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Monday, February 20, 2017

Bee's Knees + a Giveaway!

Bee's Knees

Guys, I am so excited. This week I am hosting my first ever giveaway on Garnish! The fine folks at Muddle & Stir and Black Cloud Bitters are offering one lucky reader a Black Cloud Bitters Sampler Pack. This pack comes with a 1-oz. bottles of each of Black Cloud's five artisan bitters: Charred Cedar, Saffron Mango, Garden Party, Black & Blue, and Prairie Rose. Scroll down for your chance to enter and win!

Black Cloud Bitters

If you've been reading the blog the last few months, you know that I'm pretty obsessed with the five fantastic varieties of bitters in this pack. I used the Black & Blue in my Ginger Sage Smash, the Saffron Mango in the Bombay Sour, the Garden Party in the Green Thumb, and the Charred Cedar in the Hotel Belvedere. Today I'm making use of the Prairie Rose as a nice addition to a classic cocktail - the Bee's Knees.

Bee's Knees

The Bee's Knees is a prohibition-era cocktail with a very simple recipe - gin, lemon, and honey. It's like lovely, boozy lemonade. The Death & Co cocktail book, which does a great job of sprucing up the classics, adds lavender bitters to their recipe, and I thought the Prairie Rose bitters would be even better. Made with rose petals, rose hips, and other berries and botanicals, these floral bitters are perfect in this cocktail. If you don't have a bottle, don't despair - head below for your chance to win all five of Black Cloud's wonderful bitters!

Black Cloud Prairie Rose Bitters

History: The Bee's Knees is prohibition-era cocktail, named after a slang term meaning "the best." Calling something the "bee's knees" actually goes back to the 1800's, when the phrase was used to refer to something small and insignificant. But in the 1920's, there was a bit of a fad going on in which something great would be described as an [animal]'s [body part]: "the snake's hip," "the ant's pants," or "the eel's ankle." Another one that survives today is "the cat's pajamas." Even though it once referred to something insignificant, "the bee's knees" was quickly absorbed into this fad.

Bee's Knees

The earliest the Bee's Knees appears in print is in the 1934 edition of William "Cocktail" Boothby's The World's Drinks and How to Mix 'Em; that version is 1/2 jigger of gin and 1 spoon apiece of lemon, orange, and honey. But most people credit Frank Meier, a bartender at the Ritz in Paris, with creating the cocktail. He included it in his 1936 book The Artistry of Mixing Drinks. Meier was hands-down one of the coolest bartenders I've ever heard of. He tended bar during the Nazi occupation of Paris and used his position to help the resistance by passing along messages and forging passports for Jewish citizens. He was even involved in a plot to assassinate Hitler. I don't know about you, but I'd watch the heck out of a movie about Frank Meier.

Frank Meier
Frank Meier

The use of honey instead of sugar or simple syrup in the Bee's Knees is unusual, and it's often speculated that this was a response to one of the less glamorous aspects of prohibition - the ubiquity of bad-tasting bathtub gin. The strong taste of the honey may have been included in this cocktail to help cover up the flavor. However, if Meier created the cocktail in Paris, getting good gin wouldn't have been a problem, and this explanation becomes a bit questionable. Maybe he just realized that the honey tasted really darn good.

The recipe for the Bee's Knees is below! But first, sign up for your chance to win a sampler pack of Black Cloud Bitters from Muddle & Stir! The giveaway will run until midnight EST on Sunday, February 26th, and I'll contact the winner on Monday. You can get additional entries by tweeting about the giveaway as often as once a day!

Black Cloud Bitters Giveaway


Bee's Knees

2 oz. gin
3/4 oz. lemon juice
3/4 oz. honey simple syrup*
1 dash Black Cloud Prairie Rose Bitters (optional)

Combine gin, lemon juice, honey syrup, and bitters (if desired) in a shaker with ice. Shake until well chilled and strain into a coupe. Garnish with dried roses, fresh lavender, or a brandied cherry.

