Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Slow Fade

Slow Fade

It's been way too long since I posted a mezcal cocktail. I really like mezcal in a cocktail, whether it's the base or just there to provide a hint of smoke. When I first discovered how much I liked it, mezcal cocktails became my go-to at any bar. Maybe I overdid it, because it's been a while since I ordered or made one. But I will happily break this trend with the Slow Fade.

This cocktail makes brilliant use of smoky mezcal, pairing it with bitter Campari, blanc vermouth, and just a hint of elderflower liqueur for sweetness. A grapefruit twist gives it a beautiful hint of citrus. Honestly, while I tend to avoid grapefruit juice in cocktails - I just don't like the flavor - a grapefruit twist can have a serious impact on a drink. Interestingly, two of the other three cocktails I've made that use one (the Earthbound and the Division Bell) are tequila- and mezcal-based respectively, and include Aperol, Campari's close cousin. I guess the flavors just work together. This cocktail is more spirit-forward and less citrusy than either of those, but they definitely form a nice little trio.

Slow Fade

A note on the vermouth in this recipe. It calls for blanc vermouth, which is different from dry vermouth. It's lighter, sweeter, and less herbal. And I don't have a bottle. Dry vermouth is a fair substitute, but it is going to change the flavor of the final product. But - I can confidently report based on how quickly I'm working my way through this cocktail - it's still really, really good with dry.

One day I'll own every bottle I could possibly want, but until then, we must soldier on.

History: The Slow Fade was created by Henry Prendergast and Robby Haynes at Analogue in Chicago.

Slow Fade

1 oz. mezcal
1 oz. blanc vermouth
1 oz. Campari
1/8 oz. St. Germain (3/4 tsp.)
1 dash Angostura bitters

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass. Stir with ice until chilled. Strain into a rocks glass over one large ice cube. Garnish with a grapefruit twist.

Recipe from Imbibe.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Mari Koriko

Mari Koriko

Check it out, guys - I've gone full Tiki!

I've mentioned before how intimidated I am by Tiki cocktails, primarily because of how many different rums seem to find their way into a single cocktail. As anyone who reads this blog knows, my budget isn't unlimited, and I'm frequently guilty of substituting ingredients - Scotch for Japanese whiskey, dry vermouth for blanc, triple sec for Cointreau, etc. I would absolutely love to buy five or six different bottles of rum, but it's hard to justify. That said, I do love Tiki cocktails. They're fun, they're utterly drinkable, and they don't take themselves too seriously. And who doesn't love a fun cup and an elaborate garnish? So I hope to slowly ease myself into Tiki with some simpler recipes that use what I've already got in my bar. And in that spirit, I had to buy a Tiki mug. Check out this goofy guy I got from the Boston Shaker!

If you want some great Tiki recipes, check out Fred Yarm's blog Cocktail Virgin Slut. It's great for cocktails of all sorts, but the Tiki glassware and garnishes always catch my eye. It was here that I found the Mari Koriko, a Tiki cocktail that it seemed I could actually make. Dark rum, pineapple juice, Cherry Heering, Falernum, and lime. I know Cherry Heering and Falernum aren't things most people have in their bar, but it just so happens that I have both, and I'd say they're solid investments for your bar as well. Technically the recipe calls for Zacapa rum, an aged Guatemalan rum, but Fred used Gosling's, so that's good enough for me.

As you can maybe guess from the ingredients, the Mari Koriko is fruity and delicious. The dark rum is flavorful enough that it doesn't get swamped out by the other ingredients. I love the Cherry Heering, which gives it a beautiful, rich cherry flavor and, along with the Falernum, a hint of spice.

History: This cocktail comes from Sean Dumke at Knee High Stocking Co. in Seattle via Fred Yarm. There's a fantastic story behind its name. The word Tiki, it turns out, comes from the mythology of the Maori, the native people of New Zealand. In their tradition, Tiki was the first man. And Marikoriko was his wife, the first woman. They're basically the Maori version of Adam and Eve.

I think one reason I was particularly surprised by this is because I associate Tiki cocktails with Polynesia (a kitschy and Americanized version of it, but still), and I never thought of New Zealand as part of Polynesia. But it turns out that it is, both ethnically and geologically.

There's so much you can learn from cocktails!

Mari Koriko

1 1/2 oz. dark rum (Zacapa or Gosling's recommended)
3/4 oz. pineapple juice
1/2 oz. Cherry Heering
1/2 oz. Falernum (I used John D. Taylor's Velvet Falernum)
1/2 oz. lime juice

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake until chilled. Strain into a rocks glass or an appropriately kitschy Tiki glass filled with ice. Garnish with a lime wheel and a cherry, or whatever else you can think of.

Recipe from Cocktail Virgin Slut.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Champagne Julep

Champagne Julep

This weekend is the Kentucky Derby, and everybody is going to be drinking Mint Juleps. The Mint Julep isn't really one of my go-to cocktails; I personally prefer the Whiskey Smash, which makes the important addition of lemon juice to an otherwise very sweet cocktail. But you can't drink a Whiskey Smash while watching the Kentucky Derby - it's got to be a julep. So if, like me, the traditional Mint Julep isn't your favorite, I humbly suggest this variation: the Champagne Julep. It has all the flavor of a Mint Julep drawn out on a beautiful canvas of sparkling wine. It's the perfect twist on the traditional Kentucky Derby beverage.

