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.