*For honey simple syrup, combine equal parts honey and water in a small saucepan and heat, stirring, until honey is dissolved. Let cool before use.

Recipe adapted from Death & Co: Modern Classic Cocktails and The PDT Cocktail Book.

Historical information on the Bee's Knees came largely from Paste Magazine and JustCocktails.org.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Mixology Monday: Wake the Dead

Wake the Dead

This is a sad post to write - my contribution to the very last Mixology Monday. As Fred writes in his announcement post, participation has been flagging in recent months, and the MxMo website locking him out seemed to be a sign that it was time to end the online cocktail party's 11-year run. I'm really glad I got to participate in so many of these events and even host one last month. It's been fun, inspiring, and a great way to connect with other cocktail nerds.

And so, fittingly, the theme for the final Mixology Monday is Irish Wake. Fred has encouraged us to make a cocktail using Irish Whiskey and/or to talk about a time in our lives where drinks helped with the grieving process. I'm quite lucky to have had few friends or family members to grieve in my adult life, so I don't really have a story to share. But I will happily pull out a bottle of Irish Whiskey and help give Mixology Monday a proper sendoff.

Wake the Dead

I don't use Irish Whiskey much, reaching instead for rye, bourbon, or Scotch. The only bottle I have is GrandTen's South Boston Irish Whiskey, which is really lovely but tends to go overlooked in my bar. I mostly pull it out when recipes specifically call for Irish Whiskey, such as in the Cooper Union or a classic Irish Coffee, and I've never used it in a recipe of my own.

That Irish Coffee was still fresh in my mind when I mixed up this simple Irish Whiskey cocktail. Some coffee liqueur, a dash of Allspice Dram, and a bit of Demerara syrup made for a spirit-forward tribute to the winter staple. It's rich and sweet and strong, with enough coffee in it to - maybe - wake the dead.

I recommend reaching for a coffee liqueur that's not very sweet for this recipe - two I definitely recommend but that might be tough to find in most places are Durham Distillery's Damn Fine Coffee Liqueur and Seymour's Coffee Liqueur from Boston Harbor Distillery. I haven't tried St. George's Nola Coffee Liqueur, but since everything they make is top-notch, I bet it would be quite good as well. If you must use Kahlua or something similarly sweet (nothing against Kahlua, I actually quite like it), reduce the Demerara syrup accordingly.

So here's to 116 months of Mixology Monday. Fred, thanks for keeping the party going so long.

Wake the Dead

Wake the Dead

2 oz. Irish Whiskey
1 oz. coffee liqueur (Damn Fine Coffee Liqueur)
1/4 oz. Allspice Dram
1/2 oz. Demerara syrup*

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir until chilled. Strain into a Nick & Nora glass and garnish with star anise. Raise a toast to Mixology Monday - may it rest in peace.

*For Demerara syrup, combine 2 parts Demerara sugar with 1 part water in a saucepan and simmer, stirring, until sugar is dissolved. Let cool before using.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Bijou

Bijou

I've got a real classic for you today - the Bijou. It may not show up on a lot of menus these days, but this elegant gin cocktail is over 100 years old. The name, which means "jewel" in French, is a reference to the gemlike hues of the three main ingredients: gin (diamond), sweet vermouth (ruby), and Green Chartreuse (emerald). The traditional recipe for the Bijou is equal parts of these three ingredients, plus a dash of orange bitters.

I eagerly mixed up this equal-parts cocktail, but when I took a sip, I grimaced. The Chartreuse completely dominated the gin and vermouth, making it way too sweet and not at all balanced, at least to my taste. I immediately understood why a lot of modern recipes for the Bijou, like these from Punch and Tuxedo No. 2, tweak the recipe a bit. I tried some variations and decided that this one from Imbibe is my favorite, with more gin, less Chartreuse, and two dashes of bitters. With these proportions, I think the cocktail really takes on the elegant, herbal flavor it's meant to have.

