Reposado Tequila, Green Chartreuse, House Made Falernum. All big flavors that like to play with other big flavors. That was my thinking behind the Habsburg In Jalisco. It was designed for last fall’s menu but works great all year round. It’s striking, herbal, and spiced, but is an approachable drink at the same time.
The name? Well you know me and history. It’s all about how France (Green Chartreuse) and Mexico (Tequila from Jalisco) came together around one poor soul…During the American Civil War France (under rule of Napoleon the 3rd, not the little guy with his hand in his jacket but a later fellow) decided that it would expand its empire back into the new world by taking Mexico into its control. France knew that America was far to wrapped up in its own problems to get involved in what was going on in Mexico so there would be little to prevent them from imposing their will (or so they thought). Napoleon however would need someone to be his yes man and act as the head of state, someone with a royal air about them to lend legitimacy to this takeover. So he looked for a suitable Emperor of Mexico within the Habsburgs who had long been involved in various European monarchies. Enter Maximilian. A member of the Habsburg family that had distinguished himself through his service in the Austrian Navy and now had nothing better to do. Backed by conservatives in Mexico he would make a fine puppet for the French, and he did. That is until he was overthrown by rebel forces and put to the firing squad three years after coming to power. It brings a whole new meaning to “a shot of tequila”. Badoop Ching!
1/2 oz Green Chartreuse
1/2 oz Falernum (make your own)
3/4 oz Fresh Lime Juice
1/8 oz Simple Syrup (more or less depending on the sweetness of your Falernum)
7 Drops of Angostura Bitter
Garnish: Grapefruit peel expressed over the drink and then stood up in the drink. It really brings all the flavors together.
Shake briefly, strain.
In keeping with my love of twisting around classics I offer up the Secret Religion.
The idea was a Tequila version of a Bobby Burns (Scotch, Sweet Vermouth, Benedictine, Angostura, served up) with the smoke aspect coming from Creme de Mezcal. The result was a drink with a body and richness more like a Vieux Carre than a Manhattan. This led me to serve the drink on the rocks, rather than up, as it would need to stay cold while it was sipped slowly. The smoky aspect of the Creme de Mezcal brings depth and complexity without being over the top. I added our house chocolate bitters as I love the way chocolate and agave go together. Not to mention how well it compliments the orange aspects of the Benedictine. A little orange as garnish completed the cocktail.
So why Secret Religion? Well, Robert Burns is probably the most famous of all the Scottish poets. He also wrote songs, most notably Auld Lang Syne. So logically I went looking for the most famous poet from Mexico for a name. That led me to Nobel Prize winner Octavio Paz. Now, no offense to Mr. Paz but “I’ll have an Octavio Paz” doesn’t sing. However, he’s famously quoted as saying that poetry is the “secret religion of the modern age.” Bango!
2 oz Tres Agaves Reposado
1 oz Cocchi Torino
1/4+ oz Del Maguey Crème de Mezcal
1/4+ oz Benedictine
15 drops Angostura Bitters
7 drops Chocolate Bitters
Garnish: orange peel inserted but not expressed
2 oz Johnny Walker Red
1/4 oz Benedictine
13 Drops Angostura Bitters
Garnish: Lemon Twist
Opened in 1911 by an American it’s Europe’s longest running cocktail bar and still family owned and operated. Harry’s is the birthplace of the Bloody Mary (1921), The Side Car (1931), and the White Lady (1919). The bar has seen the likes of Hemingway (but what bar of the time didn’t), Gershwin, and F. Scott Fitzgerald to name a few. (nice 360 image of interior) AND…Harry’s has a straw poll for American’s in Paris every election year a week before the vote in America. In 25 elections since 1924 the poll has only been wrong twice! So if you want the pulse of the nation go ask a bar fly in Paris. I’ll see if I can get the results to post pre-election this year. Cheers!© 2012 Google
A quick note: Sorry for my absence. As GM of the bar, and with our first baby on the way, you can only imagine how little time I have had over the past few of months. I will miss seeing all of you at Tales this year as our due date is July 30. Now on to our topic for today…
A year ago I had a notion to do something new as a barrel aged project. We had done the usual sort of thing like a Negroni (in a used Rum barrel, quite nice by the way) but we were looking for something different. So Toby and I brainstormed up a Solera Manhattan.
Now a Solera system is a bit convoluted to explain so follow the link here for an explanation but the basic definition is that a Solera system is a means of aging through fractional blending. It’s used in the production of Sherry and Port wine to name a couple.
The barrels selected for the job were used five and six gallon Corsair Triple Smoke Whiskey barrels. These beauties impart a delicious smoky aspect to the Manhattan’s finish at a rapid pace due to their size.
Of course the ingredients in the Manhattan needed to lend themselves to this lengthy aging and smoky treatment. The classic Manhattan recipe would have to be amended. It would have to be fuller so as not to have the initial infusion of barrel characteristic overpower the cocktail. We wanted it to be a slight bit sweeter as well to help the cocktail hold in the environment we had planned for the aging of the drink. In the end this was the single serving recipe I developed…
1.5 oz Jim Beam Rye
1 oz Carpano Antica
3/4 oz Corsair Spiced Rum
13 drops of Angostura Bitters.
(adding 1/8 oz of Triple Smoke somewhat replicates the final feel but there’s no substitute for time in barrel)
The theory for aging was to use the same kind of extraction technique used in making a good whiskey. So we replicated a Kentucky rickhouse (see image above). We would leave the barrels exposed to the heat of the Tennessee summer and then start our first harvest in the fall. There was some concern that constant exposure to 100+ degree-days might break down the vermouth. So it was an expensive gamble.
