Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Cocktail Wednesdays: Diablerie


Tonight's cocktail was Diablerie, which was cocktail contest entry by Kent Wang. It is a riff on the El Diablo, a tequila-based cocktail. I picked this one because we have all of the ingredients, and I really thought it was about time we did a cocktail without Maraschino. Additionally, this is a cocktail containing cassis (black currant), which is an ingredient in two drinks that are standbys for me: the classic French Kir, and hard cider with cassis. This is a New Orleans sour, since it contains lime juice and is sweetened by orange liqueur, but also to a certain extent it is sweetened by the cassis as well.

I served it in some glasses that I cleared out of the bar in the basement. I was crossing my fingers that the glasses would be large enough, and they barely were. You may be seeing some more of these in the rotation in the future.


1 1⁄2 oz Light rum
1⁄2 oz Orange liqueur
1⁄2 oz Cassis
1⁄2 oz Lime juice

Shake with ice, strain into a cocktail glass.

The verdict: The cassis provides a sophisticated fruitiness. It is a fruity rum drink, but it's not a stereotypical tropical rum drink. I have a bit of difficulty figuring out what the best setting or season would be for this drink. Scott thinks it has "a good taste, but it is a medicinal taste." He said that although he liked it tonight, he doesn't think he would normally have drunk all of it. I like it, but then I do like black currant anyway.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Cocktail Wednesdays: Martinez

Martinez Cocktail

For this week's cocktail, I chose the Martinez. I've been coming across references to this drink fairly frequently. Often other drinks are considered to be twists on the Martinez. Even the classic Martini is considered by many to be a descendant of the Martinez. In some ways, this is pretty surprising, since the Martini is a simpler cocktail than the Martinez. On the other hand, there is a recorded recipe for the Martinez from as early as 1887.

I found this video on Epicurious of the drink being mixed:

Thanks to the technique shown on this video, I finally was able to make a decent twist, which I am quite proud of.

Martinez Cocktail

There are a number of thoughts about the recipie for the Martinez, many of which can be found here. Mainly, the differences are in the heaviness of the vermouth. Ultimately, I chose to try the original gin to vermouth ratio, rather than a more modern version that would have been lighter on the vermouth. Also, after seeing recipes with orange bitters and others with Angostura, or even other brands, I chose a dash of each orange and Angostura, rather than two dashes of one type of bitters.


1 oz Gin
2 oz Sweet Vermouth
1 tsp (scant) Maraschino Liqueur
1 ds Orange Bitters
1 ds Angostura Bitters
1 lemon twist (garnish)

Stir with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

The verdict: Interestingly, this is the first drink with Maraschino where I didn't find the Maraschino to be the dominant note. For me, the vermouth and the gin come first, and the other flavors are behind that, discernable but nicely balanced. Scott thought it was "a perfect combination of the gin and maraschino, and the vermouth was not overpowering." He even said that before I let him know that I picked the most vermouth-heavy of the recipes, so that's a good sign. I think this is a nice fall drink.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Cocktail Wednesdays: Chinese Cocktail

The Chinese Cocktail

This week's choice was the Chinese Cocktail, a drink actually goes back to the Savoy cocktail book, but in that recipe there is no lime. The recipe I used called for Mount Gay Rum, which we don't have, and we thought the AƱejo would be the closest thing on our shelf. Now, I'm seeing some recipes using dark rum, which would probably have allowed the rum a stronger presence.

The Chinese Cocktail

1 1/2 oz Rum
1/4 oz Orange Liqueur
1 tsp Maraschino Liqueur
1/4 oz Grenadine
1/2 oz Lime juice
3 ds Angostura bitters

Shake over ice and strain into cocktail glass.

The verdict: A pleasant drink, though not one that Scott would pick over his favorites with Maraschino. The Maraschino is in the forefront, taste wise, though there is less of it than some other drinks. Next came the lime, angustura and the sweetness and fruitiness of the grenadine. The rum had little presence for me. Despite this, I think the flavors are pretty balanced. It's a bit tangy, though I'm not really sure it has anything to do with a Chinese flavor. Then again, at the time of the Savoy Cocktail book, Chinese food was the subject of much stereotype and not much knowledge in the western world.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Cocktail Wednesdays: Bengal

Bengal Cocktial

The drink I selected this week was the Bengal cocktail. According to my source, it was from the 1937 U.K. Bartender's Guild manual. After making it, I found another source from 1897 with essentially the same recipe; however, one recipe I found was totally different, and other recipes used pineapple juice rather than pineapple syrup.


2 oz Brandy
1 oz Pineapple syrup
1⁄2 oz Orange Liqueur
1⁄2 oz Maraschino Liqueur
6 ds Angostura bitters
1 Lemon peel (garnish)

Shake over ice, strain, and serve garnished with a lemon peel
(We had no lemons on hand, so no garnish)

The verdict: This is another one we like a lot. I felt that it was very Maraschino-forward, with the next most dominant taste being the bitters. I felt that I could barely taste the pineapple on the back of my tongue, but Scott didn't think he could taste it at all. On the other hand, he thought it tasted lemony. Some recipes called for less bitters, which makes me wonder if we could taste the pineapple better in that case. It was rater sweet, but not cloying, because the sweetness came from several different elements. Still, with the pineapple syrup, orange liqueur, and Maraschino all adding some degree of sweetness, it was too much.

