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#1 eje

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Posted 08 December 2006 - 04:42 PM

If any of you read (or write) blogs which cover cocktails, you might know that Paul over at Cocktail Chronicles has been organizing a monthly online cocktail event he calls Mixology Mondays.

This month's event is being hosted over at The Spirit World. The theme is "Drinks for a Festive Occasion".

What drinks do you like to serve (or be served!) during your holiday gatherings?  Is there some drink that is always served at your family gatherings?  Do you choose your cocktails based on color at this time of year?  Or maybe this is your chance to show off a cocktail that you think should be part of the holiday celebration.


If you would like to participate, please post in this thread before Monday, December 11th at midnight. I will compile a list of cocktails posted and mail them to the organizer.

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Let's put on Santa caps and fill our cups with joy!
---
Erik Ellestad
If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...
Bernal Heights, SF, CA

#2 eje

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Posted 10 December 2006 - 12:41 PM

When I was growing up, the only punches I encountered were "Temperance Punches". Usually they would involve some amount of fruit juice or punch and soda. There would be a big hunk of ice frozen in a ring mold.

Lately, I've been curious about historic alcoholic punches.

Apparently, they were quite the rage from the mid-1600s to the mid-1800s. David Wondrich has a great article about Punch in the first issue of Mixologist: Journal of the American Cocktail. Punch saw it's star begin to fade around the time the cocktail's began to rise.

I was quite excited to see a recipe for "David Wondrich's Punch" featured in Wayne Curtis' article about Martinique Rum in this month's Saveur.

I based my procedure on his, of course deviating significantly, as is my wont.

Basic Wondrich Proportions:

2 Cups Tea
1/2 cup Demarara Sugar
1/2 cup fresh lime
2 Cups Aged Martinique Rum

The first thing you have to do to make punch is make big ice the day before. This is as easy as filling a freezer safe 2 pint bowl. Or as difficult as filling a ring mold half way with water, adding mint and berries, letting it start to set, and then filling it the rest of the way. Fruit juice can also be added to the ice.

I chose a middle path, filling a quart stainless bowl half way with water, adding mint sprigs and cranberries, letting it set for an hour, and then filling it up the rest of the way.

The next step is making the "sherbert". This step is pretty much the exact same first step as you would use to make sorbet. You make a fruit flavored syrup.

In most classic recipes, the first step is to "rub the rinds" of citrus with loaf sugar using the abrasive of the sugar to extract the flavor of the oils. As this is the 21st century, we have microplane zesters, and loaf sugar is rather thin on the ground, I instead microplaned the zest from 2 limes into a bowl and juiced them into same.

For sugar, I opted for 2 disks of palm sugar, and a handful of Florida Crystal to bring me close to a half cup.

For tea, I used Lung Ching Dragonwell. It's a Chinese Green tea.

Once the tea was steeped, I poured it over the sugar and zest, and stirred until it dissolved.

The "sherbet" is then chilled or matured until you are ready to proceed with the punch.

Once cold, I ran the sherbet through cheesecloth lined strainer, and then squeezed as much juice out as I could.

For alcohol, I used 1/2 cup St. James Amber Martinique Rhum. I think more than that, and you risk alienating your guests. I then added about 1 cup of Mae de Ouro Cachaca and 1/2 cup Flor de Cana Extra Dry. Many punch recipes call for a mixture of spirits, so I didn't feel too bad about this.

At this point you want to taste, and see where you are with sweetness and sour and the whole should be allowed to chill before adding to the punch bowl.

When you are ready to serve, unmold your ice. If you use a stainless mold, just put your hand over the ice, flip it upside down, and run water over the outside. The ice should pop right out into your hand. There may be some cracking.

About an half an hour before punch time, put the ice in the punch bowl, and pour the chilled punch over it. At this point I added the juice of 2 Satsuma mandarins, a few mint sprigs, and, as a tribute to the punches of my youth, a can of Knudsen Ginger Ale. As recommended, I grated fresh nutmeg over the whole.