Sitting more than $1K worth of cocktails outside for months on end meant security would be needed so a barrel containment storage center had to be constructed, We then made one giant cocktail and filled the barrels, hammered in the bungs, locked it down, and left it alone. I tested it every two weeks to check our progress. Around mid summer I blended the barrels so that each had imparted its character to the others.
By autumn the combination of barrel, booze, time, and heat had made magic. The final product was full, rich, and complex. We started serving it to rave reviews and as time has gone on the flavor profile has progressed nicely. As a finishing note we add a touch of Cocchi Torino in the mixing glass to freshen the overall feel. Much like a chef with that last second fresh ingredient to finish the dish. It’s served up with a Luxardo cherry and a tiny bit of lemon zest.
How long will this Solera go on? Only time will tell. Perhaps my son will have some on his 21st, wouldn’t that be a blast. A bit of wishful thinking to be sure. At any rate this experiment has worked out very well and it continues as new and different variables could be added. New Triple Smoke barrels could add more smoke if need be. A different type of barrel can be added to impart a different flavor to the cocktail. The possibilities are many and varied and more ideas are coming every day. Hmmmmm…
A classically styled Gin, from a vintage establishment, in the modern era.
The first thing you’re going to notice about No. 3 Gin is the distinctive key on the bottle. The key is a symbol of trust and Berry Bros & Rudd, the makers of No. 3, have been earning the trust of their clientele for 300 + years (Since 1698). They have supplied the liquor cabinets and wine cellars of the likes of Lord Byron, William Pitt, the Aga Khan, and the royal family starting with King George III. In fact B.B.& R. holds two Royal Warrants for Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales.
Oh, they also had a stab at making a whisky back in 1923 when the gang at No. 3 St James’s Street came up with a little brand called Cutty Sark. For an entire list of all B.B.& R. products check out their site.
With a pedigree and tradition steeped this much in England’s heritage it’s no wonder that B.B.& R. decided to make a London Dry style Gin. After all, one doesn’t supply the likes of Beau Brummell and then make a new world style Gin in which Juniper takes a back seat to the likes of Lemon Grass.
No, No. 3 is a refreshing return to Gin as it should be. B.B.& R. say that the goal was to make Gin perfect for making a Dry Martini and they may well have nailed it. Fresh and elegant, full yet approachable, it’s extremely well balanced. It’s not as bold as Tanqueray yet it’s fuller than Bombay. It’s a Gin lovers Gin and shows finesse, depth, and complexity. The nose brings plenty of orange and juniper and they follow through on the palate and are accented by spicy cardamom. It’s a perfect match for Dolin Dry Vermouth in a 2:1 Martini with a dash of Regan’s Orange Bitters stirred and garnished with lemon zest and a twist.
No. 3 also plays well in a mixed drink like a Hanky Panky.
2 oz No. 3 Gin
1 oz Carpano Antica
1/4 oz Fernet Branca
1 dash Regan’s Orange Bitters
Stir all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice until balanced and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a goodly amount of orange zest and twist.
They had requested that we make two cocktails that featured Corsair Red Absinthe. Seems they came across it in another shoot some time ago and took a liking to it. I can’t blame them as I like it too. In fact I even made a batch at the distillery up in Kentucky a few months back. It was a great learning experience and a lot of fun. A word of warning on that note, wormwood dust causes a wicked post nasal drip.
The shoot was a nonstop rolling take of silliness from the moment they had me do the clapboard. All in all it took about two hours to get all the footage.
After they downed the first cocktail they discussed the shoot scheduled just after ours…they were to roller skate with the Nashville Rollergirls!! Now, there’s little chance that you’d get me on skates after two + drinks, and there’s NO chance I’d do it if I had Nashville’s finest hellions on wheels using me for target practice, but the guys seemed ready for anything. Zane told us that Steve should feel right at home on skates because his dad owned a skate park or was it a roller rink. Anyways, I’m interested to see how well cocktails and having wheels on your feet go together experience or no.
So Steve and Zane really do drink all those drinks you see on the show. However in our shoot Zane had a little fun when we realized that the camera had missed Steve’s spontaneous gulping of a real drink. So Zane suggested we create a fake drink to give Steve in the second take. Our concoction was a shockingly sadistic joke drink made solely of syrups, bitters, and soda water. Zane and I just started pouring crazy ingredients into the glass until it was full and the right color. Steve downed it like a champ. I’m willing to bet that Zane’s payback came swiftly once Steve got him on skates. At any rate Steve was a real trooper and a very good sport!
Zane had a very unusual idea about how to film the making of one of the drinks and I’m interested to see how that portion of the shoot comes out. In my minds eye I see it done like a Benny Hill sort of scene with us moving at triple speed while Yackety Sax plays in the background.
Look for the show to air in the next season on HDNet but in the mean time stop by and visit Pleepleus.
When in the ATL I recommend stopping in at Holeman & Finch for great food and cocktails. Then head on over to their new Bottle Shop just blocks away. A good selection of bar ware, bitters and vermouth with spirits coming soon, real gas lamps, only the wines that matter, and they spin vinyl!