I should mention that I made my own pineapple syrup. I used half of a pineapple to make pork and pineapple satay, and with the other half, I made a half-batch of the following:

Pineapple syrup

1 ripe pineapple, peeled and cut into chunks
2 c. sugar
1/2 c. water

To make pineapple syrup, cut up one whole, ripe pineapple into chunks and place into a large glass bowl. Add 1 cup of white sugar, stir to coat, cover with plastic wrap, and let sit in the refrigerator overnight.

The next day, make a 2:1 simple syrup with 1 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of water and set aside. In a blender, add the pineapple and all the liquid that has formed in the bottom of the bowl. Pulse to combine and to break down the pineapple. Add the warm simple syrup to the blender, blend briefly to combine, and pour into a clean bottle through a strainer lined with cheesecloth, pressing on the solids to extract all the liquid. Preserve with a few ounces of vodka or white rum, and store in the refrigerator.

Makes about 1 liter of pineapple syrup

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Halloween Costume 2011 - Greecian Caryatid

The theme for our Halloween party this year was "B.C.", and I decided to go as a woman from ancient greece. I'm not entirely sure why, other than perhaps my affinity for architecture, but I particularly had in mind not a goddess, but a caryatid, like these on the Porch of the Erechtheion at the Acropolis in Athens.

caryatids, Porch of the Erechtheion at the Acropolis in Athens

I researched traditional greek clothing, and decided to wear a chiton, as pictured here:

I found information on about how to correctly size, make and fasten a chiton.

Thanks to Take Back Halloween, I found out that a full size flat sheet would be about the size I needed, and I went looking for a sheet set in one of the colors that mentioned as common in ancient greece. I picked green, and I decided to create the embellishment by sewing several ribbons near the edges. I used a greek key ribbon, and gold ribbons on either side. I tried to get something I could use later, so I ended up buying a queen set that would be able to go on our bed when I was done with it. I thought, "Another 8" or so isn't that much. I can just hide it in the fold at the waist." Actually, when it comes to clothing, the extra fabric was a lot. It was the difference between something that might have been easy to put on and something that took 1/2 hour of struggling and still didn't lay right. It's also one reason why I haven't taken another, better picture of my costume for this post. Maybe I'll do it after I wash it, though.

Anyway, I also made two brooches like this iron spectacle brooch from the Geometric period, c.8th - 7th Century BC, to pin it up with.

Last, I made a "golden" tiara sort of headpiece to replicate one of these styles seen on Fashion Era.

You can see in this (rather poor, sorry) photo that it was quite successful.

Halloween 2011 - greecian

Here is how I made the tiara:

I started with thick white craft foam, and I cut an arc shape, fitting it to my head. Using a wood burner, I carved an egg-and-dart pattern into the foam, after experimenting with the scraps and drawing the pattern on in pencil first, using an oval template for consistency.

first layer painting

Once I had carved (or melted, I suppose) it to my satisfaction, next came the faux gold painting. I started with a base layer of black acrylic.

Second and third layer

Next, I mixed a couple of browns for a mottled under-tone. Then, I dry-brushed the whole thing with gold modeling paint.

Painted gold

Finally, I picked out highlights with a little thicker application of the gold. I tied it with a little extra gold ribbon, and wrapped my hair up into a sort of bun or roll over the ribbon, as you see here:

Halloween 2011

Both the costure and the party were pretty successful, even though we didn't finish the basement in time and had to host the party at a friend' house.

Halloween 2011

(Scott went as the K-T Extinction Event -- otherwise known as the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs.)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Cocktail Wednesdays: The Manhattan

The Manhattan

Tonight, we chose to have Manhattans, since we had bought a bottle of rye whiskey, and were trying it for the first time. On Friday, before our annual Halloween party (well, it's only my second year being involved, but it's Scott's seventh), we went to the store and stocked up on alcohol for the party and were lucky enough to be able to get a couple of bottles just for Wednesday night as well. Since I hadn't really been thinking a lot about it and I didn't know if we'd even be getting rye, I didn't look up recommendations before we headed out. We just took the recommendation of the folks at Merchant's, which we trust since they are quite knowledgeable and have the best selection in the area. The Russell's Reserve Rye that we came home with turned out to be a good choice.

Russell's Reserve Rye is named after Jimmy Russell, master distiller at Wild Turkey, and is produced by the same company, the Austin, Nichols division of Pernod Ricard. It is a six-year-old small batch production. Trying the rye itself, it is definitely not sweet like a bourbon, which we have used in the past in Manhattans. It's spicy and smooth, with a bit of a bite and a hint of leather.

The Manhattan

2.5 oz Rye
1 oz Sweet Vermouth
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
1 Maraschino cherry

Add rye, vermouth and bitters to a mixing glass. Stir over ice and strain into a rocks glass. Add a few more cubes of ice to the glass and garnish with the cherry.

The verdict: The Manhattan is not a new drink to us, but we both think this is one of the best Manhattans we have ever had. We used the Maraschino cherries we made, and I can taste the hint of Maraschino in the cocktail. In our experience, including the bitters in a Manhattan makes a huge difference from what is often served at many bars. If you have never had a Manhattan, it's a wonderful drink for fall. The sweet vermouth adds a warmth and spiciness to the flavor, and I think that the sweet aspect is balanced nicely by the rye.