Posted Image

I was pretty pleased with the flavor. The St. James Amber, even only using 1/2 cup, came through loud and clear, mellowed slightly by the Cachaca and white rum. I wasn't that pleased with the appearance. Obviously, a real punch bowl would be an asset, instead of a big glass mixing bowl I used. Ideally, you'd have a cut glass or sterling punch bowl sitting on a huge mound of crushed ice, garnishing the ice with more fresh mint and fruit. I also think it would be better to add the nutmeg to individual glasses instead of the whole. It just looks kind of messy floating in there.

In any case, if you're stuck with what to serve at your next party, and don't want to play bartender all night, why not, "give punch a chance"?

edit - fix dates

Edited by eje, 10 December 2006 - 01:46 PM.

---
Erik Ellestad
If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...
Bernal Heights, SF, CA

#3 Splificator

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Posted 11 December 2006 - 11:30 AM

Erik--
As a confirmed and inveterate Punch-maker, I can only say Bravo!

One note: I usually handle the lemon-peel question by peeling lemons with a swivel-bladed peeler, trying to keep the peels as whole as possible (easier to remove) and muddling them with demerara sugar, to which I will add the hot tea (if I'm using tea), which dissolves the lemon-impregnated sugar.
aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

#4 eje

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Posted 11 December 2006 - 11:50 AM

Cheers, Dave, thanks!

I was inspired both by your recipe in Saveur, and a recent re-watching of the 1935 movie version of "Tale of Two Cities". In it, Ronald Colman's Sydney Carton is a dissolute, world weary drunkard. They portray him as keeping a punch bowl in his chambers, no less. All in all, a great role in a great movie.

Edited by eje, 11 December 2006 - 12:04 PM.

---
Erik Ellestad
If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...
Bernal Heights, SF, CA

#5 Splificator

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Posted 11 December 2006 - 12:46 PM

Cheers, Dave, thanks!

I was inspired both by your recipe in Saveur, and a recent re-watching of the 1935 movie version of "Tale of Two Cities".  In it, Ronald Colman's Sydney Carton is a dissolute, world weary drunkard.  They portray him as keeping a punch bowl in his chambers, no less.  All in all, a great role in a great movie.

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The thing about Punch, back in its heyday, was that gentlemen frequently mixed their own; it wasn't something to entrust to an underling. Dickens had a whole Punch ritual;, and there's a great anecdote about Coleridge mixing up a bowl and then breaking things. Fun for all.

I should warn you, once you get your social circle habituated to real, old-school Punch, they will ask for more. And more. Eventually, you will be feeding them things like Regent's Punch:

Regent's Punch
(This is my recipe for George IV's favorite tipple, triangulated from two different recipes of the period.)
Using a vegetable peeler, peel two lemons, two small oranges and, if possible, one Seville orange (these are difficult to find and their season is extremely short; try www.citrusranch.com), avoiding as much as possible of the white pith.
Juice the lemons and the oranges, straining out the pulp.
In a large, sturdy bowl, muddle the peels with four ounces Demerara sugar until the sugar becomes impregnated with the citrus oils.
Make a pint of green tea (using two tea-bags or two teaspoons of loose tea). While this is still hot, pour it into the bowl with the peels, first removing the tea bags or straining out the loose tea.
Add the citrus juices, along with eight ounces VSOP cognac, two ounces dark, heavy rum (I like Inner Circle, Coruba or Gosling’s), and—here’s the problem—two ounces Batavia arrack.*
Then add two ounces of pineapple syrup, which you have cleverly prepared the day before by cubing a ripe pineapple and soaking it overnight in a simple syrup which you made by bringing two parts Demerara or turbinado sugar and one part water to a simmer, stirring constantly, and letting it cool (use just enough to cover the pineapple and strain it through a fine sieve when you’re done; it’ll keep for a few days in the refrigerator).
Now add a large block of ice; you can order these from your local ice company, or make it yourself (follow eje's instructions, above).
Finally, after everything has sat for long enough to catch a chill, gently stir in one bottle of brut champagne or, if you’re feeling flush, two. Your punch is completed. It should serve about eight people.



