro

In addition to the Anejo Cuatro, I was able to try the re-branded Bacardi Reserva Ocho and the brand new Gran Reserva Diez, which will also be released in April. I have to say a quick word about these as well, because they are fabulous. If you're skeptical that rum can be as enjoyable to sip neat as whiskey, get your hands on one of these bottles. My husband was doubtful when I offered him a glass of rum, and he has since replaced his usual nightcap of Scotch with some Bacardi on the rocks.

Bacardi Anejo Cuatro

Sipping the Bacardi Añejo Cuatro makes me think of the streets of San Juan - brightly colored houses beside shady palms and weathered seaside forts overlooking bright blue water. It's a blend of Old World elegance and Caribbean beauty, and that's what I tried to capture in this cocktail. Lime and pineapple juices are always great with rum and bring some bright tropical notes, but to emphasize the flavors of vanilla and oak, I brûléed the pineapple slices before extracting their juice. It's amazing what a bit of heat or fire can do for flavor. Brown butter, toasted spices, caramelized fruits, smoked wood or herbs... a bit of char can take a drink to an entirely different place. I have yet to use my crème brûlée torch to make actual crème brûlée, but you'd better believe it has seen some use on cocktail ingredients.

Bruleed Pineapple

Pineapple actually pairs really well with an IPA, a fact that Death & Co taught me with their Strange Brew and Savage Islands cocktails. IPAs are my favorite beers by far, and I've been meaning to try an IPA syrup in a cocktail for some time. This seemed like the perfect opportunity. Along with some Punt e Mes, the hoppy syrup adds sweetness balanced with bitterness. A dash of smoky Scotch adds the finishing touch and helps emphasize the toasted taste of the pineapple. I really like how these flavors play together, and how they all work so well with the Añejo Cuatro. Salud!

Condado

Condado

1.5 oz. Bacardi Anejo Cuatro
3/4 oz. Punt e Mes
1 oz. brûléed pineapple juice*
1/2 oz. lime juice
1/4 oz. IPA syrup**
1 dash peaty Scotch (Laphroaig)

Combine all ingredients except Scotch in a shaker with crushed ice and shake until chilled. Open pour into a large brandy snifter. Top with a little more ice and the peaty Scotch. Garnish with pineapple leaves and a piece of brûléed pineapple.

*For brûléed pineapple juice, slice a pineapple into rings, removing the rind and the core. Set rings on a cooling rack or other heatproof surface and pass a torch over them until they begin to blacken. Let cool slightly, flip rings, and repeat. To extract the juice, muddle the rings and then fine-strain the pulp. For the garnish, leave the rind on one of the rings and sprinkle a bit of sugar on before you brûlée it - this gives it a nice caramelized color.

**For IPA syrup, add 1 cup of IPA beer to a saucepan and bring to a simmer. When it foams up, add 3/4 cup Demerara sugar. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until sugar is dissolved and the mixture has reduced to a syrupy consistency.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Bottle Swap: Banane du Brésil

Banana Bread

It's finally time for another bottle swap with our good friend Adam of Mr. Muddle! I say "finally" because we organized this one and swapped the bottles before I got pregnant with Luke, and it's been on hold now for over a year. And let me tell you, this Giffard Banane du Brésil has been burning a hole in my bar. I did not expect it to become an ingredient I used frequently. Banana can be such an overpowering flavor and aroma. But I have been shocked to find myself reaching for this bottle over and over again. I try not to post recipes with ingredients I haven't officially introduced, but with this one I couldn't help it. It found its way into my Banana Stand for #TikiTheSnowAway (which was featured in an article by Liquor.com, by the way!) and my Savannah Sunrise for Amarula. It was also great in the L'Acajou, which I posted on Instagram. Banane du Brésil has probably been the single most surprising thing I've added to my bar.

I think Banane du Brésil is so good because it's not just some sugary banana-flavored liqueur. It's made from a mixture of neutral grain spirits macerated with bananas and a spirit actually distilled from bananas. A bit of Cognac adds the finishing touch. It's sweet, yes, but it has a rich flavor like caramelized bananas with hints of vanilla. I've just been shocked at how versatile it is. Mixing it with bourbon or aged rum brings out its richer notes, while lime juice and coconut play up its more tropical banana flavors.

Banane du Brésil

Price: $35
Alcohol content: 25%
Popular cocktails: Often added to daiquiris, Tiki drinks, and spirit-forward rum cocktails

Brown Butter Washed Rum

For this cocktail, I was inspired by a drink I had at Blossom Bar in Brookline that had both banana liqueur and brown butter in the ingredient list. I love baking and cooking with brown butter, and fat-washing a spirit with it seemed genius. And it was. I know this post is supposed to be about the banana liqueur, but this brown-butter washed rum is AMAZING.

I've only fat-washed a spirit once before, when I made an olive oil-washed gin. Fat washing is one of those techniques that sounds intimidating but is actually incredibly easy. Basically, it involves mixing a spirit with a fatty substance like butter or oil and then chilling or freezing the mixture until the fat separates and rises to the top. Once the fat is strained out, the spirit retains its flavor. It can be done with a number of different fats and spirits. I've seen bacon-washed whiskey, coconut oil-washed Campari, sesame oil-washed gin, and more.

Washing an aged rum with brown butter gives it an incredible rich, toasty, buttery flavor that goes perfectly with Banane du Brésil.