Bijou

History: The first recipe for the Bijou that appeared in print, in C. F. Lawlor's 1895 book The Mixicologistwas a bit different from the version that ended up standing the test of time. Lawlor's recipe is equal parts gin, sweet vermouth, and Grand Marnier, an orange liqueur that probably wouldn't have helped much with the issue of balance and sweetness. Five years later, the equal-parts-plus-orange-bitters version of the recipe appeared in Harry Johnson's Bartenders' Manual. As far as I know, these are our only two clues about the origins of the Bijou.

Bijou

1 1/2 oz. gin
1 oz. sweet vermouth
3/4 oz. Green Chartreuse
2 dashes orange bitters

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir until chilled. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a brandied cherry and a lemon twist.

Recipe adapted from The New Cocktail Hour via Imbibe.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Recipe Round-Up: The Last 100

Can you believe that this is my 200th blog post? That's a lot of cocktails! I've really enjoyed trying new recipes and coming up with some of my own. For my 100th post, I went through the first 100 recipes I posted and picked my ten favorites. I decided to do the same for number 200. I picked these without thinking too hard about getting an equal distribution of base spirits, and I'm quite surprised to realize that half of them are made with rum - not what I would expect, since I'd usually say gin or whiskey cocktails are my favorites. But I'm enjoying rum more and more as I try different varieties - I think you'll continue seeing more rum cocktails on here in the future!

So here, in no particular order, are the best of the last 100 cocktails on Garnish:

Lucien Gaudin

1. Lucien Gaudin. I was so pleasantly surprised by this old but relatively unknown recipe. It quickly joined my regular rotation, a perfect aperitif when you want something a bit sweeter and lighter than a Negroni or Boulevardier.


Trinidad Sour

2. Trinidad Sour. Speaking of surprised, I was nothing short of shocked when I found out how much Angostura goes into this cocktail (a whole ounce!) and I was even more surprised when I realized how utterly delicious it is.


Black Manhattan

3. Black Manhattan. This cocktail really cemented my newfound love of amari and basically replaced the traditional Manhattan in our house. The recipe calls for Averna, but you can try all sorts of amari in its place.


Satsuma Mojito

4. Satsuma Mojito. It might be the middle of winter, but one of these is summer in a glass. Muddling a whole satsuma into this cocktail, peel and all, makes it ridiculously refreshing.


Naked and Famous

5. Naked and Famous. This equal-parts cocktail made with mezcal, Yellow Chartreuse, Aperol, and lime juice is definitely one of my all-time favorites, right up there with the Last Word and the Paper Plane.


French Pearl

6. French Pearl. This instant classic from Pegu Club is deceptively simple but utterly delicious. If you've never had one, I suggest you rectify this as soon as possible.


Bombay Sour

7. Bombay Sour. I'm pretty proud of this original recipe, which includes 1/2 tbsp of Greek yogurt to make it extra smooth and sour. With rum, mango, lemon, and Saffron Mango Bitters, it's reminiscent of a mango lassi.


Twin Peaks

8. Twin Peaks. I made this recipe from St. George Spirits the day after I posted my first 100 favorites. After one sip I remember thinking, "This is going to end up in my next roundup." Fresh sage and Green Chartreuse perfectly compliment St. George's unique Terroir Gin.


Pale King

9. Pale King. I guess it's sort of inevitable that some of my own recipes make it into this list, since I basically tailor them exactly to my taste. This is a particular favorite of mine - basically a dry rum martini, it's quite different from anything else I've ever had. And I'm kind of obsessed with the garnish.


Flor de Jerez

10. Flor de Jerez. I had to include a sherry cocktail in this list, as it's one of my new favorite ingredients. I decided the best choice was the Flor de Jerez from Death & Co, because it was the first one I ever made. If you buy a bottle of Amontillado and use it in absolutely nothing else, it would still be worth it. But I have a feeling it's going to end up sneaking into a lot more cocktails than this!