History: I don't have any information on this one! I got the recipe from Punch, but they don't credit it to anyone. It may be their own invention. There's another Champagne Julep recipe floating around that uses sherry, and it's referred to as a "1940s Champagne Julep," so it seems the concept goes back at least that far.

Champagne Julep

1/2 oz. Cognac
3 oz. champagne or other sparkling wine
1/2 oz. simple syrup
1 dash Angostura bitters
6-7 mint leaves

In a julep tin or rocks glass, combine mint leaves and simple syrup and muddle. Add Cognac, bitters, and champagne. Fill with crushed ice and stir gently. Mound more crushed ice on top. Garnish with a sprig of mint and a lemon peel.

Recipe from Punch.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Sherlock & Watson

Sherlock & Watson

I've got a list of cocktail recipes a mile long that I would make if I had the right bitters. There are so many different kinds I'd like to buy. They're much cheaper to invest in than spirits, but their effect in cocktails is also more subtle, so it feels like a bit of a trade-off. Since I'm on a budget, I try to think hard about what I can buy for my bar that will give me the most mileage.

So I was pretty thrilled when I found out that Scrappy's sells sampler packs of their bitters. I generally don't make a big dent in my bitters bottles, so buying tiny sizes in a variety of flavors seemed perfect. When I took a trip to the Boston Shaker the other day, I snapped up the pack with grapefruit, chocolate, lavender, and cardamom. (I also bought the nifty coupe in the photo!)

Scrappy's Bitters

I've definitely learned that it's worth buying better bitters. I used to stock up on Fee Brothers because they were cheap, but there was a specific cocktail that changed my mind. I made the Means of Preservation with their celery bitters a few months back. Then I had the same cocktail at Backbar with Scrappy's celery bitters instead. It was an entirely different drink. I liked it with Fee's, but I loved it with Scrappy's. I was a convert.

The Sherlock & Watson was first on my list of recipes to make with my beautiful new bitters. Scotch, lemon, and an Earl Grey honey syrup are given a spicy, aromatic boost with cardamom bitters. It's perfection. If I had been creating this recipe, I probably would have reached for bourbon or rye, but I always tend to forget about Scotch as a cocktail ingredient. Here, it provides a delightfully subtle smokiness, the intensity of which will depend on what you use. The original recipe recommends American single-malt whiskey or Highland Scotch. I can just imagine making this cocktail with a rich Scotch like Highland Park - it would be even more dreamy. But the only single malts we have in our bar at the moment are the peat-bombs my husband is currently into, so I used some Johnny Walker Red that inexplicably found its way into our possession following a weekend with friends. It still worked well. But the better the whiskey, the better this cocktail will surely be!

History: The Sherlock & Watson was created by Kenaniah Bystrom at Essex in Seattle.

Sherlock & Watson

Sherlock & Watson

2 oz. Scotch or American single-malt whiskey
1/2 oz. lemon juice
1/2 oz. Earl Grey honey syrup*
2 dashes Scrappy's cardamom bitters

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake until chilled. Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with a lemon twist.

*For Earl Grey honey syrup: Pour 8 oz. boiling water into a saucepan. Add an Earl Grey teabag and let steep for 10 minutes. Remove the tea bag and add 16 oz. honey (or, if you want to make less, use a ratio of 2:1 honey to tea mixture in the desired quantity). Heat the mixture on medium heat, stirring until the honey is dissolved. Let cool completely before using.

Recipe from Food52.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

23 Skidoo

23 Skidoo

Ok, let's get right to it. How cute is this clothespin garnish? The first time I ever saw a cocktail with one was on Travelling Bartenders' Instagram feed. I'm not sure if they came up with it, but ever since I've seen it popping up in a number of different places. Not only is it completely adorable, it's also pretty handy if you don't want your garnish floating in your drink. It works great with aromatic herbs like thyme and rosemary.

Since I was dying to use my mini clothespins, the 23 Skidoo seemed like a perfect place to start. This is an elegant, sweet, aromatic cocktail - almost too sweet for my taste, but I like the way the flavors of the St. Germain and thyme syrup work together. It's not the first time I've used thyme as a garnish, but it is the first time I've actually put it into a cocktail. It seems like a natural pairing with gin and sparkling wine.

23 Skidoo

History: The 23 Skidoo comes from Eleven Madison Park in Manhattan. The name refers to a slang phrase from the early 1900's that refers to leaving somewhere quickly. It may appropriately have originated quite close to Eleven Madison Park, at the Flatiron Building on 23rd Street. Supposedly the unique shape of the building caused wind to swirl around its base, and men would gather there to watch ladies' skirts get blown up. Constables would have to force the men to leave the area, and this became known as "giving them the 23 skidoo."

