Tiki Log Cabin

Tiki Log CabinMy housemate has a lot of tea. One of our first purchases was an electric kettle with enough temperature selection buttons to support our respective oolong drinking habits. I had decided to make us drinks on this frigid-for-SoCal Thanksgiving Eve, and so I was rummaging through the box of tea for inspiration. I found one that smelled like fancy cinnamon-apple granola, and a star was born.

When asked to devise a name for the drink, my housemate spoke of log cabins and flannel. We talked about gender identity and cocktails. Is this a [insert mysogyny here] martini variant, or a humble tiki aspirant? Is flannel for treehuggers, lumberjacks, or lesbians? Is this log cabin in Portland, OR or Portland, ME? Do we live for the briny sea or the greenest of trees?

This drink is alarmingly smooth. The nose is inviting; the flavors are complex. Each sip warms and bolsters. (It ought to make a good toddy if one subs the fresh lime for a splash of Grand Marnier.) To get a sense of where this vodka infusion gets its tiki aspirations, consider that the tisane is labelled “for almond lovers” (evoking orgeat), and also contains cinnamon.

/Makes 2 drinks/
 1.5 tsp David's Tea Forever Nuts
 0.5 tsp black tea (David's Tea English Breakfast)
 4 oz vodka
 1 oz maple syrup
 1 oz fresh lime juice

Infuse the teas in the vodka, stirring occasionally, while preparing other ingredients in a shaker. Ten minutes is plenty. Combine, shake with ice, and strain.

Guest Post: Greedy

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This was inspired by the lovely gift, from Matt, of a book devoted to crazy Negroni variants. I wanted a Negroni. But I also wanted something fruity and complex. So I got greedy and tried to do too many things at once. But the Negroni forgives. The Negroni says, “Listen child, it’s okay to be ambitious, to express nuanced opinions on hot topics, to describe dreams of the future that don’t make any sense yet. But when you’ve gone overboard, you gotta learn how to fix it.”

1.25 oz gin
1.25 oz Campari
0.75 oz sweet vermouth
0.25 oz orange liqueur (Cointreau)
0.25 oz blackberry liqueur
0.5     lime (juice it, then drop in as garnish)
4 drops Jerry Thomas Decanter Bitters (Bitter Truth)

Shake with ice
Adjust the proportions til you don't feel the imbalance of greed
Stir with more ice

This drink started off with only 1 ounce each of gin & Campari. That might have worked with better ingredients (especially the blackberry and the sweet vermouth), but I found the result too medicinal. So, I’d say: go nuts with adding wacky tasty things—get all greedy—and then fix it with small portions of 1:1 gin and Campari (or use the standard 1:1:1 ratio if you like your sweet vermouth).

I like the bitterness that develops from dropping in the used half-lime rind, as if it’s a Moscow mule. Meanwhile, the colors remind me of Raspberry Lime Rickeys on Boston’s hot summer days. Though, I suspect the blackberry flavor is complicit in that memory as well.

Guest Post: Ginger Bear

Simple but effective.

1 oz gin (New Amsterdam)
0.5 oz blackberry liqueur
0.25 oz ginger syrup
0.25 oz fresh lemon juice

Shake with ice. 
Garnish: drop in a sliver of candied ginger.

This drink had a really excellent bite, between the ginger and the spikier aspects of the gin. The earthy tones of those two ingredients supported each other really well. Warning: the result is unapologetically carnation pink.

I am so proud of past-me for making ginger syrup / candied ginger. It’s one of the most time-consuming syrups to make, but it’s so good! It’s pretty different from storebought; I find I can capture the bite and the earthiness better.

If it weren’t a weeknight, I’d try a quick infusion of cracked black pepper into the gin (~20min for 1 oz; ~45min for 1 cup). I think that would play off the gin[ger] bite and add considerable nuance. I’ve blended blackberry and black pepper before with great success—the crackberry truffles come to mind—so I have high hopes here.

Guest Post: Combining the Margarita and the Negroni

My 2 favorite classic drinks are margaritas and negronis. They’re what I order when I wish to avoid disappointment, and they’re what I make when I’m feeling lazy.

Now that I’m far from my beloved bar at Something Completely Different, I can’t make my preferred negroni—Chef Elizabeth Faulkner’s extra bitter version, which swaps Punt e Mes for sweet vermouth—ideally with lime-infused gin. Seriously, my life will change when I get a bottle of Punt e Mes; I’ll drink a lot less beer. In the meantime, I’ve made a lot of margaritas.

1.5  oz blanco tequila (tres agaves)
0.33 oz orange liqueur (cointreau)
0.5  oz campari
0.5  oz fresh lime juice
a glug of honey (1 barsp--1 tsp, to taste)

shake with ice.

I was playing with a margarita tonight, and managed to create a drink that would satisfy my (doctored) negroni cravings! I subbed Campari for some of the orange liqueur. And, recalling the unbelievable synergy of honey notes with the campari + fresh lime system[1], I threw in a half-hearted glug of honey. Yeah, it’s a great grapefruity margarita, with some extra earthiness from the Campari. But it reminds me of the best parts of my preferred negroni: intense lime-grapefruit bitterness, with a clear, summery base spirit[2]. The honey (I’m using Trader Joe’s Mesquite) is warm and spicy, with the “grade-B” attitude of Punt e Mes. I stirred it in with my finger[3], so it’s isn’t well-dissolved enough to contribute too much sugar; rather, it adds the vividness I was looking for. And, at the risk of sounding silly, I’ll say that the limes matter!

The limes I get here are deeply bitter, almost acrid in the cleaning-product sense. Compare that to the floral sparkle of a wedge that you get with a bowl of phở in Boston’s Chinatown; turns out that much of what I love in a collins or a daquiri is that miraculous lime oil. But the juice of these limes carries the earthy bitterness of the aged, lime-zest-infused gins that I like in negronis. So it’s a different facet of lime that’s shining here.

When I do find a damned bottle of Punt e Mes, I will make a negroni that tastes like my favorite margarita[4].

[1] See the beginning of the article at http://bostonapothecary.com/an-amazing-mead-based-shrub-cheater/. Obviously that’s mead, not honey, and they’re talking about how acid from the lime elevates the mead to a thing of beauty. But the point is that honey is a flavor, not just an overbearing sweetener that isn’t always appropriate.

[2] That’s the blanco talking. Of course, negronis are supposed to be more complex… so a reposado would also do well, inasmuch as it mimics the warm wintry/spicy aspects of the vermouth/amaro. Relatedly, I could see swirling in 0.33–0.5 oz quina-quina to replace the same amount of tequila.

[3] Oh, I do have a shaker. I’m just laaaaaaazy, and I need to leave the ice in since I have to be up in 7 hours.

[4] Which uses lapsang-infused reposado. Or a bad-ass smoky mezcal.