Thanks for sticking around for 200 posts - hope to see you for number 300 as well! Cheers!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Devil's Backbone

Devil's Backbone

Before I talk about today's cocktail, some shameless self-promotion: a couple of weeks ago I submitted my Mediterranean Gimlet recipe to Nautical Gin's Gimlet contest, and now voting has begun. Check out all the entries on Nautical Gin's Facebook page and vote for your favorite by giving it a "like." You can find my recipe here - I'd appreciate your votes!

Whenever I'm feeling uninspired or I'm not sure what cocktail to make, I head over to Fred Yarm's blog Cocktail Virgin Slut. It's an incredible database of recipes - Fred posts at least one basically every day - and each one is accompanied by historical details, expert tasting notes, and often good suggestions for substituting the more unusual ingredients. A clickable list of spirits on the side of the page allows you to pick at least one thing you definitely want in your drink, helping to narrow down the vast number of recipes on the blog.

I was using this feature, browsing through the recipes that used amaro, when I came across the Devil's Backbone. It was really too intriguing to pass up. Two bitter liqueurs (Averna and Gran Classico) and a whole half ounce of peaty Scotch promised for a pretty intense cocktail. It seemed right up my alley.

Devil's Backbone

The Devil's Backbone smells intensely smokey with citrusy undertones. It's sweet and citrusy at the beginning of your sip, and then all the bitterness hits you, blending with smoke and peat at the end. It's big and complex and really wonderful - one of the best new cocktails I've made in a while.

If you're lacking some of the ingredients in this recipe, don't despair! You've got some options. For the Scotch, anything with a lot of smoke and peat will do - some examples are Laphroig, Lagavulin, Caol Ila, and Ardbeg. I used Compass Box's Peat Monster, which is a blended Scotch that I got for my peat-crazy husband - it's quite good. You could try subbing Amaro Montenegro or maybe Ramazzotti for the Amaro Averna. And Campari is a decent substitute for the Gran Classico; Fred used Campari when he made this drink.

History: Fred got this recipe from The Complete Cocktail Manual by Lou Bustamante, but it was originally created by Chris Lane at Lolinda in San Francisco. The idea behind the recipe was to use two whiskeys, two amari, and two types of bitters.

Devil's Backbone

1 oz. rye whiskey
1/2 oz. smoky single malt Scotch
3/4 oz. Averna
1/2 oz. Gran Classico
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 dash orange bitters

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir until chilled. Strain into a coupe and garnish with an orange twist.

Recipe from Cocktail Virgin Slut.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Mixology Monday Roundup: Chocolate

It's time for the January Mixology Monday roundup! Despite some technical difficulties that kept the announcement off the MxMo website, we still had seven cocktail bloggers share some amazing chocolatey cocktails. I seriously want to try every single one of these. I'm so glad everyone embraced the theme in such varied and creative ways!


First up is The Cocktail Couple with their Million Dollar Chocolate Cocktail. This positively decadent drink is a mixture of Irish whiskey, cold brew coffee, cinnamon, grated Taza Chipotle Chili Dark Chocolate, chocolate porter, and a whole egg. Does the inclusion of the coffee and egg make this drink appropriate for breakfast? Discuss.



Fred Yarm of Cocktail Virgin Slut must have known that chocolate and champagne are my two biggest weaknesses, because he made the Negative Space from Imbibe Magazine using Suze, lemon juice, crème de cacao, absinthe, orange blossom water, and Blanc de Blancs champagne. I just got a bottle of Suze, so I'll definitely be giving this one a try!



Over at Nihil Utopia, Dagreb kept it classic with the Alexander No. 1: gin, creme de cacao, and cream. Though you're probably most familiar with the Brandy Alexander, the original version of this cocktail was indeed made with gin. This is an elegant after-dinner cocktail, and probably the most iconic use of crème de cacao out there.