23 Skidoo

1 oz. gin
1/2 oz. St. Germain
1/4 oz. thyme syrup*
1/4 oz. lemon juice
3 oz. sparkling wine

Combine gin, St. Germain, thyme syrup, and lemon juice in a shaker with ice. Shake until chilled. Strain into a coupe or champagne flute and top with sparkling wine. Garnish with a sprig of thyme.

*For thyme syrup, combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water in a saucepan and bring to a simmer, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat. Add 1 tbsp. thyme leaves and let steep for 1 hour. Strain and let cool before using.

Recipe from Serious Eats.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Mixology Monday: Cape Cod Swizzle

Cape Cod Swizzle

I dropped the ball on the last couple of installments of Mixology Monday, but I'm happy to be back for April's theme of Swizzles, hosted by Fred Yarm of Cocktail Virgin Slut. I was particularly happy about this theme, because I've never made a swizzle before. I've had the well-known Queen's Park Swizzle a couple of times, but I've never made one at home. I was excited to learn more about them and come up with a recipe of my own.

A swizzle is a cocktail that is made with crushed ice that is then mixed using a unique "swizzle stick." We tend to call anything you stick into a cocktail a swizzle stick, but the real thing looks like this. It's inserted into the cocktail, which is served in a tall glass filled with crushed ice, and twirled by rubbing it between your palms ("as if you were a boy scout making a fire," as David Wondrich aptly puts it). This process originated in the Caribbean, where mixtures of spirits, sweeteners, and citrus were swizzled to frosty perfection as early as the late 1800's.

Since it's the first time I've made a swizzle, I didn't want to make my recipe too unusual. I decided to use the Queen's Park Swizzle as a base recipe and add a dash of thoroughly New England flavor: GrandTen's Craneberry cranberry liqueur. My husband and I went on their distillery tour a few weeks ago and were so impressed by it that we had to buy a bottle. If you don't live near Massachusetts, it might be tough to get your hands on, in which case you could also try and make your own. But if you have the opportunity, you've got to try the Craneberry. It uses a base of white rum infused with cranberries and aged in used Cabernet Sauvignon casks. The name refers to what early Massachusetts settlers called cranberries due to the crane-like shape of the cranberry flowers. It's intensely, deliciously tart, and I love what it does for the swizzle.


It's the technique and construction that really makes a swizzle a swizzle, and mine was admittedly quite cobbled together; lacking a Lewis bag and mallet to properly crush my ice, I used a clean dishtowel and an ice cream scoop. I don't have an authentic swizzle stick, so my barspoon had to suffice. But I was still very impressed by how wonderfully frosty the outside of the glass became as I swizzled away, and how the incorporation of the tiny pieces of ice into the drink made it into a cold, delicious, utterly drinkable cocktail. It's exactly what I'd like to be drinking on Cape Cod during the summertime.

Check back here for a link to the Mixology Monday roundup with lots more refreshing swizzle recipes!

Cape Cod Swizzle

Cape Cod Swizzle

2 oz. white rum
1/4 oz. Craneberry or other cranberry liqueur
1 oz. lime juice
3/4 oz. simple syrup
10-12 mint leaves
4 dashes Angostura bitters

Combine mint leaves, simple syrup, and lime juice in the bottom of a glass and muddle well. Add rum and swirl to combine. Fill glass with crushed ice. Gently drizzle Craneberry and Angostura on top. Garnish with a sprig of mint.

After you've finished admiring the lovely layers, insert a swizzle stick or other stirring device into the cocktail. Like a good boy scout, rub it between your palms to stir the cocktail and melt the little shards of crushed ice into the drink. The outside of the glass should become frosty and the whole cocktail should turn a pleasing shade of pink. Add a straw and enjoy.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Satsuma Mojito

Satsuma Mojito

I walked into Whole Foods a while back, and right across from the door was a gorgeous display of satsumas. Vibrant and orange, they came in all shapes and sizes and just looked and smelled amazing. I knew I had to make a cocktail with them.

During a quick search for existing recipes using satsumas, one caught my eye: Cochon's Satsuma Mojito. Cochon is a great New Orleans restaurant we've been to several times. We have something of a soft spot for it because one of their chefs, Stephen Stryjewski, shares our not-so-common last name. I don't think I've ever ordered cocktails there, but now I'll definitely have to.

This is a truly fabulous recipe. With the satsuma, it's twice as refreshing as a traditional Mojito. You just want to guzzle it. Muddling the satsuma with the peel on releases all of its flavorful oils and even a tiny hint of bitterness. It's bright and refreshing and utterly delicious.

History: This cocktail was created by the Donald Link, the culinary mastermind behind Cochon and lots of other great New Orleans restaurants.

Satsuma Mojito

Satsuma Mojito

2 oz. white rum
1/2 oz. rich simple syrup*
1 satsuma, quartered
1/2 lime, quartered
2 sprigs mint, or about 10 leaves
Club soda (~2 ounces)

Muddle all ingredients except club soda in the bottom of a shaker, bruising the mint and extracting the juices from the satsuma and lime. Double-strain into a small Collins glass filled with crushed ice. Top with club soda and garnish with a sprig of mint.

*To make rich simple syrup, use a 2:1 ratio of sugar to water instead of the usual 1:1.

Recipe adapted from Chowhound.