Hey all. I was honored to be asked to be a presenter at the first ever Atlanta Food and Wine Festival and I would like to thank everyone that came to the two sold out presentations. (As promised the recipes for the two cocktails are below.) Our audiences were fun and asked a lot of really good questions. I would also like to say thank you to Ashley Hall and the folks with the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival for being such great hosts and for all the behind the scenes work they put in to make this event happen.
For this unique presentation I was teamed up with Scott Witherow from Olive & Sinclair Chocolates and Andrew Webber from Corsair distilling. These two guys make some incredible products and it was my pleasure to work with both of them. My cohorts presented artisanal chocolates and micro batched spirits paired with chocolate while I presented two drinks that paired with and or used chocolate as an ingredient.
The first drink was an example of how a cocktail can pair with chocolate. In this case it was the classic (and in keeping with the southern theme of the event) Vieux Carre. There’s really nothing about this drink that doesn’t compliment chocolate. It’s a no-brainer. The Benedictine and the Cognac play to the sweet and unctuous character of chocolate while the Rye and Vermouth accentuate chocolate’s bitter complexities.
1 oz. Corsair 100% Rye
1 oz. Carpano Antica Vermouth
1/4 oz. Benedictine
1 dash Angostura Bitters
1 dash Peychaud’s Bitters
Place all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir. Strain over ice in a rocks glass. Express orange over the top of the drink.
The Vieux Carre was paired with Olive & Sinclair’s Salt & Pepper chocolate as well as their 75% chocolate.
The second drink was new and designed to show how chocolate can be used in a cocktail. I used a special Chocolate Bourbon made by Corsair with cacao from Olive & Sinclair. Imagine bourbon with it’s barrel aged spice notes combined with the rich dark rustic chocolate flavors of Olive & Sinclair. Crazy good! The drink…
1 oz. Corsair’s Chocolate Bourbon
1 oz. Corsair 100% Rye
1/4 oz. Agave Nectar
1/8 oz. Corsair Red Absinthe
1 dash Fee’s Old Fashioned Bitters
Place all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir. Strain over ice in a rocks glass. Express lemon over the top of the drink.
This cocktail was paired with Olive & Sinclair’s Mexican Style Cinn Chili chocolate.
Chocolate and agave work very well together. In this drink the two accentuate each others earthy notes while the Rye brings depth and binds the other flavors together. The lemon’s bright aroma and flavor mirrors the dark rich flavors of the other ingredients and makes the drink pop.
Once again my thanks to all that made it to our presentations and I look forward to seeing you all at Tha Patterson House some time soon.
Back in 1984 it was decided that a hand-selected blend of whiskey representing the best barrels produced at the Midleton Distillery should be bottled and called Midleton Very Rare. That’s where the story ends, it starts way back in 1826 when three brothers decided it would be cheaper to make whiskey out in the country rather than pay the high overhead of a business in the city. The distillery has been cranking out some of the finest Irish Whiskeys on the market ever since and Midleton Very Rare is the cream of the crop. It’s aged between 12 and 25 years before release. It’s also one of the few whiskeys that are vintage dated thus each bottling will bring a different experience from the last. This vintage shows subtle dried fruit notes and cinnamon on the nose. The palate is rich with apricot, vanilla, cinnamon, and smoke with a long earthy finish. Very complex and layered it keeps on giving.
Yep you read that correct, 143 Proof. This is straight from the barrel and is not for the timid. You’ll need to drink this with a splash of water unless you like your whiskey face rippingly brisk. It’s also unfiltered so the color is quite dark and the flavors the same. Part of the Antique Collection from Buffalo Trace Distillery, once called the George T. Stagg distillery; it is released once a year in a very limited edition and is usually highly sought after. The nose is full of dried fruit and a hint of vanilla. The palate is huge! Rich and robust are putting it lightly. Look for mouth filling warm caramel and more dried stone fruit along with baking spices and a touch of honey. The finish lingers on and on and adds a touch of coffee to the other flavors already mentioned. It will take your breath away, and not just because it’s 143 Proof. Superb.
As we poured into a large Nissan SUV at 6:30AM, half of the party bleary eyed from working the night before, we looked forward to a fun and educational day at the Four Roses distillery. Our goal, to pick out a single barrel Bourbon, at cask strength, for The Patterson House to use in cocktails starting in the Winter Menu of 2010. The crew chosen to make the selection included Max Goldberg representing the owners, Nathan Way represented Horizon distribution, and our management team Ryan “Fish” Fischer, Matt Tocco, and myself. All settled in with coffee and biscuits to fight the cold and revive the weary we started….start….star…st.
The huge SUV looked pretty silly being jumped off by a Honda Civic but not nearly as silly as Nathan and I looked trying to push this monster into position. Max commented that onlookers would think the boost was going the other way from mammoth to mini. We laughed as we realized the motor of the Nissan was as large as the entire front quarter of the Honda and we gave a little cheer as the black behemoth cranked to life. Off we went.
We drove north and nailed our estimated arrival time of 10AM at the Cox’s Creek facility where we would taste through ten different selected barrels to find the one we would call our own. After waking Tocco from his slumber we piled out into the eleven-degree Kentucky morning. Snow from a past weather system still lingered between the distinctive single story rick houses that set Four Roses apart from other Bourbon distillers. Free ranging cows used to “mow the lawn” around the facility seemed oblivious to our arrival as they slowly went about their business. The wind picked up and it felt like the cold was being shot straight to your bones so we quickly made our way into the bottling room.
