Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Cocktail Wednesdays: East End Cooler

East End Cooler

This week's East End Cooler includes the St. Germain elderflower liqueur we recently added to our repertoire as well as strawberries and mint, which have just begun to harvest from our garden.

East End Cooler

1 oz     Gin
3/4 oz  Elderflower liqueur, St. Germain
3/4 oz  Lemon juice
1/4 oz  Simple syrup
1/2       Strawberry (muddled)
1/2       Strawberry (sliced, as garnish)
1 sprig Mint (as garnish)

Muddle 1/2 strawberry in a mixing glass.  Add gin, elderflower liqueur, lemon juice, and simple syrup.  Shake over ice.  Fill a highball glass with ice and slices of strawberry. and pour strained mixture into it.  Garnish with a sprig of mint.

The verdict: We both like this one very much.  It is a refreshing summer drink.  We were surprised by how well the elderflower blended with the gin and the mint.  All of the ingredients play nicely together.  In fact, Scott was saying how it seems that most of the gin drinks he likes involve citrus and fruit.  The East End Cooler serves a similar role to a mojito, gin and tonic, or a mint julep; refreshing, crisp, and summery, but not really fruity or tropical.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Cocktail Wednesdays: The Sazerac

The Sazerac

The Sazerac takes advantage of the other purchase we made that day in Ann Arbor, Peychaud's Bitters.  The Sazerac is a very old New Orleans recipe, one of the original versions of The Cocktail.  The particular type of bitters required originated in the early 1800s, when it was concocted by Creole apothecary Antoine Amedie Peychaud, who moved to New Orleans from Haiti in 1793.  Peychaud's Bitters is a gentian-based bitters, meaning that its primary "active" ingredient is a flower that has been used since ancient times when Gentuis, the last Illyrian king before Roman conquest in 168 B.C.E., attributed tonic qualities to it.  Different varieties of the gentian flower are used in other alcohols as well, such as Suze and Aperol.   Gentian is also fourth on the ingredient list for Angostura Bitters, but Peychaud's is lighter, more floral, and less spicy.  Peychaud's Bitters is now made by Buffalo Trace Distillery and distributed by The Sazerac Co.  The recipe I used is an older recipe than the recipe listed at their website, which has been subject to the vagaries of changes in the American liquor trade.  Feel free to try the rye version as well.  Certainly, Sazerac Rye is an excellent whiskey.

Like St. Germain, Peychaud's Bitters isn't carried by every liquor store.  It was truly fortuitous that we discovered Stadium Market that day when looking for a sports drink between dancing in the afternoon and dancing in the evening.  Not only do they have a fabulous selection stacked to the ceiling in their rather small space, but they were also very nice and helpful.  We only wish we had gone there first rather than getting a snack at the coffee shop because they have a deli counter and do gourmet catering, as well as a big selection of snacks.  I was amazed at the amount of goodness they had managed to shoehorn into their shop.

The Sazerac

1.5 oz Cognac
0.5 oz Rye
1 Sugar Cube (brown is a good choice)
2 Dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
1 tsp Water
Splash Absinthe
Lemon Twist

Chill a rocks glass with ice.
Meanwhile, place the sugar cube in a mixing glass and dash the Peychaud’s onto it. Add water and muddle together until the sugar is dissolved. Add the spirits and stir. 

Discard the ice and then rinse the glass with Absinthe, coating the entire inside. Discard the Absinthe
Pour spirit mixture into the rocks glass. Add a couple of cubes of ice.
Twist a Lemon Peel over the surface of the drink, rub oils on the rim of the glass, then add to the drink as garnish.

The verdict: The Sazerac certainly deserves its reputation as an excellent drink. It is complex, and the different components blend beautifully. The absinthe is strong in the nose, but not dominating in the flavor. An elegant twist on The Cocktail.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Cocktail Wednesdays: Bitter Blossom

Bitter Blossom

Sorry for the delay in posting. We didn't do the cocktail on Wednesday, as we were at a rehearsal dinner that night. We ended up postponing it to Friday, then, as I was writing the post, my power cord was nocked out of my computer, and I couldn't reboot despite trying to reboot from the backup drive and the OS CD. I didn't touch it Saturday or Sunday thanks to the wedding and the fact that we spent Sunday just hanging out and enjoying each other's company Suddenly, this morning, it worked fine.