*For the arrack: www.macha-rum.de has worked in the past. Otherwise, a mix of two parts Wray & Nephew white overproof and one part Neisson amber rhum will work reasonably well, although by no means perfectly.
aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

#6 kvltrede

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Posted 11 December 2006 - 12:54 PM

...I wasn't that pleased with the appearance.  Obviously, a real punch bowl would be an asset, instead of a big glass mixing bowl I used.  Ideally, you'd have a cut glass or sterling punch bowl sitting on a huge mound of crushed ice, garnishing the ice with more fresh mint and fruit....

In any case, if you're stuck with what to serve at your next party, and don't want to play bartender all night, why not, "give punch a chance"?....

Erik,

Plastic may not be particularly classy but it looks better than you might think and it's cheap. For the galfriend's b-day a couple years ago I did a rum punch and a sangria and we put 'em in $8 faux-crystal plastic punch bowls from a local party supply store. I won't insult our guests by suggesting that they weren't exactly a high-toned, high-brow group but I wouldn't think twice about using these again even for a more formal affair.

Kurt
“I like to keep a bottle of stimulant handy in case I see a snake--which I also keep handy.” ~W.C. Fields
The Handy Snake

#7 KatieLoeb

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Posted 11 December 2006 - 10:06 PM

I created this one for Thanksgiving, but it would work as a late autumn/early winter drink as well.

The Spicy Pilgrim

2 oz. Ten Cane Rum
1 oz. apple cider
.75 oz. fresh lemon juice
.5 oz. Marie Brizard Poire William liqueur
.5 oz. Pama pomegranate liqueur
.5 oz. Spiced Dark Simple Syrup*
one dash Fee Brother's Old Fashioned Bitters
Lemon rind

Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a flamed lemon peel.

* Spiced Dark Simple Syrup

1.5 cups water
3 cinnamon sticks, broken up
4 star anise
10 whole cloves
1/4 teaspoon red chile flakes
1 cup demerara sugar (I use Trader Joe's organic)

Bring water to a boil and add spices. Allow to boil for three minutes. Add sugar, stir to dissolve and allow to simmer for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off heat and allow to cool. Strain before using.

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol


#8 eje

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Posted 11 December 2006 - 11:01 PM

I created this one for Thanksgiving, but it would work as a late autumn/early winter drink as well.

The Spicy Pilgrim
[...]

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Thanks for reminding me of that one Katie!

I was meaning to give it a try around Thanksgiving.

Cheers! And Happy Holidays!
---
Erik Ellestad
If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...
Bernal Heights, SF, CA

#9 eje

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Posted 11 December 2006 - 11:08 PM

[...]
Make a pint of green tea (using two tea-bags or two teaspoons of loose tea). While this is still hot, pour it into the bowl with the peels, first removing the tea bags or straining out the loose tea.
[...]

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Dave,

Some recipes seem to call for Green and some for Black Tea and some for none at all.

Do you have any ideas of appropriatness? Are some spirits better with green or black? I used the chinese green tea simply because I'm fond of that particular variety.

Oddly, it doesn't seem like we really have a topic dedicated to Punch here in "Fine Spirits and Cocktails". The only one I could find was someone asking what sort of punch they should make for a summer party a few years ago. I may have to remedy that in the near future.
---
Erik Ellestad
If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...
Bernal Heights, SF, CA

#10 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 12 December 2006 - 01:01 AM

Tonight my lovely girlfriend and I did a little catching up after a long period of separation during her vet school finals, and so I missed the deadlines to write about my Mixology Monday experiences. Priorities and all. I'm going to submit this anyway, cos hey whats the worst that could happen.

This Saturday she will be receiving her undergraduate degree and so the two of us, along with all our parents, will be having a graduation/Christmas party to celebrate. Naturally, I was put in charge of the cocktails.