As we stood looking at a small bottling line we were all a bit taken back to think that this one line bottles and labels every Four Roses bottle sent out world wide. The labels are placed by hand and the filler only does something like 6-8 bottles at a time. Having seen other facilities I was struck by how much attention each bottling, nay each bottle, would get during the process. We knew that the same such attention and care was being taken during the distillation and aging process and that factored highly into why we chose Four Roses as the source for our first ever house barrel of Bourbon.
As our hosts, all fantastically friendly and knowledgeable, showed us around we felt quite at home. We watched as barrels were rolled into the room where they would be dumped or filed. We watched as barrels were dumped at the end of their years of aging and we got into the act a bit by pounded bungs into freshly filled barrels. We all quipped that it would be a long day as we tipped a taste straight from a dumping barrel.
As we sipped the delicious offering we discussed our wish that Four Roses would produce a Rye. Something I had asked Master Distiller Jim Rutledge about a few weeks prior to our trip. While I’m told there aren’t currently any plans for such a product I know the demand is there and thus I hold out hope that down the road the powers at be will pull the trigger and make a fantastic Rye because lets face it, coming from these guys you know it would be good.
With all of the introductions and touring done it was time to get down to brass tacks and start our tasting in earnest. The rustic looking barrels were lined up and ready for us. Each chalk labeled with codes telling which mash bill and yeast strain had been used in making the contents. As we stepped up to the tasting table with stemware arranged for each of us we sarcastically joked about what a difficult and tiresome job we have.
It was at this point that we decided on how the tasting would proceed. It was decided that we would keep our opinions to ourselves during the tasting. This included our hosts who would taste right along with us. We decided that we would write our tasting notes on a sheet and only after all of the sampling was complete would we start the debate to decide which was the best for our purposes. In this way we would insure that we had everyone’s unbiased opinion. We also defined exactly what we were looking for and that was the best Bourbon for both mixing and sipping alike.
It was smiles all around as they called out the first code. Each of us brought the corresponding tasting glass to the barrel where it was filled using a whiskey thief. Again and again we waited for the call to bring the next glass to the next barrel. Coming straight from the barrel meant that some tastes had char in them, which settled in the bottom of the glass. These were delicious all the same. So were they all as each barrel, bill, and yeast strain showed its own distinctive nose, mouth feel, and palate. We sipped our way through the selections one at a time with everyone tasting the same sample at the same time.
With the last barrel sampled we decided to start a second sampling of each of our favorites with a splash of water and with palates cleansed by tortilla chips. Each of us slowly narrowed our selections until everyone felt they had their top three of the ten selected. Only at this time did we show our cards to start what would doubtlessly be a lengthy discussion to determine the winning barrel. Or that’s what we thought anyways.
We were quickly amazed to find all of us had one particular barrel as our number one choice. Everyone was a bit dumbfounded including the warehouse manager who revealed that she too had selected the same barrel. We were truly unanimous in our decision and if you get to taste this very special barrel you’ll know exactly why.
The Patterson House Four Roses Single Barrel, Barrel Strength 2010
122 Proof (Exact proof didn’t factor in the decision process as we didn’t find out this information until a week later at bottling)
Age: 9yrs 7months
60% Corn / 35% Rye / 5% Malted Barley
This barrel has a high Rye content to mash bill with and the yeast strain “K” lends a spice note that compliments the spice expressed by the Rye. It’s an extremely well developed and well-integrated offering with a reserved nose and a robust full-bodied palate that shows cinnamon, caramel, and vanilla notes.
The Patterson House winter menu 2010-11 features a house Brooklyn made with our Four Roses Single Barrel along with a house made Amer Picon and Blood Orange Bitters, Luxardo Maraschino, and Dolin Dry Vermouth. It’s a big hit and packs quite a punch.
You can purchase a bottle to have at home over at Midtown Wine and Spirits in Nashville while supplies last.
After we made our selection we drove to Bardstown and toured the Four Roses Distillery. We had a great time and I highly recommend you check out this stop on the Bourbon Trail. A big thanks to all the folks at Four Roses for all the help and hospitality.
Our tasting and touring complete and our barrel set aside and ready for bottling it was time to head back to Nashville. After all our day was far from over. We still had to attend an event that evening with Tom Bulleit of Bulleit Bourbon and sample their soon to be released Rye, but that’s a different post.
I was recently asked to submit an egg white cocktail to Details Magazine Online. The article is designed to give the home mixologist incite into how to make a good egg drink. With that in mind I offered up The Burbank, my twist on a Los Angeles. It’s a simple yet flavorful recipe designed as an introduction to using egg whites. You can check out the entire article at Details Magazine Online.
2 oz. Famous Grouse Blended Scotch
1/2 oz. Carpano Antica Vermouth
3/4 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice
3/4 oz. Simple Syrup
1 Egg White
7 Drops Fee’s Old Fashioned Bitters
Dry/mime shake the egg white and lemon in your shaker. Then add all other ingredients. Mime shake again, briefly. Add ice and shake briskly. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and top with 5 more drops of Old Fashioned bitters.
What a name for a cocktail. I mean, you could have attached this name to any drink, but somehow, it fits this one. That’s because like an old friend it’s always there for you. It’s there when you don’t know what to have. It’s there when you don’t want to fuss with trying something new. It’s a solid, simple, and dependable drink.