Brown Butter Washed Rum

Brown Butter-Washed Rum

1 stick butter
1 cup aged rum (I used Plantation 5-Year)

Place butter in a saucepan and melt over medium heat, swirling the pan frequently. The butter should melt and then begin to foam up. Continue to swirl the pan frequently until the foam begins to go down, brown solids appear, and the butter gets a toasty, nutty aroma. Remove from heat and slowly stir in the rum - the butter will foam and sizzle a little. Let cool slightly and transfer to a cup measure or jar. (This is the stage pictured above.) Let cool completely. A layer of fat will begin to form on the surface of the rum. Once it is cool, transfer it to the fridge for 48 hours, then stir it to break up the fat and strain it through a coffee filter or cheesecloth. Store in the fridge for up to a week.

With my Banane du Brésil and my brown butter rum, I wanted to create a cocktail that basically tasted like banana bread. It's sweet, nutty, and boozy with a thick, buttery texture. It's downright decadent. And it does a nice job of showcasing this fantastic banana liqueur.

Don't forget to head over to Mr. Muddle to check out the Pratfall: peaty Scotch, Banane du Brésil, maple syrup, and apricot liqueur!

Banana Bread

Banana Bread

1 1/2 oz. brown butter washed rum
3/4 oz. Giffard Banane du Brésil
1/2 oz. Amaro Averna
1/4 oz. Allspice Dram
1 dash maple walnut bitters

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir until chilled. Strain into a rocks glass over one large ice cube and garnish with banana chips and walnuts.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Blood Orange Margarita

Blood Orange Margarita

Today is National Margarita Day! My social media feeds are filled to the brim with mouth-watering margarita recipes, and I just had to join in. I was only going to post this Blood Orange Margarita on Instagram, but then I took a sip, fell ridiculously in love, and decided that it merited a entire blog post.

I've actually made a blood orange margarita for the blog before, my Spicy Blood Orange Margarita, which uses blood orange liqueur instead of fresh juice. This one is actually quite different, if you couldn't tell from the vibrant color alone. Blood oranges are honestly one of the most amazing fruits you can include in a cocktail. They're just so, so pretty, and their juice turns just about anything a vivid, gorgeous shade of red. I had a couple in my fridge because I saw them at the grocery store, and when you like to take photos of pretty cocktails, you do not just pass up blood oranges. Adding a couple of ounces of juice to your margarita instead of the usual triple sec or Cointreau instantly transforms it into a stunning glass of tangy, citrusy goodness.

I'm pretty glad I decided to participate in today's holiday. I forgot how tasty a good margarita can be. The only problem is that now I kind of want some tacos. When is National Taco Day?

Blood Orange Margarita

Blood Orange Margarita

2 oz. tequila blanco
1 1/2 oz. blood orange juice
3/4 oz. lime juice
1/2 oz. agave nectar

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled. Rim a coupe glass with pink salt (I like to do it halfway) and strain the cocktail into the prepared glass. Garnish with a slice of blood orange.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Dunhill

Dunhill

I usually don't like to drink the same thing every night, preferring to try out new recipes whenever I can. But sometimes I get on little kicks where I'm only craving one specific cocktail. And lately it's been Martinis with Castelvetrano olives. If you like a Martini with an olive garnish, you have to try these - they're bright green, crisp, and perfectly oily. Way better than the usual pimento-stuffed green olives. You can find them in a jar at most supermarkets, although my favorites are the ones from my grocery store olive bar, which tend to be crisper. In a recipe where the garnish has a huge influence on overall flavor, they're a serious upgrade.

Dunhill

My love for these olives got me wondering what other drinks are out there that use an olive garnish. It's not something you see too often. It seems like as soon as you start introducing much sweetness into a cocktail an olive would no longer work. But I promptly found a cocktail that completely refuted that assumption: the Dunhill. It's sort of a cross between a Martini and a Negroni. As it's made with gin, sherry, and dry vermouth, its olive garnish didn't seem too off-base, but it also contains a bit of orange curaçao and an absinthe wash. Absinthe and olives sounded a bit crazy to me. Just crazy enough to work, maybe?

Dunhill

Indeed it is. Somehow the hint of anise isn't the least bit out of place, and the sweetish but oily Lustau East India Solera sherry is an unexpected but perfect pairing for olives. The result is, as Chad Parkhill writes in an article on under-appreciated cocktails, "a wonderful paradox of a drink: one that manages to be simultaneously sweet and savory, rich and lean, nutty and herbaceous." This description is dead on. The Dunhill is a drink unlike any other I've had - in a good way.

Dunhill

History: The Dunhill first appears as the Dunhill's Special in the 1925 book Drinks - Long and Short by Nina Toye and A. H. Adair. This is the first time I've encountered this book. It contains recipes for cocktails served by Adair at Hatchett's Bar in Leicester Square in London. The Dunhill's Special was later included in classic cocktail recipe books like The World's Drinks and How to Mix Them and The Savoy Cocktail Book. I'm not sure when the drink became simply the Dunhill. It's certainly special in my book.

Dunhill

1 oz. gin (I used Conniption Navy Strength)
1 oz. Lustau East India Solera Sherry
1 oz. dry vermouth
1/4 oz. dry curaçao
Absinthe rinse (I used Herbsaint)

Combine gin, sherry, vermouth, and curaçao in a mixing glass with ice and stir until chilled. Rinse a rocks glass with absinthe and add one large ice cube. Strain the drink into the prepared glass and garnish with olives or a lemon twist.

Recipe adapted from Punch.