Muddle & Stir joined the party this month with their Chocolate Dream Old Fashioned. With Nikka Coffey Grain Whiskey, Marble Distilling Company Moonlight EXpresso, Hershey's Special Dark chocolate syrup, and Mister Bitters Cocoa Macadamia Bitters, this cocktail really does sound like a dream come true!



Adam of Mr. Muddle whipped up the positively drool-worthy Brandy Alejandro, a boozy and spicy hot chocolate with brandy, Ancho Reyes, Becherovka, and Allspice Dram. Ancho Reyes and hot chocolate = genius. This looks and sounds so ridiculously good, and it's perfect for dreary winter weather.



Gary at Doc Elliot's Mixology was a real overachiever this month, with three chocolatey cocktails to share! He showcases the perfect pairing of chocolate and tequila with the Chocolate Manhattan: Milagro Plata tequila, Lillet, and Godiva Dark Chocolate Liqueur. I'm personally quite intrigued by the Chocolate-Covered Rum, since coconut and chocolate is one of my favorite combinations; this cocktail combines them with a bit of a spice from chipotle powder and Aztec chocolate bitters. Finally, the same chocolate simple syrup he whipped up for the Chocolate-Covered Rum makes an appearance in the Chocolate Rum Old Fashioned, along with Barbancourt 12-year. I think chocolate simple syrup is definitely going to find a place in my arsenal of ingredients.



And last but not least, I contributed the Syracuse, made with cacao nib-infused Rhum Clement, East India Solera Sherry, Ramazzotti, Cointreau, and El Guapo Spiced Cocoa Tea Bitters. I love the combination of dark chocolate and orange notes in this drink.

What an incredible bunch of recipes! Thanks so much to everyone who participated. See you all next month - keep your eyes on the MxMo Twitter account in case the website's not up and running for the February challenge. Cheers!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Little Italy

Little Italy

Howdy from Texas! If you didn't already know, my day job is working as a postdoc in ornithology and evolutionary biology at Harvard. My lab is doing a little collecting trip near Lubbock this week to get some bird specimens and tissues for the museum. We're staying at a lovely ranch outside of town. No cocktails here, so all I can do is wistfully look at these photos. But we've seen some great birds. :-)

If I had to choose a cocktail to drink right now, it would probably be this one. Whiskey + sweet vermouth + amaro is one of my favorite cocktail combinations. The Boulevardier is the best known example of this I can think of, and every now and then I'll come across another "established" recipe that uses a similar formula, like the Black Manhattan. But for the most part it seems like a very DIY sort of thing. I love trying different amari with my favorite bourbon or rye and sweet vermouth. There's no perfect recipe, because the flavor is going to be different every time - I usually have to tweak the proportions a bit to get it right. So I do appreciate when someone else does the work for me, as Audrey Saunders did with the Little Italy.

Like my other whiskey/vermouth/amaro cocktails, the Little Italy is basically a riff on the Manhattan, this time with Cynar instead of the usual Angostura bitters (Cynar is an Italian liqueur, thus the name). Not too sweet or too bitter, Cynar adds a wonderful complexity to a classic cocktail. The flavor is reminiscent of a Manhattan but slightly smoother and more herbaceous. I'd personally prefer one of these any day!

Little Italy

History: The Little Italy was invented in 2005 by Audrey Saunders of Pegu Club in New York. Two other favorites of mine that she created are the Old Cuban and the French Pearl - she really has a way of developing simple, elegant recipes that are instant classics.

Styling Notes: the cocktail pick is from Muddle & Stir and the Nick & Nora glass is from The Boston Shaker.

Little Italy

1 1/2 oz. rye whiskey
3/4 oz. sweet vermouth
1/2 oz. Cynar

Combine ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir until chilled. Strain into a Nick & Nora glass and garnish with two* brandied cherries on a pick.

*I recently learned that it's an Italian superstition that an even number of garnishes is bad luck. But the Little Italy recipe specifies two cherries. Maybe it's tempting fate; add a third if you want to be sure.

Recipe from Imbibe.