I use very small glasses whenever possible, which allows everyone to try several different drinks without getting too inebriated. My favorite glasses are crystal, of a bowl/coupe shape, and hold about 3 oz. I got them for about $3 at a resale shop and I love them. Anyway, I settled on Sidecars (always a fan favorite) and Mr. Chuck Taggart's Réveillon Cocktail, which is mainly what I'm concerned with here (the third drink to be featured is still to be decided on, suggestions welcome).

I first read about this drink early in 2006, and the concept of it sounded amazing. Apples, pears, and allspice, with just enough je nais se quois to keep it mysterious and intriguing. Only one problem: It calls for an allspice liqueur that hasn't been imported since the 80's, and can only be obtained from Jamaica. Well, a trip there is not in my immidiate future, but luckily a solution presented itself: The brilliant creator of this drink had also come up with a homebrew method for recreating this elusive liqueur (a favorite of Dr. Cocktail, no less). The recipe can be found here*. After much help from the online cocktail dork community and a mail order for 151 proof Demerara (not available in Texas for some reason) I finally created my own pimento dram. Eventually I also obtained the Calvados and Poire William, and one fateful night I mixed one up and took a sip.

Interesting. Unfortunately, interesting is about as far as it went. It was still worth featuring at my party, but it fell far short of what I was expecting from such a magnificent list of ingredients. It just seemed as if there was so much unrealized potential hiding in there. But it soon became evident that the recipe was not necessarily at fault here.

First item: Calvados. Calvados is wonderful stuff, and some of the things I have made with it are on my short list of favorites, but for some reason it didn't quite work here. (I should add that the bottling I have now, Christian Drouin, is not as good, imo, as the Caron that I had first. This is as far as my experience with the stuff goes, however.) I noticed after some digging that the original recipe apparently called for Laird's Bonded (why was it changed?) and so I tried it. NOW we're on to something. The robust, assertive, whiskey-like character of the bonded applejack shines here unlike any drink I've ever had it in. It provides a solid foundation for the rest of the flavors while still being thoroughly and appropriately appley. It also eliminates the slightly destracting musty character from the Calvados I was using. Awesome.

Next item: I soon realised that the Marie Brizard Poire William that I had bought as an economy measure was not, in fact, an eau-de-vie as called for in the original recipe, but a sweetened liqueur. In the end I think that it mattered very little, aside from affecting the sweetness of the drink (probably not that bad considering the audience). I may soon get a chance to try it with a true eau-de-vie and will report back with my findings.

Pimento Dram: Here is where I think the change of one ingredient made the biggest difference. Now the homemade stuff is quite nice, and very fun to experiment with, but after much pain and at great expense, I was able to mail order a bottle of the commercial product from Jamaica (pm me for details if you want). I really just wanted to be able to compare, and initially I was extremely surprised at how close the homemade had come to the real thing. However, after subbing the Wray & Nephew in for my homebrew I was floored at how much more subtle and smooth it was. The allspice takes a nice supporting role, as it would in a cake or whatever, instead of trying to be the destracting center of attention as with the homemade. See the note at the bottom for more thoughts on this.

Vermouth: Cinzano sweet vemouth seems to be utterly unavailable in the college town where I live, and so until my next trip to Houston I can forget about anything better than M&R (which I quite like, so it's ok). However, the recipe recommends a high end vermouth like Carpano (I would imagine Vya being excellent as well), but since the vermouth is in such a small supporting role, I think I'm ok using M&R. Also, I have no choice.

Bitters: The original recipe calls for, in rough order of desireability, Abbotts, Fee's OF Bitters, or Angostura. The tiny bottle of Abbott's I have is strictly off-limits, so I stick to the others. When I use Fee's OF Bitters, I like to throw in a dash of Angostura as well to compensate for the lack of complexity and bitterness in Fee's. I love what Fee's can bring to a drink, but I tend to use it as an accent to Angostura instead of on it's own. (Typically 1 dash of Ango and 2 dashes Fee's).