The Old Pal is a classic that should be in every bartender’s arsenal not only because it’s tasty but because it’s a variation on a theme all bartenders should be familiar with. The Old Pal is a relative of the Negroni and a kissing cousin to the Boulavardier. All three drinks contain Campari, vermouth, and a base spirit. However, where the Negroni is Campari sweet vermouth, and Gin…and the Boulavardier is Campari, sweet/Italian vermouth, and Bourbon…the Old Pal is Campari, dry/French vermouth, and Rye whiskey. Slight tweaks to be sure but there is a marked difference between the three.
Traditionally all three of these drinks are made with equal proportions of each ingredient. I prefer to use the proportions below on all three as I find the old school formula too aggressive for most palates. I also tend to add orange bitters to add depth by echoing the orange aspects of the Campari. The theme is complete with an orange peel expressed over the drink.
2 oz Bourbon (Old Weller 107 works well)
1 oz Dolin Dry Vermouth
1/2 oz Campari
1 dash of Regan’s Orange bitters
Pour all ingredients into a mixing glass and stir with ice. Strain into a rocks glass over ice. Express orange zest over the surface of the drink and serve.
Taste the drinks just after you stir a few times. It will be Campari forward and a bit hot as is with the others in this family of drinks. However, as you continue to stir and taste you’ll notice as the Campari softens the vermouth and come to life with subtle nutty and herbaceous notes that will make you call on this cocktail again and again thus living up to its name.
If you’re into detective novels/movies then you may want to check out the blog over at Find Investigations. It’s written by a real P.I. and it’s full of fascinating insight into that shadowy world. Find is also running a monthly series of posts matching a custom cocktail, created by yours truly, with fictional sleuths like Sam Spade and Shaft to name a few. The cocktails will be available at The Patterson House upon request.
Here’s last month’s installment just to wet your whistle.
2 oz. Matusalem Classico Rum
1/4 oz. Lyle’s Golden Syrup
7 drops Lime bitters
1 dash Peychaud’s Bitters
Mezcal Rinsed Glass
In a mixing glass stir the Lyle’s, Rum, and Lime bitters with ice. Strain over ice in a rocks glass that has been rinsed with Creme de Mezcal. Next add the dash of Peychauds’ to the top and zest some orange peel over the drink.
Sam Spade loves his rum, even offers a shot to Polhouse and Dundy when they come by to interrogate him. Clearly, the base spirit must be rum. The Lyles is an old school product that’s off the beaten path, not unlike like Sam’s detective agency. The Peychaud’s Bitters are there to add complexity and like Mr. Spade’s wit they are dry. The Lime Bitters liven things up because though Mr. Spade is quick of intellect he is also a man of action. The Mezcal represents the mystery, the unexpected, the twist if you will. This tasty beverage is, in many ways, like Ms. O’Shaughnessy’s $200 retainer to Sam…. more than if you had been telling us the truth, and enough more to make it all right.
If you’re a Gin fan and want something out of the ordinary may I recommend checking out Ransom Old Tom Gin. For those unfamiliar with Old Tom style Gins you should know that it has a touch of sweetness to it. It’s what Gin was like before the London Dry style was around. This little beauty is made in Oregon and is then aged in Pinot Noir barrels. The resulting product is delicious and complex. It shows sweet floral notes accompanied with juniper and stone fruit on the nose, not your average Gin eh. The palate brings more of the same. While the juniper is present it isn’t too forward. The fruit notes are soft and well integrated. This is a very well balanced product that could easily become a new favorite. It’s very different and very very good. Here’s a twist on an old drink my coworker Mark MacMinn at The Patterson House came up with. It’s his version of the Bijou using Ransom Old Tom. Sweet and Delicious.
1 Part Ransom Old Tom Gin
1 Part Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth
1 Part Green Chartreuse
Place all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Note: I’ve also tried this with a dash of Regan’s Orange Bitters to good results.
You may have had New Holland Brewery’s beer but have you had their spirits? This Michigan brewery is now making Rum, Whiskey, and Vodka, but the best of the bunch in my opinion is the Knickerbocker Gin. The nose shows sweet citrus almost like lemonade with a touch of juniper. The palate brings lemon zest, coriander, and subtle juniper notes. The well balanced flavor profile combined with just a hint of sweetness make Knickerbocker very approachable. It would be a great selection for those people just getting into Gin. At the same time it shows depth and complexity to satisfy the serious Gin enthusiast. This kind of broad appeal should make it a big seller for this budding micro-distiller.
Knickerbocker mixes well into lighter cocktails. I find the citrus notes pair very well with the mint and lime in a Southside. Give it a whirl and support the locals.
2 oz. Gin
3/4 oz. Fresh lime juice
3/4 oz. Simple syrup
1 Sprig of mint (large)
1 Dash Peychaud’s bitters
Bruise the mint in the bottom of your shaker and then add all the other ingredients. Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a floating mint leaf.
Having the right tools for the job is essential if you’re going to prepare a quality cocktail and there is perhaps no more important tool used by the mixologist than the shaker. So you’ll want to have the kind of shaker that best fits your needs and with a little insight you should be able pick the type that’s best for you.
There is almost no end to the different styles and sizes of cocktail shakers on the market. They are short, tall, huge, tiny, in two parts, three parts, made of glass, metal, shaped like rockets, penguins, and even bee hives. It can be confusing but remember that all shakers can be put into one of two basic classifications no matter how fancy or simple they seem.
Three Piece/Combination/Cobbler Shakers: Whatever you call them they all consist of three separate components, a tin that holds the ingredients, a strainer that caps the tin, and a lid that caps the strainer. They are often styled in an eye catching design and can be found in any department store. They are also easy to use and need no practice to wield successfully. Combine the ease of use and the stylish design and it’s no wonder that this is the shaker most often found behind a home bar.
