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.

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Scalia’s Tears

Scalia's Tears_smallerOver the last week, several online discussions I’ve seen have brought up to the concept of “drinking Scalia’s tears” (cf. South Park‘s Cartman), and what the appropriate cocktail instantiation of this is. At least one bar in Chicago has such a creation on the menu already! I didn’t have any Malört handy, so I tweaked a recipe from KathrynT on MetaFilter:

2 oz    rye whiskey (Rittenhouse)
0.25 oz Fernet Branca
0.25 oz orange liqueur (Cointreau)
3 drops saline solution
splash  soda water

Stir all but soda, strain, and serve on the rocks
Top with the seltzer

The drink was nicely balanced with the small amount of salt helping round out some of the herbal notes but did not actually give it a salty character. A salt rim was considered, but the drink wasn’t sour enough to make that work. It was definitely more popular than the other signature drink at Saturday’s party, the “King v. Burwell Majority Opinion”, but that was just a shot glass full of pure applesauce…

Old Boy’s Club Cocktail

mxmologoThe theme for this month’s Mixology Monday, hosted by Putney Farm, was “hometown hooch” (update: roundup post). I had two local spirits in my cabinet: Bully Boy Boston Rum and St. Elder Elderflower Liqueur which turned out to work together quite well. I also had a bottle of Bittermens Boston Bittahs which, while not made in Boston, was actually a pretty good flavor match.

2 oz New England rum (Bully Boy)
1 oz elderflower liqueur (St. Elder)
12 drops Boston Bittahs
1 ml green Chartreuse (optional)

Stir and strain

Old Boy's ClubThe flavor is sweet and floral with the elderflower providing the primary flavor, brightened by the citrus from the bitters. The apple/lychee notes from the St. Elder really come out here. This is sweeter than many of the cocktails I make, but there’s enough complexity to ground it and keep it from being cloying. The bitters-quantity of Chartreuse helps balance it out, though it is still drinkable without it and other things such as orange bitters could fill the role if you don’t have Chartreuse handy. A squeeze of lemon juice or lemon twist garnish might also be at home here, but I didn’t have a lemon handy to test with. Decidedly refreshing on a warm summer afternoon!

Fernet’s Last Theorem

Fernet's Last Theorem, flanked by previous attempts at theorems

My friend Ash came up with a bad math pun involving Fernet and Fermat. A drink had to be made and a Last Word variant seemed like a good choice. Finally after months of talking about the bad idea over drinks, we got down to actually mixing up some possibilities. We considered replacing the gin with bourbon and even cachaça, replacing the lime with lemon, and even excluding the Chartreuse altogether. On our 5th try, we settled on something close to the original, but worthy of the name.

0.75 oz  Fernet (Branca)
0.75 oz  gin (New Amsterdam)
0.75 oz  Maraschino
0.75 oz  lime Juice
0.375 oz Green Chartreuse

One thing that became clear in testing is that the Chartreuse was necessary to tame the bite of the Fernet a bit and get it to play well with the rest of the drink. The lime juice also helped settle it, the bite from the lemon juice and the bite from the Fernet were too much and fought one another—in your mouth. The lime and Chartreuse combo work with the Fernet and not against it. The New Amsterdam is nicely inoffensive and mixes well, but the bourbon and cachaça masked the Fernet.

The drink starts off bright and then mellows with some sweetness and then ends with a lime/mint aftertaste that is not overpowering. It’s refreshing and sour, but surprisingly balanced. Also, it doesn’t come off at all medicinal (save a bit in the aftertaste), which is surprising given the amount of herbal here. A Last Word variant I’ll definitely make again!

Fall Toddy

Fall Toddy

I know it probably seems strange for me to post a drink called the Fall Toddy on the first of June, but it is currently 48°F and raining in Boston, so I’m just not in the mood for a sour. It is mostly a sense of indigence that is keeping me from turning on the heat, so I’ll bundle up and pour myself a hot drink.

1 oz   apple brandy (Laird's)
1 oz   New England rum (Bully Boy)
0.5 oz cranberry vodka
0.5 oz simple syrup
2 dash Jerry Thomas Bitters
4 oz   boiling water

Combine all ingredients in a mug

Comforting and smooth with a spice and complexity. The cranberry vodka is a homemade infusion. I don’t really have a precise recipe, I just start making spiced cranberry sauce, only add a small amount of sugar (a couple tablespoons instead of a couple of cups), transfer it to a bottle and top off with vodka.

Guest Post: Alphabet City – A Manhattan Variant

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This month for Mixology Monday, hosted by Cocktail VirginSlut, we tackle the Manhattan!

Until very recently, I thought I didn’t like vermouth, so I don’t know much about the Manhattan. What better reason to try it out!

I grabbed the rye and vermouth that I had on hand – Rittenhouse and Martini & Rossi dry vermouth respectively – and went from there. I don’t have an orange bitters, so angostura was the default choice there.

2 oz rye (Rittenhouse)
1 oz dry vermouth (Martini & Rossi)
1/4 oz cinnamon/clove/allspice syrup
8 drops Angostura bitters

Stir with ice until chilled. 
Serve in a cocktail glass.
Alphabet City: a Manhattan variant for MxMo May 2015

Alphabet City: a Manhattan variant for MxMo May 2015

On their own, these ingredients were too sharp and lacked warmth. I blame the dry vermouth. To restore the missing warmth and sweetness, I reached for a spiced simple syrup I had in the fridge, which I made a few weeks ago with the leftover mulling spices from the last time we had spiced cider.

The cinnamon does add warmth and sweetness, but I still feel like this is missing a “middle note”, and I wasn’t sure where else to take it. Nonetheless, the top and bottom notes are nicely balanced, and so I’m proud of this one!

This warm, spicy Manhattan variant is henceforth called the “Alphabet City”, named after the neighborhood I am currently residing in.

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.