In the end, the final ultimate personal recipe I came up with for this most festive of cocktails was thus:

La Réveillon Cocktail

2 oz Lairds Bonded Apple Brandy (100 proof)
1/2 oz Marie Brizard Poire William Liqueur (sub eau-de-vie if possible)
1/2 oz Wray & Nephew Allspice liqueur (or homemade*)
1/4 oz Sweet vermouth
1 dash Angostura Bitters
2 dashes Fee's Old Fashioned Bitters

Stir with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass, garnish with a twist (makes 1.5-2 drinks in my tiny glasses).

Yum.

-Andy


*Thoughts on Pimento Dram: Allspice liqueur is wonderful stuff, and once my homebrew is gone I will def. be making more (barring it being imported again). A few caveats, however. Good though the homebrew is, it doesn't quite work here in such a large amount. The assertiveness is destracting from the balance. I personally attribute this to the distinctive flavor of the 151 proof Demerara rum it is based on. If/when I make this again I will definitely be basing it off of still-rich but much less distinctive Jamaican rums (Dr. Cocktail has postulated a mix of Wray & Nephew Overproof and Meyers's---probably a good starting point). If you haven't made any of this yet but want to for Christmas...well, too late, it takes over a month. But if you want to make some for next year I would definitely recommend perhaps making a half batch and trying different variations on the base. This works even better for me personally since I can only obtain high proof Demerara at a considerable expense. I would be more willing to use Appleton Extra (12 yr) than to make it with Demerara again. That said, if you have already made some to this recipe, I would probably scale down the amount, perhaps swap the amounts of allspice and vermouth. I'm still working on balancing that out using the homemade. I will say I'm glad I have the homemade and I'd recommend it to anyone, since it's better than none at all, but if you have the patience and/or resources to get the real deal, by all means do it. The drink truly shines with it.

-Andy
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Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

#11 thirtyoneknots

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Posted 12 December 2006 - 01:25 AM

I should add that my roommate, who helped me a lot with the refinement of my (our) favorite recipe, told me I should do red and green jello shots for this MxMo.

(It's cool guys, his favorite drink is an Old Fashioned...he's one of us)

-Andy
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#12 eje

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Posted 12 December 2006 - 11:22 AM

Andy,

Thanks for contributing that great writeup of La Réveillon!

Another cocktail I've been meaning to try some time soon.

Though, red and green layered jello shots would have been OK, too.

Hey, if it's good enough for Jerry Thomas, it should be OK for the rest of us...

I don't think they're real sticklers about lateness. Besides, I'm pretty sure it was still December 11th somewhere over the pacific, when you posted!

Cheers!
---
Erik Ellestad
If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...
Bernal Heights, SF, CA

#13 Splificator

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Posted 12 December 2006 - 11:34 AM

Some recipes seem to call for Green and some for Black Tea and some for none at all.

Do you have any ideas of appropriatness?  Are some spirits better with green or black?  I used the chinese green tea simply because I'm fond of that particular variety.

Since Punch was the laboratory where all the basic principles of mixology with spirits were developed, and labs are all about trying things out, there's no one answer to this question. For Regent's Punch, the two most authoritative early recipes call for green tea. But black tea was frequently used in Punch, and no tea at all even more frequently. Punch had a 200+ year history as the dominant social beverage with spirits, and a lot can change in that many years.

All I can suggest is trying things out. Over the past six or seven years, I must have made at least 100 bowls of Punch according to old (i.e., 17th-19th century)recipes, and I have yet to have one turn out badly. Some are better than others; indeed, some are positively ambrosial. But even the worst ones are still fully palatable.
aka David Wondrich

There are, according to recent statistics, 147 female bartenders in the United States. In the United Kingdom the barmaid is a feature of the wayside inn, and is a young woman of intelligence and rare sagacity. --The Syracuse Standard, 1895

#14 eje

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Posted 13 December 2006 - 08:03 AM

Round Up of this month's Mixology Monday posts over at The Spirit World:

Mixology Monday X: “Drinks for A Festive Occasion” Roundup
---
Erik Ellestad
If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...
Bernal Heights, SF, CA