However, because they are designed for ease of use they don’t offer the kind of control you’ll want to have when making craft cocktails. That’s because you can’t control the gate of the strainer. Thus anything smaller than the holes drilled in the strainer goes into your glass (like little bits of mint as an example) and anything larger than the holes end up clogging the strainer (like large bits of mint). These shakers are also a poor choice for egg drinks as the froth tends to stay trapped in the tin. So these shakers are limited and are best for the preparation of drinks containing only liquid ingredients.
Something to think about when purchasing a three piece shaker…Don’t buy ones with thin metal construction. These often leak or worse yet get stuck together if not seated just right. I got one so jammed once that it ended up in the recycle bin.
Boston Shakers: These are the most popular type of shaker with bartenders. The first type of Boston Shaker we’ll examine is the Glass and Tin Boston Shaker which combines a tempered mixing glass that is topped by a metal mixing tin. The cocktail is built in the glass and then the tin is seated on top. A seal is created by gently popping the top of the tin with the heal of your palm. After you shake your drink you release the seal by holding the tin portion of the shaker vertically in your weak hand and then pop the metal tin at the point where glass and metal meet with the heal of the palm of your free hand. You then use a Hawthorn strainer to strain the drink from the tin into your serving glass.
As you can see this style of shaker takes a little practice to get used to but offers all the control you need to make any shaken drink you can think of. This type of shaker has rarely ever leaked on me as the glass to metal combo make a great seal. The only real drawback to this type of shaker is that muddling in a glass of any kind is a little hazardous. It’s a fact that aggressive muddling could result in stitches if the glass shatters. Ouch. The solution is to do all your muddling in the metal half of the shaker.
You can purchase a matched set like the one at the link above or you can purchase the pieces separately. The trick will be finding a single tempered 16 oz glass. They are typically sold in case quantities on line. Here’s a link to a Set of Four Tempered Pint Glasses and here’s a link to a 28 oz. Non-Weighted Stainless Steel Tin.
You can also use an All Metal Boston Shaker Set. This is the setup used by many modern mixologists and it’s actually a revival of what may be the oldest type of shaker set. The only difference here is that the glass is replaced with a small metal “Cheater Tin” and both tins have weights on the ends of them for balance. However, with this setup you build your drink in the Large Shaker Tin and cap it with the small tin. While you still have to gently pop the little tin with the heal of your palm to seat the tins you open them in a different way than the glass and tin setup. While holding the large tin vertically in one hand you place the fingers of you free hand on the front of the big tin and your thumb on the back of the small tin. Then you push forward with your thumb. The result should be a snapping sound as the small tin releases and hits the front edge of the big tin. You then use a Hawthorn strainer to strain the drink from the big tin into your serving glass. The only drawback to this setup is that if your tins don’t seat correctly, or if your the type to shake extremely hard, you risk slinging drink around the room. I have found a little care and attention solves this issue easily.
So which one is right for you? It’s your call. I use a variety and that may be what you’ll find works best. I have a few of three piece shakers in differing sizes to fit the situation. Though they may have limited uses they come in handy for some drinks. I have a mini for making myself a quick night cap, a slightly larger one to make two drinks at a time for my wife and I, and a large party shaker to make six at a time. However, any drinks I make with muddled ingredients, or drinks I am designing for work, I make in an all metal Boston shaker setup.
The ones you choose are totally up to you. If I was stranded on an island and I could only have one shaker Id go all metal. It’s versatile and durable. However, as long as you mind your muddling there’s no reason to avoid the classic glass and tin setup.
Exotic Ports Part 2
Shanghai of the early 20th century, it seems so film noir. The minds eye conjures images of a harbor filled with junks and smokey alleys with shadowy figures in fedora’s and coolie hats. It’s a place where dark doorways lead to strange shops used as fronts for opium dens populated by glassy eyed westerners deep in the clutches of dragons grip.
This Hollywood vision of old Shanghai while sensational to say the least wasn’t so far off the mark. Because while the bustling cities entertainment and nightlife had some calling it “the Paris of the East” it did have a notable underworld stemming back to the opium wars of the mid 1800s. It was also the last port of call for many poor souls that had been “Shanghaied” and forced to work on board ships destined for foreign ports. A trip that often took five years or more, one way, to reach this distant crossroad of East and West.
Shanghai of the day was a city caught between times and cultures. It was the kind of place where you could drive a Duesenberg to a glittering premier of one the many Chinese folklore movies made in Shanghai and then take a rickshaw home after having one too many at the after party held at The Long Bar at The Shanghai Club.
So it should come as no surprise that a city like Shanghai would at some point in time have a memorable tipple named after it. When made just so the flavor profile in this cocktail are layered and defined. It’s simple in concept yet complex to the palate.
The Shanghai Cocktail
2 oz. Aged Rum (Flor de Cana 4 yr works well)
1/8 oz. Marie Brizard Anisette
3/4 oz. Fresh lemon juice
1/4 oz. Grenadine
1/2 oz. Simple syrup
Place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake briefly. Note, shake too much and the water content will cause you to lose definition in the flavor profile. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Zest a little lemon over the top of the drink for the nose. I have also used Absinthe instead of Anisette to good effect but I only rinse the glass with it.