On Saturday before last, we picked up a bottle of St. Germain while we were in Ann Arbor for the Scottish Dance Ball.  We happened upon a liqueur store with a huge selection and gourmet catering when we were looking for a little snack to make up for all the dancing as well as walking we did at the walk-through before the dance, and we chose to try something one new bottle that I've seen in recipes a lot.  It turned out that it was lucky I picked St. Germain, as there has apparently been some issues getting it in Michigan lately, and we happened to be at one of the places that managed to get their hands on it.

St. Germain is an elderflower liqueur. This flavor was an entirely new thing for us. I don't believe I've ever even tried elderberries. It does make me think of that insult from Monty Python and the Holy Grail: "You mother was a hamster, and your father smelt of elderberries." I had hear that the elderberries part referred to alcohol. The elderflower liqueur is sweet and floral, not the sort of thing I would associate with heavy drinking. On the other hand, the more I sipped, the more sippable it became.

We tried Bitter Bossom, which is a sort of a twist on a Manhattan.

Bitter Blossom

1 oz Sweet vermouth
1 oz Rye
1/2 oz Elderflower liqueur, St. Germain
3 ds Orange bitters

Stir with ice and strain.

The verdict: As I recall, it was a lovely floral, rather different from the last time we tried something floral. Both Scott and I enjoyed it. The St. Germain is nicely warmed and spiced by the rye, and the sweetness is brought down. Still, the St. Germain dominates. I also like to try the idea suggested by some of the comments on the recipe to add another 1/2 oz of rye.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Cocktail Wednesdays: The Fury

The Fury Cocktail

This week, we honored the man who brought the Avengers together -- Nick Fury -- by trying The Fury Cocktail.

The Fury Cocktail

1 oz Vodka
1 oz Spiced Rum
1 splash Sweet & Sour Mix
2 oz Orange Juice

In a whiskey glass with ice, add Vodka, Spiced Rum, splash of sour mix, then top off with orange juice.

Rather than buying sweet and sour mix, I made a little on the spot. It's easy! And I could even use fresh squeezed juice. With the small amount I made, shaking was enough to dissolve the sugar, but if you make a larger batch, you should heat the water and sugar together.

Sweet and Sour Mix

3 parts water
3 parts sugar
2 parts lemon juice
2 parts lime juice

The verdict: This is a rather tropical drink -- probably not the sort of thing that Nick Fury would drink. It's a pretty decent drink with the main flavors being the rum and the orange juice. I think I prefer the similar Black Eyed Susan, which is a taller drink that also includes pineapple juice (and orange liqueur!). A summery, tropical drink, but not really our style -- especially not Scott's.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Cocktail Wednesdays: The Captain's Cocktail

The Captain's Cocktail

This week, Scott requested a cocktail in honor of the Avengers movie release. Since we had already tried the Marvel cocktail, and the Avengers cocktail recipe I found was not appealing, I started to look up cocktails that would represent each of the heroes. I found a cocktail for every one of them, then I just had to narrow it down based on ingredients. While I was probably most intrigued by the version of The Black Widow involving black vodka that may or may not have a unique flavor, we ended up settling on The Captain's Cocktail, which has much more easily available components.

The Captain's Cocktail

1 oz white rum
1/2 oz Captain Morgan spiced rum
1 oz lime juice
1/2 tsp caster sugar
1/2 oz port

Shake rums, juice and sugar together over ice, and strain into a coupe. Float the port into the coupe.

The verdict: Everyone felt that it was too heavy on the lime, but we all enjoyed the drink anyway. The spiced rum and the port provided a nice element of warmth and richness.

Oh, and we loved the movie!