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Monthly Archives: September 2011

Foghorn Leghorn

The other day I was looking around the kitchen trying to think of some combinations for some winter and harvest time bitters I would like to make, I found little inspiration because my mind was still on bourbon and finding more good things to add to it. So, instead of using the veggies I came across for salads or bitters, I grabbed a red bell pepper and told my chef that I could make something tasty with it. He didn’t seem too convinced until I shook this up for him:

  • 2 square inches red bell pepper
  • 1.5 bourbon
  • .5 Pimm’s No. 1
  • .5 coriander-ginger syrup
  • splash soda

Muddle the bourbon and the pepper in a shaker, cover in ice, toss in the Pimm’s and syrup, shake hard. Strain into a chilled cocktail or coupe glass and top with a splash of soda. This drink doesn’t need any garnish as the shaking produces a fine white head of about a quarter inch, but if you would really like to garnish it I would suggest a couple kernels of corn or a cucumber with a sprig of cilantro. 

This is something that would, in my opinion, best be enjoyed before a meal, or with delicate foods. The pepper comes through mostly in the aroma but there is a soft earthy note of its flavor on the finish, and it can easily be overpowered by oils, creams, and even light fish. I would call this a drink to have with fresh salads or warm baguettes. 

The Mother-in-Law

To continue on my Aperol kick I wanted to make something a little warmer and sweeter to herald the coming fall, so I figured that I would work with some white port and one of my favorites, Green Chartreuse. I first made this drink and then passed it around to my Chef and some of my coworkers to name it. We finally figured that something as bitter-sweet as this ought to have a similar association, thus we named it the Mother-in-law:

  • 1 Plymouth Gin
  • .75 white port 
  • 2 dashes Aperol 
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • 1 dash Peychaud’s bitters
  • 1 dash Green Chartreuse
  • lemon wheel

Lightly shake the gin, port, Aperol, and orange bitters over ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass that has been washed in the Green Chartreuse. Float the lemon wheel and then dash the Peychaud’s onto the wheel so that it disperses on the top of the cocktail.

This drink maintains a very herbal aroma throughout the experience while gradually changing from bitter to sweet. The white port adds some interesting fruit notes that mellow out the already smooth gin and tie together all of the citrus from the bitters and Aperol. One could substitute Campari for the Aperol, or leave out the lemon wheel to let the Peychaud’s dive a little deeper into the glass. This is only a suggestion and of course everybody should drink their cocktails the way that they prefer*.

*Unless its Scotch. Why would somebody ever order a Caol Ila 12 year with rocks, an equal measure of water, and a twist? That’s a perfect way to ruin an otherwise tasty and enjoyable libation.

Longshanks’ Revenge

With fall coming and the first bit of chill weather in the District I figured I ought to put out a cocktail with some warmer notes:

  • 1.5 Chamomile infused Famous Grouse
  • .75 Cayenne-Thyme Syrup
  • .5 Fernet Branca
  • .5 Dry Vermouth

Build in an ice filled old fashioned glass and stir lightly or turn once in a shaker.

I have a terrible time naming drinks. My chef named this one after Edward I of England (Longshanks) and his victory over William Wallace of Scotland way back around the turn of the 14th century. After thinking about it for a bit and reading up on my history I realized it makes a lot of sense: the alliance between the French and the Scots is represented in the vermouth and Scotch, issues with the Vatican are tossed in with the Fernet Branca, and the general political and military strife can be seen as the Cayenne-thyme syrup, adding heat over time. Thank you, Eric.

A note on the Scotch: take a 750 of the Grouse (it would be a shame to use anything that one would happily sip) and add a dozen chamomile tea bags, let it sit for a half hour and remove the tea. Voila, you now have a bottle of chamomile infused Scotch and you’ve done something useful with that bottle of Famous Grouse that has been collecting dust. 

Coriander-Ginger Daiquiri

A little while ago I was reading Cask Strength and there was a call to re-educate bartenders in regards to one of the simplest drinks around, the daiquiri: a measure of rum, some lime juice, and a dash of sugar. With cachaça its a caipirinha, with tequila, a margarita, gin or vodka produces a gimlet. There’s a reason so many cultures and liquors have this combination, its simple and refreshing. I took the challenge and went to my local bars trying to find a daiquiri that was well made by a competent tender, the pickings were slim. I had to explain the drink to so many different barkeeps and also let them know that if their ‘blender is broken’ (which is a favorite saying of our ilk) that they didn’t, in fact, need a blender.

In my wanderings I figured that I should figure out a fresh take on this gem of a classic:

Build in a shaker and strain to serve up or toss in a double rocks glass, I prefer to keep the lime shell in mine, but that really gets down to personal preference. 

A note on the rum, I am not a fan of Bacardi, but at the bar I was told to sell through a bottle of Bacardi Oakheart that we had on hand. This is a spiced rum aged in charred white oak barrels that belongs on the lower end of any liquor shelf, maybe even on the rail. It did work really well for this drink though, and people drank it up like there was no tomorrow. The peak of my enjoyment of this drink though, was at home where I was able to use some Santiago de Cuba 11 Super 11 Year Old. I was lucky enough to have one of my regulars give me enough of this to sip a few neat and mix a couple of these after they returned from a trip to the islands. All told, this will work well with just about any gold or dark rum, even a spiced one. If you really want to enjoy it you ought to use a higher shelf rum, because its worth it during these last few weeks of summer.

Cayenne-Thyme Syrup and the Paloma Picante

A simple Paloma is a mixture of tequila and grapefruit soda, it makes a tasty and refreshing drink, but I felt like it needed something more. I took a suggestion from Imbibe and added some lime and a pinch of salt, but it still needed (in my bitters soaked mind) something more. I made the following Cayenne-Thyme syrup to work with some gin for the last days of summer and found that it works really well, in fact better, with tequila:

  • 6 cups water
  • 10 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 oz fresh thyme

I put that on a low boil for 20 minutes and then added 4 cups of sugar and turned the heat up until it dissolved, then I strained and bottled it.

For the Paloma Picante I added some of this syrup and some orange bitters to compensate for the sweetness and ended up with a perfect end-of-summer tall drink. This drink starts off slightly bitter-sweet, with a heavy citrus kick and an herbal nose (there is neither notice of the salt nor bitters except that they really tie the flavors together and keep it from being too much or too busy) and it finishes with a mellow back of the throat heat from the cayenne:

  • 1.5 gold tequila (I used Sauza)
  • .75 cayenne-thyme syrup
  • .5 lime juice
  • 1 dash Regan’s Orange Bitters
  • 1 pinch salt
  • grapefruit soda
  • 1 lime wedge for garnish

Build in an empty highball with the tequila, syrup, juice, salt, and bitters. Fill with ice, then top with grapefruit soda and stir ever so lightly. Garnish with lime wedge.

A quick note on the name: in polite company paloma means dove, and paloma picante means spicy dove. In certain dialects it means something completely different, so unless you are ordering a drink you might not want to use the phrase paloma picante.


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