Now, while all of the above imagery was fun to pen the actual origin of this drink is up for debate. No amount of research has yet revealed the story of this drinks birth to the writer. No doubt someone will chime in with this data (it will be of course much appreciated) but I doubt any tidbit we glean will do this drink justice.
I was recently privileged to taste a sample of the soon to be released (Sept of 2010, their waiting on the labels) Prichard’s Lincoln County Lightning. This is Prichard’s offering to the ever growing “white dog” whiskey market. Once the domain of the micro-distillers the white whiskey category is quickly becoming many a distilleries newest project. Prichard’s is the latest to throw their hat in the ring with this outstanding offering.
The spirit in the bottle is the same used to make the extremely tasty Prichard’s Single Malt Whiskey. At 90 proof this whiskey is big enough to hold up to mixing yet it’s not so aggressive that you can’t sip it easily. The nose is full and shows pronounced pear aromas along with vanilla and just a touch of lemon zest. The palate shows more pear along with a subtle touch of honey in the lengthy finish. It’s smooth going and shows little bite or burn. If you’re a white whiskey fan then you’ll want to pick up a bottle and at $20 a 750ml bottle it’ll be a solid value.
We all love an Old Fashioned. It’s a sweet spirit forward style drink that has been delighting palates since the 1880s. They’re a sure fire hit and that’s why I served a gillion or so of them at my wedding. So why mess with perfection you ask? Well, sometimes we all need something new and that’s exactly what we have with a Mezcal Old Fashioned. It’s an exciting twist on a familiar format.
By replacing the sweet Bourbon with a smoky Mezcal you bring a savory aspect not seen in the traditional Old Fashioned. By switching Agave nectar for sugar or demarara syrup you keep the sweet aspect of the drink but in a way that magnifies the earthy aspects of the base spirit. Next we switch the bitters from Angostura to either something like Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel Bitters for a more defined cinnamon note, or a chocolate bitter because chocolate compliments the Agave flavors deliciously. We make our own chocolate bitters at TPH but Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate Bitters work well. Either of these bitters will add complexity and depth to the flavor profile so it’s your choice. Lastly instead of an orange or lemon garnish try expressing some grapefruit zest over the top of the cocktail so that the smoky, sweet notes are accentuated by a bright fragrant olfactory experience.
Mezcal Old Fashioned
.25 oz. Agave nectar/syrup (thin this with a dash of water if yours is too sweet or too thick)
1 dash Bitters (see above)
Place all ingredients in a mixing glass and add cubed ice. Stir and strain over ice in a rocks glass. Express a bit of grapefruit zest over the drink and enjoy.
I’m often asked how we make our spherical ice at work and there are a few ways of doing this. In some bars they will chip, by hand, a chunk of ice into a sphere. I’ve heard of bars in Japan where they hand carve designs into the spheres as well. While this is REALLY cool it’s not what most home mixologists are interested in doing for obvious reasons.
Your next option is a perhaps less labor intensive but will cost a lot more. For between $200 and $1800 you can get what is simply billed as a Japanese Ice Ball Mold. The price varies depending on the size of the sphere you want to make. The larger the more expensive. It’s what we use at work and ours was of the $1700 variety. This price has come down over the last couple of years. Made of two large pieces of aluminum you place a chunk of ice in between them and the combination of heat and pressure does the rest. The result is a beautiful sphere of ice to keep your drink cold without watering it down.
Lastly we have the Two Sphere Ice Tray Sets available from the MOMA store (Museum of Modern Art). These are a good alternative to the more expensive aluminum ice molds. At only $16 they are very affordable and come in two packs (so one order will make four spheres at a time). Better still its a device you can fill and forget until you are ready to serve drinks. All the instructions are in Japanese but it doesn’t take long to figure out how to use them. Simply fill the bottom tray and then slowly press the top of the mold into place. The excess water will come out the sides and through the holes in the top of each side of the mold. When you’re ready to use the ice I recommend setting the mold on the counter for about ten to fifteen minutes before running a little cool water over the molds. Then gently separate the two halves of the mold and pull out the spheres. Chip away any excess ice around the seam with the edge of a spoon.
Exotic Ports Part 1.
This is one of those drinks that everybody has heard of. The name sings and conjures exotic locations where colonials sit in rattan chairs recalling tales of valor involving the likes of Zulus and tigers. It’s a true classic for anyone that likes tropical drinks but let me ask you this, have you ever had one? The vast majority of people have heard of the drink yet few people you meet have actually tried one. A crying shame in my book because once you try one you’ll know why this drink has such a legendary status.
While there are as many recipes for this drink as there are bartenders to make it, in my opinion, nothing really compares to what, as far as I can tell, is the, or damn close to, original recipe. This recipe dates to 1935 from the Raffles Hotel Singapore where bartender Ngiam Tong Boon originated the drink around 1915. This drink calls for quite a laundry list of ingredients which is usually a bad thing as too many ingredients tend to muddy a cocktail’s flavor. Not so with Mr. Boon’s concoction. Each ingredient plays off the other to create a cocktail that lives up to its mythical status. Oh, and the wow factor you’ll get when you serve this for your friends makes the effort of juicing a pineapple all worth it.
1.5 oz. Gin
.5 oz. Cherry Heering
.25 oz. Cointreau
.25 oz. Benedictine
1.5 oz. Fresh pineapple juice (not canned)
.5 oz. Fresh limejuice
1 Dashes of Angostura Bitters
Combine all ingredients in your shaker tin and shake briefly. Strain into an ice cube filled Collins glass and garnish with pineapple, orange, cherry, umbrella, or all of the above. The more garnish the better on a drink like this.
