Thursday, January 19, 2012

Cocktail Wednesdays: Buck and Breck

Buck and Breck

This week, you get two cocktail posts, because we tried one on my birthday on Tuesday as well as last night. I popped a bottle of sparkling wine to make a French sauce for dinner, and we've been making cocktails with the rest. I say sparkling wine rather than champagne because it is actually cava, which is from Spain. Scott prefers this to the champagnes he has tried, though it does make me wonder what he has tried. It may be that you can get better cava for the price of not so good champagne since it doesn't have the prestige name. At any rate, I do enjoy the cava.

Tuesday's drink was the Buck and Breck, which is another cocktail using absinthe. It dates all the way back to the 1860's and 1870's in California.  Apparently, the name is derived from an epithet for President Buchanan and his V.P. John C. Breckinridge.  During Buchanan's term, his party split, with the southern wing backing Breckinridge for the next election and, most importantly, the country was led to the brink  of the Civil War.  In fact, his negotiations with South Carolina led directly to Fort Sumter in particular becoming a flash point, and later the location of the first shots of the war.  What the Californians thought of him at the time may have been a little different from the opinions of their countrymen to the east.  What is certain is that this drink combines manly flavors such as bitters with fancier and more delicate champagne in a way that could probably only arise from the gold rush.

Buck and Breck

1.5 oz cognac
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
1 dash Absinthe
lemon juice

Swirl strained lemon juice in a champagne flute to coat inside of glass and discard excess.
Fill flute with superfine sugar, coating inside to make glass appear frosted.  Discard excess sugar.
Fill glass with Cognac, Bitters, and Absinthe.
Top with cold Champagne.
(Optional) Give drink a quick stir.

The verdict: First, I would say that I think I would recommend stirring the drink.  The contrasting flavors in each sip at first as it mixed itself while I drink were interesting, but not terribly tasty or balanced.  Also, frosting the entire glass with sugar led to an explosion of bubbles in the sparkling wine, and an overflowing glass in moments.  One apparently traditional solution is to just frost the rim, but I don't know if that would give enough sweet to counter balance the bitters and the absinthe.  The main flavors are the bitters, absinthe and champagne, but I think that because the cognac is made with the same kind of grapes, the flavor blends rather seamlessly into the champagne.  Once the drink was blended, it was nicely balanced.

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