Follow the recipe below should you want to make this drink as a punch for a party. It should make 9 regular sized servings but will go a lot further if you’re serving in punch cups.
Singapore Sling Punch Recipe
1.5 cups Gin
½ cup Cherry Heering Liqueur
¼ cup Cointreau
¼ cup Benedictine
1 ½ cups Fresh pineapple juice
½ cup Fresh limejuice
6 Dashes of Angostura Bitters
Combine all ingredients in a pitcher and add one to two cups of cubed ice and stir to dilute.
I’ve used Vic Firth drumsticks for years so you can imagine how intrigued I was when I discovered they were making a Vic Firth Gourmet Muddler. I received mine via mail just today and I really like it.
It’s a little over 11 inches long so it has the length to keep your fingers away from the edge of your tin or glass. It’s got a comfortable grip from either end and has been sanded to a satin soft finish. Made from maple it has enough mass to feel good and solid in your hand. The 2 inch diameter flat end covers a good amount of area and makes muddling fruit a breeze. All in all it’s a great functional design and the hard wood construction should be good for years of service.
…and at the time of its release the only whiskey made in Texas. Balcones Baby Blue is also the only Whiskey I know of that’s made from 100% Hopi blue corn thus the name. Baby Blue is made in a micro distilling operation located under a bridge in Waco Texas and was born when a group of home brew enthusiasts decided to try their hand at distillation. The result of their passion is a deliciously different whiskey that shows nutty sweet toasted corn meal notes on the nose. The palate continues to show the nut and grain notes along with a hints of vanilla and apricot. The finish is long and punctuated by oak spice.
A delicious offering from the gang down in the lone star state. This should make for a tasty Manhattan, or should we call it a Houston?
Here’s a Swiss potable bitter that’s based on an Italian recipe from the 1800s. It’s a delicious (in my opinion) option for those looking for something different in the bitter spirits category. It’s sweet on the front of the palate and bitter on the finish. Flavors of rhubarb are reminiscent of Aperol but that’s where the similarity ends. Look for caramelized orange zest accentuated by an herbal accent that brings complexity. Its flavors aren’t as dark Cynar and it shows less burnt orange than Campari. Rich and full it makes for some great Negroni variations. My Gran Classico concotion is called a Hand Of Glory.
Check out the Gran Classico website for some great recipes.
2 oz. Diplomatico Anejo Rum
.75oz Punt e Mes
.25 oz Gran Classico
13 Drops Fee’s Whiskey Barrel Bitters
Stir, Strain, and serve on the rocks. Garnish with orange peel expressed over the drink and then inserted in the glass.
The ice you use to make your cocktail with is just as important as any other ingredient. Having good solid cubes to shake and build with can make a huge difference in how the final product comes out. While it would be nice the average home mixologist can’t afford to have a Kold-Draft machine hidden in the garage. This is where Tovolo Perfect Cube Silicone Ice Cube Trays come in.
These Silicone trays work great and give me very uniform, solid, cubes that work well for home crafting. The silicone allows the cubes to be easily removed by pushing from the back side of the tray and none of your cubes end up broken and chipped. They look and work beautifully, come in a variety of colors, and sizes including the Tovolo King Cube Silicone Ice Cube Tray which makes large cubes so you only need one in your drink.
Regan was unhappy with the orange bitters that were available to him so he made his own based off of a recipe he Found in Jigger Beaker and Flask. He tinkered with the recipe to create a master work. and before he began marketing his delicious and robust bitters to the world.
Quite simply a must have for any bar. Regan’s orange bitters are the perfect orange bitter to pair with bold flavors. I like them in a Negroni or used in drinks with home made grenadine in them.
These bitters come in a variety of sizes…
I’ve been whipping up a bracingly refreshing version of the old Sleepy Hollow at The Patterson House using Bluecoat Gin. I’ve never really been able to find any history on this cocktails and if someone knows I wish they would let me know. Whoever and wherever it comes from did a bang up job. It’s a delicious flavor combination that is perfect during the summer months. However, the addition of Bluecoat Gin and a healthy amount of mint turns this drink from a subtle sipper into a real attention getter. If you like them on the drier side then this may be right up your alley.
2oz Bluecoat American Dry Gin
1/2oz Rothman & Winter Orchard Apricot Liqueur
3/4oz Fresh Lime Juice
1/4oz Simple Syrup
3 Mint Sprigs
Bruise the mint in the bottom of a shaker tin (don’t mutilate it). Then place all other ingredients in the tin along with ice and shake. Strain it into a chilled cocktail glass and serve with a mint leaf floating on top as the garnish
There was no way that I could review Bourbons and not mention what I see as the best value on the market at this time. Bulleit Bourbon has quickly made a lot of fans because it’s dryer, spicy, style is a refreshing change from most everything else at the everyday price point. That spice is a result of Bulleit having the higher Rye content (28% I’m told and perhaps that’s where the “frontier” on the label comes in) than most Bourbon on the market. It’s an easy drinking Bourbon that shows vanilla and honey through the palate and finishes clean. Big bang for the buck.
My friends have gone goofy for this stuff and who can blame them. It starts off with a smooth light honey note on the front of the palate that builds to a mid palate showing baking spices and thin caramel. The finish comes on strong with a big bolt of cinnamon. It’s especially smooth and light with just a little heat on the finish.